Over the past few years, I’ve gone to great lengths to explain the importance of boundaries, something that all people who have low self-esteem and who put up with inappropriate or downright shady behaviour have little or none of. Boundaries are basically your limits and also act as your personal electric fence alerting you to the fact that you’re uncomfortable or even in danger. They also communicate to others not only how they can treat you and what to expect from you, but also what they’re likely to get away with.

It’s as I talked about a few weeks back in my Broken Windows post – let certain things slide by and it becomes a green light for them to bust up your boundaries even further. They realise that something isn’t right and that you may not like and love yourself enough otherwise you wouldn’t be giving them the time of day let alone the steam off your tea.

Here’s the thing: Boundaries aren’t complicated – it’s the fear of having and enforcing them that people use to complicate them. They’re natural to many people and a necessary part of life and yet when people become au fait with the existence and necessities of boundaries, it then becomes “So how can I communicate my boundaries? What can I say? How do I make them respect my boundaries?”

This is where I have to lay it down in simple terms – Stop the frickin’ talking!

Questions like these are asked because:

1) They want to communicate the boundaries to someone that doesn’t respect boundaries. Pointless.

2) They don’t want to do anything they just want say something. Also pointless.

3) They want to ‘make’ people respect boundaries and they’re likely to be the types of people that they’d want to make love them and make them see their point of view. Pointless – it’s like throwing your energy into the abyss or peeing into the wind.

Particularly for women, who often suffer with Women Who Talk and Think Too Much syndrome, you’ve got to stop the explaining, justifying and talking the nth degree out of your boundaries because if they’re really your boundaries, you wouldn’t be there or you’d be doing something.

You know what talking, explaining and justifying the existence of things that people with even a moderate level of self-esteem says?

“My boundaries are up for negotiation. In fact, they’re not really my boundaries and I’m not entirely sure I believe in them. I just want you to see my point of view, to change, to make me the exception. Don’t leave me.”

One of the challenges some people set themselves up for after recognising that they’ve been in an unhealthy relationship, often with code amber and red behaviours waving in their face, is to try to apply their new found knowledge with the same types of people or even with an old partner, which kinda defeats the purpose.

I’m going to be honest with you – unless you’re going out with someone under the age of seven, which would be illegal, whoever you’re involved with knows the difference between right and wrong. Unless they are a teenager, it’s unlikely that you are their first relationship or the first person that has ever pointed out their shortcomings or even their complete and utter level of assholery.

They haven’t just fallen out of the sky. They don’t need the ‘right’ person to show them the light – you’re not God or a higher power.

You don’t need to explain or justify your boundaries or try to guide anyone to light of your bountiful knowledge. You’ve got to stop carrying on like one of those bonkers ministers that lays their hands on a member of the congregation in a wheelchair, starts talking in mumbo jumbo, shouting and throwing themselves on the floor, only for the person to stand up and say “HAVE MERCY! I CAN WALK!”

That’s what all this talking to the nth degree, Powerpoint presentations, manuals, trying a different tack, taking them back and assuming they’ve changed and basically being ever accommodating and trying to take the path of least resistance with your ‘type’ that represents your unhealthy beliefs is:

You expect them to fall at your feet (eventually) and wail “I CAN LOVE! MY HEART IS OPEN! I’M UNAVAILABLE/AN ASSCLOWN NO MORE!” They’re just not that special, you’re not that desperate, and you’re not so special that you have the powers to fix/heal/help people out of being themselves.

People only explain and keep on explaining or even justifying boundaries that they don’t believe in. It is time to start believing in what you already know – relationship insanity and the fact that certain types of behaviours and relationships don’t work for anyone.

When you do try making a case for why they shouldn’t be doing something and why you shouldn’t be putting up with it and pacing your relationship courtroom laying out your argument, all someone that would show up to a relationship with shady carry-on does is deny it, claim their version of things is correct, or even make out like you’re the one with the problem.

Stop asking for the person that crossed or even busted your boundaries in the first place to validate your observation! It’s like being sexually harassed by a manager and then filing a complaint about them with them.

There’s no point in recognising that you need to have boundaries if you don’t apply them. There is a reason why there are code amber and code red behaviours – one is stop, look, listen, and if comfortable, proceed with caution and the other is abort mission.

If you struggle with boundaries, when you get a code amber, you ignore the information or have a half hearted conversation and proceed anyway even if you’re not comfortable. When you get code red, you try to convince and change them because you don’t trust your judgement, possibly because you’re scared that if you do, in two shakes of a lambs tail, they’ll turn into Mr/Miss Perfect with someone else. You don’t want to try again – you want this one to be it.

You know what people who have boundaries do when they experience something that they know is a no-go for a healthy, mutual relationship? They walk. They don’t Bet On Potential, deny, rationalise and minimise. They recognise that that they deserve better than selling themselves short.

Know and show your limits and if you haven’t got limits, get some. The idea of knowing these limits isn’t for you to bounce them in the hope that they’ll chase after you and make promises that they can’t keep. You should be bouncing them because you have no room for certain types of behaviour or for feeling bad about yourself.

Stop talking. They don’t need a lecture on the error of their ways or an attempt to make them feel bad about something they’re entirely comfortable with being and doing, even if in your eyes, you think it’s outrageous and ‘needs’ to change – you need it to change; they don’t.

Your thoughts?

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

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135 Responses to Stop Explaining. Stop Justifying. Stop Talking. Boundaries Are Upheld With Action

  1. Cinderella says:

    Good Monday to you, Nat.
    When my boundaries are strong, I tend to gravitate towards people who respect them.

    When my boundaries were weak, I did all the pointless things above.

    Now, if someone violates my boundaries, they have ONE chance to stay on the straight and narrow – after that, I lose interest. It’s a character issue.

    I’m no longer afraid of losing someone. What matters to me now is being treated well.
    Someone who is showing me they aren’t treating me well doesn’t look appealing to me anymore. No hopes, no future dreams – just reality!

    • MissE says:


      “I’m no longer afraid of losing someone. What matters to me now is being treated well.
      Someone who is showing me they aren’t treating me well doesn’t look appealing to me anymore. No hopes, no future dreams – just reality!”

      —— I absolutely LOVE that attitude and am trying very hard to cultivate it! Theoretically I have it, but with the last EUM I failed, not as miserably as I did with the AC but I still allowed room for explaining and hoping he would see my point but I am striving to get to the point where I automatically lose interest once you start busting boundaries, and feel zero remorse about cutting it off immediately!

  2. Janis says:

    “Stop asking for the person that crossed or even busted your boundaries in the first place to validate your observation!”

    This line especially really resonated with me. That’s what I do ALL THE TIME. I try to get validation from the very person who I should be walking away from in the first place.

  3. Cinnamon says:

    Very timely post for me. I dated a guy who promised the world and was perfect for a couple of months. Then the code Amber behaviour started which quickly escalated into code red. Despite spending the last year working on myself instead of walking away I thought he would stop if I just explained it the right way. When he ended it I thought it was my fault for saying anything….spent more money on books on how to talk to men etc etc. All a waste – it should have been me walking not the other way round!!!

  4. Natasha says:

    “My boundaries are up for negotiation. In fact, they’re not really my boundaries and I’m not entirely sure I believe in them. I just want you to see my point of view, to change, to make me the exception. Don’t leave me.”

    And welcome to the last five years of my back and forth foolishness with my ex-AC! The last time I took him back, I put a whole bunch of boundaries in place, which is all great and fine, but the fact that I was even giving him another chance based on a boatload of promises said basically, “I want to have boundaries, but I still want YOU even though you’ve shown me that you suck 901 times. You’re just that great and I’m just that delusional!!” Oy. He agreed to the boundaries I put in place, but wouldn’t you know, he was doing every move in the Passive Aggression For Dummies (and Douchebags) manual to circumvent them. When I sent him packing and called him on what happened, what he said amounted to, “You don’t have a right to boundaries, so it’s my way or the high way. Plus, I have too many problems. Oh, and everything that happened is your fault anyway. I never promised you/agreed to anything! Furthermore, the mean things I did after I begged you to take me back? Never happened. You are clearly crazy.” My final words to this asshole were, “I would like to point out that you are the one that wanted to come back so badly. You came looking for me. You can go ahead and lose my number. Believe me when I tell you, you are done here.” I then blocked him on email, Fbook and the phone. THAT is how you enforce a boundary!

    • MaryC says:

      Natasha….we’re we dating the same guy? Way scary to think there’s two of them out there.

    • Lea says:

      Natasha, good for you girl! You made me think about what my AC has essentially said to me – he also came seeking me out, wanting desperately to come back, mistaking yearning for love. When I finally broke NC to ‘talk’, he said what amounts to ‘you are incredibly intolerant for not accepting my drinking problem and my rages and my need to keep rescuing my ex from 3 years ago, why won’t you compromise? This is who I am and YOU should change, cross all your boundaries and throw away all your hard won self-respect so we can be together. And by the way, I never raged at you and my drinking isn’t that bad.’ Haha no wonder I hightailed it out of there and blocked him. Can anyone say narcissist??

    • Natasha says:

      Ahhh ladies, it’s amazing how they are all basically working from the same playbook. It’s also amazing how ludicrous what they are actually saying is when you break it down! Lea, mine drank like a fish too. The funny part of it is that he was constantly yapping about how much he drank, I’m guessing in an effort to get me to be all, “You shouldn’t drink like that!! Here, let me fuss over you. I know you like to spend your free time on drinking binges and (as I found out later) hitting on everything with a bra on when you’re at the bar, but let me fix you. Please, tell me all your problems. I’m going to be the best-est free therapist in the world.” Luckily, I have no Florence tendencies haha!

  5. Carrie says:

    I was just thinking today about when I’ll even have an opportunity to regularly set boundaries so I can get some practice in! I did it with my mom, but by the end of it all I’m just angry with my ex, it had nothing to do with her. *eye roll* Of course I’ll keep setting my boundaries with her, but I was thinking I need to make some new friends (I have my best friend and she’s great, but a mom of 2 and obviously busy most of the time) and just putting myself out there will most likely lead to needing to keep my boundaries in place. So today I signed up for a meetup group for singles.. not to find a date mind you.. just to find some cool new people to do stuff with. We’re doing a movie and dinner thing on the 20th so we’ll see how that goes!

  6. Jane says:

    this was so me, my ex AC would do yet another selfish inconsiderate thing and claim he saw nothing wrong with it and if i was hurt that was my problem.

    i would then proceed to explain why i was hurt, why he should care. I used metaphors, similes, asked him to pretend someone was treating his mother or sister like this, i went on for tips, i made notes before having a conversation, i spoke slower, i spoke faster, i spoke less, i spoke more, I cried, I laughed, I even contemplated showing him a boob to lower his ego for a second to get him to understand me. I quoted famous people, I broke down his reasoning, he came back with technicalities and other reasons why “it wasn’t a big deal”. Eventually he would take 1 of 3 routes
    1. leave and not talk to me for a week and eventually give a feeble apology and do it all over again a few weeks later
    2. give me the silent treatment for a couple of hours then act like nothing happened
    3. shrug and tell me “you will get over it.” and get on with whatever he was doing.

    Each route resulted in me first being crazy angry, then sad, then adamant that i would end it then as more time went on questioning if it was me not him because no one could be this much of an ass while claiming to love me.


  7. runnergirl says:

    Welcome back Natalie. I’m not sure if I could ever thank you enough for everything. As I posted on “Crumb Communications”, I got to enforce a boundary last night (via text…totally time saving) with a new AC I met last week at a meetup function. It felt delightful to have a limit and know it. At least he was dead honest about only being interested in a shag and since I’m not, it wasn’t complicated. It really is as simple as walking. Of course, this one was simple because he wore the “I’m an AC and just want to shag a woman” on his forehead but at least I can see it now and the “kick me” isn’t on the back of my shirt anymore. It was good practice and gave me a giant boost in self-esteem. Not to say that I won’t be tripping and falling tomorrow. Your post regarding “Dating as a Discovery Phase” has been extremely helpful. No sandcastles in the sky.

    Carrie, you may get an opportunity to enforce boundaries at your meetup function. There can be AC’s there too!

    Jannis, Cinderella, and Natasha, I’ve done the explaining thing too. I’ve explained to so many deaf AC’s in so many different languages, including sign language, it makes me cringe. I’ve probably got to revisit my boundaries and make sure that by the 2nd long winded explanation, I walk. These are the very dudes

    Walking is so much more refreshing and invigorating than explaining.

    I sure wish the ex MM had just said up front he wanted a shag, shoulder to lean on, a glass of wine, and a home cooked dinner. Although three years ago, I might have said okey dokey. It’s so great not to be that woman anymore. Thank you Natalie.

  8. Magdalena says:

    I found myself cursing my ex-EUM the other day, as I seem now to have a hair-trigger response to shady behavior and I’m willing to act on it.

    Then I realized that this isn’t a bad thing.


  9. Gina says:

    That made me see it clearly when you said “its like filing sexual harrassment against the person, with the person who did it”. I realized although boundaries were confusing to me initially, they really have nothing to do with the person, its more or less you detaching and deciding what behaviors you as a person are not by any means going to put up with, even if that means staying single until the end of time… Which once you send out messages that you would never tolerate crap behavior… It has the opposite effect, transforming you and your experiences. I got to the point in saying… I rather have a healthy relationship with myself for the rest of my life then be with someone who is inappropriate. I used to try to explain… Yada, yada… Like they *didnt know*, bc i was the one who felt inadequete.

  10. lanasia says:

    Amazing how my mother and I were speaking on this, and I just so happened to read this today! Nothing but the truth, keep it coming! :)

  11. Laila says:

    I think on some sick level, we hope that after enforcing boundaries and no contact, that at the end of it all – they will treat us differently as a reaction to our new found self-respect. Almost like, “Hey! She actually has some self-esteem now and is laying down the law…I’d better shape up! THIS is what I’ve always wanted…someone who won’t take my sh*t!!”. However, we quickly learn that they are the exact same as they always were (living happily on me, me, me island) and will not fit in with the ‘new you’. Time to truly move onto the greener pastures of real relationships with mutual respect (and love/care/trust) and leave those ‘cow-patty’ ACs/EUMs in the dust. And hey, it really does feel good to say NO and act on it!

    • Natasha says:

      True story Laila! I’d go what I like to call “faux-NC”, because I was trying to get him to respect me. All that does is get the really douchey ones to start looking for ways around any boundaries put in their way! Any relationship that requires the emotional equivalent of hip waders to slog through the crap is not worth having.

  12. Lea says:

    This is so timely – thank you Natalie! I’ve just spent the last week agonising over something I wished I’d thought to tell my AC before I told him to never call me again. I obsessed over wanting to EXPLAIN to him why his toxic codependent relationship with his ex bothered me so much. I managed to stop myself because I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but until I read this I wasn’t sure why. It occurs to me now that I’ve already told him this anyway and he doesn’t give a damn, as if he doesn’t already know anyway. Telling him one more time won’t as you say make him throw himself on the ground and declare that he’s seen the light. Thank you for making me laugh at myself in the process of realising why I’m out of there for good. I need to stop talking and start showing up for myself now.

  13. Karina says:

    My issues with boundaries has always stemmed from family. Despite coming from a tight knit bunch, they got and still get on my last nerves when they try to bust up my boudaries. Slowly I am learning to let them know where I draw the line, and I am trying to apply that to my intimiate relationships as well.

  14. Magnolia says:

    Here’s where I struggle with the boundary question: when someone *fails* to show up for the relationship, and you want them to be more active. It’s like they don’t even bother to show up to cross my boundary.

    I’m thinking about my father. I want something from him he isn’t capable of. I am considering cutting him out of my life more consciously. He and my mother are together, so I’m trying to figure out how to act decisively for ME.

    You wrote elsewhere Natalie that it is time we stopped expecting so much from our parents. It occurred to me the other day, as I was on the phone with my mom, and my father gets on the line to tell me about his life, and makes the zillionth comment that shows me that he can’t retain any information about my life, that I want to be done with hearing things that show me that my father doesn’t (can’t) pay attention.

    But then, I look at ‘healthy’ people and I don’t think they want their fathers to be so interested what’s going on in their lives.

    I thought: I want to “break up” with my father. But – I only fantasize about doing that so that he’ll “get” that he’s a deadbeat. Ding! Pattern! Keep picking self-absorbed men so that I can “teach” them – either by complaining/talking too much in the relationship, or getting fed up to the point where I feel I have to walk away.

    So I’m trying to figure out what is “action oriented” in this scenario. Talking to my father hasn’t worked. He is apologetic or self-justifying if I bring up his non-initiative, but nothing changes. If I keep quiet, the reset-button is pressed and I’m supposed to keep on picking up the phone, and interacting as if we’re all wonderfully getting along. I just talked to them (the parents, both at once, on speakerphone.) As long as I am lovely, it’s all lovely.

    Asking my mother to communicate to me alone would be very disruptive to the family dynamic. Everyone else is fine with my father the way he is.

    So, I’m chewing on ways to honor my sense of feeling continually used by my father. I feel that he gets to enjoy a relationship with me and be “proud” of me without actually putting effort into it, and that I have had a hard time expecting effort from the men I date. I want to finally DO something about it, because this dynamic of trying to go along as though everything is fine and I just expect too much needs to end. I want to be the one to finish it.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Thank you, Magnolia. I have been reading your posts for a while now and can relate to much of what you say, especially the “As long as I am lovely, then it’s all lovely.” Put on a happy face and pretend all is well. This is my family of origin dysfunction–covering up sexual and emotional abuse (my mother was sexually abused by her father and never dealt with it). She had her boundaries crossed and so she crossed mine, time and again–blowing hot and cold in terms of her affection for me. My father–he was off into his own world of his job–and so, emotionally absent and, when “available”, would mostly be about himself. My boundaries, what I wanted, were violated time and again by “oh, you don’t feel that way” or “don’t feel that way.” This comment also struck me: I feel that he gets to enjoy a relationship with me and be “proud” of me without actually putting effort into it, and that I have had a hard time expecting effort from the men I date. I want to finally DO something about it, because this dynamic of trying to go along as though everything is fine and I just expect too much needs to end.” Exactly. I am now finally in counseling and hope to connect the dots from understanding to changing my behavior. I understand so much “intellectually” but doing the emotional grief work and actually feeling like I have a right to boundaries and ENFORCING them is what I need so desperately to DO something about.

    • grace says:

      My parents have never shown much interest in me. I know my father loves me, in his own way, which is limited. He’s very emotionally closed off. He’s in his 80s – he’s not going to suddenly turn from Distant Father to Cuddly Dad. And I’ve accepted that. I see him every few weeks with other members of the family, and it’s okay because I don’t expect anything from him.
      Keep it light, keep it lovely if that’s what works. It’s all they can give you. I don’t think it would sit well with you to cut them off. As long as they are not abusive, I would continue a limited relationship with them. It’s not so much a boundary issue (unless they are busting your chops) but a case of lowering your expectations and give to yourself (love, support, approval) what they can’t give you. You’ll find them less hurful that way.

    • Carrie says:

      I totally agree with the “lower your expectations” of what you think you need from your parents. They are who they are and it’s up to you to change how you react to who they are because they are not going to change. I’m kind of in the same situation with my mom. I could stay angry with how I think she should’ve parented me, or I can choose to accept who she is and recognize that her issues are her own. She won’t change, but I will and at some point her little passive aggressive dings won’t affect me because I’m learning not to allow other people’s behaviors to affect my feelings.
      Adrienne – “I understand so much “intellectually” but doing the emotional grief work and actually feeling like I have a right to boundaries and ENFORCING them is what I need so desperately to DO something about.” This is where I am too. I GET all of it.. intellectually. Getting it deep down and making it a part of who I am is the hard part. But the fact that we’re trying means that we’re constantly moving forward and we’ll get there eventually right?

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Carrie, yes, we will get there. I have been so afraid to own my emotions about my life, to take care of myself as a priority, to not normalize bad behavior–because then no one will love me. But I don’t love me, and that’s the reality I have to own. If I loved me and was my protector and champion, I would so not be at the lowest point I think I’ve ever been at emotionally because of my own very bad choices. Reading this blog has helped me so much. The self-esteem part of the boundary equation is huge for me. I have so wanted certain people to love me that I denied and rationalized to my downfall and detriment. I know it will take time for me to get through this — I am focusing on the image of stringing one line of electric fence at a time to help me. We will do it, Carrie!!!

      • Magnolia says:

        Grace, Carrie, Adrienne:

        Thanks for your thoughts. I am journalling about this and it is just a torrent of fury. I can’t believe the seething anger that surges in me as I write about my … god, I barely even want to write ‘father’ or ‘dad’. I feel both on the verge of making a truly adult decision, and totally emotionally adolescent and destructive. I just held back from sending my mother a note asking her not to tell him anything about me ever again, then I read what I wrote and was like – I sound like a kid!

        I thought today that I want to write off the emotional ‘debt’ I feel he ‘owes’ me. But that doesn’t stem the feeling of not particularly ever wanting to hang out with an EU guy who owed me, who is passive about being empty-handed, and who wants to play the “interested guy,” but only whenever I am right in front of his face.

        The idea of cutting him off completely – yes – well, Grace – it would leave me bereft. You seem to have accepted your parents’ lack of interest …

        My mother told me so often in my childhood: “When you write your father’s story …” – this before I was ever even a writer! There was this sense of “poor Dad” and “one day you will explain to the world his tragedies and his failures and that he is good.”

        I feel like letting my father “off the hook” for what he can’t give, and allowing him to stay in my life and me continuing the effort to stay in his, basically invalidates all the choices I made to walk away from other men who couldn’t give me the same. It feels like I’m supposed to make him the exception to everything Natalie is teaching us.

        Okay, breathing and trying to remember I don’t do shame anymore; no dad-shaming, Magnolia.

        I know I’m not quite “getting it” – I’m writing from the middle of an emotional stirring up and all the dust is in the air and I can’t see (or feel) clearly. How to act, act, act???

        • Elle says:

          Mags – I can relate to this more than I can express here. What Grace says is true – unless parents completely take the piss, one should not cut them. If you cut off your Dad, I am almost certain you will simply spend the rest of your life feeling this intimacy based on horrible sadness, anger and an even stronger desire for his attention. Don’t cut. What you need to do is something more flowing. Lower your expectations; if you can not be angry about it, find something you two can do to bond, something he likes to do and that you could do together; if you need to let off steam, make playful jokes about it (so long as it is coming from playful honesty, and does not come across as a cheeky verbal knife to your dad); try to forgive; love in your way (without waiting to be loved by them in your way – they love in their way, however poor). You can make adult (specific and workable) comments about your expectations of him/them – that’s OK. Maybe you will have to accept a distant relationship. These people are normal – part wonderful, part shabby, all with their pains and fears (though this is not an excuse to wield a sob story – and that’s about your mum in her relationship). It sucks realising your parents are limited, and that they haven’t had the experiences you’ve had (though maybe they’ve had their own acts of heroism, like yours leaving ACs). Above all, please don’t transfer this to a potential partner. You can have a wonderful relationship, even if your relationship with your dad is not ideal. I wish you were not in this position – I can relate to the rage and hurt of being ignored and mistreated by parents, and we are familial little creatures so we can feel we will never escape this. But you have to centre your life in you, and make other little families with other people/passions too, and make it a soft thing, this relationship, and how it works. Let go of he oughts. (K, am tired and going into platitude territory! Sorry!)

          • NML says:

            You’ve had a lot of wise words and like Elle et al, I relate to this and have written some stuff about my parents, particularly my father

            My parents haven’t been together since before I turned 3, I stopped seeing him regularly from 7, I didn’t see him at all from about 19-23. He didn’t pay child support for most of my childhood and the list goes on and he’s someone who could have been and done so much but let’s just say that having a good time with a drink in hand has taken precedence. He’s very proud of me and tells me frequently, especially with a few drinks… My daughters adore him although they have been shielded from the flakier side of him – when he’s here (or they’re there) he’s a doting grandfather. He’s proud of something he’s had no part in although he talks like he has – I don’t care. To be honest, trying to zip him up would be like trying to control the uncontrollable. I’m 34. I think the last gift my father gave me was a Fisher Price record player. He’s given me money occasionally especially when I finished uni – I called it a deduction from his child support. I don’t need anything from him – I’m a fully functioning adult that’s learned how to nurture herself and forge a good life – no thanks to him and in some respects even my mother. I have stopped looking for my father in men (or warped versions of it – Mr Unavailable) for several years and I don’t seek validation or anything from either parent. Both of my parents are pretty much the same people and I respect that in much the same way that I expect them to respect who I am as a person. Both have great sides to them and much as both of them take it in turns to get on my tits periodically, me being a child is done. I can’t get back my childhood, they’ve missed the boat on being parents of the year, and I’m sure they both have their private regrets much as there will always be certain things that tug a bit more at me but recede with every day, week, and year that passes.

            All in all, you don’t sound like you could or would want to cut off your parents so it sounds like it’s live and let live. Yes you can put your cards down on the table but beyond having a chance to vent out how you feel and be heard, I wouldn’t expect them to revolutionise the wheel. You can forge a relationship on adult terms, you can keep him at a manageable distance – just remember you can’t control what he thinks and says.

          • Magnolia says:

            It’s heartening and validating to hear from so many women who can relate. I don’t want to say – oh! I get it – when I don’t quite yet. I read your posts on your parents, NML, again, for the nth time, this week – very helpful. There is a kind of emotional clarity that many of you seem to have arrived at; I know I will get there.

            What is clear is that I have mixed up what I need and expect from boyfriends with what I needed and expected from that guy in the paternal seat, and am having trouble separating the advice on boundaries with men I might want to sleep with and advice on boundaries with my father. The advice seems so contradictory.

            I take inspiration from all of you that needed to make peace with your folks and feel for the most part that you have.

            Sometimes when we all talk about a guy’s poor relationship with his mom, or at least sh*t-talking his mom, being a big red flag, I think: man, is my relationship with my father (or at least, the way I manage it) a big red flag to available men?

            Anyway, that isn’t the main reason I work on this, to be flagless, but to find the kind of self-trust and peace that comes from knowing what my boundaries are and how to handle my own life.

            Today’s thought: I have held myself to an imaginary standard, the standard of the person I *would* have been if I’d had the dad I feel I *should* have had. This dad-I-should-have-had doesn’t exist. Therefore I am looking for validation from a person who doesn’t exist.

            What kind of validation?

            That I am “important.” Worth investing in. Worth paying attention to. Worth working with. That I am ‘important to someone.’

            How then can I validate that for myself?

            Thanks for the wisdom as always – I feel I have you all walking with me.

  15. CC says:

    Yes Natalie, when you realize what you don’t want in a relationship it makes it much more clear that you won’t settle until you get what you do want. Now I just like to keep it simple… if I’m not getting treated how I want, I walk. And fast. I won’t be letting anymore men waste my time, and get the gift of my lovely womanhood without earning it by being NICE and respectful and spending quality time wanting to get to know me. I have such a great life, I am no longer willing to waste it on people that are afraid, or only want to be casual. I don’t want to complete you… I want you to come complete.

    • Maree says:

      Well said CC. I hear you….I hope someone finds you :) I say that because I hate it when people say “oh you’ll find someone’. Like all you need is ‘someone’. Either way you and everyone deserves to be happy on your own terms. x

  16. Nat says:

    oMG, this site and everything I read so far if right on the money. The most bewildering thing is that you already know it all, but reading it makes so much difference, it makes it real. I was in long distance relationship for 8 years and it was volatile from the beginning, and we finally broke it off 5 months ago after he crossed my boundaries for the 1000th, but last time and, I still grieve it and hope against hope. Take it back, not anymore, since I started reading your blog, I getting stronger every time I read it! Thanks !!!

  17. Gab says:

    Great post as always. Boundary crossing has become so blurry to me now that kids are involved. My experience is that I’ve put up with Code Red behavior and now my self esteem has suffered. I honestly thing the only way I can respect myself is to “abort mission” even though he has changed since the birth if our baby. I’m just filled with so much anger at what I went through and put up with in the name if giving my new baby a family (that’s my hook). He gets to screw up for two years before our baby is born and now when I feel like I just can’t stat with him because I can’t get past it I’m the bad guy who is “breaking up our family.” Reset button was pushed about a month before baby was born and I’m left picking up the pieces of my emotions and he’s moved on and “straightened out.” how timely and convenient for him! Love your advice. I’d love more on managing all these issues with innocent children involved and ways to deal with the guilt of the”family hook.”

  18. MissE says:

    “If you struggle with boundaries, when you get a code amber, you ignore the information or have a half hearted conversation and proceed anyway even if you’re not comfortable. When you get code red, you try to convince and change them because you don’t trust your judgement, possibly because you’re scared that if you do, in two shakes of a lambs tail, they’ll turn into Mr/Miss Perfect with someone else. You don’t want to try again – you want this one to be it.”

    —- I resonate with this so much! Particularly the aspect about not wanting to try again and wanting this to be the one. Yesss….I confess, that was me with this last EUM and the AC! I dreaded having to try again….I wanted to meet “the one” and have that be that. Somehow the crazy parts of my brain will latch on to a half-decent-but- still-not-good -enough guy and make me feel for a hot minute that he is my last chance and I NEED to make it work with him smh.

    I know no man is my last chance, even Mr.Perfect, but somehow my actions would tell a different story altogether. I am working on it though and getting there. I am aspiring to that place of complete peace, happiness and self love, void of all desperation, where even if it means being alone forever versus being in a less-than-barely-there arrangement, I happppily take it, than lower myself and try to have divine intervention for some EUM/AC.

  19. riotgirl says:

    Thanks for this post. Exactly what I needed today I think. I’m not sure if anyone can help me on this and sorry for the trouble but:

    On the weekend — I met up with one of my boyfriend’s good friend (who is a girl) for lunch. Anyway, that was fine… except that when we were around her, he behaved very differently. He sat next to her, didn’t hold my hand or seem affectionate and most of the conversation excluded me. I felt like we weren’t even together and I felt… invisible. He even fell behind to walk with her and when we took photos, he reached his arm out and smiled widely but with me… he was distant. My intuition kicked in though and told me that something was up. Anyway, I asked him if he used to like her and he said yes, but that he didn’t have a crush on her anymore even though at the time he thought that perhaps she could be a potential partner in the future. I’m not sure what to make of this and wonder if I am overreacting?

    I like him a lot — and we were planning to go visit his family but now, I just feel insecure and second rate. :(

    • Allison says:


      Does this happen with all of his friends?

    • grace says:

      you’re not overreacting. would he like it if the tables were turned? I think not. If this has been his one and only “crime”, I might be inclined to give him ONE pass. But if it’s part of a bigger picture of uncertainty it may be time to call it a day.
      Have you discussed it with him? If he was just being thoughtless he’ll be sorry. if he’s a writeoff, he’ll get angry and blame you.

      • riotgirl says:

        Hi grace, I did speak to him after and he said that he didn’t realize that he was acting any differently. He was sorry though and horrified that I thought that he had an agenda with this other girl. O.O

        I guess I’m not sure whether I had to take it seriously or not since I am his first girlfriend.

    • Minky says:

      It doens’t sound to me like you were over reacting. If you are genuninely concerned i would talk to him about it. It sounds like he’s behaving oddly around this girl.

      I had a similar experience with my boyfriend when we first got together, where i felt he was being inappropriate with one of my friends. I explained it to him and he was horrified and apologetic and swore it would never happen again. And it never has. I was going to end it with him then and there but my friend urged me to talk to him and keep an eye on it and if it happened again, to end it. I am very glad i did. It has been 7 months since then and it’s never been an issue since.

      I would extend the same advice to you. Talk to him about it, keep an eye on it. What he did was disrespectful to you, so don’t be afraid to say so. His reaction will tell you everything you need to know. If he makes amends for his behaviour, keep an eye on it and if it happens again, walk.

      • riotgirl says:

        Hi Minky, thanks for the comment. I was genuinely concerned that he was acting this way. I did speak to him about it and he was sorry too. He said he couldn’t understand how I could think that way. He said he was really tired and was sorry that he made me feel that way. A couple of days later, he said that he might have acted the way he did because he knows that that girl’s relationship with her long-distance boyfriend wasn’t as stable and didn’t want to rub our new and wonderful relationship in her face. He also did say that he will do whatever it takes to make sure I feel loved. Thanks so much for the wise advice. Now I will just wait and see as we are meeting up with her again this weekend!

    • wicked74 says:

      All I can say after years of being with a “charmer” is NEVER ignore that gut feeling. He may not be doing anything shady but something is still “off” and you can tell. Even the most damaged, busted, low self-esteemed person still has that niggly feeling that won’t go away. Instinct like that stays intact. I’ve noticed with EU’s that they can be the free, easy, winning guy in public that they throw out the window as soon as you are alone with them. They make eye contact, they touch, they ENGAGE with these women but they won’t with you! It’s damned infuriating. I wonder what’s really behind that crap. Do they do it on purpose to make us crazy or are they just on auto-fake with everyone and can’t shut it off?

      • CC says:

        They do it to win over new people… the ones they’ve already won they need to distance from so they can control the depth of intimacy. You leave them, they have new ones in the wings.

        • riotgirl says:

          Wouldn’t it be so much simpler if people didn’t play stupid mind games in relationships – and just mean what they say! Thanks for the comments everyone. :)

  20. J says:

    The last 5 years I have been in 2 relationships that became code amber, then SO code red and not healthy at all. I did everything in this blog in both relationships. Everything in this blog is true but funny, in my mind, while I explained and explained and explained, a part of me expected them to get it. This was because of who they pretended to be – this good, loving person and surely he wouldn’t want to be a person of poor character! Who would want to be that way? I certainly would have a problem if I knew I was being an ass to someone, so why wouldn’t they feel the same way?

    I am on my own and have been for months now and I am really feeling the effects of my choices due to low self esteem and nativity. I feel like my self esteem is worse now – I feel so beaten down. I learned the hard way. I was not taught or guided in my life about all this stuff. I have learned a lot and I’m glad I at least have this website to guide me and put things into perspective. I can’t wait until I start feeling better.

  21. I Get it says:

    This is SO WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR RIGHT NOW. I was starting up a new relationship. He’s crossed my boundaries (he says when he says something I dont agree with. DOI! that IS crossing my boundaries – telling me what I really think ) approx 5 or so times. Each time, I’ve went back to my own place and wasn’t attracted to him.

    Im staying with him for a few while I look for a place closer to work – and NOW that I feel vulnerable (dependent) I started feeling very agitated when he crossed my boundary again (trying to tell me what my TRUE motivations are) and angry because I know I just cant get up and leave as freely as I’ve been able to come and go in the past living on my own.

    I read you LOUD AND CLEAR NAT. I need to WALK.
    Got it!

  22. 407 says:

    I’m coming to the end of ‘formal’ NC … NC is becoming just everyday life and I still feel almost… survivor guilt? Assclown escape guilt? I know they don’t care anymore and have sooo moved on (its so easy for them, they had nothing invested and have full harem supply for ALL their needs) so now its like waking up from a dream… did that really happen? did I really do that? I feel proud of myself on one level (finally ejected AC!) but on another I feel a sense of, whoa, this is f-o-r-e-v-e-r…

  23. debra says:

    “People only explain and keep on explaining or even justifying boundaries that they don’t believe in.”

    Natalie – I love all your posts but, girl, do I love this one. You have taught me the value of boudaries. Then, I only thought about them in the context of the idiot AC. Now, having been completely screwed over by an AC couple in a real estate deal, I am starting to see the need for boundaries everywhere. It isn’t just romantic relationships. I was so desperate for them to buy my house, I let them walk all over me, hell – I invited them to do it, so long as they didn’t back out of the sale. Just like the AC. I even sent the post-screw-over angry email (only in reply to theirs, a lengthy excuse-filled, “it’s not our fault” evasion that I now see as textbook assclown), trying to teach them about themselves.

    I now clearly see that trying to tell people who have unambiguously and repeatedly disrespected you to stop and act right is completely pointless. It is begging them to change so I don’t have to. When confronted with an assclown, in all aspects of life, it is time to walk away, not waste time telling them they are assclowns. It is also way past time to have healthy boundaries, period. The reason my life seems full of assclowns is because I have invited them in. I was raised that my feelings didn’t matter, that making other people happy was what made me a “good girl” and that in order to get someone to love me, I had to change to make them happy (a message my parents sent loud and clear).

    To be happy, I need to love and respect me. When I do, assclowns will run, recognizing they cannot get a toe in the door. That’s what boundaries are. I should never have to talk about them or try and get someone to respect them. I just need to distance myself from all the behaviour that makes me uncomfortable or violates my sense of right and wrong.
    I have spent an insane 46 years of my life trying to get other people to respect me and treat me right, and every single minute of that I have not believed I was worth it. I have ranted and raved and begged…

  24. Christina says:

    Yes. Action is the critical part. The sooner you can do it, the better (and easier). I’ve learned it’s best to do it in the first few dates. Most assholes show their colors very early on, but we tend to overlook that because we’re excited about other parts of them.

    For me, if I’m on a first or second date with a guy and he says anything cruel or mean about someone, something racist, something disrespectful of women, I’m done. Maybe I’ve overlooked a few truly good guys by doing this. I’m not too worried about it though, because I now know I dodged a whole bunch of bad guys that way too, and it was relatively painless.

  25. josie says:

    Natalie you have helped me so much with boundaries I didn’t know how to use them all my life with everything as some of the posts say its not just with ACs its anyone who crosses them, through your website i have become stronger and clearer sometimes it feels very strange to just “walk” but I do it if someone crosses my boundary I don’t explain or look back I protect me first. I have had NC since February now with my ex and now the pain of the relationship is going into the distance because every day heals and every day teaches us to look back on how it was and realising what it was from the start I just wish I had learned earlier but thats OK Iwill know in future

  26. Rosegirl says:

    It has taken me many years to learn the valuable lesson that the crossing of boundaries in a relationship should never EVER be ignored. It used to be a habit of mine to just ignore dodgy behaviour usually out of desperation … I wanted the relationship and wanted to hear all the wonderful things they were telling me more than I wanted to listen to myself and have respect for myself … hoping that the behaviour would just go away if I ignored it, that this or that incident was just a one off …
    It’s never really a one off. If someone crosses your boundaries even once it is my experience that they will continue doing so. Going back to one Natalies previous posts … if it is their inclination to behave poorly … to test you to see what you will put up with, to put their needs before yours, to disrespect you … they will do so. My epiphany relationship ended not so long ago …. it began with him taking me to his bed drunk after a night out to mess about and me waking up the next morning with bruises and bites on my breasts and little recollection of what happened. I ignored that even though my mind was telling me that it was a bit of a violation for a man to bring you home in that state and do those kind of things to you. Ignoring that led to more violations and in the end I got my heart broken and confidence shattered.
    I don’t think I should really have to teach someone to treat me with respect, love, care and trust. They should do this without direction or correction. The minute you feel really violated … walk. That’s the way I’m going to operate from now on.

    • Magnolia says:

      “a bit of a violation” ?! That’s a huge understatement.

      I think once we’re feeling invested, it can be too terrifying for our minds to process the degree of violation that is taking place at the hands of someone who supposedly is our “lover.” There is no way that bruises and bites (!) on you when you wake up is just a “bit” of a violation.

      Two of my earliest sexual experiences are blanks of going out, having a drink with a boy and kissing him, and (me not used to alcohol?) waking up in a new state of undress, man on top of me, doing whatever.

      I’m still kind of numb about those memories, so I can relate to your calling your incident a “bit” of a violation. But to an outside observer, the HUGEness of that violation is apparent.

      Thing is, there must have been a number of “bit” violations that happened before this – red and yellow flags you didn’t even register? The pulling at your top, for example. Also not a ‘bit.’

      So glad you’re not with that douche anymore.

      • runnergirl says:

        Ladies, I have the same “memories” or lack thereof, although no bites or bruises other than to my self-esteem. That’s a huge violation Rosegirl. Like Mag, I’m kinda numb to my memories as well. What on god’s earth can these AC’s be thinking at the time? I’m hoping I have the clarity now to recognize red and amber flags and to walk BEFORE there are any substantial violations. They must be totally tortured creatures. That has been the hardest thing for me to accept. There are nasty, tortured, handsome, brilliant, and charming predators out there. As Magnolia said in a previous post, a wolf in sheepskin. That would, BTW, describe my father! Duh!

  27. AdrienneBytheSea says:

    “My boundaries are up for negotiation. In fact, they’re not really my boundaries and I’m not entirely sure I believe in them. I just want you to see my point of view, to change, to make me the exception. Don’t leave me.” — Oh, how this hits right at the heart of it for me. I did this for six years with a MM, trying time and again to get out (but if you don’t believe you can leave, funny enough, you don’t leave –got that from you, Natalie!). I didn’t believe in myself enough to leave. How much violation does it take before you finally get it and say, enough. For me it took a catastrophic event–after years of being only with him, he gave me an STD. Couldn’t have gotten it from anyone else. When I told him (yes, screaming, I admit), he said, “Don’t be angry.” I told him to go F himself (screaming, again). Just like my mother saying I shouldn’t be upset about this or that. Deny. Minimize. The MM was my mother (with the unavailability of my father) — carbon copy in the way he treated me. And I lived out the dynamic with him of my unhealed wounds from my parents. I am nearly 50. When will I get this? When will this loneliness, low self-esteem, and boundary-busting end? Thank goddess for this website and for the fact I am finally in counseling. Even after the recent trauma I am worried that I may backslide and take him back when he resurfaces in a few weeks or months (which we know they all do). I take comfort from all of you wise women on here–you give me strength and hope that it will get better. Thank you.

  28. Donna lopez says:

    How do yoy reclaim your power when the person you’ve been talking, explaining and trying to get to understand responds by dumping you? After behaving thoughtlessly we would fight and I would try to explain why.he hurt me. Sometimes the fighting would.get so difficult that I would give in and say I was responsible. In the end he left me because HE was.tired of fighting. He acted like a s*** but in the end he dumps me!

    • Sunshine says:

      You reclaim your power by moving on and living your life. Your power doesn’t come from dumping him!

    • grace says:

      I hear you, i do get some satisfaction of being the one to end it with the exes. However, with one of them I cried for three years so being the dumper did actually give me any power. Your power is inside you and doesn’t depend on what he says or does. It’s when he no longer calls the shots. It’s in the decision you make to live your life. And ultimately it’s when he’s nothing more than a distant somewhat embarrassing memory.
      I saw Judge Judy today (love her no BS approach) who said to a woman stalking her ex’s new girlfriend “Your revenge is that you’re no longer with Mr Prize and he’s HER problem now”.
      If he’s a typical EUM he may return with a feeble text. Ignore it.

  29. Minky says:

    This was the most important lesson i learned – that if someone crosses your boundaries, just walk away. Without analysing, fretting, doubting. Walk. I always felt like i was being rude, like maybe i was being too harsh when enforcing my boundaries. I realised eventually that i wasn’t being harsh *enough* and i was making excuses for people’s behaviour: oh poor him, he’s so scared of rejection, he’s been hurt, his ex was nuts, blah blah! And then in thought ‘well who hasn’t been hurt?!’. There are plenty of people who have been rejected, abused, manipluated, violated, but you don’t see them running around acting like dipsticks!

    I had a male friend who would come over to mine and do the whole ‘woe is me, my life is in tatters’ thing. I felt sorry for him, so would be there as a shoulder to cry on. It made me feel uncomfortable, but he seemed like a genuine guy. Then he turned up at my house absolutely wasted. I never invited him around again. We don’t talk much now.

    Another thing i had to get over was my tendency to overanalyse people’s behaviour and base it on what i would do in a given situation, which is why i was so baffled by EUMs all the time. Now i know that some people just suck. Next!

  30. Donna Lopez says:

    Jeez, I just reread my comment and I see the answer to my own question. How could he see my boundaries if I caved in sometimes when an issue was presented?!At the end, when he said he wanted to leave, in order to try and change his mind I APOLOGIZED for my temper, and for making big things out of nothing. I thought I was under stress because of a pregnancy and loss of a baby. That was partially true. But I see now that I was also under stress because he was handing me crumbs. He still wanted to take things at his pace and on his terms after everything I went through. This just added to my overall frustration. I’m not sure how to forgive myself for letting him get away with his behavior and not standing up for myself. I let him walk away feeling like he was right and I was the problem. I even wanted him back.

    I hope what you said is true. I’m probably not the first woman to have trouble with this man and I may not be the last. I didn’t inspire him to act like a donkey. I just made it that much more difficult for him to see his own responsibility in the whole relationship.

    • Lia says:

      I have been somewhere around the ball park of where you are in your thoughts, on more than one occasion. I used to repeat those same scenarios until I realized that I was right, and it didn’t matter how much he denied what I had to say. Think of it this way, have you ever tried to win an argument with a five year old? If you haven’t had the experience, let me tell you it’s pretty much impossible. They don’t operate from the same place of logic as you do, their skills aren’t even sharp enough for them to be able to do so. Most of the time they are going to think they are right and you’re going to be left wondering why you wasted you time trying to convince them of anything otherwise. Think of your ex as a five year old; no matter what you do or say to try to prove to him that he had a hand in the demise of the relationship, he is never going to see it that way. So don’t beat yourself up about anything, nor should you feel bad about what he may or may not know about himself. It does not matter that he thinks everything is all your fault, because you are no longer with him. What’s important is that you know what happened, and that’s your best tool right now because you are now equipped to make better choices for yourself by avoiding situations like this in the future. Let his next victim deal with his lack of accountability. That’s his problem. That’s her problem. It’s definitely not your problem.

  31. jennynic says:

    This post has been like a lighthouse in the dark. You wrote, “Stop talking. They don’t need a lecture on the error of their ways or an attempt to make them feel bad about something they’re entirely comfortable with being and doing, even if in your eyes, you think it’s outrageous and ‘needs’ to change – you need it to change; they don’t.” and “It’s like being sexually harassed by a manager and then filing a complaint about them with them.” Very simply put but packs in a whole lot of clarity.
    I believe my recovery has just turned a corner. I am feeling more forgiving of myself about my latest swim in the muck and have learned a lot as an end result. It’s like all the info you’ve presented over the months went in but was still like an unsolved puzzle in my brain, but the pieces are starting to fit together.
    Yesterday I was on the beach with a new guy I met when I looked up and saw the deadbeat ex in the distance sitting like a peacock staring at us (we were at a fairly hidden but public beach). Right then the new guy unknowingly asked me about my last relationship (we hadn’t talked about past relationships at all yet)…….twilight zone moment. I replied that the guy I dated was staring at us at the moment and explained briefly that I ended the relationship because he had an alcohol problem, was shady, and not treating me right. He sighed a breath of relief and explained that he dumped his last girlfriend because of alcohol, smoking bongs all day long, and being involved with shady drug people, and that he had been thinking about how to tell me that without making himself look like a moron for being with her in the first place. Serendipity? We laughed at the whole ridiculousness of it all and ignored the peacock staring at us. The peacock finally left. I didn’t have to fret about shitty messages on my phone because I had blocked him that morning. I don’t want to sound like a peacock myself right now, but all I could think was…..”sorry if it hurts to see me enjoying myself but you shouldn’t have been an assh*le.” It was a little uncomfortable for a minute though as I didn’t know if the peacock was going to come down and cause a scene. He made sure I saw him staring but he didn’t approach us, thankfully. I think it was coincidence and that he was caught off guard seeing me, but still kinda creepy.

    • Natasha says:

      Jenny, The Peacock…too funny!! I call mine Aaron Spelling Jr., because he was always coming out with these convoluted stories that reminded me of a Melrose Place plot circa 1995. I also burst out laughing that the new guy didn’t want to look like a “moron” for being involved with a hot mess! See, it’s not just us ;)

      • jennynic says:

        Yeah, he sat up on the highest rock facing me and took off his shirt and looked right at us for a while. He would get up and pace around then go back to the posing and staring from the rock. Funny thing, he met someone else less than a week after I stopped talking to him, if the tables were turned and I was the staring at him and his new girl, he would of called me a psycho. He ended up ambushing me in a parking lot (drink in hand) at the beach yesterday wanting a debrief about our break up. I told him why I ended it with him and of course true to form….he denied and disagreed. I said that he didn’t have to agree. He then wanted to hug me ( all while turning on the crocodile tears, telling me he loved me), I expressed that the new girl was available for that but I wasn’t. I told him to leave me alone and that he has no right to come up to me, got in my car and drove off. I admit it shook me up a little and my feelings are hurt that he never stayed home and felt bad about me….not even for a minute, even though I can rationalize that he’s a loser I cut out of my life and it shouldn’t matter what he is doing these days. Illusion still tries to poke its head in to my reality.

        • Magnolia says:

          Great job, jennynic.

          What is WITH these guys who suddenly feel a need to take off their shirts in a bid to … do what? Make us swoon at their pecs? They must feel themselves quite unable to overcome distraction when they see a bit of female skin and so figure we will be the same.


          A guy oh-so-casually taking off his shirt around me never fails to make me want to pee with giggles!! Peacock is right!!

  32. Alogon says:

    “If you struggle with boundaries, when you get a code amber, you ignore the information or have a half hearted conversation and proceed anyway even if you’re not comfortable. When you get code red, you try to convince and change them because you don’t trust your judgement, possibly because you’re scared that if you do, in two shakes of a lambs tail, they’ll turn into Mr/Miss Perfect with someone else. You don’t want to try again – you want this one to be it.”

    Lady…you nailed it out of the ball park and it landed on my head.

    Isn’t seeing what you already knew but refused to process fun? Sometimes it just takes a smack in the head. :)

  33. Sabrina says:

    I happen to know a guy just like that.

    Actually we kinda had something but I, stupid woman who just got divorced from a freaking asshole/stalker, thought that with this one – blonde, green eyes, looks like an angel -, would be different. Ladies and gentlemen, it was different, indeed: from Mr. Stalker to Mr. Unavailable. I didn’t actually know what the hell happened, why he blew hot and cold, why he had the guts of having any closeness with me only while we were drunk and then piss off, until I ran into these posts and I realized what an ass I was being to myself, allowing such toxic people to come close to me.

    Now I’m trying hard to move on, but unfortunately I can’t really apply the NC rule: we happen to work together and we must do some stuff side by side. So I’m doing the hardest thing ever IMHO: change from the inside, not giving a crap to what Mr. EUM will think or feel about it. In fact he started blowing hot, again, since I allowed him to behave like that: he blows cold, I give him the silent treatment, he blows hot, I open my guard again, he throws crumbs, I melt, he pisses off. It’s pointless to mention how ashamed I am, because I shouldn’t allow myself to be fooled like that. What can I say?, but I learned my lesson.

    • Audrey says:

      Sabrina, i empathise with your experience – but beating yourself up isn’t going doing you any good. We have all learned our lessons about eums the hard way, before finding b.r., but now that you know you won’t be caught in the trap again. For me, its very easy to spot them now. They all act more or less the same way – blowing hot and cold, making plans and not following through, not making plans and expecting the woman to make them (the role reversal tactic!) and basically being a dickhead.

      And we need these types like we need a hole in the head, imo.

  34. Lia says:

    So weird, I was literally just thinking about this before I went to bed. I’ve always found it a bit difficult to stand my ground with my boundaries. I’ve gotten into the practice of it as an adult, but to be honest I used to feel really conflicted. It felt like the more and more I did it, the better I felt about myself. But at the same time I used to feel really unsure of myself in choosing to enforce these boundaries. Looking back I remember feeling powerless because I realized that there was no use in having them if the very people that you love the most will continue to cross them, with little to no remorse. I guess, in my mind, I had somehow tricked myself into thinking that if I didn’t expect for people to respect boundaries, when they crossed them it wouldn’t hurt or anger me. Boy was I wrong! Even as a child you know in your heart when something doesn’t feel right, sometimes you just don’t know why you’re feeling the way that you do or how to put it to words.

    So as an adult, I somewhat struggled to set boundaries with certain individuals not because I didn’t want to, per say, but because I thought that by having them it was like me asking that person to change for me. I never appreciated it when anyone ever requested that of me, so I never wanted to do that to another person. But eventually I realized that those are not the same things. Asking someone to change for you comes from a disrespectful place; it is one person telling another person that they know what’s best for that person. Asking someone to change for you only gives real choice to one person. Boundaries, on the other hand, are all about me and the respect that I have for myself; the respect that is commanded from others who want to be in my life. Even further, I have every right to decide how I want to be treated. And if that’s not something that person is willing or capable of doing, then that person has every right to decide to move right along.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Lia,

      Thank you for articulating so nicely what I’ve been struggling with over many years. I’ve struggled with the exact same issue between wanting them to change vs. my boundaries. Wanting and telling a person how to change is disrespectful and not the same thing as having boundaries. Thank you for this subtle, obvious distinction. “I have every right to decide how I want to be treated. And if that’s not something that person is willing or capable of doing, then that person has every right to decide to move right along.” May I respectfully add, that we have the exact same right to move along? Your post is very thought provoking and brings up my many, many childhood issues as well. Of course as a child with no boundaries, I did not have the options I do as an adult. As an adult, I’m not trapped. Thanks so much for your post. I get to decide what my boundaries are and I get to move along when they are violated? I’m starting to get the relationship between boundaries and action vs. words and explaining. Most of my professional colleagues would easily describe me as action oriented in my professional life. In my personal life, I’ve not been inclined to act until it is too late and I end up road kill. Childhood again!

      • Lia says:

        “May I respectfully add, that we have the exact same right to move along?”

        A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!! There’s just something about realizing that you do not have to just put up with anything from anyone. It’s so tragic how some of us have been conditioned to believe that we have to. But once we figure out that we don’t, it’s almost like this missing puzzle piece has been found, like we’ve reconnected with a side of ourselves that we never knew existed. It feels incredibly uplifting and empowering to know that we really do have choices.

  35. Rosegirl says:

    That was the first thing he did that stood out. It was our third date and he had brought me out for a show drinks. I got quite intoxicated out of pure nerves. I remember sitting down that evening and telling him that sex wasn’t going to be happening anytime soon with me I had a feeling he was one of those types to expect it quickly. He brought me back to his parents house to sleep and next thing I wake up half naked with bruises and the feeling I had been bitten. And yeah it just continued from there with incidents like pulling at my top and clothes. You let one violation like that go and you send a clear message to that person that you are free to be taken advantage of. Its unfortunate but its true. Also if a person is disrespecting you and your body at the beginning of a relationship they sure as hell wont develop respect for you as it progresses. Im learning all of this now :) One of the only good things about these kind of experiences is that it teaches you about boundaries. In terms of the above incident there has to be some level of personal responsibility on my part I realise that I should not have gotten so drunk around someone so unfamiliar. You live and you learn. You expect people to do the right thing and not take the piss but now I realise that its just simply absurd to have this expectation.

  36. Nat says:

    I agree with everyone’s comments, but no relationship is all black and white, and what’s so difficult for me is to keep boundaries intact when he at times, more times than not shows remorse, and yet then crosses it over again.

    • Minky says:

      Nat – i totally know where you’re coming from, and no it is never black and white. Enforcing boundaries is hard, because ACs and EUs don’t like it when you stand up for yourself. They make it difficult, either by being mean, or showing fake remorse – and it IS fake if they do it more than once.

      I used to do exactly the same thing when i got an apology from the ex EUM, i would let it go only for it to happen again and again and again. It is up to you to decide what your limits are and when enough is enough, but you are going to have to decide, because it sounds like this guy isn’t taking you seriously and is incapable of respecting your boundaries. I am not saying he is a bad person, i am saying you deserve much better. Hugs!

    • grace says:

      He’s not sorry if he does it again. Crying, promises and/or makeup sex doesn’t cut it.

    • Bonnie says:

      Nat – all situations aren’t black and white, but that is why your boundaries have to be. If you have intuition or a gut feeling that something is wrong, take that as fact that you are right.

      I know it sounds harsh and as some posters have said they may have over-reacted and kicked someone to the curb that was perfectly ok. But this is about protecting yourself, only allowing yourself to be treated a certain way.

      One time of boundary crossing is not a pattern, but if he does it more than once he is selfish and does not value your feelings and that is why you need to move on.

    • NML says:

      Nat, I don’t think you realise how ironic your comment is… You say “no relationship is all black and white” and then follow it with “and what’s so difficult for me is to keep boundaries intact when he at times, more times than not shows remorse, and yet then crosses it over again.” Looks pretty black and white to me – you’ve even typed the words out.

  37. Happy Girl says:

    I love this post. Basically, I have had no boundaries. I DO, in the technical sense, but they have always been easily swayed the second I sense I might upset someone. This kind of sensitivity worked well to keep me safe as a kid or in random volatile situations, as well as in my profession as a writer and artist, but it sure as hell does not translate well as a grown woman in a relationship. My biggest challenge is recognizing that just because I can UNDERSTAND something doesn’t make it RIGHT. Just because I understand the reasons my dad was a raging asshole when I was younger doesn’t mean it’s okay to put up with behavior from his carbon copies. I could go on and on with the examples. It wasn’t until I reached my final breaking point that I looked back and realized all of the other small breaking points I’d had and the crappy behavior that led me there-and that there was a REASON so many other people weren’t treated the same way as me. They don’t have to understand it, and they wouldn’t dream of wasting time trying. They didn’t allow it. What a great sense of relief to know I have control. I’ve cut a lot of people out of my life and done a lit of letting others come to me instead of making myself available at their whim…slow steps making sure I make progress that counts surrounding myself with people I’m certain care about me as much as I do them.

  38. Gina says:

    Thinking about it… Alot stemed from when i would try to tell my dad how i felt when he would be abusive, i would try to win the case… But without fail my feelings, perceptions and thoughts were all wrong. It got to the point of actually taking action bc he wouldnt respect me… Ive been nc with him for about four years. It took a while to realize that i am not responsible for getting him to see the light… For a while i thought if only i would explain it just ever so, hed finally get it… And thinking about it now, i probably felt somewhat responsible for his crappy behavior, why else would i be trying to stop it…. It was when i realized that i wasnt, i was able to walk away.

    • NK says:

      I had the same experience with my mum. I was fighting a losing battle with her, it actually took my ex EUM to really point out that I was wasting my time! which made me stay around lol! (I saw the lgith eventually). So I enforced boundaries after that. Before it drove me crazy! I also had similar boundry problems with my dad for different reasons. When I was young he did something illegal and Ive been the victim of this behaviour as well. There was an unspoken disrespect I had for him for years until I finally braced it and stated my issue and enforced my boundaries. Thing is, I havent had to enforce them on this issue, but I know (and I think he knows) that I wont ever budge on it.

      Yesterday, I spoke to a very close freind who lives near an area where some of the looting and violence has happened in London. She said that her BF has given her some items from the looting and he joined in the looting. I said to her that I had lost a little respect for her because shes knows this is wrong. She called me later and started telling me how angry she was. She started attacking me stating how im judging her, how she nevers judges me and mentioning things ive done in the past. I engaged a little but because she was upset I said I didnt want to get into an argument and left the phone call. She has i nthe past made me guilty for her actions and pushed it on me. I am not that person anymore. She maybe unhappy with my opinion, but we’ve always had a open dialogue and have had very honest conversations before. I am not apologising for stating my opinion.

      • Allison says:


        She reacted that way because she knew she was wrong. I think I would really look at the character of someone who thinks it is OK to accept stolen goods.

        Sounds like her boyfriend is not only a loser but, also a criminal.

      • NML says:

        NK, that sounds like an awkward conversation. Your friend has very questionable morals and values and I think in situations like this, the best thing that you can do is establish the boundary by distancing yourself. The trouble is that even though you’re right to lose respect for her, telling her that you have only, as you experienced, opens up for a confrontation. And yes, while it’s not nice to feel judged, as individuals, we do have to make judgement calls and ultimately use our judgement. Personally as someone who is a proud Londoner that knows people directly affected by these riots, I’m appalled at your friend’s choice in partner and the fact that she’s handling stolen goods. I wouldn’t apologise – I’d distance yourself fast.

      • grace says:

        If she was that happy about her looting boyfriend she would have laughed it off and not got angry with you. She knows it’s wrong, he knows it’s wrong. She told you about it hoping for some validation. You find this a lot with ACs – they push your buttons then get mad when you respond like a normal human being. You failed to follow her script. Good for you.

  39. Rosegirl says:

    Thats hard for me too.. It just goes beyond my realm of understanding. The first time we had sex it was also after a night of drinking with him and something I dont remember fully. He had been putting me under a fair bit of pressure for it and until that point I was adamant that I wouldnt until I felt it was right. I gave in that night to him possibly because I was exhausting fighting him on it. Next morning bruises again and he hadnt used protection. I asked him was he clean he said yes but he didnt seem at all concerned about what I could have given him (I’m clean but how does he know for sure?).. Another time he pressured me into drinking more wine than I wanted to relax enough so he could have sex with me after I said I didn’t want to because I was too sore to. Ludicrious! But I allowed these things to happen .. focus on the good, block and refuse to process what his actions mean with regards to the type of person he is and how he feels about me. His boundary crossing screamed that he’s a selfish disrespectful prat but I let him run riot. I’m responsible for that. Its a lot easier to believe shallow ‘I love you’s I guess ….. now I dont really drink I realise that it has brought me more harm than good. And I don’t trust anyone anymore which I’m not entirely sure is a good thing. Boundary crossings are serious because a boundary crossing clearly reflects the type of person your dealing with and how that person feels about you no matter how nice they sometimes appear.

  40. Sabrina says:

    Thinking about boundaries and also about Mr. Stalker x Mr. Unavailable there’s something I quite don’t understand, but maybe this is me.

    When I got divorced from Mr. Stalker his last action was to slap me in the face. That’s, IMHO, THE boundary no one should EVER cross, no matter what. In fact after it I never more wanted to have anything with him, our contact is mainly because of some pending issues about selling our house and all that jazz. On the other hand Mr. Unavailable has the fucking standard behavior of a classic EUM and yet I allowed him to do whatever he wanted with me: have closeness while both were drunk to then push the Reset Button the day after, pretend he didn’t know what I feel for him (damn, I did fall for the guy), blowing hot and cold, all these little shitty things that can drive any woman crazy and smash her self-esteem, not to mention all the time wasted over him.

    Am I stupid? Am I naive? Mah. I still have no clue about it. :(

    • Bonnie says:

      Hey – don’t beat yourself up. You expected him to be a normal human being with compassion and emotions, not the AC he turned out to be. We all fall for it, now it is about how to identify it when it is happening and walk away so it doesn’t happen again.

      You got this girl, even though you have to see him every day it will make him more crazy that you are strong and fine!

  41. Tulipa says:

    My boundaries are up for negotiation. In fact, they’re not really my boundaries and I’m not entirely sure I believe in them. I just want you to see my point of view, to change, to make me the exception. Don’t leave me.”
    How very very true for me it sums it all up.
    My boundaries were/are (work in progress) up for negotiation.
    I don’t stand behind them with any action and I talk, lecture, induce eye rolling because I want them to change, for them to make me the exception and not to leave me.
    But my experience should I choose to learn from it is a person with no boundaries will always be repeatdly walked over and they will never see your point of view, they will never change and they will NEVER ever make you the exception, just dump you when done.

    • Tulipa says:

      Well twice it has happened this week and both times I reacted wrongly.
      The first time I tried to educate someone on my boundaries they reacted with lots of verbal abuse, no education was required in the first place just a simple action on my part so they couldn’t do it a second time.
      The second time my boundries were busted (different person) I also educated them this time I was rewarded with the you are over reacting speech get a grip.
      So it is clear you have to act not talk, talk equals abuse and action equals boundry set no talk/education required.

  42. Bellaninha says:

    I am so annoyed with myself! In the event of all the unrest in London I thought I’d be my nice kind self and text the silly AC I’d been NC for almost 3 weeks (as was sick of him always texting me and not suggesting meeting up, all talk and no action) He lives in an area affected by the riots so I was ‘checking he was ok’ *omg….wtf?* I kept it light and said it had been a while and if he wanted to meet up let me know a date that suits.

    Well, he actually called me a few hours later (haven’t spoken for months) and we had a good chat, laughed, but then he said he was away for 1-2 weeks this month and would let me know when he was free and hoped I’d be free at the same time!!!! I cannot believe I have fallen for it again…. Worse thing is I actually said “I’ll wait for your call then”!!! I was SO tempted to ring him back or write an email to say “Actually don’t bother, I’ve got the picture and you are completely ‘busting my boundaries’!” But I got home and saw Natalie’s blog (ALWAYS comes at the right time!) and thought I am completely in charge of my own drama. I’m the one who keeps on hanging on (love that song too!) So I need to just air this, and move on! Back to NC!

    I still have so much work to do with enforcing boundaries. I was quite proud of myself though on Friday night I went out for a date with a new guy and it was all going well, nice normal guy, but then after having a kiss (admittedly a bit drunken) he said he was just looking to date different people. (1 year out of a 10 year relationship…oh and a self confessed texter not caller!) The red flags waving in front of my face! I told him that wasn’t going to work for me, good luck, and walked away. Just need to totally forget about him now!

    After these two events it’s clear I need a break from dating… I feel like I’ve gone majorly backwards in my self-esteem that I thought was building. I woke at 3am and spent until 530am reading loads of Natalie’s old blogs and know I must still have stacks of healing to do. I’m going to try to just do some nice things for myself these next 3, maybe 6 months. Any suggestions of how anyone else has got through this would be great… It’s been over 18 months since I broke up with my EUM of 5 years, and though I’ve learned loads about myself I just can’t seem to action any of it. I guess stopping talking would be a good first step!!…

    • Lia says:

      You know how they say that we’re often times our own worst critics? Well I totally see how that can apply here. Don’t be so down on yourself, in those two examples that you gave it sounds like you realized that something wasn’t right and are now trying to act accordingly. That sounds like action to me…If you do think that you need more time to yourself, take all the time you need, it’s your call. Nobody’s ever gonna know you better or love you more than you can know and love yourself, so if you’re feeling out of touch with yourself be proud of the fact that you’ll be putting real time, energy, and effort into experiencing the greatest love of all, self love. Six months of real love by yourself has gotta count for a hell of a lot more than putting 5 years into a relationship with someone who wasn’t ever going to be giving you anything close to that.

      But time was what did it for me. Time in which I actually did do a little thinking, not too much but enough to know where I wanted my life to go, and I realized that I would continue to feel like I was chasing my own tail or running in circles if I kept dealing with a person who could not coexist with me on healthy, equal terms. Just ask yourself what you truly want/need for your life, why you want/need it, and whether or not it’s actually realistic. If it’s realistic and you don’t have it, then you need to look at yourself , really look at yourself, and acknowledge that you need to start making different moves to get out of life what you want/need. Once I knew what I didn’t want it became much easier to recognize (even in disguise), and it was much easier to filter those ones out so I could focus on those that still qualified. And eventually I just got to a place where any time I had a self pitying or negative thought about choices from the past, or potential future mistakes, somehow my brain started to counter those. Anytime I get to that place, and it will happen on occasion, it’s just like I now know that those thoughts don’t actually do anything to help me. If anything, they put me right back in the position of chasing my tail, only this time instead of chasing a man it would be after my own thoughts. So don’t be afraid to think or ask yourself questions, just make sure you’re asking the right ones and your train of thought is headed in the right direction. The wrong one will lead you in the circular direction which drains you just as much as men from the past, while the other will be the short cut that you need to get things done.

      • Bellaninha says:

        Lia, thank you so much for your amazing words and for taking the time to reply (with such eloquence). I think probably I am quite harsh on myself and do beat myself up about mistakes with men, but I do feel I never learn… I guess there’s a breaking point at some stage and at least with last Friday’s date I could spot that he would be too casual if I was to see him for a second date. I did go home a bit upset thinking, god, not another one….but with some strength of self I haven’t known for a while.

        I guess rather than healing properly from my old boyfriend I’ve tried to get quick fixes when I feel life is getting boring solo and I haven’t had attention for a while. I maybe haven’t actually worked through some of my issues properly from that relationship and from my relationship with my dad. I like what you said about not having self pitying thoughts about the past, but maybe I just need to write them down, acknowledge them once and then move on.

        I haven’t quite done what you said and worked out what I truly want, and how to get there but bizarrely I have started that process recently, sitting quietly and just ‘Be’ing. Your reply really reinforced the importance of taking the time to do this as well as making a plan on how to get there. I’ve also recently done some courses into self esteem/positive thinking etc, and do think it’s just the practise of these thoughts over and over that will stop the crazy thoughts I have. I think I’ve been stuck a bit too long and do need to actually do the hard work now. I woke up quite ill this morning, knowing that I need my inner self to change and to choose the way I want to live and be treated, then saw your post. Actually cried! Thank you for your encouragement and kindness. I wish you the very best too in your journey. xxx

        @Natalie – thanks too for your personal post to my comment. I do remember your article now about special occasions (though it’s not what you’d call the riots) and though I might think I am being caring and concerned and kind of course subconsciously I wanted to see if texting him might make him suddenly realise how lovely I am. eecch, I think I have seen the light on him, and that pattern of mine, thank you. Started reading your No Contact book which is helping xx

  43. Bonnie says:

    I am not sure which I enjoy reading more, the articles that the wonderfully insightful Natalie writes or the comments after. I just wanted to let every poster know that I love reading your stories, you are amazing and your strength inspires me.

    I had a boundary-crossing moment happen over the weekend. This article helped me understand what I was feeling. In my relationship I get accused of being jealous and not understanding, but guess what? He is shady, hides things from me, and when I find out about them he tells me he was protecting me from myself because I am jealous and I would just get upset if I knew. I have never been a jealous person, I know that my intuition is right and I have to trust it. Just because he is an AC and deceitful does not mean that I am crazy. Thank you NML this now makes sense !!!

  44. susie sunflower says:

    Having been in a long, loving marriage and becoming a widow i had never had to really consider boundaries, we just grew up together, had great times together, took the rough with the smooth times together and then sadly he died unexpectedly.

    After 3 years i felt i could be with another man once more and started going out with a man who told me he was going to build his life around me (future faking i now know – although i had never heard of that before), treated me really well, put me on a pedestal even, and then disappeared on me ‘out of the blue’. I had never experienced behaviour like that before and after many ‘phone calls, leaving messages on his answer phone, txting his mobile thinking that he might have been lying ill somewhere, or even had been mugged as he lived in a crime ridden area, he turned up once more as if nothing had happened after 2 weeks, and then he said -” I have come back to you because no one else would put up with me”!! How stupid was i that i allowed him to take up where he had left off?

    Eventually, of course, it fell apart once more especially when i discovered his cheating, and looking back over the whole relationship, i think he had been cheating from the word go but had cunningly hidden that part of his personality. I, of course, had not been used to this type of behaviour but boy do i know all about it now. I now have strong boundaries, i have been dated by many men since going NC with the slimeball, and at the first sign of my antenna rising – they are gone.

    I used to think this man was an AC/EUM but i have since discovered the description that is most suitable to him after reading and searching behaviours online, is a narcissist. I literally gasped out load when i read all about this type of man, he is everything these type of men are.

    The trouble is, i am now wondering if there really are any men out there who are worth pursuing?

  45. Miss EmTee says:

    My ex started off our relationship by saying if I flirt Or dance with other guys it’s a deal breaker. Then he goes and be an ass by keeping me secret, telling the whole wide world he’s single and leading other girls on. There’s no need to explain why I walked out

  46. Rosegirl says:

    The kinds of men who repeatedly cross boundaries are the types who want someone to accompany them on their journey of self hatred … they can’t like themselves too much to treat people in the manner they do. I got the distinct impression with my ex that he was desperately insecure underneath the bravado and would sometimes even admit to the possession of this trait. He didn’t seem to like himself very much and I get why he chose me .. I don’t like myself much either. I was all too willing to accept his garbage because I genuinely thought he was the best I could do. This man did everything he could to hold me back from trying to improve myself too, one morning he spent a substantial amount of time trying to talk me out of going to a councilling session so we could ‘spend the day together’ .. he would berate me for acting insecure and not trusting his feelings for me but would make ‘harmless jokes’ about things he knew I felt insecure about, things he knew upset me. These men want to trap you with them because they don’t want to be miserable and feel crappy about themselves alone.

  47. Rosegirl says:

    Having and enforcing your boundaries implies that you love, care and respect yourself. These kinds of men.. ACs and EUMs aren’t really looking for all that in a woman.

  48. agirliknow says:

    “The idea of knowing these limits isn’t for you to bounce them in the hope that they’ll chase after you and make promises that they can’t keep. You should be bouncing them because you have no room for certain types of behavior or for feeling bad about yourself.”

    I’m with Bonnie. The blog and the comments are what are getting me through. I feel so stupid. I’ve been w/the same EUM for 7 years (lived w/him for 3) and have been breaking up w/him the past year & a half. I honestly have been on this site for about 6 months and signed up for the NC emails….but you know, I’m SOOOO different from everybody else. MY situation is different because I’m SOOOO mature and I can “understand” his behavior = PLEASE go ahead & bust my boundaries because I obviously don’t care enough about myself to recognize I am allowed to have any. I really don’t get how a person with no self esteem can have this elite mentality that her situation is so different from everyone else’s. I obviously wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. I think I’m comfortable feeling bad about myself so I stayed w/someone who made me. So much really to say, but nothing new from anyone else’s story. I just really appreciate everyone here for sharing – even though my pain is so much worse than yours and though he has yet to chase after me, I’m sure he’s going to any minute now (major eye roll for the sarcasm.) Day 11 NC!!! Love ya’ll and thanks again.

    • wicked74 says:

      @agirliknow – You said “I’m comfortable feeling bad about myself so I stayed w/someone who made me” Boy, did that ring a bell with me! So many times we complain about the ACs and rarely do we take responsibility for being EU ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

  49. sm says:

    I love this post! I took a 13 week class on boundaries at my church, twice because I felt myself backsliding. This just reinforces how much I need the refresher. Heres my latest boundary buster lesson, if an eum keeps calling after you’ve told him not to, its not because you are so irresistible(as I thought) that he just cant stay away, its because he is a boundary violator and if I keep answering the phone I am violating my own boundaries.

  50. Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

    This blog is the best therapy regarding my dysfunctional relationships with men, from my father to my boyfriends. I knew I had issues (I didn’t know what they were, but now clearly know I am a work-in-progress EU), so I married a man who let me have the control but I never really loved him in THAT WAY. After 20 years we got divorced and shortly after that I got slammed with all the passion and chemistry of the returning college boyfriend/MM. Finally after a year, the shift is happening. I can feel it!! I can’t quite describe it. There was a lot of self talk going on (and lots of BR terminology) when my interactions with men/the MM were not working well. I learned, first, it is NOT ALL ABOUT ME! Rejection/disinterest can be from a million things, starting from I have the wrong eye color to timing to the man is licking his own wounds to he’s just an assclown! Second, it is just NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL! I MADE it a big deal! If I don’t like something, I tell the man. If he doesn’t respond, FLUSH! NEXT! He is not “last chance saloon*. There are a lot of fish in the sea. I am not going to say I am *healed*, but I will say I am now recognizing the behaviors and addressing them, both in the men and in myself. I am working on the boundaries being healthy; as an EU, they tend to be either ridiculous in the extreme to falling for some guy and they disappear. Whew, this is a lot of work!

    The MM is still in my life, we do business together, but the impact he has on me is greatly diminished. We were suppose to have dinner to discuss business and a few days before he canceled on me. Not new for him. But this time I just laughed and said “of course you have to cancel”. And here was the coolest part, I didn’t care!! I did not have one tiny smidge of rejection. Of course it helps that in this business transaction I hold all the cards :-) Sometimes the gods do smile on us ladies…I can make this man a lot of money, or I can yank the rug out from under him with literally one word to the right person…hmmm, still thinking….should I take a vote with the BR bloggers? Ha ha

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to Natalie and everyone who posts on here. Natalie, you have a unique gift in cutting through the bullshit and delivering the message in the way it needs to be heard. You are empathetic but you are a bit *tough love*. You deserve much recognition and I hope you have a bright future in helping women all over the world reclaim or learn our personal power…which is to love ourselves above all. Hugs to all of you (and I will still be reading, there is much more for me to learn :-))

    P.S. all of these changes are also working their way into my career life too and creating amazing changes there as well, it is amazing how these skills *bleed* their way into other aspects of our lives. Damn it feels good!!

  51. Judy says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if I’m now going too far in the opposite direction- over enforcing my boundaries. I’ve been doing online dating. It’s not ideal, but I live in a rural area, and as a professor/teacher that lives with her parents right now (due to lack of funds), I have a real hard time meeting men.

    After a bunch of assclowns and emotionally unavailable guys, I have a clearer idea of what I don’t want. This site, some therapy, a long with a ton of very bad online dates, has been very helpful.

    For me, after I exchange a few emails with someone new on the online sites, is it too much to want to talk on the phone a bit, then make a plan to meet up a couple of days in advance for some type of date?

    Many guys want to text to get to know me, which I’m not a fan of, as I agree with Natalie, it’s really lazy and leads to many miscommunications. They also want to text me that night for a date. That’s hard for me to do, as I live really far away and get up early to teach.

    Some friends this weekend suggested that maybe talking on the phone (so I could suss them out) was old fashioned and that my boundaries were too high. Now I’m questioning myself, especially after not having any boundaries before.

    Any advice?

    • runnergirl says:


      Have you read Natalie’s excellent post on “Crumb Communications” and all the comments? I’m thinking you may find the answer to your questions. I certainly did and then experienced the crummiest of text communications. I’m a firm believer in Natalie’s advice: If they don’t have time to call, they don’t have time for a relationship. I’m assuming you are interested in a relationship? A phone call doesn’t seem to me to be too stringent a boundary. “They also want to text me that night for a date.” In my new Book-o-Boundaries, that could be a red flag, booty call.

    • msblue says:

      Nah, go with your idea. I’ve done online dating and the guys that are really serious about you will respect the phone thing and not insist on texting, etc. Also, no IMing (instant messaging). I found I wasted a lot of time initially with men who texted and IMed and then didn’t bother showing up for a real date. Real men who want real relationships aren’t scared of hearing a real voice on the phone.

      Could be an age thing too as I’m in my 40′s.

      • Audrey says:

        Judy : i think you are perfectly sensible and reasonable here. Long ago….(pre mobile phones – texting and emailing), if you met a guy, say on a night out, he asks for your number ,calls you and arranges a date usually in the same week and it was that simple. Sure, there were times the guy didn’t show but at least you know early on in the game that he was a non runner!

        I think texting is like a Godsend to the emotionally unavailables and assclowns – they can play with you for a length of time and get their ego stroked, while having no actual intention of meeting up with you and/or wanting a proper relationship.

        If a guy is genuinely interested and has a backbone, he will pick up the phone, have a chat and then suggest meeting up and you’re on your way.

        I dont think you can get to know someone through texting – to me it’s too illusional and its not real communication. And Nat is so right, any guy that relies predominantly on texting is showing a red flag.

        A friend of mine was into online dating – she would be hearing from a guy,say for a few weeks and then there would be nothing – the communication would just stop and there would be no talk of actually meeting up.

        You know, i think these eums have more of a relationship with their mobile phones than they do with the women they’re communicating with. This texting malarky is a real bug bear of mine.

    • grace says:

      I loathe going out at short notice, even with my female friends. I’ve told them loud and clear, and countless times that I went at least 24 hours notice, preferably 48. They often give me two weeks.
      I enjoy the anticipation and deciding what to wear. I want to know that my hair has been washed. I need to do laundry and get groceries in! Maybe have an early night.
      IME men who text you on the day are looking for a booty call. They can’t be bothered with wining and dining. They just want to drop round for YOU to feed them and sex them. Rude. Don’t do it. Tell them you’re busy and can’t fit people in on short notice. If they can’t respect that, move on.
      With clients, with your boss, with the dentist, the doctor and the candlestick maker, it’s perfectly normal to give people a bit of notice. He expects you to make an exception because he thinks you’ve nothing better to do than wait for him to turn up. He must be joking!
      Upholding boundaries will save you time in the long run. Having no boundaries and getting mixed up in men who are unreliable is an extreme waste of time. Better to have good quality control upfront and sift through maybe dozens of men in one month than be clearing up one unholy mess from here to eternity.

  52. Jane says:

    my flatmate fresh from hoilday is going to dinner with my ex Ac as they are best friends. He then hinted that he was going to bring the ex over to play video games after dinner. I said in a calm voice “I respect that he is your friend but No, i work between the hours of 9-5:30 Monday to Friday. In those hours you can play video games to your hearts content but the rest of the time he cant come to my house.”

    At first i felt guilty but then i thought to myself I don’t want to see this person, I don’t care if i come off as a bitch. I have no intention of nurturing a friendship with my ex AC so that him and everyone else is happy but im miserable. I want nothing to do with him being his friend or allowing him in my small house to play video games will let him think his treatment of me was okay as im willing to be his friend and let him in my house.

    I know this is not directly related to the post but I have been a people pleasing door mat ever since my mother spent the majority of my childhood telling me i was selfish whenever i didn’t do things her way. I just wanted to share this feeling of sheer strength with all of you because before this blog, i would have let that AC come to play video games and possibly even served him tea with a side of my self respect.

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t know you, but I am so proud of you! My mother used to tell me the same thing when I was growing up. Now, in her old age, she depends on me to put up boundaries with other people on her behalf. The hypocrite.

    • wicked74 says:

      @Jane – Good girl! It is so hard to change those patterns, isn’t it? I’m proud of you, too!

    • annied says:

      @Jane – Woot! Way to go … I’m proud of you too :)

  53. Gina says:

    Judy, your boundaries and standards are reasonable in my opinion. Expecting any less, is on the brink of disaster. I would never except a last minute phone call asking me to meet up from a stranger unless they were a close friend of mine, let alone a text to meetup. The people that cant plan ahead, put effort into calling you are not taking dating seriously, I personally rather be alone snd content than accept crumbs like that. I can see why you are questioning yourself… But the men worth your time will share your values.

  54. sm says:

    Jane way to go. I know myself how difficult it is to set boundaries when you’ve been conditioned to ‘suck it up’ so that everyone else can be happy.
    NK my prayers go out to you all in London.

  55. msblue says:

    What a timely post. I was thinking about telling a colleague about how her behavior was negatively affecting me for several days. Then i realized that I can just ignore her. She is a narcissist, brags about herself, turns all conversations around to herself. She is intolerant of any criticism or feedback and gets defensive, angry and blames the person for daring to suggest that she may not be perfect/know everything. Of course this is all coming from a fragile ego, a truly confident person can handle constructive criticism. So all these thoughts have been ruminating within me and I’ve been wanting to tell her how I feel, etc.

    I am not responsible for educating her, saving her, telling her how she invades my boundaries. I will simply ignore her. I don’t have the energy to deal with her personality disorder. I have enough of these in my family!

    I thought I needed to spell things out for her. But I realize that she does this to a lot of people and that it won’t take me explaining it to get her to change. Hmmm, my father is also a narcissist and basically destroyed our family. That is why I took her behaviour personally – it was Daddy again using me to puff himself up. We cannot control people and the choices they make.

    I feel like a big burden has been lifted from me. Just by writing this post, I realized the link between her and my father was narcissim. OMG. This blog is like a free therapy session. Thank you!

  56. NML says:

    @Cinderella Indeed I think boundaries act as a natural filter which is why they can be so effortless when embraced.
    @Janis And that’s when you recognise the futility and get off the merry-go-round.
    @Cinnamon Indeed the only right way to communicate boundaries to someone that’s crossing them is to walk – that’s what gets them to stop because you’re not around to experience it anymore.
    @Natasha Gosh he really is a prize…NOT! Glad you flushed!
    @Carrie Just go out and live your life – life is full of boundaries even when we don’t realise it. But yes – go out and form new friendships.
    @Jane The last line is brilliant – we have to be relieved to call them exe’s – it’s a sign we’ve seen sense.
    @MaryC They’re like Barbie dolls – there’s millions of them.
    @Runnergirl Yeah you do have to admire his honesty. Sort of. Shameless is what I’d call him but the key as you discovered is to go in the opposite direction. As this site can attest to, many women would have hung around pretending they’d misheard or thinking they could change him.
    @Magdalena No it certainly isn’t!
    @Gina Exactly and enforcing the boundaries removes any sense of inadequacy from you. They eventually learn that while there are people that will put up with their crappy behaviour – there are others that won’t. He’ll have to respect you from afar.
    @Lanasia I will!
    @Lea Exactly. So many keep thinking that this ONE time, they’ll finally get it. Next thing they’ve done it 200 times! Flush!
    @Karina Family can often be the worst teachers of boundaries and I speak from personal experience. I have learned that distancing yourself and nipping situations in the bud is very freeing – they eventual get the message and have to adjust.
    @CC “I want you to come complete” – Amen.
    @Nat Long distance for 8 years? Volatile from the beginning? FLUSH!
    @Gab There’s a world full of unhappy, unavailable people who were brought up in homes where their parents stayed together to keep up a semblance of family. If you stay, stay for the right reasons because one person can’t do all the ‘work’ in the relationship. He can still be a father without you being together. Much as I spent most of my life chasing my father in unavailable men, him and my mother staying together would have been far more disastrous.
    @MissE trying to stick with it out of fear of starting over is a bit like throwing a dart, it landing on the guy and saying “Right, you’re it.” You’re not that desperate!
    @riotgirl Feeling second rate around your boyfriend wouldn’t be high up on my list of things to feel in a relationship. Actions speak louder than words and he treated you differently to the point of you being compelled to ask him about it. You’re not overreacting.
    @J “surely he wouldn’t want to be a person of poor character!” And that’s where we have to step outside of ourselves and recognise that if we view someone in that light, we shouldn’t be with them.
    @I Get It Unfortunately you’ll find that when you’re under his roof, it’s like being under his jurisdiction because that’s what people like him operate like. I would consider all other options before you continue to stay with him.
    @407 Yeah forever can feel scary but if you ever actually want to get on with your life, it’s what it’s got to be. If we end things and don’t have finality, we remain unavailable.
    @Debra Gosh what an awful situ to deal with. If you have to force someone to respect you, it’s just never going to feel good. It is incredibly annoying to feel walked over but I find it’s even more annoying to invest in it. Walk!
    @Christina I once had a man say something racist about 10 minutes after we met. I made my excuses and left. Fast.
    @Josie The key is that you learned. We have to realise the futility of convincing someone to respect us. That’s an oxymoron.
    @Rosegirl That guy is a creep. “They should do this without direction or correction” – damn straight!
    @AdrinenneByTheSea – The truth is that it’s only us that can end it. I hear you on your experiences. Your parents will always be your parents, guys like him will always be guys like him unless something catastrophic happens, so it’s you that has to shift away from them and adapt your behaviour. The rewards are worth it.
    @Grace Totally agree – expectation management is key.
    @Donna To be honest, somebody has to end a bad relationship and if you don’t, they will, because they’re doing what you’re not. Your power hasn’t been lost – you have it back now. The relationship is over.
    @Minky Yep – the world is not full of clones of ourselves. It’s good to know what we would do but empathy helps you see how others act.
    @Jennynic That story is hilarious! You couldn’t make this shit up! Your ex is a real tool.
    @Alogon “Isn’t seeing what you already knew but refused to process fun? ” EXACTLY! You already know!
    @Sabrina I think the key is that you learn your lesson. I had to do NC with my ex at work and experienced very similar. You end up learning by rote – the fire keeps burning so you stop putting your hand in the fire and believing it’s ‘nice’ and ‘well meaning’.
    @Lia “Asking someone to change for you comes from a disrespectful place; it is one person telling another person that they know what’s best for that person. Asking someone to change for you only gives real choice to one person. Boundaries, on the other hand, are all about me and the respect that I have for myself; the respect that is commanded from others who want to be in my life. Even further, I have every right to decide how I want to be treated. And if that’s not something that person is willing or capable of doing, then that person has every right to decide to move right along.” Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
    @Happy Girl “What a great sense of relief to know I have control.” You most certainly do! And it’s control you’ve always had but you’re finally accessing and applying.
    @Gina Exactly and at the end of the day, we’re not responsible for Other People’s Actions.
    @Tulipa Please do choose to learn from the experience!
    @Bellaninha If there’s one piece of advice I can give you and others who make contact off the back of birthday’s, anniversary’s and world events – be careful of the hidden expectations. While you were voicing concern, you were leveraging an opportunity to make yourself visible and to hopefully arrange to meet up. That said, don’t bust your own balls. You live, you learn, you get back up. You can make this incident have as big or as small an impact as you want.
    @Bonnie There’s two words for what he’s doing – mind f*ckery. FLUSH!
    @Susie Sunflower Of course there are decent men out there. It would be like saying there’s no decent women out there because they’re ‘all’ chasing unavailables and ACs. Just not the case. AC and EUM are not the same thing. All ACs are unavailable, but not all EUM are ACs. Narcissism is not a term to be used lightly and I would suggest that you focus on being available yourself, working through the loss of your relationship, and getting to a better place than working up a diagnosis on this man.
    @Miss EmTee “There’s no need to explain why I walked out” – Hilarious and brilliant.
    @Audrey Too right. It’s literally a case of “Oh you’re unavailable are you? See ya!” and….walk.
    @AgirlIknow You’re not alone, ironically. Every single person that persists with an unhealthy relationship has inverted ego issues that confuse in the context of poor self-esteem. You want to be the exception to the rule plus you base everything around you but it’s not because you see life through an ‘I’m not good enough lens’ and as a reflection of what you’re lacking. Congrats on Day 11 NC. Stick with it. Your situation isn’t different and you’re not unique and that in itself frees you up to stop making someone else’s problems your own.
    @sm 100% correct. It ain’t flattering – it’s boundary busting.
    @Oldenoughtoknowbetter Yes! It’s not all about you! That’s the hilarious thing! Brilliant comment. It’s no big deal! You will live after they’re gone.
    @Judy Nothing wrong with your expectations. Many people do things differently to these guys. Live by your standards, not by your friends. She can’t decide what your comfort level is.
    @Jane Totally did the right thing. He doesn’t need to come to your home!

    • Carrie says:

      You’re absolutely right Natalie – I just realized today that I have an opportunity to state a boundary with my therapist. Twice now – in just three sessions – she’s brought up going on an anti-depressant for my anxiety even though I told her the first time I wasn’t interested.. that I’d rather try behavioral and holistic methods first. Then someone on a forum busted on me for not listening to my therapist and that I must not want help. I then of course second guessed myself and started thinking “Well maybe medication would be a good idea” even though I know my issues aren’t extreme enough to warrant it. Then today I came across an article that anti-depressants increase risk of stroke in women and I thought “What AM I thinking? I know I don’t want to use meds as my first choice. Why am I conceding already???” and of course it’s because I don’t hold up my boundaries and when anyone makes me doubt myself, I crumble. So I replied to forum girl and told her that she needed to stop giving me a hard time about not wanting medication and that it’s my choice what goes in my body.. yay me! For someone known for her diplomacy on the board, that’s a new one for me – standing up to someone who is notoriously headstrong. So now I have the chance to do it again when I see my therapist next. I may be ultra anxious when I’m there, but come on it was only my 3rd session and I’m very unsure of myself in therapy… but I’m not always like that. You’d think she’d get that? Maybe it’s a test lol. So I’ll stand up for myself again and tell her if she keeps pushing it, I’ll be happy to find another therapist who has a more holistic approach.

  57. debra says:

    I read this post again this morning. I think I am finally really coming to understand what boundaries actually are. For my whole life, I have tried to make other people responsible for how I feel – I want them to stop hurting me. I put the onus on them to change their behaviors to accommodate my feelings. Boundaries are the way we stop others from hurting us. To stop investing in someone who has proven untrustworthy before it comes to the point where they can hurt you. I have dumped myself without reservation into every relationship, allowed people into my life in any way they wanted to be there and then kept changing and morphing, trying to get them to stay and care about me. Without caring about myself.

    Caring about me first and foremost means that someone doesn’t get to come in and hurt me. If I keep giving people the power to hurt me, to effect my life to such an extent I am destroyed, I have no boundaries. The people who have hurt me are those I have NEEDED to behave a certain way so that I can be happy. When they failed to do so, I was unhappy and believed I was unworthy of happiness and love. What I NEED is to stop making others responsible for how I feel or how my life goes. Only I can do that. That, I think, is having boundaries. It is not endlessly explaining to an assclown why he is an assclown and oh…would he please stop being an assclown to protect my feelings. That is relationship insanity.

    I think I finally got it.

  58. katie says:

    Just thought I’d share some of my tips for maintaining the no contact rule.

    I made a poster like a weekly calandar where after a day of NC I could put a sticker or strike that day off. I made the calandar as uplifting/motivating as possible. I did this for NC and another one for not looking up his twitter/facebook. After a week…reward time.

    I used a video camera and made little vlogs and vented every time I felt the urge and when I felt good about my progress. I used a diary before the video camera idea.Great way to vent and get it all out without boring a friend.

    Recognise what makes you think of them..I found it was mentioning them to friends, anything romantically, hearing other people talk about their lovely relationships, going on facebook.

    I left my mobile in my car at night so I couldn’t call them or left it with my flatmate when urge was very high.

    At height of craving… I mentally engaged in something to snap myself out of it…played chess, read, played my guitar etc

    Best of luck :)

  59. wicked74 says:

    Natalie, I just want to thank you so much for the work you do. I am struggling to get out of a marriage and must tread carefully because of a history of abuse. Every day I read something here, I feel stronger and more capable of changing my life. This blog is really a touchstone for me – a place to check in with myself and see my behavior clearly. Hearing the other comments helps immensely as well so thanks for allowing comments so freely.

    Hope you and family are well and ok during all the trouble in London.

  60. Spinster says:


    That boy-in-a-man’s-body is a coercive manipulative sadist & rapist. That’s right, RAPIST. If you haven’t already, block him from your life completely & immediately. Wishing you the best.

    • Rosegirl says:

      Thank you.
      It’s not been easy coming to terms with this. The support and advice here has been amazing.

  61. Natasha says:

    @Natalie – Yes indeed! The funniest thing was after he’d got through with blaming me, he started yammering about how he really wanted me in his life as a friend. This would be a case of someone who is both a jackass and most likely too cheap to spring for a therapist ;) A real positive that came out of this is I really came to appreciate my parents for having their sh*t together – if they didn’t, I could have Florence-d the hell out of that situation!
    p.s. I hope the situation in London gets better soon! I was there a few years ago and fell in love with everything about it. Sending everyone there lots of Yankee love!!

  62. Natasha says:

    @Natalie – Yes indeed! The funniest part was that after he was through blaming everything on me, he started yammering that he wanted me in his life as a friend. This is an example of someone who is both a jackass and most likely too cheap to spring for a therapist ;) A real positive that came out of this is I really came to appreciate my parents for having their sh*t together – if they didn’t, I could have Florence-d the hell out of that situation.
    p.s. I hope the situation in London improves soon! I vistited their a few years ago and fell in love with the city and everything about it. Sending lots of Yankee Love to everyone there!!

  63. annied says:

    Great timing, Nat! The snake is back trying to find a crack in my boundary wall. He’s not taking the hint and won’t leave me be. I finally had to tell him I do not want anything to do with him anymore.

    So now he’s playin ‘Oh poor me! I’m devastated!’ and I know eventually he will become angry and try to let me hold it. I guess at least I know the game and can be prepared. Not sure how it finally happened but I just don’t care anymore. He’s exhausting and I’ve been happy without him. Wish me luck fighting for my self esteem! I’ve found it and I don’t want to give it up.

  64. Jane says:

    I just remember this on my way back from work.

    My ex broke up with me twice and I took him back both times and I am ashamed to say that he didn’t really have to work that hard.

    However, one day we were randomly talking and I asked him if he would take me back if I treated him the way he treated me and then dumped him. He said NO WAY.

    At the time it made me sad but like most things he did that made me sad I brushed it off and convinced myself it didn’t matter because we were together now.

    However now I look back on that relationship and that specific conversation and I realise that there was a lesson in it but it was easier to ignore and make believe I was in a good relationship than face it.

    Today while thinking about this article I realised that lesson was:
    Those men we are so quick to break down our boundaries for, will have no problem enforcing them with us.

  65. Natasha says:

    @Jenny, I’ve had those moments reality gets rudely interrupted by good old illusions – don’t worry, it gets less and less as time goes on. Trust me, no one who’s done a magical 180 and is happily getting on with their lives is ambushing their ex in a parking lot. Men like this never want you to finish with them for good, that’s for sure! Mine was very jealous and didn’t want me moving on even though I was on his option list – it’s laughable. I definitely agree that if we pulled a lot of their moves on them, we’d be a Psycho Ex! Oy. You handled that incredibly well and I so enjoyed your description of him doin’ the Peacock! What a tool.

  66. Regeneration says:

    I’m usually awful at boundary setting, but wanted advice to see if I’m doing the right thing here.

    I run a project at work, it’s not going that well (some things I could have done better). One new supplier is doing the work for me, and I’m trying to manage their issues back into line, get everything in place (with the help of extra resources and my boss’s back-up).

    I have to include another long-term supplier, called “B” on the project (admittedly, I called him in too late with his team). He spent last week making “noises” about how badly the other supplier is doing, and saying how things should be run, and half shaking his head. He’s also telling me how much over-time he thinks he should do (and I run the budgets). I think he’s triggering me as he’s the kind of arrogant man I used to go out with.. but maybe I should avoid mixing personal with work in the way I think.

    Tomorrow, ‘B” has to come to a meeting with me to see a showcase of the other supplier’s work. I’m fairly sure, he’ll say how terribly the other supplier is doing, and antagonise their team. However, I’m managing the issues directly with the new supplier’s mgt. B has a lot of experience but he also talks over others and complains as he’d like to speak directly to the other supplier at all times, but this would disrupt their work.

    I want to speak to him tomorrow ahead of the meeting and tell him not to openly criticise the other supplier too much, as it won’t help on the project. And that other issues are being dealt with at a higher level but I’d like him to stick to purely work related queries at the meeting, and take-up criticisms with me, which I can then take to the new supplier’s mgt and jump up and down if needs be (though I have no issues with him raising questions at the meeting).

    I can’t work out if I’m asking too much as I’m querying my judgement as I know I’ve made mistakes… but feel he is walking all over me. This is a recurring theme for me in all areas.

    • grace says:

      By all means ask him but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t do it. People very seldom change their working style. They are who they are.
      Does it matter if he behaves like a clown? It’s not your fault. I’m sure everyone is a big boy/girl and can handle it. You’ll probably find other people will wade in and help keep him under control. And there’s always someone who dominates a meeting. brings up irrelevant stuff etc. You can’t control it. Worrying about it only affects YOUR performance, not anyone else’s.
      Maybe put up a flip chart and write down his “concerns”to address later. When he sees the list growing and growing he might shut up.

      • Regeneration says:

        thanks Grace, very useful. I’ve been using your advice as my mantra over the last couple of days and it has helped a lot. I realised after reading and actioning what you said that I can’t change anyone else’s behaviour, but I can do my job and look after myself and the project. I was only getting anxious before, so much appreciated.

  67. Fearless says:

    I was reading this post today as I often find it helps to go back and re-read or read posts that I missed. If I’d had one single boudary in place my EUM “relationship” would never have gotten off the ground! What’s done is done. No ruminating! No woulda coulda shoulda.

    I have tried to get my first younger sister introduced to BR and I was also looking for posts that I think would help her see the light. This one theoritcally should. Brief background: She has been living with her partner for oh…13/14 years – took up with him too fast after her marrigae broke up. He’s a drinker. He goes to work and goes to the pub. Full stop. He earns double her salary. He pays the mortgage. She pays for everything else. He thinks cos he pays the mortgage it’s his house – that type of guy. Asshole. Nice at times – but asshole. Mr Nice guy in the pub. Mr Shit at home.Controlling, Chips at her self-eseem. Her self-esteem is very low. She has no boudaries.Her drinking is now out of control as well. She admits this. Her daughter is 19yrs – is miserable at home now and complains to me about my sister’s drinking… you know the deal.

    Thing is – when I point my sis to BR she has a look but says that it’s for people who are dating etc. not for people like her who are living with a husband/partner and who are financially dependent. I think she does want out of the relationship and would maybe get out with help but she just keeps saying that she couldn’t sell the house (and in this climate it would be hard)… she’d have no-where to go… she can’t afford to walk… she couldn’t afford to put her daughter through Uni… it’s all about the “practical” excuses. She says it was easy for me to leave the EUM cos I wasn’t “tied in”; I was “independent”… it’s a lifestyle thing for her – even though she is miserable and I am worried as I see it getting much much worse – she is a shadow of the person she could be and once was. Can I ask you to think about a post that focuses on those who are tied up with a long-term partner in their capital and finances and who don’t have great salaries – I want her to see that BR also applies to her!

  68. Laurie says:

    Ok, I figured out my problem w men. (you’re thinking “duh, anyone can see it.”) I don’t respect my own boundaries. I let men cross them & become indignant & try to get them to see the error of their ways – as if THAT is gonna change their assclownery. 

    In the bottom link, titled “Stop Explaining…” OMG! This is me. I know. I say that about every one of Natalie’s blogs.  But, this one really sums it up. I actually think I can talk, argue, cajole a handsome assclown into being a suitable partner. And, somehow I end of rejecting MYSELF by going back for more abuse. I convince myself that if this assclown is still treating me like shit after I just spelled out why he is disrespecting me than there must actually be something wrong with me. 

    Wow. Breakthrough time.  

    Sent from my iPhone

  69. Laurie says:

    I actually think I am ready to change that behavior! No more convincing an assclown that I am lovable & worthy of respect. I already know this & if he can’t see that – F him. Natalie, I owe you a bottle of champagne. This is a cork popping moment. Doormat, no more! Love you! Xoxo, TNG

  70. chloe says:


    I find this one the most challenging for me….the stop talking part. I pretty much do everything Natalie wrote not to do, talk about my boundaries instead of acting on them, thinking i’m giving the guy a chance to redeem himself, because surely that’s what he wants to do, he doesn;t want to lose me! Not so, i did the break up with a guy with so many issues happening, messy divorce, finances in shambles, bad sex, selfish etc. etc. I told him how he should be handling his life, his finances, what a joke. Of course, he’s not going to change. In fact, i broke up with him, then wanted to go back and he decided he wanted to be friends only, and of course that is too hard for me as I have too many feelings. The final straw for me, or the final words i needed to hear was that he wasn;t in love with me, and then i thought ok, if after a year you are not into me, why would you be after the divorce. So, I needed to hear him tell me that to set my boundary of NC. It’s not easy, but i feel so much clearer after he admited to not loving me. I thought he did love me but was afraid to say. What a shock to hear the opposite. But, it also showed me the insanity of talking your boundaries instead of acting on them. I should have gotten out of this one right from the beginninig, all the signs were there. I was too needy, too desperate to walk. I’m hoping now I will stick to this decision, which I initially made and he forced me to carry it out. How do we stop the talking, the trying to fix and correct. It has never never worked for me, yet i keep doing it. If I like someone, especially if I’ve slept with him, it’s so hard to just leave when I probably should. How many chances should a guy get? I feel like signing off Ms Illusion

  71. Kellie says:

    This is exactly what I needed right now! I have just found your blog and I am addicted! Thank you! I know we should *know* these things, but for some reason, we don’t.

    I’m going to stop talking…move on, move up, and get myself together!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!