A few days ago I wrote about how we need to Stop Explaining. Stop Talking. Boundaries are upheld with action and today I wanted to focus on talking overload’s friend – thinking used as a way of masking inaction.

I have a friend who spent over a decade (yes you read that correctly) ruminating on her relationship. Every time we caught up about what was going on, she was trying to “work things out” or “figuring things out” or “deciding what the best thing to do is” and even “trying to avoid making a mistake”.

This is all code for deciding whether to stay or go which means being unsure to a great degree, which means something is very wrong, and with a ruminator this translates to thinking things out to the nth degree and being non-commital.

The trouble with ruminating about something, is that you can go into such a level of deep thinking, you end up with your feet metaphorically stuck in cement while your life passes you by. There’s no easier way to sit on the fence in your own life by thinking the crap out of everything while saying it’s the other person or old situations or the pain that’s holding you back.

Exactly how much thinking can one person do? You’re not trying to come up with a cure for cancer or coming up with theories that will have you going down in history with the likes of Einstein and Freud; you’re thinking deeply about yourself or another person or the sum of your relationship or even life, in an unhealthy manner.

You might be making a decision about whether to stay or go. You might be thinking about what happened in your relationship and pondering the coulda, woulda, shoulda. You may be wallowing in pain and rejection. You may be thinking that you wanted them to be the right person and that you don’t want to have to try again. In fact, I know a lot of people burn up copious amounts of brain energy trying to ‘work out’ the other person

What are they thinking? I wouldn’t do something like that – why are they? If it were me and I did that, I think it would mean X. They said Y in January – how could they not mean it in July? I wonder if they’ve got something wrong with them – hmmm, let me Google possible conditions and work up a diagnosis. Oh my God – what if they change for the next person?

Here’s the thing: You can think about what you might say or do ‘next time’ something happens, or analyse the crappola out of what they said, or replay scenes from your life over and over again, or stew and ferment in your your own negative self-talk and pain, but at some point, it’s time to puck yourself in the head, drag yourself out of the fog, wake up and get into the present.

It doesn’t take years to decide whether to stay or go or to work out what you feel about someone. Remember when you’ve been involved with that person that sat on the fence, treated you like an option, flip flapped, said they weren’t sure of their feelings? Well that’s what you’re doing by another name. Commit to a decision. This requires being available so you can be emotionally honest with your eyes and ears open. Not making a decision is a decision in itself – a decision to do shag all. The mistake isn’t the outcome of the decision itself; it’s to not make one.

When you stop over-thinking and take action you make decisions, and if you remain a person of action that has a life, a good level of self-esteem and doesn’t treat each person like they’re the last chance saloon with the key to your happiness, you don’t have regrets because you know you did the best by you with the best of the knowledge that you had at that time.

You could’ve put in another few years in search of the holy grail of having 100% of the answers but instead you’re off living your life with no room for regrets because you’re not looking back all the time or sitting on the fence.

Looking back is being uncommitted to the present and the future.

Playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game is basically living in the past while taking no responsibility for the present and beyond. The truth is that we could all have done many things differently but that time has passed. Investing a deep level of thinking into something that’s gone and that you have no control over, is a waste. It’s also important to recognise that aside from relationships serving to teach us about ourselves, changing you in the equation doesn’t change them. You’re not God or capable of Jedi mind tricksyou don’t have that level of influence over someone.

Learn and apply as you go. I can assure you if you spend years in inaction stewing in a long drawn out thought process, when you ‘go back out there’, you’ll likely wind up in a shady relationship out of over-thinking.

Wallowing in pain and rejection is like having an open wound and feeding it some salt every day. Of all the productive things you could be doing for yourself, this isn’t one of them. It’s unlikely that you like pain but you’ve become used to being invested in feeling bad. It gives you a purpose but the truth is, your purpose has become finding reasons to continue justifying the pain and rejection and basically why you’re not good enough. You’re actually rejecting yourself and truth be told, you’re also resurrecting and reliving old pain.

To continue wallowing in the pain post breakup instead of grieving it and busting a gut to get past it, is like saying that your relationships aren’t allowed to not work out or only you can end it. And then thinking about it some more.

Wanting them to be the right person because you in essence can’t be arsed to have to put yourself out there, is doing yourself and even them a disservice. It’s like saying “I don’t care that you weren’t the right person for me and that you even behaved like a jackass! I’m gonna THINK about how I wanted you to be the right person for me instead of putting myself out there and trying again to find someone and something more deserving of my energies!”

It’s a misappropriation of energy and time to spend it focusing on someone else when you should be focusing on you. Of all the things you could be ‘doing’, obsessing about them and playing Columbo trying to hunt out more clues, or sitting there like a CSI with a pile of evidence but deciding not to process it and draw a conclusion, is like peeing into the wind.

Yes you get to avoid looking too closely at yourself but while you may have a PhD in them, you’re skipping all the lessons you could be learning about yourself – how can you have less knowledge about you?

Instead of being an expert in your ex, or shady relationships, or pain, be an expert in living your life authentically to make you happy. If everyone ruminated but didn’t apply or share, we wouldn’t know many of the things that we do or make mistakes to learn from. Action converts thinking into a meaningful life.


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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226 Responses to Stop Ruminating. Stop Obsessing. Stop Over-Thinking. Very little is going to happen without ACTION.

  1. Natasha says:

    Natalie, you have no idea how badly I needed this one! I’ve been feeling stuck for a few months and I couldn’t figure out why. I’m long over the guy, I know he was no good for me and I couldn’t care less what he does with anyone else. I think I haven’t been dwelling on him, pain or rejection – it is straight up dwelling on good old disbelief! You wrote me a super-helpful comment on how it’s hard to get over it when someone insults something about you that you can’t change (religion, in this case) and how it’s a mind-f and I understood it, but I hadn’t really felt the full impact of it, because I am sometimes guilty of holding unpleasant feelings at bay (a Fallback Girl who does that? Get outta town!).

    In fact, the day that happened I came home from visiting him and felt very, very uncomfortable. I decided that I was being too sensitive and he hadn’t really meant any of it and I had probably been too…I’m sorry, I have to bust this term out…needy. When he disappeared I took to blaming myself. If I hadn’t said x/y/z, he wouldn’t have fronted like he was all of sudden grossed out by my half-Jewishness. Believe me, I had to read the article concerning how you cannot scare a decent man into acting like an assclown many times. Now it’s at a point where I have to get real, accept that things went down the way they did and, while it was incredibly painful, I’m not a psychic or even Miss Cleo, Bootleg Psychic so I had no way of knowing that specifically was going to happen. Sure, I shouldn’t have given him another chance (understatement), but his apologies sounded sincere and I really wanted to believe them. I think to get my ass (or arse…seriously, I love British-isms. For reals.) out of stuck I have to accept that I’m human, I wanted to believe that this guy had feelings for me and I chose wrong. Sometimes you just have to say, “Sh*t happens.” and learn from it!

  2. Mango says:

    Ohmygosh. This post just popped in my e-mailbox. I’ve got to dash at the moment, but it’s got my name all over it, so I’ll be sure to catch up later. My name and my over-thinking-driving-me-crazy brain. Oy. And thank you!

  3. Mia says:

    Wow…this one really slapped me in the face. Thanks, I needed that!

  4. On-the-road-again says:

    AMEN!!! Timely as always!

    I have (in the past) spent WAY to much [NEGATIVE] energy over-thinking my last relationship.

    Once I finally grasped the fact that I was putting all my energy, all day long, into missing, thinking about, wanting, hoping, he would validate my feelings, realize what he was about to loose, etc….I got over it!

    He is the one who lost out. I have moved. I am no longer thinking about, hoping, waiting, for him to come to his senses…because I FINALLY came to mine. Kick him to the curb. FLUSH three times and keep on walking.

    It has been liberating to finally get there. It took years. A lot of hurt. A lot of heartache (for me). After reading this blog for almost a year now, I was finally able to let go, work through it, move on, and not look back.

    • MaryC says:

      On-the-road-again….Your post hit a cord with me. I’ve been stuggling all week even after almost 2yrs of NC but your words reminded me why I enacted NC and just how far I’ve come. I’m going print off your post and tape it to my mirror as a beacon to shine through the darkness that envelopes me right now.

    • allie says:

      Love it!!

      “I am not waiting for him to come back to his senses, because I finally came back to mine”

  5. Bri says:

    It’s ironic that this post came today. This afternoon the MM I’ve been in a relationship with for almost two years broke up with me. His wife found some emails between us and when he came home last night she gave him an ultimatum: stay and have a family, or go to me and leave it all behind. He chose to stay and try to be better a father. He told me he can’t give everything he has to me and to his kids, and that the amount of time he spent thinking of me and fantasizing about us was detracting from his time at home with his children, and he was a distracted dad.

    Ever since I’ve known him his marriage has been a mess, but he has three children (two of whom are special needs) and he’s never been able to “turn his back on them” and make a life with me. For two years he’s claimed that I’m the light of his life, The One, the only person to ever make him happy, and he’s always given me that little bit of hope that we’d make it one day. When you wrote: “What are they thinking? I wouldn’t do something like that – why are they? If it were me and I did that, I think it would mean X. They said Y in January – how could they not mean it in July? I wonder if they’ve got something wrong with them – hmmm, let me Google possible conditions and work up a diagnosis. Oh my God – what if they change for the next person?” it really struck a chord in me. He told me he’d never leave me, that if we didn’t work out it wouldn’t push him closer to his wife and that he would always love me. He told me if we were to end, I’d have to be the one to walk away because he loved me too much to ever leave me on his own. How could he tell me that two weeks ago and today everything has changed?

    I can’t even describe how I feel. I am destroyed, torn apart and I’ve been crying for hours. I’m in love with him; I gave him everything when I felt I had nothing left to give, even when he was unsure or in one of his moods and giving me nothing in return. I’ve loved and supported him through everything, and waited for him even when there was little to no hope because he always came back around.

    In the past two years I’ve been the happiest and the most miserable I’ve ever been in a relationship. I can’t stop thinking about what we had and the things he said/wrote to me and the times we spent together. We went through so much and weathered so many hard times – how do I just…

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Bri,

      I’m sorry to hear you are crying and in so much pain. First, hugs and kindness.

      But I am glad to hear you are out of a relationship with an MM. You were here trying to work up the nerve to do it yourself; and for whatever reason, you have left enough evidence of your relationship for his wife to find and force his hand.

      Sounds like both of you might have gone on indefinitely otherwise. You might have talked and what-iffed and rationalized yourself into another couple years with this person, still only to have it end like this. He’s married.

      You wrote: “How could he tell me that two weeks ago and today everything has changed?”

      But Bri, he’s a liar. He has to be in order to have been cheating on his wife with you. Do you think he is telling her that you are the only one who makes him happy?

      There are other former OWs here on BR who will likely have lots to say and better support you than me, from the place of having been there.

      From here, I’m just noticing how often you write “He told me.” Just because words come out of someone’s mouth doesn’t mean that person will stand for a second behind what they are saying. The guy is married. He cheats. Therefore he lies. Therefore it seems that “he told you” something isn’t really a basis for anything.

      Anyway – hugs again to you in this really painful time.

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Bri, Hugs to you, too. This was the OW dance I did for six plus years. Back/forth/flip/flop/faux NC/wanting to believe/not believing. Magnolia picked up on that key phrase “He told me.” But what are we telling ourselves when we put ourselves in the OW position? In the end, it is all lies because we are lying to ourselves. We are lying (in denial) about what we really want, who we really are (and if we get honest with ourselves [after some of the pain subsides], do we really want HIM?, the WAY he REALLY is, not our rose-colored glasses version of him?).
        Having to face how much we have lied to ourselves, betrayed ourselves, I think hurts way worse than the betrayal the MM eventually pulls on us. I am so sorry you are in so much pain. As Runnergirl says, take it on faith that it will get better.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Bri, former OW here, remember me? I’m so sorry for your despair. I was just in your shoes. The MM’s wife put a tail on us a few weeks ago when I slipped off the faux NC wagon. She has pics of us playing frisbee at the beach, going to brunch and clinging champange classes, and hacked his email too where we talked about hiking, making love (read having dysfunctional sex). I got about a 50 minute discussion with him after his wife found out and was shoved promptly under the bus as well. I was his oasis, his sunshine, the only thing that kept him going. His marriage was a mess as well, according to him. It is so awfully familar. 5o minutes later, his “oasis” was dust. Haven’t heard from him since but he is blocked on every way possible.

      Keep crying. Get it out. I went through it in Dcember/January/Feb. I cried everyday from sun up to sun down. Through my tears, I read every post and every comment on this blog. I gave him everything too and suffered through his moods while getting nothing but crumbs in return.

      We’ve been treated like an option while they flipped flapped between us and their wife/families. It’s like saying “I don’t care that you weren’t the right person for me and that you even behaved like a jackass! I’m gonna THINK about how I wanted you to be the right person for me instead of putting myself out there and trying again to find someone and something more deserving of my energies!” I know you can’t probably hear Nat’s words right now but you will. I’m so sorry. I’ve so been there. IT DOES GET BETTER. IT DOES, although I’m not totally done ruminating. Take it on faith right now. Many hugs. The upside: We aren’t that woman anymore, the other woman. The other upside: We aren’t his dirty little secret anymore. Don’t know if you can hear this yet. Your misery is ending.

    • K says:

      Bri, I’ve just read your post and felt I had to respond. I’ve been reading BR for a few months now & have never posted until I read what you wrote tonight. I absolutely understand how you are feeling, as it seems I’ve recently gone through almost exactly the same experience as you have. I am so very sorry you’re feeling this pain, all I can say is that I’m with you on this. My own MM said almost the very same words to me as yours did to you, for over a year I was seemingly the light of his life..something he had never experienced before, etc etc…that this would be a long term thing as we both had children and families to think of first and foremost, but that together we would work it out somehow. In a completely delusional fog I believed everything he said, and I said the same things back to him, but I actually meant it..whereas it seems he did not. Anyway, that’s just a bit of my own story…for me now I have been 10 weeks of NC (but unfortunately we do still work together), and while the pain has most definitely not gone away, I THINK it is not as debilitating as it was. I am still obsessing hourly over all he said, all my lost hopes etc etc, but through BR I think I am turning a corner. The day I decided to go NC I also started running and doing hot yoga daily…and I actually think it is helping a bit. You might want to think of doing something like that..something meditative just for you. While it may sound a bit cheesy I am trying to take better care of my own self, while reading a lot of BR, and I think that may be making the path a bit easier.
      Anyway, just a suggestion for you. I also really did want to respond because your story really resonated with me & I want you to know that you are NOT alone in this…

    • grace says:

      When I read that he had broken up with you, my first thought was “Hooray” (sorry). I know it’s an extremely annoying thing to hear but it’s still true – I must be twenty years older than you and I KNOW you will get over this. And when you do, it will make you stronger because you know you can survive a heartbreak. Mind you, you get less heartbreak when you’re stronger. For a start, you avoid dead-end situations. That’s how I got over my brush with the MM (who also said he would always love me) – I’d previously survived a very heartbreaking relationship and knew I would get over this one too.
      He’s right – how can he be a good father while he’s running around with another woman? It’s not do-able. And you’re better than someone who competes with special needs children for a man’s attention. You’re not consciously doing it, but he put you in that position and unfortunately you allowed yourself to stay there.
      Ruminate, obssess and overthink for a week or two. Then start doing something – go to your auditions, reconnect with your friends, spend time with family, read, spend time outdoors. You’ve wasted enough time on this man. Time for you now.

    • miskwa says:

      First off, many hugs. This was gonna happen eventually; someday you will be glad it ended now and not 10 years down the road. Feel your feelings but also keep active. Get outside even if you have to force yourself to. Walk, run, bike, whatever until you are too exhausted to think. Repeat tomorrow. Someday you will understand you have dodged a bullet.

  6. colororange says:

    “let me Google possible conditions and work up a diagnosis.”


  7. GottaWakeUP says:

    Oh gosh. Exactly that statement about he said this in X January and did Y in July…

    He asked me to ‘hang in there’ in May… and I told him I would if he would. Then… we had a bit of an argument (albeit one sided on his part) and he didn’t even have the decency to break up with me, even via email (he’s on a family vacation)… he simply blocked me and will not respond to correspondence.

    This is the first time he has done THIS, but the broken promises have been going on for years. He breaks up with me, realizes how much he loves/misses me, we get back together. Five to six months later, he breaks up with me. Rinse and repeat…

    I know I’m a classic example of the FallBack Girl. I know this. But I read this stuff and I say to myself ‘But he isn’t exactly like this. When we are together, things are great. He treats me very good. We rarely argue about anything…’

    And then when he breaks up with me, he whips out this laundry list of issues :'( I’m trying hard to move on, I really am. And I’m overthinking it like the devil. ‘If only I hadn’t…’


  8. 407 says:

    Oh God, NML you are psychic or something!

    I am doing this- must stop myself, must stop!

  9. bubbles says:

    “What are they thinking? I wouldn’t do something like that – why are they? If it were me and I did that, I think it would mean X. They said Y in January – how could they not mean it in July? I wonder if they’ve got something wrong with them – hmmm, let me Google possible conditions and work up a diagnosis. Oh my God – what if they change for the next person?”

    OMG, that was totally me! I used to google for hours for possible solutions for the problems I had with the ex.. (you know the whole being bbfs with his ex, crazy mom told me his ex was like her daughter, standing me up for his friends, cancelling our dates..telling me its okay for me to date other guys etc..)

    my new rule of thumb, if you ever need google to tell you relationship advice, you have a problem

    • anari says:

      Love it!! ” If you ever Google to get relationship advice you have a big relsp problem” Love it, Love it, Love it!!

  10. AdrienneBytheSea says:

    “It doesn’t take years to decide whether to stay or go or to work out what you feel about someone.” Spot on. My problem has been in not respecting myself by listening to MY feelings; I always put the other person first….until…as my counselor pointed out yesterday, there was such a huge crisis that I was FORCED to stand up for myself. Wow. Epiphany moment. It doesn’t take years. When I found out that the MM I was involved with for six years betrayed me in the worst possible way, it took exactly five seconds to scream the words “go F yourself” and one more second to hang up the phone. Over those six years, I did “faux NC” at least six times, but I always let him come back b/c I had not reached the crisis point. I am so glad that I am finally in counseling and making some sense of this. The act of finally calling a counselor was a positive one. The act of reading this blog is too. And back to the gym, exercising. And writing in my journal. And treating myself to a massage. Yes, taking care of me. Finally. I know I have a lot of work to do, but that’s okay. By the end of this healing process, I want to have a Ph.D. in me. Thanks again, Natalie, for doing what you do and keeping it real.

    • Eternal Summer says:

      I heard this quote yesterday, “The most important person you will ever know is yourself.” I’m excited to get to know myself, you? :)

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Eternal Summer, it’s an awesome process. Even when I’m being hockey pucked on the side of the head, it’s all good because, finally, it’s about getting to know ME. :)

  11. anoosh says:

    thank you, thank you so much, for this seriously needed dose of reality. I’ve been painfully aware that life is passing me by — a whole year in fact, in which I’ve been unable to move past a heartbreak, despite tremendous efforts. reading this blog is hands down the best thing I have come across the entire time. I don’t know if it’s because summer has come around again, a daily reminder of the hell I was in a year ago, but it’s making me feel more pathetic than ever that I am still struggling so hard. I’m learning a lot more now that I have access to BR and your other materials. it’s very painful, b/c it’s bringing up stuff of the last 25 years. I really really hope I can change my pattern, and the day will come soon where the memories of the EUM/AC are no longer haunting me, and that I will feel sure that I will never get involved in an EU relationship again. Ruminating over someone who crushed your heart, spirit, soul — for over a YEAR… feel like I wasted my life. and for what? an old friend who found me on facebook, used me as an airbag to deal w/divorce, never having any intention of following through on all the Future Faking of how beautiful our life was going to be together… it was never really on offer, I can’t believe I bought into it. then using the kids as an excuse to pull the rug out. what a fool I have been :( I forgive myself and all that. I see the whole Mr. U/Ms. Fallback dynamic. I see that I should never have believe a word any man says at his stage of separation. I broke my own rule on that, biggest mistake I ever made. sigh…

  12. Lia says:

    “What are they thinking? I wouldn’t do something like that – why are they? If it were me and I did that, I think it would mean X. They said Y in January – how could they not mean it in July? I wonder if they’ve got something wrong with them – hmmm, let me Google possible conditions and work up a diagnosis. Oh my God – what if they change for the next person??

    So true what they say about one day being able to look back on things and laugh. But in this case I laugh with a mixture of embarrassment for actually having done this before, and amusement at the fact that I did. But you know what was so strange? Throughout all that time and energy that I spent trying to find out what was wrong with him, it wasn’t until I was completely and utterly emotionally exhausted that I stopped to ask myself:”If I think this person is narcissistic, inconsiderate, immature, selfish, and self centered, what the hell do I want with him?” If he really was what I believed him to be, not one of those things were in my power to change. And if they were, that might turn him into a completely different person than the one that I’m attracted to, or I might have realized that it still wasn’t enough. I realized that it wasn’t about him, it was about me. It was like a light bulb suddenly clicked on, but then I started to wonder what was wrong with me for wanting someone like that. Looking back on those two years, it’s amazing to me how much time I was willing to spend digging into who he was instead of realizing that it didn’t match up with who I was, and who I wanted to be. You’re absolutely right, we don’t like having to face ourselves in the mirror. Because once I finally did, I came to a painful realization that I didn’t really believe in myself, I didn’t believe that I was ever going to truly be happy. I can’t for the life of me figure out when that started, but I know that no amount of overthinking has ever explained to me why I shouldn’t believe in myself or tell me why I won’t be happy. Those, along with other, self defeating thoughts were just sitting there staring me in the face, waiting for me to deal with them. Every day since that point has been better than the one before, but it’s a work in progress.

    Thanks for the friendly reminder of who I need to be focused on in the present and future.

    • kate says:

      Hi Lia

      Thanks Nathalie for your all your help and insight. xox

      Lia, I completely understand your feelings. We are always looking for the answer of why this could happen , everything seemed to be going so well, we were happy, he said he loved me and we had a future together. The problem was – I was in denial – plenty of red flags . When I asked the question “why did I stay”? I had to face the hard reality that I was part of the problem . When I started focusing on my self and how I felt during the relationship , I felt sick to my stomach. I ignored my gut instinct and that saddens me the most. I spent alot of time figuring out his behaviour, which was much easier than having to look at myself. Its difficult to suddenly stop thinking about them ,especially when that is all you ever did when you were together . when I stay focused on myself I feel good and when I think about him and the past I feel bad . Great to finally have a choice- I want to feel good.
      I have decided I want to talk to a therapist to help sort out why I was in this type of relationship. Since I continue to stay positive and living my life for me, so many positive experiences, thoughts and people are responding back to me ! Now when I think about him and the last six months when he began the AC behaviour, I actually feel kinda sick to my stomach and ask “why would I want to be with someone like that ? He became the opposite of who I thought he was and the reason I fell in “love”.
      Occasionally I take a break from BR just to stay focused on myself . This site has been a godsend . Now I need to take all this wonderful advice, internalize the message and keep myself going in the right direction- trusting myself .
      Stay strong and sending positive thoughts to everyone

  13. Mel says:

    I so needed this, so badly. I wish I had found your site while in the relationship but I did not, and I need that kick in the “arse.” I already recommended your site to someone else having just found it a couple of days ago. I just had the best relationship I had had since my divorce 10 years ago; however, I choose to ignore my gut (some friends told me not too, others were convinced he did love me b/c he did do so much although never saying the words). Hard lessons that I’m processing. Thank you so much for this post!!

  14. Monika says:

    WOW!!! I have been driving myself (and my girlfriends) crazy these past few months over thinking/analyzing my most recent breakup. To the point where I’ve researched a retreat in Bali so that I could learn to meditate in hopes that I could control my thoughts (yes its gotten to that point!). I actually have been asking myself lately “just how much more thinking do I have to do before my brain explodes”, and today I come across this article. Clearly I need to stop the madness, and soon. Thank you thank you thank you.

    • anari says:

      @ Monika- I was literally going insane thinking, rethinking, thinking, rethinking- my head hurt, my body hurt – i hated life- i hated to think and i felt like i was stuck in a permanent thinking about him zone. When I finally decided this was stupid- I controlled my thoughts of him and our faux relsp by putting doing push ups for every thought of him. Needless to say- my arms were very toned for quite some time…but now I’m happily chubby again!! STOP THE THINKING!!!

  15. Crazybaby says:

    I am right in the middle of overthinking. My EUM has been acting so weirdly lately – on the one hand finding excuses to contact me, meet me socially, asking if I’m okay, etc., and then being a belligerent arse when he does see or speak to me. It’s been 4 weeks since we last met up (as in just the two of us), and I’ve been fluctuating between grief and despondency that he’s gone off me (and hasn’t the guts to say so), or making excuses for his behaviour that makes it a temporary setback, to telling myself I shouldn’t even want him back and that looking after number one is well overdue, and that’s where I should be focusing my energy. But I know I’m kidding myself. Mentally shutting him out feels like putting him on hold, like a temporary respite rather than genuinely letting him go. And I have been getting on with my own life. I’ve been on holiday for a week where he barely crossed my mind, and I had a wonderful time. But he was still just ‘on hold’. I’ve been out with girlfriends having a laugh. I’ve been focusing on other aspects of my life, making plans for my future. But he’s still there, no matter how much I try to push him to the back of my mind. A fond memory will pop up, or a hurtful one where I ask myself what I did right/wrong, what he did wrong/right… I know I need to switch off from him but it’s really hard. I totally agree with your post, but putting it into practice is easier said than done :(

  16. Magnolia says:

    This is me. I don’t know the difference between grieving and processing, which hurts; and dwelling and ruminating, which also hurts!

    My mom calls it ANALYSIS PARALYSIS.

    Funny, she has brought it up in conversation with me many times over the course of my life!!

  17. ElleJaeP says:

    Thanks to finding this website – it has saved me SO MUCH TIME, I would have wasted, if I did not discover it (right after my EUM broke up with me a year ago). I would have been so lost & confused for no telling how many wasted months or even years. But, from this website I learned so many things — Thanks NAT for being here & showing me how to move on & not look back!

  18. Emily says:

    WOW, Natalie — you are spot on, as always. I definitely needed this today. It’s been 7 months since my “relationship” ended (which was only 7 months long) — I’m in therapy and we’re doing the deep childhood trauma work, I’ve been more focused on doing healthy things for myself and cultivating supportive female friendships.. there are a couple of guys talking to me (but I’ve been clear I don’t want a relationship at this time until I become fully and totally a non-EU person myself, but… I find myself spending too much time replaying the AC scenarios and the “good times” that led me to all the sandcastling and “rationalizing, justifying”, etc.

    I haven’t been able to figure out why I spend so much time on HIM, but your comment, It’s like saying “I don’t care that you weren’t the right person for me and that you even behaved like a jackass! I’m gonna THINK about how I wanted you to be the right person for me instead of putting myself out there and trying again to find someone and something more deserving of my energies!” totally fits. I just want to “flush” him totally out of my life, thoughts, and energies once and for all.

    Thanks for all your blogs… you are amazing..

  19. PJM says:

    Thank you Natalie. Cor blimey, it’s a fair cop – you’ve got me bang to rights, guvnor – notably with the phrase:

    ‘saying that your relationships aren’t allowed to not work out or only you can end it’

    Absolutely. Guilty as charged. And this extends outside my relationships to other areas of my life as well. I think it’s called Being A Control Freak.

  20. runnergirl says:

    “…or stew and ferment in your your own negative self-talk and pain, but at some point, it’s time to puck yourself in the head, drag yourself out of the fog, wake up and get into the present.”

    Too funny. Before I logged on to BR this evening, I must have pucked myself in the head. I finally did it. I fired up the bbq (first time alone), Bob Marley, and danced, all by myself. I even danced to “our” favorite songs while the sun set and the smell of bbq burgers wafted in my backyard. Hey Natalie, I think I like me. I’m pretty fun. No wonder he thought I was HIS oasis. I think I may be MY oasis. No more Phd’s in them. It’ll take the rest of my life to figure me out.

    “Wallowing in pain and rejection is like having an open wound and feeding it some salt every day.” I started the day doing this and something just pucked me in the head by the afternoon. How did you know what is going on in my backyard this afternoon? Thank you for the puck. Back in January, I would have never, ever, ever thought I’d get over this.

    Hope you are safe.

  21. Simone71 says:

    maybe hard to accept,but i guess all our MMs say exactly the same things.
    They melt our hearts and so they keep us stuck in an unhealthy relation.
    All those sweet words we over and over think them and leave us hurt…….its senseless. It just leads to more thining about the deep pain and as Nat says the woulda should could.
    It s a one way street. You wont get answers that relieve your pain but if you let go you can find yozr true self that only you yourself can make happy.
    He may come back and throw crumbs at you and again you will feel the longing for him.But honestly
    HIM as he presented himself doesnt exist.
    Its fantasizing as Nat says.
    Free yourself for a real healthy relationship.
    I was in such a painfull thing three years……
    Sometimes I am angry i wasted my good time for a person that wasnt worth it.A player…….nothing else.
    I wish him nothing bad and in my heart i let him go for good.
    Good luck for you.

  22. debra says:

    ” is like saying that your relationships aren’t allowed to not work out or only you can end it. And then thinking about it some more.”

    This is brutally put but exactly what needed to be said in order for me to hear it. Somehow, I got the idea that all relationships had to work out – you just had to be willing to work at them. The fact that the other person has no desire to work at it was completely lost on me. The fact that the other person might have a very different definition of relationship was also something my mind could not comprehend.

    I have been (over) thinking a lot lately. I agree that being stuck on them is pointless. I have learned a lot about myself from this last AC fiasco and I am grateful for that. What I have been wondering lately, and this post shoves right in my face, is when is the thinking good – ie helpful for removing the denial and looking at things differently – and when is it being stuck or ruminating? I find I am still having major revelations about myself and my role in things and so it seems positive. I am still living my life, making decisions based on what is best for me and moving forward. I am not sure all thinking about the past or relationships is bad. I don’t think that’s what you were saying but figuring out where the line is I guess is the trouble for me.

  23. Ashley says:

    Natalie, I swear to God that you are a life-saver! This blog has gotten me through so many hard times with Mr. Unavailables, but it has ultimately helped me deal with the most unavailable person of all…MYSELF>

    My last relationship was actually with a nice, available man that I sabatoged it with and I have been ruminating for over five months about my ex boyfriend’s new relationship and new girlfriend…tearing my self-esteem, self-respect and self-worth to shreds ruminating about the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” and the “Maybe it will work out.” I have been secretly hoping you would come out of the blue with a blog post JUST LIKE THIS.

    I think the scariest thing about moving on is the fear that you’re going to get stuck again, or make poor decisions again…the inability to trust yourself when you have time and time again made poor judgment calls. I fear constantly over making the same mistakes and repeating the same patterns which has led me to be a “Miss Unavailable.”

    (I’m hogging this space, sorry…)
    Anyway, thank you for this! Truly inspirational!

  24. Gingerbell says:

    I have definitely put in my fair share of stewing over my failed relationship with a complete ass clown over the past year. I mostly stewed about what I could have changed about myself to keep him.. In other words, go against the grain of who I am and who I could be with healthy growth, to keep some tool bag of the highest order around for some continued torture and emotional abuse. We can’t always control when we think about them, but we can control our responses to thinking about them, ie: not communicating not contacting them etc.. and eventually and hopefully we’ll spend less time on them and more on ourselves.
    About a month ago, he told me that part of the reason he left me is because he can’t imagine supporting his appetite for women with just one.. that sexually one is not enough and that most if not all men think this way.. that men will still seek out a “3” in a bar when he has a “10” at home just because the 3 is new and something different.. it gets better, hang on to your ice cream. He also said being faithful to me was like “being a catholic school boy trying hard not to masturbate”. yeah so now when I obsess over the “good times”, I remember these hideous words that fell from his mouth and it changes my course. He has tried to communicate twice since and both times, I made a choice not to respond. He probably only instigates contact to ensure that I am still hurting but regardless, it’s not communication for the right reason and I know the end result will be me not feeling good…every single time.
    He said a lot of things that he never meant because quite simply he is a dishonest person.. no puzzle there.

  25. Gaby says:

    “Wanting them to be the right person because you in essence can’t be arsed to have to put yourself out there, is doing yourself and even them a disservice.”

    So what do you do when all your thinking actually has led you to the conclusion that: he wasn’t the right person and Im not gonna wait for him anymore – and his reply when you try to cut things off is “But yes I AM the right person and I love you and I only want to be with you I just need you to wait” ??

    I think my case could be called a “Holiday Fling”
    I was travelling for a good six months in latin america and in the beginning of december last year I met this gorgeous amazing guy. It was “love at first sight” for both of us, for my part I never felt so attracted to someone. It turned out he lives pretty close to me here in europe (France)
    He told me the day I met him that he didnt have a girlfriend, so I was happy and let myself fall in love.
    Something was odd though because when I started talking about meeting up back home he said he “couldn’t”. My mind started to find all kinds of explanations. Was he going to prison? did he have a tumor? He wouldn’t tell me. After one week though, I finally made him say what it was, and of course there was a girlfriend sitting back home waiting for him.
    I left the place where we were, being really angry and hurt.
    So I only spent one week with this guy. But afterwards he started mailing me and calling me and I have been in contact with him daily. He tells me several times a day that he is in love with me and he never tried anything like this, that he wants to be with me one day.

    I found out that his girlfriend gave birth in january. That means she was about 8 months pregnant when he went travelling and met me.

    Sometimes I get so sick of this, using all this money for talking to him and all this energy which of course could be used elsewhere, at the same time I love talking to him, we talk about everything and have exactly the same ideas of how to live our lives and what we want – except he cant do it right now, of course with the baby he cant leave his girlfriend right now. I now what he is doing is not right and he knows it too. I think he is the most gentle interesting and beautiful man I have ever met.

    Then I told him a few days ago that I dont want to be number 2, I dont want to be the other woman, I dont want to be a part of…

    • NML says:

      Gaby, it’s not up to him to decide if he’s the right person for you – it’s you that decides. “I think he is the most gentle interesting and beautiful man I have ever met. ” I think it’s a shame that you have such a blatant disregard for real life. You hear bad information and it’s like “So what if he went travelling when his girlfriend was 8 months pregnant, lied about not having a girlfriend, finally admitted it and is still with her – it could all be all over tomorrow and our attraction is so great that it doesn’t matter about the fact that he’s cheating on his girlfriend and his child”. I also suspect there’s “Well JEEZ! There I was thinking he was going to prison or that he had a tumor! It’s OK! It’s only a girlfriend that’s 8 months pregnant!”

      You don’t have exactly the same ideas about how you want to live your lives either that, or you’re the type of person that would cheat on someone and continue talking to the other person fantasising and bullshitting.

      So I’m going to say something here that won’t be what you want to hear: It was just a week. On holiday. I’m sure it was a wonderful week but you were on holiday and it was full of fakery. I don’t know what’s going on in your real life that you’re trying to escape but sinking an 8 month investment into a relationship that never was with a man that never was who has just had a child, is taking the piss out of yourself. And there’s no point saying that you don’t want to be the Other Woman – you are. You have been since you first became involved.

      • grace says:

        I think I’d prefer the prison scenario myself. At least I’d know where he was and what he was up to. Plus a sentence of a few months/years is not a big a deal as a lifelong commitment to a child. You say gentle, interesting and beautiful – you could also say deceitful, irresponsible and cheating. You spent a week with him, I could be gentle, interesting and beautiful for a week too. Watch out for week two when I start snapping at you for taking up my space, ignoring you, and hiding in my room.
        You are burning up emotion, time and energy on another woman’s man, the father of someone else’s child and someone you don’t know.
        It suits him very much to play house with his girlfriend and have you safely tucked away. He can’t leave his girlfriend right now. When’s a better time? When the child is one? Two? Sixteen? Eighteen? Twenty? Ask yourself seriously if you’re the kind of woman who waits for a man to leave his girlfriend and baby. You’re not and if he had not lied to you, you wouldn’t be here now. Drop him like hot potatoes.
        I’ve been where you are and ended up divorced, giving up a job and handing my notice in on a flat to be with someone I barely knew but who I thought was interesting, sweet, gentle etc. He turned out to be an abusive AC. My imagination ran away with me.
        Your guy may not be that bad but you do know that he’s a cheater and liar already.

        • Natasha says:

          “You spent a week with him, I could be gentle, interesting and beautiful for a week too. Watch out for week two when I start snapping at you for taking up my space, ignoring you, and hiding in my room.”
          You said it Grace! I think we’ve all encountered That Guy. A great lesson to be learned from That Guy is that Authentic Person = Consistent Person.

          • grace says:

            I’m afraid that wasn’t an example – I’m literally like that. I’m back from holiday en famille and by the end of it I was ready to kill someone, even though I did manage to be cheerful and cook and play happily with the kids for a week. But I dread to think what Week Two would have been like! I’m not a cheating clown with a small child BUT my point is that even an ordinary person like me is not Fun All The Time.
            Gaby – you got an edited highlight. Even if there wasn’t a girlfriend and baby in the picture I would caution you not to imagine that a life with this man would be your one week extended into decades of bliss. No relationship is like that. I know you know that, but it’s easy to let the fantasy take over.
            I’ve been EU myself, and part of the reason I ended up in dubious relationships, including some long-distance nonsense, is because I PREFER to be on my own and I don’t WANT to have someone around all, or even most, or even half the time. Your guy may be the same. His girlfriend and baby may be annoying him so he’s distracting himself with you. Make no mistake, if he was with you, you’d be annoying him too. Not because there’s anything wrong with you, but because he doesn’t want a proper relationship. It’s not like he’s got no choices. He’s got two right in front of him and I have no doubt that the two of you are both desirable and worthy of commitment. He likes this. It suits him very well. You probably imagine that he’s tortured by the whole thing. When I was seeing a counsellor I told him that the married man had a wife and child at home, and me on the end of the phone showering him with affection. My counsellor, a man in his sixties, said “That sounds good to me!”
            Please don’t feel sorry for this guy. If he could, he’d be bragging about it to all and sundry.

          • Natasha says:

            Ahhhh I get it Grace! I thought we were talking about the Mr. Magic Moments type 😉 I know exactly what you mean, being thoroughly ordinary myself I’m not Fun All The Time Either! I laughed when I read that – on family vacations I’m good for about a week and then I. Need. Space. It’s nice to hear it’s not just me!!

    • Gaby says:

      Ive been reading a lot of posts in here and caught myself thinking all the time why these smart women dont value themselves enough to end things with the guys that are just sucking love out of them. And still I keep thinking that I have a case that is an exception to the rule. Even though reading my own words through make me realize that I might just have the most bizarre story of them all.

      I know I have to stop this but it is really difficult. I started being more aggressive and critical and asking him the things that Im questioning about him. If you dont think someone is the love of your life why the hell do you decide to get a baby? And how can you love someone enough to decide having a child and then completely change your mind in half a year. I also asked him if he did this before – had more than one girlfriend at the same time. Then he laughs at me and says that he doesnt understand how I think that he is a bad person “Im offering you all my love and my entire life and you think Im like that?!?” Well. Dont really feel like I have it all.

      But its easy to write these words, the fact is that Im still thinking and fantasizing all the time. Its like Im realizing things but not able to act on it.

      • grace says:

        If he’s that sure about you and if you’re that sure about him, tell him to leave his girlfriend and be with you properly. Tell him you’ll be happy for a significant proportion of his income to be paid in child support. Tell him you’re happy for him to spend school holidays and christmases etc with his son/daughter. Tell him you’ll support him while her family, his family, and likely your family come down on you both like a ton of bricks. Tell him you’re willing to welcome the child into your life. Tell him you trust him enough to pick up and drop off his child without getting into inappropriate situations with his ex. Tell him you’ll never bring up this dodgy start to your relationship and you won’t doubt him because of it.
        I don’t know if this will make you feel better, but the angst you feel now is only 10% of the angst his girlfriend will feel should he walk out on her to be with you. “I’m leaving you, Girlfriend and Mother of my Child, to be with someone I met on holiday and spent seven days with”.
        If you need to ruminate about this, ruminate on how exactly the two of you are going to be together and what the consequences are.
        You could keep asking him to explain himself but how can he? (He dodged your question like an expert). Unless she kidnapped him and forced him into being a sex slave sperm donor. And she’s not a very good kidnapper if she allowed him to escape for a holiday and gives him enough rope to call you.
        You did really well to walk out after that one week when you found out the truth. Don’t blow it now by doubting your decision.

  26. Maree says:

    Stop stalking me Natalie! Thanks for the slap in the face wake up call. Unbelievably I sent and email to by ‘friend’ ..’Sort it out Mr coulda, woulda shoulda’ today. I have a saying ‘ all fart and no poo’ ..u get the idea. I know my feet are stuck in cement too, we are both big over thinkers so time for some serious de-frosting, either clean start and moving forward or take a nap and get the hell over it! I don’t to be here in five years time. Thank you :)

  27. Laura says:

    Okay, I see.

    If I go ahead and jump back into yet another try with my guy, instead of sitting around wondering if I should, it doesn’t have to be the way it was. Every morning is the beginning of a new day and I can stay in the relationship, give it my 110%, get on with my wonderful, amazing life, forge a new career, meet new people, be open to new experiences and see how it all plays out. See if the pieces fall into place as I work the whole puzzle.

    Who knows? It might fit together very nicely.

    It might not.

    But – like you said – I will have given it a good try. And then I can call it a day if I need to make a change.

    I see now!

    And I can do things differently this time around if I want. Instead of just lounging around the house as though we’re husband and wife, wishing we were husband and wife or wondering if that would work, I can stay at my place and have quite a few plans of my own. I can teach him how to treat me with my ACTIONS, which will be pro US for now, with boundaries. He can ask me out if he’d like to see me! Or make future plans while we’re together. I don’t need to worry about what he’s doing at all. I just need to keep my mind on what I’m doing. And that won’t be selfish because basically – I don’t really have time for a boyfriend right now – I need to get to work and learn a new job; so I’m just gonna start doing that and staying in the relationship as much as possible when my work is done.

    Work will involve a lot of time. I’ll be busy moving forward with my life and there won’t be time to pluck the daisy: “love him, love him not…”

    It will either work or it won’t. I’ll see him when I see him. I’ll still be my selfless, giving self. But some of that love I’ll be giving to myself.

    I’ll be Florence Nightingale to MYSELF! Poor, poor me! I need an income. I need to get unpacked. I need to go through my boxes. I need to get super organized. I need to get more social. I need an exercise routine. I need time to cook amazing nutritious meals for myself. I need to take care of some of MY needs for a change.

    And my man will survive without me some of the time.

    And – knowing that – I can get off the fence and try again with him. It doesn’t have to be so consuming this time around.

    I see this clearly now.

    Thank you Natalie.

    I feel happy about this. We’re entering a fishing derby on the…

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Laura,

      I’m not sure I’ve kept up with you on where you’re at with your current interest, but you wrote that you want to “jump back into yet another try with my guy.” That’s not really what this post is about, but as I don’t know your situation, I’m going to hope that you’re not in an off-again-on-again relationship where you do all the thinking.

      I wanted to respond because I was so struck by your post – first because it takes Nat’s advice and twists it in a way that puzzles me, and second because it reminds me so much (!) of all the journal entries I made while I was with an AC! The self-pep-talks, telling myself I was good and strong and capable, while justifying staying with someone who wasn’t for me! For months I was like: I can do this!

      “I can teach him how to treat me with my ACTIONS, which will be pro US for now, with boundaries.”

      Yes, said that too.

      I put so much energy into thinking about how I would “be better” and wouldn’t overthink things anymore that I lost months of work time.

      Anyway, I don’t have all the details of your story, but as someone who feels as though she has written the same words as you, it sounds like you’re working very hard to convince yourself of something.

      • grace says:

        Your comment puzzled me too. I thought it was just me until Mag piped up. I’ve no idea what your situation is but your thinking is familiar to me. I used to play it cool with the ex-player, thinking that if I lived my own life, did my own stuff, wasn’t clingy and didn’t expect anything, I would be rewarded with him stepping up and becoming a proper boyfriend. Of course, he never did. If he doesn’t have it in him it doesn’t matter what you do, say or think, he can’t give it.
        The action to take is not to pretend everything’s fine, it’s to acknowledge that he’s hurting you and and to cut him out of your life. For good. You think you can handle it. I’m here to tell you, you can’t. No-one can or should.
        I may be way off base, in which case feel free to ignore me.

    • Carrie says:

      Gotta say I had the exact same reaction as you two.. I see big flashing SELF DENIAL. If you’re here, there’s issues in your relationship that have nothing to do with how well you treat yourself. If he’s an AC, nothing you do is going to change it. I hope that as you continue to take care of yourself, you’ll be able to see you deserve so much better. Of course I also don’t know the details, but the fact that you’re on this blog speaks quite loudly!

  28. Laura Lou says:

    I have literally spent all week obsessing over a guy who has not been returning my calls after an initial “honeymoon” phase of dating… This just said exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. I am completely guilty of over-analysing and looking for faults in something I have said or done.

    “I don’t care that you weren’t the right person for me and that you even behaved like a jackass! I’m gonna THINK about how I wanted you to be the right person for me instead of putting myself out there and trying again to find someone and something more deserving of my energies!”

    I admit to feeling like this. I spent far too much time wishing my ex would be the one because I didn’t want to invest all my time and love into someone else. It felt like such a waste.

    I find your blog so helpful because it doesn’t just pat me on the head and tell me everything will be OK – You tell me what I need to hear even if it isn’t something I want to hear!

    Thank you :)

  29. Rosegirl says:

    Every doubt is a don’t.
    If you are torturing yourself, wondering whether you should end your relationship then something is seriously wrong I think. I know myself that if the notion of ending a relationship enters my mind then the relationship isn’t right for me. Took me many years to learn this though haha.

  30. anari says:

    @ Bri and Magnolia,

    Bri, I agree with Magnolia- He’s a liar. BUT I understand exactly what you’re saying and how you feel because I would say the same thing- ***”he said he cared 2 days ago what changed in two days”, ” if he wanted out why didn’t he just say it when he had the chance..instead he said he wanted things to pursue.” ****The truth is Magnolia has a VALID point-he’s a liar. He’s used to lying it’s a way of life for him so honestly he didn’t even think twice when he told you that answer. It was just words to him- it meant nothing. Like Natalie says- words need to be supported by action. His words are not backed up- and empty vessels make the MOST noise. Find that inner strength, keep coming back to this site, it’s been almost 9 months now and I still check this site when I’m weak which is often…but know that YES it’s his LOSS- and NO he doesn’t care that it is- and thats exactly why you should move on! Hugs.

  31. Spinster says:

    Really, nothing more needs to be added to this entry. Well said & enough said.

  32. Argh, this is me! I overthink everything. Should I have said that to so-and-so, should I attend such and such an event. Underlying it all is a worry that I’ll miss out on something. And I suppose that’s really what I’m doing by thinking so much! duh.

    • Carrie says:

      According to my therapist, this is the description of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.. worrying about every day things, playing the what if game with yourself, future thinking.. and while she’s all gung ho on shoving pills down my throat, I think just being aware of it is the first step to naturally stopping all the worry over uncertainty. At it’s core, GAD is not being able to tolerate uncertainty and because life if full of uncertainty, people with GAD are constantly worrying. So the trick is to find a way to be okay with uncertainty. Who cares if something doesn’t work out the way you planned.. sometimes something or someone only come into your life because things don’t go as planned. And this is what I keep telling myself! It’s a process.

  33. Agatha says:

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda – reminds me of a song my friend sang for me.

    I was stuck on a “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” world of mine 5 years ago. Then I finally decided to do something about it. I told him what I felt for him. It was something out of the blue and out of my box. Never in my entire life did I imagine to confess to a person.

    Our relationship did not progress. Looking back, I don’t regret telling him and I know just laugh at it. At least I did something to end all those what if moments of mine.

  34. Katie says:

    Wow, Natalie, you have the timing right on this one! After nearly three months of NC with the man I cared about, I wrote him a short note to say hi. I really thought it was “safe” to do so, because I’d moved on and made changes in my life, and I felt that we might be friends.

    He responded the very next day. I won’t say that some part of my heart didn’t glow a little–even though he wrote a much shorter note than mine. In the note it was apparent that he’d been keeping up with me by Facebook, though I haven’t with him.

    I then wrote what I thought was a neutral letter asking how he was and describing some projects I’d been working with, and I haven’t heard back from him.

    So I guess that was my “Suck it and See” moment!

    What got me about this was that even though I had changed and become a lot more confident, and was working toward my own future, I still felt an unhealthy curiosity about his life–and that the “friendship” thing was merely a blindfold to keep me from seeing the truth about myself, that I still hoped to win his interest.

    This incident made me realize the truth of what you said, “It’s also important to recognise that aside from relationships serving to teach us about ourselves, changing you in the equation doesn’t change *them*. You’re not God or capable of Jedi mind tricks.” I love that! I may paste it to my mirror.

    My belief is, that he hasn’t changed, because his communication style(short, dodgy, and yes, answering notes the next day instead of waiting)hasn’t. I’m avoiding the temptation to re-open FB communication. I mentioned here once that I couldn’t bring myself to take him off my friends list, though I don’t look at his posts. Ah, social media!

    I secretly hoped that in three months he would come around and do a complete change of heart. I now see it as very wishful thinking! So yes, I was kinda doing NC for the wrong reason–hoping to change someone, but also, I hoped to change myself, and I have, in spite of falling down. So now, as you say, I need to re-direct that misdirected love to myself.

  35. Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

    Bri, another ex-OW here to let you know, they are all the same. Yours is no different than any of ours. Of course they have to make us believe they are amazing, why the hell else would we stay in a sub-par, fake relationship where we always end up with the short stick? If they treated us like shit AND we were always second in the shadows, even the most thick headed among us would be out the door! So they have to be damned amazing and they know it! It is very easy to be amazing for a few hours here or there, or in a text or on a phone call. Much harder to be amazing in real life, which is how they squeeze out the competition (men who could actually be with us) at the same time.

    I threw myself a 50th b-day party at a resort. It was beautiful and fun and I had a ton of friends there…but of course it was a Sat. night so all I got from my “boyfriend” was a text that said “I hope you are having fun babe”. And why was I not with a man that night? Because my man belongs to another woman, he was home with her, and he effectively squeezed out anyone else who might have been there with me! Next year at my b-day, I may not be with the love of my life (or maybe I will be, who knows?) but I damned well know I will at least have a date with me, whether he is a friend or more, because I am finally letting other men back in. And these men do NOT belong to someone else. Never again.

    I hope you feel better soon, hang tough, and remember he was never yours and if he was, my guess is there would be another you in the wings. It is how they operate. He was not that special, and you are not that desperate. Good luck to you, it does get better! :-)

  36. Bri says:

    It’s amazing how supportive the women on this blog are because so many of us have been through the same thing. It also never occurred to me how un-unique and un-special my relationship with my MM was considering so many of you have heard the same words, felt the same feelings and been duped the same way I have.

    I cried myself to sleep last night replaying everything he said yesterday in my head, over-analyzing and obsessing just like this post instructed me not to do. The image of him trying to make things work with his wife sickens me, considering everything he told me about their relationship in the past and everything he and I had (which was “nothing he’d ever experienced before or ever would again”). Before we ended our conversation he said things like, “I’ll always love you, if I didn’t have children I’d be with you, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to really let you go, I’m already a mess without you.” Hearing those things hurts 100x more and I can’t get them out of my head.

    I took him back so many times. I always forgave him. I suppressed my own pain and needs to be what I thought he wanted, to make myself into someone worthy of his love so he would choose me. I still want him back, and I still expect him to come to me and tell me he was wrong, he made a mistake, and he’s sorry.

    I’m not even sure of who I am without him.

    I can’t tell you all how much your words and support mean to me. Right now I’m in that stage of “I’ll never get over this, I’m going to hurt forever” and I can’t see past my present feelings, but I pray this gets easier and one day, if and when he comes back to me for another shot, I’ll be able to genuinely say, “It’s too late. I’ve moved on,” and not have a second thought about it. The fact that so many of you are in that place is inspiring; I just hope I’m as strong as you are and can get to the other side sooner rather than later. Sincerely, thank you.

    • NML says:

      Bri, I had to ‘ruminate’ for a bit on your first comment. As an ex OW, like the others, I feel your plight and I’m sorry that you’re experiencing the oxymoron of being with what you think is an honest cheat. That said, I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t virtually give you a puck in the head, shake the shit out of you and tell you to wake the hell up.

      Now, it’s a given that this man just isn’t that special but the truth is that you’re not so special that the only type of man and love you can get is from a married man that has to leave a wife and three kids, two of who are disabled, to be with you. In the words of Amy W “What kind of fuckery is this?”

      You deserve so much better.

      What is blatantly clear is that like the average cheat with an allergy to responsibility and the truth, you’re getting a window into how he deals with problems in his life – by escaping them and living in a fantasy with you.

      If you don’t know who you are without the Split a Few Ways Man, you shouldn’t be with him. There’s a word for that – codependency.

      Love isn’t blind; denial is.

      This man when he was given a get out of jail free card and an opt out, has chosen his wife. There’s nothing left to wait for. My ex had a chance too – they were only together 3 months when we met and then she moved away and they were long distance. He liked the shady life and they like pretending they’re a Good Guy.

      If he hasn’t left by now, he never will unless he’s thrown out. Six years – he has you on a non-existent promise. This could have been done and dusted in months. My friend has a disabled son of 21 – he will always be disabled just like your MMs kids will be. He has made his choice and the fact is, when push comes to shove, you don’t want a man that will shag around while evading his responsibilities and then throw his family under a bus for you.

      It doesn’t matter what he said about his wife – she is a person, a real one with feelings and faults just like you. Stop acting like you own him and she’s in the way. My ex made out that his girlfriend was mentally unstable and would slit her wrists – fabrication.

      He has no responsibility to you. If he wants to promise you a field of ponies and change his mind, he can. He’s married to someone else. To expect him to tell the truth is to expect him to be faithful.

      Fight for yourself please Bri because 6 will turn into 12 will turn into more. Take the opportunity to run like your life depends on it – it does.

    • runnergirl says:


      I was struck too by how un-unique and un-special being an OW was. One more suggestion: If you can, download Natalie’s books. Mr. U and the FBG is wonderful. It has a fabulous section(s) on being the OW and describes various types of FBG’s. Also, The NC Rule is very helpful. I’m reading it now and wish I had in the beginning. The books may give you something to ruminate on other than him….maybe you? “I’m not even sure of who I am without him.” I had my honest cheat on a pedestal too.

      • Bri says:

        Runnergirl (and Magnolia, AdrienneByTheSea, K and others), I need your contact info :) You seem so wise and healed from your situation, you exemplify everything I hope to one day. I’m sure it was a hard road, as I see a very difficult journey ahead of me, but I imagine you’re really proud of yourselves. That kind of encouragement is something I really need right now.

        Nat, when you said “Take the opportunity to run like your life depends on it – it does”, I burst into tears…though that’s not saying much because everything has made me burst into tears the past two days. But you’re right – I haven’t been living being with the MM, I’ve been incomplete and miserable, hanging onto any speck of affection I got. This has consumed me, and probably will continue to for some time. The truth hurts like hell, but it’s real and I have to accept it.

        Right now I want to disappear just to end the pain, and I’m having a hard time doing much of anything but wallowing, obsessing over what’s wrong with me and how rejected/lied to/hurt I feel, but you all are inspirations and I hope I’ll be able to join you on the other side one day and you can all say “I told you so”.

        To anyone out there in a similar situation, GET OUT NOW. I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain on my worst enemy, and no woman deserves this – it won’t end with rainbows and butterflies like you imagine, no matter how hard you try and how much you love them. As hard as it is for me to hear, everything Natalie says is 100% true.

        • AdrienneBytheSea says:

          Bri, I did a lot of crying over six plus years. The latest episode of crying was back in early June when I was literally shaking in the bed, sobbing, having physical withdrawal symptoms when I chose to “end” it once again b/c after having surgery in May, and MM nowhere around to help, I could not continue to ignore the wasting of my life. Well, fast forward to mid-June and taking him back again…until the horrible betrayal only two weeks ago when I told him to F off. I have only cried twice after that, once I think was just in sheer relief. In the 10 days since that incident I feel decidedly lighter and very okay about my decision. It took me many years of journaling and flip flapping and overanalyzing and crying and justifying and denying before I could let the truth fully in—and only then because it was staring me so starkly in the face and made me so angry that I was finally catapulted into taking ACTION. Why did I let it go on for so long? Counseling and reading this blog are helping me come to terms with that. My prayer for you, Bri, is that you stay strong and stay opted out. The pain sucks–I wish I had fully gone through that pain when I first tried to end it several years ago and saved myself some time. Maybe now I’d be in a relationship that I really deserve instead of trying to pick up the pieces of my life. But it’s all a learning opportunity, and if this is the way I had to learn, okay (I am stubborn). Don’t go back, Bri. Hang in there. My thoughts are with you.

        • runnergirl says:

          Hi Bri and Natalie,

          I’d love to chat with you Bri. I’m not wise but getting a bit more aware and I’m not healed rather I’m a work in progress. I’m as schizophrenic some days as Natasha and the others have commented. I do remember still too vividly what the despair felt like when he walked out the door in December as well as the darkness of sitting at home while he was with his wife . Natalie’s comment about running like your life depended on it smacked me hard too. Hang tight.

          Natalie, is there a way to share my contact info with Bri? As you know, another dark side to being an ex OW is that there is nobody to talk to because, of course, everything was a secret.

          • runnergirl says:

            Well so even though the intent of this post is to STOP ruminating and obsessing, while going about my day, I was thinking about words and actions. This post and the comments resonated with me as Bri’s ex MM’s said the same things to her as my ex MM said to me. Oldenough’s comment, “Of course they have to make us believe they are amazing, why the hell else would we stay in a sub-par, fake relationship where we always end up with the short stick? If they treated us like shit AND we were always second in the shadows, even the most thick headed among us would be out the door!” and Simone 71’s comment “They melt our hearts and so they keep us stuck in an unhealthy relation. All those sweet words we over and over think them and leave us hurt…….its senseless.” stuck with me all day.

            As I gently ruminated today, I remembered the sweet, meaningless words regarding how great our love was. Our love was just like the great love Emily Bronte, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy wrote about. We thought we were so fortunate to have finally experienced the true love the great novelists wrote about. NOT!

            Then CRACK, it dawned on me. Could the true love the great novelists wrote about have been dysfunctional and unhealthy? Given the fact Anna Karenina threw herself on the RR tracks (sorry to spoil it if you haven’t read it) and we all know how Shakespeare plays end, not to mention the messy relationships in Gone with the Wind and Wuthering Heights, could it be that the great novelists are ruminating about their dysfunction?

            Then CRACK, again. The vast discrepancy between their dreamy words and their crapola actions just hit home. He kept me so strung on his words, I didn’t notice his talk didn’t match his walk until it was too late and I was under the bus. I hope his wife is kicking his arse up one side and down the other all around their backyard. I wish I could join her. Okay, I’m experiencing some anger, again. It’ll pass.

          • Nevertoolate! says:


            You will get through this, stay strong, there will be good days and bad, hell today, I had good hours and bad. I was sick of crashing, the lows were getting lower and lower, the only upside was the weight loss, but believe me, my mental health and sleepless crying nights were not worth it!

          • grace says:

            I hear you re literature. I used to read a lot as a teenager and got more than a few dodgy ideas from the classics (though all genres can be just as bad). However, we most notice what we identify with and now I’m older I see there’s some good stuff in literature. In the second half of Wuthering Heights, there’s a decent enough relationship between the protagonists’ offspring. But everyone forgets it, cos we’re all focused on the DRA-MA. Bathsheba Everdene in Madding Crowd did finally kick her EU/AC addiction. Pip in the original ending of Great Expectations let go, without much regret, his illusions of Estella. Madame Bovary is a Star Example of what to avoid in relationships.
            A lot of us get hooked on the angst of “unrequited love”. It feels like we’re stars in our own Tragedy. The pining, hope and “romance” keeps us obsessing. But, really, it’s just a distraction from our own lives, which we may find boring, unfulfilled, below par. What better way to amuse ourselves then a giddy affair? Unfortunately, it gets very un-amusing very fast!

        • colororange says:


          I have been through the saaaaaaaaaaaammmmee type of thing. Someone kept me hanging on by tossing out some “alluring” words that hypnotized me. It never went anywhere but I dove into deeper despair from running in circles. I did not think the pain would ever go away. It did. Somewhere along the way it surely did. The person spouted off words words words and that was all. Piss in the wind.

          • itgetsbetter says:

            Bri, I won’t repeat what everyone else is saying (tho I agree!) but here are a few things I did: I listen to the Adele 21 CD – it’s the greatest break-up CD ever cut. I say keep feeling the pain, you’re basically grieving, and it hurts beyond imagination. If you treat it like a death you can get past it by recognizing the stages of the pain – disbelief, anger, etc. I think you have to commit to knowing it’s really a dead relationship, you can’t hope deep down it’ll all change b/c you’ll never move on, and he is the only winner in that case, not you. I also play songs I like and replace the words with my own angry rap about all the things he lied about, etc…. beats screaming at the wind. Anyway, I’m very sorry you’re going through it because I’ve been there and its horrible. Committing to truly ending it (in your heart) is the hardest step. Good luck to you & I mean it – you’re not alone. I read posts from this site before I go to bed so my thoughts are about me as I close my eyes, and not about him. Make it about you.

        • calypso says:

          People w/kids (including kids who need special attention) get divorced ALL THE TIME. Sometimes b/c the marriage isn’t working out, or b/c they truly fall in love with someone else. There’s a complete disconnect between how MM really feels about you and your perception of this situation. For you this thing is all-consuming (eating you alive it seems). However, you don’t mean that much to him; if you did, he would do whatever necessary to be with you. And if he really wanted to, he would figure out a way to be with you legitimately (i.e. not sneaking around) and still be a good dad – it’s possible, it happens.

          Another point. You seem to think he owes you: “I took him back so many times. I always forgave him. I suppressed my own pain and needs to be what I thought he wanted . . .” He doesn’t and never did owe you anything. Too bad he couldn’t treat you with decency (but if he were a decent/honest guy he wouldn’t be sneaking around behind his wife’s back). He’s another woman’s husband, he belongs to another family and regardless of whatever magical connection you think binds you together, he is not beholden to you in any way. Your slavish devotion and suffering doesn’t entitle you to any love or responsibility from him.

          When the dust settles w/his marital situation, he may well come creeping back to you, particularly if he has marital issues and needs an ego stroke. Will you take him back? Is this the kind of guy you want? Are you that desperate? I hope not.

  37. Magdalena says:

    I think endless rumination and over thinking is also related to matters of self-honesty. For myself, even when I *knew* at a very deep level that the ex-EUM was never going to change, I thought and over thought, hoping that my endless analysis of his problems would somehow alter this basic truth and that *finally* I’d be able to make 2+2=5. Its about trying to rationalize and deny reality and it ultimately results in an unwillingness to act on truth.


    • jennynic says:

      Magdelena….you are exactly right. It is self denial and having our head in the sand….and ulitmately avoiding action by avoiding being honest with ourselves. Then after we finally take action we sit and analyze that to. Drip feeding the truth to ourselves.

  38. Jane says:

    Going through a break up feels like I have a personality disorder. One day I am happy ,working on my self esteem, and feeling good. The next I am angry and rehashing all the horrible things my ex AC did. The next day I am sad and the whole thing feels like a tragedy I want to wake up from. The next day I am adamant that I never want to see my ex again. The next day I am looking out for him on public transportation and imaging all the things I will say to him if he tries to contact me.

    Basically I have to actively work hard every day to re-focus my thoughts but it is hard and sometimes I don’t succeed. I hope in time I don’t obsess negatively or positively about my ex AC but I know it won’t happen magically, I need to work at it.

    • jennynic says:

      Jane, I hear you. I described it below like having a devil on one shoulder and angel on the other and having a battle inside your head with the negative vs the positive….it does feel like I am two different people sometimes…even in a matter of minutes my thoughts can shift.

  39. jennynic says:

    I find myself ruminating lately. I go back and forth between being proud of myself for ending an unhealthy relationship and for feeling disappointed that he didn’t make me the exception. Letting go of the fantasy that I had in my head about him before I really got to know him is hard even when we know know know its ridiculous. I don’t really like who he is as a person but wanted him to validate me and turn himself inside out to not lose me. Well, of course he didn’t. He shrugged and moved on. Why is it so hard for us to do that….instead we think it to death and feel disappointed when losers don’t turn it all around for us. I still seek validation obviously. The mental psyche is a complicated thing like it is another person inside us trying to confuse us. It’s like a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The devil is in your face and always pestering you while the angel sits quietly and lets you figure it out with silent nudges. The negative is so much louder, sometimes its hard to hear the positive. It is hard to push the negative thoughts out, they are like sewage leaking into all the tiny holes in our self esteem. I have been on a marathon session watching ’24’ on netflix to keep my mind from wandering. I don’t feel devastated but I get frustrated that I don’t have more control of my thoughts.

    • anoosh says:

      jennynic, it is sooo great to read your comments this evening! the imagery is brilliant — the angel/devil thing, the negative being so much louder, and the sewage leaking in — eww!! horrible, yet that’s exactly what it feels like sometimes, as if you’ve been poisoned by the releasing toxic radioactive EUM/A**clown chemicals. ohh, the ruminating!! I too get frustrated that I don’t have better control over my thoughts. I have a dear girlfriend who has SO patiently been there for me throughout my ordeal, she is very religious — I’m not, but I think I really now understand what is meant by the idea that it literally IS The Devil trying to mess with you, and it requires a lot of strength and fortitude and LOTS of self-love to overcome. which yes, is a much quieter thing.

  40. NK says:

    I just read through all the comments and everyones so very supportive. Its brilliant. I wanted to say that I have been the victim of ‘analysis paralysis’ on numerous occasions its unreal. but I also had freinds who enabled this and experienced it themselves. The ironic thing is I used to be the one telling them to shut it and move on but I had (still do have) another side to me that is just like them. It really is like im two different people. That side of me still arrises on occasion but recently i’ve been battling against it. My recent ex, I keep getting random angry thoughts about him and myself, which I may have told him if it was a year ago but not now! Ive written texts to him but not sent them. It feels good to do that.My ex EUM was hilarious because he would indulge in my analysis and we would analyse the crapola out of each other all the time.
    Finally, since I dont feel the need to do this anymore I have found myself freindless. Seriously, theres only a few people now (its not necesarily a bad thing) but I am a lone ranger. That freind who took stuff from the looting, she is my oldest freind but I’ve known for a while that she feeds of my negativity and vice versa. She expresses views that I can help her move on in life and become more positive but she hardly takes a step forward herself. NML is right as always, im distancing.

  41. Thinking and over-thinking just keeps you stuck.

    Taking action is taking action for yourself – moving forward to do the things that make you feel good about YOU.

    It isn’t about taking an action to try to get a certain response from HIM. It’s about building a happier healthier life for yourself.
    Taking Action in consistent small steps definitely does that:)

  42. aboutme says:

    My problem is I am over-thinking the way things played out with my ex-boyfriend. NML, I met you recently at one of your events. Remember, I shared with the group that I dated a really nice guy. He showed me love, kindness, respect and all of the good things that most of us look for in a mate. The problem is that he still lived at home with his parents at age 29. I dated him just shy of two years and it did not seem that he was making any steps in getting a place for himself. Although he tried to help me out by doing very small things, like taking me out to dinner and paying most time, buying toiletries for the house. Of course all of these things were done at my urging. He was still tight with his money but he felt like buying little things here and there was enough because he did not live with me. I just was not satisfied because I felt like the relationship was completely financially lopsided. He did not pay rent or pay bills at his parents house and he saved a ton of money, cause he made about $52,000 a year. He only had to pay his car note and cell phone, credit cards in his parents name, car insurance under his parents policy. At the very least I did not feel like I should have to fuss with you about $100 here and there. I really do not need his money, I make a good living. It just really bothered me that I was the only one with adult responsibilities. We began to argue a lot and i said some unkind things to him because I started to not respect him as a man. Well, I forced his hand and he told me that he did not think that he could give me what I wanted, which was a real grown-up relationship that was progressing. Did I mention that he could barely make a move without his mothers consent. Other than that this man cherished me. Other people would comment on how he would look at me with admiring eyes.
    Three months later, No contact on either of our part, I am missing the time we spent together and his attention, and I am thinking that maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I should have just been a little bit more patient with him. But, I am in my mid forties and I just did not feel like I had the time to give him another 1 or 2 years to get himself together. BTW, while we were together, the age difference did not matter one bit.
    Now, how do I stop beating myself up about the words I said, or rushing him to make a decision.
    I am spending a lot of time with me and reconnecting with friends, reading, exercising, thinking about where I am in life as I am middle age with no kids. I don’t want to date right now, cause i know that I need to work on myself. I know that I will not humiliate myself and contact him but there are times that I do hope that he will call and say that he has moved out of his parents house. If he has not done that, then a phone call will serve no purpose other than open a wound that is beginning to heal.

    Ok guys, I need my decision validated. tell me how you honestly see this situation

    • grace says:

      He’s a loser, sponging off his parents. And I THINK if he moves out of his parents he will want to be sowing some wild oats, not be playing house.
      When a woman no longer respects the man, you and I (I’m the same age as you) both know it’s over. I think you’re clinging to a hope which is receding fast. I would let this drop. I think two years is long enough to know if someone is a keeper, to go back for another go is a waste of time. His admiring eyes are irrelevant when he pointblank told you he can’t give you what you want. When they say that, believe it.

    • anoosh says:

      I think I remember you from that event :) sounds very familiar, though this could be a common situation! I was the one asking questions about “telling him all about himself”, and getting stuff returned, and Natalie said very wise words which prevented me from making those mistakes (whew, thank god!). Like you, I’m mid 40’s, no kids. it’s been 6+ months of NC, sometimes it can be so hard. and, I totally have over-thought the entire thing for more than a whole year, since the break-up! I practice a lot of self-love/care, etc., but the heartache persists. the more I read BR and her other materials, the more I’m able to absorb, the less I feel that there ever could be a different outcome with this particular EUM. I think you’re doing right thing by not opening that door again. I left the door open for 9 months (!) after he bailed out, in hindsight I can see what a terrible mistake that was. I could have been 9 months further along in healing, I’d give anything for that now. plus, all those months of hanging on to false hopes seems to have done even more damage to my psyche. Sounds as if your assessments about the man & your relationship are on target. I second-guessed & blamed myself for a long time — now at I know better than that. That’s progress, at least!

      • aboutme says:

        Thank you for the support everyone. I totally think that I am having a mid-life crisis mixed in with overanalyzing my recent break-up. For the life of me, I would have never guessed that I would be single, with no kids at this point in my life. It is totally mind boggling and scary. So I guess with a birthday around the corner that will make it official that I am now middle age, this fact is causing me to want to hang on to a relationship that my “right mind” is telling me to let go.
        I am totally in the grips of fear of growing old alone. But on a good note, I have been doing a lot reading, praying, meditations, just seeking out any and all information to make this next phase of life smoother. Well my girlfriend told me that she can tell that I am thinking differently and that she can tell that “I am fighting for myself”. Tears rolled down my eyes because that is exactly what I am doing fighting for a better future for myself.

    • NML says:

      Hey aboutme – I remember you! I feel for you and your situation. He sounds like a pretty alright guy…except for the fact that he was still living with his mama after 2 years together, squirreling away cash while not advancing his situation, and he was pretty embedded with her as well. At 29, when a man says that “he did not think that he could give me what I wanted, which was a real grown-up relationship that was progressing. “, you have no option but to take a parachute and jump. I know quite a few men who are quite tight with their mothers (the boyf included – only yesterday I reminded his mother jokingly that he’s not The Messiah) but their pride means they have their own lives and a respectful distance that doesn’t encroach on them forging *other* relationships. Personally I feel that you don’t need a man who has his mother micromanaging his life.

      This isn’t an age difference issue – it’s a maturity issue. I know women who have the same issue as you with men in their forties and fifties. I also know men younger than 29 who are far more responsible and independent than your guy.

      It’s the age old issue – we get with Mr Unavailable but don’t like the behaviours that he comes with and want him to act like Mr Available.

      You’re in an imbalanced dynamic where he’s always been what he is and hasn’t so much as broken a toe nail trying to advance your relationship and living situation, nevermind attempting to break his back and you want him to behave differently to who he is.

      What do you do? Well you’ve either got to get behind your decision and validate all the reasons why your relationship wasn’t working that made you incompatible or you suck it and see – make contact, give yourself a deadline and see what happens. I suspect you’ll go with the former option because when a man says he can’t give you what you want, it means he can’t give you what you want. Unless you want to compromise on what you want, you have a conflict of values. You could wait (don’t) and see if he moves out but the truth is these guys only make the leap when they get to an age where it looks ridiculous for them to be at home still or they get the ‘nod’ from their mother telling them to get a wife and some kids. Some, as some of my friends can attest to, will stay attached to home forever more. Could you have given him more time? We can give everyone more time if we want to but wasn’t two years enough? If you go back, you BOTH have to compromise – find a solution you can both live with. You’re the only one who was compromising in your relationship – he was having the run of the land. Address the real reasons why this relationship ‘worked’ for you and remember that if you go back, it’s because the factors that broke your relationship no longer exist or are already on their way to being resolved.

      Stop selling yourself short.

      • aboutme says:

        You are exactly right to define the problem as a maturity issue. Everything you said is on point. I am just going to bare being uncomfortable with the fact that the relationship is over. I know it is the right thing to do on so many levels. Anyway, I think that he would lose respect for me if I went crawling back and that loving guy that I knew would then become a totally different (assclown) person towards me. Now to experience assclown behavior from my ex would push me into whole another category of pain and humiliation.

        I just really needed some support , validation and hard core reasoning to jolt me out of over-anylzing.

        But being single, middle age with no kids is just something that I am seriously struggling with. I know that I am a little off topic but this personal fact (which helped me to second guess my decision with my ex) has got to be by FAR the most fearful, painful, disappointing and at times embarrassing situation that I have had to face. At this point, I just want to make peace with myself and get my “head straight” to accept my life as it is today and try to find some happiness. That seems to be the only option that will allow me to save my sanity.

        NML I just want to let you know, that I believe that this blog and your ability to share your experiences and wisdom in a manner that we all can relate to is truly a gift from god. Just keep doing what you do, it is appreciated!!!

  43. Rosegirl says:

    I think for me what traps me into situations where I become obsessive is self blame. I’m always trying to find reasons to blame myself. I don’t feel like I’m a fantastic person especially in relationships.. I tend to obsess over my own behaviour, I’m constantly questioning it. If someone treats me poorly I wonder what I did to provoke x y or z and often fail to take action as a result of that … or if a relationshp ends I’m wondering what I did to bring about that outcome.

  44. MaryC says:

    As I said in an earlier post today I’ve been struggling this week after almost 2yrs of NC. Not sure what triggered it but can’t seem to shake the sadness of it all. I can’t turn my mind off and am replaying our last talk when he told me he had cheated and was leaving me for her. Still makes me throw up. Anyone have any ideas/suggestions to get back on track again? I thought I was doing so well.

    • NML says:

      I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling. I think identifying the source of the struggling is key – do a feelings diary as something has obviously triggered it. Identifying the trigger puts you in a better position to identify a solution. And there is a trigger. A common factor is a combination of dissatisfaction with your current position and feeling overwhelmed by the realisation that it’s on you to make things happen. Another common trigger is suddenly feeling like you can’t legitimately keep holding onto the situation and the pain as you may feel too much time has passed for it to be a focal point – this realisation can be initially somewhat depressing – like final mourning. I hear from a lot of people that go through NC that go through this. It’s the final letting go.

      Also just feel out the feelings – let it roll instead of interrupting it. Tis too shall pass. Maybe you’re supposed to feel like crap for a week and then beyond it, you’re going to be excited and just be ‘done’ with him. Make sure your life hasn’t slipped into a routine and has elements of nurturing, newness, etc. Be good to yourself.

      • anoosh says:

        omg this is such an amazing insight — “Another common trigger is suddenly feeling like you can’t legitimately keep holding onto the situation and the pain as you may feel too much time has passed for it to be a focal point…” — perhaps it’s the final throes of mourning! Wow. I’ve been wondering why lately I’ve felt so drawn to not just reading BR, but wanting to make more comments. and –why it all seems like a big struggle again, dealing with the ruminating etc, after more than a year. and it’s true too– feeling out those feelings (in a constructive way), not avoiding it. I guess it’s the acceptance stage of the loss, and it’s a different road for everyone.

        MaryC, I so know that feeling. I’ve been having a lot of flashbacks and re-living the breakup last summer recently (Vanishing Act, actually). I’m hoping it’s what Natalie is talking about here, and I’m nearing the end of it! Spending a lot of extra time reading this blog & the other materials — it helps to not feel so alone in all of it. I’ve been doing a lot of writing in journals since the beginning and even created a private blog, recording occasional video diary entries. hopefully I’m helping myself with all that, and it didn’t make the staying stuck worse! well, at least it’s a serious reminder that Time Is Passing Very Quickly, and the only person who can really get me to the finish line with all this is — me.

  45. Crazybaby says:

    Magnolia – analysis paralysis! That’s brilliant!!!

  46. Janis says:

    Perfect timing for this subject! The guy I’m obsessing over has a new girlfriend (or maybe she’s a FWB which is what I was to him). I wish I could just turn off my brain and stop thinking about him, him and her together, whether I should tell him how I feel, whether I should cut contact with him completely (which, rationally, I know I should do). It’s like some stupid little part of my brain thinks that if I just tell him how I feel, he’ll instantly dump her and come running back to me. Not freaking likely, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about it.

    We’re still “friends” … we talk almost daily. Usually not about her, but she’s always there in the background. Every time I see him or talk to him it hurts me, and yet the thought of completely cutting that cord and not having any contact with him terrifies me.

    Sorry … I’m having a really bad day today with this. Weekends are rough.

    • grace says:

      You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you think you can get over him while still talking to him every day. What kind of jacked-up recovery programme is that? Yes cut him off. It almost killed me (anti depressants, depression, anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, crying in my sleep) to cut off the ex player but it was the best thing I ever did. Terrifying, yes. But what’s the alternative? After six months it gets markedly easier provided there is NO CONTACT AT ALL.
      And he knows how you feel, that’s why he chats to you. “I’m so cool, even chicks I’ve done the dirty on can’t resist me”. If he respected you, he would leave you alone but, unfortunately, your feelings can’t get in the way of his ego-pampering.

      • Eternal Summer says:

        @ grace-

        lovin your straight shooter comments…I’d chime in on some of this stuff, but as a MW who was cheated on & then became the cheater-feel like I get too painfully triggered by the OW to say anything…but I love straight talk , no shooter…keep it coming…:)

  47. Happy Girl says:

    The first (shitty) boyfriend I ever had strung me along for 2 1/2 years without ever committing, then got another girl pregnant and married her. Six years later he sent me an email apologizing for being so selfish. SIX YEARS. And he was still married, with another kid an, and one more on the way, and he had a pretty great career. He obviously did not let any guilt he might have been harboring over me get in the way of his life. Hearing those words from him didn’t make me feel that much better, and I doubt that knowing someone just sat around and thought about me all of the time would, either. How much can a person grow if that is how they handle conflict? I gave myself 3 months of talking to friends if the subject of my last ex came up, then I decided to enforce a no talking about him rule on myself. I don’t plan on never mentioning or thinking about him again (that’s just unrealistic) but the point has definitely come for me to make him a memory, not a point of concern.

    • grace says:

      Thank you for this comment. Lots of us are stuck, waiting for a man to give us closure/an apology before we will move on. You got your apology and … blah.
      They aren’t that special that we should put our lives on hold waiting for them to do something. The song goes “set me free why don’t you babe” . I say set yourself free.

  48. Nevertoolate! says:

    Think I may finally be learning after all. About 5 weeks ago as you British say, my MM was in town we had a lovely dinner and a “shag”, and I never heard from him or so I thought. Anyway, this was on July 8, we had some bad storms here in the Northeast US and I had some trouble with my phone. My phone calls are tracked on my computer, so lo and behold the A@#hole did call me on July 12, and the call was answered, it was a 20 second call, so most likely he left a message on my machine that was lost was somehow. Don’t know what he said, maybe he had a great time, maybe he loves me, maybe he never wants to see me again? Who knows? I know I am rambling…My point being I have grown so much, the old me, would have sent him an e-mail explaining why I never got back to him, apologizing, and asking him what he wanted. Now, I am like what difference does it make? The end result is the same. He is UNAVAILABLE and I don’t need his bullshit anyway!

  49. Eternal Summer says:


    You are making it VERY HARD, well nigh IMPOSSIBLE for me to continue to live in denial & fantasyland!!!! haha! bravo!

    Try as I might to let my mind wander into thinking about my dalliances with EUM or analyzing his drip, drip, drip communication-I’m finding it really hard! I’m actually (do I dare say???!!!) getting TURNED OFF by him! Never thought that would happen! Soooooo looking forward to being a woman and not someone’s surrogate mommy!
    Love ya! Keep the truth a comin’!

  50. anoosh says:

    “Looking back is being uncommitted to the present and the future.”
    **just gotta say… this post is having a very big effect on my life today — maybe it’s even a breakthrough! made a bunch of comments on the thread here (hope not too much, sorry!). been reading since mid-April-ish, so thankful for this site. I’m a bit late getting into the talk-podcasts phenomenon that’s going on over here in US, but lately have been listening to a few of them. frequency of each one varies from daily to occasional. would be so great to have a Baggage Reclaim podcast on iTunes — I really believe the world would benefit greatly from that!! NML, not only is the writing so great, but hearing you speak in person is so awesome too– and fun!

    I’m going to try extra hard this weekend to take action, stay committed to the present & future, and give myself a big ol’ mental vacation from the recent past. starting… Now

    • NML says:

      Enjoy your mental vacation. Pack your bags, lock up the pain for a bit, and go and enjoy yourself. Podcasts are on a long list :)

  51. Fedup says:

    Happy Girl- I often wonder about this too, my cousin has done a similar thing. He was with a girl for ages but they never moved in together or took it to the next level. Then all of a sudden he has a new girlfriend. Then she gets pregnant and now they’re engaged. Why do people do this? Why do they move so quickly with the new person? Whats so different about them? Why did they commit to the next person?Why didn’t they leave them high and dry?
    I find it puzzling why it takes exes YEARS just to apologise. Are they slow or something? Its kind of like whats the point after all that time? It doesn’t change the fact that they’re still in that relationship, with kids and not with you.

    • grace says:

      I’ve been stalking the blog long enough to know this question comes up frequently. It’s another way to put your ex right back in the driving seat of your life – you’re still thinking about him and analysing. And even though he’s long gone, he still gets to call the shots regarding your self-esteem. He’s gone, you’re doing it to yourself now!
      However, let me shed some light on this, as someone who’s been EU and been at the receiving end of their behaviour:
      1. Many EU men and women, even though they’re crap at relationships, don’t cope well with being single. You’d think that after a breakup they’d want some time out. Nope, they’d rather avoid the hard questions and leap into a relationship with someone else. You’ve no idea how good, bad or indifferent that relationship is even if there are children and a marriage (witness the cheating husbands and fathers on this blog). And do you really want another woman to suffer the way you have? No, we’re better than that!
      2. Sometimes we get to be the EU Tamer. With our nagging and persistence he MAY get the message regarding his shortcomings. However the EU Tamer doesn’t get to be the beneficiary of that. Now that he’s Better Person he’d like a Better Girlfriend thanks very much. And that isn’t someone he’s treated like a doormat for x years. Yes it’s hypocritical but I get it. I would never go back to any of the exes I wronged, it’s too embarrassing. And I don’t like to admit it but a part of me would always look down on them a bit. Moral – if he’s treating you like crap, leave. The ship has sailed.
      3. Why should they apologise? Most of the time they haven’t committed a crime except be themselves. He can’t be anything else. They’ve given us enough warnings of who they are but we chose to stay. Better off apologising to yourself. And if the AC who assaulted me came back to apologise I think I’d spit in his eye!
      4. It takes years because it takes a long time to face up to your “sins” (to be oldfashioned about it). By which time, I sure hope we’ve moved on. And often they’re not really apologising, they want a shag, ego stroke and a shoulder to lean on.

      • Blaise Parker says:

        Fantastic comment. Nailed it. Wonderful.

        “Moral – if he’s treating you like crap, leave. The ship has sailed.”

        • Elle says:

          Grace – your comment about the ship having already sailed is so painfully true. I hate the truth sometimes! I’ve been on both ends of it now, and both times the victim of the crap behaviour – my ex in one relationship, me in the next – was paralysed by the shock of someone they loved being a right turd. It’s awful and awfully confusing. But it’s a definite sign. When it’s gotten to that stage, it’s been over for some time, but both parties have been, on some level, dishonest and cowardly.

          • dawn says:

            “When it’s gotten to that stage, it’s been over for sometime, but both parties, on some level, have been dishonest & cowardly.”
            So true. It is the hardest thing to tell someone that you want to end the relationship, even worse when you are living together or married. Untangling lives and starting over is emotionally and financially draining for alot of people. So many people just end up staying together because it’s easier or there really isn’t a way out because of circumstances that they can’t control.

      • Minky says:

        Awesome Grace!

        I would like to add to this if i may:

        5. People change (otherwise known as the ‘right person at the right time’ phenomenon) – when i came out of a relationship with my available ex of 6 years, who things simply fizzled out with (we are still on good terms), i didn’t want to be involved with ANYONE – like NML says, they could have been the most perfect person ever, it wouldn’t have mattered. I got into a casual thing with the ex EUM which finally blew up in my face, after which I thought ‘enough is enough, did a lot of work on myself and am now in a healthy relationship. BUT If i had met my boyfriend back then (two years ago), i wouldn’t have wanted a relationship with him EITHER – fansastic though he is. People change, for millions of different reasons, but only when they want to.

  52. Magnolia says:

    The other night I was driving home late and felt a deep sense of abandonment, and thought of the AC. I had a feeling of wanting “someone to come home to.” Though I live with a roommate, the AC was the last person who I felt opened up to on that level.

    I decided to go to the beach which I have not been to in a year, because it is near his house (it was 1:30 in the morning). It is a public, breathtaking beach I loved to go to before it became “ours.” Or rather, “his.” I went for a walk along the paths where I would often jog from his place; I sat and looked out on the same vista that I would see from his bedroom, and tried to make both of them “mine” again.

    The feelings are still quite strong. Anger. Wanting payback. A sense of unfairness.

    In September it will be a year since the breakup. Also it will be my birthday shortly afterward; and I am not sure if I feel more celebratory about the anniversary or the birthday!

    The experience of dating him still runs pretty deep in me. I want all of it – the regret, the anger, the connection to old hurts, to be over. A year is a long time to still be angry over someone I barely spent a year with.

    I think I’ve made a lot of progress. I just don’t know whether to keep ‘healing’ or to put in another push toward ‘putting myself out there’, and trying to find love again. The months, and the year, have slipped by very quickly.

    • J says:

      I relate to your comment. I have a ways to go before I hit my year mark but reading your comment tapped into worries/other thoughts of mine. With the getting back out there, if I still have feelings about it all- does this mean I am not ready to meet someone yet? Should I be feeling more settled and not still so angry/sad/nostalgic, etc.? Since it appears I feel so strongly still after so much time, will I just bring baggage to a new person/dating situation/relationship then? When do you know you are alright? Do you wait it out and just know inside when the time is right? Do you wait years? Or is it normal to still get out there even when you are feeling not 100%? (I mean, yeah, you don’t want to be fresh out of the last relationship but I’m talkin’ after much time has passed and if you are still feeling a bit off.) Or perhaps you just date and not think about a relationship necessarily?

      • grace says:

        I think you’re ready when you want to date with a view to a proper relationship. You feel optimistic about it and confident that you can handle the inevitable hiccup.
        Dating when you don’t want a proper relationship is problematic. It’s what the EU do. We’ve all been at the receiving end of that. He pursues you, he asks you out, he asks you out again. You meet his friends. You see each other several times a week. And a few months/a year later he’s “not ready for a relationship”. What now?

  53. Fedup says:

    I’ve also been guilty of ruminating. I’ve been wondering why I’m a good person and make a great girlfriend, yet I seem to keep getting screwed over. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. Then the AC exes move on as fast as lightning speed and seem happy in the next relationship. Yet I’m the one always nursing a broken heart and all alone. But they seem to come out smelling of roses.

    The one person that wasn’t an AC I had a summer fling with. But he had to go home interstate, an hour plane trip. I thought that was the end. But then he said he wanted to continue seeing me. Due to the problem of long distance he asked me to move in with him.
    I’ve been ruminating too long becuase I just can’t come to a conclusion what to do.

    • NML says:

      Fedup, the reason why these people appear to land on their feet is because they don’t spend their life stewing over their pasts. Their lives don’t disappear due to heartbreak. They press the reset button and get back out there without dwelling. The healthier side of this is more of a middle ground. Never make the mistake of thinking that because you feel bad about something and sat on it for a lengthy period of time that it should have bothered the other person to the same extent.

  54. Gaman says:

    I just wanted to share with everyone how I have been getting through the last 10 months now (wa-hey!) of NC in the hope that it gives people the strength to keep going. it has been SO tough at times, and I am not going to go into the ins and outs of what happened to me – its all history now anyway, but lets just say it followed the usual pattern of hot pursuit, followed by hot and cold, followed by just cold. The BS just flowed from his lips. Oh, and he was married. With children. And Tiger-Woods style famous in his field.

    It has been hell at times but I am doing great now, and here`s how:

    1) Read, read and read again on this site. Download Natalie`s books and memorise them. I took particularly pertinent quotes and wrote them out on a piece of paper that I carried in my bag and read when I needed to. The ode to women is particularly useful! I have lost count of the number of times I have said to myself “If loving you means I can`t love me, then I choose me!”

    2) Write a list of all the things that were crap about the “relationship” and about him. Be nasty if you have to! “Saggy arse” was on my list! It will help you keep things real when you get nostalgic.

    3) DO NOT contact him. I wrote an entire essay viewing things from “his perspective” and how he must view me now – it was pleasant reading because I haven`t chased him, didn`t sleep with him in the end and it made me realise that by continuing in this way he can do nothing else but respect me. But even if you have chased him/did sleep with him IT DOESN`T MATTER because it is from NOW that counts, not before. “You are not that woman. Not anymore”.

    4) Write out who you want to be. Set goals for yourself in the short, medium and long-term, and visualise the woman you want to become. If you already know someone who can act as a role model for you, think to yourself whenever you feel down “What would X think about this? how would she handle it?” Soon enough you start feeling like the woman you want to be. It gives you a future to focus on.

    5) Analyse what happened in the past, but from the perspective of figuring yourself out. Look at your habit patterns, what you did/didn`t do. Rather than obsessing about him, obsess about yourself, and figure out how you can grow and change from this experience. Expect to be up and down, euphoric and miserable. Feel all the feelings anyway. It`s a bit like labour – every pain is a…

    • NML says:

      Great tips Gaman. What’s key to your progress is you recognise that it takes consistent effort including nurturing to get through this – you don’t just sit there in pain feeling bad about yourself and then one day just click back into happy. Kudos to you and well done.

  55. Rosegirl says:

    Thanks Gaman .. I’m going to try some of those tips. At this stage I’d give anything to get what’s happened to me these last few months out of my head. The biggest thing I’m obsessing over is my pure disbelief at how I was treated in my last relationship, why it happened and why I let it happen. I keep going over the putdown ‘jokes’ he said to me wondering were they true or whether I just lack a sense of humour like he implied. I also sit and wonder what it was about me that made him ok with saying or doing things that he knew I wasnt ok with. I wonder why I didnt put my foot down hard enough. I wonder am I just blowing it all out of proportion. Its really easy to confuse yourself by overthinking and obsessing.. going around and around in circles coming to no lasting resolution. Thats where I am at now. My self esteem is in shatters I’m trying everything I can to rebuild it but no luck yet.

  56. Tulipa says:

    I’m not sure what my problem is.
    I no longer spend endless hours thinking about him or analysing him, yet something isn’t right.
    I have gone backwards where he is creeping back into conversations with friends, one who kindly pointed it out to me asking why when you are not together do you always mention him, you went for months without speaking about him and now he is back in all conversations everytime we catch up.
    Contact with him has also crept up and if I’m completely honest it has come from me and yet I would be adamant about not wanting to get back with him nor am I thinking of ways to be with him.
    I know I am happy when we aren’t in contact and here I am sabotaging myself and I don’t know why.
    I have looked closely at myself and realise that I am very much eu so maybe I’m thinking its all too hard to change, I don’t know.
    Any insight would be appreciated.

    • NML says:

      Tulipa, if you’re going backwards it’s because you’ve chosen to go backwards because you don’t want to go forwards. Glutton for punishment is what springs to mind. You may be adamant that you don’t want to go back to him but that’s a hollow belief because it’s what you on a logical level know but it’s not what you truly believe and feel. You’re not done. You may even have convinced yourself that you’re so over him that you can now handle him at this level in your life – if you were that over someone who treated you so poorly, you’d move ON.

      • Tulipa says:

        Thank you NML cannot argue with what you have said.
        I have downloaded The No Contact Rule book and so glad I did except it is scary how accurate it is to me and this situation.

    • grace says:

      You’re by no means the first and you won’t be the last women who will not give up contact and jumps through a gazillion hoops justifying it. You think you can handle it. It’s obvious to me that you can’t. I couldn’t either.
      It’s not a sign of strength to keep jumping into the fire. Strength is pouring a bucket of cold water over it and walking away from the debris.
      Nat is right, it would stick in my throat to have contact with the toxic exes now. I went through a stage of fantasising about bumping into them and then wafting off carefree. Now I’d cross the road to avoid them (and I’m in London so that’s no mean feat). Not cos my feelings run so high but it would be embarrassing. I just wouldn’t have anything to say to them.

  57. Gina says:

    We are really into the dysfunction aspect of the relationship, in love with the fantasy of being able to finally be ‘together and happy’ he just needs to stop doing this, a little bit of that… Oh, he will once I do this and he sees how great I am and we will ride off into the sunset. I remember watching an episode on tv about real people who were ‘in love’ with MM… and guess what, when the married person did divorce and choose them, the novelty wore off… The truth was revealed and the only thing that really bonded them was the unavailability… No relationship can be without truth and a healthy dynamic. So, their illusion of being in love came to light.

  58. PeaceBaby says:

    So what’s the difference between grieving and wallowing? I know it’s not good to repress and deny your feelings. But how do you keep on the healing path and avoid getting stuck in the pain? Sometimes the pain waves feel involuntary and they can be overpowering.

  59. Leigh says:

    I spent months of analysing the MM that would behave in odd ways and say things that just didn’t add up.

    Sometimes I felt like a moron. He told me from day one he would never leave his wife. I knew this. He was/is a christian (hypocrite) and believed in family (that’s why he chased another woman) that’s why he couldn’t leave his wife – yet she left him twice. Once for another woman and another for a man. I was there through both those times and his reactions were an eye opener. I didn’t want him to leave his wife at all and in fact I encouraged him to go after his wife when she left him.

    But what he did was to manipulate a situation with me to justify to himself that I was to blame for what was going on in his life – which of course he denied. In the end, I got the hell out of dixie and I have been NC for ten months. I spent at least 3 months analysing and getting angry and the rest trying to find me again. One thing that comforts me is that I know his failures in his marriage is not MY fault. It’s his and his wife fault and his marriage is still crap because everything in his life is about HIM first. Everyone else is to blame but him.

    I am no longer the OW. I am free. I am rebuilding my life because I am worth it and that’s what all the OW on here should do, too.

  60. Ria says:

    OK, l have serious question and it is kind of an offtopic for current article. I have met in a short time of period a number of guys who run the following mindset: “You loose BIG time, if you dont have much sexual experience, and the girls, that capture certain aura about them, are the real catch,” or “the girl l will marry one day, will benefit of all the previous experiences l have had in the bedroom” or “how can you go with being frineds with a guy if you dont shag him,” or ” that girl has THAT look in her eyes, which you dont,” or simply to put it “you are plain odd, and naive if youre NOT shagging left and right.”
    I am suddenly surrounded by so called “teachers” who are trying to tell me, how much l am missing. Yes, seems the world is becoming too casual and l might have wrong people in my network (those guys arent my dates), but today l it kind of got me and l felt really hurt. Am l overreacting??

    Ladies, back me up. How to handle this?

    • Tanya Z. says:

      In school, I was a good student, and worked hard…it was depressing how many of my classmates expected that I would let them copy my homework. EVERYONE copied homework, they told me. It was really the teachers’ fault for giving us so much. Friends should help eachother, they told me. What kind of a friend was I, if I wouldn’t “share”?

      Being young and insecure I gave in, and later I wished that I hadn’t. These kids were not my friends. They were too damn lazy to do their own homework, and they manipulated me. They preyed on my low self-esteem and longing to be liked.

      These guys who say that men like sexually-experienced women sound like they are offering the same kind of rationalization. Like my former classmates, they just want what they want, without having to make any effort for it….good grades with no studying, easy sex without having to do the work of developing a relationship or making a committment. And if they’re told “No,” they rationalize and twist things so that it’s everyone else’s fault.

      My classmates were nice to me to get my answers on the homework — but did they truly care about me, or respect me? Of course not. I respected myself less for giving into their demands. I’ve discovered that casual sex is like that for me too. It doesn’t work for me. I become attached, want more, and feel rejected and used.

      So I’ve finally learned. I no longer let people copy my work, and I no longer have casual sex. I don’t give a damn if other people don’t like me for it. I don’t care if other people let themselves be copied from, or shag left and right. Maybe it works for them. It doesn’t work for me, and I’m the one that I have to look after — not a bunch of selfish users who want everything for free! Trust me, they will look after their own interests! They don’t need me to do it for them.

      • NML says:

        Brilliant Tanya. It is so true that our relationship behaviour is often replicated in other aspects of our lives and your comment truly illustrated this. Thank you for sharing!

      • Ria says:

        Thank you, as well. I wasnt sure if l should post this comment in a first place, but in those situations l have done this – held my head high and just left the room. It does hurt, the whole situation, and if you get these messages in short period, it kind of gets into you, and l wanted to get it out. I thank you very much for understanding and giving a nice feedback.

      • Natasha says:

        Tanya, are you my long lost twin?! I used to do the same thing in school and a few years ago I realized that casual sex left me with the same icky feeling. Love, love your comment. One of the best I’ve ever read :)

      • Blaise Parker says:

        Also one of the best comments I’ve ever read here, Tanya. So wise.

        • Elle says:

          Yes, and links so well to oldenoughtoknowbetter’s concerns about whether or not to professionally help someone who personally wronged her. Yes, there are instances where being kind and giving is great and admirable, but others were you’re just being used and harming yourself.

  61. madam butterfly says:


    You have the right idea about writing down all of the things that were bad/horrid about him. I keep a list of all of the snide insults and bad behaviour i endured from my narcissist pinned up on the wall of my pc room, and when i feel nostalgic, and i do sometimes tend to remember some of the good times we had before he showed his ‘true colours’, i read the list and add to it on a regular basis particularly when i feel the urge to see if maybe things could be different one more time around. But then, after i have endured over 12 months of NC and i am feeling great for having done so, i feel i could not go back to have him cheat, lie and generally try to bring me down once more. It’s taken me such a long time to get this man out of my head, that i really cannot put myself through all the anguish ever again. And to think when i discovered his cheating – he offered me the ‘friends’ card!! I am worth much more than to be a FB or a FWB and it feels just great…..

  62. Rawan says:

    I love this article, it helped me these past two days, I’ve realised i’ve probably gone through everything and thought very thought possible about the relationship and breakup, and I knw ow that thinking it over again will do NOTHING. it will accomplish nothing, been there, done that.

    But what if pain comes up without you intending it to?
    I try to distract myself and do other things, but by the night time, usually I feel some hurt creeping in and I’m not sure how to stop it.
    I don’t want to be with my ex AC I’d do ANYTHING not to be in that relationship again and get hurt like that again, but the pain he caused me still lingers in, I have a great emotional memory of how I felt when he pulled the disappearing acts everytime, and how little he treated me.
    I had completley no knowledge in relationships, to me every relationship could work, I had that belief, and I could do the work, I could change things in the relationship so it’d work, I was so wrong. If only one is going to do all the relationship work then it’s going nowhere. I was 18 naive and just got out of a relationship with a guy who treated me amazing, I thought all guys were like that, all relationships was as healthy as my first, and I was never rejected before. Couple that with a guy who is emotionally unavailable, has commitment issues and he’s smart in a way that he knew my weaknesses and used them against me to keep me hanging in that relationship, and you get the most painful and dangerous relationship. UGH.

    • Elle says:

      I too had an almightly shock that a guy (a person) who I trusted could be so awful and irresponsible. My other two, adult relationships had been with pretty gentle, honourable men. That’s why pain is felt, even when you’re seemingly not thinking about it – it’s a natural response to a deep shock or trauma! I know of friends who have seen therapists and undergone hypnotherapy, just to ease off that intense fear response to certain triggers. I have been thinking about this problem too because I still – over a year on – get unwelcome fears, and misunderstand threats. (We need a session with Paul McKenna!!! ; ))

      • Rawan says:

        Well that’s a little depressing :( I’m not going to see a counselor or a therapist, is it impossible to get through it without seeing a counsellor ? It’s been 3 or 4 months since the breakup, I have a my good days and bad days

        • Elle says:

          I think it’s more than possible to get through this without a counsellor. I am sure most people do. I haven’t seen one, and, just to be clear, the situation I was in was made worse by some other factors, which became tied up in the whole AC ball of thorns (hence me considering whether seeing someone would be a good decision). Time and what you do with that time (how kind you are to yourself and how open to other experiences) are the best healers. Soon enough, especially if you’re disciplined with your thoughts – watch and quickly soothe yourself and move onto something else that is grounded – the feelings will subside. I assure you, it is far, far better for me, almost entirely better. Just moments of panic every now and then that are getting less and less frequent, less intense, and which I manage far more quickly. You will get through this!

        • grace says:

          I’ve needed to see counsellors (and I was referred to a psychiatrist on the nhs) because I have recurrent depression and anxiety from childhood. If you’ve been abused as a child, a counsellor can be necessary because what you learn as a child really sticks in a way that adult difficulties don’t (usually- if you’ve been raped/kidnapped or suchlike, that’s more than a “difficulty”).
          A counsellor isn’t a magic bullet, you still have to put in a lot of commitment and hard work. You do most of the recovery yoruself and it takes time. A counsellor can really help you get unstuck – if you’re trapped going round and round the same obsessive thoughts, an outside party can show you the Exit sign.
          Three months isn’t such a a long time to get over a break up and you do have good days. For me, I had no good days for months on end, maybe over a year. Depression is serious, it does lead to suicide.
          Anyway, I’m rambling. My point is that everyone is different and you need to decide for yourself if you need outside help.

  63. Maya says:

    I haven’t posted in a while but have regularly read this blog since last summer when I fell fir and got burned by a hot-cold blowing eum. Fastforward to 4 months ago I met someone ‘tall dark and handsome’ who I didn’t instantly click with and because he was polite, and did ‘all the right things’ I felt I should try to get to know him. After heeding nat’s advice on examining ‘types’ I felt it was right to explore this as my previous experiences with the ‘good-looking outgoing guys’ seemed to end with me falling hard and not getting the relationship I wanted. So this quiet, introverted but apparently sweet and consistent guy shows up, I think ‘ok he is not what I’m used to but that’s ok as I feel safe abd respected due to his actions matching up to his word’. He opened up a bit after a month, told me he was smitten, over the following month stepped it up when I expressed my wanting to take it slow due to previous bad experiences and said he wanted to be ‘my boyfriend he was falling in love like never before’. Next thing I have the key to his flat, daily texts of how much he loves me, and I go away for a few days with girlfriends he wants to drop me off/ pick me up… Perfect courtship, this is how it should be I think, I still am not if I’m in love with him as it has only been 2.5 months and I have a worry he maybe ‘fastforwarding me’ but I put that to one side, as everyone around me reassures me he has been consistently well behaved for this time and wants me to meet significant people in his life… I still have that feeling when I’m with him that he is a bit too quiet for me and I dont feel like I am myself around him, become a little quiet too but think maybe I am overthinking and just not uses to being treated well. Have not been in a “proper relationship” in years, even never…. Then he starts getting snappy, I put it down to me talking about something he is sensitive about and not realising. Then he announces a big promotion at work, and talks about what a massive deal it is, he at the end of the month needs to focus on work, I understand that. However it’s almost like he switched on me for most if the month. Actually he went from being sweet and attentive to irritable, moody, not interested or eveeven asking

    • grace says:

      Alarm bells are ringing. It’s not really to do with his personality, it’s the key to his flat (I wouldn’t expect that for at least six months), his daily texts (texts?!), and blowing hot in response to your blowing cool. It’s a textbook EU situation. You don’t even sound as though you like him very much.
      I think if a man gets a promotion at work, a good response would be to take you out for a meal to celebrate. Rather, he’s telling you he’s got no time for you and being snappy. If you think this is being treated well, I dread to think what you’ve experienced in the past.
      Seems like both of you wanted to make this work and are now realising it isn’t. What you going to do about it.

      • Allison says:

        Yup, Yup, Yup!

        Grace you are spot on!

      • RadioGirl says:

        Maya, please be very careful and take heed of what Grace has said. Your description of how things have gone so far with this man are an almost *exact* carbon-copy of the first 4 months of my relationship last year – and you can guess that it didn’t end well, or I wouldn’t now be reading all the excellent advice and comments on BR! I experienced all the same stuff early on – the words being backed up by actions and consistency, the “perfect courtship”, him being smitten, me not being that sure about him at first and being a little uneasy about the rather fast pace but putting it to one side, the daily texts, meeting his parents, key to his place, etc etc etc….. But he just couldn’t keep the almost-too-perfect-gentleman facade going beyond the first few months, and just when I’d fallen for it all (and fallen in love with him as a result) I too started getting to see a bit of the tired and irritable side of him, and then it was a slow decline into a self-centred jerk whose actions ended up showing he could hardly be bothered to care about my feelings and needs. At the end of a year together, I flew thousands of miles to join him in Argentina to spend time together at the end of his 3-month “working holiday” there. It turned out the whole time he was out there he had been writing loving I-never-got-over-you-in-any-way-at-all Facebook messages to his previous girlfriend, along with flirtatious messages and Skype calls to other women too). By then, I had gone from being at the top of his priority list in the early days to being well down it – and completely puzzled as to how and when this turning of the tables could have happened. He couldn’t even be arsed to get things organised with swapping his work with his “boss” (a friend who wasn’t even paying him for his work out there!) so that he could be there to meet me at the airport at the end of over 24 hours that I’d been travelling to be with him. By the time we got back to Heathrow 2 weeks later, he literally ran away from me to catch a bus and I never saw him again. Yes, as Grace says, it was from start to finish the classic EUM behaviour we have all learnt to recognise from so many posts on this website. Your alarm bells should indeed be ringing, Maya… Please do take care.

    • Natasha says:

      Maya, I have to agree – I’m not feeling this. If this is how he reacts to a positive, exciting event like a promotion, how is he going to react when something negative happens in either one of your lives? My Mom always says that if a man acts up over stuff like this when you’re dating, you have to wonder what he’ll act like if you are married with a mortgage and young children and someone loses their job. Hope this helps!

  64. Elle says:

    I saw a movie with a friend last night in which the hero-guy looked A LOT like the AC. Hero-guy died, and my weak little brain shed a tear for the AC more than the character. As I wiped that clown-tear away, I recognised that it is not really about him, it’s just a warped memory of pain. It was nice that it only lasted a few minutes – while the images were showing – and did not linger during what was otherwise a fun night. It’s just like remembering any other loss. You have to accept these things as part of your life, and part of life generally.

    Meanwhile, I am still seeing new guy, and loving it for the most part, but geez I still get confused sometimes about when I am being reactive (to something outside the relationship or from my past) and when it is appropriate to set a boundary or enforce some space. But one thing I have been doing – thanks to this site – is being better at deciding a response and doing it without engaging in elaborate deliberations and training exercises. New guy gets it anyway, and so when he’s being sub-standard, I actually know now that it’s better for me to keep my response simple and then give him space, because he’ll do the thinking for himself. (Don’t think for other people, ladies and gents!!!)

  65. Maya says:

    (sorry hit send too soon, on my mobile can’t seem to edit!)… Doesn’t really ask about my day. Yes there are occasional ‘nice moments’ and in the week running up to his big day, I barely hear from him so I message him good luck, offer to drop food round as I had mentioned I would previously to save him time and he was rude, and said I don’t want to see anyone even though I clearly said I was literally dropping off for 5 mins in middle of my working day. It’s almost like he doesn’t like to acknowledge I’m a busy working doctor too, he has said ‘he doesn’t think much of my profession’ based on some bad experiences. So many other things, he has said I have misled him about how experienced I am, which I never have. I’m in my late twenties, a virgin, but I have kissed and been physical obviously with exes. I told him this then later he twists it into making out I said ‘all I ever did was kiss’ which I find bizarre given he has slept with women, he has snapped at me so many times and I was so shocked with how he changed when ‘under stress’. I did say to him ‘I don’t feel like I know you well enough to know how to support you when you’re under pressure, what do you need from me’ which I thought was the mature approach, to which he scoffed ‘well that’s worrying if you dont know me by now!’ and became moody. I mean at 3 months?! I was happy/ more confident when I met him and as he changed how he was I felt all that nosedive. He got his promotion and I promised my worried friends I would have a talk with him about my concerns, and hoped he would say ‘sorry I was a jerk, I get like that when stressed’ that’s all I wanted. I just wanted it to go back to how it was before, instead he has a fight with me that he can’t believe I’m bringing anything up when he was stressed and he did mention when we first started dating ‘he can be moody’, then somehow he starts going on about my exes, how he can’t believe a word that comes out of my mouth! Anyway I’m away with work for a few weeks and just before leaving he started being sweet again. I know the fact I’m so anxious is a bad sign, I’m ruminating. Its hard for me to meet guys I can date due to cultural reasons and ones who are not intimidated by my job. I want to feel like I gave this my best shot but equally I dont want to be wondering ‘what happened to that guy I first met’…. Confused!…

    • Allison says:


      I think you both are using the “pressure” as an excuse for his bad behavior.

      This man is putting you down and treating you very disrespectfully. He has issues! Everyone is busy and has pressure, there is no reason for him to be treating you, or anyone else in this manner.

      I would end this immediately!

      • Carrie says:

        Sirens are blaring Maya! This guy sounds like a tool. Taking your concerns and turning it around to blame you? Taking the things that you’re self-conscious about and using them against you? Sounds like an AC to me. Don’t believe the “sweet” part right before you left.. he’s trying to keep you holding on. You deserve so much better and if you don’t find someone right away who respects your culture and choices, so what? Believe in yourself and eventually you’ll meet someone who believes in you just as much.

      • Natasha says:

        Aaaaamen Allison! Very well said. My ex-AC was the same way – it boils down to, “Oh, I have SO MANY PROBLEMS. That’s why I can’t treat you well!” (Though, in my case it was followed with, “Most of it is your fault anyway. Screw you for wanting me to treat you with respect. I do really want to be friends though.” Seriously.) Anyway, there is really no one on this earth who is not under some sort of pressure at some point or another. Maya, you’re a doctor and part of your job is to make life and death decisions. That’s pressure. You manage not to act like an ass, why can’t he?!

    • SaraK says:

      Please walk away. The reason that he denigrates your professional work is that it is held in high esteem (and rightly so) by society, and he wants to lower you into menial support for himself, only. Grinding you down makes him feel big.
      A young woman in her late twenties, with a fine future, will find a loving equal partner out there; so much so that you will love without reservations.

      Now Walk!

    • wicked74 says:

      Maya – That man is at best, EU and at worst, an emotional abuser. Trust me, I married it. There is no rhyme or reason to their behavior. Honestly, I didn’t even read the end of your post – I already got the full picture from a few words. He is rude, disrespectful and not worth your time. Hit the flush handle and move on. Do it NOW. I wish I had years ago and now I just want to stop other women from the same mistake. Take care of yourself.

    • grace says:

      Eek, it’s even worse than I suspected!
      The guy you first met doesn’t exist. Anyone can put on a good show for week, or even a month or two. He probably even meant it at the time “Maya is so great, this time it will be different. Magically, my previous problems with relationships will disappear.” However, you don’t have that power (no-one does) and he’s reverted to what he really is – moody and mean. Moody is bearable if you’re the kind of person who’s happy to do your own thing while they stew (and you don’t want children) but mean is unacceptable.
      He’s being sweet because you’ll be gone soon and he can afford to let his guard down “Might as well throw Maya a bone, she’ll be off soon and I can kick back for a while without her expecting anything from me”.
      I understand some of this thinking cos I’m introverted and get moody too when people want too much from me. But at least I don’t promise loads of shizz I can’t deliver. And I don’t pick on my friends either.
      It’s hard for all of us to meet guys. I don’t know of any woman, however beautiful and together who says “All day long attractive and available men approach me”. The answer to that isn’t to throw all your hopes at an unsuitable candidate, it’s to be MORE PICKY (about the right things) so you don’t waste time or get your self-esteem so dented you become incapable of making a good decision for yourself.
      Your job is a non-issue. The Queen’s marriage seems to be doing all right.

    • Magnolia says:

      Maya – lots of good responses above. I’ll add my two cents: one, putting down your profession – not cool. My exAC used to like to mock the subject of my PhD dissertation. That IS him being intimidated by you being able to do your job, he’s just being nasty about it. Two, if we focus on you, and not his behaviour, what jumped out at me is that you said, even when he was polite, that you didn’t feel you could be yourself around him. Place a higher value on being able to be yourself, and YOU’ll drop HIM.

    • Leisha says:

      Maya, FLUSH and run! He is a false faced entity…this is why dating is a discovery phase…Run Girlfriend…always know that once a “good guy” begins to treat you badly they are no longer “good guys” for/to you. Always be prepared to “cut em loose”…that’s how I see it now…your gut will always tell you so! You don’t need his garbage being thrown at you…nor do you deserve it. He is showing you who he is and his anxiety/stress isn’t a reason nor an excuse for treating you unkindly. Boot him to the curb. It’s not a loss; it’s a release to find someone worth your time and affection.

    • Sm says:

      Maya, total classic AC and EUM behavior…all of it. Including the part where he doesnt respect your profession. I got the same thing from the last guy I dated, only he said to me ‘you have your sh-t together’ like it was a character flaw. I now realize that he didnt feel good about himself so he constantly tried to downgrade me. Even to the point of acting like the fact that I had some morals was a bad thing.

      • Natasha says:

        Sm, I got the same thing from the last one too! He drank a ton and, on a date especially, I stick to a two drink limit. He also drove drunk, which I would rather jump off a cliff than do. He was trying to get me drunk one night when I had to drive (I ordered my one drink from the bartender and he said, “She’ll have a large one.”) I said, “Regular size is fine, thanks!” He said, “You’re actually really intelligent.” with a look on his face like he’d just discovered I had a contagious case of polio. You know the guy is a loser when “having your shit together” is a negative to him 😉

  66. Elle says:

    Here is a (new) song that I love – and one of its themes is about the harms that can come from entering a new relationship when you’re still hung up on pain from the past:

    • Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

      Elle, that song was brilliant, thank you for sharing. “You’re just somebody that I used to know”. I think that says it all!!! I had never heard of this band either, I will look into them further, great song.

    • jennynic says:

      Elle, I listened to this song about 10 times in a row I found it so beautiful. So glad you posted it.

      • Elle says:

        Isn’t that bit where Kimbra sings back her frustration to him about him still being hung-up on an ex so wonderfully poignant?! And I love the idea of being painted in and out of someone’s life.

  67. fitnessfreak says:

    @ itgetsbetter
    Yeah for Adele …tho she seems to have worked through some AC s in her young life !
    I used to sing / cry along to these lyrics for ages
    ” but there was a side to you I never knew
    And all the things you said they were never true
    And the games you played you would always win
    But I set fire to the rain…and I threw us into the flames ……”
    I used to cry when I listened to this ….now I just punch the air !!!
    Not posted for a while as in hols with my kids and friends ….was just ” rockpooling ” today , in the sun , listening to my kids laugh, ….feeling truelly happy in the simplistic activities….and I found myself realising …I don’t ruminate or obsess anymore , I don’t think about him 24/7 and feel like my mind will explode, I don’t need reasons , I don’t need an apology, I sleep ( well ) , I started looking out for me ( and joined the gym ) , Infact on the beach today …I almost said out loud ” what the f**k was I doing with him ???”, and someone purleese tell me what I saw in him ever ??!!!”
    I think his last ( unanswered text ) read ” me and my no strings attached c**k miss you ”
    Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    Honestly its only NC that gave me this healthy perspective and helped me heal …..I’m thinking of you Bri….I know how desperately you will want to hang on…and he is different, and your love is unique, blah blah blah ….been there too …its only NC that enables true perspective and healing of self !!
    Ps if it helps …when I first read about the NC rule I thought it would be utterly impossible !! ( its not !!!!! ) thanks Nat .

    • Natasha says:

      Fitness, since we’re on the subject on Adele, this is my favorite of hers! It’s funny, now when I hear it I also think, “Ohmygod, Florence. Cut his ass off.”

    • jennynic says:

      Glad you are feeling better and you found YOUR place in the sun. That text sounds quite disgusting and insensitive…..for me it would be the final nail in the coffin I needed to turn the corner.

    • Magnolia says:

      fitness – again, the rudeness of this guy is off the charts! Can’t you block his texts? I’ve been following your comments and you are in such a different place than when you got here. Inspiring!!

  68. runnergirl says:

    OMG, I’m just finishing Natalie’s ebook “Get to Grips with Values & Value in Relationships. If you are ruminating, download it ASAP. I stopped ruminating by page 5 as reality smacked me upside the head. I’m an avid reader of this blog, great admirer, and a studious student, when I read Natalie’s books I get more clarity as there is such tremendous context. This is a must read.

    Natalie, the entire book resonated with me and now I’m starting to understand why I’ve made the same mistakes with men over and over again. It’s me, my lack of boundaries, and no clue as to values. Your description of “appearance, attraction”, chemistry, and passion” is to die for, pardon the pun. If we didn’t live on opposite sides of the earth, I’d swear your encounter with the 6’4″ attached dude with the cheeky smile was the same MM I fell for. I fell for your attached dude just by your description. You would have, back in the day, fallen for mine too…he…he..hee.

    Simply the best Natalie. Anybody who is stuck ruminating, this is a MUST READ. I had no idea. Thank you doesn’t quite capture it. Thank you.

    • Cinn says:

      @Runnergirl & Natalie
      “I’d swear your encounter with the 6’4″ attached dude with the cheeky smile was the same MM I fell for. ”

      Sounds like an exact template for my ex-EUM-AC-narcissist-teammate! That darn smug cheeky smile and when he wasn’t hiding behind mirrored sunglasses (checking out all the other fluff as well) there was a twinkle in his eyes = dangerous not fun.

      I learnt too late that if they cannot sustain eye contact then they are only after a fling no matter what their words are. Actions speak louder than words, so true.

      • Blaise Parker says:

        “I learnt too late that if they cannot sustain eye contact then they are only after a fling no matter what their words are. Actions speak louder than words, so true.”

        This is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT true.

        Also, I found that any man who calls women “girls”, as in, “I was dating this girl”, or “The last girl I was with was crazy”, was – without fail – the words of an underdeveloped, emotionally stunted man-child.

        Look for a man who looks you RIGHT in the eye, even when you disagree, and calls you the woman you are.

        • Elle says:

          So true, Blaise. The AC did that – infantalised and medicalised his exes and women in authority. Also, he lied about little things, things most people would not even dream of lying about, but then, when I called him on it, would say, he was ‘just embarrassed’ (or ashamed or not wanting conflict). Slippery on small things = training for bigger acts of bullshittery.

    • jennynic says:

      Nat…I don’t see the “Get to grips with values” ebook listed anywhere on your website that Runnergirl is talking about. Is is available still?

        • Eternal Summer says:

          that’s my favorite one! love it…

          • runnergirl says:

            I’ve learned so much from all of Natalie’s books and this blog and all of you. Mr. U and the FBG was so scary great. Each time I read Natalie’s books, it seems to come just at the right time for me even though I’m seem to be lagging and shoulda, coulda, and woulda read them sooner. The “Getting to Grips with Values” just so struck home at this precise moment. I’m still trying to get a grip on how primary values are so fundamental and common interests are, well, simply common interests. I can have common interests with just about anybody but that doesn’t mean I should marry them, particularly if they are already married!

            I’m finally finishing my Unsent Letter to the ex MM, unloading his baggage and separating his shit from mine. Oh we had so much in common but not a single fundamental core value. WTF was I thinking? Let the fire hydrant and fireworks finally explode this time. Ruminating over his baggage and mine is too exhausting. I’m tired of being sick and tired. I want to live again. Off with his heavy bag-o-rocks.

        • anoosh says:

          ooh I didn’t know about those ones! more BR ebooks — fantastic! been studying the the NC & Mr. U/Ms. FG intently on my “Rumination Holiday”. maxed out at moment, hopefully can swing it soon! the more I have to help re-train the mind, the better.

          yep, unpacked the bags, had a pretty nice weekend of solo time, needed the break from various current stresses. discovered the UK series “Peep Show” on Hulu, and have gone through about half of it — I don’t think laughed so hard in over a year! actual tears from laughter. I don’t think I’d have appreciated it as much until now. I still fall apart listening to Amy Winehouse (music is big rumination trigger), still need to stay away from sad romantic jazz, esp. Billie Holiday.

          very late last night a wave of that “final mourning” did crash over. but instead of spiraling down, I actually called a counselor hotline # someone gave me last year, glad I did. first time I’ve ever tried that — it was 1am, so too late for much else. it helped to get back on track. I actually told her about Baggage Reclaim, she was very interested after hearing about all the concepts and said it sounds extremely positive. she also said that the long-term grief experience was normal, and was very encouraging. I didn’t agree with everything, but that’s OK. it really is amazing to have the BR site & ebooks, sometimes when you live alone I think it’s good to reach out to talk to someone.

  69. Mango says:

    Brilliant, painfully relevant post. Wonderful, insightful, thought-provoking comments. I’ll be reading it all again with hopes that some wisdom and courage will continue to seep into my stubborn, wallowing brain.

    I was doing well, 60 days NC now. Go me! Yet, I must admit, I am sad sad sad that I’ve only heard from once in the last two months, a month ago. I’m surprised, truly, and am feeling deeply hurt. With the way our last conversation went, I thought he might reach out.

    He’s not an AC, just got his own EU issues and is a terrible communicator, but it’s still so hard not to take things to heart and personal. I wanted to feel as though I mattered. Maybe I did and he’s reluctant to express it. Still, it hurts! It would be nice to be with someone who’s not afraid to express their true feelings.

    The things I most regret and and ruminate the most about are the mistakes “I” made. The things I wish I had said/done differently. I deeply regret not going out for a visit last summer when he really wanted me to. I realize the outcome could possibly be the same, yet I would at least have had a sweet memory. I’m uncomfortable with the way I handled my behavior and that does not sit well. I realize at this point all I can do is keep taking steps forward to heal old wounds, and re-build my shattered self-esteem so future relations have a chance of being healthy and mutually loving.

    It just pains me deeply that a long term friendship has come to an end. Ouch. That hurt to write. It’s hard to wrap my brain around that it’s come to this.

    One last thought…..I’m aghast at how far off track I’ve gone. I used to feel confident, attractive, bright, witty, etc.; when did sniffing around for crumbs become okay? It disturbs me that I lost myself, and that I’ve so much work to do to find my way back. I’m 6 months away from 50; I’m humiliated I’m at this place in my life, a shell of my once vibrant self.

    Ok, rant over. After wallowing in a very dark place for days, soothing myself with too much ice cream (OH, so cliche!), I think I simply needed to vent and get that out. Thank you all for listening. For your strength and wisdom, and humour. It really does help. xx

  70. Fedup says:

    Grace yeah I get what your saying. I’ve been blaming myself alot. I deeply regret not standing up for myself and getting out early. I should’ve been the dumper.

    • grace says:

      It’s not about going from bashing him to bashing yourself. If you HAD dumped him you’d probably be regretting that instead. Back to basics, this is a self-esteem issue. Most healthy-minded people don’t spend a disproportionately long time obsessing over the end of a relationship. I spent three years obsessing over a relationship that barely lasted a year. It took me over six months of counselling to get back on my feet after ONE outing with the MM which didn’t even include a kiss. You get the picture.
      It wasn’t to do with them (how could it be), it was my dissatisfaction with myself and my life. That’s what you need to address – not the woulda, coulda, shoulda of a relationship that was never going to work.

      • Magnolia says:

        Oh, Grace. Thanks for sharing all that – it’s important to remember how many of us are speaking from experience. I do not want to feel burned about my last bf for 3 years! This is about me and my life: repeat, repeat, repeat.

      • Eternal Summer says:


        you go grace, you’re awesome….obsessing about someone else; their faults, flaws, shady behaviour, etc…yep, totally takes focus on your own dissatisfaction of whatever is not working in your life…phew! that is such a big waste of time I see now! :)

  71. Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

    Nat, I am not sure if you will publish this as it has a tinge of revenge, but as I read all the anguish about being in love with a MM and how they go back to their lives with no consequence, this is not always the case. In my situation, I am the one with the professional power. He has a biz that is failing. I am in a very influential position in the same industry and I have him in a few deals that could save his biz. But now I am chasing him for biz things he needs to do, sign non-disclosures, provide info, instead of chasing him for sex. He still doesn’t return texts, cancels meetings, etc.

    After reading these blogs, such sadness and heart break over MM who seem to hold all the cards, I have decided I am not going to help him. Maybe just once in a while they can tangibly lose too. I am not doing anything unethical or negative, I will just quietly stop promoting him to the people who make the decisions. The opportunities will just “go away”. He may never even know why. In the end, he fucked with the wrong woman and it just cost him tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands. Literally. I am not a crazy jilted lover boiling a bunny, this is much sweeter. Sometimes the good guys (or women) do win!! :-)

    • grace says:

      I wouldn’t promote someone who fails to keep up his end in a business deal either. “Oldnough, that contact you gave me turned out to be really flaky”. It could backfire on you professionally.
      If you get to stick it to him for being a cheating twerp, that’s just an added bonus.

    • Magnolia says:

      I have never understood how people who are shady at their love lives seem to come off as golden in their professional lives. If anything, we learn here that how we handle our relationships is how we handle our relationships – in all aspects of life. If I’m unassertive with men; I’m probably unassertive at work. If he’s two-faced and shifty with women; he’s probably two-faced and shifty in business. My exAC liked to see people squirm, whether it was me or the business buddies he’d bring in to show off to and tease with insider information.

      So if you’ve stopped ‘promoting’ him to yourself, seems fair enough to me to stop promoting him to the world around you. Tu ne le supportes plus, c’est tout.

    • runnergirl says:

      On behalf of this formerly heartbroken though still stuggling and ruminating OW, thank you Oldenough. I don’t think it is a case of revenge or a crazy jilted lover boiling a bunny, nice image though since I’d like to shoot the bunnies that eat my flowers. Rather it could be a case of integration: An adult professional person should not have to chase another adult professional to do their job and a wonderful woman such as yourself should not have to chase somebody for sex.

      Pardon the language here, he not only fucked the wrong woman, he fucked himself. He’s dying on his own sword. But do let us know!

  72. Sabrina says:

    In spite of all the focus on myself, in spite of choosing me instead of my Mr. Chaser, I sometimes can’t help but wonder what the fuckery is going on.

    Scenario: after almost 7 months of blowing hot and cold, kissing sessions while both were drunk, he pretending nothing happened but keeping a platonic profile (and little me falling in love deeper and deeper…), I took my chance and told him what was going on; got a “no, thanks” as an answer.

    Okaaay, I thought, it’s time to lick my wounds and move on; it won’t be easy but no one dies due a broken heart, will it? So I decided to focus on myself and grieve and move forward. He fancied that, so he’s blowing hot again, at least he’s starting to.

    Here’s my question, though: how on Earth can someone behave like that? As far as I’m concerned, no means no, it doesn’t mean nay or ni or mah or hmm. My way of thinking, nowadays, is crystal clear: do you want me?, grow up, be a man and then, let’s talk about it; don’t you want me?, fine, I’ll lick my wounds and then move on. But please, stop playing this game, it’s kinda annoying, actually. :(

    • grace says:

      Good for you for asking. He said no. Believe him.
      If that’s not good enough for you, read through some of the posts here. Your guy is no different to them.
      And think about cutting him off. He’s not your friend.

      • runnergirl says:

        “Here’s my question, though: how on Earth can someone behave like that?” Based on my reading of Natalie’s books, this blog, and my personal experience, Mr. EU’s act like that. You may have hooked another EU. I’ve found that no does mean no if you walk. If you don’t, no means “nay or ni or mah or hmm”. These EUM’s all read from the same play book. My guess is that he won’t grow up and be a man because he’s EU. I’d start licking my wounds if I were you. EU’s are totally annoying. Blowing hot when you start to get it is totally classic EU. Do you want to be his option in the hope that you could one day be promoted? I never got that promotion despite 2 years of being his option while he was my priority. Don’t walk, run.

      • Sabrina says:

        Hi Grace,
        I know he is not my friend: friends do not play with others’ feelings, for instance. I believed him when he said no, he lives into his own world made of bits, bytes and beer (he’s my leader developer, we work at the same workgroup) and indeed I cut him off on what concerns personal stuff, I just look for him if I need something at work.

        My point here is why such a behavior *after* taking a damned position: I mean, if I don’t want something I let it go, right? Frick, what am I, his backup plan, his favourite toy, his exotic pet?!

        Honest to God, the love I feel for him is turning into something negative; I wouldn’t say hate – I don’t even hate my ex-husband who slapped me in the face, for instance -, but every time we’re together I feel bad, miserable, insecure and this pushes me away from him. Sad, very sad, indeed.

        • NML says:

          Sabrina, you’re not going out with yourself; you’ve been involved with another human being that is an individual that does things for entirely different reasons. The only thing that matters about what you would do is recognising the disconnect between your characters and values. And then move on.

          • Elle says:

            Yes – that feeling bad and insecure is not because you’re a bad person who should be trying to maintain intimacy and affection, but isn’t, it’s your body telling you that you’re in a spot of danger because your values and expectations are not aligned. Some of the love you have from him is not coming from a tidy place! Stay away.

          • grace says:

            But you could turn it on its head. He could say “If Sabrina was that bothered she wouldn’t hang out with me. She’s obviously cool with it” So your position isn’t 100% clear either.
            We know HE isn’t going to do the decent thing by you, so that’s down to you.

  73. Maya says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments reading it about to take a flight. Will heed all your advice… I already know it’s wrong but started to hope for a miracle. Sorry for shirt reply, on the move. Lots of love for your replies xxx

  74. j d says:

    My EUW pops up every couple of months on an online dating site. I wasn’t looking for her, someone told me about it, so I looked. There were our photos (with me thankfully cropped out) from New Years. It made me laugh; I’m sure she will find a guy, have a relationship, and disappear on him too. Then she can start the process over, with new photos, with the new guy cropped out.

    Same as it ever was. Glad I am out.

  75. Gina says:

    Sabrina, the reason why is because you become unavailable it feeds into the unhealthy dynamic where they want to chase you, but theirnot really interested in you. In every situation and there were quite a few, these guys like clockwork contacted me after i pulled the plug…like nat says to keep their foot in for an ego stroke, attention, sex…whatever. It prevents us from moving forward. I remember they tried to convince me that we could stay friends and because i doubted my instincts i agreed but then i got my head out of the sand…we were never friends. It cracks me up now when i think these so called friends tried to get their private parts back in my pants… Bottom line dont answer.

  76. Fedup says:

    Grace- I did go to Counselling about it. But she didn’t seem to help at all. She just told me to get over it, just like everyone else. I really expected more than that. Actual tools to get passed it, not just yelling

    • NML says:

      A counsellor yelled at you to get over it? That’s not a normal counsellor experience and like dating, sometimes it takes a few different counsellors before you find a good fit to proceed with. That counsellor was very inappropriate but don’t let that colour your view of all of them.

  77. Fedup says:

    Thanks Natalie. Its so frustrating trying to find the right counsellor though, I feel like I’m going around in circles. I feel like giving up.

    • Leisha says:

      FedUp: Just because someone trained and earned the title of counselor does not mean that they are actually good at being one. People can fake and pretend to get what they want and later expose their true colours.Keep on searching until you find the fit for you (just as with dating and even with marriage); you may have to try more than a few…but that doesn’t mean that the right ones aren’t out there…there are those who know the rules and those who take their chances and make things up as they wish to as they go along…as with dating follow your gut feelings! Good luck!

  78. Simone71 says:

    i was just cooking and thinking ( yes, yes we women DO think too much ),
    i was thinking how much i got crazy ruminating about this man….
    i was gooling like crazy to find out WHY he did the things he did…..
    google must have laughed about me for sure……googling things like
    – how to get your ex back
    -did he really love me
    -will he come back
    bla bla bla
    finally stumbled over narcissist sites and later on here
    i was obsessed with the thought i NEED to know all the WHYs…..
    well……i actually got some answers…..
    he HAS narcisstic traits a lot and he IS a player……
    but all this googling for answers led me to the point WHY i me myself
    needs this validation from him so badly……
    WHY do i really want a person like him……
    i think the last months were in a way very spiritual and i am not talking about religion……..
    i wanted to find myself again so badly……he covered my real sellf and i did
    let him do this……i wanted to have this soulmate thing that he claimed we had…….
    well…….finally i have MY answers for MY wellbeing…..
    most women on here havent experienced this unconditional love from their parents…….and so we are searching for it
    for my part my mom died in october and even on her last days i felt she never loved me they way i needed it so badly
    so we have this lack inside of us and we try to fill it with the help of another person but the truth is that noone can give us this unconditional love …….only WE can love and respect ourselves the way we realy need it…….
    also if we have a good partner that respects us and loves us how its supposed to be……there must be still a selflove….there must be an I and a YOU…….
    only if we accept our failures and our trueself then we truely can love another person without falling into dependency on another person……
    only we can save us ……
    sometimes when i look back how he treated me and wonder how stupid i was…..i have to laugh and sometimes i can still get angry although acceptance is there…….but it gets better every day and i am glad he has gone and i know all this sweet things were nothing more as a fairlytale and very unhealthy……….
    i think the only right partnership is when you feel you can be your trueself and the other person accepts you just the way you are on a deep level……but we have to watch out and not fall for…

  79. Simone71 says:

    …..not fall for they lying and sweet words
    stay strong ladies… gets better every day

  80. Sabrina says:

    Hi girls, thanks for your replies, truly. :)

    I’m afraid I missed a piece of information, here: since his no I put him on the no-friend zone but, unfortunately, we must work together since he’s my leader developer; in fact this is what I mean with “when we’re together”, I wouldn’t dream of going on pursuing him after he clearly stated he doesn’t want a relationship with me. On the other hand *his* behavior annoys me a huge ton, since he fancied I accepted what he said and so I’m working on move forward.

    Perhaps you girls are right and for him I’m nothing but a hot Brazilian in the middle of a bunch of Austrians, so someone to add on his list of exotic experiences.

    Boy, that sucks. :(

  81. kate says:

    Hi Fedup
    My heart goes out to you. Keep focused on you , make yourself the priority. You will be amazed how that will help. Taking the step to go for you is a wonderful sign of healing
    It will get better , time (and no contact) really do help
    On the journey to grieve , heal myself , reading , talking to friends and family and self talk (positive affirmation) it led me from one of the worst experiences in my life to the best place I have ever been. “Whatever happens in my life, I will learn from it, I will grow from it and I will find a way to make it enrich my life. ” my daily mantra
    Please read Dr. Susan Jeffers book “embracing uncertainty”
    Check out website
    A therapist has to have the right fit . Check out a few until you connect. Its a relationship like every other.

    Stay strong, there is lots of light and love at the end of the tunnel !!
    take care

  82. grace says:

    Here’s an advice column that may emplain his (or her) “sudden” changes:

  83. Bri says:

    Today is my first day of NC with the MM since the breakup. We work together, maybe 20 feet away from each other, and I had to sit somewhere else today so he wouldn’t see me cry. For two years we talked every day and said “I love you” before going home, without fail, and today there was none of that. It’s like my whole world has shifted. It’s already a hard road and I know I have more difficulties up ahead.

    Right now I’m trying to keep with NC, which isn’t easy, and separate the person he really is with the person I imagined him to be. It’s hard to let go of the a beautiful image I had of us in my head, even if it wasn’t based on much reality. We weren’t Romeo and Juliet – he had a choice, and he didn’t choose us. He WOULDN’T leave, it’s not that he COULDN’T.

    My imagination is getting the best of me (see: ruminating) and I can’t stop thinking: is he happier without me? did he magically fall in love with his wife and they’re on their way to a happy marriage? is he hurting as much as I am? is she going to change him when I wasn’t able to and get the best of him?

    It hurts even more thinking of the things he said when he ended it (presumably “for the children”): “I’ll always love you, if I didn’t have kids I’d marry you, I’ll always wish we would have had a real chance together, she’ll never make me feel like you have”. It twists the knife that much deeper.

    I’ve been reading and rereading BR when I feel like I’m falling apart and all of your comments, support, insight and faith that I’ll pull through this is one of the only things keeping me going in this dark time. Thank you.

    • grace says:

      I see you’re still very hooked on what he said. I used to do the same, replaying in my mind things that exes have said. But they are just words. It probably made him feel like a romantic hero for saying them. He liked the effect it had on him and on you. Anyone can say that stuff. In fact, they are EASY to say if there’s no chance of having to back it up.
      I could say “I’m a trained surgeon. I’ve performed this complicated procedure a thousand times. I’m an expert.” Terrific at dinner parties, good for impressing the neighbours. But it’s a problem if you give me a scalpel and a patient on a trolley. He KNEW he would never have to prove his words so he happily trotted them out.
      One genuine “I love you” from someone who is committed to you and there for you is worth one million from someone who says it and then goes home to another woman. His words are meaningless.
      He promised his wife fidelity before the state, his family and her family. Look how that turned out.

    • ICanDoBetter says:

      Your questions of him being a better person now with her, and will she be able to change him, when you couldn’t….for some reason, that really stood out for me today.
      I have read most of your comments about this relationship, and as an outside party it seems so clear that the answer is a resounding “No!” I have thought that same thing about so many of the other posts on here as well, when someone worries they are going to miss out on a new and improved version of their ex.
      And yet, I have tortured myself with those same questions, too. Maybe it stood out for me today, because after seeing hundreds of posts asking that same question, maybe it took one more for me to realize that none of these men are going to magically morph into something better. It takes a level of commitment and hard work, and frankly, I don’t read ANY information about these guys on here that indicates that kind of self-reflection.
      It sounds to me like all your MM did was make the choice that was most convenient for him. He already lives in the house with his wife, they already have kids, and staying would help him avoid dealing with all the guilt of leaving his family. He didn’t choose her out of some noble strength of character. He chose her because he g0t caught. Right now, he’s too scared to act out his philandering tendencies, so he’s lying low until the wife becomes less vigilant. He may have painted a noble picture of his choice to you with his words, but Grace is right, they are just words.
      I only say this because I hope that NC will strengthen you, in case he one day decides the coast is clear to cheat again. I sincerely hope by that time that you will see him for who he really is.
      I don’t say that lightly. Believe me, I know how powerful those tender words and moments together can be. We all want to feel loved and cherished, and in those moments it can be so powerful that nothing else seems to matter, like the fact that they are married or EU or AC.
      This is your time now, to step back and see things as they really are.

    • NML says:

      Hi Bri, I feel I need to weigh in again especially as I worked with my ex that had the girlfriend. Here’s the thing:

      1) It’s not a breakup of the relationship you wanted; it’s the breakup of an affair. You miss the I love you’s but the truth is, the man was all shirt, no trousers. You’re grieving the promises that never came true.
      2) You have no choice but to get real – you cannot hold someone accountable for your imagination. I’m reminded of one of my favourite Adele lyrics “I’d hoped you’d see my face and be reminded that for me, it isn’t over”. I’ve lived that a thousand times with the office guy. Fact is, if it’s over for him, it’s over for you. All he has to offer is fringes – he has made his choice. Respect it.
      3) He’s always been married. You’re assuming he was as miserable as you were in the affair. Fact is, he couldn’t have been *that* out of love with her. He never left and let’s be real, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work out that this man is reacting to the responsibilities he has and some of the inadequacies that may surround that, by having an affair with you. He wanted to escape his problems but he doesn’t want to *leave* his problems. How you could expect to change a man that was never yours in the first place for you to ever be in a position of changing him is beyond me. You’ve also inadvertently admitted to something that you normally dodge – Wanting to change someone is acknowledgement in itself that the person they are isn’t what you want or acceptable. Yet again, you have proved you don’t want him.
      4) He didn’t end it for the children; he ended it for himself. I’m tired of children being blamed – if he was doing it for the kids, he wouldn’t have been with you in the first place. An attached man can only love you in a limited way and is being emotionally dishonest to give you the little he can. I’m sure he does wish you could have had a real chance – he never gave you one. She could never make him feel like he has because he’s not having an illicit affair. It’s not ‘exciting’ to be a husband, father to three kids, two of whom are disabled. He wants the excitement without the responsibility.

      He’s not the one twisting the knife – you are. Another person that was seeing through his BS would blaze right through it. It’s you layering on your imagination and feelings and using what he said to massacre yourself. Stop twisting the knife. He’s married. He’s a liar. His situation never changed which means nothing has changed other than that he’s been found out. Real life has intervened. It is one thing for him to lie to you, but don’t continue to lie to yourself. It’s been ONE day out of SIX years – of course it hurts. But it does get better. But first comes pain. Hugs, Natalie

      • Ria says:

        “It’s not ‘exciting’ to be a husband, father to three kids, two of whom are disabled. He wants the excitement without the responsibility.”

        l could not help it but to compare it with most common situation in life. Lets say l have to complete really difficult task and lm working from home. So to kind of “ease” and “balance” the heaviness l feel, l go to fridge, and crab a thing or two to eat. Or, evening, a glass of wine. Makes me feel good and takes the heaviness off for a while. Then l go back to work on task. Task is hard and heavy, but l know l have to complete it, because in my life it is very important task, and although the heaviness it takes, in some ways my life depend on it. So, another peek to fridge. I tell myself: I should stop doing this because it is a)unhealthy for my figure and b) in the perfect world, l should really concntrate on finishing the task, but you see, l want both – to peek the fridge and see whats in there and limbo with the deadline of my task, until its getting to a critical state, when l no longer CAN go grab something from the fridge, because my boss would fire me otherwize.
        If someone only could lock my fridge….

      • grace says:

        It’s funny, but I did it too, wonder why the MM wasn’t behaving like a proper boyfriend.
        “My boyfriend’s switched on me! He used to be such a great guy, he told me he loved me ALL THE TIME. He said we would always love me. Always!We had so much in common. What’s gone wrong?!”
        “Have you talked to him about it? How long has it been like this? Do you think it’s serious?”.
        “I’ve no idea! Something terrible must have happened! I must be doing something wrong. Maybe he’s having a quarter life crisis. It’s so weird! Maybe we should go to counselling”
        “Wow it must be really hard for you. I went through a bad patch with my boyfriend, but we had a real heart-to-heart and now he doesn’t take me for granted anymore.”
        “I’ve tried talking to him, but it’s like he’s not listening. He ignores my texts, doesn’t return my calls, I hardly ever see him”.
        “Sounds like you need to think about breaking up”
        “Oh, I don’t need to do that. You see, he’s married, he just needs to leave his wife. And kids.”
        “Brilliant, glad it’s not serious! These affairs with married men always turn out well”

        • runnergirl says:

          Hey all, I’m still with Bri, grieving the promises that didn’t come true. I know rationally you are all correct, way more than correct. God dammit, he told me he loved me, couldn’t live without me, and couple faked. We had our wine, our house at the beach, and our wonderful moments my backyard. That was all a lie? I guess, for me, that’s the hardest thing to accept. He was lying to me and I bought his lies. Worse than accepting the fact that he lied to me is the fact that I lied to me. I knew he was married and left my bed to go to bed with his wife. Well, shoot. “Stop twisting the knife. He’s married. He’s a liar. His situation never changed which means nothing has changed other than that he’s been found out. Real life has intervened. It is one thing for him to lie to you, but don’t continue to lie to yourself.” Bri, if you are there, I know it is difficult to accept we’ve been lied to and even worse, we’ve lied to ourselves. Natalie, thank you for response to Bri. You’ve so summed up being the OW no matter if it’s me or another OW. It’s just hard to accept being lied to. I cannot even begin to imagine how it must feel to be the betrayed wife. Sorry, I’m just rehashing and venting. Bottom line: I was lied to and I lied to myself. Bri, you will get there. So sorry for us. So sorry for their wives. Thank you Natalie for providing a safe, healing harbor. I’m getting there, albiet ever so slowly and fighting getting there. Don’t fight it Bri.

  84. MaryC says:

    Hi Nat, thanks so much for your reply the other day when I was feeling very low. I took your advice and starting to write out my feelings and while I still haven’t figured out what triggered the sadness I’m feeling a whole lot better. I plan on keeping a journal, I think it will help.

    Best to you & your family, Mary

  85. shattered says:

    I couldn’t imagine the ex AC not being in my life, after 2 years. He blew hot and cold, disappeared, came back, changed his mind..on and on. He went on holiday for week (supposedly alone) and I realised what a mug I’d been. He wouldn’t talk about feelings or our relationship, so I sent him an angry text ( wrong I know- but it did make me feel a whole lot better) then went NC and it was hard. I work from home, so had more time to think about him, but I decided I had to move on for my sake . I spent endless hours (when I should have been working) wondering what happened, imagining him with someone else (he had lots of women who were ‘just friends’ – maybe that’s what he said about me too), the whole coulda, woulda, shoulda. Thanks to NML and all you ladies, I realised he wasn’t unique, just a typical AC and he’s really not worth my time. Recently I visited a clairvoyant with friends (I’m not in the habit of doing this!) not expecting much from her. Amazingly she told me there was a man in my life who although not a bad person, is ‘wrapped up’, feels no emotion, is a bit shady and has been hiding something from me -and that he’s not meant for me . This may sound stupid, but that sealed it for me and I’ve stuck to NC and getting on with my life. I doubt I’ll hear from him again. Its futile to wonder how someone can be like that. He just is.

  86. Simone71 says:

    Some women on here say their MMs or Eums let them down again and again and they take them back again and again…..just like i did myself….but i wonder what we would thrink of a man with which we would break up with several times in very mean ways and this man would keep crawling back and begs us to take him back…….i never looked at it vice versa but reality is better than rose coloured glasses… looks desperate and i guess i would feel pity for that man…..sigh

    • Cinn says:

      “but i wonder what we would think of a man with which we would break up with several times in very mean ways and this man
      would keep crawling back and begs us to take him back…….”

      It’s bad enough declining unwanted advances from guys, especially those who beg and even try to propose (with tears streaming down their face) when you’ve never dated them! [cringe]

      I had no intention of breaking up and then taking back my (2nd) ex as you described. Once I’m in, I’m in with both feet.

      However at the beginning of our relationship (having moved on from dating for 6 months) he laid down his boundaries saying “you got to make up your mind, don’t be a boomerang, no too-ing and fro-ing with me, I won’t take you back if you left”.

      Fair enough but it was such a shame as soon as I committed to him he blew hot then cold *sigh* [rolls eyes]

  87. Winter says:

    a few months ago i started dating a guy … the relationship got very intense very quickly. within a few weeks he had told me he loved me, paraded me around in front of his friends and family … he was moving away for work and asked me to join him … i agreed … i thought i was ‘in love’…
    when i got there things had changed. completely. he had begun working these crazy hours … it was like he had undergone a personality transplant. when i saw him he was usually moody, irritable, sullen … very nitpick-y. we spent virtually no time together … i was lucky to get a half an hour of his time a day and even during those time he often didn’t want to talk. soon it began to dawn on me that i was practically alone in a strange country … i began to feel depressed and homesick. i felt like an unwanted accessory of his, i felt i was losing my identity. however i desperately wanted the guy i had in the beginning back, i hoped for change.
    this went on for a while until one day he told me that he wanted me to go home that i was too ‘needy/insecure’ and that he couldn’t deal with me that he needed space. after that he disappeared pretty much for a few days … then i get a text telling me that he’s booking me a flight for the next day and that if i wanted our relationship to work i had to be on it … ‘ok’ i thought. i start packing my stuff. he doesnt come home until 6am … drunk and passes out while im trying to talk to him. i have to then wake him up at 9am the time he told me to be ready at to help me bring my suitcases to the bus (thats right he wouldn’t even take me to the airport). he got up and brought me to the bus stinking of alcohol, hungover and half dressed. pathetically i still thought things could work.
    until i got to the airport. there i decided that the man he was in the beginning didn’t exist because if he did i wouldnt be in this situation now. i called him to break up. it was heartbreaking.
    it was the most humilating thing that has happened to me in my life … having to go home to my friends and family and have to explain to them that i was ‘sent’ home … like a child after being expelled from boarding school. i cried for weeks.
    its hard to come to terms with that change … so i can relate to a lot of the women here… it’s hard not to overthink when the person you thought you ‘loved’ turns out to be someone…

    • SM says:

      Winter..what a jerk! Makes some of my ac/eu look like angels(not all though lol). There goes that ‘needy’ word again. Here you are in a strange place where you know noone and he wants to call you ‘needy’? That whole thing just sounds mean. I sympathize with you about having to face friends and family. Good luck to you.

    • Elle says:

      What an awful experience! I am sorry you went through that. But, seriously, these stories follow such a classic pattern. If only our brains worked like detectives, picking up clues, though that would, in fact, be pretty dull. Anyway, we know better now. When entering a relationship, you need both don’t you: the excitement and brave vulnerability, while also remaining rational and grounded. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Winter. What you went through was humiliating, to some degree, but also so horrible and crazy of him that no reasonable outsider would think of shaming you for it. You shouldn’t either. He was obviously hoping he could be the person he presented himself as, then got angry and spiteful when he realised – yet again, I am sure -that he couldn’t.

  88. anoosh says:

    omg. last night the exEUM/AC called me, caught me off guard from unfamiliar number, and I caught him in a HUGE lie within 1 minute. I just started laughing — honestly! it’s been 6+ months since we talked. I was so shocked it was him, instantly was trying to think of everything from Baggage Reclaim, for what to say. when I saw the #, I asked what it was, I didnt recognize. He told me it was a calling card. but the area code was from a nearby county in my state (we were in a LDR). and then I realized — omg, he is here, visiting his elderly Mom, 1 hour away, and he doesn’t want me to know he’s here. Right away I continued asking about the #. Could he be that frigging clueless that he didn’t remember I had his mother’s #? while he was awkwardly blah-blahing, I looked it up. when I had the proof, I confronted him. Then he just folded. It was pathetic. It was so uncomfortable. He had no excuses for this, or any of his behavior over the last year, admitted to having a bad conscience about it all — to which I said, yes, you should have. he was just acting like a very guilty, ashamed person. I made another request to get my stuff back, to which he again promised to return. He said he had a terrible year, and he is just trying to sort his s*** out. Still “very separated”, divorce not final (got involved after sep & moved out). anyway, I didnt ask bout any details. His 90yr old mother just had a big operation and is not doing well. It was all so — sad. I just have to know… why does The Universe do this, just the very instant you make a leap of progress — it throws you a big test, and completely tips you off balance? I did fine in the conversation, wasn’t a doormat, didnt get emotional — but I wasn’t the Fortress of Strength & Impenetrable Boundaries either. I didnt do what Natalie suggested somewhere — just right away say “why are you calling? what do you want?”. I guess it was5 good to see his true colors, this is who he really is… not that wonderful & true sweetheart from the beginning. he’s dishonest. and spineless. his “Love” was BS, just like all the Future Faking. He’s “Mr. SuperDad” and used his kids as an excuse to bail. it it possible someone can be that disingenuous in his love life, and be a model of integrity to his children? the advice NML gives above about the MM is so right on target. I could have done without this call. I…

    • Natasha says:

      Anoosh, GOOD FOR YOU!! Doesn’t it feel good to take control like that?! Mine wasn’t married (or divorced/faux-separated, etc.), but I know how hard it can be to be logical and keep your boundaries intact when they get back in touch. Interestingly enough, mine was always having a “terrible year” too. I also had a problem getting things back. I left a sweater of great sentimental value (gift from my very much beloved grandmother right before she died) at his house and he refused to send it to me even after I told him how much it meant to me. Yours was right to sound guilty and ashamed…he’s an ass.

      I am so happy for you – it sounds like you are well on your way to living a much happier and more fulfilling life :)

      • anoosh says:

        well… thx Natasha :). I hope I’m on my way!! but… don’t know how well I am doing with everything, truthfully. and I wish I could have been a helluva lot stronger on the phone. I didn’t rush off after his lie was exposed. in a way I couldn’t avert my attention from listening to his reaction — and that isn’t being “moved on”, that’s still engaging. for some reason he brought up that his elderly mom had been a Freudian analyst, I couldn’t help throwing in “wow, I’d love to hear her insights about this one”. I was actually laughing — but was it out of anxiety? “omg, you just were SO busted! did you think you were actually going to get this over on a woman from the big city? ooh… this is sooo going in my act”. all just jokes — but why was I the one trying to make it less uncomfortable? ugghhh. well, at least I didn’t cry. and I did say some good stuff. not “telling him all about himself”, but I was being authentic, and not trying to hide how difficult the experience has been for me.

        certainly I’ve come a long way, or at least part of the way, in the last 6 months. but it still makes me sad. sad that in all these years I was never able to overcome whatever issues I have that prevented me from finding a loving partner to go through life with and have a family — or that no loving emotionally available guy fell for me, b/c I really do not believe that I was incapable of committing to someone, I know I wanted that more than anything. I didn’t turn anybody down because they seemed “too nice” — all the EU guys were super nice and loving for the most part. it’s just there was always this other side I failed to pick up on. and I never broke anyone’s heart, or rejected in mean way. I really really tried. for 25+ years of dating, heartbreak, every pop-psychology book, plenty of time in therapy, extensive journal writing for 15 years, long periods of singledom… and sitting here at 46, the only man I’ve been with in 6 years, the only one in my whole history who ever expressed wanting to spend our lives together — just lied to my face (well, ears) about being near where I live. he effectively ended the relationship when he came here last summer for 2 weeks, was supposed to phone — and never called. just sent me some of my clothes in a box, with no note, and vanished for the rest of the summer. I feel pretty numb right now (better…

        • Natasha says:

          Anoosh, in my humble opinion you are most definitely on your way :) He pulled the old call from a different number trick (When will people learn that if someone doesn’t want to pick up the phone when they know it’s you on the other end, tricking them into picking up the phone is not going to make them magically want to talk to you? Like, “Oh, I thought you were a total fool…but alas, I see that the number you are calling from is different and the surprise of hearing your voice has caused me to see you in a whole new light….like we’re meeting for the first time.” Seriously. Why do people do this? I digress.) and I’d say for a Phone Sneak Attack, you held your own! I mean, considering how things ended, it’s not like this is a person you’re thrilled to speak to (see above) – I say…WELL (and authentically) PLAYED!!

          • Magnolia says:

            Natasha, you crack me up. So true about calling from another number!

            And Anoosh, yeah, it feels sucky to wish you had been more polished on the phone with him – (I’m still shaking my head at a recent work interview where I did fine until she asked about my ex-boyfriend – and I realized how I had brought the story into my worklife – but then TOLD her stuff that made it clear it’s not ‘nothing’ to me yet, ugh!!) – but really – it’s being human and the most important thing is not letting a feeling of “I could have handled that better, wish I had been super-teflon” turn into “oh, I’m not doing very well at this getting over him thing at all! I’m lost!”

            I think we can all relate to feeling “why me? what is it about me?” when someone seems to think they can get away with lies and disrespect; but really don’t let it be about you! He called you and showed his nature – don’t make it into a feeling about yourself!

            I agree with Natasha. You were authentic and it’s not like you decided to invite him over for a shag once you discovered he was in the area! Good job.

    • Bri says:


      I’m so proud of you. I know exactly where you’re coming from, as my MM just recently ended it with me “for the kids”. Natalie gave me some great advice: they’re using their children as scapegoats, as an excuse to not feel guilty about leaving their family behind. Plenty of men have fallen in love with someone else and gotten divorced, but still been great dads. We don’t know what goes on in the house of an MM – he tells us what he wants us to know. Right now, I have to choose to believe that he isn’t in love with his wife and is only staying for the kids because the alternative is too painful for me to accept.

      Think about it: if they are this dishonest with us, it’s highly unlikely they’re the pillars of integrity in other aspects of their lives. I’ve been beating myself up over this “staying for the kids” thing as I just don’t get it – I could be a great mother, we could have a happy household and divorce doesn’t mean surrendering your role as a parent. But WE CAN’T CONTROL THEM. We also have no idea how dishonest they really are. I know my MM had genuine feelings for me, but I also know he needed an escape from the reality of three kids (two of whom are special needs) and a marriage he felt trapped in. He hid from his responsibilities instead of owning up to them, and didn’t sort things out the way a real man should. REAL MEN MAKE DECISIONS AND LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES. Playing all sides of the field isn’t mature, or morally right, and it hurts people. I’m very hurt, and I can tell you are too. These men are cowards.

      I hope one day to get to the point you are, even if you feel like you’ve let yourself down. I’m still pining away, hoping for him to come back even though I know he’s unhealthy for me. If you can’t see it, at least someone else can – you did a great job and should feel good about your progress.

      • Ria says:

        Bri, I belive, that MM does not sit down in sofa and think: well, here is a plan to fool Bri for 2 years, and get something out of it. No. For or x amount of years, noone would actually bother.
        It speaks about something else, and l think its this: like Natalie has said before, a real man would get his act together and sort his life out first, THEN going for the next step. Like business plan – you want this to work, you have to make sure, every step is fully researched and calculated.
        It´s not just relationship – his whole life and mindset is in order. We talk about married men who fool us, or if he only could divorce, life would be rosy. But there is already a flaw, because their mindset applies to any other part of their life, and flankly, at the end of the day, thats not attractive and thats not what we want.
        Bri, your MM was probably one of the “fridge peekers, ” who might have also said, that his life is a mess in general and he is oh-how-unhappy, and *you are the only light in his days*. He didn´t only “fool” you, but also his wife and kids and himself. He was not a happy man in general. A happy man would not have done this. And belive, there are hot, attractive guys, who would NEVER cheat their wives, because they have their act together IN GENERAL. You deserve someone like this caliber.

        Yes, there are MM who fall in love and divorce, but statistically, it´s a very small number.

        So the best revenge to get clear, is to make sure, first, that he isnt going to come peeking around your “fridge” no more. If you work with him in the same room, well, it might have happen again. By now, tho, you should know already that there is NO CHANGE in his behaviour.
        Your next step, instead, should be thinking BIG about Your Life!

        -Did you want to open a beauty saloon?
        -Did you want to visit Africa?
        -Did you want to take pilates lessons, or rather…well… pilot lessons?
        -Or something along the lines like…OMG l´ve never tried THIS, but l should!!

        What it does is that it shifts you slowly to a happier place and get excitement about your life, so that one day you see the difference and think how much you would have missed if you stayed in prison for MM.

      • grace says:

        I hope you don’t think I’m picking on you, but you’re still living in a fantasyland:
        “I could be a great mother, we could have a happy household”. It’s hard work being a mother, never mind a step mother to children who, if they’re a bit older, will hate you for at least a year. If he left his wife and turned up on your doorstep with three children, you’re not suddenly going to morph into a great mother with a happy household. Also his wife won’t step back and let you take over her kids. Even the most self-sacrificing woman is going to have a problem with that.
        And while divorced parents can still maintain a good relationship with their kids, divorce is traumatic for children. When I was teaching, a pupil who used to be an angel, started playing up really badly. The head told me his parents were getting divorced then added “they get like that when their parents split up”.
        You rarely grab someone else’s man and skip off without consequences – for you, for him, for his ex and/or his kids. Even Angelina Jolie’s reputation is tarnished though she “won”.
        The issue isn’t just him being a tosser, and it isn’t just his wife being a dragon (and I doubt she is) , it’s partly you too, fuelling this with your frustrated hopes and desires.
        There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a wife and mother but you’d get your life in order first. And then find a man who can actually give you that without having to stab his wife in the back first. You still have PLENTY of time to do that if you dont’ sink any more years into this affair.
        I keep throwing these reality checks at you in a blunt way because I’ve been there myself and it always turned out badly, to say the least. Someone even died (not as a direct consequence but it didn’t help). I don’t know if I’d have listened to someone telling me the harsh truth, but I’m saying it anyway in case you or anyone else here in your situation can take it on board. It’s not to make you feel bad. We must realise the reality before we can get out of our predicament. Otherwise, we just keep fuelling it with our obsession.
        I strongly feel that a big part of the OW’s motivation (or maybe I just speak for myself) is the need to prove ourselves by overcoming a difficult situation. But feeling good about yourself has to come from within. Then we don’t feel the need to get into these “relationships”.

  89. Neptuna says:

    What I find really funny is the dynamics…when you are on your own healing mission and finding your way and getting back on track with your new and improved life, they have this weird radar that senses “something is not right” and they come sweeping in and try to rattle your cage!

    Its takes so much courage and strength to turn them down…but hell its so liberating when you do. If it wasn’t for BR and reading all the insightful articles I would probably have fallen for all the old tricks!

    Thank you Natalie and BR! I am eventually “getting it” 😉


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


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