esc key from the keyboardIf you’ve ever found yourself struggling to get over a relationship that didn’t get off the ground, was unreciprocated, or was largely virtual, you may not realise that you’ve been involved in a fantasy relationship although you may have uttered the words, “I can’t figure out what was real and what wasn’t!”

While some people do the atypical fantasy and conjure up a relationship and a connection that doesn’t and never did exist, what I come across are people who are stuck in a sustained period of continuing a ‘connection’ mentally that’s ceased in real life with the help of the internet, and then those who use the flimsiest of connections as a springboard to create a connection and relationship in their imagination that far surpasses reality.

These situations are often borne out of loneliness, a fear of rejection and intimacy, and great feelings of inadequacy. The more knocks you experience in the real world that you’re trying to avoid, the bigger a cocoon that you’ll build around yourself.

Expectations and illusions have a huge impact on emotional availability and the dynamics in a relationship. When you consider the unhealthy beliefs that you can carry when you have a habit of being in unavailable relationships, it’s also easy to see how you can have an unrealistic picture of what a relationship looks like and how you can choose unavailable people to try to fill voids within you.

Of course the trouble is that while they can often have some ‘good’ qualities, the ones that add up to a mutual, healthy relationship are thin on the ground and they’re under-qualified to fulfil capabilities and expectations that you place on them. One of the things they do do though that’s very useful for those of you prone to overuse of your imagination, is remain distant, so while that does have its frustrations when you want them to make certain things a reality, truth be told, the distance works for you and leaves you free to imagine whatever you like.

Any relationship or even the prospect of one, where there was some level of emotional investment takes some time to get over, but it’s safe to say that it can be awfully difficult to let go of a relationship that didn’t actually exist or what did, was as flimsy as a sandcastle built in the sky. What many people don’t recognise about grieving the loss of relationships is that it’s not just about when you break a relationship; it can also be about grieving the loss of hope and what you thought might be and some of you aren’t doing this and are in fact, holding tight not only to the dream but a massive avoidance of rejection. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious circle because the more you avoid your feelings, is the more you remain in denial, is the more unavailable you become, is the greater likelihood of either opening yourself up to pain with this Mr/Miss Unavailable, or finding fresh pain with a new one.

If you have a tendency to have crushes, get lost in your feelings, continue feeling even when it becomes clear it’s not reciprocated, or can weave a fantasy relationship out of words and your imagination, you’re a Dreamer. Carrying a huge fear of intimacy, you find it safer to live in your mental world rather than risk a ‘real’ rejection. While all Fallback Girls (and guys) have avoidance issues and are chasing a feeling, you don’t truly want to get close to anyone – you want that “feeling” from a distance.

Your mind is very rarely in the present and you’re very ‘dreamy’ and have often been doing your imaginary world thing for a very long time, possibly since childhood or after you experienced a traumatic event. It may be a learned coping mechanism for shutting out anything ‘unpleasant’ that’s eating up too much reality and causing you to feel vulnerable. Often, all you need is a little attention or for them to be in possession of a couple of characteristics or qualities that you overvalue, for you to create a connection that ignites your imagination.
In theory, you can become involved with any unavailable person including in particular, Transitionals, Cheaters, and Opportunists but particularly in these modern times, you’re most likely to be caught out with the Shopper.

Fond of collecting attention, you’re highly likely to find them online or hiding behind their phone. Like all Unavailables, they’re an intimacy dodger and like to keep themselves as distant as possible by fuelling most of the communication through words and never meeting you, or only doing so very occasionally and coming up with the most absurd reasons for why it hasn’t happened yet.

In some respects, they’re a Dreamer themselves but are often more conscious of it due to them having the upper hand in the relationship. That said, they wouldn’t take any responsibility for any promises made off the back of the dreaming. They’re also the type that ‘fishes’ with ambiguous texts, leaves you waiting on Skype, asks you to transfer some money to them after you’ve only known them for a month because their sister has been in an ‘accident’, or has you waiting in every night for a call at a certain time while they’re off pestering someone else or feathering their nest elsewhere.

If you’re entirely honest with yourself, which may be difficult when you’re prone to fantasy, you feel much more secure and in control in your illusionary world than you do in real life.

I’ve read enough mails and comments from readers to know that sometimes you can become so overwhelmed by your experiences and the pain, and lose so much confidence in yourself that you feel helpless to deal with a real relationship and take comfort in your imagination where everything feels and looks a lot better.

Unfortunately in real life, you’re still a Fallback Girl/Guy and while you’re immersed in your feelings and imagination, you miss out on some very obvious signs that all is not well. You don’t register that you’re not being ‘matched’, or that they’ve left the building or were never even there, or that who you think they are is not actually who you’re involved with.

While all this ‘loving’ and ‘trusting’ blindly opens you up to at best being taken advantage of and at worst being abused if you’re involved with someone, if you’re not, it can cause you to become very numb and struggle to discern fiction from reality. On top of this, you lose significant chunks of your life.

You’re an ideal match for an over-estimating, Future Faking, Fast Forwarding, dreaming, attention seeking, and in need of an ego stroke Unavailable.

Shoppers can toss you some words and some pipe dreams in crumb rations and sustain this flimsy relationship for years. While they may not be aware of your dreamy tendencies at the outset, when it becomes clear you’re in LaLa Land and it doesn’t set off alarm bells and have them backing away, they rationalise that it’s not their fault that you’ve got “carried away” and that they’ll pass time with you.

This is one of those situations where it might be all you, but if there’s an Unavailable in the equation, then someone’s benefitting from your fantasy ways. That doesn’t remove your accountability but it’s important to get back to base here: You’re a Fallback that chooses people that reflect your beliefs and allow you to remain in your comfort zone.

While your fantasies and crushes may have involved some Mr/Miss Availables, it’s more likely that they didn’t because an available person poses a risk of vulnerability and intimacy which you’re trying to avoid, so you’ll choose your ‘marks’ well because they’ll be attached, or immersed in their own problems, sitting at the end of a computer etc. Of course, as is always the case with unavailable relationships, eventually reality pierces the illusion bubble and much pain results.

Your thoughts?

This is an excerpt from one of the forthcoming mini guides that will be accompanying Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. More info coming soon! And yes there is one on Miss Independent/Miss Self Sufficient, The Other Woman, and even a Miss Understanding. The new edition of Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl is now available to buy both in print and in digital formats plus check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and and more in my bookshop.

Image source: MichaelAW on SXC

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275 Responses to The Dreamer & the Shopper: Have you inadvertently found yourself in a fantasy relationship?

  1. colororange says:

    This post is me up and down and all ways around. Where do I start?!

    “These situations are often borne out of loneliness, a fear of rejection and intimacy, and great feelings of inadequacy. The more knocks you experience in the real world that you’re trying to avoid, the bigger a cocoon that you’ll build around yourself.”

    Like most of us, I have had plenty of knocks in life but sometimes I think I might have left the world completely though my body is in it. When the stuff keeps happening, there is so much I can take. I am not so sure that saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is really true. It feels like some of what has happened to me has killed or paralyzed parts of me. It has hurt so bad and you don’t know what to do except go into that cocoon. Then I hear that I attract this and I’m thinking “how the hell did I attract such poor behavior from parents as a child??”

    “Your mind is very rarely in the present and you’re very ‘dreamy’ and have often been doing your imaginary world thing for a very long time, possibly since childhood or after you experienced a traumatic event. It may be a learned coping mechanism for shutting out anything ‘unpleasant’ that’s eating up too much reality and causing you to feel vulnerable. Often, all you need is a little attention or for them to be in possession of a couple of characteristics or qualities that you overvalue, for you to create a connection that ignites your imagination.”

    I spent tons of time as a child talking to myself and imaginary “friends”. I was quite creative in my imaginary world. It’s true as in the case with married guy. When I first met him, my radar went off the charts. I was immediately attracted to him and once I figured out he was “intelligent’ and “good with words” I was smitten, hard. I took his long winded emails and texts and ran with it. All the while he was dodging me and hiding it from his g/f (now wifey). It felt like he was having sex with me with his words (I don’t mean cyber sex or sexting). It was the way he wrote. I had him all colored up nicely in my fantasy but realistically he was an opportunist. I thought there was hope there, that something could come of us. And no. I know he was getting something out of my “fantasy” ways.

    • NML says:

      Hi Colororange. I loved “I had him all colored up nicely in my fantasy but realistically he was an opportunist.” You were filling up the picture with your preferred ‘colours’. Based on what you’ve shared in comments in previous posts, I think it’s unsurprising that you would fantasise. It was an escape from what was a pretty difficult and unpleasant reality in your childhood. I think though that it’s important to re-emphasise that you didn’t attract that behaviour from your parents. They would have been that way whether you were there or not. It’s not like they were on a fast track to a perfect life being perfect people and you came along and they thought “Eff it. We’ve had Colororange now. Sod decent behaviour – there’s something about her that ‘makes’ me want to be bad”. Yes it is your childhood but at the same time, it’s still important that now you are an adult that you don’t continue to make other people’s crappy behaviour, even those of your parents about you.

      If you had a child and you ended up neglecting and mistreating them, whose fault would it be? Would it be the child’s or would it be yours?

      • grace says:

        There are four of us, we have different personalities, and my parents mistreated us all from a very young age. I used to think it was because they were tired/stressed/ unhappy. Or we were difficult. Or, or, or .. Then my sister and brother went on to have children of their own and I saw what love is.
        If you haven’t seen love up close never mind experienced it, it’s hard to know what it is. Is it drama, battles, butterflies, admiration, charm, fantasy, attraction, sex, common interests, a good time, fun, suffering, an endurance test, a big game, flattery, attention? Until we know what it is, we chase illusions.
        To learn what it is, observe the love around you. And love yourself. If you can’t treat yourself right you can’t treat other people right (you may think you are, but it’s more like control and dependency). And you can’t be treated right – you reject it cos it feels wrong.

      • colororange says:

        It occurred to me last night that my dad is an opportunist as well. He went on for years saying he didn’t really want my mom, that she kept chasing after him (blaming her for his sticking around). He would bring up this relationship he had with another woman over 35 years ago that was the only time he was happy in his life. She left him, as he says, because of his drinking. I actually tried looking her up on Facebook to see where she was now. I never found her.

        Mom kept giving and giving and chasing. Dad did everything but kill her though he threatened to at one point. And she let him. Dad took the opportunity of this woman (my mom) of taking care of him in any way imaginable and abused her all the while. He hangs around occasionally and mom will give him food or money for cancer sticks (cigarettes).


        If I mistreated a child, it would not be because of that child. It would be because of me. I am formulating a new story, a better one even if I get sidetracked at times out of fear or habit. A part of the new story is if I do get involved with a man again that he is open and receptive to my feelings and takes responsibility for his own. Oh, and that he is available.

        • metsgirl says:

          You may not realize it but we all act out of that “child place”. I can say with some certainty that you (as a child) did not encourage your parents poor behavior but I sure bet you “believe” that it was because of something you did or didnt do (or something close to that effect).

          That’s how we attract the same poor behavior. We know how to deal with it and work around it…hence we attract what we’re comfortable with and believe about ourselves. We didn’t do a damn thing to deserve or encourage bad behavior but we sure know how to attract the familiar

  2. Lara says:

    This is soooo me. After being in a series of long-term relationships where I was the unavailable one I set my sights on an emotionally unavailable man. I fell head over heels for him but I now realize it was a cop out because I knew he would never cause me to step out of my comfort zone and be truly available. Why is it the only man I have ever really “loved” was this one and I could not find it in me to love those who were great to me. I used them horribly. How do I heal? How do I change?

  3. slow learner says:

    Wow! It is like you know me and my situation! Your blogs have become so helpful to me, especially in between therapist appointments.

    • NML says:

      You’re very welcome Slow Learner and glad to help.

    • Em says:

      slow learner; I love your nick ;) While I take other sorts of knowledge and information in very rapidly and with ease; when it comes to this kind of stuff I am far below average learning speed.

  4. Skyscraper says:

    Ouch. I’ve spent the past four years in dreamland as a harem-ette with one of these guys. The hardest part of getting up off the velvet pillow for good is admitting that I have been CHOOSING this because it meets my (unhealthy) needs. It’s been far easier just to call him an assclown and whine about the bizarreness of it all.

    • NML says:

      And there you have it Skyscraper. *That* is being real with yourself and understanding why you avoid action.

    • Em says:

      Skyscraper: it took me two years to get to the part where I realise a lot of the unhealthiness here is caused by my reactions and my preferences. It´s not that I´ve been denying anything I´ve really known, it´s that I honestly haven´t seen my part in it before recently. This blog is such a treasure.

  5. dawn says:

    OUCH!!!! that hurt reading so many painful truths. Very well put Natalie, now what do I do now that I know this truth? Run, don’t walk right?

    • NML says:

      Yep Dawn and focus on getting back into reality where yes there will be some cold, hard truths that await you but nothing that you can’t handle. Then you can get on with *living* your life.

  6. Fantasy Girl says:

    I met a MM at work. In friendly conversation, he let me know right off the bat he was married. Over the next two months I began to notice that I was very aware of him – I didn’t think of it as sexual but it probably was. (later it became the most intense attraction I’ve had.) Then, I noticed him smiling and also smiling and looking down when he’d see me. Finally, I spoke to him again to relieve the tension. He asked me if I wanted to get drinks that night. We did. He told me he wanted an affair. I told him I would never sleep with a MM. We spent a year getting drinks and relaxing after work. I was vocal about the way I felt about him (I adored him altho I would not sleep with him) and he was pretty clear that he just wanted sex. He ALWAYS had to drink around me but I understood because he made me incredibly nervous and I needed one too. (but not 6 like him) In the beginning he told me it was love at first sight. Then he said just wanted to be friends. Then he told me he mentioned me to someone and he was thinking of leaving his wife (in vague terms). We would spend time together and end up fighting because of our circumstance. Me wanting to date him as a single man. Him wanting me for sex as a MM. We have both gone back and forth about being platonic and sexual. Long story short, after a year he told me that he didn’t want to speak to me anymore because I wasn’t having sex with him. Now, while I am very happy I didn’t sleep with him (only because he is a dishonest cheater), I still miss his company. If I saw him again, I am sure I would still be sexually attracted the same as before if not more. How do I get this MM out of my head? I keep telling myself that it was all lies but he was so off about the whole thing, I can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t still have feelings too. What I mean is, he wasn’t a slick cheater so it makes me wonder. But, then maybe it was because I was so “honest” he thought he could have his way with me. He basically said all the wrong things like he wanted to push me away from even having sex with him. As far as sex plans went (he is very tied to the homefront on the weekends and he needed to make plans) he was very demeaning and treated me like I should just have sex with him anywhere just because he wanted to. Can anyone make sense of this? Or is this MM business as usual. He put ME on NC for not sleeping with him and will not return a text. This whole thing has me beyond confused!!!

    • I’d just be thankful that you had enough guts and self-awareness not to sleep with him, and move on.

      He treated you like cr*p, however you justify it. And he treated his wife that way too. You don’t need to know anything else.

    • grace says:

      Stop seeing him, stop all contact with him.
      Yes it’s business as usual. Even the fact that you didn’t have sex with him is business as usual. I didn’t have sex with “my” MM but still got screwed. Plenty of men and women are getting screwed over by people they’r enot having sex with.
      There is nothing remotely special about any of this. There is nothing special about his feelings for you. He is not your friend. It’s not platonic. He IS a cheater. It IS all lies. You WEREN’T being honest. You can’t date a MM.
      Time to get back to reality.

      • Fantasy Girl says:

        Okay ladies. I permanently deleted MM’s contact info and all pictures. *wipes hands clean* Done and done! Whew. That was a close one. Natalie, I found your site in the midst of one of our “NC” phases and it was because of you and everyone here that I was able to hold my resolve. Ultimately, it was a learning experience. It was a slightly rough one but it was worth it. This site is a lifesaver! Thanks again Natalie and everyone here.

        • A says:

          “He was very demeaning and treated me like I should just have sex with him anywhere just because he wanted to.”

          I think that says it all, Fantasy–the guy is a selfish asshole. No matter what good you may see in him, that’s not someone you want in your life. He’s done you a favour by going NC.

      • Tanzanite says:

        Hi Grace

        I know you aren’t trying to be funny but when you said- you weren’t having sex but still got screwed ,I laughed out loud.

    • NML says:

      Fantasy Girl, he’s slick alright. There he is a *married man* slinking around behind his wife’s back and he’s cutting you off because you didn’t shag him? That’s some mind f*ckery right there. What is a shame is that you didn’t bounce his arse when you realised he was married. I see enough overuse of the word ‘sex’ in your comment to know that this is largely sexually motivated – all the other talk was just ‘props’ to create an illusion of a future so he could get your knickers down. You miss his company? What company? The moments sandwiched in between being a husband? Him ‘hanging out’ with you after work and winding down with you like a gin and tonic? He actually said that he wanted an affair. Someone who actually isn’t looking for a shag around the block and to cheat wouldn’t say this. He’s just another married guy trying to get into your pants. He’s played semi nice, he’s fed you various lines, you’ve hung out, stroked his ego and acted like an accompaniment to his alcoholic drink to help him numb himself to his real problems and after attempting to cash in a years worth of assholery chips for sex and getting declined, he’s out. It would be far easier to get sex from someone else. And he probably will because it’s all he wants.

      • grace says:

        I used to think you were too blunt but after commenting here for a while, this is how blunt we have to be with OWs ( and I was one). And even then, they/I often don’t get it! It really is a fantasy world.
        And Fantasy, because I know the denial runs deep, you’ll be saying to yourself “he must really like me to try to seduce me for a whole year”. That would simply make the sex better for him. He’d feel like an all conquering Sex God! You’ve seen Dangerous Liaisons? Michelle Pfeiffer was like a lamb to the slaughter. So, if he comes back, don’t imagine it’s because he loves you so much and misses you, you must have sex with him. You would regret it.

        • NML says:

          I’ve been Fantasy Girl, only he got into my knickers from the outset *snorts with laughter* But I’ve done the whole hanging out after work and yada yada yada. I’m on a low BS diet which means that aside from not BSng myself, I don’t do it to others and I think that if people want the whole ‘win him back’ or extra BS, they won’t stick around here for a hot minute. I had a reader email me a while back to tell me that she’d initially believed me to be bitter, harsh, a bitch, talking nonsense, who did I think I was etc. As I read it my whole face went bright red. She then went off, did various stints of ‘get your ex back’ and came back to read the site again and all my books and then thanked me and apologised.

          Fantasy Girl, you might think the very same thing, but if you give this man anymore attention or even sleep with him, I hope you remember what I’ve said to you. You’re better than some jumped up guy trying to play the long game for a shag behind his wife’s back who then has the cheek to blame him ending ‘it’ on you not sleeping with him.

          • Fantasy Girl says:

            Natalie, I adore you and everyone else here! I want to hear the truth from people who know and understand. This was my first foray into the MM world and had I not experienced myself, I never would have believed it. I was living in a fantasy or trying to anyway – he was too much of an assclown to allow me to completely delude myself. I still do not understand the MM/OW dynamic but it fascinates me. It is quite an intoxicating cocktail that quickly turns to sickness and hangover. I am done. I just needed to hear some words from my sisters because this was new territory for me and the whole thing is perplexing to say the least. No man I have ever known would chase a woman or pretend to chase a woman for 12 months. I half expect him to get in touch again but I am not interested. I told him it was ridiculous to complain about all this time passing with no sex when he is MARRIED and I don’t want to be the OW… right before he iced me so maybe that had something to do with it ;-). These cheating married men are amazing. The leave a such a path of destruction. I am surprised they are so cavalier about it. Truly. I think I am fabulous, deserve better and don’t want any stds (but I did want to shag him.) I think we mutually used each other. But, I’m done.

            Thank you ladies!!!

        • Natasha says:

          Grace, it’s not just the OW’s that need the blunt truth. My assclown wasn’t married, but sweet jelly sandiwches did I need some unvarnished truth up in my world. Enter Nat! On a related note, I was thinking of you Ms. Grace, because you wrote a comment back to me when I first went NC and was questioning if my whole hot mess of a relationship was all my fault and feeling very low. What you wrote helped me so much, so if I didn’t thank you properly then, I want to now. You are amazing.

          Nat, your comment about getting into knickers from the outset has me dying laughing! I snort when I laugh too. Loudly. I’ve decided that it’s cute. My assclown got into mine straight away as well (back when I was 24, I’m now 30 and they are practically welded in place) and it’s kind of funny in retrospect, because I thought I was having My First One Night Stand. He called me the next day and I thought, “Ohmygod! He likes me!” and proceeded to ignore every single red flag from then on (from then on = five years) based on that. Many times I’d wished I could go back in time and put 24 year-old Natasha in a cab home. At least 30 year-old Natasha knows not to answer his lazy-ass texts :)

          • grace says:

            Aw Natasha thanks.
            The great thing about this blog is knowing that I’m not the only one chronically attracted to idiots and that there IS a solution. I thought there was something uniquely and mysteriously wrong with me.
            It’s terrific that we don’t just bemoan our fates and lick our wounds. We get a shove in the right direction and do we need it!

          • Natasha says:

            “Chronically attracted to idiots” has me dying laughing!! That’s what I love about this blog too – especially because Nat gives real, concrete advice on how to get on the path forward. If I hadn’t found this, I would still be replying to “I miss our connection.” texts! That thought scares me to the extent that I feel I should be dressing up like a Blackberry for Halloween ;)

          • jupiter23 says:

            My EUM relationship lasted a little under five years. Those years went by so fast.

            One thing that helped me finally let go was thinking that I could easily let another five years go on like this. And then I would be saying my “10 Year EUM Relationship.” Didn’t want that to happen.

          • Natasha says:

            Yes, Jupiter, how the time does fly in a non-relationship! I remember reading the 1st version of Nat’s book and she was talking about boomerang relationships (mine was one too) and how she could have ended up “in a 10 year ‘relationship’ without knowing it”. So true. Not sure if yours was boomerang too, but it never feels like the years are going by because they tend to flee the scene sooner, rather than later once they’ve made their “comeback”. After the final debacle, it occurred to me that I’d known this guy for five years and it had never progressed into anything. If I remember correctly, I burst into tears upon this realization haha! The idea of wasting even more time is an excellent deterrent – AGREED.

      • Fantasy Girl says:

        He told me he had casual sex with at least one other woman (not his wife) during the year I knew him when he was drunk. He made it seem like he didn’t even like it. He was mortified after telling me that. We have NC’d each other twice now, I think during this whole thing. I iced him because he treated me poorly, he’d come back and be nice. Then he’d ice me because he wasn’t getting laid. I believe I am in a cycle. That’s why I needed to hear from you ladies to stop the madness!

        • jupiter23 says:

          I know others have already said this. But I am so happy for you that you never slept with him. Even though you did put yourself in a precarious and wrong situation, you saved yourself so much pain.

          Added: Just read the below comment :)

  7. Fantasy Girl says:

    I would also like to add that I am SO happy I did not sleep with him. To me, his behavior suggests that he could easily sleep with me and then go NC. That would be devastating and I feel for all of you who have been through that.

    • D says:

      That happened to me too, although in super quick succession– we met, got to “know” each other, and one night when I was in his room I didn’t feel right and left. I didn’t sleep with him because I just didn’t want to, and not with someone I’d barely just met… two weeks later he went NC on me and I cut him out of my life.

      I admit, I did feel a bit annoyed after that and a little upset, but now I’m so proud of past me and having the guts to make the decision. At the time when I refused his advances he taunted me by saying ‘Oh, I know you’re not that kind of girl.’

      …And I bet he wondered why I didn’t have sex with him? Good on you though for not cavng in… Go NC with him for real, he really sounds like he’s just after you for sex and he’s flip flopping and pursuing because you’re putting up a fight. Don’t expect a relationship with an unlikely source such as a married man who just wants your body. It’ll only end in tears. You may be attracted to him but he’s too much of a headache, and he won’t make you happy.

      • NML says:

        Very true D and good on you also for walking. D and Fantasy Girl, there is another reason (of many ) why we dodge the sex – you’re in reality enough to recognise that this is very sexually motivated and that the moment you ‘hand over the goods’, they’ll be gone. The possibility of sex is what’s used to hold them but quite frankly, you don’t want to hold onto anyone this way.

        • Fantasy Girl says:

          I have to say, the main reason (other than the fact he is a MM) I refused to sleep with him is because we worked together. I really wanted to though!!! I would also like to add that this guy confided all kinds of stuff in me, things you would never tell anyone. Those crumbs kept me guessing. I am sure that is part of the playbook too. He definitely tried the “I don’t want to have sex with my wife” “She doesn’t like to give head” “She’s stupid, not intelligent like you.” Bullshit. He also admonished me not to say anything bad about his wife too…while he was trying to bed me which I found bizarre. This guy was all over the place! Glad I got a new job or I may have continued to be under his spell.

          Anyway, there was no way I was going to be a f*ck and chuck…at work. I knew he was capable of that. As a matter of fact, one night when he was hammered he even said “You know after I have sex with you, it will be over, right?” and laughed. 7 months later, I asked him if he was just in it for sex, I just wanted a straightforward answer. He said, “I can’t say that’s true anymore. It’s more complicated now.”

          Yeah. Right. Totally fantasy. Flush!

          • NML says:

            Your ex is a loser and a douche Fantasy Girl. Unfortunately he’s like a Barbie doll – there’s millions of him. The amount of men who use bullshit like their wife doesn’t sleep with or give them head is astounding. It plays to a competitive streak in women that has them thinking “I got this! She won’t sleep with him – I’ll ride him like a pony! She won’t give him head – he won’t be able to shake me off it. He’ll have to rip it out of my mouth” Thank goodness you didn’t shag him. Not getting sex or head is not a legitimate reason for cheating.

          • jupiter23 says:


            Yes, I’ve had almost these exact thoughts with the ex EUM. I will be so great in bed that I cannot be denied. I can laugh a little now but at the time it hurt.

            I would sit there and think, “I’ve done really well in school, have some scholarship out there, and all this guy sees me as is a sexual object. I have stuff to talk about!”

      • dawn says:

        He’s married, of course he’s only after you for sex and an ego stroke. Get your head outta the clouds, MM are married because they like the security it provides. They chase other women to see if they “still got it”. The more you pull back the more they push back. They like the chase and they like to conquer women who say i am not interested in being a mistress, they know you like them, so they figure if they keep pushing you you will eventually give in and they win, you lose. They are manipulators. They are abusive. Stay away from MM!!!!! Don’t delude yourself into thinking that they really care about you. They just want to conquer someone who doesn’t want to give them what they want. Don’t think for a second that they are in anyway shape or form good relationship material. Be a person who doesn’t even entertain that cheating is ok. It’s not ok, that’s why it’s called cheating.

    • grace says:

      Despite my earlier comment I don’t want anyone to run away with the idea that it makes no difference if you have sex or not. It makes a huge difference, especially to us. And at least you won’t get pregnant or catch an STD.
      However, a genuine friendship is more than “not having sex”. There are plenty of people I don’t have sex with. It doesn’t make them my friend.

      • Fantasy Girl says:

        For me, sex makes all the difference in maintaining self-control once they reject me.

        I have to say – I think I posted this above – we had some really deep conversations and shared a lot of very, very personal things. I had the fantasy that he really cared about me as a person and we were friends even though he tried to deny it. Wrong!

      • Fearless says:

        “It plays to a competitive streak in women that has them thinking “I got this! She won’t sleep with him – I’ll ride him like a pony! She won’t give him head – he won’t be able to shake me off it. He’ll have to rip it out of my mouth” ”

        Ha haa!! So true! Too funny. Have been laughing my head off on here tonight!

  8. Nylasammi says:

    You should also focus on how to fix the issues, instead of only illustrating the problems.

  9. Michelle says:

    Guilty as charged. Too much mental energy, but can’t seem to let go of a complete fabrication.

    • Michelle says:

      Mine I only went out once with once and I knew I should walk away. It was all very dramatic, or should i say i was very dramatic (which is actually unusual) and I keep thinking about him a month later, wondering if it was hard for him to not call me back (it was not), what he thinks of me (he isn’t) and what would happen if I saw him again (nothing), if he is lonely (no),and if is should call him (hell to the no!). I could use some help on how to stop, i know this is not healthy. I latched onto him looking and having on paper what my partner in my mind lookslike and does and is interested in. This all seems elusive where I live. The irony is he came on super strong before the date with texts etc, and on the date talked about all this stuff we would do, but then when I told him he was not really open and available because he would be in my city for 3 months and he was living “day to day” (said it more than once), then I am the one who is rejected.

      In my heart it feels not over, but in my mind, I know it is. How do I feel the feelings and move on?

      I feel like if I think about it enough, I can think of a way for him to like me again, and enough have been open and available past his time in my city, which was why I knew he not really open.

      • NML says:

        To be fair Michelle, it takes while for the feelings to catch up although I would question whether it’s your heart or your ego that feels not over him – they’re not the same thing. Based on going out once, I’d say it’s a mix of ego and imagination. You’re also not capable of Jedi mind tricks. No matter how much you scrunch up your face and get a constipated look and keep thinking, you’re not going to gain control of his mind and get him to like you and be open and available. You’re not the same person. If anything, you need to be asking yourself, what have you seen prior to the date and then the date itself, that warrants an emotional investment that is 3000 times the original date? That is disproportionate investment. WHat’s happened is a loss which you need to grieve but you should inject perspective to ensure you don’t get carried away.

        • Fantasy Girl says:

          “If anything, you need to be asking yourself, what have you seen prior to the date and then the date itself, that warrants an emotional investment that is 3000 times the original date? That is disproportionate investment.”

          Wow. Guilty. I really could have used this advice over the last 20 years! Better late than never!!!

        • Michelle says:

          I should be clear, I knew it is over in both my head and heart, my comment came off wrong. What I meant was my heart was sad when in both my head and heart knew it was over before it began, and did not know how to stop my heart from feeling sad and it seems like too long a time for thar. Anyhow, regardless, I know it is all ego, an journaling really helps get at the deeper hurt that happened long ago.

          I do inner child work, and I have a very stubborn ego/unloving child who wants to be heard even if my gut/loving child told me to walk away. She,s stubborn and angry and I am dialoginging to get there….

    • NML says:

      Michelle, it would be good to write down all of the reasons why you don’t want to let go of the fabrication. Those are what you need to address.

      • Fearless says:

        “it would be good to write down all of the reasons why you don’t want to let go of the fabrication. Those are what you need to address.”

        This is such great advice and has helped me a lot. I failed to understand exactly what it was that kept me invested in an EUM for years. I also think this is something we have to keep re-visiting as we push ourselves through NC – every time I feel that familiar ‘tug’ on my “heart” strings (or my ego strings!) I have to re-think all the reasons I had for not wanting to let go and see these for exactly what they are. Someone said recently on BR that she stopped thinking of “him” as the prize and started to think of her own happiness as the true “prize” – and by doing this she was able to stay real by thinking more about whether the guy was right *for her* and not about how she could impress *him* enough. This was one of those many little BR pearls of wisdom for me – thinking of “him” as some kind of prize to be won is all part of the illusion – an EUM or AC isn’t a prize – he’s a pest!

  10. That was all too frighteneingly true. Gah – sometimes I don’t like seeing my flaws laid out so clearly! Great post as usual Nat.

  11. Madeleine says:

    Thank you. All I could think about today was that I’ve finally woke up. I thought there was something ‘special’ about me b/c all the guys from my past would still call me; little did I know they are all laughing at me for answering their calls. Your writing has helped me see in me what I’ve been in denial about for years. I’m slowing getting my self esteem back and it feels SO GOOD. I now cry tears of joy instead of pain.

    • NML says:

      You’re very welcome Madeleine. Don’t assume the worst though and think they’re ‘laughing’ at you. If anything they’re mentally or even physically preening like peacocks.

  12. LarLa says:

    I am such a dreamer! My latest “relationship” is case in point. Except for a shared vacation where he used me as a soft warm body the entire thing was virtual. If the fooling around hadn’t happened I might have wised up before I did but probably not. He is a shopper. All (or most) contact online and he seems to get into a lot of long distance relationships. Right now he apparently has a girlfriend on the other side of the ocean. I need to come back to reality and hopefully this experience has taught me that. At least now I know that you can get past rejection.

    • NML says:

      Hi LarLa, the ‘wonderful’ thing about being a long distance relationship runner is that nobody gets close enough to find out the real them. They can be all hearts and flowers, emails, letters, texts, weekends away and fantasy plans. You have to wonder why someone primarily seems to only find themselves in long distance relationships. It’s not because they’re so amazing that they can’t find anyone closer to home – the distance works for them.

    • dawn says:

      Interesting thing about rejection. Rejection is your perception which you have created in your mind because you think this man (who is a 2 timing cheat in reality) is choosing someone else over you. What he’s doing is using people for what he can get out of them without having to choose either one. Taking advantage of you wanting a commited or serious relationship with them because they know that is what you want, so they bait the hook with that and use it to manipulate you into giving them what they want, because they know you are hoping that they will “choose you” and that you are “the one”. They know you will hang in there waiting for him. They are greedy, self centered people who want as many fish as they can hook and reel in. They want this woman because she gives him x and he wants this woman because she gives him y. He doesn’t want to have to give them fidelity in return. They play with your feelings and use them against you for their gain. Men like this are not relationship material. They want a playmate who give him what he wants and accept crumbs from him. He’s a wolf in sheeps clothing.

  13. Crazybaby says:

    OMG bang on the nail. Ouch. I love the feeling of being in love. Yes it hurts like hell when it’s not reciprocated, but just having that feeling, the butterflies, the warm and fuzzies, the anticipation. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I have what I call a Christmas Eve complex. When I was a kid Christmas was awful. I was the only child in the entire family, a family that felt children should be seen and not heard, and I was adopted to boot, so very much the black sheep. I loved all the excitement and anticipation and magic of Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day I’d get a handful of cheap presents, mostly games that required two people to play, no-one would give me any attention, and eventually I’d get grouchy, and then I’d be smacked and sent to bed. As soon as I was out of the way they’d be singing and laughing and having a great party without me. In my relationships I’ve always started out starry eyed, full of hope and magic, but then ended up with selfish, controlling men who never gave me much time or attention. It’s so tragic when you see the patterns yet don’t manage to break them, always believing that the man you’re seeing is so much better than his predecessors. I still hate Christmas. I am a dreamer. And yes it does bring me comfort, because the dream is as far as I ever seem to get :(

    • kirsten says:

      I too hate christmas, found out the ex hubby was cheating on me on a christmas eve about 6 years ago now. The alternate years that I have my son with me is fine but the ones I don’t are pretty crappy as I have no family nearby either. This year (crappy year) I will be home alone, maybe we should get the board games out :)

      • NML says:

        How awful Kirsten as it just creates a negative association with Christmas. I’ve tended to associate Christmas with family drama and relationship drama. Thankfully that’s changing. I do love board games though which are actually part of my happy memories of Christmas ;)

    • NML says:

      I felt sad for your Christmases past Crazybaby. I think many people struggle with seasonal holidays for these very reasons – bad memories. I’m sure also that the contrast of how you were treated and then them enjoying themselves seems like it can appear that you were ruining Christmas until you went to bed. This can then feed into a sense of rejection and not being good enough, which may even feel compounded by your adoption. I have a friend with a similar background – she went to counseling which helped her make peace with her past so she didn’t absorb the blame for her adoption nor continue to see the world through the self-esteem lens. Christmas used to bring up a lot of anxiety for me but in recent years, I’ve come to enjoy it on my own terms. Other people I know make sure they do something extra nice for themselves around that time.

      • Crazybaby says:

        Board games are only fun when someone will actually play with you! When I had my own kids Christmas was okay because I could focus on their happiness (the opposite of what I experienced as a child). Now they’re in their teens and I’m divorced, I only see them every other Christmas, and feel obliged to spend Christmas with my mother (although I put my foot down last year) with whom I have a very strained relationship.

        Our relationships with family do impact on the nature of our relationships with men, even though that’s the last thing we want, and I think that is why I have been spending considerably less time with my mother, and anyone else in my life who I feel has a downer on me that knocks my wobbly self esteem. I feel guilty about it, but I know that I am my most happy and confident when I spend time with people who genuinely love and value me. Maybe once I have regained my strength and confidence I will find it easier to handle the more challenging people in my life, and then be brave enough to find real love instead of dreaming it.

  14. cavewoman says:

    Hi Natalie! Yay, my type has her own persona now! I was a dreamy child and I’m your lifelong (recovering?) Dreamer. Precisely right, “the distance works for you and leaves you free to imagine whatever you like.” This was the recipe for my poison: nightly calls at bedtime + distance = my crack. In between the calls, I had incessant fantasies of overcoming the distance. Sometime in the distant future. It worked for me because I got to put him up on a pedestal at a safe height. I completely made the guy up, into an opposite of my ex-husband with virtues just where the ex had shortcomings! To be fair, with a lot of help from him. He loved to talk at length about his fine qualities. Himself and I, we were both having an imaginary love affair with him. The reality is, he’s a sad loser in so many ways… and to this day I feel like I’m betraying him with this observation. You see, we had an implicit understanding that I’d believe he’s not a loser and he’d overlook how naive I was being. I almost miss that feeling, like a ratty old security blanket. I know he was a Shopper Too Immersed In His Own Problems to juggle other women for a dial-an-ego-(and-whatnot)-stroke.
    It’s good to be moving on, but Reality is so much more complex and it requires a hella lot of attention and concentration. Reality is high-maintenance :)

    • Tulipa says:

      I can so relate to what you wrote,
      He loved to talk at length about his fine qualities. Himself and I, we were both having an imaginary love affair with him. The reality is, he’s a sad loser in so many ways… and to this day I feel like I’m betraying him with this observation.
      You see, we had an implicit understanding that I’d believe he’s not a loser and he’d overlook how naive I was being.
      Yes and I am struggling with the reality I have been thinking he doesn’t contact me anymore is because he no longer believes I am that naive and must now see him as the hurtful loser he is. Reality is, though Im working on it a lot of fantasy still takes place in my head in regards to him.
      This in turn makes it harder and takes longer to just be over it.
      I wish you luck in the world of reality, Cavewoman.

      • NML says:

        Hi Tulipa. This has been going on for a long time with him and what you could benefit from doing is not only getting some extra support in terms of counselling but also keeping a feelings diary. You also need to write down a list of the unresolved business between you both that still has you mentally going back to this like a dog with a busted bone. Keep adding to the list each day. What are you worried about? What do you think he’s thinking? What are you thinking? Any concerns you have, based on real previous evidence of him, is what you’re concerned about true? What are you doing each day? How are you moving your life forward? Write them down each day so you can see progress or where you need to inject activity. What are you avoiding that still has you refusing to accept and look in a different direction, i.e ahead to the future? What is so awful in your reality or even in your head that you would still fanny away more head space on this man? Write it down. Add to the list as it comes. What is it that you don’t want to accept? Whatever that is, that is your area of work which you can use as a springboard for gaining extra professional support, for doing unsent letters, for keeping a get real list, for putting together a plan of action. Make sure if there are other areas of your life that are being neglected that you have a plan of action for those as well because this man gets too much play.

        • Tulipa says:

          Thank you for your thoughts, Natalie they are truly appreciated.
          I know without coming to Baggae Reclaim I would be so much worse off and in a different place to what I am now I know Im not there yet, but one thing I do know is I am determined to get there so I will and have started on the feelings diary.
          I started with the unsent letter to the ex eum it is not finished yet.
          I agree that it has gone on far too long and I have given myself a very hard time about this believe me.
          Thank you again for your suggestions.

    • NML says:

      “You see, we had an implicit understanding that I’d believe he’s not a loser and he’d overlook how naive I was being.” Brilliant Cavewoman, just brilliant. Reality is only high maintenance for now. You have to break a life long habit of being a Dreamer but after a while it will be natural to be realistic and *present*.

  15. runnergirl says:

    Great post again Natalie. I’ve been a bit stuck trying to come to grips with why this particular break-up with the ex-MM has caused me so much pain and turmoil after 3 divorces and multiple other break-ups which were painful but did not result in such despair. This helped me a lot: “…it can be awfully difficult to let go of a relationship that didn’t actually exist or what did, was as flimsy as a sandcastle built in the sky…grieving the loss of hope…”. I’ve got a lot more work to do as you state: “These situations are often borne out of loneliness, a fear of rejection and intimacy, and great feelings of inadequacy.” It’s the fear factor for me. And this time it flipped on me. He couldn’t reject me because he was married, thus I didn’t risk a fear of rejection and intimacy. The fact that he did reject me because he was married, played perfectly into my fear of rejection and fear of intimacy. Oh dear, I’m probably not making sense.
    There was something I always wondered about which you addressed in the new edition of Mr. U and FBG, why does Mr. U not feel what we feel. He thinks “Hmmm, if she’s with me, she must be unavailable too…Ok, at least we can have a good time together.” However, a FBG thinks “I’m with an emotionally unavailable man. What is it about me that won’t let him try harder to access his emotions?” Thank you for helping me tap my fear of loneliness, fear of rejection, and fear of intimacy. I’ve been fear driven despite my “fearless” facade. Oh, my fantasy life is more comfy. I have a facade of control cos that’s how I got through my traumatic childhood! Not working now! Argghh! Reality!

    • NML says:

      You’re making perfect sense Runnergirl! Married/attached men are safe relationships because they’re not ‘proper’ relationships so you can’t be ‘properly rejected’ because they’re not fully in to do so. Unfortunately somewhere between starting it and then them of course remaining married and cheating, the whole thing gets inflated with fantasy because the great majority of people don’t get involved with a cheater and not try to progress things, fantasise, or make plans that won’t materialise. You *have* to try to progress things, fantasise, make plans, try to make it like a proper relationship because if you strip all of that away, you’re just the person who is knocking off someone elses husband. I did it for 18 months and one day when I saw myself going home alone, or buying presents for my family for Christmas, hiding in the downstairs loo at my mum’s texting and holding back tears, feeling like I was on a knifes edge waiting to hear from him over the holidays, stolen moments in bars, weekends together when ‘she’ went away, get together’s over by 8 just in time for Eastenders, and the list goes on, I thought “F*ck this for a game of soldiers!” I didn’t like what I’d become and felt degraded and marginalised. It was painful to come out of the fantasy cocoon but I had to, for my own sanity. Doing so forced me to address my own childhood issues so I guess he had his uses….

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        “You *have* to try to progress things, fantasise, make plans, try to make it like a proper relationship because if you strip all of that away, you’re just the person who is knocking off someone elses husband.” — Oouf, this is so accurate. It’s the pattern of being diminished (patterns of being treated that way by others in our childhood,, mostly) that causes us to make choices that hurt ourselves; the fantasy helps us escape from acknowledging that pattern and dealing with our real issues.

        • NML says:

          Hi AdrienneBytheSea You and Runnergirl had me both thinking today and it was sort of niggling in the background until I listened to it. You got me wondering why it was so horrendously agonising with the guy with the girlfriend. I mean honestly, I kid you not when I say that the day after our first encounter was when the eye problem in my illness started – emotionally and physically I fell apart during our ‘relationship’. Even though he wasn’t exactly like my father, the pain of the rejection of him not leaving her seemed to be just like my father ‘abandoning’ me and it became like my final judgement. I couldn’t make him ‘love’ me, leave ‘her’, ‘come back’ even though he hadn’t been there in the first place. It was like howling at the moon every day in agony. I thought that I could no longer kid myself – I really was a piece of shit, worthless, good for nothing. The jig was up.

          Him not choosing me felt like my father not choosing me. It was like I wasn’t good enough to hold onto a father that wouldn’t have been there whether I was there or not, and I wasn’t good enough to get a man to leave his girlfriend. It did make me wonder if my 2.5 year old self felt like a woman scorned and left for another who then tried to correct it 22.5 years later. Thanks for making me learn something else about myself today.

          • Lavender says:

            Nat, this is really touching. I could have written something similar about my own life. Just think though, that it’s such an amazing thing that you used your pain for good. You help so many women with your insight and you are valuable to everyone whose lives you touch.

          • runnergirl says:

            Hi Natalie, OuterGirl, and Adrienne,
            Geez, you are welcome Natalie, particularly after all you have helped me learn about myself. I think you’ve nailed it perfectly: ” Him not choosing me felt like my father not choosing me”. Childhood daddy abandonment issues replayed as an OW has kept me howling at the moon (and on this blog) for months as well as howling at him for two some years. Outergirl, thank you. I dawned the t-shirt “Will Work for Love” as a little girl and dug it back out of the closet years later to work for the love of the ex MM. This is not to excuse my role. After my fantasy bubble burst (OUR house on the beach my arse) and I fell to earth with a thud, I was just another desperate, lonely, unavailable mistress knocking off somebody else’s husband. Every now and then, like with this post, I catch glimpses of how deeply unavailable I have been and it’s stunning. As you say Natalie, “…an available person poses a risk of vulnerability and intimacy which you’re trying to avoid, so you’ll choose your ‘marks’ well because they’ll be attached…”.
            I’m glad you chose you Natalie, even if your father had issues and your ex’s didn’t. Thank you for helping me see that I can chose myself, regardless of what my father or the exMM did or didn’t do. I’m really starting to unload the daddy baggage, “F**k this for a game of soldiers”! I’ll be wearing a new t-shirt: “Will Work for MY Love.” Most of all, I’m grateful you’ve chosen to share your wisdom with us. Thank you.

          • SM says:

            Nat my nieces have been abandoned by their mother and father. They were 2 and 9 when it happened. I’ve watched them struggle for the last 6 years with this. They long for their parents no matter what is going on in their lives, it is the bain of their existence and the dream of their lives that their parents come get them. I watch them dream and fantasize about how great it would be to live with them. They even come up with reasons (all false) as to why their parents dont want them. Its like they cant physically take knowing the truth and that their fantasies help them cope. We dont feed their fantasies and we try to be as truthful as possible of the reasons without sounding like it is their fault. But I am going to tell you I wonder if the dreaming is necessary for self preservation. I do know as an adult we cannot continue on the path but old habits are extremely hard to break.

          • Magnolia says:

            I am with you, Runner. This last thing with exAC still rolls around in my mind and body as resignation, defeat, loss, abandonment, resentment. I’m still fantasizing about having the last word.

            After reading through the comments on this post a few hours ago, I napped and I kid you not: I dreamed of the mayor and his crony (the AC’s buddies, and the mayor who I went and talked to on Saturday and realize he has likely forgotten who I am) and they were my students. And I said: “After reading those assignments, if that is really your take, then you both need to quit your jobs right now!!” And they seemed taken aback, and appreciative, like they’d learned something, and they followed me into the building we were entering nodding their heads in submission.

            In the dream I felt so validated, and finally, finally they were listening, and it was these guys that run the city that were finally listening.

            Is it all down to my father only supporting me in his own ideas of what I could do (which were either Olympian or nothing)? Always having to have the last word? Never allowing his daughter to change his mind, ever, but telling her she’s wrong, constantly?

            Is it all a fantasy of getting to get a ‘more powerful’ guy to appreciate that his actions have consequences? That maybe if I cry, fight, starve myself, make myself puke, win awards, get my name in the paper, enough that he’ll see I’m valuable and that his neglect needs to end?

            I don’t know if that feels like a woman scorned. I do know that in my dream I felt great, and didn’t want to wake up. But here I am, awake.

          • grace says:

            What you said about your nieces is so sad. Poor girls. I don’t think it’s at all foolish, silly or immature for children to fantasise or deny reality. What else can they do? It’s a fantastic coping mechanism for the helpless but by the time we get to adulthood, we need new tools.
            In a perfect world, our parents would have equipped us with those tools but, all’s not lost, we can do it ourselves – with help if necessary.

      • dawn says:

        “You *have* to try to progress things, fantasise, make plans, try to make it like a proper relationship because if you strip all of that away, you’re just the person who is knocking off someone elses husband.”

        That comment made my stomach drop. It actually made me feel sick to my stomach. Cold, brutal, truth. I was just the person who was knocking off someone else’s husband. I don’t want to feel like that was all I was to him, but I guess that is all I was. Now I have to recover from the degrading feeling I get knowing that is all I was. I don’t like knowing that that was all I was. I don’t like that I did that to myself. Allowed myself to be used in that way. That hurts me so deeply that I was used for sexual gratification. But wait, I am not going to go down that negative path, I am not a victim. It’s my own fault that I put myself in that situation to begin with. I have to somehow forgive myself for doing that to me.

        • runnergirl says:

          Hi Dawn,
          Yup, being a mistress knocking off somebody else’s husband smacked me upside the head too. The fantasy of being s**lmates, buying a house on the beach, and writing award winning novels together on the warm, white sand while sipping mimosas sure sounds a lot better. I’ve spent quite a few days kicking my arse around my backyard and many more nights howling at the moon since the fantasy bubble burst. I hate that I did that to myself too. The upside (ifn’ there is one), we aren’t that woman anymore. Good for you for not going down the victim path. Thanks to Natalie and this blog, I’ve been working hard at building my self-esteem, now that I know what it is. And, working at owning my complicity, becoming accountable for and understanding my role in the deception, and moving toward self-forgiveness for cheating on me, my daughter, his wife and children. I made a giant mistake. You can do it. I’ve stopped howling at the moon, unless it is full (we loved full moons) and I only kick my arse around the backyard periodically now. I’m even moving toward trusting myself. One thing for certain, it is an automatic flush if they are married or attached. No more fantasies.

          • dawn says:

            Hi Runnergirl,
            Thanks for sharing your experience with me. This post of NML’s and the comments that women have made in response to it are responsible for opening my eyes. It hit a nerve in me and was a major factor in helping me do what is good for me. It made me realize that the whole relationship was just two people fantasizing, wishing, dreaming, as a way to fill the voids in our lives. He told me he was a frog, not a prince and I just didn’t want to believe it. At least got off that merry go round finally. Thanks to this post by NML and comments by women on here and other friends that have shared their thoughts with me about my situation I know I am way better off without him in my life. Two days not talking to him and I feel a weight being lifted from my shoulders and the vertigo that I have had off and on for the past two weeks is gone. I may have some down moments but that’s understandable. As time goes by I will feel better and better. All that energy that I was wasting with him I can now put where it belongs, on me, back where it will do the most good. No more going back on the merry go round for me anymore. The stress was so bad it was literally making me physically dizzy, sick and depressed. Thanks NML for sharing your story about when you where with the guy who was attached, it really spoke to me like nothing else. I saw myself in your words. It gave me the extra push I needed to stop hurting myself with what I was doing.

    • Outergirl says:

      Wow Runnergirl you have really come a long way with your introspection!! I’m so happy for you. I think I was floored to have to accept that I was in this rinky-dink situation to avoid rejection [but the catch 22 is we do get rejected] because it’s not a real relationship. But conciously, I didn’t know/realize that and; being used to ‘will work for love’, I figured ok, I have my work cut out for me to get a proper relationship when my subconcious was saying ‘ok, we’re safe, this will never be a real relationship..what a relief, we don’t have to risk anything’. I think that’s as close as I can come right now to understanding my own behavior.

    • cavewoman says:

      Right on Tulipa!
      I also fantasize that he’s avoiding me now because he knows I know the score on him and he’s too ashamed… But guess what? We don’t know that. We are just making it up as we go along… more daydreaming! We’ve got to give it up already. That’s what I have to tell myself: wake up, snap out of it, look around, I must be forgetting something if I think I have all this free time on my hand.

      The awesome thing about snapping out of it is that I have been infinitely more productive. I do better in all the other (read: real) areas of my life. I do more! I’m juggling this whole single parent-grad student-working woman thing way more confidently. I still drop balls… because it’s challenging enough even when I’m concentrating. I’m guessing many of you here are also juggling as much. Hats off, you are amazing.

      • Tulipa says:

        Hi Cavewoman,
        Yes, its a good way to look at things isn’t it? Him thinking we are smart now awake to their ways, but reality is more like he’s not thinking of me at all because he is busy with life maybe with someone new I don’t know. You are right we don’t know what they are thinking just another thing to bust in fantasy land.

    • cavewoman says:

      To Runner re: “grieving the loss of hope…” it is hard to let go because the potential, the imaginary romance (especially for those of us who’ve had a lot of practice) is absolute perfection in exquisite detail. How could something so wonderful be easy to let go? I went into ‘good riddance’ mode over my husband’s affair in a matter of days. It was a real-life crappy marriage, after all. With the phone guy, I’m still feeling the sting over the romance that never happened. Because unlike my real-life marriage, the fantasy, of course, was flawless!

      • runnergirl says:

        @Cavewoman, you are so right. With this post and the insightful comments, I finally realized that I’ve been grieving the exquisite, fantasy, romance that never existed in reality. It only existed in my head. As I re-read my journal, when I was overwhelmed with sadness, it was due to what we “could” have done or what “could” have happened. It was always much better than what we actually did or what actually happened. It sounds like your real life is so much more rewarding than the fantasy life with phone guy, no matter how flawless the fantasy. Good luck to you.
        @Magnolia, it sounds as though your dream may be what Natalie, Adrienne and others are referring to regarding daddy issues. As you picked up on in some of my first comments, I’ve had my issues with “getting validated from the powerful guy” too. I think it goes back to Outtergirl’s comment, “Will Work for Love”. I re-read this comment several times because I’ve thought the same thing: “That maybe if I cry, fight, starve myself, make myself puke, win awards, get my name in the paper, enough that he’ll see I’m valuable and that his neglect needs to end?” and I replaced the pronouns….maybe I’ll see that I’m valuable and my neglect of myself needs to end. Does that make sense?

        • Outergirl says:

          Runnergirl, I just love your new T-shirt!! How about ‘World..YOU have to work for MY love”!?

          • runnergirl says:

            Perfect Outergirl, ‘World..YOU have to work for MY love” goes on the front! It’s a whole different way of being in the world. Although I’m a dreamer and reality can be harsh, I’m thinking I like reality, at least what I think is reality. I still struggle some days because dreaming and fantasy has been my life long pattern. As I hiked today, I listened to my fantasies and recognized them as fantasies. It was an interesting internal dialog and I was back home before I realized I was out 2 hours.
            This is the next road to hoe: ‘ok, we’re safe, this will never be a real relationship..what a relief, we don’t have to risk anything’…risking being vulunerable and available is going to be the tell tale of my heart.

  16. Jill T says:

    If you didn’t just describe what I have been going through over the past year, then I am a clueless twit. I swear every post you have made has been me right down the line. It’s like you know the time line of what happens in these situations and post right when I need to hear what you are saying. This is a GREAT post and gives me HUGE insight to the nature of this horrible pattern I’ve been trying to rid myself of. I just came face to face with yet another unavailable and this time it was the most painful. Your posts and ebook have been immensely helpful to me in dealing with this situation. I’m having a hard time getting over it but I know i was in la la land and had my own fantasy going. WOW is all I can say. Thanks for really opening my eyes.

    • NML says:

      Hey Jill. Glad to be of help and sorry to hear that you’re going through a painful time. Each experience actually takes you a step closer to shaking off the pattern, especially as you tend to get out quicker. This also builds your confidence in trusting yourself to act in your best interests and use your judgement. It’s not all bad even if it’s painful right now. You will get past this – just keep feeling all of your feelings and you’ll get there because you’ll be in *reality*.

      • dawn says:

        Thanks for that helpful hopeful message. I needed to hear that “Each experience actually takes you a step closer to shaking off the pattern, especially as you tend to get out quicker. This also builds your confidence in trusting yourself to act in your best interests and use your judgement.”

  17. miskwa says:

    Great post:
    While I do not think that I am a “dreamer”, I have some of the hallmarks of one such as not being able to stop feeling hurt about my caring for my AC being unreciprocated. I truly did not know he was attached as his actions and words did not reflect that. I have always tried to avoid the attached like the plague. I do everything I can do to stay busy, be productive, and even put myself “out there” on some online sites, avoiding anyone addicted to texting and emailing, but it still hurts, I am frustrated, lonely, and very sad thinking this is all
    there’s gonna be until I can afford to retire 9 years from now. Although it is irrational, I feel that I somehow “missed out” on one of the few persons with whom I had values in common with, and the only choices I have now are to “settle” for some on line guy that I have nothing in common with or stay completely alone for a long time.

    The loss of hope is indeed a thing that needs to be mourned as much as the loss of love.

    • NML says:

      Hi Miskwa, I think putting yourself out there on dating sites should drop down your priority list for now. All that does is have you shopping around for attention while trying to distance yourself from the ‘other’ situation. What would be better is to deal with the hurt you still have from the breakup with your ex and come to terms with that first, whether you do it alone or with some professional help, because keeping busy, taking care of yourself etc is good but you still need to deal with the feelings from the fallout and you also can’t fix the grief with a new dalliance. If you’re not with those people from previous relationships, it’s for a reason. It takes two to tango and you may be ready for them now but you weren’t ready then. You’re now mourning relationships you think you missed out on while holding onto the hurt from the last ex but not actually grieving it. You’re not losing hope for good or for yourself – it’s grieving the loss of hope that you had for this relationship with your ex. He pulled a fast move on you and you’re rightfully angry. That doesn’t mean that you will always feel this way or that you won’t meet someone again. When you walk your way through your last relationship, there are things that you can learn from it to arm yourself. You dated, you discovered, you got out. Either way you discovered he was married and have opted out. This is good.

      • miskwa says:

        He is not married. He apparently has a relationship with a former colleague and was on an on line site at the same time AND acting as though he was interested in me. You right, I just need to grieve and feel the pain. This is weird as I usually have no problem with letting go. I think this is due to my current state of extreme social isolation. On line or IRL, I think there are just very few folks here with similar values and I cannot afford to quit this job right now. Just helped yet another set of older progressive friends move away. Another loss of friends.

  18. Tanzanite says:

    Hi Natalie

    Well ,I think this is the best post ever.

    In a nutshell that’s how it was.Over the last 3 years I have become withdrawn and cocooned .I was reading something on another site ” heal my broken heart “and age matters when your heart is broken ,something to do with where you expect to be at a certain age .I never had a tendency for crushes, was very controlled .I can honestly say, the ass clown was the first time in my life I have ever really let anybody in.I feel really sad that the most powerful feeling of love I have ever had was for someone like that, and I may never feel love again because of him.Like you say-he was behind a computer or behind his text messages most of the time.I lost a chunk of my life and i’m still losing.All of a sudden my youngest son looks grown up.Where was I when that was happening ?

    I had a sudden realization the other day and it started in childhood.My third stage of grief is to suppress.I need to find a release.

    The worst kind a post you can leave is one about forgiveness.I am familiar with that pain you get in the throat when you can’t cry.

    • grace says:

      Re forgiveness – forcing yourself to forgive won’t work. Other people saying you should forgive is just plain annoying and counterproductive. “I’ve moved on, why can’t you?” It takes time, time, time. And before that there’s the extremely rocky, painful, heartbreaking, lenghty process of FULLY ACKNOWLEDGING how you have been wronged and its effect.
      Yes, Jesus repeatedly told us to forgive. But that’s because it’s so hard. There’s no need to instruct people in how to do things that are easy. It SHOULD be a battle. It’s only then that you give forgiveness its full dignity. To just trot out the words is doing yourself a disservice.
      My mother NEEDS me to forgive her (the ACs don’t care). It has to be the whole, complete thing. It can’t be achieved without pain and more time than you’d think humanly possible. Patience. The fact that you can’t do it overnight does not make you a bad person or a failure. So that’s parents.
      As for ACs, give it time, NC, treat yourself well, and you just forget them. Honest!

    • NML says:

      Hey Tanzanite, you will love again. Yes you opened your heart and got hurt but the answer isn’t to say ‘I’m closed until the end of time’. What I would say is that love requires balance and when your youngest son seems to be growing up before you realise it, it’s to refocus your energy and have balance. I say this as someone whose life was tipped towards pursuing love and then one day I looked at myself and realised my health was in tatters, I didn’t recognise myself and they were telling me I needed to go on steroids for life. You don’t know that he’s the most powerful feeling of love you’ll ever feel – you haven’t lived all of your life yet. Don’t let your heart die with him – he doesn’t deserve it.

      • Tanzanite says:

        Hi Nat

        I know he doesn’t deserve it.

        I’m not even thinking of another relationship,i’m concentrating on myself because I have nothing to lose from doing that and everything to gain.

        It’s interesting to see how many of our problems started in childhood.I have always known it, but didn’t know how to change my mind set.I was one of three, the middle child and singled out for harsh treatment from my mother, which my brother and sister never experienced.

        I made myself ill.It’s made me think when you wrote the post about rejecting yourself,that we sometimes develop thyroid problems which is self against self also.

        I’m going to write some unsent letters and try and put it to rest.I’m not taking it into next year.

        Thank you

  19. Magnolia says:

    I still have this problem. Just a look from someone can make me think they’re interested and set off a bunch of fantasies. Equally, I am very prone to making up entire stories about why a person behaved in a certain way, usually stories that involve them deliberately snubbing me. When I listen to myself, I sound just like the exAC before last. He was constantly assuming that people who didn’t fawn over him were hostile jerks. It made him a hostile jerk.

    I really want out of this cycle, but I am frankly exhausted and scared of the very idea of opening up to meeting a guy, when I feel so embarrassed about who I am on one hand, and entitled to respect on the other. I keep trying to fix myself up so that I’ll be ‘ready’ to be open to a good guy when he comes along, but I also feel like I have been trying to change myself my whole life and want to just stop. So: a catch-22, accepting myself as I am means – what, staying a mess and social misfit? Working on myself means trying to figure out how to not be a mess and social misfit, and I have had such trouble in life trying to figure that out. It’s too late to go back and enjoy a friendly peer group in childhood, teenagehood, or early adulthood. Now in adulthood folks tend to keep to themselves and spend their intimacy on their families. Try to break into new levels of intimacy? THAT seems like the fantasy. I much prefer my fantasies of success and instant social acceptance!!

    Fortunately I find my body calms down when I come back to the present and focus on the here and now. Most of my fantasies actually get my heart racing and my blood boiling – I have a lot of arguments in my head with people who aren’t there to hear them – how ridiculous! But I have done this since childhood. Why would anyone fantasize in ways that makes them feel consistently worse?

    • Janie says:

      That sounds exactly like me… I’m glad to know I’m not alone :-)

    • NML says:

      Magnolia, I know I’ve said this to you before but sometimes you’re very harsh on yourself. You remind me a bit of myself, or the mostly ‘old me’ and in some respects our backgrounds are even similar including the race aspect. I think you’re trying too hard and overthinking it. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your self-esteem. I’d be tired if I put as much thought into all of my interactions as you do and I can be prone to letting my mind work overtime if I don’t slam it down before I get carried away. I’ve been very guilty in the past of for example, not hearing from someone and then next thing there’s this whole Dynasty level drama in my mind about why they’re ‘snubbing’ me. I actually had it a couple of months ago and afterwards felt a tad ridiculous. It’s called being human.

      Everybody has a level of hope, dreams, ambitions, fantasies. The key is to still be able to be in reality as opposed to being controlled by them. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring for success and social acceptance but they’re not instant things, especially in cliquey situations. If you think you’re a social misfit, that is how you will perceive all social situations. It would be better to rock up as an equal – even if you’re not a Noble Peace Prize winner – that is confident in herself and her work instead of needing social validation. Certain types of people smell that and play with it. Why not just treat yourself well a day at a time instead of fixing yourself up like a busted house that’s getting ready to be put back out on the man market?

      I find certain types of situation intimidating. My daughter starting school last month felt like me starting school having to deal with mama cliques and social shite. I could have stuck with imagining all sorts of stuff or standing around feeling like people should come over and introduce themselves to me because they *must* know that I have worries about social rejection, but that’s just bullshit. Instead of immersing myself in my phone or saying hi and keeping on walking, I’ve gradually started talking to people and no shit, the sky isn’t falling down.

      Work wise, many people get far more opportunities than I do, appearing in this and that, book deals, whatever. I could let that play into my old fears of rejection and lack of confidence in my worth or what I do, but I’ve just got on with creating my own opportunities. What I don’t do is live in a fantasy where everything is an eff up and a reflection of my poor worth – I suggest you don’t do the same.

    • jupiter23 says:

      I’m doing a self-esteem workbook that I found on I’ve been doing it for three weeks EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m not sure if it’s working, but I feel even a little bit better from just the fact I’m doing something to better myself that I’m actually sticking with.

      • Used says:

        The best advice that I have rec’d in my life is “don’t worry about others liking you; you just worry about liking and loving others.”

        As a little girl, I had no problem liking and loving others, even those who didn’t “deserve” this treatment (for ex., those who were mean-spirited to me or treated me badly). I wouldn’t change my position, even when they kept acting the same.

        But what I always did do was not allow anyone to mess with me. How did I do this? By speaking my mind and voicing my opinions. And I defended my friends who were abused, too.

        I am not from a different race, but I grew up in a situation where I was from a minority ethnic group. My skin is white and we used to be called “white ethnic.” THis category doesn’t appear on any categories list anymore. Interesting that it doesn’t, b/c I don’t see us “white ethnics” getting treated the same as non-white-ethnics all the time!

        Anyways, to this day, people who knew me back then remember who I was. I am ashamed that I didn’t live up to that little girl’s potential. (Though in many ways I still did.) I didn’t live up to that girl’s FULL potential.

        I have a sister who did. I will tell you that she is perceived as the one with all of the empathy, when I have more–as proven with actions. (Don’t get me wrong–she is empathetic. But she has not taken out big portions of her life to help family who is sick or help with business matters when she really shoudl take an interest in doing so.) People want to see her as the angel b/c they see themselves as “benefiting” from being in her “in” group.

        I will tell you that she has contempt for those people, and has no interest in knowing them even!

        I laugh at all of this. And it helps me see things a lot more clearly!

        Be true to yourself, and f**k everyone else! Try to like them, and if they refuse you, then they probably hate themselves anyways!

  20. M x says:

    Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Yup. That’s me. I am SO one of those. And have been probably since, ohhh, I don’t know…. puberty?? How do you know me? Have we met??? Have you met every man (bar about three), that I have ever been involved with? Such a good post… Although reading it made me cringe, the fact is, the more I take responsibility for recognising that it was ME, choosing to pick these guys out of the ‘Least Likely To Be A Decent Boyfriend’ lineup, the more able I am to move on. It was me and my draft, dreamy, intimacy-avoiding behaviour that led to this situation… which means… I can fix it myself! Ta dah!

    • NML says:

      “the fact is, the more I take responsibility for recognising that it was ME, choosing to pick these guys out of the ‘Least Likely To Be A Decent Boyfriend’ lineup, the more able I am to move on. It was me and my draft, dreamy, intimacy-avoiding behaviour that led to this situation… which means… I can fix it myself! Ta dah!” Brilliant Mx! You have *totally* got this! You’re in control!

      • Fearless says:

        I absolutely find that the case as well. Realising my biggest problem was me – I did it to myself – somehow makes it easier to be able to say oh well, oh dear… you did it; and it’s done now – this somehow takes the terribly painful sting out of it all – like it finally brings a closure; so it all becomes like, ‘ oh well, what’s to discuss about “him” anymore; what’s to think about “him” now?… err… well…nothing, except maybe just how not to do the same thing again?! :)

  21. Beth C. K. says:

    I completely relate to this post about Dreamers and Shoppers. Internet dating promotes both behaviours. I have been a lifelong dreamer, falling for unavailable and aloof guys since I was a teenager. A few months ago, I “met” a guy online who seemingly shared just about all my passions and interests. We had indescribable online chemistry. He asked me out for a Sat. night within the week and cancelled at the last moment, apologizing that he wasn’t over his last girlfriend. He deleted his account and any way I had of contacting him. I felt like I was thrown under a bus and obsessed over it for a while – or maybe till I read this post. People and relationships aren’t real till meeting in person and knowing each other for a while. Conjuring up perfect relationships in the air is a huge protective device for people who fear intimacy and rejection. So, I am keeping my vow to myself to step away from the keyboard. Internet dating is a dangerous thing.

    • NML says:

      Hi Beth. I totally agree with you about internet dating. I use a service called Ocado to do my grocery shopping. I can pick and choose what I want with minimal hassle and even do it through my iPhone. I think this is how many have come to treat relationships. I think it also promotes this idea that a list can be used to choose a potential mate, even though we may have complete guff on that list that has nothing to do with values. The danger is this ‘online chemistry’ – too much smoke, mirrors, words, and not enough face-to-face human contact to claim anything. I get on quite well with some people online with a bit of banter, but if I’m totally honest, when I’ve met them in real life, it’s very different. What he did sounds quite painful – it’s like being taken up the clouds and then being dropped from a height. I think unless you have hide of a rhino, are 100% in reality and are not overtly sensitive to rejection, online dating is to be avoided. I hope that you are moving beyond this guy – he just isn’t and wasn’t that special.

  22. Renee says:

    I’m definitely a dreamer. This is something that I’ve have been dealing with for awhile. I think it stems from things in my childhood. I do tend to push people away because I don’t want to hurt me. I’ve only really started to deal with things but it’s hard because I have other things in my life that are demanding my immediate attention. I can definitely see a patten with my relationships, especially with a new acquaintance that I really hit it off with. I have to remind myself over and over again that we are just friends and nothing more. Thanks for this post. I found it very helpful.

    • NML says:

      Hi Renee, I thought this “I do tend to push people away because I don’t want to hurt me.” was revealing although I don’t know if it was the meaning you intended. It’s like thinking that you’re risking yourself irrespective of who they are so you’re keeping yourself at a distance to make sure that you don’t put yourself in the front line of pain. I have a friend who has fancied her friend for over two years. It’s wreaked havoc. As this is a new acquaintance, just enjoy it and don’t run too far ahead so that you have a chance to discover who they are before you emotionally commit to wanting a relationship.

  23. Eternal Summer says:

    Oh Natalie- DEAD ON-ME!

    This is so scarily me that I hope I can use this to shake up “The Dreamer” inside of me before I dream what’s left of my life away! I used to create fantasy worlds as a child to survive and sadly, fantasy is how I spend most of time as it’s very comfortable there. But we all know this “comfortable” is very deadening….

    I’ll admit that I played “The Shopper” as well, but I am not happy about “window shopping” some guy who genuinely liked me and terminated that (very nicely) as quickly as I realized it.

    Ugh….so much new info to process! But doing my best to stay mindful & in the present while examining all these past patterns & behaviors! 24 days NC today! Really, really loving the encouraging emails! :)

    I have to say though, my EUM makes it very easy to be NC since he has always been distant with the constant disappearing acts, text only communication, etc! No wonder it fits perfectly with my “DREAMER” profile! Wheeeee!

    • NML says:

      Haha Eternal Summer. It’s like him pulling the disappearing acts lets you fill in the gaps. You know the drill though – anyone who has the brass nuts to flake out and disappear, should stay disappeared.

  24. Lavender says:

    This post really speaks to me. I had a traumatic childhood and ended up spending most of it alone, without friends, so I was very creative and dreamy. I am embarrassed to say that as an adult I had a fantasy relationship in my head with a person who did something abusive to me. I somehow fell in love with him after this. I was desperately and painfully in love with this guy who had treated me reprehensibly. It was as though I wanted him to love me, because if he did, he wouldn’t have treated me so badly originally. Messed up up logic I know. I spent a year telling him I loved him and hearing him say he couldn’t stand me and yet I wouldn’t give up. I am so messed up. I see the error in my ways now, but I’m still traumatised by the fact that I could love someone like that and don’t understand why I thought he somehow loved me. It was all in my mind.

    • NML says:

      Well it’s not as messed up as you think Lavender as I think many people do it. It’s like trying to win over your aggressor to right the wrongs of your past. What we have to recognise is that even if they did decide they loved you, it wouldn’t erase or excuse the original abusive acts. If anything, you weren’t in love with him but you were more in love with the idea of making your childhood right while playing into old patterns. I think again, many people have been taught that abusive people ‘love’ them and it’s why they act as they do, as if their victims are doing something to bring out their dark side, especially if parents or caregivers have abused while claiming love. It becomes difficult to distinguish between the two. You might even believe they do this stuff to you because they want to help better you *because* of their love for you. They do it because they’re abusive and don’t know the meaning of love themselves. Also denial in the grieving process if you move through the stages can help you cope with a difficult situation. As you aclimatise to reality and come to terms with it, it’s like feeding the truth a chunk at a time, which I guess is what you’re doing now. The key is to leave denial – people who remain stuck in fantasies don’t reconcile the fantasy and the truth.

      • Lavender says:

        Thank you Nat for your insight. It really helps me on a daily basis to come to this site and to read through the posts. I think about what my life would be like if I was still stuck in that place of denial and I’m so glad I’m not anymore.

  25. grace says:

    This is me!
    When I was a kid I made up family members for myself, and glamourous friends. I even told (real) people about it. My mother found out and gave me a thrashing.
    As an adult, it was scarily easy for me to project a whole relationship and future life with someone based on … internet chats and text messages. I even gave up a job and moved to be with someone based on little more than that. Doh!
    If it’s texting, messaging, even phone calls but little/no “meatspace” (kinda yucky term but descriptive) then, ladies (and gentlemen), IT’S NOT A RELATIONSHIP. IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD.

    • NML says:

      I do love you Grace. Honestly, I tried very hard not to smile at the first para but couldn’t help it. The odd thing is that your mother will have thrashed you for having the foresight to recognise that reality with her wasn’t great so you needed some escape. I lived in books – that was my escape route – which didn’t go down too well… Let’s put it this way – I was often reading 6-10 books a week! Oh and “meatspace” – hilarious!

      • Carrie says:

        “Let’s put it this way – I was often reading 6-10 books a week!”

        Oh boy Nat this was me too!! We would go to the library and I would instantly go to the Harlequin Romance rack and pick up 10-12 books for the next 2 weeks. Books were absolutely my escape and though my taste has improved somewhat (though I still love romances with a mystery thrown in, but with a strong female) they are still an escape for me – along with TV. I find that when I realize I haven’t had my ex pop into my head in a while, it’s always when I’m engrossed in a show or a book.

        • Em says:

          This was me too! I learned to read very early and read everything I came across. The library was my second home. Wow.

  26. Jane says:

    This is an incredibly honest post. It is touching a lot of people. I wholeheatedly identify with some of things said in here – so often I have said to myself that life is much easier when I am on my own in my own little world – these things called relationships – and not just intimate relationships, even those relationships I have with my kids mums or work colleagues – I don’t get, I feel like I can’t function, its much easier in MY world.
    I am reaching a greater understanding – don’t place too much value on common interests; its about the values, be wary of texts and emails (although like you say above I hid behind them too because I liked the distance) I have been equally as unavailable – I have met a guy who actually wants to see me and I have noticed how uncomfortable that makes me feel – I am not used to be treated well, I have not invited that into my life before and I an squirming as I tell myself this is good, this is what I wanted and so now I have to make myself available! I AM TERRIFIED. But how do I learn how to be in the world if I don’t put myself in the real world?? I am so wary of getting involved – we don’t really have many common interests but we do have common values, he texts and seems to be a different person by text – but I know that this is dating – this is not marriage – I am just seeing if he is someone I might want to get to know better – another part of my fantasy world was skipping all that and going straight for the passion and adoration. I have to go slow. I am scared stiff that I may have actually attracted something good to myself because that is so far removed from my experience!! My challenge now is to stand up for myself. The hardest thing ever but it will become a mature exchange of opinions not a need for me to blend into him to make everything ok. I just have to do it now after a lifetime of staying quiet!! Help!!
    Which brings me to the point of my mail – a few people have said it above – this is great to have pointed out but what do we do to overcome it??? For many (myself included) the escape to the fantasy world is a long practiced, needed defence – I escaped from an unloving childhood, from an abusive marriage, abusive relationships – how do I firmly place myself back in the real world? It is almost like needing to re-parent ourselves the way we want it to have been done. Is it about learning to value myself and then I will no longer be afraid to be in that world? exciting but scary. Natalie, a part 2 would be useful!

  27. Lynda from L says:

    Ha! This article propelled me back to the summers of the early eighties when I was so in ‘pash/crush’ with a guy in our crowd… I would follow him from disco to football game to house party with a group of girlfriends analyzing every bit of eye contact,what he was wearing,the hidden meaning in his record choices,his silences… I was obsessed by my fantasy relationship. He never did fancy me,my best girlfriend at the time was his choice and they ended up getting married!
    My latest fantasy,and this brought me up short,was my expectations of declarations of love from my EUM of 16months, when I went NC. I did hope for flowers and him declaring that’he couldn’t live without me’ I saw him taking full responsibility for his actions in the relationship and heartfelt apologies. I saw him offering strategies for a way forward.
    I had this fantasy for around a week,then reality kicked in and I confronted the actual relationship,which was two EUM/W’s living a joint fantasy for a while and bolstering each other’s pipe-dreams with nice times,good sex,a bit of drama and regular competitions about how intellectual we both were….he didn’t follow through on a word he said about the future and I knew it. Time to burst the bubble.

    • NML says:

      Hey Lynda – loved “pash/crush” – hilarious!

      “I had this fantasy for around a week,then reality kicked in and I confronted the actual relationship,which was two EUM/W’s living a joint fantasy for a while and bolstering each other’s pipe-dreams with nice times,good sex,a bit of drama and regular competitions about how intellectual we both were….he didn’t follow through on a word he said about the future and I knew it. ” For a few months, each day that I went to work, I hoped that *this* would be the day that my ex would come over and tell me that he’d ended it with his girlfriend. Instead he’d try to arrange to hook up or badger me about why I was having a totally innocent conversation with a guy in the office…

      • Lynda from L says:

        Hey Natalie, Thanks for the reminder of what it will be about if he does get back in touch… I am prepared, signed up for No Contact Newsletter and it’s helping.
        Sometimes, I laugh out loud when I realise that we seriously didn’t know one another..we were each in love with each other’s fantasy person. Hence, I now believe, why, for him, other women had started to appear on horizon. To stay he would have had to get real. Luckily for me, I couldn’t bear the fantasy and the never ending stories anymore.

        • RadioGirl says:

          Lynda from L,

          “…we seriously didn’t know one another..we were each in love with each other’s fantasy person. Hence, I now believe, why, for him, other women had started to appear on horizon. To stay he would have had to get real”.

          This was my exact experience with the ex too. Thinking back, he started to go off me (and hanker after his fantasy idealised version of his on/off ex-gf, plus other internet women) when it became clear to him that the reality of me was a person who had work, pension, minor health etc grumbles just like anyone else. If he could have somehow sustained the fantasy problem-free version of me that he’d created in his head (with my help) at the start I’m sure we would still have been together now floating along in our mutual dream world. Thing is, at the time we were falling apart (i.e. starting to see the actual reality of each other), I was in such denial that it was happening, and clinging onto the fantasy version of *him*, that I just blamed myself entirely for being “needy” and problematic. I then fell into the trap of trying harder and harder to be the fantasy ideal uncomplaining partner for him, and putting up with all kinds of disrespectful and uncaring behaviour. I can see now that this is how I totally lost my own real identity, which has been one of the most devastating aspects of our breakup to deal with. It didn’t occur to me until long after we finished that having day-to-day ups and downs is actually just normal real-life stuff, and that if you truly care about a partner you won’t find it a burden or a drag to stay by their side through thick and thin.

          • Lynda from L says:

            Spot on Radio! As I’ve asked several times on this site were we seeing the same guy…?Very similar experience and attendant feelings involved. I could actually’feel’ him moving away as I tried to make the relationship more real. Like your guy, he began sniffing round the internet after we would have a heart to heart. I would think the air had cleared, he saw a dose of reality coming his way and wanted to press the reset button.
            The pain is terrible…cause you’ve knocked yourself sideways trying to be their ideal and had all sorts of declarations of love in return which really mean nothing.
            Like you, the hardest part for me was revisiting my needs and wants and finding my own way out of the relationship. I struggle but am getting there. Some of his disrespectful, verbally abusive comments are still with me but each day I leave more of that aside.

  28. AdrienneBytheSea says:

    Thank you, Natalie. This post is *painfully* all me, down to every last word. I know the tendency to escape started in childhood. Yes, imagination is a wonderful thing when it is nurtured in a supportive, loving environment and is used as a tool for creativity and self-growth. But when it’s used as a coping mechanism by a child, it can lay down the foundation of some core behavior that can be so damaging when we reach adulthood. It’s a gift for my writing to imagine worlds, but it’s been a curse for my love life, as it’s imagined that crumbs are a loaf, especially from an MM.
    Nearly twenty years ago, I was engaged — but not happily. I loved him, he loved me–but he had so much other stuff going on — he was trying to go to school, he had a young kid, he was living with his mother due to finances from his divorce and supporting the kid, etc. I felt like I was last on the list. In the end, I suspected he was cheating on me. The whole thing was the most devastating break up I ever had–all the dreams shattered in a relationship where I opened myself up the most I had ever done (although I realize now I was EU then because I accepted being so low on the priority list). This was the turning point for me into packing up my bags and buying a one-way ticket to fantasyland. No one would ever hurt me again.
    Fast forward 20 years–in the last six years I’ve built three fantasy relationships in my head–all with MMs. Two I did not sleep with. The first was a future faker; the second needed a Florence. The third was the one I slept with for six years and was a classic cheater. I fantasized that the first two would help me *escape* from the one I slept with, the one I was obsessed about–the one I am three months’ NC on, the one who had the cheater playbook memorized, the one I suspect knowingly gave me an STD.
    Thanks to your writing, Natalie, and NC and weekly therapy sessions, my passport has the return stamp to reality. Shame the cost of the return ticket was so high.

    • cavewoman says:

      I was one to accept this ‘living with his mother due to finances from divorce and child support’ excuse. I listened to a lot of moaning and groaning on the matter and I was forever understanding and sympathetic. I’ve come to this conclusion: a grown man living with his mother HAS NO BUSINESS entertaining even a semblance of a relationship of any kind with a woman. Period. I don’t care what misfortune caused it: my take is, they ought to refrain until they’re on their feet. If they don’t, something else is also amiss besides the money situation. It really is that simple. I also learned the hard way…

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Cavewoman, yes, that was a tough lesson to learn. Because part of me was thinking: hey, this is at least a guy who is trying to better his life. He was going to school part-time, battling for full custody of his kid (which he eventually did get), working as a waiter, and well, if he has to live with his mother, at least he’s a good guy and taking care of her. Problem is: where did that leave me? As you said, he had no business at that point in his life even entertaining the idea of a relationship. Where did I think he was going to have time for me? So on one level, the relationship kept me safely tucked into the EU zone, despite the fact that I did share more with him than anyone ever before. But I’m sure some part of me *knew* it would never come to fruition (marriage).

        • cavewoman says:

          Adrienne, I had no idea we had so much in common. I ‘supported’ the phone guy through a custody battle. Glad yours won. Mine lost. Again. (it was round two.) He himself spelled it out to me that there is no room for intimacy in that sort of situation… but turned that into downgrading me to FWB… I do feel deeply sad for him, but also used, and also like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel to get involved with him in the first place…. Deep breath. It’s over now.

  29. Lessie says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Wow and…wow. Like all the other lovely ladies have said here, this post resonates deeply with me, in fact, it IS me! As “Mx” wrote: “Have we met? Do you know me” :)…Natalie, I want you to know: reading your posts since my break up has been THE sustaining force, the one thing (apart from some very dear and caring friends) that has helped me to begin the process of recovery, and the truth…hurts. A LOT.

    As others have noted, the ability to “play” and “create” as a child was a coping mechanism for me as well, the only way to survive; as an adult though, this has gotten me into all sorts of trouble and brought me emotional anguish and much inner pain.

    I am starting to connect all the dots and see the unhealthy pattern I have created in my life: my many fears of intimacy and love, my internal belief that I was never “good enough, smart enough, pretty enough”…so, for the first time in my life, at this late (r) stage, I am allowing myself to grieve, really fully grieve and the emotional onslaught from all this is overwhelming to me and I wanted to ask you: how long does the grieving take? I know that it takes time, that I have to be patient, etc…

    But, right now, this grieving seems never ending and I wonder, “How many more tears can I cry, how much more anger/sadness/regret can I feel for all the wasted time before I make myself (and even those who really do truly love me) crazy?” How will I know when the grieving process has ended and I am ready, really truly ready, to immerse myself in “reality” once more?

    “Illusion” was always safety for me, how do I begin to embrace the idea that “reality” can be safe when my experiences have taught me otherwise?

    I struggle with this daily. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do/say/share with us on this wonderful site. You are a blessing to all of us, please know that :)

    • NML says:

      Hi Lessie. I think being over the grief creeps up on you. One day you realise that you’re actually beyond the pain and enjoying life. It’s not that the real world is a dangerous place; it’s that certain types of people and situations are dangerous. Set boundaries, live them, action them, treat yourself well every single day even if you’re crying, cry, yell, write out your anger with unsent letters – roll with it. If you’ve had a lifetime of pain, suffice to say you’re not just going to cry for a minute but it won’t be forever or even that long. Let it be.

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        I’m looking forward to that day!! :)

      • Lessie says:

        Hi Natalie,

        Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words to me here.

        I know you are right, that all of this takes time. It’s just that…sometimes I wish I could hit the “fast forward” button and be done with all the grieving. I worry too, about inadvertently allowing myself to become “stuck” in the grieving which I definitely do not want to do either.

        When I think back over this past year, it has been momentous for me, in so many ways: divorce, move, the break up with the separated EU MM. I don’t even feel as if I had a summer as much of it was spent in a mental/emotional fog and my health took an absolute nosedive and I have been sick, and off and on various antibiotics as a result.

        At the same time, my income from my job was drastically reduced to a lack of hours available and so, in the midst of trying to deal with all this other stuff, I have been hit square in the face with reality and it has been very overwhelming for me as a result.

        And then, to miraculously and quite by chance, find your wonderful site, has been one of the silver linings for me :)

        What you wrote here about your own issues with your father touched me deeply because I could very much relate: when my break up occurred and with his back turned to me, he uttered the words, “I am leaving you” it was as if my life flashed before me and all the years, going all the way back to my childhood, came flooding back to me and it was my massive issues of abandonment making themselves known to me. I was absolutely reeling.

        Thank you for sharing your own struggles with this. Knowing that yourself, and others, have had similar experiences and overcome them gives me much great hope and optimism for myself.

        Thank you :)

  30. Leisha says:

    Imagination and creativity are part of a healthy life, creating your opportunities takes both…escape in the form of fantasy if awesome and quite necessary but it should never preclude us from being grounded in reality. Too often instead of creating the life we can have we retreat and so never find it…get out there with your acquired wisdom and support from what you have gained from your life experiences and live your lives with joy as the past is just that; don’t let it drive your future! We are human and make mistakes and we can share our stories and help each other to learn and to let each other know that no matter what has been done we can overcome it with strength, intelligence, and heart. Remake your life in a way that makes you happy…retreating to your inner world is no substitute for contributing what beauty you have to this world which needs everyone of us to thrive and be the best that it can be…Luck and Love to us all!

    • NML says:

      Wow Leisha – profound words. It’s good to have you back and while I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out, I’m so pleased that you’re listening to you and following your own path.

      • Leisha says:

        I love you Natalie…you are one of my favorite teachers…I never left…just had to focus and find answers and continue on the path…I explore and detour and whatever I must to stay the course with love and light! It’s an incredible journey and I am so glad you are here! You have created such an awesome community and place of learning…don’t stop!((((HUGS))))

      • Leisha says:

        I thought I’d add that the body always lets us know when something needs our attention whether it’s physical or emotional or mental comfort/discomfort…I tend to heed the physical pain messages quickly because I am generally a very healthy person and the pain tells me something is out of whack and to get away from the source of it ASAP…I tend to listen nowadays much faster than formerly when it was ” I will finish this if it kills me”..and then it took so long to recover when if I’d listened earlier and heeded the message I could’ve saved myself a whole lot of trouble. We are so connected physically to our mental and emotional states and our very being is affected by so much…we are our best teachers of what is good for us if we only take the time to listen and trust ourselves otherwise the body will force us to…as so many of us have learned the hard way…yet if we heed it in time we heal ourselves and come away wiser. Science is just catching up to what many “primitive” cultures have intuitively known…funny how so much that is real isn’t respected as such unless it can be measured…

  31. debra says:

    ” Often, all you need is a little attention or for them to be in possession of a couple of characteristics or qualities that you overvalue, for you to create a connection that ignites your imagination.”

    It was hard to read this particular post. I am a dreamer, although I had no idea. My ability to create fantasies is very well developed but hidden, even from me. The reason I have struggled for so long with the last AC relationship (if it can even be called that) was I had to work so hard to untangle what was real, what wasn’t, what was in my head and what was his AC nonsense. What a mess.

    As you say, we make perfect foils for each other. He throws crumbs and I turn them into meals. He gives little and avoids responsibility for the damage caused, but I was the one hurt and destroyed by investing too much. We each blame the other and ignore our own contributions. What a mess.

    • NML says:

      Hey Debra. Good to hear from you – you’ve been missed. I think what is important to remember is that your ex pulled some major f*ckery on you that caused drastic changes to your career, where you live etc and that’s before we even get to the abuse before you ended it. There will come a point when you stop detangling and you stick with the topline data – he was an abusive narcissist. That leaves you free to assess why a relationship of this nature would have been ‘attractive’ for you so that you can deal with the prior hurts and experiences that paved the way.

  32. Gina says:

    Great blog yet again Nat!

    The behavior you wrote about describes my ex EUM to a tee. Still in love with his ex, who gave him crumbs, and criticized him for being too short, too weak, too whatever, then dumped him and would pop up every few months for an ego stroke. Acting like a doormat and hooked on the “intense feeling” that she gave him, he’d dump whoever he was in a relationship at the time and run back to her hoping that this time she’d love him.

    When she’s off pursuing other interests, to feed his ego and make him feel better about himself, he finds interim girlfriends whom he future fakes with and uses in spite of the fact that they treat him well and accept him for who he is. At age 56, I don’t think that he’ll change either. He’s gone to therapy over the years (and was in an 18 year marriage where he bent over backwards to win his manipulative and critical wife’s love and approval. When I asked him why he said, “I couldn’t give up because I felt that it was my job to fix the relationship and I would have felt like a failure.” Nat, how can you “fix” it when someone doesn’t love you??

    Although he is a nice person and he treated me well and respected my boundaries, he’s one sick puppy and I am SO glad that I saw the writing on the wall and walked my a** away before he had the chance to dump me. No contact has never felt so good!!

    Thanks again Nat for your insightfulness and breaking people’s crazy and erratic behavior all down in plain English!

    • Natasha says:

      Good for you Gina! It’s amazing how dysfunctional relationships can be like ripples in a pond – i.e., this dude runs after his ex and winds up creating pain for whoever he is involved with at the time and, especially if this is their first EU Debacle, they can end up repeating the pattern with someone else.

      • Gina says:

        So true Natasha! So true! I cannot truly say that I am 100% over my ex….80% would be more accurate. It hurt so bad to find out that this guy was leading me on and did not feel half as much for me as he claimed…

        I don’t wish him any ill will, but karma is a b*tch… you can keep playing around with people’s hearts like that and not have it catch up to you one day.

        • Natasha says:

          Gina, I know just what you mean! I’m over my ex, but only 80% over the hurt of what happened. I think we’re making great progress – we didn’t get into these situations overnight, so it’s normal for it to take some time to get over. The important thing is we’re taking the right steps :)

          I totally agree about karma – I think it’s just the way life works, i.e. if you treat people badly or without care, it will come back on you in some way or another. A lot of it in my humble opinion is that these people make the wrong choices and never think through what the consequences might be, which never ends well! As my father said, “Jerks like that always get their payback, because what you put out is what you get back. A lot of the time they eventually wind up doing it to a woman with some serious issues and it blows up in their faces like you wouldn’t believe.” Ahhhh, parental wisdom!

    • NML says:

      Gina, I know of a reader in her late 40s who has broken off three different engagements because her Mr Unavailable ex keeps swanning in and Future Faking. She reminds me of your ex. On his headstone it will say ‘here lies X, he fannied away his life going repeatedly going back to someone that didn’t give a damn about him while squandering the love of others’. I’m glad you left him.

      • Gina says:

        Wow! Three marriage proposals?? I know emotionally healthy women who would jump at the change to receive even one! Myself included :) That’s so sad Nat!! And such a waste! So many of us women have done the work and are ready to find a healthy relationship with a good man but can’t; however, the ones who are not emotionally healthy seem to meet them but reject them because they have issues.

        Oy vey!

        P.S. I loved the gravestone epitaph. Sad, but funny as well.

  33. IceQueen says:

    Spot on Natalie, no surprise I consistently find myself attracted to MM or EUM….and have done since I can remember. It is easier to pretend to yourself that you want love and/or a relationship but it is THEIR fault for not giving it to you rather than your fault for the choices you make time and time again…..

  34. sm says:

    Ugghh! Why are you always right on the money with this stuff? And why havent I figured it out on my own with all the self-help projects, others helping me etc…! I had an episode recently where I was dreaming that my ex-eum’s life’s problems were solved and that he ran off into the sunset. Well guess what, we both live and shop in the same two mile radius and I ran into him. He seemed very interested in telling me how he had solved some of his major problems since the last time we talked and criminal. He also was very bothered by the fact that I told him he wasnt a good guy and was intent on proving he was. Well here was where my dreaming was busted. Turns out he is going to have to pay dearly for the problems he’s brought on himself, it is not the rose garden my dreams conjured up. Is it bad that I was secretly happy about that? We parted and I was geniunely at peace with it. Nat your post was perfect timing for me, now I will fight like crazy not to be in my dream state which I have been in all my life. And you are right sometimes my dream state satisfied me more than reality.

    • NML says:

      Hi SM – your secret reaction isn’t unnatural. In spite of your fantasies, a part of you also needed the validation that he really is the piece of work you already know him to be and now he is experiencing consequences. I’d leave him in the shade and stick to the real world. You don’t need La La land with a man like that!

  35. Natasha says:

    Great one Nat! :) It’s very timely for me, because I have a friend that’s always pushing me to try online dating. I’m at a point where I don’t have much interest in dating in general (which clearly means NOT READY) and she thinks it would reignite it for me. My feeling was that if you’re ambivalent about dating, online is not the place to be – I can see myself ending up being That Girl, i.e. the one that is more than happy to email, but doesn’t want to meet up. She had informed me that she was “taking control” of my love life and I’m so glad I stuck to my guns on this! If there’s one thing I am absolutely sure about when it comes to dating, it’s that I don’t want to subject anyone to the flip-flapping, time-wasting crap that I was on the receiving end of.

    • NML says:

      Hi Natasha, I’m sure your friend is well meaning but it would be more appropriate for her to meddle in her own life instead of railroading you with her plans. Boundaries. I’m glad you are listening to yourself.

      • Natasha says:

        Amen Nat! Can you imagine if I went along with it knowing full well I wasn’t ready, met someone and then backed out by informing them that I wasn’t ready? What would I say, “It’s not my fault. My friend made me go out with you.”?! I have no desire to be Someone Else’s Asslown haha!

  36. RadioGirl says:

    I’ve been following BR for a while now, and for ages I couldn’t figure out why I’ve always attracted, and been attracted to, EU people both in romantic relationships and as friends. You see, unlike a lot of the ladies on here, I have very decent parents who have always cared about all of us and who plainly still adore each other after nearly 62 years of marriage. But out of that love, they were misguidedly very protective “helicopter” parents, and my sisters and I led a pretty sheltered life right up until each of us went out to work. Also out of their love and care, my parents sent me from age 4 up to 16 to a private school 15 miles from where we lived – I guess they believed they were doing the best thing for me in paying for a top notch education. However, the distance from school meant I had no playmates living anywhere near me – all my after-school activities were at the school, so no opportunity to get to know local kids then either. As a result of this, and of being much younger than my 2 sisters, I led a very solitary life outside of school hours and amused myself alone a lot of the time. My best friend at school lived over 15 miles away, so we spent hours on the phone rather than playing together for real. It is these circumstances which I believe led to my becoming a rather naive and over-trusting “Dreamer”, as Natalie describes in this post. Turns out my last ex had a similar rather solitary, daydreaming childhood. So I think relationships incorporating distance were all we both knew – our uncomfortable familiar. When I started work at 18, commuting 40 miles up to London, it was quite a traumatic change. I was a very pretty teenager, and attracted unwanted attention from an older male colleague and was touched up by a lecherous old man on the tube train. I was just too naive and unworldly to cope with it all. I suffered a total breakdown and had to resign from my job after 6 months.

    “You’re an ideal match for an over-estimating, Future Faking, Fast Forwarding, dreaming, attention seeking, and in need of an ego stroke Unavailable”. Sadly this sentence describes the situation with my last ex only too well. There have been other ex-EUM’s before him, but this last one hurt me so much more because of all the over-estimated attention and Fakery involved on both sides. I think “Dreamer” must have been my middle name, and on a deeply-buried level I’ve always been aware of this tendency to be a Dreamer. The unbearable pain I have gone through with the failure of this last relationship with a fellow Dreamer has truly been a wake-up call. As a result, I now continuously work on being consciously aware of my Dreamer tendencies and on becoming permanently grounded in reality.

    • blindedbythefeeling says:

      wow, i hear you! you sound like me writing! sheltered upbringing, no broken home, naive and kind and expecting the good in people and then they (EUMs, not all people) let you down, and we build them up in our heads so that we’re terribly hurt and disappointed when they don’t follow through

  37. blueberry girl says:

    This was one of your most painful and gut-wrenching posts for me to read, Nat. I had to actually walk away and go empty the dishwasher before I finished reading it. If I don’t live in my fantasy world and let someone in to the reality, they will find that I’m materialistic, selfish, overweight, prone to depression, nasty when I’m tired, stressed, hungry…all traits that spell unlovable in life-size neon letters. So, I love/romanticise/fantasize from afar, let myself be MBT(managed by text) while he refuses to meet or even call me, get caught up in affairs with MM/EU/AC, well, you get the ugly picture. I don’t want to be that woman anymore and am conscious of making better choices, but I still feel incredibly lonely, empty and rejected…and at a loss to fill this gaping hole. It’s so hard to break decades of old, stale, unhealthy patterns that I never really saw before I started to read your wonderful posts…

  38. Soul Seeking says:

    WOW Nat! You nailed this one to a T. I had no idea when I met my previous LDR that I was going through the motions of a relationship. I think my problem was I listened to his words of future faking that never amounted to reality. There was always an excuse as to why there was no progression. I held on to the hope of the relationship going to the next level (moving in together) for 3 long years.

    I did dream of what it was going to be like to live together and make the relationship reality. That’s what I really wanted; not the online relationship that we were having. I finally ended that fake relationship and swore I would never visit a dating site again, and I haven’t.

    Now I am finally in a real relationship. Spending real time together vs web cam, making plans and doing things together vs doing things alone, able to get that hug I so desperately wanted after a bad day vs nadda. Oh the difference of having a real relationship vs an imaginary one….no comparison!

  39. Natasha says:

    In between my ex’s fast forwarding/future faking/prolific falsehood telling and my ostrich-like tendencies, it was Illusion Central. This is clearly the theme song for the entire debacle:

    • Fearless says:

      “In between my ex’s fast forwarding/future faking/prolific falsehood telling and my ostrich-like tendencies, it was Illusion Central.”

      Brilliant! :)

      Love your comments – always make me laugh (the best medicine) x

      • Natasha says:

        Thank you Fearless! I love your comments as well :) I totally agree that a good laugh is often the best medicine around! xoxo

  40. M x says:

    @ Lessie…

    “But, right now, this grieving seems never ending and I wonder, “How many more tears can I cry, how much more anger/sadness/regret can I feel for all the wasted time before I make myself (and even those who really do truly love me) crazy?” How will I know when the grieving process has ended and I am ready, really truly ready, to immerse myself in “reality” once more?”

    Slow your roll sweetie… There’s no rush. If you force it, you’ll only jump in before you are ready, and the shock of the icy cold reality water will leave you gasping and scampering back to Fantasy shore! I think it takes different amounts of time depending on the degree of shame/regret/damage, and/or the degree to which you give yourself permission to simply replace one fantasy with another, shiny new one (always my favourite thing to do in the past…). For me, I have mourned for two solid years for a total turd of a man with whom I had a fallback girl ‘arrangement’ with for a year (far too much time to waste on such a twerp, but there you go…), then, before that, I had wasted a few desperate, painful months grieving the loss of a MM who I had been with for six months; until I took up with… guess who? Oh yes… turd boy…! Talk about staggering from one disaster to another! Turd boy only really stopped hurting when I allowed myself to fall for ‘old faithful’, who ended up being the con of the century… (You know the one I mean… the one who’s always been the ‘shoulder to cry on’, the one who lurks in the background and is gracious about the fact that you’re not really interested in him, but hangs on hopefully, until one day, when you’re all alone and feeling really defeated, and scared, and he suddenly seems like The One I Have Been Waiting For All Your Life – How Could I Have Been So Blind? Yeah. Him). The point is… rush the healing process and all you are going to do is make bad decisions… You know how hard it is to drive safely with tears in your eyes? Come on ladies… how many of us HAVEN’T driven home at some point, crying our eyes out??? Pull over and blow your nose. Take your time…

    Love to all x

    • Fearless says:

      Mx – Brill! :)

    • Lessie says:


      Such lovely words of kindness and support, thank you so much :)

      Your words resonate a lot with me as I am beginning to see my own patterns of behavior with these sort of relationships and wow, it is very cringe inducing for me to “see” all of this, much less confront MYSELF and my own issues that help to play into my EU involvements in this way. It does take two to tango. Sigh.

      I’m thinking right now, strangely enuf, of that Billy Idol song, “Dancing With Myself” because in so many ways, these very unhealthy emotional entanglements I have found myself enmeshed in were like dancing this same dance, with different partners who had many of the same issues that I do as well.

      And…sigh again. I think what angers and hurts me the most tho is just this feeling of abdication of responsibility that so many people in my life have had: my parents, these various men, it’s as if, as one poster said, “These men and relationships have a ripple effect” and it is SO true, they do. I often wonder how people can so merrily go on with their lives, knowing how much pain and hurt they have caused another? I have never been able to comprehend this.

      But the reality is: they do, all the time and we are then left to pick up the pieces. Thank goodness we have this site and each other :)

      To bring a bit of levity to all of this: the wonderfully gifted writer Jim Carroll once amended the axiom of “What does not kill me only serves to make me stronger. My version is: What does not kill me only serves to make me sleep until 3 o’clock the next afternoon” :)

      Hugs and good thoughts to all of us!

  41. Cheese sandwich says:

    Natalie, I only discovered this site a few weeks ago and I have learned so much about myself, it’s terrifying!

    I’m most definitely a dreamer; something I’m having difficulty in coming to terms with but I’m in a better place than where I was a year ago (swapping one abusive relationship for another) and I’m slowly building the life I’ve wanted for myself – a solid, mindful one in the present than built on pipe dreams, reliant on someone else to make me happy. There’s still some way to go, but one of the big differences I’ve noticed is that I wasn’t devastated when something didn’t work out with a guy I recently dated – I wished him well and moved on, rather than trying to force the square peg and then the inevitable sadness of questioning my worth.

    I hope that I’ll meet someone with similar values in the future, but if I don’t, then I know I’ll continue having a great time regardless.

    I’m so lucky to have stumbled across this site, thanks for all the useful information provided :)

  42. Fantasy Girl says:

    “The possibility of sex is what’s used to hold them but quite frankly, you don’t want to hold onto anyone this way.”

    Yes, NML. I think this is what pissed him off – he made it seem like I did this. He took months of flip-flopping and assclownery and turned it into me denying him sex for a year. Not true. He never made any real move to have sex (not that I would have). It’s all bs. I guess he was having an EU faux-affair and can’t admit it. I can.

  43. Arlena says:

    Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Still lying knocked out on the floor!
    A black eyed glutton for NML’s “truth hammer”.

    For healing reasons I withdrew, cocooned and enjoy whenever possible my energy centre, my couch. I heavily procrastinate not knowing if it’s a sign of self sabotage or just lack of energy.

    I hold my door closed, pretend to be busy, reading through the posts for weeks, thinking, just sitting here, breathing, going back in time and letting the pieces fall into place. Most of you know it’s hard work, it’s painful but worth it.

    I started rewriting my inner dialogues, fighting the bad voices, listening to my gut. I cut off dubious “friends” and relatives (isn’t it too harsh, what if I am at fault, no, I start trusting me) who just use me as a dump when emotionally in dire straits which gave me ample opportunity to deviate from myself. The “Universe” sends little testing, probing temptations (unsatisfied guys with gf’s on the prowl chancing their arms, a friend in total denial over a guy “inviting” me to jump on the boat making her my pet project and letting her see the light, no, I won’t – focus on myself) I cut them all off, many lessons learned… but there is an unbelievable void. I have little clue who I really am, my father set me up in comparison to even my then best friend (“Why can’t you be like that?”), sooooo painful, so setting me up for second best syndrome, I am terribly hurting…

    With another incident of an uncaring therapist I recognised that I tried to get my validation from therapists (you can’t fool the “Universe”), as external sources (I mean, they get paid and could give a bit of validation, couldn’t they?) and decided to cut her off and tend to myself, feeling the void, getting real, getting knocked out by reality, quitting illusions and not knowing where it will lead… huge step for me.

    Though internet, though distant, though not knowing you all, I feel more understood and in a safer place to heal than ever. My pace is that of an excruciatingly slow snail, NML, I don’t know how you managed to cut through the fluff in that short time, plus writing this blog, being successful, finding a bf, having two kids, other businesses, writing books and what the heck else, reaching out to us in such generosity … well, I hear my father “Why can’t you be like that?” – OMG, sigh, tears, LOL, confusion and Oh, happy Day…

    • NML says:

      Hey Arlena, let me assure you that I’m not that successful or certainly as much as I’d like to eventually be. I don’t do it all and probably of all the things I’ve struggled with it’s now the work life balance. There are loads of things I want to do work wise – still on my todo list. Self-esteem wise – I had no choice but to deal with myself and force a change of habits. My health was at stake and fear of not living a life you didn’t value that much until you thought you might not have it to eff up anymore can do funny things to you. There are 3 main major habits that I’ve tackled – smoking (10.5 years off them), assclowns and unavailables (6 years) and not chatting shit about myself, poor self-esteem etc (also 6 years).

      If I can crack procrastination/time management and more confidence in me professionally, that would be my next habits.

      Basically we’re all works in progress. It goes at a snails pace or at least seems to initially but a few months down the line it will accelerate. You don’t always know at the time how good you’re doing – hindsight is a great thing.

      • Fearless says:

        “If I can crack procrastination/time management and more confidence in me professionally, that would be my next habits.”

        Those are exactly the things I have on my list of next things to tackle. Am the type that’d be late for my own funeral. But for what it’s worth coming from me you should absolutely have complete confidence in yourself professionally – just never, ever change your style of delivery (not for anyone, or any publisher) that’s where the real punch is in your work – you take many of the tired old cliches and seemingly meaningless platitudes about relationships that (when you get to my age) you’ve heard a zillion times before from one old auntie or another and you make them meaningful, truly applicable, truly real; you pin it all down in straight talking no frills fashion so that you hold a mirror up to all of us – and we *see*; you get right into the very heart of the matter, stripping away all the driftwood, the ambiguities and all the general fuzz that usually surrounds all of this stuff.

        Off topic!! So let me say that this is n example:
        “What many people don’t recognise about grieving the loss of relationships is that it’s not just about when you break a relationship; it can also be about grieving the loss of hope and what you thought might be.”

        I have has some idea of this but hadn’t verbalised it to myself. It’s spot on. Giving up my “hope” for what might have been is what really crushed me (and what kept me so stuck). To walk away from my hopes and let them go… and to build new hopes from seemingly nothing. Yes. That’s the real sense of loss; I can hardly feel loss of a barely there relationship with Mr Absent – “hiding behind his phone” (that made me chuckle!) But coming to accept that my hopes were actually futile, founded on ‘dreams’ and not on reality makes them, I think, for me at least, now seem less of a loss – false hope… fools gold… and all that – no loss. I’ve not lost anything “real” so I’ve not lost anything at all actually – this helps me to realise that nothing has really, practically changed – that there is nothing to fear. All I did was take my head out of the clouds and so now my life has a ‘promise’ that it didn’t have before. I gain. I don’t know what’s in front of me but I know it holds more genuine promise than all the empty promises I have left behind with the EUM…

        • Artemisia says:

          “confidence in me professionally, that would be my next habits.”


          Well by how this blog is doing, and how much help you have given us, this should give you a well earned and deserved confidence shot.

          I really believe that when you deal with things that hold you back emotionally, you confidence spills in other areas, you sometimes don’t notice because your mind is a still dancing using an old steps routine.

          I found that once I tackled my EU and my own emotional limitation imprinting I realized I had a problem with some of my friends. Many girlfriends were like my mother ( head in the sand, rescue me,take care of me, no everything is fine) – and my EU’s were like my dad ( I don’t know what you are on about, I do what I want , this is not confusing – you have a problem I don’t – in that they were right about). So some of my friendships dissolved.

          I have a friend who bugs me, she is a bit of a Pollyanna, she has fallen in love with a guy she is just bumping into at work , she has started dressing real nice (Sunday best most days) and expect the man to notice her ( knows nothing about him beside that he says hello, how are you and smile nice). She has a relationship in her head, and talking to her is real difficult, because I seem to intrude in her dream sequence with my questions, like – IS HE AVAILABLE? HE HASN’T ASKED YOU OUT YET NO? I can no longer stand and listen to her dreams, nodding approvingly and I want to scream : YOU ARE DREAMING, WAKE UP, I feel like I am in Inception and no KICK is going to wake her up from LIMBO.

          She holds on the positive-affirmations and cuts anything negative out ( I am the voice of doom – I am indeed the type who likes to plan for the worse and hope for the best and think a woman’s sexuality is something she needs to work on first rather than wait for the man to work it out for you) . I know life is not fair, that The Secret is crap and you don’t always land on your feet. I lost my job, I was homeless, I sofa surfed, I learned a great deal about myself and found pools of great resilience in places I did not existed – me. So I have a warped view of fairy tales. She is struck in Twilight and I am in Allan Ball’s True Blood trying to integrate light and darkness.

          Once you have escape a false reality, I find it impossible and worse unwilling to go back to it.

      • Arlena says:

        Thanks, Nat, for your uplifting words and letting me know that you still are human ;) greatly appreciated. Please take good care of yourself, don’t burn out.

  44. Em says:

    I am the living definition of a dreamer, and so is my friend that I´ve had a platonic love affair (I laugh as I write it) with. I commented on a picture of the two of us on what would appear to outsiders to be a very romantic holiday abroad, just the two of us (…) with “two dreamers off to see the world” – not even realising it´s “drifters” ;)

    We actually haven´t met yet, after the timeout he initiated for me to be able to move on romantically and for us to remain friends, but we´ve talked on the phone (me calling) and emailed a lot (him, mainly, and he´s writing me the longest emails), and I look forward to seeing him again (when he arranges for us to meet – I asked him over for dinner on Sunday, but he was out of town that day, so the ball is on his side of the field), but, and this is so telling, I am a bit disappointed that the spark seems to be gone from my side. Can you believe it? I miss the intensity and unarmedness of our former communication (he´s still unarmed, perhaps even more so than before, but I´m just not able to respond in the same dedicated manner), and the last email I got from him, even if it touched upon philosophical issues and was genuine and personal – it was a bit… boring. Have I kept this alive for years on purpose, as a drug to keep me from the pain of a) my conflict with my mother and b) something to focus on during the rebound phase from my breakup? I suspect I have. Much because I´ve longed for a safe haven after my before-this boyfriend, where there was much passion but also much conflict. And he – the guy friend I´m now finally falling out of love with – told me once, that he didn´t think it´d last from my side if we gave it a try. That I´d get bored with being in love with my best friend after a few years. I don´t think I would have, though, had we started a real, committed relationship including sex. But at least I´m glad we didn´t start a real, non-committed relationship including sex. And I also can´t believe I am actually looking at pictures of him and not swallowing the pictures with my eyes, it´s just, you know, pictures. I wonder if it´ll stay this way when we do meet.

    We were each other´s rebounders, basically. Now I am emotionally single for the first time since childhood. I feel like Bambi on ice. It is tiring, I´m not skilled at it, but it´s also a bit fun :)

    • grace says:

      I don’t have a good feeling about this. Here’s my tuppence worth:
      time out he initiated- he dumped you
      me calling – he doesn’t call you
      him emailing – he prefers to keep you at arm’s length
      longest emails – you’re overvaluing crumbs
      out of town – he blew you off
      And the fact that you’re ambiguous about him makes it even more dodgy.
      Careful, the ice is thin, you could fall right through it.

      • Em says:

        Hi Grace, thanks for the input.

        Yes, clearly, he dumped me. At last, I´d say. I wouldn´t have moved an inch had he not, and that´s fascinating, sad and a bit scary. Why did I not leave the non-relationship myself? Because it was so soothing. Because I felt as if I was finally allowed to be me. Because I had a boyfriend, but I didn´t. Which suited me just fine for a long time. I could text him at 3 AM and get an immediate, thoughtful reply, and I had so much space. I was desperate for that space, newly single as I was. I had someone to do boyfriendstuff with, but no demands that I choose him over anyone else, and while we spent a lot of time together, I was super-social also with other people during that time. Now I´m not. As if a huge sign: GONE THINKING. BACK AFTER CHRISTMAS. is standing outside my house. And now I´m happier.

        Also, I´m not sure if I´d have been where I am now had I not been reading this blog as if I were reading for the exam of my lifetime. Which I kind of feel that I am, really. I haven´t been anyone else´s Fallback Girl before, but I think I began my romantic career as a serious Miss Unavailable. Not that I´d have admitted that at the time, I was in a committed relationship for many years and was sexually faithful, but mentally I was everywhere else.

        With this guy, it´s always been a lot of written communication both ways (we´re both into writing and our correspondence over the past years could have been published as a novel), but I decided I won´t spend night after night composing lengthy emails any longer, so I called. He still emails, and I wait some days before I reply, friendly but short. Not as a strategy, but because it doesn´t engage me as it used to. I guess he feels a bit cut off, but yeah. So be it, he´ll have to be able to take that.

        Out of town – he was in fact a two-hour flight away. Which I had been told, but had forgotten. Half a year ago, I would have had his calendar memorised.

        In my absence he decided to take up two full-time jobs. And see a psychologist, actually. His issues seem bigger from a distance, yet they engage me less. I wish him all the best, of course. I just don´t believe any longer that the best for him is to be with me. Nor vice versa. And rushes of lightness and joy run through me as I type this.

        Also, we get embarrassed a lot, both of us, these days, about what´s been going on. We´ve emailed about the whole pedestal thing and how unpleasant it is for me to face that when the rose-tinted glasses come off – and he´s also uncomfortable about the fact that he´s whined to me about stuff (I didn´t use Natalie´s word ego stroke, but he wrote: maybe I just need to deal with my big ego rather than have you comfort me).

        I hope the friendship can survive. I really do.

        • Lynda from L says:

          Em, sorry but I ‘m mystified at why you have spent the time you appear to have engaging this guy…and seeing him as you do. Like Grace said it’s a non relationship and he’s not treating you well, not turning up,using you for comforting etc…you haven’t met this guy, be thankful that you never have and spend time investing in a real relationship. The overwhelming feeling I get when I read your comment is that you are distracting yourself from real life. You are Rapunzel in the tower,this guy isn’t gonna cut through a forest to get to you..!!

          • Em says:

            Hi Lynda,

            I´m not here to learn more about who he is and why, I´m here to learn more about who I am and why :)

            He´s never failed to turn up when he said he would, but he´s turned down invitations (as have I) sometimes. The thing is, back when he had feelings for me, he did at one point say he was willing to let go of his commitment fear and give us a try. It totally freaked me out. I told him I wasn´t ready for that. And I wasn´t; I was very recently single.

            And now that it´s leaving me, the crush, I am much, much more sad about the fact that I´m falling out of love than I have ever been about the fact that he stopped wanting to have a romantic relationship. I mourn the waning of my feelings.

            I have been in love constantly since I was old enough to fall in love. I´ve used it as a drug to avoid having to deal with real life. Natalie wrote here somewhere something along the lines of “if you´re running to a man who doesn´t want a relationship with you, it´s time to look at what you´re running away from.” That´s what I´m doing these days.

            My first boyfriend, who I was with for years, was a silent, unexciting, shy, anti-social (stable, intelligent, sporty, hard-working), type who´d hardly opened a book of fiction in his entire life. He didn´t validate me on anything that was important to me (and then married someone who was “pleasantly unambitious” – his words). I was bored and unchallenged. And ever since then I have been so afraid of boredom that I´ve gone to great lenghts to avoid it.

            But there has to be a middle way.

  45. Carrie says:

    I think my ex lives in a fantasy world about himself. He has many Narcissistic traits and is one of the most self involved people I’ve ever known. Yesterday I asked him to pay off the rest of his TV balance ($250) so I could move on completely and today his response was a total freak out! He’d been playing Mr. Hyde for the past 4 months, Mr. I’m so sorry, and finally today Dr. Jekyll came out just as I’ve been waiting for. I knew it would happen eventually! I feel vindicated that his true colors finally showed through and it’s actually allowing me to really let it all go. It’s like, oh yah – I almost forgot what a completely ass you can be! Thanks for the reminder! Here’s the email –

    I’m sick of dealing with this too, but I made an agreement with you, and I intend to keep it. I’m sorry interaction with me still is what it is for you. I hope someday you will learn that people make mistakes, and holding any ill will towards them is not an effective way of moving forward and truly moving on. Must be nice to be someone who never makes a mistake, and never will.

    You will get your money, and then never see or hear from me again.

    Heh don’t you love that he’s “threatening” to never speak to me again? Like that’s a bad thing? I just love the “drama’ of the 5 spaces in between his last sentence. For a second I almost responded, but everything I learned here came back to me and I didn’t bother. There’s no need to defend myself and all those mistakes I don’t make lol. He’s lashing out and expecting that I’ll beg him to talk to me again. He needs to be in control of the situation and I have shown him how in control I am of myself by being mostly NC and keeping things neutral when contact is necessary. It’s interesting that it took the same amount of time to show his true douchery that it took when we first met. Apparently his “nice guy” act has an expiration date of 4 months.

    • grace says:

      forget the money. if it was $2500 it may be worth pursuing, but even then I might just chalk it up to experience.
      i think you are kidding yourself if you think you are “handling” this. the way to handle this is to cut him off completely.

      • Carrie says:

        Up until this 180 degree turnaround on his side, it’s been working relatively well with him giving me $100 a month like we agreed on and paying for his car insurance until it ended this month. I do agree with completely dropping contact now, even for the monetary stuff. At this point it’s almost pocket change and maybe he’ll pay and maybe he won’t, but I won’t be sending him a “reminder” anymore. This is the end of it for me.

    • Natasha says:

      Ahhhh Carrie, it’s the classic sh*tbag move of pitching a fit when asked to pay up. A few years ago, a girlfriend of mine got hooked into paying the cell bill of a jackass she was dating. He insisted that he’d be paying her back when he could. When he dropped her like a hot rock, she asked him to pay her back. He went all Dr. Jerkyll on her as well, making it seem like she had some nerve asking for it. I think that’s the intention – to make you feel like you are being a jerk for asking him to pay you back. I agree with Grace, chalk it up to experience.

      • Fearless says:

        You’re all getting your Jekylls and Hydes mixed up: Dr Jekyll is the ‘good’ side and Mr Hyde is the ‘evil’ side.

        (the name “Hyde” suggests the uncivilized, animalistic aspect of human nature which is supposedly hidden (as in “hide”) behind a veneer of respectability.)

        Hope that contribution helps solve this terrible problem! :)

        Great book!

        • Natasha says:

          Whoooooops! Thank you for correcting that girl – otherwise, my comment doesn’t actually make any sense haha! It would be like, “She asked him for the money and he acted like a rational human being.” I love the Hyde = hiding behind behind a veneer of respectability – oh, so true, so true ;)

        • Carrie says:

          Hahaha that *does* make a huge difference! Thanks for the clear up!

  46. Magnolia says:

    Thanks Natalie. Wow, this post has really opened people up. I’m going to go back and reread some of the feelings diary posts – I’m skeptical as to how much they might help someone like myself who has written diaries her whole life, usually detailing in EPIC length all my feelings and concerns! Every time I clear out my desk there are always papers where I have tried to write out my goals, my anger, my letters to exes or parents, my unpublishable angsty poems! Oh, the humanity.

    I think I have had a rescue fantasy my whole life. Whether it was ever fully articulated or not, I have imagined that other people must feel much differently than I do, and that one day, someone would come along and say, “You’re supposed to feel like this, sweetheart,” and then grant me permission and support to feel accepted, loved, confident, etc.

    I have had a tendency to idealize my therapists, or the authors of self-help books, too, taking everything they say as “reality” and my take on things as unreliable. Figuring out that balance, between being in the same world as everyone else, but understanding your own reality as subjective and that it’s still up to you to judge/trust your gut, is the name of the game, I guess.

    Thanks for sharing some of the more recent moments you’ve had, Natalie, as it’s an important reminder that you, though you are our fearless leader, still have such moments.

    Do you know that the last few interactions, even at this recent conference – well, it was like I *knew* I didn’t have to make a big deal out of the moments of insensitivity, but it felt weird, almost scary and like balancing on a tightrope, to just let them bounce off me? My sister also annoyed me recently, and I went into my head for a bit berating her, but then was like, I don’t need to do this. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but letting go of the reaction of a tirade in my head actually felt quite risky, almost like I could feel my chest and my throat as exposed. If anyone can relate to that I’d love to hear it.

    • ixnay says:


      I’ve been reading this blog for a few months, including your comments. And since I identify with you and how you operate in the world, I wonder if I can suggest something I am only now realizing about myself.

      I am very, very angry. But I had no awareness of that. At all. I never felt angry. But I did spend a lot of time in fantasies occasioned by what I saw as others’ insensitivity or misunderstanding me. Hours and hours of imaginary conversations, self-justifying soliloquies. In these fantasies I was always wronged, a victim, and they would somehow see the error of their ways. I even would have fantasies of being wrongly accused — like of murder, and I would have to prove my innocence.

      It is only now sort of hazily coming into focus that all of this is a sort of displacement for dealing with anger in real situations in real time, in the moment, authentically. There are things that I *genuinely* should be angry about, but the consequences of expressing — or even feeling — that anger in the moment were terrifying (loss). So I could only experience anger in safer situations, like small social slights or even entirely made-up scenarios.

      What made me realize this recently was that as well as being incredibly rational, understanding, and non-confrontational in situations that should evoke healthy (self-protective) anger, I also have mini-rage episodes. They are usually provoked by someone behaving with what I see as selfish entitlement. Like one time I saw this guy in a sports car pull a U-turn against the light and then back (also against the light) into a cross-street parking space. In doing so, he sped through 2 crosswalks where pedestrians had the right-of-way. I just lost my sh*t on him — I was shaking and screaming. And last week I actually went ballistic on a guy (neighbor, but I didn’t know him) who leaned on my buzzer at midnight on a Monday, waking me from a deep sleep. Rather than ignore the buzzer, I went downstairs and screamed at him, and when he pushed by me to enter the building I put my hands on his chest to push him back. I went from cozy-comfy asleep to unbelievable rage in 10 minutes. In both of these cases I went over and over the incidents, defending myself to an imaginary jury.

      I think I am finally understanding that what fuels the ruminations and gives rise to the outbursts (which i never see coming) is unexpressed anger about … real things involving people I deeply care about. True, people can be inconsiderate or even assholes. But that becomes then a safer place to vent or a safer situation to obsess about. The question for me is — what am I really angry about? When didn’t I feel or express legitimate anger such that I had to pull it into my head and spend hours experiencing imaginary victimization, self-righteousness, and vindication. What was I afraid I would lose if I stood up for myself when it really counted?

      For someone who thinks so much, and so deeply, and with such insight, I have been unconscious. Sleepwalking.

      And I think that since, along with romantic-rescue fantasies, these “righting injustice” fantasies have been part of my mental landscape for a long time, the anger is old, from childhood, and also revitalized when I choose situations that replay the original wounds. Since I can’t really remember or access those early feeling-situations, I invest smaller, safer social slights in the present with huge significance.

      I think I need to work backwards. See what pushes my buttons and then thing “what does this remind me of?” And then “what does that remind me of, even earlier?”

      I want to free myself from defensive ruminations, victim-fantasies, and inappropriate acting-out. I want to not drag unprocessed anger around with me, pinning it on new situations.

      For myself, and just see if this slightly resonates, a big clue to this is worrying and replaying a small situation (like your colleagues at the conference or annoying sister). The feelings fuel the rumination, but the feelings are too big for the ostensible trigger.

      • Em says:

        That comment got me thinking – what are my fantasies about? The ones about him and the ones not about him? The daydreams? Will keep a daydream diary from now on ;)

      • grace says:

        Fantastic insight. I had depression on and off for years. Some say that depression is anger turned inwards. I identify with that.
        You expressed your anger differently but I understand exactly whre you’re coming from. And I did use to have the odd blowout too, usually when I was feeling persecuted and helpless (like I felt in my childhood).
        When I was miserable at work because I was being excluded (and I was), and going through MM drama, and stressed about finding care for my mother, I would be snappy with fellow commuters for being in my space. But they HAVE to be in my space. It’s crowded out there. These days, now that I’m happier with myself, I just smile and say “sorry!” and they usually say sorry back. If they curse me, I just skip by. It does still hurt – but for about a second rather than days. Yes, I would stress about a stranger tutting at me for DAYS!!
        As for being excluded at work, I don’t feel that anymore. Have the people changed? Only slightly. Have I changed? A lot! I suppose I could anaylse the whys and wherefors but, truthfully, I don’t care to as it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Freedom!
        Back on topic, we bury our real issues by distraction. If we’re inventing whole fantasy lives and a future with a man we barely see – maybe we need to look at ourselves rather than obsess about what he’s doing “wrong”. And that’s not to say we should criticise ourselves. It’s about taking care of ourselves properly.

        • ixnay says:

          For me it would be helpful to shift my focus from “they pushed” to “my buttons.” What are these buttons? Where did they come from? Am I so attached to these particular buttons that I want to identify with them for the rest of my life?

          This reminds me of some cop book I read where the detective writes about the waste of “dis” murders. Someone feels dissed. They retaliate.

          Yesterday my coworker said “it’s good that they’re prosecuting [someone who gamed the system, resulting in new security measures]. I can’t stand people who cheat to get ahead. It’s one of my pet peeves.”

          I agree about dishonesty, but the phrase “pet peeve” is so telling. It’s being ruefully proud of your buttons — and identifying yourself with them.

          Sometimes it seems like New York, where I live, is composed of people bumping up against one another’s pet peeves, feeling dissed, and feeling compelled to “school” each other on “respect” or “common courtesy.” Which in turn feels like being dissed to the other person, and so on.

          In terms of fantasy and reality, I think if I start being mindful of my buttons, becoming less reactive and more open-endedly curious, it might cut both ways. Dis-identifying with pet peeves, which are not my core self or best self. And similarly dis-identifying with escapist rescue/love scenarios.

          I do a lot of bodywork because I have a severe scoliosis. And since I believe in, and have experienced, real change in my physical state (bones are living tissue, not immutable), I know that it is similarly possible (if harder) to change my mental/emotional state. The bodywork is all about movement repatterning. We have patterns we’re unaware of, that exacerbate symptoms we believe are simply “how I am.”

          And here’s a secret about repatterning: you don’t have to fight yourself. It turns out the best way to lengthen the spine and release the asymmetry of the torso and hips is to release the limbs, relax the toes, soften the eyes and jaw, and let go of the habit of “pushing” or forcing the spine straighter.

          And I think that’s a metaphor. For core identity issues, don’t jump into the most painful beliefs and symptoms and try to “give yourself a dose of reality.” Start at the edges, where it’s easiest. That makes space for the larger things to simply shift and release.

          • Magnolia says:

            ixnay and grace: thanks. it was a little hard, seeing you say this, because it was a whole six or seven years ago, now, when a guy I dated briefly, who I still see now and then through the work scene, said to me, “You’re super angry.” And I was like, no I’m not. And he said: “It’s right at the surface with you.” Reading your comment, I felt like I was hearing it again, after so many years of work. I am not saying you’re wrong. I just hear so many folks say: “I let go of my anger.” Seems like for some it’s a big throwing off of weight. Why can I not just do this? Just stop, already? Every time I think I let something go, there’s more bile there. Okay, deep breath. Last night I decided to stop being polite and write unsent eff-you letters to oh, everyone. I just wrote until I hit my word count and told people I didn’t even think I was mad at to go eff themselves. It was kind of fun. I guess that says something. I didn’t realize how much I really want to do that. Maybe once I get it out of my head and on paper the revenge fantasies will let up. Anyway thanks again.

          • grace says:

            There is nothing wrong with feeling angry per se (except it does cause stress). But we need to know what we’re angry about. Am I REALLY angry at the silly girl who elbowed me at the station or am I mad that my parents ignored me and pushed me around, and then several men?
            I couldn’t just let it go. I had depression, counselling, more counselling, this site, support from my family, church. It took a long time. It’s not about shifting from being angry at others to being angry at yourself and telling yourself that you “should” do this and that, and feeling like a failure when you can’t do within a certain timeframe. However, by listening to our bodies, paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, and taking advice from appropriate sources, we can certainly move it a long.
            The full acknowledgement of the wrongs against us are the first step to recovery. It’s not pleasant, it’s like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but good things on the other side.

  47. JuliaT says:

    Another spot-on post from Natalie. I am a dreamer – it doesn’t take much to set me off. Even when I’ve not been particularly interested in someone, one small thing: a remark, a compliment, something in common can ignite the dreaming. I don’t / didn’t know I was doing it. Unavailables must adore us – all the future faking and fast forwarding is like kerosene on our dream embers. Luckily I put the last fire out after six months, but my mind still wanders back to the flames. It’s the “grieving the loss of hope” or rather the loss of that perfect dream that still hurts. I know he is an UA/MM and that it was an illusion, unreal, fake, but when self esteem is low dreams are very powerful and linger on. I just need to make the reality more attractive than the dream. Reading BR helps more than I can say.

  48. Princessdiamond 123 says:


    This article is just Awesome, I wanted to confirm a lot of points you’ve made but I would just be copying&pasting the majority of the article rite back into my comments(don’t wanna do it), lol, omg!, It seems as if you’re looking through my window (but I’m in Chicago Pres.Obama neighborhood, so that one is impossible, lol). I’m happy to know I’m not alone here but I admit, I’m a dreamer too, I just didn’t know I was this far gone into being a dreamy person,lol. I realize I have a lot of work to do within reality… I agree that I have had several traumatic experiencing(losses,deaths of close friends& my play mom) that have opened me to these problematic behavioral choices, so many things happening at once.

    The Chicago Bears where in London, OMG!!

  49. geminiflutter says:

    This article is sooo me! I only recognized a couple of years ago how much fantasizing I do. It doesn’t have to be romantic. But, all of my romances are colored in by my fantasies. I’ve even told my sister that “I never know what people will say.” I think that is because reality rarely matches what is going on in my head. I started this as a child. At this point, I can’t even fall asleep without “telling myself a story.”

    Which brings me to current – my ex EUM/AC/cheater, whatever to call him, he rejected me after four years of waiting for him to choose me over his wife. Instead, he chose another woman entirely who we both (he & I) work with. It has been devastating and I’m finding it hard to heal with the situation right in front of my face every day.

    I have never had such a hard time getting over someone. But, I built HUGE castles around this guy because he met one or two of the criteria I need. With the recent turn of events, it seems reality is crashing at me constantly. I’m kind of amazed that I had managed to construct a world that so clearly didn’t match reality. But, some nights, I just can’t sleep. Reality won’t let me dream.

    This website has been amazing in helping me to see some of these patterns. At the moment, I cling to it like a security blanket. Thank you sooooo much!

  50. colororange says:

    I saw this and it fits: When you really matter to someone, that person will always make time for you. No excuses, no lies and no broken promises.

    Obviously, we don’t matter much to these EUMs or we only matter when they’re shopping around for attention.

  51. Pygmalia says:

    I tend to be a dreamer especially when the opportunity catches me off guard. I’m not one who looks for romance, so when a cool guy comes on to me, it’s always a nice and welcome surprise. The last time this happened, I followed his lead. I was 100% there, wanting to date, but although he kept saying he wanted us to get together outside work, he’d never follow through. We were co-workers, so he kept our interactions strictly within working hours – asking me to lunch, happy hours – but never followed through on outings he’d suggest outside work.

    I kept making excuses for him and telling myself, “Maybe this time he means it and he’ll call.” It never happened. The odd thing is that I never called him or sent a text message because I didn’t want to sweat him. I thought, “If he’s really into me, he’d call, right?” Well, he still managed to sense that I was really into him. He continued with his charade and as long as I continued liking him, the fantasy remained.

    I didn’t call him out until I finally realized he only saw me as a pigeon waiting for him to throw me some crumbs. Someone like that never respected me and when you think about it like that, the fantasy fades. Another thing is that he knew he was good at being a charmer and I think he got off on that. He always paid when we had lunch, complimented me often and while those were nice gestures, they were just part of his game.

    • Used says:

      Love that–excellent analogy–”a pigeon” waiting to be thrown crumbs. Yes, it’s pigeons who are (or seem to be) happy w/mere crumbs.

      Funny that these guys get off on the attention they feel they need to receive. THEY are the more pathetic ones. You never stooped to his level–of needing validation, etc.

      LOSER dude.

      • SM says:

        Totally agree. THEY are the losers, needing to string someone along to make them feel good about themselves. I think these ac’s have lower self esteem than us fallback girls. I may be guilty of the latter but I dont need to have a roledex of men to call to make me feel good about myself.

  52. Michelle L says:

    I think maybe the universe has just sent me my one last ass. I had a one month relationship this past May with a future faking MM who assured me his marriage was over. When I realized it wasn’t I went NC and have been true to that except for a brief email slip-up to decline his request for friendship. End of story with him. I avoid him at work, and it is working, I am moving on. In the last month or so though a guy at work who really seemed to like me has been finding reasons to spend time with me (in the work setting). My colleague said she thought he had a crush on me. I started to dream. Today he stopped by to chat for a while, and after he got back to his office he sent an email “that was a nice break.” And now I have just found out tonight he is attached. I feel so disappointed and discouraged. I have been doing everything right I thought. Getting out and meeting people, doing things for myself, trying new things, seeing a counselor, being happy alone. I am 48 and have been divorced for 7 years. I have made my way in life, I am reasonably successful at work, I have friends who care about me. I have always tried only to love. Even with the MM I was just trying to love, I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I feel like I was deceived by him. I am basically a good person and I feel like there must be someone who would be happy to be loved by me and share their life with me. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Now I need to set some boundaries for this person at work, and I will do it, because I have learned my lessons here at BR. I just feel such a loss of hope. I am tired of grieving.

    • Fearless says:


      “Even with the MM I was just trying to love,”

      Just trying to love an MM is not only a waste of time, it’s very painful, as you have discovered – there really isn’t any “just” about it – it’s a very damaging situation for all concerned. Don’t throw your love at people willy-nilly cos you’re ‘just trying to love’ someone; You did the right thing to walk away from the MM – and good too that you know you need to now ignore the current attached chancer – if you keep filtering out the cheating chancers (et al), you can’t fail do do better for yourself and also meet someone who deserves you and your love.

    • Crumbs No More says:


      Just read your post. I agree with Fearless. Sorry to hear you’ve had some bad luck in the love department, you are not alone. The past two guys I’ve really cared about have been EUM who I did not recognize at once for who they were b/c I was sucked into their charm, good looks, “care and concern” for me…all the while they were doling out crumbs of affection to me while KNOWING that I had romantic feelings… Got angry/annoyed with me for wanting more, hot and cold, all that junk…It’s made me seriously question myself, why are you naturally drawn to these types of men? I’ve realized it’s b/c they remind me of my father in some ways, kind and charming during the short times we share and then absent emotionally or seemingly disinterested in my life most of the time. I kept thinking I could “win them over” make them more interested and show more affection if only I gave more, was sweeter, lost more weight, was funnier, etc. Talk about feeling your self esteem/self-respect take hits. At least now I know where it’s all stemming from & how to better deal with it all. I don’t know if you have a similar history but you might want to think back to the male role models in your life growing up and if you’re drawn to those somewhat similar to them or not. Trying to break my pattern. I’m sorry to hear you’re hurting. Our wounds will heal with time. We need to focus on loving ourselves more & learn to quickly hit the “mental flush” button on those EUM men. I believe we will each one day meet the guys we are meant to be with. In the meanwhile lets create a more full life. In my experience the EUMS at work are the worst b/c you see them so often. Personally I am somewhat shy & sweet & I think they pick up on that & take advantage unless I am acting self aware with my guards up. I am learning to do this. See through the charm and flattery. Have your guard up, tell the next ones you have a bf even if it’s not true, maybe they will buzz off faster. HUGS

      • Michelle L says:

        Crumbs No More,

        Thank you so much for the support. I have learned so much from this site and am trying to get at the root cause for my bad relationship choices. My father had depression and I think that made him unavailable to me in some sense, although he was an incredibly good man with a good heart. I think that all my life I have been looking for a man to love me. I am done with that though. No more trying to win a man at any cost so that I am loved. I’ve realized since this latest attached-guy almost disaster that what I’ve really needed all these years is for me to love me.

  53. Tyla says:

    I really relate to your posts! I constantly have arguments in my head with people who aren’t there to hear them too. I also feel like a mess and social misfit most days. I wad reading Nat’s response to you, the part where she said she could walk around assuming people know she’s aftaid of social rejection, looking at her phone or just saying hi and keep walking…this is what I do all the time! And I think a lot of it is avoidance, because of the “hard knocks in life” Nat mentioned in her post. I mean my life sorta sucks. I left my EUM after almost 7 years of utter bullshit about a year and a half ago. Do I feel better a year and a half later? No. Actually, I’ve been alone for a year and a half, not even a date, not even anyone interested in a date! He however, moved on 2 months later and I’ve seen him with her several times, and he of course STILL see’s me alone 1.5 years later…and I gave this guy everything I had. prior to that I was alone and very lonely for years, and prior to that I was burned big time by another guy. So yes, I’ve taken some “hard knocks” and my first ex is married and the last idiot has been with the same girl since we broke up. I have everything, they gave nothing. Anyway point being, I’m tired, I’m drained, and it easier to live in a “safe” fantasy then throw yourself out there yet again to deal with thus kind of shit. I mean, I’ve gone through hardships for years, I’m sure others have too…but it becomes REALLY difficult to remain optimistic and positive about this when nothing good happens, actually quite the opposite… Your worst nightmare keeps becoming a reality with every person you’re with. Come on, something’s gotta give!

    • Allie says:


      I feel like you, tired and drained and in need of a escape route. When I catch myself fantazying, I try to stop and think that living in fantasy is like living in denial and that at the end i am still alone and not getting what I really want.

      It’s hard, its like an addiction.

  54. Pygmalia says:

    One thing I’m not clear on in Natalie’s post is the idea that women in this situation don’t want or fear a real relationship. Why would anyone prefer a false or one-sided relationship in which they’re led on over someone showing interest and actually wanting to pursue something with you? Just curious.

    I think in my situation, I was looking for him to validate that I’m date material, pretty enough, etc. Can’t believe I ever cared what someone like that thought of me. Shame on me!

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Speaking only for myself, it’s *not* what my higher self prefers; my higher self would like to be truly loved and seen for the beautiful person I am inside and out. However, the deeply ingrained pattern from childhood, the one that I know so well (inconsistent “love” from both mother and father, childhood sexual abuse, and being too “artistic” for many of my peers [thus feeling isolated and as one who doesn't fit in]) is the one that has driven me to make choices from a *diminished* sense of self. When you make choices from a pattern of *less than* and do so for a long time, it may seem that you *prefer* it–you start to normalize it, as if that’s all you’re worth because that’s all you’ve known. An escape into fantasy is *infinitely* safer, as you can imagine.

    • Gaman says:

      Because the fantasy is much easier to deal with than the reality. I thought I had a wonderful guy who adored me. I wanted a deep, long-lasting, supportive friendship based on mutual trust and respect. And he wanted a shag. That was the reality I didn`t want to deal with, but once I did take the specs off and see it for what it really was, hurtful and painful as it was, I was able to start taking the steps to get out of it.

      I was validating myself very much on what he thought of me looking down from way up high on the pedestal I had put him on. And then I realised with someone as effed up as him, his opinion really counts for nothing anyway!

  55. KLM says:

    I have to confess to being both a dreamer and a shopper in recent weeks. I would absolutely emphasise that the two go hand-in-hand. In one way, I’ve been a dreamer with a guy I like very much, who has responded very positively whenever I’ve initiated contact with him, and on our dates, but who rarely initiates contact with me – nevermind, I’ve managed to use what material I do have to “fill in the gaps” of the narrative. To keep me busy and distracted and “cool”, however, I’ve been shopping with another guy, who I am somewhat interested in, but do not see a future with. He texts me a lot, which is great – keeps my mind of the real target of my affections – and I’ll text him, throw him the odd piece of meat to keep him hanging around, and make promises of a forthcoming meet-up that I’m not sure will materialise. His attention bolsters my self-esteem when I’m feeling disappointed that the first guy is not showing enough interest. So, I absolutely see how dreaming and shopping work symbiotically. Call me a player but I think most dreamers have been shoppers at some point – different sides of the same coin, not good vs. evil.

    • grace says:

      Good v evil is overstating it. I do think, though, that we are so unfocused and directionless that we try to make it about right, wrong, good, bad in an attempt to steer ourselves. Ultimately, what do we really want and are we living our lives and makng decisions in accordance with that? While there is nothing inherently wrong with what you’re doing, it does sound messy. I’m not keen on women seeking self-esteem from men. That’s cos I have five nieces. I wouldn’t want any of them courting male interest to feel good about themselves. And while your situation may be intriguing, and even seems harmless cos none of it seems to be serious, from my own experience of such dalliances it will end badly or, at least, in disappointment.

    • Jennifer says:


      I feel the exact same way. I have been a dreamer and shopper with different men. The men who have the characteristics (good job, successful, charming, funny) that I desire, tend to throw me crumbs and I end up fantasizing intensely about them in result. They also tend to be married or in a relationship – they see me as a friend but I secretly view them as more. The ones that I have dated, I have not been much interested in, and I throw hot and cold signals to them. I’ve seen a pattern in my behavior – the men who express too much interest in me and don’t possess my ideal characteristics, I am ambivalent towards. The men who are unavailable (literally, because they are already in a relationship or marriage) and are my type, I obsess about. In some sense, my attraction derives from the on and off personality of my father growing up – he was kind at times but by and large not around. I need to get myself out of this unhealthy mindset and start living my REAL life instead of getting caught up in this fantasy crap.

  56. blindedbythefeeling says:

    I am a dreamer, and have not had a ‘real’ relationship for 10 years – most of my adult life. I realise now I am a commitment phobe. In my early 20s I imagined I would not marry and settle down till I was about 30, but that I would have satisfying and rewarding medium term relationships (3-5 years) before then. I have not had that at all – quite the opposite, I have become a fallback girl, being involved with Shoppers, Cheats – all manner of Mr Unavailables. The ‘relationship’ I have just come out of lasted for 9 mostly miserable months and I have just discovered that he is not split up from his ex – they are still together. I met her last week and asked her and finally got the answers. He has been emotionally controlling and manipulative with his compulsive lies and has got me into a complete spin.

    I realise that I have forgotten what a real relationship feels like. Although he introduced me to his girlfriend and I met his friends (who covered for him) and he did ‘boyfriend’ type stuff, my friends would exclaim things like “you haven’t heard from him all week?” and “he hasn’t been over for dinner?!” and I would kind of shrug and in a feeble voice say “no…but I’m giving him space” or “no, he’s really busy”. My friends’ reactions come from having real relationship experiences – I remember now that I used to be like that!! I’m not anymore and I don’t know how I slipped into these horrid relationship habits…but I did…it’s a slippery slope. Now I want to stop them but I just don’t know how. I have read Natalie’s posts about having boundaries and being happy in your own life – I have a very full life with friends and family and I have boundaries. I even have boundaries with men, but I think they aren’t strong enough and I have spent a lot of time trying to be a fixer and giving them the benefit of the doubt too much.

    How do you stop being a dreamer and get real???

    • greengirl says:

      I completely relate to the part where you say “I realise that I have forgotten what a real relationship feels like”

      My first relationship went on for two years where basically I let him treat me like I was nothing. I expected nothing and made a million excuses for him. I honestly just had no idea how a real relationship is SUPPOSED to to.

      I am almost ten years older now that I was when that relationship happened and I wouldn’t say that I REALLY know now. How much am I entitled to, and at which stage? What is normal and understandable behavior? Since my first EUM I have had many “relationships” that go like this: guy likes me so much, for 1-2 weeks, I start to believe him, return affections, become invested, guy bails. I did have one 2.5 year relationship which was flawed but at least mutual and loving for the most part. Since that ended I went almost two years without dating, and then in the last 6 months I’ve had three brief experiences that went as I described above. I call them “emotional speed bumps”.

      I am now at the very beginning stage of a new relationship and I am completely winging it. I am really trying to not rush in, and use this as a discover period, as this blog advises. I have deliberately taken this one slower. I think now, 5 weeks in, I am in the danger zone of emotional investment. So scary….

      Add to that, I have this fear that he isn’t really someone I’m excited enough about, but honestly that is very likely because I have this freakish ability to find and be incredibly attracted to EUM, even when they seem the opposite. Those are the guys I feel “the thing” for, and if that’s true, I don’t think that “thing” I was feeling was a good thing at all.

      This guy calls me! We spend 3 evenings or more a week together! He tells me he wants a serious relationship! Is patient waiting for physical intimacy! Is generous! Is kind! Has listened and been understanding when I talk about my past experiences!

      I wish there was more of exact signs of what TO look for, instead of so many posts about how to AVOID or get away from AC’s and EUMs. What are the hallmarks of available guys?? How can I be sure he’s not a future faker??

      I think I just have to be cautions, but not TOO cautious that I become unavailable, and at some point (I’m feeling it’s soon), trust!

      I am hoping this guys is a) not EUM, and b) that I can still get the heart flutter for someone AVAILABLE and interested in ME!! (sadly, harder than it should be.)

      I am sick of being a dreamer and don’t want to be with a shopper ever again. :(

  57. gaynor says:

    you are on your way to answering that question… you get real by remaining self aware and listening to your inner voice when you see red flags.

  58. Fedup says:

    I can see why people see a MM or Mr EUM. With them you know true score. But if you put yourself back out there, you run the risk of maybe falling in love and getting seriously hurt. I don’t want to get blindsided, cheated on again or get the chop. How does one combat this?

  59. Fedup says:

    Tyla I also relate to your posts

  60. meagen19 says:

    Like a lot of people on here I had a crap childhood: alcoholism, emotional/physical/mental abuse, cold and distant family, social rejection, no examples of healthy relationships…as an adult , for a long time I’ve wallowed in that background, blaming it for the way I am. But the fact is, I AM an adult and for years I’ve made my own choices, i.e. the same mistakes over and over again, the lesson clearly never learned. And I did it with eyes open. I can no longer pass the buck back to my childhood but instead must own my mistakes.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Amen, Meagen… It may stay with you but doesn’t have to define you. It will surface at times but you can have strategies to manage your feelings about childhood trauma and move on. I grew up with alcoholism and it affected me profoundly but also made me resilient and a coper. I retreated into books and school and that gave me a love of learning and the qualifications I have today. My sister developed her wry sense of humour through some of our childhood situations…its not making a silk purse out of a sows ear…we can use what we endured for the better. I hear what you are saying though…x

  61. HowdidIgethere! says:

    Hey, its my 1st time posting but that description of the dreamer has so totally hit the nail on the head for me!!!
    I’ve been involved with a guy I work with for the past 6 months following my separation from a 14 year marriage. The guy from work is a lot younger than me and at the time we got together had a gf. We saw each a lot during the time he was with her, texted all the time (when he wasn’t with her, of course, haha!) He was so affectionate and said all the things I wanted to here. Eventually I told him that I didn’t want to continue if he didn’t end things with his gf…..and he duly did! Great right?…so wrong! Seemed ok for the first few weeks then he became more and more distant. I knew it wasn’t going to work and I said it wasn’t what I wanted….meaning I wanted him to see me more etc. He agreed it wasn’t working and ended it!!! Except he didn’t stop texting, and I still had to see him everyday at work (torture!). So, for the past 8 weeks I have been backwrds and forwards in my head, trying to figure out where I went wrong, not being able to let go, keeping the contact going. I’ve realised by reading this that I’m actually still infatuated with the person I thought he was, or was going to be, rather than who he actually is! I’ve been in love with the idea of being in love, because when I look at the situation and him rationally then its so totally not what I want. He’s a cheat, a liar, a narrcacisst, loves the attention, ego boost etc. I was never really myself around him either.
    None of that has stopped me from constructing a ‘fantasy realtionship’ in my head, where I get everything I want out of it – something that I’ve realised I do a lot (imaginary conversations etc) and have done since childhood. I now know I need to face up the reality of this ‘thing’, which has done me no good since the beginning and see it and him for what it is!!! Thank you……back to life, back to reality for me, gonna be difficult but I CAN do it!!!

  62. CHICA8 says:

    This post resonates with me, completely describes my latest burning heap o’ troubled relationship with the EUM. My question is this: how do we distinguish between the man being geniunely “confused” and us not living in reality? Are there ever circumstances where THEY are “confused” but we can do something to help them along?

    Example- the EUM would tell me such things as, “I love you, I want to be with you, you are beautiful and I think we about 90% perfect for each other, but I don’t feel close to you, and it’s because you did X, Y and Z at the beginning of the relationship, and that’s because you are closed-off.” Of course, reading this blog, I now KNOW that is all bs and him blaming me for things I couldn’t change was terrible… but how do we know WHEN to draw the line with this stuff? Is there ever a time we can acknowledge their feelings and have it change/improve? I guess that is what I’m fixated on now. .. BTW, 2 months of NC have been amazing. ..Thank you so much for this blog. Life-changing, truly.

    • A says:


      I don’t think it’s ever on us to somehow reason a guy out of his “confusion”. If he isn’t sure whether he wants a relationship with you, that’s your answer right there. While it’s easier to see in hindsight that his comments were bs, I’m guessing that even at the time there was a little voice inside of you saying that it wasn’t quite right. We need to learn to listen to that voice. Whether he’s messed up or wasn’t sure if you two were right for each other, either way, that’s the time to opt out. You deserve more than sitting around waiting to see whether he decides he wants to be with you or can “forgive” whatever mistake he claims you made.

      If you’re with a person of integrity who wants to be with you, he will want to work through any problems that may arise (i.e. he will make an effort) rather than making bs excuses and putting the blame on you.

      • CHICA8 says:


        Thank you so much for your response. Heartbreaking to think I ignored myself and waited for this fool…but this is a huge lesson learned. We do not need to bend, wait, hope, pray, think, rationalize our way through this or cross our fingers hoping they will see the light. It’s on me to decide when to stay and when to go. Looking back this seems so obvious. And you are right, this is an issue of integrity, but I see it as an issue of his integrity AND mine… A person with integrity will: 1- DECIDE to be in or out, not stay in limboland and expect me to wait, and 2- will BOUNCE when someone becomes ambivalent. Obviously if he had integrity he would have followed no. 1 and if I had integrity I would have followed no. 2. Lesson learned. Never again.

        As an aside, I am so grateful for this website and all of the strong, amazing women here. Sending good thoughts to all of you facing the same stuff I’m going through. NML- you are a lifesaver and have such a gift. Thank you.

  63. ChiTownKitty says:

    Oh, the timing of this post is incredible! I was doing so well–NC for 4 months with my MM/EU/AC…then he texted, said he wanted to talk (I had blocked his emails, and his phone but the phone block was over after 3 months–I thought him hearing that his number/texts were blocked would get the message through his head)….I decided to toss it back to him (STUPID I now realize)—said that I wondered if talking was such a good idea as it nearly cost him his marriage. Got a jaw dropping response back basically saying that yes it nearly cost him that but losing me would be so bad because we are such good friends…yada, yada. I did not respond even though he said he wanted “feedback” (Picturing the form now—Check A if you think he is an AC!).

    I read this today after thinking about him and how I had no clue what was real and what was fake with him.

    Im sitting here in tears just a few days away from a milestone birthday wondering if I will ever be “right.” I trusted him–knew him from our childhood, he was a good friend during my divorce, and then well, of course the early days were great…of course. I would love to be with a good person but wonder if I will even know one if I should ever find him.

    There have been days that I wonder if this past relationship is the best it will ever be–no, I dont want to go back–but I do wonder…Im kind and loving and way too giving but I really dont know any other way…how do I learn what I need to?


    • Heartache Amy says:

      ChiTown Kitty,

      I can identify with you. I made a mistake of getting involved with a MM over the summer. He came after me and I foolishly fell for him. I’m in the midst of getting divorced so even though I was doing better getting over THAT relationship, I was still vulnerable. The MM/EUM came on strong, telling me all these wonderful things, how he saw a future with me, etc. Then, as I eventually suspected, he backed off b/c he has kids and doesn’t want to hurt them. While I can understand that, it hurt the way he ended things (just kind of blew me off in an e-mail along with tons of excuses). He’s also on medication for bipolar and went off of it prior to ending things, so I figured that played a role, too. At any rate, I find myself thinking about all the “wonderful” things he told me, the brief amount of time we spent together and even the thought of what our future might have been like together. I hate thinking about these things and wasting my time on them, yet, I truly wonder if I’ll ever meet the “right” guy for me. I’m not even interested right now, but I get a little panicky at the thought of being alone in the future. And I think of myself as kind and loving, too. I feel like I frequently get taken advantage of, and I realize I somehow am letting it happen. It’s hard (for me) having a normal, healthy relationship, I guess.

      • grace says:

        Amy, ChiKitty
        Don’t sacrifice yourself on the altar of kind and loving. If you want to be kind and loving, be kind and loving to someone who welcomes it and deserves it. Right now, and I hope this doesn’t sound mean- you’re playing at being kind and loving – you’re fantasising. You can’t be kind and loving to someone who isn’t around or belongs to someone else! You’re courting a fantasy of how you would be a terrific partner but not actually extending yourself by a) treating YOURSELF with love and kindness and all that entails including making difficult decisions for your own wellbeing and b) choosing men who will reciprocate and have genuine expectations of you, rather than just playing a pushy-pulley game with waste-of-time losers.
        I have no doubt that you are capable of giving and receiving genuine love and kindness but by continuing to participate in this charade, you’re only actively avoiding it. The question we have to ask ourselves, and I’m working through this myself, is – what are we so afraid of?

      • NML says:

        Heartache Amy, he hasn’t backed off because he has kids and doesn’t want to hurt them. He’s backed off because he’s married, pretty effed up and he wasn’t leaving anyway. Don’t get things twisted and think that the kids and his humble generosity is what stands in the way of you and him as if the relationship you never had has been sacrificed at the alter for the greater good. It might not be the popular thing to say but he’s full of shit.

        • cavewoman says:

          oh yes the BS detector went off with the ‘has kids he doesn’t want to hurt’ explanation. I would have had sympathy for that line in my more naive days. But frankly, he seems very out of sight, out of mind about these kids. Where were they while he was weaving his tales of undying love for you? HE was living in a fantasy too, at your expense. Natalie, you made a very valid point when you said Shoppers are also dreamers. They may be more in control of the situation because they have fallbacks (or a wife), but they are no more in control of their own fantasies. I’ll give it to these assclowns that they believe in their own sandcastles at least half of the time. Momentarily. That’s just weak and immature, not what we expect of a grown man.

  64. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much Nat I have been in a long distant relationship for 4 yrs with now 2 kids. I am a dreamer did not know lol not familer with dating since I have been married for 15 yrs with an abusive man. I met this I guess unavailable man online and he was there while I was going through my divorce and helping me cope. Then when the divorce was finalized(sp) that is when he came to visit and stayed 3 months with me out of a year for 2 years then our fist baby came he came 6 months out of a year. Just had our second baby in June of this year. He as asked us to come live with him but here is the kicker he can not tell me how he feels abut me. He is the controlling type and it has to be on his terms. Well recently I have found out he is also into men I don’t know if he is bi or gay. I do know when I was pregnant with my last child he started checking out women infront of me and denying it. Then he started trying to pick up men also while we would be out baby shopping. And he still wants me to come live with him and he just recently came from vacation with a man he is involved with that was the last straw of course he is in denile of it! I don’t understand why people just waste peoples time. I am very dissapointed in myself shame on me but he acts like this is ok and still plans on coming on Sunday. Like mothing has happend and want us to return with him. Nat can you or any reader please slap me lol. I am a very nice and forgiving person and I always attract the wrong men. I guess this is my destney(sp) :(

    • NML says:

      Sandra, I was so shocked reading this comment that I started doing that inappropriate thing I do when I’m nervous or caught off guard – laughing. Bit like when I went to my step grandmothers funeral and my brother unbeknownst to me went to wash the soil from his hands at the fountain, but from where I was standing, it looked like he was peeing in the middle of the cemetery and I nearly wept laughing.

      Anyway…I digress. I’m worried for you. Honestly, this situation is like Relationship Crack, PCP, LSD, in fact *everything* all rolled in together. He’s into men. Not sure if he’s bi or gay. Picking up men while out shopping for baby gear. Trying it on with women. Only living with you for a portion of the year while knocking you up. Controlling. On his terms. ON VACATION WITH ANOTHER MAN! DOESN’T KNOW HOW HE FEELS ABOUT YOU AND YOU HAVE TWO CHILDREN! Have mercy! This *is* pure f*ckery.

      I have a reader whose controlling husband runs up millions of dollars of debt so that in essence, she can’t leave or at least that’s what he tells her. This slip and sliding man is coming back to fertilise you periodically so that he can maintain control over you while roaming around trying it on with other men and women and shagging them. By allowing him to only live with you for part of the year, you have no idea what he does with the rest of his time. Or actually, you probably do. That said, I also suspect that this cuts both ways as you’d like to think if you got pregnant that someone might stick around.

      It’s not about being disappointed in yourself. I’m not sure that’s the emotion to strive for. I’d be damn *worried* about yourself. I don’t doubt you’re a nice person, but I’ve gotta tell you Sandra, you’re getting the prickles of a doormat and being nice mixed up. They’re two entirely different things. You could also forgive him for having sex with other men and being a jackass if you feel like it, but the fact that he *is* doing all of these things means that you should have stopped being with him. Forgiveness doesn’t mean staying together or giving them a free pass to do it again. I also don’t understand why you would ‘forgive’ someone for something they don’t see as an issue that they persist in doing? This isn’t your destiny – this is your now. It’s not about always attracting the wrong men – it’s about not taking the time to work through coming out of an abusive relationship and divorce before going like a moth to a flame to another abusive man who seized the opportunity and exploited it. You don’t need a slap – you need a hug and some help.

      • Jen Z says:

        Well put Nat, and good luck Sandra. You’ve got some work to do, but you CAN do it. You have some very good reasons to get down to it– yourself, and those kids. Keep reading this site. Go through old posts. And most of all, ask for help. You deserve it. We all do.

        And Nat, thank you. I know you hear it a lot, and I hope you know the real gratitude that is out there for your insight, and your ability to help us find our own. Through almost two years of helping me to ‘wake up’ by means of your books and valuable posts, you have in many ways saved the “me” in me.

  65. Lessie says:

    Julia T, Cavewoman, Runner Girl and Adrienne,

    Wow, as always, I read your comments and the others on here and think, “I am not alone, there are others like me”…Julia, I loved what you wrote about “trying make reality more attractive than the dream/illusion” that resonated very much with me and it is so very true! If the “reality” is less than stellar, how very easy it is to get caught up in the illusions of “what could be” which in turn then takes the focus off you and places it instead on the other person.

    Cavewoman and Runner Girl, yes, the loss of hope, the death of a dream, these are, I am finding, the most difficult losses of a relationship ending. It is the acceptance that, in spite of all that was said/written/texted that, it all falls apart in the light of day…the illusions shattering. Nothing is more harsh, or more difficult to ascertain, because we let ourselves believe, often shutting out those pesky inner voices that were whispering, “Beware, beware”…this is my experience anyway with regards this.

    Adrienne, like yourself, I too, was sheltered and to quote again from Jim Carroll and a poem he wrote called “A Child Growing Up With The Sun”…’and in that shelter I dreamt, it was a running joke between myself and each of the others I believed in”…to be in that place is so familiar and comfortable to me, and there is a feeling of safety within it. I seem to recall that you and I share a love of The Smiths and Morrissey, perhaps?
    You are not alone…none of us are and the more I read this blog and the various postings from all these wonderful ladies, the more I realize this.

    Many hugs to you all :)

    • phoenixrising says:

      “the loss of hope, the death of a dream, these are, I am finding, the most difficult losses of a relationship ending. It is the acceptance that, in spite of all that was said/written/texted that, it all falls apart in the light of day…the illusions shattering. Nothing is more harsh, or more difficult to ascertain, because we let ourselves believe, often shutting out those pesky inner voices that were whispering, “Beware, beware”…this is my experience anyway with regards this.”

      Very well put, Lessie. Will all this wonderful female intelligence, I am wondering if it takes a brilliant woman to experience (create?) the true pain and despair of being involved with an AC/EU/MM :-).

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Lessie,
      As you can see from the number of comments, you aren’t alone. It is difficult to reconcile the misalignment of what was said/written/texted creating the illusions with the actions which were obviously contradiction. I silenced the pesky whispering voices with my flawless fantasy. Presently, I feel like I’m suspended between reality and fantasy. I really want to get to reality. At least I can see the difference now and I don’t have visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head. Darn, just as the Nutcracker fantasy season is approaching!
      You sound like you are making such great progress. I know it is difficult and painful journey. Others have made it and so will we. Let’s keep the faith!

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Hi Lessie, A big hug back to you, too! (What would Morrissey think about all this virtual hugging? :) Who cares!
      As I read your comments to me and Runner and Cavewoman, a thought popped in: the fantasy of what a relationship *could* have been is definitely for me rooted in childhood fantasies of having the parenting I yearned for: consistent, loving, supportive. I remember that my next door neighbor and I (he was three years younger) growing up would concoct elaborate scenarios/fantasies about his nice mother getting together with my father and then we could be brother and sister and have the perfect family. Never happened, of course.
      But it’s like the fantasy we construct with unavailables plugs into the fantasy from childhood and we hope the fantasy will come true this time. We *need* the fantasy to come true so we don’t have to do the real work of facing the unpleasant truths and actually doing something to heal ourselves and make better choices (tough to break those old patterns, not impossible!).
      Loved the poem you quoted!
      Funny (or not so) how often the things we do out of habit to make ourselves feel *safe* can be the biggest obstacles to actually creating a genuine sense of feeling at ease in the world. Here’s to creating newer, healthier ways of being !

      • Lessie says:

        Hi Adrienne,

        Yes indeed, what would Morrissey think of all this?! I have my suspicions but somehow, I like to think he would shrug his shoulders and smile and say something like, “Oh well” :)

        Very much like yourself, I lived in a fantasy world as a child which then became continuing to live in a fantasy world as an adult. I realize now it was a self protective way to be and yet, by its very nature, this “self protectiveness” was yet another way for me to hide away and not be IN the world…and thus, all the many risks inherent with that…Natalie made such a great comment in her post to me about this: “It’s not that the world is dangerous but rather certain people and situations” and this is very true, I know and yet, for me, given my background and issues, I have always had so many fears and these fears have governed my choices and actions.

        I am thinking of the Audrey Hepburn movie “Sabrina” (I’m a HUGE Audrey fan) where she says to her father, “I want to be IN the world and not just OF the world” and this is how I am feeling now, or “trying” to at least. Try and look at it this way: we did the best we could at the time, with the tools that we had (which in my case, was very little) but at least now, with this site and Natalie’s insightful posts, we can begin to help ourselves understand and hopefully become more aware so that we can make better and healthier decisions for ourselves…

        Of course, I write these things today and then tomorrow, will probably struggle with feelings of self worth and depression. It really is an ongoing internal battle within me. I wish you the very best and am sending many big hugs your way :)

      • cavewoman says:

        Adrienne! I had parent-swapping fantasies too, and I felt super guilty about them! – Re: consistent, loving, supportive: I certainly had the consistent part. But my parents were consistent in parenting towards their goals for me, not parenting the real me — so *real* support was definitely lacking and my idea of loving got a bit skewed as a result, too. I realized only now that when I visit my parents (once or twice a year because we live on different continents – yes I’m Unavailable to them most of the year) I find true comfort, that deep at-home feeling in the objects around the house. The furniture, the bedding, the kitchen utensils, the laundry drying on the clothesline… the way the house smells… those *things* that they worked so hard to sustain me with while they were raising me. The *things* meant safety. Our interactions were edgy and vaguely perilous. I was always coming up just a bit short. I was never making them quite as satisfied as they wanted to be. But I grew up in a spotless home and was fed and clothed and provided for in an exemplary manner. My mom is a champion homemaker, she gives loves through food, etc. I cannot be too angry with them about this. They were just a tad emotionally unavailable but well meaning and very conscientious. Okay- my dad with his temper not always well meaning. It was a home many children aren’t fortunate enough to have. So why am I in tears as I type this?
        When I hug my kids or laugh and play with them, I feel like myself. When I’m exasperated with them, it’s like I’m channeling my parents…

    • cavewoman says:

      Hello sister,

      reality is stellar… in the original sense! It’s cosmic, it’s huge, so much greater than your or I can conceive of… The good news is, all the good that exists out there in the world far surpasses what our feeble little minds can conjure up. Reality is just bigger than you and me. (Sure, it encompasses a few things that aren’t meant to please yours truly. I got that.) When I remember how I used to curl up in my longing and despair, it just feels… small. I still get carried away in my imagination, but when I snap out of it, it actually feels like coming out of a cramped cave into the wide open. Funny, I didn’t quite realize *this* was the cave when I named myself cavewoman!

  66. Sunshine says:

    While caught in the anxiety and pain triggered by the relationship with the guy who drove me to BR, I listed to this song over and over and over to help me find my way out:
    It’s called Precious Illusions by Alanis Morissette, it was so helpful to hear her put into song exactly what I was feeling…it still took me a while to extract myself but I’ve been off the AC/EUM train for a year and feeling so good!

    You’ll rescue me right?
    In the exact same way they never did..
    I’ll be happy right?
    When your healing powers kick in

    You’ll complete me right?
    Then my life can finally begin
    I’ll be worthy right?
    Only when you realize the gem I am?

    But this won’t work now the way it once did
    And I won’t keep it up even though I would love to
    Once I know who I’m not then I’ll know who I am
    But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim

    These precious illusions in my head did not let me down
    When I was defenseless
    And parting with them is like parting with invisible best friends

    This ring will help me yet as will you knight in shining armor
    This pill will help me yet as will these boys gone through like water

    But this won’t work as well as the way it once did
    Cuz I want to decide between survival and bliss
    And though I know who I’m not I still don’t know who I am
    But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim

    These precious illusions in my head did not let me down when I was a kid
    And parting with them is like parting with a childhood best friend

    I’ve spent so long firmly looking outside me
    I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode

    This won’t work now the way it once did
    Cuz I want to deside between servival and bliss
    Now I know who I’m not
    I don’t I still don’t know who I am
    But I know I won’t keep on playing the victom

    These precious illusions in my head did not let me down
    When I was defenseless
    And parting with them is like parting with invisible best friends

    These precious illusions in my head did not let me down
    When I was a kid
    And parting with them is like parting with childhood best friends

  67. Michelle says:

    I am a dreamer in many aspects of my life so it would make sense that this particular characteristic would transcend to this part of my life also. I’m going to have to go through and read the comments when I have some free time as I love seeing what everyone has to say. I swear, every time I read something on this blog I realize something new about myself that needs to be looked at and dealt with. I think I’m going to start journaling for all of your posts and expanding upon them as they apply to me, what I’ve come to realize, how I can improve etc.

  68. Gaman says:

    OH. MY. GOD. I have done so much work already on myself over the last year and I didn`t think anything could surprise me anymore, but reading this – it was like “Hello, Gaman! Nice to meet you!” This is ME! Especially the bit about being so caught up in my feelings I am blissfully unaware that he has left the building! Or rather “This WAS me”! Reality is like paracetomol – a bitter pill to swallow but ultimately it makes you feel so much better!

  69. NS says:

    This describes my last relationship to the ‘T’ and I have been waiting patiently on a post like this! I spent almost a year and a half in a relationship that I knew wasn’t “right” from the beginning. It’s like he threw his whole life story on me from the beginning and all these feelings and plans. I thought to myself, “something isn’t right”, but that’s when the rationalizing and stuff began. I figured, “Maybe he’s just a completely honest person that is comfortable with expressing himself”. He would promise trips to see me, me to visit him, of the both of us to travel somewhere but everytime there was an excuse of “I’ve been busy/working”, “I’m broke”, “something happened w/ my sister/brother”, “someone had to borrow $/I owed someone $”, “I’m having heart surgery (didn’t bother telling anyone in the beginning & I have random #s texting/calling my phone telling me “Oh he had surgery/is in the hospital”. The heart surgery was a constant excuse after he figured out I would be so sad and emotionally giving about the situation…”do u want me to come and see you?”…”no, I don’t want you to see me like this”. Yeah right but the next weekend he’s partying it up or sitting around smoking weed. Then he’ll disappear for days/weeks. What were his excuses? I was in jail, I was depressed and ran away, I was depressed and tried to commit suicide, or I tried to commit suicide and had to be locked up in a home without communication. I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I was depressed, losing myself, doing things I’d never do (sending him $, and drinking alcohol to cope with everything). I internalised everything he went through or supposedly went through. I didn’t know what I wanted anymore. Don’t let mecall him on his BS, I would get yelled/cursed at and he’ll disappear and come back blame it on me and then act as if nothing happened. I hated myself b/c everytime I would basically beg him to be there for me like I had been there for him and he would tell me I’m not supporting him enough…blah blah blah. I had never been so unhappy in my life
    and he would always say, “well if you’re unhappy u can leave”. I got the courage to leave 2 or 3 times before but then he’d call, say things will be different or I’ll conjure thoughts in my head like, “Maybe I should be more supportive of what he’s going through, what if I leave and …mystery person?”. Now, I see what she means and I would always make excuses for him. I felt like I was walking on eggshells w/ him and if things were going decent or “good”, I expected something bad to happen/an excuse to be made/or him to disappear. I have never dealt w/ anyone like that and never opened up to anyone as much as I did w/ him. Now, I feel so stupid b/c I’ve told him my fears and other things. Since I told him to lose my #, his “family” (some random # again) has texted, saying he’s in the “hospital” again and not doing so well. I honestly believe it was him trying to get in touch. I just told whoever it was that I was busy and to keep me informed. I haven’t heard from him/them since and I knew that I wouldn’t. the reason I broke up w/ him for good is b/c he disappeared for the last time for a month and then randomly called saying, “hi I just wanted you to know that I just got out of surgery”. A week later, “are we still together?”. I just had to tell him how I felt, later realizing I should’ve just told him to f&%$ off and Hung up. thank you so much Natalie b/c you’ve been helping me to get over him. blocked his calls/texts. I’ve never seen this person in my life and he thought he was giving me the moon and the stars. it was my fault for putting him on a pedestal like that. I just want to grow, become my own person again, and learn to live/care/ respect myself.

  70. J says:

    Bingo! I am guilty of fantasy. Guilty of pretty much all I read on this site! Oh my.

    I cannot believe the things I’ve had to address & face about myself over the last few years that I was totally unaware of prior! There was an element of feeling like I wasn’t normal due to feeling anxieties/fears to some degree but I didn’t understand.

    How the hell could I have ended up so f*cked up with intimacy, vulnerability & relationships? I know it has to do with my upbringing, but damn!

    For me, it was like I’m just being & then due to some very painful certain happenings, it’s like SMACK!- you’re f*cked up & realize some major issues are at play. A whole load of sh*t to face, that can’t be denied & that needs to change. WTF

    It all started when I let myself actually get really close and vulnerable for the 1st time in my life and he was an unavailable. So I got burned and this sounds absolutely crazy, but I went into a post-traumatic stress when he just up and left. I know that sounds like I’m some crazy person, but I have never ever in my life gone through that from a break up or have ever felt that extreme, that I can remember. It was a nightmare to the point that now when I think of it, I probably should have seen a doctor; I don’t know how I got through that. Then shortly after, while I was still not well from that, I got together with a new guy, whom was unavailable as well, and got burned again. I didn’t get as close to him and funny, although I’m in pain over the relationship break-up, I feel nothing like that post-traumatic stress one. (I say post-traumatic stress because what I went through was so extreme, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me and was concerned, so I did some research on the net & looking that up, I matched the symptoms of that. I was never diagnosed or anything.)

    What the hell is wrong with me? I mean, come on, that’s an extreme reaction from a break up?? !

    So since that extreme reaction, to during my last relationship, to now, I have faced some serious issues within me. God, I feel so embarrassed to write this.

    So, I cannot figure out- if I came to a spot (with the 1st guy) where I was able to let myself get close to someone and get vulnerable, why did I still choose an unavailable to do it with?

    1) He was familiar?
    2) It was almost like a self punishment to unrealistically remind myself that this is what happens when you get close, so I have an excuse to continue my same patterns of not getting vulnerable?
    3) I was ready to get close but hadn’t learned about boundaries, red flags and all that to be selective before I chose the person to get vulnerable with?

    Thinking about it, I think perhaps 1 & 3, tied in together? -Because I didn’t yet have the understanding on how to select a good guy, I chose familiar?

    Well, at least I can be thankful that I have more knowledge today so that hopefully my future relationship will be better, and definitely this site has been a blessing!

  71. Lessie says:

    Hi runnergirl,

    Thank you so much and yes, let’s DO keep the faith in ourselves and in each other too :)

    I so much appreciate your comments to me but the truth is: even though I may “sound great” I’m really not, at least on a consistent day to day basis. Like yourself, I struggle a lot between the fantasy and reality and mostly right now, I feel as if I have one foot in each of them most days!

    “Sugar plum fairies and The Nutcracker”…oh yes, and having studied ballet for several years, I once even PLAYED the role of Clara so you can imagine how ingrained the idea of “fantasy” has been in my life :)

    With the upcoming holidays too, I am concerned that my emotions will be even more fraught with it all so I am hoping that you and the other lovely ladies here will help me through this, if need be, as I will try and help you too, we need to encourage, support and help one another.

    Many hugs to you :)

    • runnergirl says:

      OMG, you played Clara! How perfectly dreamy. I always wanted to study ballet as a kid but ended up playing shortstop. That was probably a clue.
      I’m with you. Fantasy has played such a major role in my life; novels, ballet, books, degrees, music (total Tchaikovsky fan) it’s how I escaped a rather miserable childhood. After this fabulous post, I am starting to move more into reality, I think. Fantasy can be a nice escape but I don’t have to try to live it. As the Nutcracker season approaches, I realize I’ve never lived that Norman Rockwell, Nutcracker fantasy with the exMM or without the exMM or with any of the ex’es or without any of the ex’es. We’ll be there to help and encourage one another.
      Natalie, in December, I’ll be celebrating one year of discovering you, BR and all of you. I’ll be celebrating discovering reality. Sugar plum fairies have their place.

      • cavewoman says:

        Sugar Plum fairy — my four year old daughter is in love with Nutcracker and I just spent the last two weeks watching it twice a day on DVD with her. It was adorable. Do you think Prince Eric is a reformed Unavailable? The dream I think is a good thing for a little girl, as long as the grown woman can hold real men accountable to the ideal and see if there is a difference.
        Runner, you were a shortstop! Awesome!

        • runnergirl says:

          He, he, he, Cavewoman. You made me laugh. Isn’t Prince Eric the typical fantasy? With just one kiss, Clara transforms into the Sugar Plum Fairy Princess and the Nutcracker transforms into the handsome prince, after fighting evil, of course. Oh, if only! God knows, I spent my life kissing (and a few other things) many nuts and when I woke up they were still nuts. “The dream I think is a good thing for a little girl, as long as the grown woman can hold real men accountable to the ideal and see if there is a difference.” Therein lies the problem! Have fun with your daughter and make sure she knows the difference between fantasy and reality when the time comes, hopefully before she is 52!
          Yup, I played short. I wanted to dance. When my daughter was born, I dreamed of coaching her softball team. She ended up a dancer and I ended up in the green room fixing her tutu. I still have her unused mitts and her used tutus. Ah, dreams. It’s nice to recognize the difference, finally. Hugs to your Sugar Plum Fairy or shortstop.

  72. Lessie says:

    Hi phoenixrising,

    Oh, thank you so much for your kind and gracious words to me here :)

    I think the experience that all of us share, while certainly being very individual and unique for each of us, is also rather universal too, meaning: until I found this site, I was so desperate for help and understanding into my own situation of what had happened with the separated EU MM that had recently ended and I was internalizing ALL of what had occurred against myself, which, I now am beginning to realize, I have been doing, in one way or another, most of my life…and wow, that, in and of itself, has been such a revelation for me. It’s almost too overwhelming at times.

    But, in reading these comments from others, I am seeing that, my situation is not that unique and that so many of us have placed our trust in and opened our hearts to people who were less than deserving of that. Especially with regards to the things these various men have said, I have realized, “Gosh, are they all reading the same book or something” because I then become aware of this particular truth: “It wasn’t just me, it was him too, saying these things, doing these things”…and for that alone, I can never truly begin to thank everyone here who has helped me see this.

    Perhaps women such as us who have had this experience are better able to articulate it, and express the almost inexpressible pain that results from it; the most important thing to know is to realize, we are not alone :)

    My very best to you :)

  73. annied says:

    Bleck … are you following my life somehow Natalie? You have nailed it again. I’m a Dreamer and after reading this I’m not sure how I won’t end up alone forever.

  74. insightful says:

    Men in Black, the movie, is helping me deal recovery from my fantasy/demon lover, the ultimate EUM.

    Whenever I get lost dreaming/fantasizing about him, I think of the aliens from MIB–On the surface, he seemed like a normal person, but inside there was a mystery alien who did not speak my language and may have been a real dangerous encounter for me.

    I have known this man for years, and finally, finally I understand that I never really knew him.

    Most importantly, I never knew myself.

    Natalie and the readers of BR–thanks for helping me to meet and greet myself in reality
    Hugs to all!

  75. shyner says:

    Great website – thank you for taking the time to put it together. So, one of my best friends and I have fallen in love. He’s getting married in six weeks. We’re both in our thirties. His fiancee would probably top herself if he left her. We’ve slept together; it should have been very awkward but it was lovely. Now he’s talking about not getting married, having some realisations etc. I’ve said there’ll be no more being together with things as they stand. We’re still nattering like we always have – hours a day, but with the love thing going on. Brilliant!

    • jupiter23 says:

      I’m not sure if I get the tone of your post but…

      This person, your best friend, didn’t choose you. He’s still with his fiance. Would you really want to be with someone so unsure about your worth?

      Secondly, if he slept with you while with someone else, he is a cheater. Have you ever heard what he’ll do with you he’ll do to you? Relationships that start off this way are often doomed from the beginning.

    • Fearless says:

      Shyner – “Brilliant”? Sounds like a heap of trouble. That guy has no business marrying this girl when he’s sleeping with his “friend” and no business sleeping with his “friend” when he’s marrying this girl. It’s called cheating. It’s not lovely – it’s deceit and betrayal. Be very careful with yourself here – there’s trouble ahead.

      • shyner says:

        ‘brilliant!’ was sarcastic. I’ve ended this stupid situation with him and feel all the better for it. I feel guilty and pathetic but it’s done now and i will learn from this and get on with life. I lost my mind for a bit there and everything you say is absolutely right. Thank you for taking the time to write.

        • Fearless says:


          We all make mistakes. Glad you’re ending that situation. Good luck!

          • shyner says:

            Thanks. Feel thoroughly miserable. Don’t know how to get our friendship back. I can’t believe he of all people would say and do everything he has when really, he had no intention of leaving his fiancee.

  76. Sue C says:

    you are BETTER than any therapist I have ever had!!!
    I’m sitting here in tears because the only thing that is crazier than experiencing the fantasy is to be FULLY AWARE of what you are doing–knowing that it is a fantasy; knowing that you go into this mode when your reality is not providing you with the life you want; knowing that the trauma of lifelong rejection has crushed your spirit so hard that you have turned into a shell of a person.
    It really is like a disease. Some people use alcohol or drugs whereas I crawl into this fantasy cocoon where I am beautiful and loved with the relationship of my dreams.
    As sad and pathetic as it seems, it really is a means of survival.

  77. Crumbs No More says:

    I feel your pain. I too have been tossed “crumbs” of affection from an Emotionally Unavailable or dare I say half interested man. It sucks because I genuinely care about him and have become attached to him over the past year and he seems to have no interest in moving our “relationship” forward. Met at work. No, I did not want to like him b/c of that & fought it for long time but could not help it. We have always had a light, flirty, friendly when it boils down to it, friendship. The flirty aspect had caused me to hope and expect more. That and the consistency. He texts me many days of the week, asking how I’m doing, how’s my family, etc. PERSONAL things, things to get to know me. I’ve caught him checking me out many times. Acting like he cares about my feelings. Telling me about himself, his family. Laughing at my jokes, some of which I know are bad! Given me advice and help when I’ve asked him. He even has occasionally called me (note: most of the time the calls happened were after I had asked him to). Told him I was tired of texting so much. Mostly been texts and emails.Last time he talked to me on the phone he started a new conversation with me when I said I needed to get off the phone and do dishes…he has pretty consistently given me the impression that he likes me yet he has not asked me on a date or even to hang out outside of work or even a “lunch” during lunch break. It hurts. We were “cubbie buddies” for almost a yr & got even closer when I switched jobs. Worked a bunch of jobs earlier this year & now as luck would have it he & I are working at the same company & floor again. It hurts because I want quality time with him, more face to face time, to meet up outside work, I’ve told him so (ex. if you ever want to meet up let me know…never been so straightforward with my feelings with any guy before). Earlier this year I texted him asking him what he thought of me. He never answered the question. I asked him recently if he had a gf & he said no. He texted that he was excited to hear I was coming back to the same co and floor!. But now he acts more detached than before. I have been pretending that I haven’t noticed & that it doesn’t hurt me when I’m around him but it sucks. Any advice on how to deal & get over the bad feelings? Please pray for me.

  78. Crumbs No More says:

    I feel your pain. I too have been tossed “crumbs” of affection from an Emotionally Unavailable or dare I say half interested man. It sucks because I genuinely care about him and have become attached to him over the past year and he seems to have no interest in moving our “relationship” forward. Met at work. No, I did not want to like him b/c of that and fought it for awhile but could not help it. We have always had a light, flirty, friendly when it boils down to it, friendship. The flirty aspect had caused me to hope and expect more. That and the consistency. He texts me many days of the week, asking how I’m doing, how’s my family, etc. PERSONAL things, things to get to know me. I’ve caught him checking me out many times. Acting like he cares about my feelings. Telling me about himself, his family… Laughing at my jokes, some of which I know are bad! Given me advice and help when I’ve asked him. He even has occasionally called me (note: most of the time the calls happened were after I had asked him to). Told him I was tired of texting so much. Mostly been texts and emails…Last time he talked to me on the phone he started a new conversation with me when I said I needed to get off the phone and do dishes…he has pretty consistently given me the impression that he likes me yet he has not asked me on a date or even to hang out outside of work or even a “lunch” during lunch break. It hurts. We were “cubby buddies” for almost a year and got even closer when I switched jobs. Worked a bunch of jobs earlier this year and now as luck would have it he and I are working at the same company and floor again. It hurts because I want quality time with him, more face to face time, to meet up outside work, I’ve told him so (ex. if you ever want to meet up let me know…never been so straightforward with my feelings with any guy before). Earlier this year I texted him asking him what he thought of me…he never answered the question. I asked him recently if he had a gf and he said no. He texted that he was excited to hear I was coming back to the same co. But now he acts more detached than before. I have been pretending that I haven’t noticed and that it doesn’t hurt me when I’m around him but it sucks. I hate that so many guys play games and won’t just come out and say what they feel instead of making us try and figure it out. I thought he…

    • Fearless says:

      Crumbs no more,

      Guy’s who want to get to know you don’t do it by text. He is telling you all you need to know, it’s up to you to pay attention, listen, see the red flags (they’re waving about right in front of your face) and act in your own interests. Drop him. That’s my advice, for what it’s worth. He’s got nothing to offer you. Nothing. It’s dead obvious.

  79. Michelle L says:

    Crumbs No More,

    I too have recently been dealing with this kind of ambiguous behavior with a guy at work. He finds ways to spend time with me, emails nice comments to me. But there was no asking to do something outside work and it was frustrating. In my case though I just found out he is attached (boy was he hiding it well).

    For you I think the key is that it has been a YEAR and he hasn’t asked you out. It sounds like some weird mind games. If it were me I would go NC because you can’t afford the emotional investment. Move on and find someone who wants to give you more than crumbs.

    I’m sending good thoughts your way.

    • Crumbs No More says:

      Thank you Michelle L and Fearless for the support.
      It helps hearing from an outsider’s perspective things can get fuzzy when you’re in the middle of it. I realize now I’ve been in denial for a long time, thinking well if he doesn’t care somewhat deeply he wouldn’t initiate contact at times or ask me personal questions & make excuses for him not asking me out. Oh, he hasn’t had a gf in over a yr, he’s shy, etc. But you’re right Fearless, the majority of times the ways he’s used to find out about me are lazy text/email/IM which shows he is not serious. I will drop him. Going NC. You’re right I can’t afford the emotional investment. That fact smacked me in the face after I cried for over an hr last night after I overheard him & his friend making fun of me for contacting him. I also overheard him saying he didn’t know but that he probably won’t ask me out when his friend asked. His true colors have surfaced. So cruel. Esp when he knows what I’ve gone through emot job wise with mult layoffs & all this year.Why couldn’t he have just told me he’s not interested earlier or why couldn’t I have recognized the signs? He doesn’t deserve me. I would have been honest with him. Michelle L, I’ve reviewed the situation in my mind again & I do think it overall has been weird mind games & the other % him wanting to string me along. He wants me to be “nice” to him, give him emotional support, an ego stroke when he needs it but doesn’t want to spend real quality time with me. What an EUM/AC. I am glad yours showed his true colors soon thus saving you more pain. I feel for you. Sending you good thoughts. Any advice on how to heal quickly & regain more concentration at work? For the time being my team works next to his, luckily I do not have to work with him on projects! but I can overhear him during the work day and occasionally see him in the halls. Eventually I will post out for another position in the co, diff flr at least or bldg but I have to work my current position first for at least 3 months to be eligible. It’s a good job which are hard to come by these days. I want to be strong & move on.

      • SM says:

        Crumbs excuse me for saying this but this guy is seriously effed up in the head. He texts and emails you all the time but then makes fun of you with his friend. That is just mean. Even if he did just want to be friends, friends dont do things like that to each other. Go NC and ignore him, hopefully you wont feel the need to transfer out of the department and he just have to wonder why he gets no attention from you anymore.

        • Fearless says:

          I’m swith SM – this guy is a cad. He is taking the piss, frankly. Nobody’s that shy! If he wanted to get to know you and date you he would ask you out – you’re not school kids. And he’s making fun of you for contacting him – that should show you what he really thinks about you – he’s mocking you behind your back. Time you saw this guy for what he is – pisstaker. He wouldn’t get away with this crap with a woman who had half an ounce of self -esteem in place. You should address this self-esteem issue or you will continue to be vulnerable to him and others just like him. As for him – don’t bother moving your job – just ignore him! He’s an ass*ole.

          • Crumbs No More says:

            You’re right my self esteem has been messed up for awhile, esp since I started spending “time” with him. I know I need to address it and love me more. Part of that has been admitting I need help, finding this site, reading the articles, and asking for advice. Thank you and others for telling me that his behavior has been awful, has forced me to “take of the blinders” and realize that he has no good excuses for any of his poor behaviors. He is a pisstaker. Another example of this…one time he texted me asking how I was doing and me, being fed up with too much texting told him to call me to find out. He texted back “haha.” Who laughs at a normal request? Why would he act that way? Anyways I got upset & ended up venting how I was frustrated with him hardly ever calling , wanted to hear his voice, etc and long story short the next day he texted me that he guessed he would have to call me to catch up. He did call later that day and we had a nice long chat which he seemed to enjoy. Then back to texting/emailing for about a month, then calling again, rinse and repeat. He would give me just enough attention, the amount he seemed to sense would keep me hooked but not satisfied. I have been shocked and hurt from his bad behaviors but am moving on. I know he has behaved terribly overall. NC is in effect. I will ignore him at work.

  80. Crumbs No More says:


    Thanks for the support. You’re right he is messed up in the head for joking around with his friend about me caring about him. He should have defended me or told him to shut up and not joined in. That was the part that hurt the most, that he would laugh and make fun of my hoping that he would ask me out. As if that was so ridiculous and forward of me to want especially after his behavior towards me, which though “crumbs” was something. From hearing the conversation he never told his friend about him ever initiating contact with me, just let him think that I was always initiating contact, and completely delusional. It made me question has most or all of our contact been part of a sick game? Or maybe he never thought what we had was worth mentioning to his friend. Is he really that emotionally dead inside that he has no true respect for my feelings after all this time to carry on like that esp knowing they were in my hearing vicinity no less?

    I almost wonder if I was encouraged by him to come back there just to get the shove off in a cruel way. Because he refuses to talk about feelings directly with me apparently. His friend went on to say that a girl shouldn’t come over and talk to a guy (about non business related stuff) when he is not asking her out that she needs to “take the hint.” Note: I only stopped by my “friend’s” desk once this week, for a short convo. And of course we had our texting and awkward run ins around the floor. And the other contacts between us prior to that.The joking felt like double rejection/hurt…an ache that I was avoiding mentioning earlier. Thanks for reminding me that friends do not that to each other. You’re right and I was making excuses for him earlier b/c I didn’t want to deal. Brought up more bad feelings. How can he know me fairly well & for so long & like me so little (even as a friend, which I was not opposed to switching him back over to that category in my head before this but with less contact). Now I only think of him as a messed up man who needs help. And I’m not willing to give it to him. He will have to get it elsewhere. And I’m not entertainment. I’m a kind, pretty, loving person who deserves better. I’m tired and numb right now, and enforcing NC. I will get stronger each day and eventually this all will just be a stupid memory.

    • Fearless says:

      “I will get stronger each day and eventually this all will just be a stupid memory.”
      Yes. It will be, crumbs no more. And that’s all it deserves to be – a stupid memory – but you should also take it as a useful learning experience. You sound like a soft, kind and loving person (emphasis on ‘soft’) and I mean this to try to help you when I say you sound like you need to toughen up; not everyone thinks like you do, not everyone is kind and loving – and def not this “friend”, so try to process the information coming at you from people and not assume they are coming from the same ‘kind and loving’ place that you are – at best this numpty “friend” sounds very immature; sounds like you’ve been twisting yourself into a pretzel hoping to get a proper adult approach to a relationship out of a 14 year old school boy! As they say where I come from – he’s just a wee diddy. Ignore him and start focusing on what’s good for *you*.

      • Michelle L says:

        Crumbs No More,
        This guy has no integrity whatsoever. You must NC to protect yourself. I consider myself kind and loving too but I have realized, finally after all these years, that there are people out there that you must protect yourself from. Please do that, Crumbs–Protect Yourself as if your life depended on it. Fearless is right.

        It may hurt for a while when you see him, but you will come to be proud of yourself for being strong and ignoring him, and the pain/discomfort will ease with time.

      • runnergirl says:

        Crumbs & Fearless,
        This is a learning opporutnity. Fearless’ comment about getting a proper relationship out of a 14 year old school boy conjured up neighborhood x-mas parties when my daughter was 8 or so. The neighbor would throw a giant x-mas party and all the families would show up, all dressed in our sunday go to meetin’s. At one of the parties, the little boys, all dressed up in their best x-mas gear proceeded to spin on their heads in the middle of the floor. I’ll never forget my daughter’s response: Mom, am I supposed to be impressed because they spin on their heads?” The girls walked off pretty disgusted. The boys thought they were totally cool. Us parents scratched our heads.
        Crumbs, let your 8-14 year-old guy spin on his head with his guy friends. Walk! He’s a wee-diddy…great phrase Fearless.

      • Crumbs No More says:


        You rock. Thank you so much for your advice. I feel so much better now chatting with you all about it. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer feel alone and confused with that situation. You’re right I need to and will remember the lesson I learned from that relationship.

        And I have been too soft, by nature I tend to be a bit too trusting, assume that others are coming from a loving and kind place b/c I am, this has caused me problems and pain. I will remind myself that not everyone has good intentions in their interactions with me, have my guard up, make them start earning my trust.

        I have chosen to forgive him for hurting me but I will not welcome him back into my life. He is an immature man-child, I need a man.I will focus on what is good for me. Expanding my social circle, spending more time with God, exercising more, adding new hobbies,etc. Learning to love me more, which will help my next relationship to be much better.

    • SM says:

      Crumbs also, mark my words, this is his character. I can guarantee you this is how he treats others as well so dont take it personal (I know easier said than done). The only thing you need to do, what we all need to do, is to see these jerks and cowards for who they are a lot faster than we do. If he was ‘shoving you off’ with his comments, then give him what he wants. He is messed up.

  81. LTP says:

    Reading these articles is like looking into a mirror! In a way it is hard to read, but also i’m so pleased because finally being able to understand how i react to certain situations means i’ve got a good chance of being able to change how i react, and move towards getting a decent relationship going. Once i learn to love myself of course, lol!

  82. tired_of_assanova says:

    Sigh. Just came across this.

    This is (was?) me :-/

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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