sorry is more than just a word used to express an apology - it's a series of actions

Recently I’ve had a number of conversations with frustrated friends and family who are all dealing with people who have never really experienced any meaningful consequences for their actions. When they’ve asserted their boundaries or just simply refused to bullshit (BS) and enable them, they’ve been met with hostility, hurt, guilt tripping, being ganged upon or even frozen out.

In the past I’ve felt quite injured by a person’s strong adverse reaction to me not being willing to jump to their beat. I’m not saying I wanted a prize for having boundaries or just “being me” but the topple from their ‘good graces’ was so speedy, painful and quite revealing of their darker sides.

Over time I’ve recognised for the sake of my own sanity and happiness that not everything is about me, that we all have to own our own, and that what people do or don’t do is about their very typical habit and often part of a picture that’s far bigger than anything I’ve said or done.

Most importantly, I’ve also learned the very hard and painful way that each and every time we take the blame for another person’s behaviour or we do stuff that essentially acts as a cover-up, we are removing their responsibility and meddling in the order of things.

As soon as we deny, minimise, rationalise, assume, take on other people’s lives and excuse stuff that essentially busts our own boundaries or beyond the short-term, deludes that person, they’re not experiencing the natural consequences for their actions. Really, is it natural to do all of this bullshitting in the name of sparing people truth and consequences?


This is why when you come along and say or show NO to something that they’ve typically got a YES from or experienced little consequences, they will react badly and/or push harder.

If someone isn’t experiencing the effect of what they do, something’s not right with that picture and over time, many others will experience the knock-on effect.

It’s tough when you have to deal with a family or harem who have an enabling structure. Poised with their ego pumpers and responsibility swipers at the ready, they co-sign on to each others unhealthy behaviour. Supporting one person’s BS means that their own BS is supported. If you become a ‘threat’ by not towing the line even if what you say and do represents the truth, you’ll be given a hard time or even excluded. That hurts because you wonder how you’re in the wrong for just not wanting to live your life that way. It’s even more painful when you’re not even trying to change them and just want to get on with being you and that’s seen as a threat.

Each and every time you make other people’s behaviour about you or you don’t allow them to solve their own problems and be fully responsible for themselves, you get in the way of natural consequences because you’re putting too much of you into the situation. There comes a point when you have to ask what’s in it for you, because allowing somebody to believe that they’re near invincible from consequences and that they don’t have to step up with you isn’t helping them. Pretending that it’s not a problem that they drink excessively or that they’re disrespectful or even abusive, or that they’re not neglectful or even full absconding from duties to their children isn’t helping them.

You have to decide what you’re going to be a part of.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “Well I know that I could have done ____________ which would probably be a more appropriate response for someone who has been and done ______________, but instead I’m going to give them another shot because you would hope that by me being willing to do this and taking him/her back with little or no consequences so not questioning why, not truly considering whether they’ve learned and grown, plus me being willing to move on, that it will be more than enough for them to not want to do what they’ve done before.” And then they do what they’ve always done.

Sometimes they can’t even handle being around you because they know what the natural consequences should be, they know that they’re not going to step up and go above and beyond, and so they spare you from disappointment and themselves from your expectations.

There’s nothing wrong with giving someone a chance – the problem comes when in your urge to give out chances, you forget to acknowledge and truly evaluate whether that person even recognised what the natural consequences should or would have been if you didn’t. This is why so many people find themselves dealing with someone who almost has a sense of entitlement where they expect and even demand to be given chances again and again.

“Sorry” is more than just a word used to express an apology; it’s an action. Sure, go ahead and tell me you’re sorry but reflect it in your subsequent actions. If someone learns that they can talk a good game but that nobody expects them to deliver or that they quickly let it slide, they don’t become acquainted with real consequences, you know the type that normal people who take responsibility feel and then turn into a lesson and grow out of.

Your thoughts?

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200 Responses to The BS Diet: Natural Consequences & Why You Need To Stop The Big Cover-Up

  1. Heather says:

    Just described a recent fallout with a friend/neighbor/lover EXACTLY! I was done with contributing to the BS of his alcoholism, after putting up with it for too long and taking on the responsibility myself, so I freaked out and told his mother (he’s 35 for God’s sake, I shouldn’t have to tattle tell in the first place, but he’s got her under his spell, too and she needed to know to stop enabling him with rent money – again, a 35 YEAR OLD)

    After an 8-day bender during which I was neglected and ignored, then made out to be possessive and needy, I broke and quit. Reading this is another great confirmation that I did the right thing for my own sake and that I finally put up the boundaries I should have in the first place. I will never make this mistake again! Thank you :)

  2. Chris says:

    I felt this message, it describes the excuses and chances I keep giving my daughter who is 22; flunked uni; works in a bar and lives a teenage party life after work, often waking up the household when she comes home in the early hours drunk. I am at my wits end but I am fearful of what will happen to her if I throw her out. She worries me so much but she is not a baby and she needs to learn that her actions/choices have consequences for her – I shouldn’t be carrying it all on my shoulders. I don’t know why I can’t do this – I keep hoping she will change/be more responsible/finish her degree/stop drinking/become a woman. What am I afraid of? Am I making her weak by supporting her too much.

    • Lyny S. says:

      You could be describing me 30 years ago. Yes, you do need to put boundaries in place and enforce them. It’s like she’s acting out, pushing the boundaries to see if anyone cares about her enough to push back. She does need to know there are consequences to her actions. Thirty years later I’d be thankful for someone caring enough to try to make me straighten my life out, I wouldn’t be thankful for people who backed off because they were afraid I’d get angry and just let me run wild. Show her love and care but don’t let her treat you like a doormat.

    • Fifi says:

      That was me at 22 also, but I lived away from home so my mother didn’t see it. I know I kicked off partly because it was the headiness of being free and in charge of my own life (was quite closeted as a child), but it wears off, and I also have had a very good career etc.
      And I also dropped out of college, for similar reasons – I had been the ‘good girl’ for so long I needed to actually go and live a little and behave badly for a while.
      If my mother has said anything, I would have heard it as a ‘I don’t trust you to live your life well’, and I have been told so often by others that I don’t have any faith in myself, and I know part of that is that early messaging.
      I’d suggest to try treating your daughter as you would a friend, establishing fair compromises i.e. not waking you up at 4am, paying rent etc.
      But her consequences are all her own, it’s not your role or responsibility to teach her anymore I think.

    • Paula says:

      Hi Chris:
      Yes, you are making her weak by supporting her too much. It sounds like you would benefit from the Boundaries course Natalie is offering and will start in the coming weeks. I’m battling similar issues with my 18 year old. You may have to research a nearby homeless shelter and give her the address! I know, painful thought, but she’s not caring otherwise. She will love you again. I put my 22 year old son out and now he respects me more.

    • recoveringloveaddict says:

      Chris, you are not making her weak, you are enabling her. An alcoholic, if that is what she is, has a better chance of hitting bottom and getting help if they are allowed to suffer consequences. Telling her to leave is the best thing you can so for her. Often times, the right thing to do is the hardest thing to so too. She will land on her feet, probably go live with a friend for a while before she gets her own place. Please give her some tough love.

    • stacey allam says:

      im afraid im doing with my son too but you gotta let them live there own lives make there own mistakes its very hard and it hurts and we my son and fight about it all the time the bs diet of the teacher doesnt know how to teach etc as an excuse for not studyying i was the same as a kid wanted to do things my own way and i did and have no regrets i hope he wont have any either

  3. Magnolia says:

    This morning I got another email from my (married) colleague apologizing for stepping over the line. He has helped me out a lot professionally, and invited me to do something with him and his wife, and the three of us had got on so well I thought I’d mistaken his intentions and so was just kind of rolling with our new friendship.

    Last night we’d gotten talking about my future and he wanted to keep turning it back to that topic and to be a part of strategizing how “we” get me to stay here. When I suggested we’d exhausted the topic of my scheme to politick properly, we turned to talking about more personal stuff and he said, “Sometime I really want to hear about all that discrimination and stuff that happened to you when you were young” (he has read my books and heard me mention where some of my thinking comes from). I danced *away* from that.

    This morning I arrive at work and there is a LONG email where he has basically weighed all my options and is telling me what he thinks I should do. Always with this “you’re amazing” tone and “you need to make sure of x” kind of paternalism.

    When I ignored his phone calls today he came by my office; came right in and sat down, and wanted to talk “our” strategy again. I told him I will figure out my choices, thanks for his interest … yep, and thanks! He left and then a few minutes later I got the email, telling me he isn’t an overbearing person.

    I had to go past his door to speak to a colleague later and he came out as soon as he saw me, wanting to chat. I finished up my work with the colleague and then took a moment to say to him, to his face, actually, he has been overbearing and pushy with me and I don’t appreciate it. I told him he pushes and pushes until I get uncomfortable and knows it and then goes away and fires off an email.

    I said: “And part of the reason it makes me uncomfortable is that I’m not sure if you’re just being overbearing in a kind of paternal/big-brother-jerky way or in an inappropriate-jerky way.”

    Of course he denied any inappropriateness. This from the guy who, as soon as his wife left town on another business trip, started asking me out to drinks again and leaving gifts of muffins etc at my door in the morning.

    I hope this counts as having spoken up at the right time. The first time he apologized I just said ok and didn’t push it. This time I figure it’s time to name the issue.

    I noticed the other day when I mentioned that a staff member had narked on me to my boss, he said, “Bitch,” a couple of times, and then said, darkly, “Support staff are all obtuse.” WHOA. Just because the offender is support staff doesn’t mean I go all freaking classist and crap, or to start name-calling, no matter how upset I am.

    This dude has come on so strong and totally put me on this pedestal (which feels creepy and false) and I now am just trying to step down and away gracefully before he gets pissed off and wants to throw me off forcefully and watch me smash on the pavement.

    • Allison says:


      You handled it well!

      Is there a superior you can go to, if the situation intensifies?

    • Lilly says:


      Your post sent shivers down my spine. That man’s behaviour reminds me of my encounter with Mr Cruel. He is clearly coming on too strong in the guise of helping you and I remember that very well. The exMM was totally over interested in me, my plans, and my future. He would often talk about what “we” can do for my career and I fell hook, line and sinker. I was so needy for a father like figure and slowly, but surely let him take over. The rest is history, but I’m trying very hard to overcome this. I think you are 100% right to try to step down and move away gracefully because it is only a matter of time when he throws you off that pedestal and when he does it hurts! I’m so impressed that you have worked this awful man out and I just hope he leaves you alone.

      • stacey allam says:

        this guy doesnt know from boundaries you did the right thing in speaking up you must talk to a superior about him in a way that will not come back on you and excaate the situation id advise you but i honestly have no idea how to maybe you can say something in front of his wife that will give her some clue to his behavior which she probably has a feeling about away

    • selkie says:


      Way to go. You handled it perfectly in my opinion. I want to add that you might need to be careful with this guy, he seems a bit like stalker potential. I have this weird feeling he could be vindictive if he feels rejected or ignored. Coming on strong like that and wanting to get so close to you is a red flag, not just for being friends with him but for your own safety. Hope you don’t think I’m being dramatic, but be careful of him.

    • Grizelda says:

      I’m with the others, Magnolia — this guy is not wrapped too tight. He’s displaying controlling, manipulative, demanding, forceful behaviour, thinly disguised as Mr-Nice-Guy. There is nothing nice about him. He’s harrassing you.

      The thing about these married jerks is that the minute you call them out on their behaviour, they stagger dramatically around the room wearing their best *astonished face* and pretend like they’re going to faint, then they blame you for misinterpreting everything — and being crazy and hysterical and high-strung and mental and pre-menstrual as well — because dontcha know they’re married and um would never ever do such a thing.

      Then they put on their best *angry face* and tell you how disappointed they are in you for even thinking they’d do whatever it is you think they’ve done. They stand there with their hands on their hips looking at the ground, shaking their heads, and letting off one or two barks of laughter as if they just CANNOT BELIEVE you said what you said.

      And then they put on their best *sad face* because now it’s clear to see that the two of you can’t be friends now. Because, you know, if you think what you think about him… if you think so little of him… then he’s afraid it just isn’t possible for him to be friends with you. And it’s all your fault.

      Two weeks later he’s back, with a gift, giving you (yeah, giving you) another chance to make it up to him, since you hurt his feelings so bad. This time, though, you’ve gotta promise not to even let it cross your mind that he has ulterior motives of any sort. You’re not even allowed to think that. Because that would upset him. You’re not to question his behaviour. Got that? Questioning his behaviour makes him very, very angry.

      Theatre Of The Absurd.

      • Sm says:

        Amen Griz! That is exactly how it plays out. Manipulaters in general act this way. Even ones that aren’t romantically interested.

      • stacey allam says:

        i agree thses married guys love to waslk around and make like you misinterpretred everything there the innocent ones not my first boyufriend found me on facebook after 33 years when we were dating we were very happy then he started telling me we should start seeing others and that he wasnt even taking me to the prom hi was heartbroken he went away to college i met someone else that i did not love and got on with my life he came back eight months later and wanted to get back together i found out within that time that he was sleeping with my best friend and my neighbor i told him no and left not to see him again so he found me on facebook ive been married for 24 years him for 25 he did not tell his wife that he found me he said he was sorry for the way he treated me etc we chatted about old times i told my husband it he was okay with it ta few days went by the old boyfriend butted in a conversation i was having having with a friend about growing old he said you always will look you to me oh stacey we could have been so happy together ive realized all my dreams with my wife weve taken it as far as it can go what about the dream of you and i we couldve been so happy etc i ignore him a few days later i decide to unfriend him my best friend who i forgave and spend many more years being friends with passed away i put up photos for her boyfriend of where we all grwew up he buts in and says cool pics im thinking of taking a trip my wife and kids have no interest leaving me to say hey why dont we get together i blocked him told my husband about it we were both incredulous thinking does he really expect me to meet him i put the whole story up on facebook cheating six months later i got a notice that he comment on it from him that said this sound alot like my story buhe knew it was me but i was only contacting my hs girlfriend just to say hello and now i know this is not about me good because i would never say im planning a trip without my wife and kids this stacey person is right she should block her ex and let the past remain the past and that i misunderstood what he meant and i should let him clear up the misunderstanding there was no misunderstanding anyway he remains forever blocked my husband and i were laughing over him defending himself ever the good guy… not

        • stacey allam says:

          please be careful of this guy he can twist things around to make himself look good in the blink of an eye

    • EllyB says:

      Not sure whether this guy is planning to use you personally or sabotage you professionally (maybe both), but either way he is bad news. Don’t give him ANY information on your personal background! It’s exactly the kind of stuff people would use against you later on. As I understand, you may be well on your way of becoming famous (and I guess he knows this), and this makes guys like him even more dangerous.

      Btw, as accomplished professionals in our thirties we really don’t need any “strategic” advice from male coworkers. We can figure it out all on our own. Of course we make mistakes, but so do the guys, and believe me: We are often way wiser than they are, even if we don’t know this. Sometimes it is only through sheer luck that those jerks got their jobs.

      • Magnolia says:

        Thanks everyone. Before the above all happened, Mr. MediaAttention had suggested, and I’d agreed to, a weekend nature walk today to discuss my strategy going into a meeting with my Dean (which Mr. M.A. and his wife encouraged me to ask for).

        He had also tried for the second time to invite himself to my place this weekend: (“I’m going to pick up x and y and make you a fabulous z. I’ll come by your place, kay?”) I had insisted we just keep it to the walk. But after what happened yesterday and reading your responses I had to admit I was feeling apprehensive, not to mention a bit put off, about the idea of a nature walk alone, even just for a couple of hours.

        So I just now picked up the phone and cancelled. When he answered, it was “hi, magnolia,” in the most harumph, dejected tone. When I said I would have to cancel our walk, he said, “I expected as much.” Then there were a lot of deep sighs. He said he felt really, really bad and needed to speak to me, face to face.

        I said, if you want we can talk at work on Monday. He said, “Can you give me just an hour?” I told him that he was right (in his paternalistic email about my life he had gone on about how much work I had taken on), I said he was right that work takes longer than I think and that I am working today and that I’d see him Monday.

        He did a surprising amount of deep sighing, “woe is me” and “I feel so terrible.” He didn’t seem to get the irony and ridiculousness of begging me to come see him for an hour so he could apologize for pushing past boundaries, and so I could reassure him that I wasn’t *that* upset.

        “I just hate to think that I’ve caused you any pain,” he almost literally groaned. I was like, “Well, that’s the thing, right, I’m a pretty tough person, so it’s not that I’m in pain. I let you know you were coming on too strong. You seem to get that. As long as that stops everything is fine.”

        So we’ll see.

        Thank you ladies for expressing the sense of stalkery/redflagness of this situation. It can be tougher when I’m in it to look at a colleague (a taller man who I have to look up at, who is in fact helping me in some ways) in the eye and acknowledge to myself that he scares me a bit and now I have to deal with that.

        I feel much better having said no. Mr. MediaAttention cast his emotional manipulation net more than once during the conversation, but I stayed alert and simply stepped out of the net each time.

        • selkie says:

          Begging and guilting you to meet him to talk about his busting boundaries while you are saying no is more than ironic, it’s scary. Yikes girl. You absolutely did the right thing by canceling the nature walk with him. Between the emotional manipulation and the plowing through boundaries, this guy is out of control and way overstepping. I agree with Ellyb, don’t give him any personal info. He may have been helpful but now he is just creating weird drama that is very unprofessional. You don’t owe him anything for his help and the kind of weirdness that’s attached to his help, you don’t need.

        • Lilly says:


          You handled that situation amazingly well. He is most definitely on the prowl with you firmly set in his sights. I don’t want to scare you more, but I suspect that’s not the last you’ve heard from Mr MA. Don’t drop your guard around him Mags. He sounds a lot like the exAC/MM and men like that have very big egos and can be very persistent.

          • Grizelda says:

            I agree with you Lilly — so many of us have been there with these AC/MMs. Their behaviour is so far outside the norm of that category of colleague/friend/etc, and they think we don’t notice. They think they’re so sly and cool. They think they’re such players.

        • Sm says:

          Magnolia this guy scares me. Please don’t discuss your thoughts with him anymore. Just act like you’ve said everything you need to say, because you did, and then severely limit your interactions with him. People don’t usually force their ‘help’ onto another person.

          • Cheeky Mary says:

            I’ve read somewhere the best way to get rid of these men so they dont turn against you is to be down in the dumps all the time, be boring, dont show any expression, seem depressed. This may be hard when you are in a joint meeting but when or if he ever catches you on your own be a Debbie Downer. You’re his excitement at the moment. He may just be a moocher who knows you’re going to be someone very rich someday and that’s the reason for his “help”. He may not be the crazy nut but either way, I’d walk away. Sounds like you professional women dont need strategic help from MM. I bet you have many women you can discuss this with and from other comments, it seems many of you can strategize on your own.

            Damn where’s the select box to get any new comments after posting this comment?

        • Anne Onymous says:

          OMG Magnolia. I know we all marvel at how these guys are all the same, but this is the second time in as many years that makes me wonder if you’re talking about the exact individual.

          Are you sure it was the support staff that narced on you?

          Please severely limit the information you give him from now on, and make sure you lock your phone and computer every time you walk away from them.

  4. Espoir says:

    Sometimes they can’t even handle being around you because they know what the natural consequences should be, they know that they’re not going to step up and go above and beyond, and so they spare you from disappointment and themselves from your expectations.
    OOOOhhh Nat, I don’t know how you are able to find such vivid descriptions – this one is my EX down to the last word !!!!
    Thanks for another stellar post.

  5. Sherri says:

    WOW! Natalie, Just WOW! You were talking straight to me! So glad to have this post at this time, as I have finally made the decision to part ways from my ‘unavailable’ husband. FINALLY! He has cheated and lied and mistreated me most of our marriage and, silly me, I kept giving him chances! (On a positive-I have used my experience to learn & grow & share with others,just as you have) So glad to read all your posts! It has helped me with my process of ‘growing a pair’! :0 It is noteworthy that you are not the first to point out that I have made it too easy for him to keep “doing what he has always done”. I actually had a counselor, who is a dear friend, express this to me several years back. Has taken me this long to FINALLY make this a part of me! Thank you for sharing the way you do! I will continue to pass it on! Love to all…..

    • selkie says:


      This is gold. I’m struggling with my adult son right now, stressed to the point of popping, and your post helped me calm down a bit. Plus, silly me, I slipped on NC with an EUM and alcoholic ex who was trying to press the rest button. I felt overwhelmed with my current crappy reality and the fantasy supportive boyfriend scenario he was offering up seemed like a great mental escape. He said he would quit drinking if thats what it took. I considered it for a moment. Last night he called while he was drunk and said he’d been drinking since noon. Today I told him we are not compatible and that we shouldn’t be in contact anymore. Anyway, I had a weak moment but am back on my feet, pointed in the right direction. I also told my son he needed to find somewhere else to stay this weekend because I needed space and time to think. I felt like
      crying this afternoon I was so depressed and stressed but feel better, like I can handle this maturely after reading this post. I did buy myself a big piece of cake for comfort though.

  6. Imani~Faith says:

    Wow this post really struck a chord with me on two levels my family and my now EX. I’ve always been a giving person. Its in my nature, but for years I’ve been battling with my family. I can so resonate with the blackmailing, backlash,and being ganged up on when I assert myself and set some boundaries for myself.

    I’m made to feel guilty, or called selfish (which they know sends me over the edge) and then ultimately I give in. Its a horrible situation, but your post has kept me sane in knowing and realizing “the pattern” they are following.

    My EX was someone that always flipped things onto me, and never took responsibility for his own actions. Your comment about people not being able to be around you because they know what the natural consequences should be is SPOT ON!… Its him to a damn tee. Although I still have some way to go with mt family I’m very glad I can finally see the GOOD in GOODBYE in relation to my EX

    Thanks for this post. Xx

  7. annie says:

    Chris, dont give up in your Daughter. Im not saying enable her. She is young , its hard to know what you want at that age. I remember my family feeling the same way about me, and now i have responsible job , own home well in another 15 years lol. 2 beautiful daughters i have fully supported since my divorce.

  8. Adele says:

    This is a great and thoughtful article. Growing up in a family of alcoholics (most of them angry drunks) I had to get really good with boundaries really early on. Still trying to deal with the other refugees (most of whom continue the tradition of angry entitlement)I again find myself butting head-long into the bullshit dynamics of this clan. Thank you for your thought-provoking reminders on how not to be codependent. God Bless Ya!!

  9. Natasha says:

    “This is why so many people find themselves dealing with someone who almost has a sense of entitlement where they expect and even demand to be given chances again and again.”

    Ooooh, you said it girl! Last week, I heard from an ex-assclown that I hadn’t heard from in well over a year. Naturally, I had a laugh and hit “delete”. I had given this dude many, many chances in the past, but since it had been so long and I’d ignored any previous communication, I figured, “Meh, he’s just drunk/bored/doesn’t have thirty-seven women fawning all over him (NOT OKAY! HE’S VERY SPECIAL!) at this particular moment.” and forgot about it. Cut to today, when I received a very bitchy text about my lack of response. Again, this dude was awful and I hadn’t heard from him (praise be!) in well over a year. It occurred to me that while I may have rebuffed this loser, there was probably some other woman who was doing exactly what I had been doing in the past: doling out chance after chance. If these guys can just flit from woman to woman, where exactly is the motivation to behave better?

    To steal a phrase from an old African proverb:

    It takes a village to show an assclown some consequences.

  10. jojo says:

    This is the reinforcement I need today.
    When you are just trying to live your life away from them, and their crap behaviour is delivered because you wont tow their party line…
    I will re read a few times , just to get the backing I need, in what can sometimes be a lonely place- when everyone else believes their BS.
    Thankyou for your wisdom into words.

  11. Peanut says:

    Oh, Lordy! This is my ex. He drank excessively, was abusive, put me in danger, and just basically neglected being a decent person. And who else has treated me in such as way???…My father. I swear this man should have been in jail and homeless a hundred times given his actions.

    He’s managed to escape serious consequences so he just goes on with his seriously inappropriate behavior. He has a huge sense of entitlement and an ego bigger than the universe. I’ve never met anyone so pig headed.

    I had to cut contact with he and the ex or they would have brought me down with them. And believe me, addicts will.

    So now my life is a blank canvas of sorts. I know I don’t want more addicts in my life. That’s for damn sure. I want a better job. I want better sleep habits, a bit of yoga, and walks with my dog. But other than that, I don’t know what I want.

  12. Ms. jl says:

    You go Lady! This site is such a SUPPORT that you can’t even imagine! Thank you…thank you…thank you. jl

  13. Suki says:

    I think some people are not held accountable by others. I realized with my last bf that men dont hold other men accountable a lot of the time. My family holds me accountable, my friends hold me accountable sometimes even on just little things like making sure I do the right professional or health things etc.
    We’re hard on each other. not in a mean way but we are.
    I think its good, its a constant process of trying to be better, at least thinking about it. A lot of men arent getting that and theyre not doing that for other people. With my last bf, he said things to me like that rules are for traditional people – he didnt want any ‘rules’ even rules of decency that you have for your friends. He wanted no constraints on his life. And he was sort of miserable depressed but still he wanted no constraints. Our culture is making women feel like killjoys in relationships – I felt like one. I’m a fun person myself, I goof off most of the time, I skip chores a lot [my life is decently managed but even I’m evading responsibility often]. My family thinks I’m a bit irresponsible. For a person to make me feel like a killjoy means they are totally irresponsible.
    The other thing is, too many of us are unwilling to take a stand – we dont want to take the obvious step of ending it. The person is getting some weird needs met that have nothing to do with love or friendship or companionship. We’re also getting some weird needs met related to our fears about ourselves. They will not give you what you want – they will bs you because they are fighting being decent in a decent relationship. They are eventually going to leave. If they wanted to stay, they would treat you better. If you wanted to be treated better, you would leave.

    • genie says:

      I read here religiously but rarely post comments. I Liked this bit, “The person is getting some weird needs met that have nothing to do with love or friendship or companionship. We’re also getting some weird needs met related to our fears about ourselves. They will not give you what you want – they will bs you because they are fighting being decent in a decent relationship.

      And this part was right on, every person in a dead end relationshit should read this…

      “They are eventually going to leave. If they wanted to stay, they would treat you better. If you wanted to be treated better, you would leave.

    • Espoir says:

      Suki, this was soooo good it hurts…thank you. Hugs

    • Moving On says:

      Yes, Suki..fantastic. I have copied and pasted that last paragraph into a folder. This was me exactly. I don’t know if he was an assclown, but he gave a lot of mixed messages. I couldn’t seem to end it. While I didn’t have words for what was going on, your words fit beautifully and I want to save them for the future. Yes, he eventually left.

  14. Ace says:

    Great post! I just live this site. It has helped me so much. I still don’t really know what’s going on in the head of my eum, but he’s so hot and cold, emailing then ignoring me when I reply, asking me to hang out and then not following up to set a time when I say sure. I finally got fed up after this was getting embarrassing and have been NC for almost 2 weeks. J think this is the “natural consequence” to his behaviour. But now he is so silent that I don’t know if he’s mad at me, confused or what. Anyways, trying not to stew and just carry on NC. I would never do those things I someone, so I try to keep this in mind when I’m confused by him. It’s been tough :(

    • Suki says:

      Thank you posters! I rarely post but so much on this site hits home.

      The whole point of identifying an EUM is not trying to figure out whats in his head – why spend so much time thinking about him? He’s EUM = emotionally unavailable. That is, not available. You’ll never know why he does what he does. Instead think about why you are doing what you do? Are YOU mad, confused, angry, sad, happy, EUW etc? Are you keeping yourself unavailable to yourself so you dont have to confront issues head on? [ugh, writing this reminds me of all the things I’m not confronting! there are bills sitting on my desk!]. He doesnt respond when you call, and he doesnt respond when you dont call. Why make excuses for his behavior? How much more information do you need that this won’t go anywhere?
      You need to break the cycle of your thoughts. When you think of him stop yourself, and do something else. Watch TV. Call your friends and do not talk about him. Think of what really takes your mind off of things and do it.

  15. Espresso says:

    My “consequences” for my ex weren’t effective because they were just words, not actions. I kept thinking my pain and my explanations and my willingness to work at the marriage (in the beginning) would take the place of consequences that once he saw and understood things would change. When I gave another chance and another and another this was taken as a sort of entitlement because he was “working on things.” And I was satisfied with that – miserable- but I accepted that. Why was I so afraid to LET him suffer the consequences of my saying NO.
    The sad thing is that I began to lose respect for myself…and that is taking time to rebuild.
    It still is painful to realize that in a way I should have treated him like my kids. Words didn’t work with them most of the time either. I guess I thought with an adult you could talk things out or explain things. But it didn’t work that way for me.
    It also is painful for me to realize that I thought my unhappiness would BE the consequences for him. But he was too distant and able to detach and go underground so easily. It bothered me MUCH more than him. I think it is fair to say that I suffered many more consequences for his actions than he ever did and that was a lot to do with me staying.

    But hey it is my birthday today and I have had a very good day with friends and family and some time to myself (still running!) And BR has been a part of so many good moments and amazing insights since I first came here a sorry mess in the summer. I was listing my accomplishments to myself today and I haven’t done too badly. I am proud of myself. Thank you Natalie and all you amazing women….
    Oh and I also want to say that PAIN does diminish. I was crazy with pain when I came on here. I used to get up in the summer at 6 in the morning and go for a two hour run just to keep my brain and heart from exploding. Now I am almost a normal person. :-)

    • Espoir says:

      ESPRESSOOOO !!!! It is my BDAy too !!! Let,s have a big BR party ! Happy, Happy BDay to us and please Universe give us a push into the clarity filled path :)

      • beth d says:

        Happy Birthday girls!!! Hope you both have a great day and an even better year!! xo

      • Little Star says:

        Espresso and Espoir, Happy Birthday to you both. You should be proud of yourself, you are on your way of recovery from ACs, what a great feelings! All the best:)

    • Grizelda says:

      Happy Birthday Espresso! May you be full of beans!

      You said “It also is painful for me to realize that I thought my unhappiness would BE the consequences for him.” God yes. Didn’t we all. We actually thought they were human.

  16. Recovering EUM, Davide says:

    My thoughts?
    I think that there are some good points here and as usual it is an interesting read. I would like to see more awareness that we can be firm with other people while keeping a sense of proportion/humour. I think there is often some middle ground between sucking up bad behaviour and shutting the villains out of your life. The ideal, in some cases, is to remain in contact but on your terms. This takes patience.

    • Tanzanite says:

      @ Davide.

      I totally agree with that.

      We all make mistakes and we’re not all bad either,but when there is a pattern forming that can’t be broken no matter how you try you need to put them out of your life or keep contact to a minimum. Great friendships can be formed after clear the air talks.

      • Recovering EUM, Davide says:

        @ Tanzanite,

        I agree with you here. I’ve found it hard to sustain even minimal contact in some periods of my life.

    • rsj says:

      “I think there is often some middle ground between sucking up bad behaviour and shutting the villains out of your life.”

      In some ways I agree with you. The Smile or Die positive thinking cult that prevails today often preaches cutting out of your life anyone who challenges or disagrees with you (ala “brings you down”).

      “The ideal, in some cases, is to remain in contact but on your terms.”

      Some cases, perhaps.

    • Grizelda says:

      Sorry I just cannot agree with any of that, Davide. Sounds like a Fallback Girl recruitment poster.

      I’d agree there’s some kind of hope for them if someone is just a general garden-variety idiot who randomly fails to do the right thing and seems to crash from one ‘mistake’ to another. Meh. Losers. Be a friend at your own risk but you’ll probably regret it. But those aren’t assclowns. They’re just the somewhat pathetic end of normal.

      But if someone has achieved the rank of villain, as you say? Then no. Just, no. Who the hell needs a villain in their life?

      If you do the dirty on someone, and I mean really do an assclown number on them — and that someone still keeps in touch, texts you jokes, simperingly sends you a birthday card, ‘likes’ your facebook shit, what does that person look like? Seriously. What do they look like?

      Assclowns thrive where empaths dither. They find it hilarious when people they’ve screwed over just can’t make up their minds about whether or not they’ve been screwed over. They’re like shills running a shell game on the street, filling their pockets with cash while their marks stand around smiling and frowning at the same time, easily confused and astonished, pulling out more tenners and saying “heh heh well you won’t catch me out again sonny boy, I’ve got my eye on you now, you cheeky monkey with your fast hands, no sir, you won’t catch me out again…” When these marks finally catch on that the game is totally loaded against them from the start, and they will never ever win, they won’t want to play anymore. Which is what assclowns fear more than death itself.

      It’s not about keeping a sense of humour because there’s nothing funny about being screwed over. In those cases I’ll take the sound of a slamming door over the sound of defeated exhausted laughter. Wham. It sends the right message, it improves my life enormously, and it shuts down the assclown agenda.

      • EllyB says:

        Grizelda: I totally agree! Oftentimes, claiming they are “fun” is just another excuse for staying engaged, to our own detriment.

        While I was being severely bullied at school, some classmates said they didn’t like the bullying but they hung out with the bullies anyway because they were “fun”.

        I was not amused. Not at all.

        One child (me) was being traumatized for life (maybe) and all this was purportedly acceptable only because those bullies (who were really just stupid and rude) were “fun”? Come on. Please.

        Happiness doesn’t mean some kind of short-lived “fun” with f*cked up people. Happiness means standing up for ourselves, sticking to our values and attracting other people who share those values.

        • beth d says:

          Elly You shouldn’t be amused. Anyone who thinks bullys are fun has issues. Funny story together with some peeps that I really didn’t know well in hs. They talked about remembering me beating up two girls in jr hs and they indicated they were a little scared of me back then. I said think about who I beat up and mentioned their names? They said omg yea they WERE nasty mean girls! I have always hated bullies with a passion! Ok so maybe I shouldn’t have beat them up, but I was a new girl in this school and I got picked on by these mean girls cause one of their EX bfs liked me? I didn’t even know who he was! It was the first week of school and I was having fun, meeting new friends and then these wicked witches started up. …my thinking was you picked on the wrong person. Ps He did become my bf in jr hs as he was adorable and never heard a peep out of any of them. By hs they were nice as pie to me but I never wanted anything to do with them other than hi and bye.

      • Recovering EUM, Davide says:

        Let me share a little story, Grizelda. I am walking down the high street in my home town and I hear abuse directed at me; I turn round and see an apparently normal person (whatever that means) looking at me and shouting. What does that person look like? Then, walking further down the high street, I hear more abuse, from a different person; I turn round, look up and see a person wearing a white outfit peering through the bars of a secure medical facility nearby. What does that person look like? Should I look at them in the same light?

        • selkie says:

          Your ‘little’ story made a point that is thought provoking, but no matter how deep I think about it, I don’t find abuse acceptable from anyone. While I may have more empathy for the insane person, I’m not going to stop walking and let them abuse me because they are ill. How does empathy translate into action in the scenario you gave us? Aside from seeing the abusers in different light, how would you handle it? Is one form of abuse more acceptable to you? I would agree that the abuse from the insane person may be more forgivable once I’ve removed myself from harm, but my action would be the same. Remove myself from harm. If NC and walking away is the only way to stop being the target of an abuser, then we should do it guilt free and not FEEL the like the villain for shutting the villain out. I agree that not every person who pisses us off should be cut out of our life, and people make mistakes but abuse is abuse no matter the source. A ‘normal’ abuser should get therapy the same as mentally ill abuser. I don’t discriminate.

          • Recovering EUM, Davide says:

            Selkie, you have posed questions on the scenario I gave. So much is fact-sensitive. For example, my approach to abuse directed at me sometimes from my mentally ill mother would differ from abuse (if I chose to call it that) I might receive from an ‘ex’. In the former case, I have chosen, after much trial and error over many years, to remain in contact. I have decided that her need for me to be in her life overrides my preferences and that I can live with that. But not at any cost: I would not live with her, for example.

            • Allison says:


              I don’t understand the need for the ex in your life : drama, ego, shoulder to cry on? What need does it fill for you? Maybe, it’s comfortable being a FBG.

        • Grizelda says:

          Well Davide, if you don’t know either of the angry shouters, I’m not sure there’s a difference between them to you personally. They’re just random strangers with different reasons for shouting angrily at you.

          However say you knew the apparently normal person — say you were in an intimate relationship with her. Her shouts at you are going to mean something to you. The words and actions are going to hurt, and she knows they’re going to hurt. And it’s not the first time she’s done this – every other day she’s dishing out verbal and emotional abuse. It’s humiliating, it’s tiresome, it’s upsetting, and it’s destroying your life. So what do you do? Laugh it off for the 295th time? Shout abuse back and engage her in another afternoon-long screaming match? Ignore her and think maybe you’ll try talking some sense into her later when she’s calmed down? Blame yourself, buy her more gifts and treats, and try to make her see what a nice guy you really are so that she stops acting like that? Or do you just finally say ‘You know, I’ve had enough of this. I’m done,’, go no contact, and never see or speak to her again? Lots of responses you could decide to make. Take your pick. But only one of those responses will improve your life, guarantee you will never receive any more shouty abuse, will let you go on your way peacefully, and will also deprive her of whatever shits-n-giggles she gets out of shouting abuse at you and ruining your day/week/life. NC is basically saying “I refuse to participate in your circus, good bye”.

        • rsj says:

          Davide –

          The difference is that the person in the secure medical facility is diagnosed and being held in a secure facility, where they can do no harm except yell at you. You can choose to visit them or not, and the visits will be on your terms. The person in the medical facility is also likely to be taken less seriously by others should they attempt to slander you etc.

          I don’t believe comparing apples with pears and/or arguing with irrelevance adds credibility to your chosen scenario or original point.

          It’s well documented that many toxic people fail to get that diagnosis and seek any treatment, instead continuing to deny and defend their actions and hurt others – often intentionally.

          I initially (partially) agreed with your comment re not cutting everyone out of your life, though perhaps my interpretation was quite different. I do not include toxic people who are capable of owning their bullshit yet choose not to.

          At the time I posted my reply, I was already in two minds before submitting it. I agree with others replying to you. Your reply and subsequent “little story” are both condescending and come across as ‘mansplaining’ to readers here how they *should* respond to people who repeatedly try to screw them over.

          Good luck with your recovery, Davide.

        • Lilia says:

          Davide, it doesn´t matter in what light you look at either one of those persons in your example, because you are just passing by and you´re not even interacting with them.
          You can easily brush it off.

          However, when you do have some type of relationship with someone, you don´t ignore it when they start shouting. You don´t pretend it´s a joke when they´re being aggressive or busting your boundaries because that would mean you are just in denial.

          You can´t compromise yourself just to keep the status quo, that would be like participating with the douchebags who are bullying you. And I agree with Grizelda, what does it say about you if you laugh when somebody is being a prick? Wouldn´t that be an invitation to completely screw you over?

          It is okay to get angry with someone who disrespects you and to break all ties with that person when possible. If it means you´ll have to let go of many contacts and be more alone, so be it. I´d rather have a few significant, positive friends than a load of superficial hyena-like laughing “fun” acquiantances.

        • geekgirl says:

          Sorry Davide, but I’m totally with the naysayers on this one. Why the F*CK would I want to keep a villain in my life? What value, exactly, would he be adding?

          That’s not the same as not forgiving someone’s mistakes. The difference is, when someone has made a genuine mistake, they sincerely try to compensate for it. AND they go out of their way to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

          And telling me I lacked a sense of proportion was exactly what my ex told me, after telling me he cheated on me with a sex worker. Apparently, I needed to get some perspective, because it took me more than a nanosecond to get over it.

          And, I tell you what, my sense of humour has returned in spades, now I’m no longer getting regularly treated like cr*p by someone who supposedly cared about me. Now I’ve gone NC, and got a bit of distance, I can sort of see the funny side to his absolutely shameless asshattyness. But believe me, it was not AT ALL funny at the time.

      • jewells says:

        oh Griz I love your analogies…the dither! Yes yes, I wavered on the exMM eum Narc AFTER exploding in the light of what he was doing – I knew! Then…I dithered, and it was like he’s a shark, and he smelled it and went with it…. Thank you thank you for pointing that out! I was trying to figure out the dynamic…He was still trying to keep the shell game going despite the gig being up, he couldn’t even come clean when faced with it. But I was also guilty of doubting myself and my judgement and dithered giving him opportunity to try and put the fog back in place….thank goodness his wife made him NC me…otherwise I’d have been slowly driven mad as FBG friend strung along indefinitely…UGH what a close call. But I did make him come clean to his wife, so the natural order was in play…I’m more than happy with that and he’s outta my hair and squarly where he’s meant to be.

        • Grizelda says:

          Aargh, well I’m glad it helps, Jewells and Lilly. These sorts of guys are called predatory for a reason — they thrive on our weaknesses and our good-hearted, hopeful, but totally ignorant thinking that if we just keep giving them chances they’ll somehow ‘get better’. God the very thought makes me laugh out loud now. Yeah, we need to keep giving them sex so they can ‘figure things out’. Yeah, we need to keep giving them money, a place to crash out, cooked meals, and time and attention so they can ‘focus on what they want out of life’. And then they act like our waking up to their antics, standing up for ourselves and going NC on their cheating, lying, manipulative and emotionally-devoid arses is ‘unfair’. face/palm

          All it comes down to is this — a man who really loves you behaves as if he really loves you. Anything less is bullshit.

          • beth d says:

            Love this griz “These sorts of guys are called predatory for a reason — they thrive on our weaknesses and our good-hearted, hopeful, but totally ignorant thinking that if we just keep giving them chances they’ll somehow ‘get better’.” This is EXACTLY what they do! and Jewells “Then…I dithered, and it was like he’s a shark, and he smelled it and went with it”
            Empathy to a Narc is like blood to a shark.

      • Lilly says:


        It’s posts like this that keep me moving forward, thank you.

    • Allison says:


      Totally disagree!! Why would you want to have contact with a toxic individual? In certain cases we have to tolerate them (work), otherwise I do not understand your position.

      • Little Star says:

        Good point Allison, especially regarding “tolerate”, but I do not know if I should tolerate my best friend, who I have known for more than ten years, had twice NC and she still did not learn. Shall I finally drop her or avoid every week meeting?! After conversations with her I feel drained, unhappy loser and cannot sleep till 3 am?!

        • Allison says:


          If you’re unhappy and feeling disrespected. please cut ties.

          People change, so you are under no obligation, due to past or or time invested to remain friends. I had a bff friend of 25 years, who was increasingly becoming more and more toxic, and I had to make the decision to end the friendship. It was very painful, but the woman created so much drama and nonsense, I had no choice.

          Please do what is right for you!

          • Lois Lane says:

            I’m with you absolutely Allison! I let go of a bff of 25 years as well. Not only did she increasingly create drama and nonsense, she also became hypocritical and disrespectful. Downright hurtful and nasty sometimes. I gave the situation a solid year of stop, look, and listen. I slowly came to realize that I didn’t respect her. I didn’t even really like her or enjoy her company anymore! Baggage Reclaim has been a real eye opener on so many levels. (Love this place!)

            Good luck, Little Star!

            • Little Star says:

              Thank you for your comments Allison and Lois Lane! Unfortunately, cannot cut contact 100%, as I am a Godmother to her kid:(, I love her child and cannot abandon…

    • Lilly says:

      Recovering EUM, Davide,

      I’m firmly with Grizelda on this. In my experience, if you have a villain in your life there is no middle ground and it’s always all on their terms. They don’t give and they don’t understand the concept of a middle ground. How can you stay in contact with someone that will always try to cross over into your territory? Exhausting. At any rate it’s often their way or no way. They are not interested in the middle ground. Patience isn’t a virtue in this situation it’s emotional suicide.

    • DiggingDeeper says:

      “The ideal, in some cases, is to remain in contact but on your terms. This takes patience.”

      That is pretty much what my EUM/AC’s, said to me: I will remain in a relationship with you, but ONLY on my terms.

      So, are you suggesting that we take a play from the EUM/AC play book–Section 5.1?

      And what about your ex? Are you suggesting that she should agree to have a relationship with you, but only on YOUR terms?

      The thing is David a relationship that is conditioned to being on ONE person’s terms no matter what the reason, is not a relationship; it is a relationSHIT.

      I think the patience would be better served elsewhere…take it in a different direction.

      Personally, I would never ask someone to engage with me in a relationship, but ONLY on MY terms, and I definitely would NOT agree to accept a relationship from them, but ONLY on THEIR terms.

      Good luck to you on your journey, and thank you for posting. I too wish more men would post here.

  17. Sux says:

    This post is such good timing . I needed to reminded its actions not words that count. I’ve spent the last 3 years waitin g experiencing disappointment and anxiety for a man who promised his future to me and not his long term partner who is continued to go home too after evenings with me. Each time I asked for honesty I was accused of neediness and was met with arguments which always ended up as my fault and left me ignored and feeling terrible just because I wanted action from him. I’d then keep trying ….. And the behaviour repeated itself again and again. I’m now bei g ignored because he knows I usually go back….. But why? I need to be strong and prove its not me who’s in the wrong & I can be without him amd all his future faking and my actions need to show enough is enough!! Thank you BR for keeping me sane.

    • Allison says:


      You’re both wrong! He is involved with someone else! I would ask why this is OK for you?

    • beth d says:

      Ignoring is the favorite manipulating tool of Narcissists. It is a way to control and punish you so you don’t question them or hold them accountable. Please don’t fall for this game or even try to play the game back. These are people who care for no one but themselves. He doesn’t care about you or her. Love is not pain as Nat says. I hope you find the strength to get out of this unhealthy situation and find someone who makes you feel good about yourself.

  18. Poppy says:

    I’ve always had this gut feeling about a particular friend of mine. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and I was warned by other friends from what I said thatbibshould steer clear. I said, no, give her the benefit if the doubt I’m sure it is just me being paranoid. After months of assertive behaviour from her and not thinking about my needs I finally decided to stand up for myself. Albeit in a fluffy indirect way, (I’m working on that) I did it. The hostility I have received since then has been hurtful and of course has upset me.

    We live together so until the end of the month I will be in this situation. I know I made the right decision and even though she seems not to like me anymore I am looking forward to moving forward from this.

    This is a big stepping stone for me, I’m tired of being codependent, I’m tired of being a people pleaser, I’m tired of living everybody else’s life. So many times I enter people’s lives whether it be boyfriends or girlfriends this has happened and when I move away or break up I seem to be left with not much. So scared of being hurt and I never let anybody in to see the real me. I know what I’m doing when I do it but I can’t seem to help it.

    I lost faith, and I can remember my age, I was 8, my mother stole my innocence and childhood form her action. It probably went on before but that was my first memory of physical, emotional and verbal abuse. From that day on I have suffered immensely and it has affected every relationship I have had. I lost the trust in someone thatbinshould have been able to trust unconditionally. I cried myself to sleep the other night and at the same time got angry that she did this and continued until I was old enough to move away from it. I know people say they should take responsibility and boy I have tried to see where I am to blame. She is as nice as pie (actually not keen on pie but it fits) nowadays but those memories can’t fade for me. It’s a bit like the the last relationship I was in where the reset button was pressed oh so many times and she does the same. I’m in my late 30’s. I have tried counselling, I use books, I am spiritual – anything that helps I use, the one thing I haven’t done is tell her exactly how I feel. I just can’t because she is so flaky and never takes responsibility and her conversation is so repetitive and inane it drives me crazy.

    My last relationship was my epiphany relationship. I have never understood more about myself than I do now. Whether that be that I’m more mature or whether it is because he brought back every memory and hurtful emotion that I felt as a child. That is why I stayed so long I think, because it seemed like the norm to be with someone who changed his mood, who hit me, who got so dam angry if I simply dropped something. Same as her.

    I’m trying so hard to forgive, I really am. I just don’t think she deserves my forgiveness. I’m not bothered about him, I have nc’d him and I’m ok with that. Her, it’s different, she’s my mum and something I’ve just realised as I’ve been writing this is that she will never change and every time I try again the same thing will happen. Just like him.

    I’ve waffled. I’m letting off steam.

    • Espoir says:


      I can relate to so many parts of your post. After I went NC almost 6 months ago I started searching for “what Am I doing wrong“ part and like 90% of the people here I realized that I was just repeating familiar childhood patterns.
      I have a few meditations about forgiveness that helped me along the way.

      and a favorite of mine

      or the long version
      Find some time to listen and cry if needed (I did ) – they really helped me. Enjoy and let your heart forgive.

      • Poppy says:

        Thank you Espoir. I will listen to these tonight. I think it might be better to do this under my own steam rather Han a therapist as I just can’t relax. It’s a sad state of affairs that I can’t even trust them, professionals whose job depends on being confidential. I never even thought you could get this on the Internet. I am also sorry that you can relate to my post as I honestly, from the bottom of my heart wouldn’t wish these feelings or experiences on anyone. I really wouldn’t. I will post agin to let you know how I got on. I know I need to forgive, it’s the only way for me to move forward in life. Poppy.

  19. rsj says:

    “When you have to deal with a family or harem who have an enabling structure. Poised with their ego pumper’s and responsibility swipers at the ready, they co-sign on to each others unhealthy behaviour. Supporting one person’s BS means that their own BS is supported. If you become a ‘threat’ by not towing the line even if what you say and do represents the truth, you’ll be given a hard time or even excluded.”

    My ex. I *never* supported his bullshit, so the offensive against me started and continued after we split. I was constantly told I had “issues”, “needed help”, that I was so “mean”, “unloving” and “cold-hearted”, because I had boundaries and didn’t enable him like his harem and family did. I also got the “you don’t know what you’re talking about because none of my friends or family says/does that” excuse. I can only imagine the rubbish he was telling them.

  20. Gina says:

    @ Recovering EUM, Davide

    I want to refer to this statement:
    ” I think there is often some middle ground between sucking up bad behaviour and shutting the villains out of your life. The ideal, in some cases, is to remain in contact but on your terms. This takes patience. ”

    When you mean this within the frames of relationship where there was real emotion investment from your side, I think you shouldn’t stay in contact in NO case. Not even on ‘your terms’.
    When you are speaking about keeping on your terms with people you just meet and you can’t even get emotionally invested because you at first test the waters (with: are they respecting me? Can I trust them? Is there some boundary busting behaviour or not? Are they users or not?) and all those things and you decide in the end: err no this person is a user and everything is on their terms you DON’T GET emotionally invested because you don’t want to touch another hot hotplate…. – in that case you could stay on your terms IF you need those people for your career and you just can’t NOT keep that contact. … But this is a story where there are 2 sides to it too.

    Now I will talk about the version where you were emotionally invested:

    A Person that is a douchbag/assclown is already operating in very egostic terms. That means on the BEST conditions you will get a “quit pro quo” with those people that means: I give you, you give me. And trust me NEVER a “on your terms” PLUS a gain that you could USE for yourself in any way. — And you will see that there is no use to keep the contact with them “on your terms” because you will realize that “on your terms”… you get very very little from those people or even nothing. It’s not worth it or let’s say it would be ridiculous to stay in touch with them when what they give you, you can give yourself.

    I could portray this on another example:
    I recently deleted my facebook account and before I did this I either took the phone number of people that interest me but we I didn’t get to know them VERY well or I simply told people in my status to give me their contact datas….
    A lot of people were like “But what about the IMPORTANT contacts you have in there for your… career maybe some day?” or “What about the friends abroad that are not using email but only facebook?” And I would think a lot about it and then say:
    Well you know, if the person wouldn’t give me their number or wouldn’t check their email for me (and every grown up person has to check it once in…w ell at leeeast 3 months) then I wouldn’t get SO MUCH out of that contact anyway, you know?

    All the best

    • Recovering EUM, Davide says:

      @ Gina,

      We may be seeing some of these things differently.

      The ‘no contact’ position is not an option for me at the moment with the mothers of my children or with some family members.

      Although the words sometimes help the discussion along, I don’t believe there is a such a thing as a ‘bad person’ or ‘AC’. There are, in my opinion, bad actions, thoughts and words; or their ‘AC’ equivalents. I might be prepared to go as far as saying that as a result of repeated ‘AC’ acts, thoughts and/or words a person has acquired an ‘AC’ disposition.

      Is ‘AC’ gender specific? I’m new to this website, so please forgive my

      In peace,

      • selkie says:

        This reminds me of an AC I dated for four years. He would say, ” I didn’t call you a bitch, I said you were acting like a bitch.” It was still infuriating and it was letting himself off the hook so he could still insult me then deny later that he called me a bitch. To me, it was just another form of twisting things.

      • Allison says:

        In the case of mothers of your kids, colleagues and family members, I would agree, but with others, no.

        ACs are not gender specific. Just as many female ACs!!!

      • rsj says:

        I think I get what Davide is trying to say – that someones actions do not define them as a person.

        Often people will label someone a certain thing because of something they did – i.e. they label the person rather than the action.

        There is apparently a good video on YouTube about how to tell someone they’re being racist, that people say covers this well. It suggests you focus on the action/statement rather than just telling the person they’re racist, because perhaps they don’t realise how they’re being racist.

        Ad it ties into the whole telling people what they are thing, that people seldom respond well to.

        However – it does often come across as arguing semantics (and therefore perhaps condescending/irrelevant).

        • rsj says:

          Thinking further about this.

          Given that many EUM’s and toxic people possess the emotional maturity of a six year old (or less), it makes sense to relate to them on that level and be very specific about what they did that sucked.

          However, to date I haven’t found being specific about a person’s shit behaviour or whatever to fare any better – no matter how it’s presented (e.g. not accusing, owning my own feelings etc) – especially when they are the type who consider everything but 110% ‘you are awesome’ to be a personal attack that must be avenged.

          They usually still have a harem and enabling family waiting in the wings to apply salve to bruised ego and reassure them they are still awesome/they are right/oh you poor sausage/blah blah blah.

          No I don’t believe AC is gender specific. However it would pay to bear in mind that this web site is written by a woman and that many women share the same experience. Rather than pick apart the terminology (more semantics!), suggest applying the mature lateral thinking option and taking from it that which applies to your situation.

          • Tabitha says:

            RSJ, this gave me a real flashback, “especially when they are the type who consider everything but 110% ‘you are awesome’ to be a personal attack that must be avenged”
            The sense of entitlement and superiority the ex narc displayed was indeed stunning. I fed the monster very well though. I actually told him he was perfect!!! Need to go and lie down now…..

          • pinkpanther says:

            Wow, is this the Davide show?

            rsj quite accurately stated:

            “Rather than pick apart the terminology (more semantics!), suggest applying the mature lateral thinking option and taking from it that which applies to your situation.”

            I have a feeling D is perfectly capable of getting the jest of this well written article by N.

            Just a little hijack…

            AS for the issue at hand, thank you Natalie for helping me cut the BS out of my life. I have had a few people slip away, but the funny thing is, that the ones who are really friends have become even better friends. By applying your wise (easy to understand) words, my life and the lives of my circle of friends are all richer, more respectful, loving, and fun!

      • Tanzanite says:

        @ Davide

        The AC term is not gender specific.

        You have no doubt when you are with an AC( male or female )there is no mistaking it.It is a pattern which shows no improvement They are very manipulative and feel no remorse.

        I can see how it would be difficult going no contact with the mothers of your children because you want to be the best Dad you can be and I suppose this is what your original message was referring to.

        The other ladies were talking about work, daughters and friends as well so I was thinking along those lines.

        There is only one thing to do with an AC and that’s no contact.If there are kids involved you have to be more diplomatic.

        I always think it’s nice when a man comes on here because most men don’t bother with the learning from your mistakes process which is usually because they don’t think they are doing anything wrong.

        It’s a good site.It has helped me a great deal.

      • yoghurt says:

        Hey Davide

        This has been interesting.

        I think that one of the key things that BR has given me over the years that I’ve been reading it is the understanding that *my* perception is as important as the next person’s, rather than either more important or less.

        I think that we live in a day and age in which we’re encouraged to see the objective ‘whole truth’ and to seek out rules and standards that apply universally across the human experience.

        That’s fine, and a good thing when it comes to science and so on, but realistically, when it comes to relationships, emotions and preferences, you cannot operate from a universal one-size-fits-all standard. We’re all different, all individuals and even our perception of that standard is going to be cobbled together from our own diverse range of experiences, received messages and cultures. All we can really rely on is an understanding of what makes us happy.

        Therefore, when I say that someone is an AC I subjectively mean that they’ve been an AC *to me*. That’s all that matters, because *my* relationships are the only ones that I have any control over. If I call someone an AC, it means that *I* don’t want to have anything else to do with them.

        It doesn’t give me the right to wreck their life, sabotage their future choices or ruin their chances of redemption amongst other people, but in Yoghurtland (where I live) an unhealhy interaction means that they get a red stamp and an eviction notice for being an AC.

        I speak as someone who has spent my life trying to squeeze my perceptions, values and relationships into moulds that have been dictated by other people, with varying degrees of success. But eventually, I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter whether or not x person, y magazine or z psychological theory tells me that I should be ‘laid-back’ and accept bad behaviour from people who make me uncomfortable. If I give them a label then, yes, that label is relative to *me*, but I’ve a right to that same as anyone else does.

        I should add that one of the reasons that I’m uncomfortable with the use of the words ‘narcissist’ and ‘psychopath’ is that they have a ring of scientific authority and, imo, this devalues the importance of subjective decision-making in relationships. It doesn’t matter what a therapist or a psychologist or your best mate or their next gf or Zoo or Cosmopolitan would say, all that matters is what YOU say.

        This is very long and abstract – sorry! But I think it’s important.

        • yoghurt says:

          Not sure that I made my point…

          which was that it doesn’t matter whether they’re ‘bad people’ or not, if your interaction with them makes you unhappy then it does. That’s the only justification that you need. If this makes you an oddball by anyone else’s standards then great, you’d probably be better off amongst other oddballs anyway.

          I’d also add that I wasn’t able to go NC with the father of my child, either, but I could and (eventually) did detach from him emotionally. He HAS changed and is now a nice and kind person in a stable relationship with someone else.

          This is a good thing overall and I’m happy that he no longer is a bad person/behaves in bad ways, even if it hasn’t salved my wounded ego any. But it doesn’t make any difference either. Based on the way that he treated *ME*, there is no way that I’d let him back into a position where he had the power to hurt me again, whether he’s changed or not. And clearly he couldn’t become a better person while he was close to me, the interaction was too unhealthy. And that’s okay too.

        • FX says:

          yoghurt, I think you explained an excellent point excellently. :) I’ve been here a while, too, and I am inspired by the progress you have made in your situation. I, too, don’t believe I need to make a diagnosis or even label a person to opt out. If it feels wrong to ME or doesn’t make ME happy, that is now enough information.

        • Tanzanite says:

          @ Yogurt

          That was a lovely message and so true.

          You are so right about labeling people, it’s too easy.

          • yoghurt says:

            Thanks tanzanite and fx, I was worried that it was just a great big woodle.

            I do LOVE being able to say “I don’t care. I just don’t like it” these days, it comes in handy in ALSORTS of situations…

            • Tanzanite says:

              @ Yogurt

              It wasn’t a great big woodle it was brilliant.

              I also love being able to say I don’t care, and now I actually mean it.

              You sound like you are in a good place and this is no consolation but you probably contributed to him being a good person.

              It can be a case of bad timing sometimes,but it still hurts.

    • beth d says:

      Excellent gina!!

      “you will see that there is no use to keep the contact with them “on your terms” because you will realize that “on your terms”… you get very little from those people or even nothing. It’s not worth it”

      I will add keeping contact even on your own terms gives them the opening to mind fuck, tug at heartstrings, and as Nat says “support their bs”….I use to feel mean at times for going NC but no more!!! I would never have the peace of mind I now have and that is priceless!

      • shattered says:

        ‘keeping contact even on your own terms gives them the opening to mind fuck, tug at heartstrings, and as Nat says “support their bs”….

        Very well put Beth. I also felt mean going NC, but the AC deserved it. Had a minor blip when he phoned to tell me how depressed he was due to work problems. Of course I (stupidly) sympathised. On Friday he texted to say he was ill and in hospital. I felt sorry for him, so said I wasn’t heartless and if he needs anything to let me know. I got a text later that day saying he’d be away for the weekend and would be back on Monday. Words fail me! He’s obviously going with the current gf. I felt such a fool at being taken in – again. But I did text to say that was all I needed to know and its best not to stay in touch. No reply of course. I’m going to keep NC from now on, whatever further ‘tragedies’ befall him. No more being ‘nice’ and falling for more BS.

        • beth d says:

          Shattered They have the same damn plays from the same playbook. My ex Narc always had a tragedy too!! His dad had a heart attack, he was depressed, he had a business deal go bad. You have to keep the NC permanent. The sympathy act is old and feeling sorry for them is the kiss of death!

          • jewells says:

            Yep, can’t agree more beth d, the exMM Narc had plenty of tragedies to draw from that worked at keeping me from seeing what was ACTUALLY going on. The hell he was living at home with his wife, the girlfriend’s past who’ve left without explanation, the death of his father at 11 and apparently despite having two older siblings became the ‘man’ of the house, nursing his mother on her deathbed for years, oh, molested by a priest, never mind the constant current career let downs – but those were blamed on his ethnicity, his roomate in this city was also a nightmare to live with…then there were his health issues – stomach cancer in the past and horrible asthma. Oh, he gave me plenty to keep my mind occupied with his problems so that he could manipulate me to where he wanted me, because heaven forbid I ADD to his problems. But in the end he was outrageous enough for me to finally see what was going on and ‘turn on’ him too. Ugh, birk. I have zero sympathy for him now.

            • jewells says:

              It just dawned on me…this as his mode of operation ‘gets’ the girl…eventually ‘the girl’ wisens up to his antics and leaves (or he sees it coming and needs to be the dumper as Narcs hate to be dumped), but in the case of his wife, she’s tied (he married her within the year of her last marriage breakup, they didn’t really ‘date’, he had her move in as she was literally just out of the marriage with 10 yr old in tow). I think the ‘hell’ at home he describes is the lack of Narc supply due to her wisening up and realizing that her needs are not being met. So, to get his N.S. he looks elsewhere – cue me! (though I’m sure there have been several before me and many more attempts beyond that). Then, when he senses me wisening up he begins the backpeddle managing, which I then absolutely sparked on and subsequently slammed him on.
              So, as a Narc, he has his ‘playbook’ that he drags out to get his N.S., old tried and tested ‘ways’ to get the girl hooked and manipulations. Even his backpeddling and managing had ‘tried and tested’ written on it. That’s what sparked me, too pat, too easy, too teary – oh and by text no less after his proclamations of ‘belonging together’ blah blah blah. Didn’t make sense, so that’s what blew the lid off the whole shenanagins for me. I realized I’d been played. He won’t soon be playing again though.

              • jewells says:

                And I’ll add…his antics were not personal, not about me, not a reflection of my lack of worthiness. I’ve always taken other peoples crap actions and words personally. I think now I’ve finally come to terms with other peoples actions and reactions and BS being about them. He really was my epiphany (I knew as soon as I found BR, but it gets confirmed more so with further epiphanies), he is like my father in his self centeredness, self pitiness, manipulative self servingness. I think I may finally be truly free of assclowns now that I see the ‘play’ and know enough that I don’t have to engage, ever, again.

                • beth d says:

                  Jewells We all have that epiphany relationship where we totally understand what crazymakers we got involved with. Good list Self centered, self pity, manipulative, self serving. Wow sounds familiar! lol Jewells You got this down girl!!!

            • beth d says:

              “In the end he was outrageous enough for me to finally see and turn on him too. I have zero sympathy for him now” Jewells I feel exactly the same and besides having zero sympathy for him I have zero drama in my life!! :)

          • Little Star says:

            Ha, funny you said that! My ex AC used to “look after” his Mum (she was 83 for 5 years!!!) but it did not stop him to travel around the world without me:(

        • Tabitha says:

          Aah Shattered, It is time to bring this one out again. Also for anyone else struggling with NC.
          Please read, digest, and marshall your inner forces.

          • Allison says:


            Great link!

          • shattered says:

            Tabitha, I clicked on the link, read it and it made me squirm. If anyone else told me they were worried about work and were in hospital, I’d ask what I could do. Its a normal reaction. But I guess that doesn’t apply to ACs. I haven’t heard from him since I said its best not to keep in touch. Maybe this time I won’t. Perhaps it was just a ploy to see if I’d rise to the bait and contact him. Whatever – I will stick to NC and not be fooled into feeling sorry for him. Its hard to believe how manipulative he can be with his tales of woe. Probably told the rest of the harem too, but I was probably the most stupid. Now I’m angry with myself! I am puzzled though as to why he wants to contact me. He has at least two new women on the go, so why bother?

            • Mymble says:

              Wondering why is one of the great hooks that keeps us invested. I spent a huge amount of energy wondering why why why he continued to contact me.. it must mean something..mustn’t it? The Search for Meaning where there is no meaning. I even phoned him up and asked him WHY. He was himself unable to account for it and had no answer at all. This person has published books and articles of great profundity yet he was reduced to “Er Mmm I don’t really know” then he apologised, and apologised again in a text, and again in an email …then was back to doing the same thing not long after.

              • Mymble says:

                Here’s an answer to your question and it will do as well as any other – because he is an idiot.

            • Allison says:


              I wouldn’t put much thought into it, as it’s simply more attention.

            • amanda says:

              A male friend whom I have often resorted to for support in getting over the exMM-AC had a theory for why the exMM, like clockwork, reaches out to me even though he’s separated, but already moved in and taken up with an OOW, even after he and I discussed (rather reasonably) that I have nothing to offer in the way of help, even after I told him that I had nothing to say to him if he wasn’t interested in being my friend in RL. My supportive friend calls the exMM a “dangler”. He dangles crumbs in front of me just to see if he can still get my attention. If I get tripped up and reply, he instantly gets cold. He got the information he needs. He still “has it.” Its sad. I’ve been working so hard to rely on an internal sense of self-worth. The exMM hasn’t been doing that work, and is still collected FBG. I pity the OOW!

              • amanda says:

                Ha! the exMM just sent me a one-word email with a link to a sexy starlet. Like clockwork, he is “dangling”. How would I even begin to take that bait? Delete.

  21. Gina says:

    I also think that the “Stay in contact on your terms” keep the balance with those aclowns – talking is MUCH about the fact that one starts to realize how MUCH you did not operate on YOUR terms with those aclown(s). It’s maybe even some kind of revenge: When I am patient I will get the aclown to operate on my terms … or When I will be patient enough he will see me as equal to him and I will gain a lot from that contact.

    I think this is bullshit. But it’s very easy to get caught by this thoughts. I mean a “balanced middle way” sounds cosy and logical. But frankly it isn’t with some one who is just plain mean and just on their terms.
    + you have a hidden agenda of getting approval from this. ‘Yes now I am a full human being I got it balanced. He sees me as a human being, we are equal I am not his dog anymore.’

    You just can’t reach that. When they were used to treat you bad or see you below them they will continue to and what reason would they not have to if you show with your actions exactly this?
    If you would really operate on your terms you would walk away for YOUR happiness and not try to get anything balanced out … because “JUST IN CASE” I will need that person maybe one day. .. Haha yes but they weren’t there to be NEEDED fromt he start. So… don’t get trapped and take a second look in what you REALLY get from this involvment with a bad person.

  22. noquay says:

    Yep, this is exactly why there ARE so many EU/AC types out there, no one has ever held them accountable, and they just shuffle along to the next enabler. Tried to “put myself out there” last night; went to an outdoor film showing and it was typical of this region. I was the oldest single female there, once again, and of course, the only person of color. Got into a convo with a guy afterward and it turns out he was another lesson in what to avoid; sixty something ski bum, unemployed and uneducated by choice, being supported (enabled) by his educated and successful brother. By accident, I let slip something about his lack of a job and he got a tad defensive. Talk about a sense of entitlement. Cleared outta there while he was talking to someone else. Reminded me of AC, who while being educated and successful, hasnt been doing his job and is finally being held accountable , at least jobwise, karma is finally happening. He thinks he is being singled out, persecuted and yep, is a tad defensive. The universe has been throwing problem children at me big time over the last month; two married dudes, two good looking deadbeats, and a resurgent future faker from across the country who claims to want to marry me though he doesnt know jack about who I am. Either this is meant to quiz me on my BR knowledge, or ensure that I no longer have hope, one or the other.

    • Tabitha says:

      Yes! Natalie has sent you all these bozos as a BR Superquiz. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sort the wheat from the chaff, give them all the BR Supergirl Treatment. And report back. Looking forward to it. Oh, and glad to hear the work AC is finally getting his.

    • runnergirl says:

      May I suggest a third alternative: Maybe there is hope? You haven’t ended up dealing with the BSing of the married dudes or the good looking deadbeats or the futurefaker. That, in my book, is hope and progress. Congratulations on implementing your BR skills and staying on the no bs diet.
      PS. I’m finding that the deadbeat phenomenon is quite interesting in the 50-something crowd. They describe themselves as semi-retired. Come to find out that can also mean they are unemployed and living with a sibling or taking care of their parents. BS!

  23. suzie says:

    I am so thankful to God for NML and this site. I found her a few years ago searching for something akin to “how to get him back, how to make him happy” etc etc. I’m finally starting to see my pattern at 35 y/o. I’m so tired of being alone, but feel like I’m actually willing to do the tough work to change and maybe be available.

    I just moved to a new city by myself and of course found a EUM, at work, right away. I’m done beating myself over why he didn’t like me or if he will text me or what he thinks of me after over-reacting to his game playing. I’m also accepting that I have an eating disorder and that there is a connection to my relationships. Painful stuff but I’m hopeful to finally be seeing the light.

    • Grizelda says:

      Glad to hear, Suzie!
      I agree there’s so much enlightenment to be found here. It answers so many questions that used to go completely unanswered. You’ll get there!

  24. recoveringloveaddict says:

    “Poised with their ego pumper’s and responsibility swipers at the ready, they co-sign on to each others unhealthy behaviour. Supporting one person’s BS means that their own BS is supported. If you become a ‘threat’ by not towing the line even if what you say and do represents the truth, you’ll be given a hard time or even excluded.”

    “Responsibility swiper”, that’s what my mom is. My mom is currently not talking to me, so i heard through my oldest daughter, because i spoke my opinion about my brother’s ungrateful, mooching behavior. He had my mother call me (couldn’t do it himself) to ask if I would take our father to his next hospital appointment the next day because he was tired of being at the hospital and tired of wheel chairs. This is from a 44 year old man that has lived at home all his life, has not contributed a dime, bums money from my parents to drink on and so owes them lots of money and he can’t be bothered two days to help them! I told my mother I couldn’t and then how I felt about my brother asking me to help and she punishes me by not talking to me! Yes, I am a threat because I don’t cosign their unhealthy behavior. My mother should have told my brother that helping his father was the least he could do for living rent free for so many years and to get out if he didn’t want to help. But instead she takes offense to me. Well, the truth hurts. Deal with it!

    • Allison says:


      Does he help them with anything around the house?

      • recoveringloveaddict says:

        Allison, only if he doesn’t have any choice or if there is something in for him. Like he’ll go to the grocery store if they buy his cigarettes and beer. My mom has just enabled him all his life. My conversation tapped into her own guilt because she knows she has allowed him to live there when she should have made him move out years ago. That’s what she’s really mad about.

        • Allison says:


          You did the right thing!

          It funny, those that are closest will treat the ones that are the most dependable – they know that they will always be around.

          My parents have done the same with me. I recently instilled some serious boundaries – attended some counseling with my folks – and let them know if changes were not made, I wasn’t going to be present – parents always put themselves first. A lot of history. When they knew that I was serious – no more doormat – they made some changes, and the relationship has become easier.

  25. noquay says:

    What you are describing with this dude is giving me major whimmies a thousand miles and 8000 vertical feet away. Avoid him like a case of stomach flu. The next thing that will happen is that he will turn in you when he finally gets it that he is not going to get his way.
    The only acceptable reason for someone to yell at you is if you are about to be run over a bus. End of.

    • Magnolia says:

      Yep. After all that went on above, I woke up this morning to an email titled “My Beach.”

      He had said yesterday he wanted to show me the beach near his house because he knows that I have a dream of having a place near the water.

      It’s just a bunch of pictures of the beach I suppose I would have seen if I’d walked with him where he wanted to go. The email says nothing but:

      “When you see my beach you fall in love and never leave.”

      It’s funny how context is everything. It’s not his beach, but he has quick access to it and a view of it from the very nice house that his accomplished wife’s position affords. After saying no to him, the email feels not only:

      a) obtuse, because he’s still pushing boundaries, but b) aggressive, like, nyah nyah you untenured sessional who doesn’t know where her next paycheque is coming from, this is MY beach.

      This does suck, because I shared everything with him and his wife around my desire to stay, my vulnerability around work, and who I think is on my side or not at work. I do hope he doesn’t do the opposite of what he has been doing. I.e. he told me he has gone to my superiors to sing my praises. Let’s hope I don’t turn into a “conniving bitch” just as easily.


      • Mymble says:

        How nauseating, in so very many ways. But it reads to me like “wooing” – deep down he isn’t really talking about the beach, he means his d**k.

      • Sm says:

        Wow Mags, keep us posted how this turns out.

        • runnergirl says:

          Magnolia, we go way, way back on BR. You so helped me to see how I was in a mist of bs. I beg your pardon, this married man is “talking” about a dreamy beach? And once you see it, you’ll never want to leave? Topline: He is married. Moreover, as you point out, it is his accomplished wife that affords him the view of the beach. Just keep focused on the fact that he has an accomplished wife. W.I.F.E being the most important aspect of the BS he is spouting. I’m with you Mags. I know how these guys play the lady in waiting. You are NOT a lady in waiting. Emotionally or professionally. Oh yeah, let him sing your praises while he is cuddled up with his wife watching the sunset on the beach. Steer clear of him and the beach. He is full of BS. I agree with Mymble. It’s not about the beach, your job, or his wife. It’s about his d**k and his ego. Talk about bullshit. Arms length and then another arm. Bettcha he can’t go walking on the beach with you tonight cos he’s got to fix dinner with his W.I.F.E.

      • Lilia says:

        He´s creepy as a witches´den, what a weirdo! Please do not take the bait he´s throwing at you – and I mean do not engage emotionally.
        Just keep your distance.
        And I agree with Mymble, it sounds like he´s advertising his sexual skills.
        Isn´t it typical that with some men pursuing is linked to a certain aggression? A certain sense of entitlement and thus violence when they are rejected?
        Very creepy indeed.

      • Wiser says:

        Ugh – each posting about this guy sounds worse and worse. It’s a dilemma – how do you get rid of this guy while keeping him on your side at work? Consider the option of withdrawing gradually and gracefully. An abrupt cutting him off could make him mad, or worse, he’d feel that you’ve made a fool of him. A vindictive co-worker is no fun, so you need to tread carefully. Still be pleasant to him as always, be appreciative of his help at work, but tone down the personal talk. As you interact with him less and less, if he has a shred of awareness, he should get the message. Good luck! Let us know what technique works!

        • Magnolia says:

          Ladies, I so appreciate all of you “being here.”

          mymble, you said what I thought when I saw it. ew.

          runner, there is no hint of me wanting anything to do with this guy romantically! even if he wasn’t married, his weirdness is a major yuck.

          wiser, I’m going to follow a plan like you suggest. Basically just stop responding to any invites/emails that aren’t work-related, but otherwise polite smiles and no major confrontation. I am keeping his emails, though, just in case.

          I’m not great at acting, though, so it’s going to be a chore finding a reason to leave my office the moment he shows up at my door (which he will); I think my best bet is just to insist that I can’t really chat because I’m so busy (generally true!)

          My plan is to be super-boring to him if possible. Now, considering that he knows that I defend my PhD in three weeks and that I have this potential national-ted-talk-style gig coming up, he knows there’s lots of interesting stuff going on with me. But really, I don’t have time to think about anything except managing teaching and handling those two important events.

          I got hooked into this because he is way more interested and savvy about what my career moves involve than my own dad, or my brother, or anyone else in my life. It was nice, for a while, to feel like I had an older male someone in my corner. I got turned down for a big grant; most people in my life were like, oh, too bad, because they didn’t get it; this guy was *there.* Then last week I got a different grant and was elated and relieved; again, most folks, were like, oh, good for you; this guy was again *there* with the wows and the that’s-great-magnolia!s.

          It did feel like too-good-to-be-true. I hope it’s only tgtbt because it’s coming from a married source.

          I hope I wasn’t wrong to think I deserve that support without strings attached, i.e. that I might have that kind of support from someone available. Or is wanting that kind of cheerleading just being selfish/immature?

          • EllyB says:

            Magnolia, you haven’t received that kind of praise and approval from you parents in the past (even if you certainly deserve it) and I don’t believe you are going to get it from them in the future either. Trying to get this need met by other people is DANGEROUS though. It does not matter whether it is immature or not (this would be outside judgment again which is irrelevant). The problem is that you’re handing over your power to third parties, and unfortunately the ones who are going to snatch it up are exactly the ones who should NEVER have any power over you. If anything is threatening your career it is sneaky, manipulative people like him (unless you avoid them like the pest). Otherwise you seem to have everything you need to succeed. You don’t need any approval/cheerleading from others!

        • amanda says:

          I like wiser’s advice. Fight fire with fire and serve him up with a little relationship insanity of your own, in that in future conversations, deny (to the best of your ability) the personal conversations you have had in your past. If he corners you at work and it starts to feel invasive, pretend like your mobile phone is ringing and take a fake call, then walk out of the room. Get out of there. If it isn’t too late, don’t reply to the beach email. Pretend like you never got it. Good luck!

      • grace says:

        It’s a balancing act, but I wouldn’t share so much with any coworker, until I knew them really well, and probably not with any man I worked with especially about my vulnerability. We all have vulnerability, it’s nothing to be ashamed of but there’s no need to put it out there either. This is not your fault, but it’s time to rewind and put in some professional distance. I guess it’s different for me, I’m not in academia which seems to be more “cosy”.
        I wouldn’t reply to these emails but file them away should you need them in future.

        • Allison says:

          Yes. Document everything, and don’t respond to anything that is not of a professional nature.

          • EllyB says:

            Btw, I wouldn’t worry too much about withdrawing from him “in style”. I’m afraid this isn’t possible anyway because those jerks make everything that involves enforcing boundaries look “out of style”. They make us feel very “calm” and in “control” while we are doing what they want (unless they have started the devalue & discard cycle of course). As soon as we enforce boundaries, they tend to make us feel like “crazy” and “foolish”.

            Better to run from him in a mad rush than to “calmly” put up with any more brainwashing and manipulation! Running, slamming doors in their faces or acting gruff isn’t “foolish” (especially if he is the only one witnessing this behavior), even if it might feel like this.

            Last year I once literally ran from a married coworker (whom I had allowed to get too close to me in the past). It was late, we were the last people remaining in the office, and I had a bad day and somehow felt tempted to confide in him (he obviously tried to encourage me to do so). He tried to leave together with me, but I said “sorry, I’m in a hurry” and really ran down the stairs. I felt so FOOLISH, but what I did wasn’t foolish at all. There weren’t even any witnesses! And as to the message I conveyed to him: It was exactly the right one – the one that I would do ANYTHING to get away from him!

            It was very empowering. The next time I found it way easier to avoid him (even if I kept feeling uncomfortable around him until he – thankfully – left the company).

  26. sumpingrey says:

    Every time I feel weak or helpless or desperate or enraged or overwhelmed with rejection, negativity…I come here to get my sanity back. Thanks Natalie. You’re like the friend who pulls you up by the collar and gets you to stand on your own two feet. Now if only I could stop myself from relapsing into a ball of misery….

  27. FX says:

    “The only acceptable reason for someone to yell at you is if you are about to be run over a bus. End of.” Thank you for this! noquay, You are bad ass smart whatever name you use here. 😉

    This post and the comments came at the perfect time for me. The recent bf was generally very calm and sweet but overreacted outrageously IMO a couple of times and yelled at me so I was already taking a giant step back. Well, to be honest, I didn’t think he was right for me for the long haul for other reasons, too, but decided not to become invested and just enjoy the “good stuff” for a while. (Yeah, I knew I was being squirrely, EU, etc, and wasn’t feeling good about it.)

    So, the other night, I acted upon my gut as per that great post. For the first time, I felt he was drip feeding me info and being shady about something. We were at my place and both tired and I initially took the path of least resistance and went to bed. As soon as he lied down, I thought “Wait a minute, he’s being shady and the consequences are he gets to wake up with me as if everything is OK?” Oh, hell no. Been there and done the minimizing and pretending thing for years with the ex AC. Had I learned nothing?!! I asked him to leave right then and he did.

    I know I still have a long way to go but I’m proud of myself for making this progress in not allowing and enabling BS at my expense. I could not have done it without BR and this community. Thank you! xoxo

  28. So true.

    I ran into my ex-cheating-boyfriend for the first time in a month. I started NC in December last year. He casually came up to me and commented on the song I was listening to on my laptop (Shania Twain – You’re still the one), making a joke about how I was still listening to cheesy songs, which had been something we had always teased each other about.

    He then coolly told me that his life was amazing nowadays and how was everything with me? I replied “Good.” and then subsequently collapsed into tears once he left.

    I realised that he had never had to face the consequences of his actions when I kept continued to give him chances after chances. I would simply accept the ‘sorry’ and then wait, expecting him to follow through with action that showed how sorry he was, such as expecting him to stop seeing the other girls.

    I guess he’s finally seeing the consequences now that I have left. Not that it matters, since he’s not feeling particularly hurt or alone (enough whores out there for him!). I just hope one day he realises the full extent of this actions and finds a bit of remorse from somewhere.

    I have just stopped expecting any action.

    • twistinmysobriety says:

      Sorry to hear that you are still hurting. You know, your ex might appear all cool and fine, but you never know how he really feels. Unless he is actually a psychopath, all these hurtful things that he does to other people will have an impact on him. Maybe not on a conscious level, but I know that deep down it will damage his soul. You will always know at SOME LEVEL that what you are doing is hurting others, and I don’t think you can ever be truly happy if you have a tarnished soul.
      I know that my ex-EUM is incredibly unhappy, and has been for a long time. I know because I was the girl who was used as a shoulder to lean on (and I know he didn’t make up the stuff…). Many others see him as this great and fun guy, and he really hides his depression rather well. Maybe even the unavailability/assclownery stems from these others problems. Still, it is of course no excuse to treat others with disrespect.
      Anyway, my point was to say that I really do not think that these ACs are really that happy deep down.

      • Hi,

        I thought he was unhappy too at first, but how can an unhappy person be smiling, partying, enjoying many many girls, getting best outcome work-wise?

        I feel like it has definitely been a case of me feeling all the pain and him just getting the freedom he wanted. I’m now tempted to approach the “let’s be friends” territory in the hope I can get a share of the happiness too.

        • Allison says:


          I don’t understand?

          Your life did not revolve around this man before you were involved, so why would you place all your happiness on a man who hurt you? This doesn’t make sense!

          By engaging with this man, I can guarantee that you fee feel more disrespected and miserable than you do now.

          Time to create your own happiness with activities and friends, don’t rely on others to do it for you.

          • No, you’re right. It didn’t. But I feel like I never actually knew happiness until I met him. And now that he’s gone, so has the fleeting happiness.

            He did hurt me more than anyone ever has in my life. I was at the lowest point of my life a few months ago. But he also made me happier than I have ever been.

            I keep thinking that the pain is worth it. Better to feel something, than nothing at all?

            • Allison says:


              Oh, hell no!

              I think you really need to go back and understand what you wrote. If you think that being with someone that will mistreat you will make you happy, there is a big problem. You, are responsible for your happiness. period. It sounds like you need to expand your interests and life, and not make one the focus. I mean, what would you do if he died? You have to move on. How would you feel knowing he is sleeping with others? Trust me, if you stick around, he will have NO respect for you!

              Have you considered counseling?

              • I don’t think it’s about being happy while I’m being mistreated, it is about being more happy in those moments when he treats me well than I have ever been before.

                I have continued NC (almost 4 months now) but still think about him every second of every day.

                I have tried counselling, but it didn’t seem to work and have recently stopped so I could see how I could do ‘on my own’.

                I just want him to feel half the pain I am and like the post says, feel the consequences.

                • Allison says:


                  What will it get you if he feels half the pain? Will it really make you feel better? How long were you with this guy?

                  There can be a few happy moments, but the fact that he cheated – you can never trust him again – and hurt you should be enough that those ‘happy’moments are not enough.

                  Wish, you can not get happiness from others. You have to make your life fuller, or you will continue to attract these types of men.

                  Time to stop putting so much energy into someone who treated you badly.

    • Mymble says:

      I doubt very much that his life is so amazing. He is merely butt hurt and vindictive because you binned him. The other girls he gets involved with are probably, just like you did, believing his lies and hoping he’ll turn into a decent boyfriend, rather than “whores”.
      He sounds absolutely horrible and you are better off without him.

      • Thanks, Mymble.

        I think it WAS wrong of me to refer to them as that, considering I’m pretty sure most of them didn’t know he was in a supposedly exclusive relationship with me at the time (we live in different cities).

        But his friends all knew the entire story and they just egged him on. Now he can have his fun without me waiting for him to change though.

        • Allison says:


          Why would he change? This is who he is, you need to accept it.

          I know it’s hard to accept because then you will have to take the focus off him, and address your own issues, and what kept you with him. Easier to focus on their problems, but when you finally fill the holes in your own life, it’s liberating.

          • I guess I am suffering from the typical “he will change for me because he loves me” Fallback girl syndrome.

            I do hope you’re right, Allison, and that I will eventually fill the gigantic hole he left behind with something (not someone) else.

  29. espresso says:

    Happy Birthday to you Espoir. I hope you had a very very good day.
    Spring is almost here right?

    • Espoir says:

      Thank you – had a very good one indeed with my 12yo :)) Priceless…
      Spring ? we have a snow storm announced for tomorrow -10C and 20-30 cm of snow…but life is beautiful :) I also hope that you had an awesome day !!!

  30. runnergirl says:

    Darn it. As I read these comments, I am in awe of how not unique our situations are. The amount of BS just sends me into despair. Who on the planet do these guys think they are? They are married/attached, not over their ex, have a harem, have drug/alcohol problems, live with their mothers at 50, mooch off their family, don’t have jobs cos they are semi-retired, are abusive, are users, and they think they stand a chance? How much BS can a girl buy? This is one recovered OW, FBG that has standards, boundaries, and values. Thank you Natalie. The NO BS diet works wonders. Of course, I’ve experienced the natural consequences of the BS diet, which have been wonderful. There isn’t a toxic person in my life. There will never be a toxic person in my life. I’ve never felt so alive, so ready to take on the world. Maybe it’s just what should happen at 53. My 50’s are going to be the best thanks to you.

    • FX says:

      runnergirl, Yes, it does make the heart despair. To add to your litany, I am your age and, unknowing of ages upon meeting, became involved with the AC who was 10 years younger (35 at the time several years ago) and the not quite right recent bf I just curbed (38) who were both attractive, totally self-sufficient, accomplished, so financially generous… Unrelated and years ago, I pursued a dream and had reverses that left me broke, so they sure aren’t after my resources! They pursued passionately and looked great on paper but were not relationship material in the end. Well, the AC is also a Narc from what I know now so we won’t touch that! Anyway, I haven’t given up on men and hope you won’t based upon age and BR statistics alone… I won’t subscribe to generalizations about my future based upon the collective experience of AC stories, including my own which nearly encompass ages from cradle to grave!

    • beth d says:

      Runner Perfect!! The no bs diet works for everyone. That is why keeping in contact on any level with these kinds of guys definitely endorses their BS! Getting them out of your life leads to happiness and peace. Natalie is a Godsend for giving us the clarity to see these assclowns for what they truly are. Toxic people who add nothing to your life but angst!

    • Mymble says:

      It. Is. All. The.Same.Shit.
      Funnily enough, the MM also lived in a house with a sea view which he used to crap on about and send me photos of. Not that I was getting an invite for a viewing, though because his WIFE was in residence! Sea views cost money, wherever in the world you live, so I suppose it was a form of “willy-wobbling” as my brother calls it, although also a way of showing your sensitive nature-loving side. Cos you know there’s loads of folk who can’t stand a sea view.
      Don’t know if he’s got a sea view where he lives now, and neither do I care.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      runnergirl…I just turned 53 myself and my attitude is the best is yet to come. I have been married to controlling, verbally abusive man that drank way too much. But that produced 2 wonderful childern & 2grandkids who I love more than life itself. Spent the next 9 yrs with a EUM/AC that broke my heart into a million pieces. But I survived both & have seen the light thanks to Nat & reading all her prev post and everyones stories on here. I feel hope for my future whether it be alone or finding that someone who fits into my life & gives me everything the last 2 relationships didnt. This site was a godsend to me. I have grown so much & relize my situations were NOT unique and I own that my part that made them exist in the first place.I am NOT that women anymore. So big cheers to us !!

    • selkie says:

      I hear you. I recently let my loneliness get the better of me and talked to an EUM ex who’d I’d be NC with started texting me. He was professing how much he wanted to try again, he missed me, and that he had grown as a person. Well, he’s still an alcoholic bad boy so I told him we weren’t compatible after a few conversations (one of which he called me while he was DRUNK). He got mad and said, “You’re a 45 year old lady, do you think you’re going to find the perfect man at your age?”. He also said I was needy, confining, and desperate because I said I needed more from a relationship than he previously had for me and that I could not tolerate his disappearing off radar when he was on a bender. But his suggestion that I had to take what I could get didn’t get me down for more than a hours. I’m not desperate, or I would of taken him up on is offer. I’m not perfect but I have my shit together, I can’t be that unique. There have to be men my age who have it together and are single. But, I’m finding that even through my lonely times (which pass if I ride them out), being single and healthy is better and way more peaceful than living off crumbs while waiting for the loaf to appear from a unlikely source who is making hollow promises. What he wasn’t aware of is that I HAD GROWN as a person and wasn’t about to sign up for whatever I could get, even if I am 45. I am a little mad at myself for giving him the platform to talk at all, but I think I can forgive me.

      • Mymble says:

        Never second guess yourself on this one. I read somewhere (here?) “addicts don’t do relationships” and having watched my alcoholic fathers progression through relationship after relationship -with seemingly intelligent women -I can say that this is definitely true. They lie, they are abusive, and they WILL let you down when you most need them to be there for you.

      • grace says:

        he doesn’t have to be perfect, but sober is a good start.

        • selkie says:

          Grace, Mymble,

          Sober is not on the menu, probably ever. I hadn’t really talked to him in a while and thought maybe he had grown like he said. Nope. He is charming and cute when he is sober, but that is only before two o’clock. The feeling of doom that came over me just talking to him for a little while was a wake up call for me in a good way. It was recognizable, but now repulsive. I know I will never tolerate such BS again and it feels good. This felt like BR a pop quiz. I didn’t get a ‘perfect’ score but I passed!

      • jewells says:

        Selkie, haha, he’s trying to insult you into a relationship…how could you pass on such a winner 😛

        • selkie says:

          Ha, I know, such a winning tactic. The sad part though is that it probably would of worked on me a couple of years ago because I’d be trying to prove him wrong, jumping through hoops, and wanting to be the one he was willing to change for. The next day he sent me a bunch of texts telling me how beautiful I am, saying he was sorry, he knows it was wrong to push my buttons, he really cares about me, blah blah blah. He asked me to go on a trip overnight to a hot springs to relax. I thought it was such a good idea I booked a room for MYSELF and told him no. I didn’t tell him I was going and I know he won’t show up. He’s too cheap if we aren’t splitting the costs. The idea of soaking in hot springs, my favorite book, essential oils, a glass of wine, no BS, and my own company sounds wonderful.

          • runnergirl says:

            Oh Selkie, how great you turned his invitation into an invitation to yourself. Good for you for not buying his BS about being 45. Sheesh, he’d better have said that drunk. Don’t worry about giving him a platform. Sometimes it takes a little reassurance that he is still an AC. He is.

            Enjoy the hotsprings, essential oils, a glass of wine, good book, and your company. Sounds way better than his BS.

          • Pretty Madame Butterfly says:

            “He asked me to go on a trip overnight to a hot springs to relax. I thought it was such a good idea I booked a room for MYSELF and told him no.”

            Selkie, you absolute legend.

            21 year old girl here who’s started no-contact with an ex-EUM, practicing boundaries, building self-respect and booting the toxic people out of her life. Things have been testing me today (is Natalie giving everyone a BR pop quiz? From reading the other comments, I feel as though I’m in good company!) and I’ve come on Baggage Reclaim again for a sanity check.
            This website has helped me so much – I’ve been reading it for the last five months. Yup, started out with the “what did I do wrong, how can I get him back” but I’ve gradually realised how unhealthy my love habits have been, and dammit girl, I need to change that and work on my self-esteem and boundaries. And now that I am actively trying to do that, it’s so good being able to come back and read posts like this one.

            Reading the comments about how people DO get out and stay out of unhealthy relationships gives me a lot of hope.

            Anyway, Selkie, I think you’re cheeky and brilliant, and I have a lot of respect for you.

            • selkie says:

              Aaww, thanks Pretty Madam Butterfly. I feel pretty good about my decision and it gives you a sense of empowerment when you stand up for you. I’m currently at the hot springs by myself (yes they have internet ) and it’s heavenly! Life is good if we loose the drama.

            • selkie says:

              Oh, and Butterfly, You are lucky to have found this site and it’s message at an early age. I am 44 and finally figuring some stuff out with this new clarity and sorting baggage that I’ve had for years! I look back and think how much different my life would of been if I’d learned some of this stuff at 21. Best of luck to you.

      • runnergirl says:

        He, he, he…I posted the above comment last night and went to bed feeling like I’m turning a corner, finally. What do you think was in my inbox first thing this morning? I about fainted when I saw it. Yup, a message from the exMM. No frigging way. I clicked on it thinking this is impossible, there must be a mistake. Nope it’s possible and it wasn’t a mistake. Now I know they don’t have a 6th sense, I know it is a random fishing expedition, and I know it is utter BS. But seriously, we’ve been “apart” now longer than we were “together”. So I went through the BR posts (I have a lot of them memorized) about why they get back in touch and I know it’s BS. I still spent half the day in magical thinking: What if he’s changed (getting that divorce he was supposed to have done two years ago), what if this is my chance (to be with a lying cheater), what if the frog (lying cheater) has turned into a prince offering love, trust, respect and commitment. Nuff said. Boy Natalie, you sure have this stuff pegged. I haven’t responded, although I want to reply “SERIOUSLY DUDE, GET A LIFE”.
        I think I’m going to order two “He’s Not THAT Special” mugs, one for me and one for my daughter.
        I’m going to bed tonight thinking this is about him not me. I’m still turning the corner! He obviously isn’t. What a jack-in-the-box.

        • selkie says:

          Oh Brother. What comes out of that jack in box is still a frog croaking for some stroking. Mentally put him back in his plinky plink painted box and shut the lid.

  31. Revolution says:


    The guy sounds like a sociopathic douche. Your plan to steer completely clear sounds solid to me. And if he DOES try the “conniving bitch” thing on you in the future, then you OWN that shit, girl.


    Why the fuck would any of us want to keep our toxic ex douchebags (male or female) in our lives?

    No matter how existential a point you’d like your story to illustrate, the old adage still stubbornly applies: If it walks like a duck…


    You’re doing great, girl. :)

  32. Tired says:

    This was uncomfatable reading for me . Even tho im nc for a couple if months , bf i went nc and blocked on fb i stoll tried tobea friend . Thisan who had treated me absouloutly with out respect and there was me still being a friend . Oh how i wish id gone out guns blazing and realky got it of my chest what i thought of him . Id lije to send him a email telling him exactly what i think of him but i stop . He wouldnt care as he wouldnt have done what he did in first place . I just wish when he offered his face for a slap id punched him with all my might ! Lol blokes who have no empthay dont care and its pointless to wonder if they ever gove a toss about their actions . If and i mean a big if iever run into him in my life ill look at him for what he is znd my look will say it all .ill leave it to fate or god or whatever to teach him the consequence of his actions . By thd way i got an A in my english course as i work to final exam . Thats me doing somthing for me and i not anyone eles gave that happy feeling to me :) stay strong and positive girls x

  33. teachable says:

    This post has given me the courage I needed! Thankyou Natalie! The (as of now b.c I SAY so), troublesome FORMER friend who wanted me to sell off her Son’s musical equipt called tonight re said task. I stalled for time & said I would like to see it first tomorrow night to get an idea of what’s involved. This was my way of DECLINING her offer to suddenly dump the lot on my doorstep, just as I feared might be her plan.

    I have one friend who has already expressed an interest in one item so will go tomorrow to get the spec’s for that, in case my friend wants it. After reading this post though, I’ve decided to turn the offer of selling the rest of guff off in exchange for a small % of the sale price down (& if my friend doesn’t want that one item my former friend can take care of that herself too!)!

    Interestingly, the % my former friend mentioned tonight had risen slightly from last time, but I don’t care. It wont add up to more than a couple of hundred dollars max, (if that), & although I’m dead broke & ppl say we shouldn’t ‘look a gifthorse in the mouth’, I shall consider this peanuts to pay for maintaining my self respect & showing this woman the consequences of her behaviour.

    In a twist which was her ALL OVER when I asked her plans for this evening, thinking maybe I could check out the one item my other (real) friend might be interested in tonight, she was off to a support group ALONE (I checked) we once would have gone to together! As usual (since going into the.cold phase) no invite to go with her was forthcoming (ie living around the corner from each other we used to pick each other up to attend)!!

    Nope. This woman can take her Son’s musical equiptment & SHOVE IT! Rather than go to her place to get the specs for my friend I will try to just get them on the phone even. As I was told in the previous thread ALL communication with such ppl does me harm. Ok. Finally it has sunk through my thick skull!

  34. noquay says:

    Yep, what you state is soooo true. And we responsible kick ass babes are considered to be the Evil Bitch Personified because we refuse to settle for/fix/enable these gems. I too have eliminated a lot of toxic folk from my life which here, leaves one almost completely alone or having to deal with folks who do not share your core values. This is why I tend to just hole up in my weird house on a hill and work on chores, try hard NOT to have feelings, all winter. Am soooo looking forward to spring!

  35. teachable says:

    Jeepers Magnolia. This guy was waving red flags about, which you did see, as you were concerned enough to post here abt them & then u trusted him with all that insider info re yr work aspirations & who is or isn’t on yr side? I’m a little shocked as yr not silly by any stretch. On the other hand, the way u asserted yrself with this muffin pusher was quite admirable. Whole thing is creeping me out though. I’d be putting yr objection to his unwanted attention & overtures in writing via email inclusive of a link to sexual harrassment policy. I’d be sending that as mg reply to the beach email, along with an ‘apology if u have somehow misinterpreted things’ but with mention made ‘you wish to be clear tht u expect yr relationship to remain within professional bounds & tht cessation all all non work related emails frm hereonin would be much appreciated’. I wouldn’t give a shit about him supposedly talking you up yr superiors. I would blind cc yr direct higher up in on yr reply, followed up with also filling them in & holding off further action pending this guys reaction. u need to get to ur superior before he does, with some evidence of what is going on, as it’s not ok.

    • Magnolia says:

      When it was him and his wife together talking to me like enthusiastic friends, it felt like friendly strategizing, and so I entertained the same kind of talk from him for a while, but now I see how I left myself exposed.

      One thing I learned when I was in Kansas dealing with the StudentHost who suddenly wanted to know about “us” and was leaving flowers in my locker after I’d fled his place, was that alerting “the authorities” to this stuff means following through. You can’t just give them a little heads-up, once you say something, there are statements to give and the university wants to cover its butt around liability.

      The upshot of that is that it puts the whistle-blower at the centre of crappy attention, and makes her look like a victim. Even though I’m not a victim.

      I personally don’t want all the accomplishments I gained these past months to get overshadowed and devalued by suddenly publicly declaiming this guy as a douche. I have tried to avail myself of HR support more than once in my life to deal with harassment and almost every time, the damage to my credibility made me question whether it was worth it, even if reporting is the “right” thing to do. In an ideal world, such reporting helps and the bad guy gets a reprimand that means something; in reality the guy gets rapped on the knuckles and a report goes in his file and then people gossip about the poor girl that got harassed.

      He emailed this morning wanting to meet. I said I’ll be too busy for anything other than work until the end of term. That should do it.

      Next level of escalation would be putting something in writing, but only to him, asking him to stop. (When I went to HR before over harassment, they asked me: did you ever tell him directly to leave you alone? Do you have proof that you did?). So that would be the next stage.

      Only if he persisted after I put a request to be left alone in writing, would I take it further.

      Considering this post is about natural consequences, I thought I’d lay out what I plan to do: I wish I’d known what other women had done in this situation the first time I had a boss being inappropriate with me. Not to say my way is the only way; it’s just what makes me most comfortable.

      • Mymble says:

        You’re right, making a harassment complaint is the nuclear option, and while it may have to come that, I wouldnt press the red button till you really are sure there’s no other way to shake him off. And leave a clear audit trail for all interactions with him.

      • grace says:

        You do what you think is best. I had a boss who was a little too touchy feely with me on one occasion. It was a social event, outside the office. It did make me uncomfortable but I didn’t report it to HR, I didn’t feel the need. I stepped back from it, and he stepped back too. Years later, he has a girlfriend and I am able to have lunch with him, and chat about religion and the meaning of life.
        Not every inappropriate action needs to be escalated and if you’re sure of yourself, you can handle it by yourself. That said, don’t overestimate yourself either. Only you can tell if this man is dangerous, so do still be careful.

  36. Tired says:

    Im a lucky one as he doesnt try and contact me . As a posted said i think some realise that as soon as we see them for what they are they cant stay around . He knew i didnt believe him anymore . I put up with the bullshit for a couple of months at the time i didnt know it but do now . Id never keep a ex ac or ex mm or whatever in my life .You cant heal or get over it if they are around . They have the power to mess with youre head and emotions and sense of worth . Its a constant reminded . As i walked today i thought . He cant hurt me or lie to me or use me anymore . And that gave me a enormous sense of well being . He can peddle his bs some where eles .

    • jewells says:

      Too right Tired, spot on. That’s exactly the sentiment I came to myself. We really are better off without them, if they are around they mess with our heads, when they’re gone, we can sort through the shite and figure out what’s what and thank our lucky stars they aren’t around anymore.
      On another note, I wish you’d change your name. You are so much more deserving than that moniker you’ve given yourself. And the power of self talk is immense as has been pointed out to me in the past and I found to be very true. I’d love to see you change it to something more fitting to the the strong capable fearless woman you know you are and are working towards unleashing on the world…what do you say? Any suggestions from the gallery?

      • tired says:

        Thanks jewells
        I will change it when im a bit more down the line. Whats burning me up at the mo is the new victim has bought him a ten grand buisness. Its like hey for some cheats do prosper.its like he just walked away from a in debt life to a better one .whats burning me up is i so want to tell him what i think of him .i want him to know that there is at least one person that knows what he really is . I havent but its shifting that desire into somthing positive for me .

        • jewells says:

          Well, my therapist pointed out yesterday that emotions transform other emotions…healthy anger can transform your energy into another form that enhances YOUR life. It’s ok to feel what you do about him, I’ve definitely had the same thoughts, we got duped, taken advantage of, lied to, overall treated disrespectfully…what’s not to be angry about? Let it run it’s course to where it motivates you in your life for you. It will eventually break you free if you honour it. Emotions are energy in motion.

          • jewells says:

            Oh and if you must think of his ‘material gains’, think of it this way: they are ill gotten gains, and ill gotten gains never bring happiness…

        • Allison says:


          Time to stop focusing on this guy all the time! I never hear about you and your participation, but about how bad he is and how he is treating others.

          He is no longer a part of your life, and you have no control over what he does. Leave it be!

          It’s time to focus on you, and MOVE ON!

  37. Sherri says:

    Hey Everyone!

    Bar-b-que….My place….Saturday!!! BYOB!

    If only!……

    I would love to have Natalie & everyone who has been part of the conversation on this post to be together to continue the interaction! What has been posted here has been of inestimable help to me as I FINALLY leave my EUM (husband) behind after 32, yes you read that right, 32 years of chaos!!! Love to all!….

  38. teachable says:

    I understand yr points totally Magnolia. Sounds like you have a plan for the way forward & that’s the main thing. I did mean to add another option would be notifying him in writing that his behaviour is making u feel uncomfortable & that you request that it ceases, to him only, via email, as a next possible step. That would be following the least intrusive next step action if needed, which is a good way of hopefully preventing things esculating.

    Good luck! A general.backing off with this fellow might also not go astray so he see’s that yr words are aligned with yr behaviour (not that you’re initiating it, but you can cease to engage, to a point at least, in anything not strictly work related). This may help to untangle any misaprehensions on his part. Unfortunately, I suspect though that there aren’t any. He is exactly as you describe. A few more doses of no BS straight talk from you will hose him down no doubt.

  39. teachable says:

    Grace, I understand yr boss being a inappropriately touchy feely that one time but bear in mind Magnolia is describing a pattern of behaviour with this guy, not a single event. I feel sorry for Magnolia being subjected to such a thing. It must be awful thinking one has found a supportive work colleague & then realising, he has weird creepy motives. Magnolia’s concerns abt how to handle it are all very valid so I understand tht too & not wanting to esculate things for fear of not being supported by HR or viewed as the victim afterwards. In my union rep days I recall what I think what was called the principle of ‘natural justice’ (soz memory bit hazy now) but it’s where any sort of work complaint ought to be dealt with by the next least intrusive fair measure of remedy. Magnolia’s plan fits that framework so is sound (if the behaviour continues that is).

    I only mentioned blind cc’ing a direct higher up in the first instance as tht would cover Magnolia if this guy, subsequent to her rejecting his advances, badmouthed her to her higher ups. The situation couldn’t be construed as definate harrassment unless the behaviour continued after Magnolia had requested it to cease (which hopefully it wouldn’t). If there isn’t trust that the situation would remain in Magnolia’s control though due to concerns abt liability I would perhaps not do that.

    I agree Magnolia is best placed to judge how best to proceed. An awful situation all round. Sending best wishes yr way Magnolia & hoping the situation resolves soon!

    ps also hoping the wife isnt in on it & he’s not grooming you with the idea of a threesone. not sure why but that did cross my mind (but who knows)?

  40. lo j says:

    Magnolia … What Ellyb said. Spot on. When you are your on cheerleader, you won’t need the reassurances of others. Be your own advocate. You’ve got this.

  41. Curling Iron says:

    Jeez, Magnolia! Take care! Here is a predator, through and through! No easy way out. Back out slowly, calmly, smiling through your teeth. Your plan to document everything is brilliant. Keep at it. I had shivers just reading your account. Hope you have some close friends you can talk live about this unfolding drama.

  42. teachable says:

    Well here is my no BS outcome with my former friend. I decided to not bother even going to veiw the music gear she wants to sell as I didn’t want to have any further contact. I took my cue for this from anon’s post in a previous thread which astutely pointed out any communication with.this person WILL cause me harm. I realised anon was RIGHT so thanku anon.

    Iawoke really ill & was vomiting all day so too sick to go & look at the stuff today anyway, as had been planned (on account of another friend being interested in one item. I will now tell that friend it sold already. A white lie but one which will save me a lot of shite). Instead I sent a short text saying I’d changed my mind abt possibly helping, apologised, & couldn’t help but take the opportunity to remind her I had said NO when she first asked me about doing this some mths bk. (ie this was my way of pointing out actually, if she wasnt attempting to bust my boundaries in the first place, by asking me AGAIN, even though I’d already said NO, notably now at a time when I am more financially vulnerable, she wouldn’t be in the position of me now having to say no, a second time).

    I offered no reasons for changing my mind & instead just apologised & signed off. Feeling much better now. A big headache I didnt need (& it turned out she was fully aware of this as she replied saying it would have been ‘complicated’ for me to sell the stuff for her anyway. I didn’t reply but note this didn’t stop her from TWICE trying to dump this task on me! Ugh.)

  43. teachable says:

    PS Can I just add that was not easy to do as I truely am dead broke.

    Still, I will consider I just paid myself chickenfeed for keeping my self esteem in tact & ridding myself once for all of this person!

    My BS detector is now on high alert (& I need to be quite ruthless with it.)

    Please wish me luck. Hell continues here…

  44. teachable says:

    Jeepers WishUponAStar, yr in a bad way! Re friending this guy? Ahh, no. That will only bring you more pain.

    I’m not fully up with yr story but will try to catch up. Hard to say much in the meantime except look up all you can (including Nat’s posts) on self esteem. U need a good shot of this & fast!

    Hang in there! Things do get better as we learn to make better choices. Not befriending the twerp who caused you so much pain would be a good start.

    Hugs. T x

  45. teachable says:

    Let me put that in the context of this post WishUponAStar.

    HIS natural consequence for causing YOU pain with his BS is that the PRIVILEDGE of yr friendship is withdrawn!

    See? Why reward bad behaviour? Unless you’re not done yet (& these things can be a process so I do understand)…

  46. teachable says:

    You know wish, I remember feeling like you do now a couple of yrs back. I was given a ‘get of jail’ free card for my heart when my partner who I was estranged from at the time (split up with on one of my many nc attempts) suddenly died. Sadly, in my case this man’s appearance in my life after a 17 yr absence heralded very little happiness to my – this time around due to my discovery he had been cheating on me & I was resolute in my final nc attempt. Ironic, as I’m one of the last ppl he tried to contact before he suddenly died; a guesture I ignored (he did not realise death was so near. I had been telling him otherwise for some time on account of his addiction issues..When I discovered the cheating I walked for good & after confronting him by email I never spoke to him again).

    I felt like you do now when I split with him 17 yrs ago though. He was far less troubled then, & I did not know of any.cheating. Still, he was troubled enough for me to walk & say, ‘come bk when u’v got yr shit together’. That break up was heartbreaking. I truely loved this person very deeply back then. I want you to know it does get better though, if you give it time & stay the course.

    Not filling the void in yr life w another r.ship is a great way to start as is nc. Yr doing great. Hang in there & I promise u WILL know happiness again, even w.out him.

    Hugs. T x

  47. Wolly says:

    I have an older sister who before I kept giving her seconds chances giving her another millionth chance to milk me, use me, and run me and my mother dry. It took me a while to really step back because I love her but I also refuse to be disrespected. I really needed to read this I feel very empowered by your posts. God bless you <3

  48. I recently put what I learned by reading this post into practice and the result is the loss of a long standing friendship which saddens me but it had to be done. What did she do that was so bad? Basically busted by boundaries hardcore. I tried forgiving her ‘for the sake of the friendship’ but found that I really couldn’t forgive her without giving up something I valued more, my dignity. She still cannot admit to any wrong doing as she says she did it out of concern for me. In any case I hope that some good will come of it one day. You can read about it here:

  49. Wild orchid says:

    Dear nat: I think you’re really hard on people; there’s nothing wrong with expecting a lot from someone but, we who can possibly follow all these rules all the time? People make mistakes, lapses in judgment, miscalculations, etc., – do u ever feel like it’s ok to just give someone a hug and tell them it’s gonna b alright? Btw I do love reading your stuff – even if it makes me feel sorry for the target of the post/article. It always pays to treat people with kindness, caring & empathy. ALWAYS!


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.