wooden couple with question what do I need for a healthy relationship?

Recently I wrote about how we can often end up in situations that in our mind feel like we’re in a relationship because they have what appear to be the hallmarks of one, but they’re actually a casual relationship. This is incredibly frustrating for the average person because they wonder how on earth they can be crazy about someone, share a number of the same interests, feel deep attraction, have sex and contact over a period of time, and still not be in a bondafide committed relationship.

These situations happen because we are looking for the hallmarks of a relationship (what we feel are the markings such as regular sex, stuff in common, being introduced, talking about the future etc) but we’re not looking for the landmarks of a relationship (the substance):

Intimacy, commitment, consistency, balance, progression, and shared values, plus love, care, trust, and respect. Without these, your relationship hasn’t got the legs to carry it.

When someone has limited access to their emotions and has limits to how much they will let you in, you cannot have genuine intimacy in your relationship. If one or both of you are doing things to protect yourself from being vulnerable, are living in denial, are going round the houses communicating, and struggle to be truly honest and authentic, intimacy isn’t happening.

You also can’t have intimacy when the relationship is on one person’s terms or where one is prepared to be emotionally available and the other isn’t.

I receive hundreds of emails each year where the person claims a deep connection – feeling connected through dysfunction and/or sex and attraction is not the same as intimacy.

Big Question: Am I genuinely emotionally available? Are they emotionally available?

If one or both of you can’t even commit to feeling out your emotions whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent, not only does this throw a monkey wrench in the works for intimacy, but it will be another symptom of a general commitment resistance.

A relationship without commitment is a casual arrangement no matter how long it goes on for. Commitment gives direction to a relationship and without it, you’re just floating.

Without commitment, someone gets to enjoy the trappings of a relationship without accountability and responsibility – why buy the cow when you can drink the milk for free? Unfortunately, if you don’t wise up about your uncommitted relationship, you will expect from it as if you are committed.

With commitment resistance, one or both of you, whether it’s in an obvious or more subtle, passive aggressive manner, do things that undermine decisions that you appeared to have committed to.

Emotionally unavailable people can’t commit to staying but they can’t commit to leaving either.

Big Question: Do both of us have both feet in this relationship or are one or both of us, actively or quietly resisting it?

If your expectations have been managed down, you’ll notice that you’re normalising bad behaviour and that’s because they’ve become consistent at being inconsistent and doing counterproductive, often painful things. Some of you won’t know which way is up anymore.

Healthy relationships require consistency – you need to be able to trust in what you can expect from it and the person you’re involved with.

With a lot of unhealthy relationships, it’s with one hand they giveth and with the other they taketh away. You go through a good spell and then just in case you’re under any illusions that your relationship is going somewhere or that they might be this way all the time, they disappear or start treating you really crappily.

In an unhealthy relationship, you’ll rarely feel like you’re standing on solid ground because with the blowing hot and cold, the highs and lows, you come to expect that problems lie around the corner – you can’t truly relax. You may also feel that with the slightest ‘wrong’ move, the relationship can tip into shark infested waters.

Big Question: Looking back over the course of the relationship, have they been positively consistent in who they are and are any and all assumptions I started out with or made, holding true and consistent?

Healthy relationships require balance. That means they can’t be on one person’s terms, no one should be on a pedestal, you shouldn’t feel like you have little or no ‘power’ or boundaries, the drama needs to be infrequent, and you both need two feet in because if one or both of you have so much as a toe out, the balance tips.

When you’re in the thick of an unhealthy and/or casual relationship, if you’re not paying attention, in denial, or straight up asleep on the job, one day you’ll wake up and realise you’ve been on a permanent date or that your relationship is no further along. I know someone whose relationship was exactly the same at 18 months when I met her as it was 9 years later.

Big Question: Does any aspect of this relationship feel imbalanced? If so, what and why – must be addressed asap.

Healthy relationships have progression and it’s not because you’re there trying to drag a horse to water and make it drink, or flogging the crap out of the relationship donkey till it collapses, or slamming down the defibrillator just like in the ER shouting CHARGE at your flatlining relationship.

Contrary to popular belief, healthy relationships progress – you don’t have to force you or the idea of a relationship on them. When someone is genuinely interested in you, they don’t resist you. If there are issues that prevent them from being as committed as they claim they would like to be, they address them.

Big Question: Is my relationship moving forward? Or…it it going in fits and starts, reversing, or come to a halt?

You also have to recognise that claiming that you have so much in common with someone who resists whether it is actively or passively, being in the relationship that you want to have with them, is futile.

No relationship is going to die if you don’t both share the same interests, but it will die if you don’t both share the same values.

When you think about common interests logically, it is ridiculous to place so much emphasis on them – I love sewing and a crafting and the boyf is a sports fanatic – he doesn’t need to pick up a needle and thread and I’ll continue to yawn when the football is on.

Healthy, compatible relationships have shared values – These are what you need in order to live your life authentically so that you can be happy and feel good, and they’re based on your firmly held beliefs about what makes you a person of value and also what you see as valuable in others.

If you believe in monogamy and commitment, and they don’t, it doesn’t matter that they’re successful, attractive, like a lot of the same things you do, make you laugh, and are respected by their peers.

Big Question: Do they share my core values? (If you don’t know what they are, I suggest you find out pronto…)

Aside from these core six ingredients in a healthy relationship, you also need mutual love, care, trust, and respect as well as being able to treat yourself with these when you’re in a relationship. i.e self-love, self-care, self-trust, self-respect. When these are present, it also means you are living and loving with your boundaries and values intact which means that you can be an authentic person in an authentic relationship or recognise when someone is not on your wavelength.

If you can’t date or have a relationship with your self-esteem in tow, don’t bother until you can.

All of the above ingredients create healthy chemistry and attraction – when I dodged commitment and was afraid of intimacy, I felt chemistry and connections with likeminded folk. When you’re genuinely emotionally available with healthy love habits, the chemistry and attraction is across all areas of your relationship, not just the convenient aspects such as sex, appearance, or common interests.

And I should stress that I’m not remotely suggesting that sex and attraction are not important aspects of a relationship as they certainly distinguish them from a friendship, but it’s about:

1) Making sure you have a healthy idea of relationships and what constitutes them so you conjure up one on the basis of shagging someone and having shared interests.

2) Prioritising. I’m all about owning your choices. If you prioritise sex, appearance, and superficial chemistry, you must own what results – a superficial relationship. Likewise, if a committed relationship is a priority, sex needs to take a backseat so that you don’t get blinded and waste time in casual relationships.

Ultimately, you can still look out for the hallmarks of your relationship such as sleeping together and being in contact over a period of time, not wanting to be involved with anyone else, plans, common interests etc., but recognise that these don’t make a relationship because without the vital ingredients (the landmarks) to bind it all together, whatever you think you’re involved in is hollow. You’ll end up in pseudo relationships that will leave you feeling hungry for the ‘real thing’ and then chasing up your partners for the substance that they don’t have.

Your thoughts?

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97 Responses to The Landmarks of Healthy Relationships

  1. Lilly says:

    Extremely valuable post. I guess I never recognized these things before because I’ve never had a healthy relationship or seen one around me to have for comparison purposes.

    Consistency and Progression are the two things you mentioned that are big ones for me. To look at whether or not someone is consistent or what they are consistently telling me by their actions. My husband of ten years was consistently inconsistent. And, “healthy relationships progress. There is no resistance.” This was a “duh” moment for me. Makes complete sense but why the hell it never occurred to me is baffling. I knew I wanted the relationship to progress, thought it should be progressing, wondered how to get it to progressing, but never thought I shouldn’t have to kick-start it or keep stoking that fire. I was too busy running my wheels off…

    Thanks again, Nat. I’m learning.

  2. TeaTime says:

    I love the distinction you’ve made between the landmarks and hallmarks of a relationship. I can definitely say that during my relationship with the ex-EUM I was not all focused on the hallmarks and completely ignoring the lack of actual substance. All the hot and cold, the ambiguities, the lack of progression, and the constant worry that I will do something wrong to upset him took a toll on my self esteem, and in the end I was just left feeling confused.

    I actually received the best news ever last week – I found out that over a period of a month my ex-EUM actually overlapped and dated another girl at the same time. This girl is someone I recently met and have become friends with, and if we hadn’t started chatting about guys and relationships it would have never come up. Natalie, the moment I found out all sympathy, sadness, wondering and confusion vanished. I realized he was definitely, no doubt left in my mind, 100% assclown and he played both of us for fools. What she described about him was exactly the same as what I felt about what happened with him. I could say he left us wondering and scratching our heads for all of the landmarks you’ve listed. We even found out he had double-booked us on the same day for a date, which he cancelled by giving us both the same excuse that he was sick with the flu. Can you believe the nerve!

    Since hearing this news, my self esteem has greatly improved and now I look back and see all the things I was turning a blind eye to. Most of these things are what you’ve described as the landmarks. Now that my eyes have been fully opened, I know that no EUM will ever fool me again! I don’t regret what happened, because I didn’t know any better at the time. It will be my fault if I let it happen again after this news and all I’ve learned from your wonderful site. I guess you could say this became my ‘epiphany relationship’. I will use him as my example for all future potential guys coming into my life.

  3. Audrey says:

    “Intimacy, commitment, consistency, balance, progression, and shared values, plus love, care, trust, and respect. Without these, your relationship hasn’t got the legs to carry it”.

    This is the crux of the matter, so to speak:-) And if the relationshp hasn’t these, it’s unhealthy. full stop. This is just what i need to read today.
    I think the consistency issue really stands out for me too and without the consistency it was not progressing or really developing.

    I think the shared values are also so important and that’s an area I neglected to look at with the assclown. He’d no problem lying and telling me a half truth and that half truth roped me into the whole thing in the first place.
    Now the pr*** thinks he can waltz back into my life and pick up where he left… Here now he thinks he can erase the past and he’s coming on oh so charming.. It’s a bummer cos we’re in a choir together, he’s the choirmaster and the whole thing is ruining my enjoyment of the choir now. And it’s my own fault now cos he asked could he ring me and i said he could ( i had a moment of weakness when i saw his kids last week).. so i’ve broke nc and feel so disappointed in myself…. -((((
    But i also realise and know that he’s no good for me and even jsut one phone call has me feeling anxious and its just reminding me of what an assclown he was to me.

  4. Cindy says:

    “In an unhealthy relationship, you’ll rarely feel like you’re standing on solid ground ”

    Ah! Exactly. With my exEUM, even the next meeting was uncertain. We did everything just like a couple, even not seeing other people. BUT I never felt secure because he just wouldn’t commit and everything was always so uncertain therefore I always felt unsafe.

    “When someone is genuinely interested in you, they don’t resist you. If there are issues that prevent them from being as committed as they claim they would like to be, they address them.”

    Exactly!! I had to realize my exEUM’s issues were not my own, that I could not fix them, that I could not help him and that he had to deal with them on his own. I could either put up with the BS and stick by him for some undefined amount of time (which is what he wanted) or I could step away from his BS, live my life, get away from his issues and let him figure it out on his own (which I did). I feel so much better now. I am not dragged around by his issues anymore and he is no longer using me as an emotional crutch.

    “leave you feeling hungry for the ‘real thing’”

    Yes! I remember this feeling very well. It’s a constant hunger. You know deep down that they really aren’t putting their heart/soul into it 100% so you wear yourself out trying to make up for it.

    Ladies, it’s better to let these men go and let them figure out their own issues on their own time. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t but at least they won’t be wasting anymore of your time.

  5. debra says:

    An important post, at least for me, as I was beginning to wonder if I knew what a healthy relationship looked like. I know what to avoid and I certainly know now what I don’t want , but that’s not the same as knowing what to move towards. It’s not as simple as saying “do the exact opposite as you did with the assclown”. I have been trying to find good role models in my life, among my friends, colleagues and relatives and I hate to say it is harder than it seems. True, you can never really know what goes on in someone else’s relationship but so many of my friends are experiencing problems of some sort – infidelity, lack of sex in the wake of kids, no privacy, they have tuned each other out and so on. It makes me despair a bit that all relationships get bogged down at some point. We all love the honeymoon part but I am looking to find a good example of what it should become in the long haul.

    This post gives some good clues what to look for in the beginning, when you should be deciding if you want to invest or keep going. But they are also clues as to whether the relationship has longevity and can survive the part that comes next – once you have gotten to know each other, made the commitment and are in the day-to-day part of it.

    I never had good relationship role models as a kid. My folks were crap and I cannot think of one couple I admired while growing up. As an adult, it always seemed like any couple I thought had a great relationship broke up shortly there after. I don’t want to sound cynical – I do believe its possible. I just wonder how much time or thought or effort most people actually put into their relationships, both in terms of what they are looking for and why they stay in them. I was married for 13 years and can say honestly that at the end, when it wasn’t really all that great, I stayed because of inertia and habit and fear of the unknown, not because I was getting (or giving) anything positive in the relationship.

    One of the things I definitely look for now, in friends and potential romantic interests, is evidence of introspection. If someone is completely unselfaware (as I freely admit to being for most of my life) or in denial, it is unlikely they are emotionally available or capable of expressing or knowing what they want in a relationship – they will just stay in it as long as it feels ok. It takes honesty and self-knowledge to know what is wrong and how to fix it and without that, I don’t know if a relationship can survive.

  6. JJ2 says:

    In three days it will have been a year since I walked out on the A/C. Even though I walked out, I guess I wanted him to realize that he was screwing up, that he was making mistakes. He never did. So, I guess I tried to chase him back. So now I have to wait for the “one year” since I last tried to “chase him back.” I’m pleased to say I’m 3 months NC, 9 more to go.

    And, the first two months we were involved, it was great. He was the one who was more excited about it than I was. But as soon as my “excitement level” came up to his, then I got “managed down.”

    I love Natalie’s phrase, “managed down.” I love it!

    I’m at the point where I am 99% over it. Still have 1% residual. I’m not actively trying to do anything to “heal” as I don’t think you can do anything. You just have to wait it out.

    But Natalie’s blog has really helped me understand what was going on.

  7. Blaise Parker says:


    I saw this on another forum:

    First person: Common interests would only get you off to a good start, in the long run you’d need somethings that ran much deeper.

    Second person: I’m not sure that you’re correct on this. My own marriage (and it was short) was ended because of no common interests. Common life goals didn’t help it last longer at all, because we needed to spend time together daily, and although we wanted to, it never worked out. One always had to sacrifice what is intersting and do something boring and tedious, but interesting for another one. So we kept arguing over what we should do, etc. I don’t regret that we parted, and after that I decided to never date people with no common interests again.


    Several people agreed with the second person. It did give me food for thought. If my partner and I did not enjoy some of the same things, we would find it more challenging to spend time together, because what would we do when we were with each other?


    • Nicole says:

      I have a couple of thoughts on this.

      If you read Natalie’s article a little more closely, you will see that she does not dismiss common interests, but she merely points out that basing a relationship on common interests WITHOUT common core values is unhealthy. I agree.

      And I have to ask about the Second Person’s marriage. If they had so much trouble finding mutual activities to do together, how in the world did they date, let alone end up getting married?

      The scenario between person one and two is too all-or-nothing of an example to really make a valid point.

    • NML says:

      That’s interesting Blaise although I really don’t see why they have to be mutually exclusive as in why can’t there be shared values and some shared interests? It’s a bit like when I get women mailing me saying that they’re with an awful person but the sex is amazing and they’d rather be with them because sex is really important to them and they don’t know what they’d do.

      I’ve also heard from countless women who swore up and down that they had a lot in common with a partner – they had interests, sex, maybe working at the same place. The guy didn’t want the same relationship, nor did they have any other shared values and in actual fact, sometimes they exaggerated how much they had in common. Their relationships couldn’t work. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who have *some* shared interests and plenty of shared values. Common interests, appearance, they are nice to have and are an added bonus when there is shared values. I didn’t say you don’t have to have anything in common but I did say you don’t have to have the same things in common.

      • Audrey says:

        Yeah, having all the same interests would be a bit drab. It’s great to be able to go off and do your own thing separate to a boyfriend.

  8. Movedup says:

    “Intimacy, commitment, consistency, balance, progression, and shared values, plus love, care, trust, and respect” Thanx for the list Nat and I can say yes on all counts and the interesting part I have found is that it still grows on a deeper level. Its not like it establishes itself and runs along accordingly – its daily progress sometimes in leaps and bounds and sometimes like floating slowly downriver on a lazy sunny day. Hubby and I had a challenge recently that could have well destroyed us had we not been so dedicated to seeing it through. All things worked out well but only because we can work through things together as a team totally committed to handle whatever the outcome was to be. United front.

    I complete agree with Cindy – Ladies, it’s better to let these men go and let them figure out their own issues on their own time. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t but at least they won’t be wasting anymore of your time.

    Go find someone worth your time – that’s time worth making.

  9. keep calm and carry on says:

    Oh, I love this website. Found it by chance ages ago and have read many comments, almost weeping at the realisation that I am not alone and was not going round the bend, trying to make my relationship ‘work’.
    I was married to an EUM for 16 years and finally found the courage to leave him, much to mine and everybody else’s surprise. It wasn’t a huge BIG BANG ending as I’d often imagined would happen, but the constant drip drip effect on my self-esteem, until one day I woke up to the reality. I got out. Got divorced. Got back on my feet. Sadly I had a relapse. Allowed him back in my life again (I was vulnerable and very lonely at the time). Realised that I’d been right all along to divorce him and got rid of him again!! Phew. Pass me the wine…..
    I threw myself into bringing up my wonderful sons (now flown the nest) and avoided all relationships for literally, ten years, as I didn’t want to get hurt again. Sadly, at the time, I couldn’t see that the only person hurting me, was me, as I didn’t allow any happiness into my life either. It’s no fun on your own – so I had to get out there and try to rebuild my shattered confidence with men. So, two years ago, cue girly holiday.
    It was then that I met a wonderful man, who was holidaying at the same hotel and we felt a deep connection (well I did). No, we didn’t have a holiday romance – it was talking all night and finding we had so much in common. We got on so brilliantly, that when we flew home, we started a long-distance relationship. I gradually dropped my barriers and allowed this man into every aspect of my life. He met my kids, family, friends etc. Sadly, he didn’t reciprocate as he kept me at arm’s length with one excuse or another and I never met his. He’s separating from his wife and they have all the legalities to sort out. Hmmm. I went along with it all, thinking one day it would all get better – although I could never quite put my finger on what was troubling me about our ‘relationship’. It was at these times, that I sought out your comments on here. I also realise that my expectations were managed down here. WHY couldn’t I see it?
    Finally, I had a ‘lightbulb moment’ last week, after four MONTHS of not seeing him (he’d been ill at Christmas, work issues, family commitments etc). He rang me, whilst I was away for the night with a girlfriend, to tell me that he had arranged a week long golfing holiday for ten of his friends, in Spain, in March (at the hotel where I met him). I could barely hide my disappointment and then he dealt the killer blow – he would have to squeeze me in before then, for a weekend. I couldn’t believe that I had gone along with this hollow relationship for so long. Up and down. Inside out. All around the houses. Any which way he chose. And all on his terms. Well no more.
    I hungered for that relationship for two years, but in that moment I knew that I’d suddenly lost my appetite. After telling him not to bother coming to see me (for the squeezed in weekend – bitter? Moi?) I haven’t heard a dickie bird since. Thank God for girlfriends and this site to help you see what you were too blind to see before. My tinted specs are off. Should’ve gone to Specsavers.

  10. Steph says:

    Nat, you always hit the nail right on the head. I am now out of my non-relationship with Mr A/C. I spent the first couple of weeks crying non-stop. But now it’s such a relief to no longer be at the the mercy of someone else who is neither fair nor reasonable.

    You’re so right: you get to the stage when you don’t know up from down, right from wrong, left from right, as bad behaviour is normalised.
    I’m so grateful now to be out of that. Blogs like this one were vital in helping me see exactly what was going on. It’s like holding up a spotlight – almost as if you were in the same room as us.

    Thanks Nat for helping lead me to a healthier place. Not 100% over it yet, but I know I soon will be.

  11. FeistyWoman says:

    Hi Natalie!

    To me trust is HUGE. Without it, you can’t expect to have any other facet of the relationship survive. Sure you can love blindly and think that the trust can build on that or come secondary, but without trust, we can never feel comfortable enough to truly love or have/feel respect.

    I have to trust you in order to be able to feel vulnerable enough for love. I have to be able to trust you enough to feel a mutual respect, and so on and so forth.

    All of the things you listed are absolutely vital and you’re right, a relationship is dead in the water without them.

    Great post!

  12. candy B says:

    “chasing up your partners for the substance that they don’t have”… hmmm what a sensational bottomline final note, Nat. You said it. And it’s landed… thanks! x CB

  13. Trinity says:

    Hi NML, The below taken from your article perfectly describes my last relationship and how I felt, it was just plain awful. And the more time that passes the more I realise just how awful I truly felt and just how crazy the relationship was. I was so focussed on saving what I thought we had and when I look back now it really was all based on common interests and my x partner “playing” a role. He wasn’t an authentic person at all and it showed with how he treated me. One of my biggest needs is consistency and yet somehow I ended up with the complete opposite of that. I remember feeling perpetually confused, jumping through hoops, scared to place a foot wrong and just plain starting to not believe in him anymore because as you said with each high I learned there was soon to be another low, it wasn’t just a one off her was showing me his very self destructive patterns. Thanks again for a great article :)

    If your expectations have been managed down, you’ll notice that you’re normalising bad behaviour and that’s because they’ve become consistent at being inconsistent and doing counterproductive, often painful things. Some of you won’t know which way is up anymore.

    Healthy relationships require consistency – you need to be able to trust in what you can expect from it and the person you’re involved with.

    With a lot of unhealthy relationships, it’s with one hand they giveth and with the other they taketh away. You go through a good spell and then just in case you’re under any illusions that your relationship is going somewhere or that they might be this way all the time, they disappear or start treating you really crappily.

    In an unhealthy relationship, you’ll rarely feel like you’re standing on solid ground because with the blowing hot and cold, the highs and lows, you come to expect that problems lie around the corner – you can’t truly relax. You may also feel that with the slightest ‘wrong’ move, the relationship can tip into shark

  14. colororange says:

    Hi Natalie,

    I have been lurking on your site now for a couple weeks. Love it!!! Very eye opening. I’m more aware now yet I’m still a bit disenchanted. Here I am 28-years-old with a string of drama filled “relationships” behind me and I just feel like will I ever heal from all this?? I’m currently in therapy and addressing my issues the best I can (sometimes feel like they’re insurmountable as I could go on about the momma issues, daddy issues, ex issues, just issues issues issues and trauma!). Sometimes feel like I’m too messed up to have anything healthy or to even know what it is.

    But I want to be well. I want to be healthy and have healthy relationships. And it is a bit scary, honestly. I’ve only had one relationship that came close. When you mention all the hallmarks of a healthy relationship, I literally feel like sitting here with my jaw on the floor from shock. I’ve never had that and most the time I was wondering if what was going on was healthy or not. Either I would do some effed up stuff or he would or we both would. Even my friendships were (are still at times) questionable. When I’m in this muddy mess, it seems like where in the heck do I start because the cow poo I’m in is so deep! I keep shoveling my way out though. There’s got to be better in this life than this!

    I am so grateful to have come across your site. It means so much to have someone who has personal experience with this and can honestly share it with the world. Thank you!


  15. jenny says:

    After many failed relationships, almost 2 years of reading NML’s blogs, and a handful of 1 on 1 sessions with her, I think I finally get it. But here’s the problem:

    Dating great guy. We have all of the landmarks listed. I trust and respect him more than any man I’ve ever known. BUT, there is an attraction that is missing and I’m desperately afraid that the missing element is that he is not the assclown/EUM to whom I’m accustomed and usually attracted. Like one of the previous posters, I wonder if I even know how to love a good man, or what a good relationship should really be. I know now what it’s NOT supposed to be and I never want that crap again. But I’m so used to the ups/downs, hots/colds, here todays/gone tomorrows…….I’m seriously concerned that the tables have turned and I am now the one who is emotionally unavailable. The thought makes my blood run cold.

    This guy makes me happy and he is good to me. I am never hurt, scared, or wondering if he’ll be around. I’m not concerned that he’ll bolt at the first sign of trouble. He is consistently good and not just to me, but everyone else. I love this about him, but I don’t find myself feeling butterflies or wildly attracted to him. But I wonder if, in the past, I’ve equated butterflies and wild attraction with things that don’t last…..seriously, what if I’m so accustomed to assclowns that I can’t be attracted to the RIGHT things about someone? But at the same time, I want him in my life, being in his life feels good, and I can’t imagine anyone else being half the person he is. I have been completely honest with him about this, and he says he understands. The landmarks (except maybe progression…..and I am probably the obstacle on that one) are there for the first time in my life……I’m just not sure that I am.

    • MaryC says:

      Jenny….I think you answered your own question “he is not the assclown/EUM to whom I’m accustomed and usually attracted.” No wonder you’re confused. Give it time and let things progress at their own speed. We women seems to analize our relationships far more than men do and sometimes we see things that aren’t there. If he’s as good as you say he is I wouldn’t let him go.

      Best of luck

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Natalie, I know you hear this all the time but it is like you are in my head and in my house with me. Yesterday, I finally had it with the “blues” of 40 something days NC with the ex MM. I know it’s only 40 something days but I think I was getting stuck in the muck, still checking email, checking his website, and checking for a text. It was driving me crazy. I read a previous post you wrote on why breaking up is so hard ( highly recommended reading). That pushed me into finally realizing breaking up is going to take as long as I make it take. Today, I haven’t checked anything which cleared up time for me. I started reading other posts about what a healthy relationship would look like because I have NEVER experienced one and, of course, my parents’ relationship was crap. As you stated, I wouldn’t know a healthy relationship if it bit me in the bum. However, I know an unhealthy situation, those have bitten my tattered bum too frequently. Your distinction between the hallmarks of a relationship vs. the landmarks of a relationship is so helpful. I’ve always bought the hallmarks, and the hallmark cards to boot. Additionally, your distinction between sharing common interests vs. sharing common core values is invaluable not to mention the difference between sex and intimacy. I always thought common interests were common core values. Oops. Now I am thinking about what in the world are my core values? Do I have any? Oh and, what in the world are core values? Thanks so much for this post and identifying the landmarks of a healthy relationship and what possible core values could be. Thank you all for your posts. It is comforting to know that other highly educated 50 somethings can not know these fundamental factors. I’m quietly soul searching. Natalie, we need you in the K-12 (Kindergarten through High Schools). I know I could not have passed this info on to my 21 year old daughter because I didn’t know it. With this info, our daughters and sons would be in a different space. Thank you for the road map on what a healthy relationship would look like. Also, thank you for the simple concept that I have a choice. I’ve always thought that once he invited me on the ride, I must ride the roller coaster until I was sick. I didn’t realize I could exist stage one once he made me sick. I’m going back to trying to figure out my core values, now that I know what they could be.

      You all are so incredible.

    • grace says:

      nat says over and over that we are emotionally unavailable as well. otherwise we wouldn’t be drawn to these murky situations. the bottom line is – do you want drama, excitement and distraction, or do you want security, consistency and commitment?
      if the second makes you yawn inside (and i know the feeling) then you aren’t alone. lots of women have worked through it and decided they don’t need the aggro of a crap relationship. i suppose it’s called growing up though it has nothing to do with how old you are. my fifteen year old niece has a boyfriend who is way more consistent than any of mine every were!
      when you feel stronger in yourself you’ll no longer need the dubious satisfaction of getting a waste-of-time guy to throw you a crumb every now and then.

  16. Betty says:

    Natalie, this post comes at such a good time for me to really open up my eyes and be forced to accept the truth.
    As I have mentioned, I broke up with my flip-flapping ex, who ‘tried’ to move to Sydney to be with me but in reality just hung around being, in effect, a rent-paying visitor, due to the fact that he didn’t ‘get around to’ applying for the de facto partner visa.
    He came and went so many times (due to only being able to stay in Australia for three months at a time.)
    He promised repeatedly that he would get the visa, then proceeded to do nothing except waste the days away on Betfair, or cycling, or swimming, or generally pottering about.
    I cried, I pleaded, I tried to be his armchair psychologist (“If you wanted to do it, you would, so obviously you don’t want to. Why can’t you just admit it?”)
    I never felt secure. I always felt like the rug could be pulled out from under me.
    We had a world map on the wall and he would sit and stare at it. I desperately wanted for us to PLAN holidays and adventures, but he wanted to ‘drop everything’ and go… He didn’t like the fact that I had a job, and only certain amounts of holiday leave, and other committments in my life. I wasn’t able to just ‘drop everything’. He just didn’t have the patience for waiting and planning.
    BUT for so long I justified everything by looking at the good things. (“But he’s so lovely…”) He is softly spoken, gentle, intelligent, cheerful (mostly!). We have so much in common. A love of good films, literature, art… a deep sense of tragic romance. He bought me vintage teacups for my collection and he genuinely loved them. He had an eye for the beauty in nature (would let me stick a flower behind his ear when we went for walks…) He would jump out of bed and make me tea, he bought me a bicycle so we could ride together…
    BUT… I knew these things we loved, these moments we shared, were ‘escape’. They were avoidance of reality. I loved them so much and I miss them (and him) like I’ve lost a limb. But I don’t miss feeling as though what really mattered to me was unimportant to him. (After PROMISING – AGAIN) that he would get the visa sorted within one month of returning from a Fiji holiday that I organised, he still did nothing. Every week I would ask if he’d done anything and he would fob me off. I tried to talk to him but he was just so confused. ‘I don’t know, I don’t know’. I thought he needed time to ‘sort himself out’ so I yet again let him leave me, to travel in Europe and see his family… But when he left I was wracked with uncertainty. I had no idea when or if he would return. He barely even texted me. When he did come back he had done nothing to progress anything. It had just been a holiday for him, a break from the pressure of the uncertainty. He could avoid things uninterrupted.
    In November he suddenly came out with: “I’m a bit miffed that your family assumes I’m going to be here for Christmas. What if I wanted to be with my family?” And I nearly hit the floor. ALL YEAR I had planned that WE would host Christmas at OUR place, for the first time. It was important to me. BUT IT WASN’T TO HIM. I realise that now. THIS stuff is the important stuff. He couldn’t see beyond his onwn short-sighted wants. He even tried to convince me: “Come on, come to Scotland with me for Christmas”. But I wanted to scream. If he had a sense of US and a partnership, and an ability to plan a life with me, he would have stayed here and supported me this Christmas, and we could have planned to spend next year’s in Scotland. But no.
    And I broke up with him. It was the final straw.
    I have struggled with NC and the thing that makes me contact him is the pull of emotions surrounding shared interests. The other night I watched ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ and it was so beautifully bittersweet, I could not help but think of him and he loves that film too. I texted him. I desperately wanted to feel that bond.
    But it turned into a big long text conversation that made me so angry. His passive statements about how he jus tdoesn’t know how to make things work for us. It’s that whole ‘Oh, what’s to become of us?’ while he does NOTHING and doesn’t accept responsibility for the fact that his INACTION is why we’re apart.
    I see my teacup collection and think of him. I watch British television and films and think of him. I long for the relationship that I always longed for. I envisioned travelling to visit his family every couple of years. Of them coming here to Sydney to stay with us. Of us, working hard and planning other adventures.
    I can barely believe that it hasn’t happened and I want to let go because I know I need to. But it feels like it was so close.
    BUT I couldn’t trust him.
    In the first year of our ‘relationship’ it was long distance. I thought I was his girlfriend and I was faithful (and blindly in love with an image, I realise.) He was sleeping with other people. Our relationship was purely based on text messaging, occasional phone calls and two holiday visits.
    In the second year, I dropped everything, packed up my life and went to be with him. It was almost immediately that I found out he’d slept with others… and was still in contact. I was shattered and alone and scared and did everything I could do prove myself to him. I put out so much, I tried to win him over, to be ‘the one’. We had good times together but I was wracked with insecurity. I forced everything down inside me and tried to enjoy this wonderful opportunity for travel and adventure. Along the way I was ‘teaching’ him how to be in a relationship. I was coaching him on how to treat me like an individual, to see and hear my needs, not just make assumptions about what ‘women’ want or shouldn’t want or know about. When he finally said ‘I love you’ it was because I coaxed it out of him. I counselled him until he said it. I knew it was true. But I know now that I shouldn’t have had to work so hard for it.
    In the third year of our relationship I had come back to Australia and spent most of it alone, waiting for him to come and move here with me. He visitied and at the end of the holiday (during which time he didn’t want to talk about it, just have fun) he said ‘I just don’t know if i can’. And a month later we were on the phone and i was convincing him to leave his job and come and be with me… and he decided to do so. I waited and waited and finally he came!
    Then there is the fourth year, that I’ve described. He came but he dragged his feet. We had a lovely time, we hung out, spent time with my friends, I convinced myself we were like ‘partners’. I found out shortly after his arrival that he had in fact signed a contract to do more work in Europe but hadn’t told me. He kept it from me. He wanted to ‘ease into’ the move here by holding on to the job. He had lied. And so he left for work. Then he came back and I took him on holiday to Fiji. He made those promises about the visa but spent more time and effort on Betfair. I was a mess. I tried to break up with him twice. I got violent and thought i was going crazy. I thought I had Borderline Personality Disorder but I realise now that the intense frustration was killing me. And then… I’ve told you how it ended.

    Stupidly, though, what am I spending my time focussing on? Our shared love of foreign films, of going for walks, of drinking tea together, of kissing and rolling around on the bed, of wanting to escape on adventures.

    Pathetic, I know. I need to get over it. He simply cannot give me what I want. Not completely.

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Hey Betty, I hear you. When there is someone that connects in a literary sense, it feels like intimacy. Maybe there is some intimacy from a literary perspective but I’m not so sure it is true intimacy. I fall for it every time. My favorite is War and Peace. My former ex MM claimed it was his favorite too. It was a moment. There aren’t many folks that have read War and Peace or claim it as their favorite. He said that sometimes it takes a life time to meet somebody who’s favorite is War and Peace.

      • Betty says:

        Wow. That’s tough.

        It’s not just books, though. It’s more the fact that he’s a ‘sensitive soul’ thing. He sees the beauty in things. He sees beyond the surface. He is in love with the tragic.

        But maybe it is just ‘mental masturbation’… for he couldn’t ‘see’ me crying, pleading, asking why he couldn’t commit. He couldn’t see or hear why it was important to me, no matter how many times I explained it.

        I wanted so much to help him work it out. He was so confused. He couldn’t see beyond his own little world, in his head.

        • Aubrey says:

          I was in the same boat as you.. I totally understand what you said. My relationship was shorter. We flew to see each other equally. I thought that this was the so-called effort. Apparently that can only hold us together for a bit.

          She did not want to communicate with me, does not want to take responsibility when she did something wrong, does not give me the sense that she wants to commit.

          I wanted her to stay where I am, but she travels regularly for her job. I thought it was unfair of me to ask her to stay here with me, for me. I still hold true to that notion but I know better now that she is just someone who will come and go in my life.

          But that’s okay. She’s teaching me something new and I am learning a lot about myself in this process.

          I hope you feel better and love again soon.

        • grace says:

          he isn’t sensitive to YOU. he doesn’t see the beauty of YOU. you did the right thing to cut him off, well done.
          also be very wary of cajoling/persuading/counselling a man (or anyone) into doing things they don’t want to do. a person with backbone will do you a favour and tell you to push off. but someone who can’t deal with conflict at any level will undermine you behind your back, and that is way worse than an unequivocal “i ain’t doing it!”

          • dawn says:

            Grace’s comment was very thought provoking for me. That is so true that someone who has difficulty and or can’t deal with conflict won’t come right out and tell you the truth. Especially in the context of having to tell you that they can’t do what you would like them to do. For me I know that I’ve lacked the ability to do that myself in my relationships. I am actively working on changing that. The reason that I do that is because I am fearful, fearful of the persons resulting anger and/or disappointment with me because it makes me feel bad, guilty or ashamed. I am not making an excuse for my behavior, I am just explaining what is behind it. I recognize that it is my responsiblity to deal with my issue and do what I have to do to change that , not only for my own growth but because it’s beneficial to others . I want to and need to be more emotionally developed and respectful if I want to have healthier expierences in my relationships. The oldie but goodie line we need to practive the “golden rule” ; do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
            Introspection is vitially important, I discoverd my fear was conditioned into me during my childhood. As a child it was an important skill that I learned to protect myself from the emotional abuse of an out of control and unreasonable mother who couldn’t tolerate anyone not thinking the way she thought or doing things the way she thought they needed to be done, she couldn’t handle conflict productively either and her way of dealing with it was to be abusive and as a small child I learned pretty quickly how to protect myself from her reaction by not being truthful about my feelings as it would only cause her to lash out at me verbally, emotionally and sometimes physically. Another thing she used to do was withdrawal her love, affection and attention and that was frightening as a child and something that I wasn’t prepared to deal with as children aren’t developed enough to deal with this. I got the message early, that if you don’t do what people want they will withdrawl (abandon you and make you feel lost and alone with no way to cope. We are so dependant on our parents when we are young we can become trapped in that way of being which…

        • outergirl says:

          My ex’s favorite movie…Ghost Busters! LOL! Doesn’t that just tell you everything you need to know? Maybe ‘Animal House’ was his second fav. I can’t even brag that he was literary! LOL

          • dawn says:

            Dawn’s post continued
            …carrys over into the the way we behave in our adult relationships. Sigh…so much to re-learn, but I gotta do it something different if I want a different result in order to stop the relationship insanity :) . Thank you to all the ladies on here who graciously share their expierences and for Natalie for providing the forum. It’s truly a blessing.

    • Audrey says:

      @Betty: From reading your post, it is clear that he lived life on his terms only. He did not see your pain, did not listen to you, did not treat you with love, care and respect. I don’t know how you maintained your sanity through all of this.
      Please dont fall into the trap of feeling sentimental. He must have had some things about him you liked, otherwise you wouldn’t have tried to make it work with him and you tried very very hard. Natalie’s book is called “You’re not going crazy, he’s Mr. Unavailable”. You would actually think you’re losing your mind with these types.

      Betty, it seems to me you are still in alot of emotional pain. You’ve only recently had your eyes open (i remember your posts) and it’s very early days for you. But trust me, with time and enforcing the No Contact Rule, you will get stronger but it’ll take time.

      Take it from me and from Nat and from everyone of us who have experienced the pain of being with these guys, making contact is a futile exercise Betty and it’s just adding to your pain. Trust me when I say the only way to fully recover is by enforcing the no contact rule. You must not text him, ring him, email him or make any form of contact and if you hear from him, YOU MUST IGNORE it.
      I know it’s the only way – after 90 days of nc i broke it – and i’m just kicking myself here…. (cos i got sentimental when i met his kids last week) and I regret it. It’s a big mistake. They see it as the door being opened and an acnkowledgement that they’re not such a bastard (mine was assclown) cos you are just simply engaging with them. And all they need to believe this is just a simple reply to a text.
      Betty, these types of men are just off the wall and a COMPLETE WASTE OF YOUR PRECIOUS LIFE.
      Keep coming back here and we’ll support you. You’re not alone.

      • Betty says:

        Thank you so much. I do feel like I’m going crazy at times, because as soon as I feel certain that I’m right to have ended things, I remember that this is a unique, individual person, imperfect as I am, who is alone in the world and is generally a good person. I start to think that terms such as ‘Mr Unavailable’ and ideas such as ‘NC’ are harsh and deny the fact that these are real people, not caricatures. I think about how kind he was so often, how generous too. The fact that he had committment issues and I think maybe even ADD wasn’t anything to do with me, but I suffered as a result. But I don’t believe he ever meant to hurt me, not one bit.
        But then I realise that the ideas of this site are so important to moving on and maintaining some sanity through what is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, saying goodbye to someone who loves me, whom I love. Someone who even now texts to say ‘I wish I knew what could be done’ and doesn’t realise that it is his inaction and lack of being grounded and certain about anything is what has torn us apart. I can’t hate him for that. I guess I just need to choose to realise that my feelings for him are separate from my ability to ‘make a life’ with him.
        I really do feel of two minds and it’s quite dizzying.
        Thank you again for your support. I appreciate it so very much.

        • Audrey says:

          @Betty.. i understand where you’re coming from and you still feel very confused and bewildered. Being with these eums is a very confusing experience. But he is definitely completely emotionally unavailable, he was before you met him and he will be after , unless he seeks professional help.

          At the end of the day, he is not accepting any responsibility for the demise of the relationship. “I wish i knew what could be done” . He has umpteen chances to do what he should have done Betty but he didn’t take them chances because the obstacle to the success of the relationship IS HIM” . It is not the circumstances of him being scottish and you australian or logistics. Natalie says time and time again, if a guy wants to be with you, he wont resist you or put up obstacles and basically sabotage the relationship.

          Betty, you are better off without this guy. You are still young and in the prime of your life and well done for making the break away from him . I know that wasn’t an easy decision for you to make.

          At the end of the day, what you say: your feelings for him are separate to your ability to make a life with him…. is true in that your feelings and the reality of the situation are two very different things. But HE is the one who is not able, Betty not you. Don’t blame yourself or think it’s anything you did wrong. It’s not.

          I can guarantee you if you stick with nc and in even a month’s time, you will be feeling much better in yourself and will see things clearer. I’m just thinking now, would it be a good idea to get a calender and set a goal of sticking to nc for one week at a time and then increse it and set a goal of two weeks and so on?

          • Audrey says:

            Betty@ this might help.. (it helped me no end …) next time you feel sentimental, remember the anxiety you have felt because of him and all the turmoil, uncertainty, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and desparation. And remember his unreliablity, his lies, his cheating and his messing your emotions. xoxo

        • outergirl says:

          Yes Betty, as everyone here is saying; NC is what will help you hold onto your sanity. I think it is because when we do speak w/them whether in person or some other communication; they will never, EVER be, say or do what we want them to be,say & do. So it becomes very frustrating. Think of it as an allergy to your favorite food; you want it, but you will be so sick you’ll regret having it. You can do this. Admit he had his charms but they were not worth selling your soul for. That thought helps me when I miss my AC.

  17. lynne says:

    still in lots of pain … so i am posting. but my nearly six year affair was the nothing relationship as described; the thing that always was casual despite the length of time. i imagine since it works for them, they keep it this way … and if the other person allows it to drag out … then so be it. i’ve been in essence no contact since dec. 13th. it’s really hard right now since my father is ill and i care for my mother, who is even older. i am an only child; family overseas. really rough. he was my closest person to me … and now that i had to evict him from my life, i have no one. friends yes … but sometimes friends just are no match for the lusty depths of having someone.

    right now, i am so SO so close to contacting him. so close. i called his friend, a lawyer, needing some help with estate questions. even his lawyer pal of years thinks my ex? is he now? is an ass. still, i miss him bad and right now: it’s KILLING me.

    i spend time in my day lately, plotting exactly how i am going to make contact. but try to remind myself that being in cahoots with him again, will send me into crazy tailspins when he disappears … and i just can’t afford that on top of caring for my elderly parents. many times i reminded myself: you are alone because you are dating an ass****. if you didn’t date s****, you might have a real man to shoulder you through these times.

    but dear God, i am so close to writing him. i use his maids and i think one of them today left behind a book i may have lent him. i wasn’t here when they arrived and haven’t talked with them. but i said: put it away and even if it was from him, do not respond. i am scared of turning into as ass in front of him again by contacting him …. as i so obviously have broken it off. but at the same time, i can’t stop obsessing. thanks for letting me obsess on here.

    i am trying to promise myself that if i can just go a little longer and really square away my life right now, then maybe i will contact him. trying to hold on just a little longer! i am dying! but he made my life so hard and i just don’t deserve it to be any harder. i work hard at my job and my personal duties and all i really deserve is a great guy to HELP me … not tear me down.

    but i fear, fear, fear that i am going to continue to write and edit him an email … ( i still also have something of his). his power over me is astonishing and i just wonder WHERE IN THE HECK IT CAME FROM?

    • Allison says:


      What will you get from the contact? Do you think things will be different? You know this guy is bad news, think about how will you feel after you contact him.

      You said you have your friends, but are you keeping yourself busy. If you don’t have time to relive the memories, it helps in moving on.

    • Allison says:


      I’m back.

      “all i really deserve is a great guy to HELP me … not tear me down.” You’re happiness has to come from within, not other people-not fair to either party. Until we realize this we will continue to meet the losers.

      “his power over me is astonishing and i just wonder WHERE IN THE HECK IT CAME FROM?” No one has power over us. If we continue with a victim mentality we will never grow. When I took responsibility for my complicitness in this relationship, I was able to move on to a healthy place, but if we see ourselves as weak and controlled , we continue the same pattern. You must change your mind set and take your life back, as you are the only one who can control your actions! Not him!

    • runnergirlno1 says:


      I hope you made it through the pain and are still NC. I wish you could see my journal entries in the first few days of going NC starting December 19th. What you have written is so similar to what I wrote in my journal. I can answer your question regarding “his power over you”. We give our power over to them. It sucks.

      It also sucks realizing that what we thought was a relationship may have just been a casual thing particularly when they were they main someone in our lives for years.

      I don’t know what works to get through this. Here’s what I do when I get low: I place my cell phone right by my side and I haven’t deleted his number (mostly because I don’t want to accidently pick up) and I tell myself, “go ahead and text or call him”. I know he’ll text right back or pick up and I can be right back where I started within a matter of moments. Miserable as hell, maybe more so. I can go right back to being the other woman within a matter of moments. Sure, I would go back to some fun and romantic times but with the fun and the romance, I would go straight back to hell when he would have to leave me to be with his wife, which he would because he is married. If I want to choose hell, I can simply call or text him and be back in hell within two wags of my dog’s tail.

      The other thing I do when I’m dying to talk with him is I write in my journal. We’ve had some really good conversations in my journal much better than we ever had in person. When I re-read the conversations (with him) in my journal, I realize I’m having that “honest conversation with myself”, not with him. It is quite amazing that what I was doing did not match up with what I want. I haven’t been walking my own walk. I want a long-term, healthy relationship with an emotionally available man and I want to be emotionally available too. Yet, I was involved with a married man! C’mon. I know his walk has to match his talk. Now, I realize my walk has to match my talk.

      Sorry, I’m rambling. Bottom line: I can call or text him anytime and “suck it and see”. If you haven’t read Nat’s article “suck it and see”, please do. It gets me through the really rough spots.

      I still miss him too. Today would have been the beginning of the third year. For me, it’s just not worth the agony and despair because being with him was KILLING me. Without him, I think I stand a chance of living even though it, too, feels like it’s killing me.

  18. Lynn says:

    My ex liked to use the word ‘commitment’ a lot. He was committed to ‘us’, committed to ‘working it out’ and also let me know when he was “committing” to other things at work, which always felt like he was letting me know what a good deal he had let me in on because he was willing to commit.

    After we broke up, and I had asked for space, he ignored that wish such that I emailed a curt brief note, saying, I want no contact until we’re over this (at this point still thinking that after we were over it we’d want to be friends). He kept trying to be in touch. One phone message that helped me see what I was dealing with was him sounding frustrated, impatient and tired, saying “We broke up to preserve our friendship, and I’m willing to commit to that friendship, and thought that you wanted to commit to that, so I hope you’ll call me.”

    No mention of what had gone on between us that led to the break up, no apology for continuing to call me after I said I wanted space, no sense of the difference between just plain attention and a quality of attention that indicates love, care, trust and respect. Just this “hallmark” use of the word “commit” which he (rightly) assumed would make me doubt myself (am I not committed?).

    With him, it was always a version of “if you loved me you would”: but instead it was “if you were committed you would”. If you were committed you’d get over your reluctance to trust me. If you were committed you would accept that I am pushy or mean-spirited and not say anything. He was right, in a way, as long as I was committed to the idea of a relationship, I put up with all kinds of things before ever thinking of myself as uncommitted.

    I’ve amended Natalie’s dictum in my head: If committing to someone else means you can’t commit to you, choose you.

    When I saw that my simple commitment to me (and at that time, I thought, to ‘us’) to take a break and have a few months of no contact was not at all respected by him, I began to see that someone could indeed commit to not respecting me for the rest of my life.

    I am really struggling right now with rebuilding from the ground up. If I don’t know healthy relationships, I need to start with a healthy ‘relationship’ with myself, and better platonic relationships with others. I feel you, colororange. Feel like I’m deep in cowpoo and no sense of which way to go to better relationships: more time alone, to sort myself out? More time in social situations, to get better at interacting? More time with existing friends, to deepen bonds? Or more time meeting new people, based on (new) shared values? Onward …

  19. Aubrey says:

    Skimmed this post and will read indepth after work but I am sure that it is going to be a solid and sound post.

    Natalie, what are your thoughts about dating someone who knows about your situation with self esteem issues and is interested to help you work out those issues?

    I asked as I see that you said the following: “If you can’t date or have a relationship with your self-esteem in tow, don’t bother until you can.”

    Not that I don’t have a shred of self esteem with me but I know how I react around people who are “comparable” to me (i don’t know how to explain how i measure that..). I guess you can call it a lack of confidence around people seemingly “superior” when they portray control in their lives.

    Anyway, wholeheartedly agree on the point about not dating on someone else’s terms. My ex started to talk to me again after a week plus of NC and said that she “would like to share the good parts of each other’s lives without all the drama and the blame”. In my head I was thinking she must be from Mars or Saturn and is spewing a whole lot of BS in my face. Trying to gloss over what happened by pretending nothing has happened and still acting the same: not acknowledging what has happened that led to drama and blame.

    I wavered a little and spent quite an inordinate amount of time dwelling on why she is saying this with the hope in my heart that she might tell me she’s changed and wants to get back together. Then I gave myself a boot up the ass after calming down and seeing that she has not changed a single bit! Maintaining the NC (okay I have to restart it since I responded to her chatting but not emails) and I’m having a easier time than before. Have a quote in my diary that reads: You don’t die from a broken heart.

    To the ladies getting over their heartache, be wary of your heart fooling your head!

  20. Cathy J says:

    “A relationship without commitment is a casual arrangement no matter how long it goes on for. Commitment gives direction to a relationship and without it, you’re just floating.”

    I honestly thought I had learned over time …

    Was I subtly resisting the relationship I was in for over two years to find out recently that although I thought we had most of the hallmarks…

    “Intimacy, commitment, consistency, balance, progression, and shared values, plus love, care, trust, and respect.”

    His surface commitment was obviously not there (couldn’t survive his first trip ‘home’ in 3 years).

    Although today I feel like hardening my heart, my goal is not to – I choose today to believe there is someone better for me out there.

  21. carol says:

    im in this situation now and havent the guts to do anything about it. my man is eu, married but separated so he says but still in the same house as his ex. always going to leave one day but as nat says x becomes y and y becomes z. i may get half an hour of his time at dinner time at work, if he can make it. but he does sports and things that take all day to do at the weekends. i saw him for 4 hours last month, and when he knows i am starting to feel bad about it, he makes an effort that makes me think its alright. it isnt. i have no self esteem at all. been waiting for him to make a move for 2 years. if you saw me youd never think i would ever be in this situation. he was my first love. we found each other after 38 years and the feelings all came back. i honestly believe he didnt want it to be this way as when it started he was full of promises and beliefs, but as time has gone on and i have tolerated all his bad behaviour, he has seen that he can do that to me, and now does. i am last on his list of priorities . yet he says he loves me zillions and still wants to be with me. someone please talk some sense into my head. worst of it is i still love him. i sit at home night after night just waiting for the phone to ring. sad really isnt it, yet i put an act on at work and try to be really happy. some days are better than others, some days i feel positive, then others i feel that i know what is the right thing to do, i just cant do it. xxx

    • grace says:

      read your post back to yourself and the answer will become clear. you saw him four hours last month, you may as well not see him at all (im dropping a hint here!).
      it’s a strange separation if they are still living under the same roof. does his wife know they are “separated”? it could all come as news to her. you can’t believe what he says about his marriage. but his actions say a lot – he is still living with her after two years.
      my ex reconnected with me after nearly 20 years. he too was married so i understand the attraction but in all honesty, are you happier than you were before he popped up?
      i know that men/women do leave their wives/husbands but it will happen quickly (brad pitt!). a man who is comfortable lying to his wife and to you for two years is a man who will be comfortable with it for five years, ten years, twenty years.
      is that what you want for yourself?

    • NML says:

      Hi Carol. Read my posts on the returning childhood sweetheart http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/the-trap-of-the-returning-childhood-sweetheart-part-1/

      In these situations your perception of them is based on the past and the hope they presented but haven’t realised. You need to reconcile your perception of him with the man he is. As Grace said, reading your comment back to yourself would tell you a lot. You are selling yourself short and irrespective of any grand promises he has made, they are in great contradiction with the reality. Nobody loves someone so much they can only see them 4 hours a month – you’re turning crumbs into a loaf.

    • deege says:

      Carol, you deserve someone more than four hours a month. I also, believed the lie of “separation”. He took me to his house. As a submissive female, I did not snoop, I was totally his fool, and I continued to see him when I found out he was still married, and with her. Don’t be like me. Find yourself, and don’t lose the next years of your life. the MM I was seeing also told me that we would be the “exception” to the rule. He never made a plan to leave his wife, and I never gave him a deadline. I am so glad he is gone, and I feel strong enough now to close the door. These men find out our weaknesses intuitively, like animals…and they prey on us. Save yourself.

    • outergirl says:

      Awww Carol..I feel for you. Mine magically re-appeared after 20 years. He was EU then [though I had no idea and I was no angel in that long ago situation] as he had a GF at the time. He’s just as EU now. When he re-appeared, yup, you guessed it, I thought ‘he realizes I was the one all along!!! Bluebirds, hearts, cupids. And then I learned what a Fallback Girl was… Your self esteem , trust everyone here, is not going to improve by staying. Better alone then in poor company.

    • Lilly says:


      I was there only months ago. My high school sweetheart and I reconnected (20 years later). He was married and so was I. I was separated and heading for a divorce however and he was not.

      I don’t think it’s really necessary to tell my whole story here but it was very similar. My MM lived in another state but traveled for business. Told me I was the love of his life. Told me he’d never felt this way with anyone else…talked of the future, of us getting married, of financially caring for my children, etc. All of it and more. I saw him once every couple months or so. And when I did it was great. He spoiled me, something I’ve never experienced.

      Anyway, because he was the best guy I’d ever been with I held on tightly to hope, to my fairy tale coming true. Until there was almost nothing left of me after a year and a half. I had to end it. And I was pissed about it. Pissed because he wouldn’t DO anything and was forcing my hand.

      I know you may not want to let him go completely but somewhere in you, you know you need to. Don’t you want better than that? I know you do. But he’s consistently shown you he’s not capable of giving you what you want/need. You just don’t want to accept that as truth.

      You know what helped me most? By turning the tables. If you found someone who was ‘the love of your life’ but you were in an unfulfilling marriage, what would YOU do? Would your actions be the same as his? Or would you be quickly making the necessary plans and arrangements to be with him? Would you keep him hanging on for years in this state of limbo that was killing him?

      Get angry. It helps too. Anger can be very productive. But whatever you do…DO NOT CONTACT HIM. Keep a journal and ‘write’ to him there. I’ve done it on my blog and in my journal until I felt I no longer needed to.

      I promise, it gets easier. ((hugs))


  22. grace says:

    Hey, here’s an interesting post from an advice site, saying that parents should be actively involved in guiding their children’s dating. An eye-opener for me. I got ZERO guidance from my parents:


    Just goes to show, the emotionally healthy do it differently!

  23. deege says:

    Good golly, you are so right on the money with this. I NORMALIZED THE CRAZINESS of my relationship. I made it “okay” for him to give me the cold shoulder when I did or said something he didn’t like, instead of insisting on adult, loving, communication. I normalized his drinking problem and then would blame myself if he drank too much and acted crazy. I am now on day 29 of NC, and although I have my down times when I would love a quick fix, I am RESOLUTE this time. I pray. When a thought of him barges into my mind, I pray, I Hail Mary (which is funny, because I am a lapsed Catholic,) and I use music – a lot. I find music is my catalyst to getting back my life. Duffy has a great song called “Delayed Devotion”. I listen to Whitney Houston (I look to You), and anything that makes me want to dance. I don’t mind dancing alone around my house. That may sound crazy, but it’s a whole lot less crazy than the way I legitimized his sorry butt treatment of me for 8 years. Natalie, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Natasha says:

      I went through the same thing with me AC and his drinking/general lunacy. I would totally blame myself too! In my case, he would go on a Future Faking Binge when he drank (also when he was sober, but the drunk ones took the cake) and I would blame myself for not seeing through it/somehow turning into Miss Cleo and psychically knowing that he was in fact drunk when he said it. I would get the cold shoulder too when I expected him to step up to the plate and act like an adult and it sucked, royally. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t anything I did. Nice to know I’m not alone!

  24. Natasha says:

    Excellent post! Wow this one hit close to home. You know what’s really frustrating in these situations? If they act like they’re meeting you halfway by doing some of the hallmarks of a relationship, but then when you wise up to what’s really going on, i.e. the inconsistency, the withdrawing to punish you if you “expect” anything and, then, when you call them out on it, it’s all “You’re demanding, you’re needy, I have too many problems, so it’s not my fault.” That happened to me with my AC and I spent LOADS of time questioning if I’d done the right thing. It’s like “Yes, you took me to meet your friends, but you still pulled a disappearing act at Christmas, don’t I have a right to be upset about that?” I literally got the, “What did I do?!” from him when I got fed up. I had moments where I was like, “Am I a demanding, insensitive semi-lunatic like this person seems to think I am?” Thank you Natalie for your excellent advice, as always :)

    • Audrey says:

      @Natasha and Gingerbell: these two assclowns sound narcissistic, in fact, i’ve recently learned that the assclowns have A LOT of narcisistic characteristics and behaviours. I just learned from a site – type in abuse narcisstic recovery – it should come up. It explains alot of why assclowns behave they do. It’s really helped me undersatnd you are dealing with an unreaosnable person who does not understand he behaves badly – He SIMPLY CANNOT SEE it – so you’re wasting your time trying to tell him. He’ll put the blame on you… and it’s very difficult to get rid of them. no closure, no normal break up, just a big headache..

      • grace says:

        agreed. i’ve been involved (not necessarily sexually) with an alcoholic, a heavy drug user, a blatant shallow womanizer, a beater, and you know what, they all thought they were TERRIFIC!
        please, everyone, don’t waste your time and sanity on trying to get them to see the light. oh that WE thought so highly of ourselves!

        • Natasha says:

          So true, ladies, so true! I took this fool back after he treated me like an interstate booty call on and off for quite some time and I told him to get lost. He got back in touch claiming he was a different person and really wanted to give things a shot with us for real and all was going to be wonderful. Oy. After I call him out on his bs (i.e. the future faking, the passive aggression, the “it’s not my fault, I have ISSUES”), what does he say? That the reason he acted like a jackass (my words, he claimed he did nothing wrong), was because….”he really is a totally different person and has to find himself” and I was treated to a long winded explanation of how great he is. True story haha!

  25. Gingerbell says:

    His inconsistency drove me mental and I never ever found the balance I needed to feel emotionally sane. At one point during the break up, he told me I was the most amazing woman he knows and loves me still and that it’s a shame I don’t have the confidence to see that (BS) and a week later that he has no interest in knowing who I’ve become, that I am weak and pathetic and it’s a good reminder as to why he left. I was totally gutted trying to decipher what was true and what wasn’t. He told me he left because he wasn’t capable of being in a relationship period but if he did, I’d be “the one” (BS) I didn’t know left from right anymore and I was always walking on egg shells, never knowing when he would blow up about something and leave me. Really, the only thing he was consistent about was being an inconsistent jerk. I’m still sad about everything but the exhaustion I experienced trying to figure out where I stood all the time was putting me in a terrible loop.
    I now realize he wasn’t even a participating member of this relationship and there really never was a chance for it to move forward. We had a connection but our values chemistry was atrocious. In a sense, he’s right.. I took a departure from who I was when we first met because I wasn’t equipped to deal with who he actually unveiled himself to be. Whenever it’s uncomfortable being yourself, it’s probably a good indication things aren’t going well. His own mother is afraid to say what she really thinks (which is that he needs professional help) because she is afraid he will flip out and she will “lose him forever”. Dare I say, it’s also a good indication how men are going to treat their girlfriends by the way they treat their moms. He is very blase’ with her and has reported being indifferent to her love.
    His issues are not for me to figure out but through being with him, it has certainly highlighted mine. I can’t be with anyone who can’t grow with me. He may have no interest in knowing who I am but hopefully one day, someone else will and I will never have to apologize for it.

    • Movedup says:

      “Dare I say, it’s also a good indication how men are going to treat their girlfriends by the way they treat their moms”

      Totally have to agree with that one. The ExEUAC left home at 17 never to look back. 40 years of NC with his own mother and still to this day. His own family did not even inform him of his father’s death. He disowned all of them (large family) and ran away. I know his childhood was abusive and his issues with women surround his relationship with his mother. He could not trust her to protect him from his father – she didn’t. So therefore in his little mind – no women are to be trusted. Sad but true – EU forever. Glad no longer a part of my world.

      The saving grace is I look at my sons (young adults) and I really like them as people AND they treat their mother very well thank you. Hopefully some of the lessons I had to learn will not be repeated by them. They have good relationships with really great women. Something good to come out of lots of bad.

  26. Marie says:

    I love all you women who post here!
    I get so much strength from reading about your situations and I find such comfort in knowing I’m not alone. I am in the most soul-sucking, esteem wrecking, energy wasting non-relationship I have ever experienced. I read what you all write and it’s just almost eerie to realize there are others out there who are experiencing the same exact scenario in which I sadly find myself. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for posting, so eloquently, your thoughts, fears, experiences. I don’t remember how I even found this site, but I just love it. It is so insightful – Natalie I don’t even have words for you! you are brilliant.

    Love to you all! Let’s get rid of these a***holes! God. we all deserve so much better than we tolerate. I say, when you are feeling lonely, just remember all the women on this site. You are not alone!!

  27. keep calm and carry on says:

    “A man who is comfortable lying to you and his wife for two years, is a man who will be comfortable with it for five years, ten years, twenty years.”

    SO true and I found out the hard way. Two years of being fobbed off and falling for all the BS. I feel a fool, as I loved him so much, but sadly, he didn’t love me (apparently he didn’t know me well enough). I clung on hoping things would improve, as we got on so brilliantly on the (rare) occasions we got together (always on his terms). If I ever made any demands (as in “are we in a relationship?” or “do you see a future with me?” he backed off saying he couldn’t handle it at the moment – too much pressure etc. I only accepted this cr4p in the vain hope that it would all turn out ok (even my M&D said hang in there, he’s a good man – we all fell for his charm).
    I started to see the light (a bit) when I stayed with him last time, miles from where he lives, when his father rang him. He told his father he was away with his workmates on a golf weekend – as I was sat right next to him. I’ve never felt so hurt. WHY do we put up with it all?
    Funny, that now I’ve told him I can’t take any more, after not seeing him in four months, he’s gone AWOL. Mr No Contact himself. I wasn’t even worth asking “why?”. I cannot belive that I thought the sun shone out of this man’s ar$e. Am I really worth so little?
    Thanks to this fab site, I realise that we are ALL worth so much more than the crumbs these EUM feed us.
    It’s been four months since I last saw him, which means I’m four months down the road to getting over him. If I were to see him now (for the promised weekend) I know I would be back to square one. Again. I won’t do that to myself any more – NC is the way forward…..

  28. Gingerbell says:

    @Audrey. I looked up abusive narcissist recovery, yep that sounds like him. I remember trying to gently bring up his behavior on Christmas Eve. He got quiet and then he blurted out “I’m effing awesome and you just don’t get me because you suck”. He denies saying this but the truth is he did. These words actually left his mouth. The visit ended promptly after this shocking announcement.
    I think the most frustrating thing is knowing they will never admit to themselves this is highly dysfunctional. He believes he is smarter than any psychologist. The support of you gals is priceless because it allows me the realization this is not a unique case. There are others out there parading their huge egos and small hearts.
    I naturally build others up because my nature is to nurture. His nature is to feed on that and provide nothing in return. It makes me angry in a way because I feel like he’s getting away with behaving so badly as he feels no guilt or shame. I just want to be closer to a place of being indifferent to him altogether.

    • Natasha says:

      Gingerbell, the last paragraph you wrote sums up what I’ve been going through to a T! I had a problem with my AC posting things on Facebook about how attractive all these women at a bar he worked at were (meanwhile, he was still pursuing me of course) and it made me feel SO confused and pretty low. When this first all turned down the road to Hot Mess Town, I was crying to my mother about it and I was furious because I felt like “Oh, he gets to live his great life with all of his women and not even feel bad about how he’s treated me!” She said, “Natasha, do you think someone who goes through life treating other people badly and clutching at whatever ego boost they can get is REALLY happy? I mean, really deep down secure and happy? People like this go through their whole lives making a mess and then running away from it. Believe you me, it catches up to them. Payback, my darling, is a b*tch! When you’ve met someone nice and are moving on with your life and being treated well, what do you think he’ll be doing? The same stuff. The same drama. Does that sound enjoyable to you? You feel worthless because he wouldn’t call you his girlfriend and he would with other women. I don’t care if he had 50 fully titled girlfriends before you and has 50 more after you, he’ll still be the same jerk in one way or another. Trust me, I’ve lived longer than you. People follow a pattern.” I make her repeat this to me whenever I’m having a low moment, so I thought I’d share :)

      • CC says:

        Excellent! I too was a little obsessed with how these men could avoid the fallout of all broken hearts and just move on to the many women all to happy to be the next. I would obsess about how it wasn’t fair and if karma was a word… when were they going to get it?! My therapist told me the exact same thing as your mom. Repeat it… believe it! We are younger yes and so now is our time to get wiser like our mothers and therapists :)

      • charla says:

        That makes me feel so much better Natasha :) It was a fluke that he met me (quality and not shy to say it) in the first place. He should be so lucky with the next *few*.

      • Allison says:


        Your mother is a wise woman!

        • Natasha says:

          Hi ladies! So glad this helped :) Her advice, along with Natalie’s, has been hugely helpful to me as well, so I will be sure to pass along her gems of wisdom for everyone to enjoy! I’ve been at home from work with the flu for a few days and instead of watching bad daytime TV like I should, I started obsessing about this jackass. Hearing that I’m not alone and sharing with the awesome women on here has made all the difference, so a big thank you to all of you!

  29. grace says:

    thank you for your post. your mother sounds terrific and i’ll take that advice too.

    • Natasha says:

      So glad you liked it Grace :) She is an awesome advice guru for me and all of my girlfriends too – in between her and Natalie, it’s going to be hard times out there for an assclown!

  30. Margaret says:

    I just discovered this website and love it. However, I think it is not always about being drawn to EUs or assclowns.
    Is there not a happy medium? I think chemistry IS important. I am not saying it needs to be love at first site, but at least some attraction. Is it not possible to find a combination of attraction, shared values, and compatibility? Not perfection, mind you, but a reasonable fascimile of the whole package?
    I am 49, divorced, and, I think, emotionally healthy and have my act together. I am attractive, educated, and in good shape. The assclowns don’t come near me, as they know I am out of their league. I can spot them in a microsecond.
    That said, for me, at least, it will never be enough that a man is “nice” and has a “good heart” if I am not at all physically attracted to him. So many men my age look terrible, have huge guts, and look OLD. It’s been suggested here that we date younger men. I am willing to go some younger but not Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher younger. What happens when he decides he wants to father children but my eggs are dried up? My age range is 45-57, which I think is more than reasonable.
    The kind of man I am looking for is married, and will stay married, unless widowed. I am talking good shape, fun, kind, financially stable. I am not asking for anything I myself do not offer. There are just not a lot of these men floating around, and I am prepared to be alone rather than settle.
    Passion IS important, and yes, sometimes it takes time to develop. But I will not be in a passionless relationship.
    For younger women that still want children, I would say yes, sometimes to achieve your dream of a family, you WILL have to settle.
    But I have a fulfilling single life, love myself, and want to find someone who is attractive in my eyes, is a good person, and has most of the other very reasonable qualities I am looking for.
    Natalie, please recognize that not all of us are alone because we are drawn to the bad boys. The sad truth is that, especially after 40, there is a shortage of available men who have their act together and are relationship material.
    Also, I have to say that luck plays a huge role, and some women have more of it than others.
    And oh yeah, I am sick of online dating.

    • grace says:

      I’m 46 and feel your pain. While there are plenty of decent attrractive men in their 40s/50s – they’re married! I meet em through work and events etc, sneak a look at their ring finger – and they’re married. Why wouldn’t they be? If I was emotionally available and not been in screw up relationship I’d be married too.
      Younger men raise the tricky issue of children though not all men want children or are prepared to give that up to be with someone they genuinely love.
      On the flip side, though, if there are single women in their 40s who are suitable relationship material then there must be single men too, though they may be divorced and have kids (which I am fine with). I we are walking around with a negative mind set we won’t see them, we’re too busy focusing on the ones who are attached or the ones who are too young. Because we’ve got it into our heads that’s all there is.
      As for looks, that’s moving down my list of priorities. If you were 20, 30 or 50 I would say the same thing – is it really that important? My 15 yo niece who is rather beautiful and a dancer is dating a very geeky. She knows something that we haven’t quite grasped. Looks are not important. They don’t even last, they can be lost overnight (an accident) or through ageing).
      Chemistry isn’t about looks either, with all my female friends I barely notice anymore which ones are conventionally good looking and which ones aren’t. To me they are all beautiful people inside and we have a huge amount of fun together. I just need to bring that philosophy to dating!

      • Margaret says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, Grace. Most of the men I find attractive are NOT conventionally handsome. Chemistry is either there or it isn’t, and it is not about looks. However, I take good care of myself and am in good shape, and I don’t want to be with someone who is obese or looks and acts old for their age!

        • grace says:

          i hear you. have you tried sport? i’ve taken up football and we sometimes play against/with men. they’re not obese and many are in their 40s. you’re more likely to meet someone through team sports than just going to the gym, and even if you don’t meet a man, you’ll widen your circle.
          avoid the personal trainers though, i think their reputation for hitting on clients is well founded!

  31. Gingerbell says:

    Thanks Natasha. Your mother is totally right. A friend of mine said that to me as well. He said how can someone who behaves do badly be happy? Also he can’t be that secure in himself if he feels the need to seek attention at bars night after night from random women who have no idea who he really is. I felt very jealous at first but I have to wonder, jealous of what?!! All the one night stands he’s going to have?! I have to give myself some credit in knowing if he can’t commit to me he certainly can’t commit to the random women. I’ve seen happy couples and it doesn’t involve one of them not coming home three nights a week because they need an ego stroke from strangers. All I wanted was him.. Sitting alone at home on a Saturday night witha glass of wine while he was at a bar buying one for someone else.or as I like to refer to it.. Cheat, Prey,…Love?… I think not.

  32. Natasha says:

    Gingerbell, your last line was amazing! It’s so, so true. Your ex sounds like he has a lot in common with mine – aren’t they delightful? While we’re on the topic of my mother’s advice, her take on it was “Is he saying this because they’re The Most Beautiful Women Ever and you are chopped liver? No. He wants to sleep with them so he can feel like The Man. Just having one woman isn’t going to make him feel like The Man! And is a man who makes this public knowledge on that Face Thing (she meant Facebook) when he’s supposed to be wooing you anything worth having? I don’t think so.”

  33. runnergirlno1 says:

    Oh dear me Margaret. You state: “The kind of man I am looking for is married, and will stay married, unless widowed. I am talking good shape, fun, kind, financially stable. I am not asking for anything I myself do not offer.” I was so there and got so burned by this way of thinking. I’m still picking up the sad sorry pieces of my life after being involved with a married man. I was totally at fault because, like you, I thought I didn’t want anything but a guy in good shape (which he barely qualified), although he was totally fun and kind, and his finances were his problem. You are so right about the dearth of men who could be there after a certain age. I learned the hard way. Married men are NOT relationship material. Married men and relationship are mutually exclusive. Good luck to you though. Maybe playing second fiddle is good enough while he is out with his wife and you are home alone. For me, it finally totally sucked. No judgments here, trust me. I have no leg to stand on. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and now want to apologize to every betrayed wife on the planet. My ex MM has proudly dawned his wedding ring within 40 something days of NC. Good for him. Although he professed never wanting to “go back” to his “crummy marriage”, it seems he has done just that. I wish him luck. I wish me luck. And good luck to all the other women involved with married men. Ouch, it so hurts to see his wedding ring back on his finger.

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Oh yeah, one more thing…I hope his wedding ring is knawing a ring around his fat stupid finger and feels like s**t. That’s the angry me. I hope his finger falls off in the morning and he accidentally flushes his finger and the ring down the toilet. That’s the angry me. It’s a great vision though, right? F**k married men who cheat on their wives and g/f’s. Again, please allow me to apologize to all the betrayed wives and girlfriends on the planet. I will never settle for such crap, nonsense, and egotistical BS again, from him or from me. In my case as the OW, I got what I deserved…nada.

    • Margaret says:

      Runner girl, thanks for your response, but you misunderstand. I am merely saying that the kind of man I am looking for is not on the market. I have been tempted in the past, trust me, but I know that being with a married man is not the answer to my dilemma. The problem I find is that the good ones don’t stay on the “market” for long, even if divorced or widowed. And I find that men who have never been married and are pushing 50 are usually not a good bet….there is usually a good reason for it. And before all of the never-married women here chime in, I do believe that there is a difference between the chronically-single sexes. And many sociological studies have born this out.

      • Margaret says:

        Oh, and I am sorry for your pain, Runnergrl. Don’t be so hard on yourself. He does not sound like a prize. Pity the wife. He’s her problem now.

  34. Tulipa says:

    With a lot of unhealthy relationships, it’s with one hand they giveth and with the other they taketh away. You go through a good spell and then just in case you’re under any illusions that your relationship is going somewhere or that they might be this way all the time, they disappear or start treating you really crappily.

    This is so true we were going through a very good patch and boom he back tracked.
    He was coming up to a significant b’day and he was having a party to celebrate. At first I was under no illusion that I would be attending the last three years had taught me his birthday was out of bounds I was left out etc. But this time he said I was coming, got my opinion on invitations etc told me for ages I was coming at first I was sceptical but after a while I believed him then less than a month out I was off the invite list he made up a whole lot of bull crap gave me a thousand mixed messages but in the end I did not attend. I regret not calling him out on this issue earlier I mean I had 3years previous experience. I think when it all boiled down to the nitty gritty he thought I would read something significant into the situation. But yes the good times could never really last and it always came back to him treating me like crap.

    • Allison says:


      I don’t understand????? You were with this guy for three-years and not included in his birthday??? Is he married?

      • Tulipa says:

        No he definately wasn’t married he just thought if I attended his b’day party I would think that it is a significant step in the relationship and that it was moving forward to an area he just didn’t want to go. It sounds petty to talk about it I was trying to highlight the fact that these men treat you well and then when something no longer suits them they are quick to turn the tables to make it suit them. I seriously wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for this site and reading and counselling I slip up and contact him sometimes but even that is getting less and he fades away in my life.

        • Allison says:


          It will get even better if you delete his contact info and block all forms of contact. It up to you to move on to a healthy place!

          Ask yourself what you get from this man, and why you continue to contact? And also, I would seriously reflect on why something as simple a birthday was so difficult. I mean Jesus, not even including you in a birthday party! Did any of his friends and family even know about you? Please don’t go back for more!

          • Tulipa says:

            Thanks Allison
            Believe me I have those questions of myself many times and it comes back to I didn’t want to be committed to a relationship anymore than he did so it worked for me to have what we had. Of course my emotions got involved and I have found it extremely difficult to accept the end and to understand no contact is a rejection of him my mind cannot comprehend that.
            Yes I met his family but Nat has posted elsewhere that doesn’t mean a thing.
            He is still getting less in my life but I am not over him and also hate the fact that the men who have asked me out are all emotionally unavailable as well.
            Thank you again

    • Betty says:

      I liked this. There was a bit of balance to what he replied.

      Personally, I always had trouble with the lack of contact from my ex, when he was overseas. We were apart a lot, and often at times when I didn’t know what the future would hold for ‘us’. There was such a lack of stability.

      I figured, if he was using his phone as an alarm, surely he could think to text me each evening when he set his alarm? (This would be ideal, due to the time difference.) But no. And there were so often excuses (I lost my charger, the network didn’t send my messages, etc.)

      Then, when I complained about lack of contact, he got defensive (I’ll show you my itemised phone bill, I sent you lots of messages) etc.

      So over it.

      And now that I’ve ended it, and he claims to want me back (by sending texts), I sent him this one the other day: “If you really wanted to work things out, you’d phone. Please don’t write, your words simply mask inaction.”

      And have I had a phone call? What do you think? I bet he’s waiting until a more convenient time later in the week.

      Wow. Even ‘doing anything’ to get me back is by his schedule.

      At least I know what my answer will be. That’s right. NC!

  35. Tina says:

    I was with an emotionally unavailable man and did not know it. For xmas he cooked dinner for me, when I asked where was this going he said, I’m getting to be fond of you. What the heck did that mean? Then on my birthday he wanted to take me out, even though we had not spoken in a month of so. Well we went out to dinner and when the check came he stated that he was having a dilemna and could I take care of it…I Did. It’s been almost a year since we had sex, I have moved to another location (same city). He found me. I was about to get happy and then he said….he wanted to see me and I mentioned that I had a full day. He said I was running from him. After all this time, how could he think he was still a priority. Then he said, if we had sex one more time, he would go on his way. I did not answer that questions. Can anyone make sense of him. No committment in nearly 3 years, just good sex at my place and at his convenience.

    • grace says:

      I’m assuming your question is not rhetorical, so here’s my stab at an answer (Can anyone make sense of him?).
      Firstly, when actions and words are not in alignment, disregard the words.
      Then break down the actions:

      1. He cooked you dinner
      2. He blew you off for a month
      3. He took you out for your birthday but made you pay
      4. He tracks you down for sex
      5. He’s been doing this or variations thereof for three years

      I know that emotions and hopes can cloud the issue, but I hope this makes it clearer for you.

  36. El says:

    Has anyone else been in something where you say you are both together (so there is the public knowledge that you are in a relationship etc)…So you have both said to one another you are boyfriend and girlfriend…but then there is still a strange lack of commitment on their behalf?? What I am trying to say is, sometimes you can be in a relationship and both people have labelled it that, but it still feels like a half-hearted/crappy effort on their behalf…true?

    • NML says:

      Saying that you’re in a relationship takes more than words. We can be very eager to get a title but it’s actually substance that is needed.

  37. Tina says:


    Thank you. “He tracked me down for sex” really struck a nerve. Thank you. Of course I foolishly thought of it as he MISSED ME, and finally realized what he let go of, and he was therefore back to make it right. But I will shamefully admit, that this is a cylce, “tracking me down” and when I give in, he’s here for at least another two days, then off again for God know when. It has to stop.

    • Allison says:


      Is he staying with you? If so, throw him out. This guy is just using you.

      Time to break the cycle and get yourself back!

  38. Tina says:

    No he is not staying with me. We now live near each other. He knows exactly where I live and I only know the name of the complex where he lives. He is using me, but he knows how to make me feel soooooo good in bed. Each time however, I get an EMPTY feeling as soon as he walks out of the door. He wants to get me back hook again. I’ve been strong and have not had sex with him in a year.

    • Nicole says:

      In an ideal world, their sexual ability would be as bad as their relationship ability. Wouldn’t that be easier on all of us!!!

    • Allison says:


      Good! Remember, self respect is soooooooooooo much more important than a few hours in bed.

      If you’re in contact, what are you getting from it?

  39. Tina says:

    Nothing at all. Just momentary pleasure. I really believe that he wants to reel me in and then throw me back in the water to prove to himself that I could not leave him alone or that he could have me back if he wants to. When we are in contact, usually in a public place, he gives the puppy dog look and state that he doesn’t understand why I’ve been ignoring him. If his friends are around, and we are at a club, he’ll say, let’s leave a go talk. So we walk off as though we’re an item.

    • Allison says:


      I guess you really have to ask yourself why you keep yourself in this position? You know what he is doing, yet you remain engaged?

  40. Margaret says:

    As I am totally through with online dating, I will take your advice. Here in the US, we have meetup.com, and I am going to explore groups that interest me. I agree with you on the personal trainers! I am not necessarily looking for a gym rat….I just want someone who is making an effort to take care of himself, as I am.

  41. Helpless says:

    Found this post today in April and looking for advice, strength or counsel.
    Basically, I have been with this man for almost 4 years.
    We live in the same neighborhood, so its something that is almost seems impossible to walk away from. It took over 2 years for him to actually call me his “girlfriend” although nothing has really changed in all of this time.
    We own our own homes, and he is a workaholic. Always busy, doing something, and even though he tries to make time for me, I feel like I am just accepting crumbs. We definitely talk every day, unless hes mad at me for some reason which will then result in us not talking for almost a week sometimes, but even when things are fine, we can still go 2 or 3 days sometimes with out actually visiting with one another. We live in such close proximity we can see when someone is home or not, company or not etc..
    We do work out together, a couple times a week, we have dinner a couple times a week, usually at my house with me cooking and on rare occasion he will ask if I need something… I have children that are here half the week, so he is usually never here if they are or even if he is here, its only to visit in the kitchen for a little bit, with no indepth conversation with the kids..We rarely go out, and if we do it is on the cheap side of bringing drinks with us before we go out to keep cost down!!

    He doesn’t help any way with bills (as he constantly tells me he has his own to worry about) or housework..maybe 2 months ago he finally started to help with the dishes after I cooked him a huge meal.. occasionally he will help with spring or fall clean up of the yard, those kind of things but only after I have to ask him..
    In four years, this man has never said I love you to me… just this past Christmas was the first card that said love, in the end of it.
    When I attempt ever so delicately to talk with him about the future.. he either double talks me or he absolutely says nothing… dead silence…
    Or he will say, Its not like I haven’t thought of it.. Or I’m right here.. meaning across the road..I’m home all the time, not running around on you… but even when hes home he is preoccupied with things… he hardly sleeps, he works out all the time, and…

  42. Ray-ray says:

    “If you believe in monogamy and commitment, and they don’t, it doesn’t matter that they’re successful, attractive, like a lot of the same things you do, make you laugh, and are respected by their peers.”

    Question: How do you determine such subtleties yet vital aspects of a person like his ‘values’ without straight up asking??


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


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