The Longshot Mentality Baggage Reclaim

The question of why one would get tangled in a fantasy relationship or persist in being in unavailable relationships, is something that perplexes many BR readers. When I wrote about You Can Be In Love On Your Own…But a Mutual Relationship Takes Two, the comments and my inbox filled up, because so many of you feel like you have put so much of your energy, heart and soul into these situations that it’s hard to reconcile your actions with the fact that there’s an element or even a lot of fantasy involved.

If you’ve ever been in an unavailable relationship, including fantasy, you have a long shot mentality. It’s likely that you’d struggle to admit it, but your choices are being dictated by not only a desire to remain in your uncomfortable comfort zone, but also by a fear of failing at relationships, fear of risking yourself so much that it would hurt, and fear of being absolute and committing.

So instead, you cater to your beliefs and the self-fulfilling prophecy and opt into situations that really only have an outside chance of working out – you’ll know immediately if you’ve done this if you 1) bet on potential or 2) have essentially required them to make you the exception to their rule of non-commital or shady behaviour.

It would be the equivalent of basically getting love against the odds.

In a fantasy relationship, it can’t ‘fail fail’ because it’s not real which means you’re not responsible or accountable and you’re let off the hook from having to actually put yourself out there and invest your efforts into a full fledged relationship.

With an affair, it can’t ‘fail fail’ because even though you’re very invested and are likely hoping or even wheedling and begging them to leave, you can’t fail at a relationship that hasn’t actually started. It hasn’t. Your focus is directed at the fantasy of them leaving where you imagine what life would be like if you were both together, but this doesn’t become real which means you don’t have the responsibility and accountability that comes with a full time, committed relationship.

If your type is basically packaged as unavailable and you know they are doing things that detract from you or at the very least are not conducive to a healthy, mutual relationship, you’re also let off the hook from truly having to risk and commit because you know it’s not going to work out.

You can’t commit to someone that’s not committing – for you to commit to someone, they’ve got to commit to you, otherwise you’re uncommitted.  

I’ve had many readers tell me about how they were involved with someone that was either clinically diagnosed as a narcissist or they behaved in ways that certainly suggested it…and yet there they are wondering about how someone who can’t love and is incredibly self-involved, can’t spontaneously combust into healthy relationship partner. It’s essentially wondering “Why couldn’t they make me the exception to their rule even though they can’t?” Many of these people will go back and try again.

What you can learn about these situations is that at the time, you weren’t looking for love within a committed, healthy relationship, even if you were saying otherwise. You were talking but you weren’t putting the matching actions there and in fact, any actions you were doing were contradictory.

By persisting in these situations, you’ve already accepted on another level and possibly even consciously, that this relationship is going to fail, making your professed desires faux goals.

Yes you will still get upset, frustrated, angry, hurt, try to get them to make you the exception, wonder if their actions are all about you, try to change them, try to change yourself, end things, go back, do No Contact, and the whole kit and kaboodle, but the fact that on some level you know it’s not going to work out is actually liberating you from the responsibility that comes with putting both feet in and being emotionally available with someone else who is doing the same.

It’s a faux goal and actually, when it feels like you’ve created an incredible amount of pain for yourself, it’s an own goal as well.

The long shot mentality has this fantasy reward that if it does come through, then you imagine basking in the glow of being made the exception to the rule and having your three-legged horse run and win like a four-legged thoroughbred. But it’s a fantasy and you’ll notice in fantasies that you imagine all the glory without the problems or the responsibility…

If you’ve been involved in relationships where there’s too much fantasy, not enough human interaction, or they’re unavailable in other ways, or are even married/attached, you are slipping your problematic fear of failure, making mistakes and commitment behind their somewhat more ‘obvious’ issues or a fantasy cloud.

Relationships are challenging (although not in the backbreaking type of work that people in unhealthy relationships engage in), but healthy relationships are obtainable.

Investing yourself in relationships that have very little chance of working out and/or have very obvious code amber and red issues, is setting faux goals because you’re ultimately appearing to have a goal of a relationship where you get a certain level of commitment, but then you either talk but do very little action, or the type of relationships you engage in have no involvement in taking the steps towards your [faux] goal.

If you want a healthy relationship, the steps you take towards that, for instance, don’t involve someone who is attached to someone else. Equally you don’t claim to want a healthy relationship but treat yourself in an unhealthy manner, or try to get someone that doesn’t want to commit to commit, or persist with unavailable people and then wonder why they don’t come with available behaviours.

And maybe that is the best way of judging how much you’re bullshitting yourself because you can tell a lot about how much your talk and walk is matching, by what’s reflected in the results of your life.

If your present deviates greatly from where you claim you want to end up and in fact, certain things you’re doing have no part in your plan, why keep doing them? To continue doing so is like trying to make that pigs ear into a silk purse, which is the longshot mentality. Ultimately, you are not a long shot, so don’t treat yourself like it could only be in exceptional circumstances where you can be happy.

Your thoughts?

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124 Responses to The Long Shot Mentality – Are you setting yourself faux goals?

  1. MaryC says:

    I’ve been struggling for about a week now and I really think its because the holidays are coming. What is it about the holidays? This one and your last couple of posts Nat reminded me why I keep NC and also have helped me look at my situation in a new light. My favorite has been “The Right Decision Doesn’t Always Feel Good”. The title alone was inspirational.

    • colororange says:

      About the holiday thing. I think, at least for me, I imagine people (including exes) and everyone else in the free world are all together and happy. And here I am alone. The ex will be with his spouse being all jolly while I’m effin without anyone. There’s a New Years party coming up and some friends are attempting to put it together and the thought occurred to me that this will be the second year where I have no date. There will be a couple other women there that are unattached but it makes me feel lousy that I’m single. Many people contemplate or commit suicide around holidays as it somehow intensifies the feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. I mean if the world appears happy and all the bullcrap on TV makes it look that way during the holidays, then why do I feel like doodoo?

      • NML says:

        But you called it Bullcrap Colororange so you know it’s bullshit. Which then begs the question of why what you know is bullshit bothers you. How many things do you see on tv that are based on real life? Even reality tv isn’t real. It’s selling an image of happiness not reality. The media is consumed by the holidays because they make money out of it. Companies pander to our anxiety because they also make money out of it.

        We create our own anxiety because we let a box and some corporate parasites tell us what our lives lack.

        I’m not saying I don’t understand how you feel – but why be that bothered about being single now? It’s not like you’ve been trying to date an available man so it’s not like you’d have been rolling up on new years with the married guy.

        If being single bothers you that much, I’d set a realistic goal of being in a relationship by next year and put together a plan of dating available guys and work out the actions that put you in that position.

    • NML says:

      MaryC, I thinks it’s also important to remember that this time of year is difficult for a lot of people. It’s like an added pressure to be happy, to be coupled up but as the end of the year approaches, you can become reflective. Your feelings may be symptomatic of how you feel about your progress. You’re not really NC anymore – you’re just living your life. Are you happy? Or are you being regretful? Hugs x

    • molly says:

      I always loved my singleness around the holidays. My business always slows down every year at the holidays for about 2-3 weeks so I have more free time, and I love doing things alone around town with all the lights, the storefronts, the Baybee Jeebus tree lit in Union Square – I go to plays and movies alone, window shop (or for real shop!), do lots of year-end house stuff like deep cleaning and de-cluttering. Tonight I’m going to a nice restaurant in my neighborhood where you can sit at the bar and order dinner. The bartender lives in my hood and we recognize one another, so I’m sure he’ll keep me entertained :)

      Being single is not a curse. You can do whatever you want whenever you want. Do something different around your city or town – go to a lecture, a movie or play you wouldn’t ordinarily attend, go to a book reading, or just walk around and take it all in.

      Hell, I wish I were in London for Xmas, but San Francisco will have to do. :o)

      • colororange says:

        Hey, I wish I was in San Fran. Better than this hillbilly town.

        • runnergirl says:

          Hi Color and Natalie,
          Even though I know intellectually the holidays are NOT like the wonderful Norman Rockwell paintings or the really stupid Vons/Ralphs/Lexus commericials, I can’t help but fantasize as well. Even though I teach “selling an image of happiness” to make a profit, there’s still a part of me that wants to wake up and find a sparkly new Lexus (that he paid for) with a red bow on top in the driveway and an amazing turkey/trimmings on the table with the happy family (including him) gathered round. As Nat states and I teach, the “corporate parasites” hire the best and the brightest to sell the image. Color, they are selling doodoo in order to make a profit. It’s how capitalism works. It’s a hard image to resist but it just isn’t reality, darn. This would be my third year of attending the big district holiday party, ALONE (only I’m not going this year). The reason I’ve been ALONE is because I decided to be a mistress and placed my bet on a long shot, a MM. That was my decision because I am/was as unavailable as he was. That’s why I was alone. I chose to be alone by being involved with a MM. I’m always stunned by the simplicity of what I’ve made so complicated: “If you want a healthy relationship, the steps you take towards that, for instance, don’t involve someone who is attached to someone else.” Tell me Color, how things will be different next year if you stay hooked on the long shot, the MM? Trust me, I’m asking myself that exact question. We aren’t a long shot. I’m struggling too. Many hugs. Thank you Natalie for your response to ColorO.

          • colororange says:

            Easy question to answer, runnergirl: We’re not talking so it’s a matter of time and persistence on my part to get over him that I will not be hooked on a long shot this time next year. What I wouldn’t give to know what he sees or thinks when he sees me. And why it isn’t what he wants. I don’t care how pointless it would be to know or whatever, I still wish I knew. Then maybe I would finally know why he and the rest of the EUM clan from my past didn’t want me either. I know I sound pitiful but I do not care.

            • NML says:

              Colororange, you are on one hell of a pity trip at the moment and maybe it’s something you have to go through. Time will tell if this is all part of a well honed cycle where you make some strides, sabotage, then go into woe betide me mode, and then do it again, or whether this is part of hitting a point of uncomfortable realisations that you’re trying to dodge but will come out fighting.

              You’re a grown woman Colororange. It would take you *minutes* to find out any information you wanted, especially as you don’t trust anything that you think or that anyone here says – you could ask him yourself if you’re that eager to know.

              But you’re not. You could easily have picked up the phone and asked – you could have asked him a million times over.

              You know this man is playing with you like millions of other married men that string you along.

              But you want to believe that you’ve been singled out. You believe that you’ve been singled out even in an atmosphere where there are many others in your same situation or worse.

              Don’t you think if you were going to be singled out for something by the universe, that it would be for something far more meaningful than your love life?

              I don’t know if you have a genuine desire to change. In fact, you don’t. Not right now you don’t anyway.

              You want to exact change within an unavailable relationship. You have no desire to make changes that would benefit you personally and beyond that within a healthy relationship.

              You want to change yourself to win an unavailable man. You want to be attractive to them, even though you already are but not for the reasons you would like, but you want to be the exception to the rule.

              You need a man to leave his wife for you. Your moral code is so whacked out that you think this man must justify why he’s remaining within his marriage to you.

              You find an obstacle to every proposed solution, even for your health. You claim everything takes money and yet people who have shag all money still love themselves and date. You focus on the money because you don’t want to stretch yourself – you’re still making anything that betters your life about an external solution. It’s got to be things you can’t afford (after all it would be too easy to look at what is on offer within your budget) and men that you can’t win because they’re unavailable (after all they can’t give you what you want so hey ho to the self-fulfilling prophecy).

              I and other readers are not here to ‘convince’ you. If you want to do the equivalent of squatting over your life and shitting on it, that’s your prerogative but remember that every single thing you do (or don’t do) is a *choice*. You are not a victim. In childhood yes you were a victim of your parents poor choices and behaviour, but as an adult, you’re now responsible for your life.

              At first you made these choices blind due to your upbringing but you know exactly what you’re doing.

              If you think life is going to come along and throw you a bone, it’s not. You get out of it what you put in – if you make limited investments in limited men and limited relationships, you get a limited result.

              I like you Colororange and have rooted for you but I realise that others want for you what you don’t want. I get the sense that you unconsciously come on here and shit over what is said to you or written because you want people to stop rooting for you. You want us to agree with your self-fulfilling prophecy so you can say ‘I knew those bitches didn’t believe in me or choose me because there’s something wrong with me.’

              I saw a YouTube video a few days ago of a young boy talking about how badly he is being bullied and how he’s been harming himself and doesn’t want to live. It was awful and yet by the end of the video he was talking about how he can find a million reasons to live.

              Which begs the question Colororange, why on earth can’t you find *one*, positive, constructive thing to do? Why can’t you find even *ten* positive things in your life?

              Wake up.

              And I want to also add – you want this all to be about you, to make everyone else’s behaviour about you. You will not accept that only your behaviour is about you. I and nobody else unless is going to say that it’s all you so you can either accept it, or you can keep on generating the same results from the same thinking – ’cause it’s all you’re going to get.

              • grace says:

                I wish someone had spoken to me like this 20 years ago but you were probably about ten years old. You can’t pay for this stuff! I may not have been ready to listen, but some of it would have stuck and I’d have got off the AC train a few years earlier. Still, no regrets. We live in the present. I went to see my mother day and I enjoyed spending time with her. Miracles happen. The change starts with us.
                Bri and coloro, it’s not a competition but in a way I was even worse than you. I didn’t cry or feel sorry for myself or get upset. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt. I didn’t even have a long shot in mind or a faux goal. My heart was dead. I really hope that these negative feelings lead you both to a better place. These feelings are trying to tell you something, and it’s not what you think it is.

                • runnergirl says:

                  Thank you Natalie. I don’t mean to butt in here but I want to say YES! I saw the utube video of the young boy being bullied and how he turned his his life around. There is a million reasons to live. That young boy is truly an inspiration. Apparently since he has gone cyber, his bullies have apologized. Although I know they are kids, I still think they need a good spanking and their parents??? Who are the parents of bullies?
                  ColorO and Bri, you can turn your life around. Google this young boy, he will give you a million reasons to turn your life around. The MM will pale in comparison.

      • runnergirl says:

        Oh Molly, thank you so much for your post. I’ve re-read it several times. I’ve been hunkered down for the past year dealing with healing stuff, journaling, writing unsent letters, and revisiting my past relationship crimes. I prepare for my classes, teach, go to the gym and the grocery store, and return home for more journaling, writing unsent letters, and revisiting past relationship crimes. I’m feeling a bit like I need to get out. My classes end next week and my daughter is going to Japan for xmas, so it’s just me for the next 3 weeks. Totally free time. It so helps to hear that you are doing fun things alone. I’m going to try. I think it is the next step for me. You’ve given me such hope. There’s so much to do but I’m scared of doing it alone. Maybe I’ll try a movie tomorrow, although I’ll need to put sealing the entry tile grout on hold.

        • Fearless says:

          Runner, I hear you on all of that. There’s still a hole isn’t there and we need to fill it up? I sometimes feel weary that I haven’t really moved on yet, that I still think about “it” (“him”) a lot; I need to resuscitate my social life and get out more, but am too lazy, I like being at home, and it’s cold out! It’s a pity we don’t live in same town – I’d go to places with you! Hug to you!

  2. Fearless says:

    I’ve definitely had the long shot mentality all my life. I was thinking back on all my ‘male interests’ recently. I have had long term ‘normal relationships’ – well, two. One when I was sixteen until about 23 years old. It was a good relationship, except that I always held a torch for someone else that I’d been infatuated with since a young teenager. I ended that ‘good relationship’ cos I eventually felt I wanted to pursue other possibilities – like the long-term infatuation! Which of course didn’t work out, except that I ended up having my daughter by this infatuation six years after dropping who was most probably the nearest thing to MR Right I ever came across.

    Thinking about it, I have always wanted what was not readily attainable – or obviously unattainable – the long shot. Guys who were available were too easy got, therefore not very interesting for very long. Everyone said I was ‘too picky’. For me, well, I just wanted the guy I wanted and I didn’t see why I should compromise! (how ironic!).

    I always relate well to what Grace has to say – and she said once recently that ‘our’ problem is to stop being attracted / stop wanting the wrong guy or something like that. And it made me think: exactly. At my age (don’t make me say it!) I don’t know that I care too much anymore about chasing up a Mr Right, but when i was thinking about this recently I did recognise that I have always hankered over the guy I want – the one i want – the one that appeals to me – and so far he has always been ‘the long shot’, and I did think to myself: I have no idea how I would stop doing that.

    I know I’ve said it before, but my trouble has been wanting x man, not a relationship per se – that, I assumed, would come later, when x man returned my feelings! Anyway, I see now that it’s “the relationship” and not the man that is important – I have always sought the man (x man) not sought a “relationship” and I don’t know how not to want who I want – other than to recognise a bad deal when I see one and walk away. I think I was destined to be single – cos i either walk away from the shit deal or be in love all by myself in a shit deal. Either way, I’m alone. Sorry don’t mean to be depressing!

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Fearless, I could relate to this very much: “I think I was destined to be single – cos i either walk away from the shit deal or be in love all by myself in a shit deal. Either way, I’m alone.” Alone in my comfort zone; alone *is* my comfort zone. Most of the time. So I set myself up to stay in the comfort zone by choosing the unavailable. And nearly all of my adult relationships had some sort of unavailability issues (in love with someone else; too much going on; married etc). This is what I have been struggling with the last few months: trying to ascertain if I really do want to be single the rest of my life because it’s a messed up pattern based on comfort (due to childhood coping mechanisms) or if I just *really* do want to be single the rest of my life b/c I enjoy it, overall (my own time, space, freedom etc). But I’m not a nun, so….what to do?
      This statement really hit home (love how NML puts her “zingers” at the end of the postings!): “Ultimately, you are not a long shot, so don’t treat yourself like it could only be in exceptional circumstances where you can be happy.” ah, yes, the exceptional circumstances–the stars and the moon will align in perfect perfection one day and trumpets will sound and Adrienne will finally have it all: the unavailable married man will ride in on his motorcycle, present her with his divorce decree and then from the pocket of his oh so sexy leather jacket, whip out a little light blue box with a huge diamond ring, pop it on her finger, wherein she will leap upon the back of the bike and they will go off riding into the sunset into their new life. ha.
      “exceptional circumstances” — goes right back to being surprised as a kid/teenager when anyone actually cared how *I* felt and did something about it to make me happy. Now I understand how I have to own how I really feel and do something about it every day to make myself happy. And that process is still ongoing, as my actions and talk are *still* not matching. Working on it.

    • grace says:

      I hear you. I’ve been single for nearly six years now and still really enjoying it.
      There has been a shift though. I’ve gone from being scared of relationships, to being indifferent, to the current stage. I find myself chatting to a man at church and the thought pops into my mind “I wonder if he’s single”. This is brand new. I NEVER used to wonder if he was single even when I was in the relationship market and, yeah, half the time he wasn’t put I ploughed ahead anyway.
      All that said, I’ve taken a week off work to sleep, learn how to knit a sweater and eat mince pies. I couldn’t do that if I had a man!

      • Fearless says:

        Well Grace – you could be sleeping with him, knitting him a sweater and baking him mince pies. Not quite the same tho’! I am with you on all of that! I used to be a very keen knitter, so I totally get that too! Oh dear (lol)

    • NML says:

      “Thinking about it, I have always wanted what was not readily attainable – or obviously unattainable – the long shot. Guys who were available were too easy got, therefore not very interesting for very long. ” Bingo Fearless. There is a dangerous association between worthwhile and ‘easy’ that unavailable people make or in fact anyone who has unrealistic expectations and ideas about relationships. That’s why a reluctant or uninterested person can seem like more ‘valuable’ love. It’s why there is also a dangerous association between pain and willingness to massacre yourself and them being a reflection of the depth of love.

      What we fail to recognise is that actually, mutual love is far easier because you’re not trying to row a boat sigh one oar.

      • Fearless says:

        Thanks Adriennebythelovelybluesea and Grace and NML. I hear you all too.I think I am at indifferent stage. Though I do now find myself looking at men and thinking… mmm… maybe… if he asked I’d say yes (so long as he wasn’t attached). I’m not afraid of relationships. Just afraid that I don’t know how I would stop wanting what I want, which is never the right guy! And I totally get what you’re saying Nat, I do, I guess what had occured to me when thinking over this recently is that these associations are very difficult to break, especially when you’ve been living with them as long as I have. I do believe that I will never go back to my old ways tho’- it’s too much like hard work and, as you say, Nat, like trying to row a boat with one oar! Never again. I have become much more realistic about my ideas of romance and love and relationships. I can’t be bothered with any more shite; that I do know. I would like ‘normal’. All I need is to fancy the right guy who fancies me back!

        It also occurs to me that what I said:

        “Guys who were available were too easy got, therefore not very interesting for very long.”

        also applied to me from the EU guy’s perspective. If I was too easy got I was not very interesting for very long. And let’s face it Fearless, you did most of the work to get and hold the attention of the men you wanted – so how interesting were you?! Not very. Not for very long. I devalued myself. I was as valuable as I showed him I was. Not very!

        • Elle says:

          Hey Fearless, Your logic is sound, but from another angle, you seem to be being a bit hard on yourself. I get that you’re talking about the perceptions and measurements of EUs, but your EU took the absolute piss. I understand the argument, but I don’t think you should engage your mind in this puzzle if it’s going to come up with you shaming yourself. You’ve done so much hard work already – time for some ‘well done, me!’, I say! I have a few friends who have shabby boundaries, who give too much, who want approval, who are always available, and from time to time our dynamic causes me emotional strain, but do I see them as showing me that they are worth less than I am? NO! Seriously, be nicer to yourself, Fearless, or at least give yourself a mental mini-break.

          • Fearless says:

            Thanks Elle, Yes, a mental mini break sounds good! Sometimes I just feel really pissed about the way my life has gone – I feel I’ve let myself down so badly (but I really do try not to dwell on it as there’s no benefit to me in doing that, and mostly I do succeed in just getting on with what needs to be done with my days). I deserved the same as every other woman though, and I never got it. Grace says she’s been enjoying being single for six years. I, on the other hand, don’t actually know what it’s like not to be single! Or to have a ‘normal’ boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Last one of those I had lasted two years and ended when I was 26years old. So I’ve been “single” for longer than most/many commentators on here have been alive! I thought my EUM was the last chance saloon, I really believed that. I guess I still do, deep down – or maybe not very deep down! I just find it easier not to care about looking for another relationship – I can’t face putting that pressure on myself anymore. I know I shouldn’t see it that way, but I do. I’d need to trip over Mr Right in the street given the amount of effort I put in to finding a decent relationship. Maybe I need to face the fact that I just don’t care enough to find a Mr Right or I’d do something about it. Anyway, I am rambling now. Thanks Elle for your support. All the best to you.

  3. Rosie says:

    Oh I get this.

    I think the last guy I was with was a narcissist. He displayed a lot if not all of the symptoms. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before (and I have seen a lot).

    I think where the long shot mentality arises with this kinda case is that God, it just so damn hard to believe someone could act so strange (for example, getting really irritated and critical over things most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at)…that you just I guess get suspended in shock which quickly leads to denial. Well this is what happened with me. Plus when they mix in the charm with all the other crap–you want to believe the charming side of them is the real them (instead of a facade to ensure that they get what they want).

    I eventually came to my senses but I will never, ever forget it.

    • No keeper says:

      Why is that? Why do some of us continue to believe the charming side is the real one and the assclown behavior is something that must have been induced by us? Denial? I always use the nice side as my point of reference, not the monster side.

    • NML says:

      But here is the thing Rosie – disproportionate responses to things are not normal behaviour. There was nothing not to believe – you were seeing it with your own eyes. This behaviour was alerting you to the fact that something was very very wrong. You might not behave in these ways – but he did and the fact that you were so different on this only highlighted your incompatibility.

  4. Soul Seeking says:

    All I can say is WOW! I am in one of those relationships you mentioned. I have tried, and tried again to make it work. I am in the process of “trying” again.

    Nat said “If your type is basically packaged as unavailable and you know they are doing things that detract from you or at the very least are not conducive to a healthy, mutual relationship, you’re also let off the hook from truly having to risk and commit because you know it’s not going to work out.”

    I want(ed) it to work, I still have my doubts in the back of my mind. I am hopeful, but not full of hope. I know he loves me, to the best of his ability, but he has much trouble showing it. He’s self centered and can’t see past what is going in his life, let alone my life. Does that mean that I have not really “wanted” the relationship I thought I wanted since I stuck it out and keep trying?

    I know what I have hoped for and wanted for the past 5 years, but its not happened. Mostly due to financial reasons. And yet I sit and wait. I try to be hopeful. I tell myself that it would be different if the financial part wasn’t involved. Deep down, I don’t really know. A part of me wonders if we were actually living together it we would make it. The other part wonders if I should even wait to find out, because if we do end up living together I don’t know if it will last.

    I know what I want – a mutually healthy relationship. I know what I am capable of – a mutual healthy relationship. I know what I am not getting – a mutually healthy relationship. It’s not that’s its not “healthy” but its lacking on his part. I like showing, and receiving affection. He’s not the most affectionate person. He doesn’t show much emotion, or share his feelings easily.

    As I get older (middle age), I realize that in relationships we need to except there is no “perfect prince charming”. We have to learn to accept faults of those we are involved with (we ALL have faults). Do I think there is possibly another person out there that’s a better fit?…I do wonder. Yet I do love him, despite our differences. I can’t change him or the way he is.

    Sorry, I’m rambling. I’m feeling confused….

    • Australia says:

      Hey soul seeking,

      I can relate to your post too. I too feel like I can ramble and ruminate over my situation right now…and I am so very confused.

      I am back to hanging out with my ex (but we are not together), who admitted he has commitment issues and does not show emotions very well, but has said he wants to change.

      I am at the point where one part of me is telling me : Why are you even talking to this guy ? He’s dumped you at least 3 times and has been disrespectful on a few occasions with his words.
      Another part of me is saying: Well hanging out doesn’t mean anything. I can still stand my ground and opt out if I want to (granted hanging out and being in contact of course makes that harder)
      Another part of me is saying: Well what if this time it would work? I don’t have much evidence for that other than his apology and admittal of being scared of committing … at least he knows what he wants to change, right?
      and another part is saying: You don’t even want this anymore! Go free yourself.

      Soul seeking, you mentioned you have hoped and wanted something for 5 years and it has yet to happen.
      5 years is a long time.
      Him being closed off from his emotions is a hard thing to change.

      Just ask yourself : What do you want? and are you getting it? If you answer genuinely, and you are not getting what you want, and you’ve tried for many years, then you really need to think about what’s keeping you there?

      Our situations are different but I’m confused too, even though from my post and want I’ve written above it should be easy right? Why be with someone whose dumped you so many times and made excuse after excuse?
      Yet it’s so hard.

    • Christina says:

      Dear Soul Seeking,

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect our partners to be flawed. In your case though, his “flaws” are highly detrimental to a relationship. Even men who have trouble expressing their emotions (my father comes to mind) will find a way to show the woman they love how they feel. Someone too self-centered simply isn’t a good relationship bet. Even if you end up getting some of what you need from him, it will probably never be enough because he’s always thinking of himself first. Trust me, I’ve been there. :-)

      Five years is a very long time to wait, and honestly, financial reasons are no excuse. Every good relationship I’ve been in has happened before, during and after various financial crises, and part of what made the relationship good was the way hardship and difficulty brought us together.

      At this point, the onus really is on him; everything else is just an excuse.

    • NML says:

      Hi Soul Seeking. I read this and your subsequent comment. There’s obviously more to this than meets the eye (or the comment) because your description of this man, financial issues aside, doesn’t tally up with a loving relationship or a relationship that is primarily impacted by finances.

      Financial problems cause material issues, logistics issues and sometimes stress, but that doesn’t explain his emotional behaviour or even his relationship action. You must recognise that moving will not eradicate these problems so if there are other issues that are not financial, it’s not financial. It would be financial if everything else was in order – you just can’t move. That’s a logistical issue and a valid one too. It’s an issue that might piss you both off and stress you somewhat, but it doesn’t make someone behave in unloving ways or have you making most of the effort.

      I would hope that you have more to stake on this man than what you see in his eyes, because too many women on this site suffer with Women Who See Too Much…Including What Doesn’t Exist.

      Love is an action feeling so you can see it in his actions and how you feel in light of those actions irrespective of how far apart you live.

      What I do hear though is too many obstacles. I don’t hear *solutions*. Neither one of you have a means of resolving this so where does that leave you both?

  5. Natasha says:

    “Faux goals” may be one of your greatest terms ever Nat! I’ve always loved the word faux, because it’s a fancier version of “bullsh*t” :) It’s funny, because when I got back together with my ex for the last time, I had a moment where I thought, “This can’t be right. I’m half giving myself a stroke over the anxiety of giving this dude another chance and simultaneously trying to hide it so I don’t come off as ‘needy’. What kind of relationship is this going to be REALLY if I get him to be my boyfriend?” If only I’d listened to myself in that little moment of rationality!

    Boomerang relationships are so focused on making it go right “this time, otherwise it’s the (fourth to) last time.” I think they are one of the most egregious examples of faux goal setting! If you’re truly ready for a relationship, you’re not wasting your time with this sort of thing and you have real goals based on a relationship that you have or hope to have that has the potential to go somewhere.

    • NML says:

      ” What kind of relationship is this going to be REALLY if I get him to be my boyfriend?” absofrickinglutely Natasha. We get so focused on winning and the future that we forget the issues in the present that actually indicate the future!

      • Natasha says:

        So true! It’s like Survivor: Assclownville Edition, except the prize isn’t $1 million, it’s…an assclown. It’s like, yeah okay, I won, but I’m still in Assclownville!

  6. grace says:

    healing is possible. It’s become quite mind boggling to me that anyone would get involved in these one-way situations (they are barely relationships) even though I did plenty of it myself in the past.
    In the old days, I was all for “love against the odds” and the big romance, the hoping and the fantasy. Now I consider it a big waste of time and effort.
    I think this post will be hard for a lot of us to understand – we think we are being loving and making a lot of effort and being committed. I say that you can’t be loving and make an effort and commit to someone who isn’t there! there’s a lot going on, for sure, but it’s not what you think it is.

  7. dancingqueen says:

    You know I always felt like I had all the time in the world to find someone special and I have struggled with either feeling overwhelmed or scared in a relationship: it was always either too close or too distant and now I see that really, for a long time, I had eu issues….not sure if this has changed as have not been in love recently but crossing my fingers and am hoping that it has….

  8. Tinkerbell says:

    You’re forever giving me new concepts and ideas that never crossed my mind. If they did, it was not in the manner in which you express them. You are so on point. I’m still thinking about Mr. MM, but not nearly as often and certainly not with longing and regrets. It is 3 months of NC. I had not even realized that because I’m no longer keeping track. I’m way too busy accomplishing things that I didn’t think or care about because it was all about him and what he wanted. I thought I wanted real true love, but staying 6 months with someone so obviously unavailable indicates otherwise. I did not believe I would ever do any better than my deceased husband. I still believe that, but it doesn’t matter because right now I’m not looking for love. I’m engaged in loving myself. Now, it’s about me! My frame of mind is much sounder and even though I’m dealing with this new diagnosis, which is troublesome , I KNOW I’ve done the right thing and I will be just fine without that poor excuse for a man adding to my stress.
    Thanks a million.

    • NML says:

      Hi Tinkerbell – you’re doing so well.

      “I did not believe I would ever do any better than my deceased husband.”

      And you know what? You didn’t with the married guy however you’re not looking to replace your husband. This doesn’t mean you should settle for less – your husband would want you to be happy whether it was alone or with someone else. At least you’re doing one of those.

  9. MissE says:

    “And maybe that is the best way of judging how much you’re bullshitting yourself because you can tell a lot about how much your talk and walk is matching, by what’s reflected in the results of your life.”

    —-Great article!

    I resonate with every single aspect and to be frank am very frustrated! I’ve been introspective for quite some time, on the journey to self improvement, know I have had unhealthy relationship styles (in terms of unavailability) and can point out that I probably learned this from the relationship I have with my dad. I get that it is a mess and am focused on changing that. I get that I probably am scared of commitment deep down….I can analyze myself and see what is wrong and what I’d like. My “faux goals” are goals I do want to attain…or better yet…I want them to stop being faux goals! I desire for my self-sabotage to stop and for me to genuinely want and then attain a healthy, longterm relationship. It would be one thing if I didn’t want that and was consciously avoiding it…but it’s another, when I do want it and try to attain it but subconscious elements make me act differently or attract the exact opposite, producing frustration.

    My question is…getting all of this…intellectually understanding it and having the desire to do better and to rework my thinking…what can I do to get off this confused train? What can I do to stop having faux goals? How can I stop attracting and being attracted to unavailable scenarios? How can I become emotionally available then is the question?

    I feel like I know the diagnosis….I get it….I am not oblivious or in denial. I have surrendered and am in no way defensive and truly get what is “wrong”….so how can I move beyond it and be “cured”? :-/

    • NML says:

      Hi Miss E, there’s a load of articles on here about emotional unavailability, self-esteem etc plus there’s a whole book on it with a section on becoming available.

      In a nutshell

      Recognise unhealthy behaviour and act upon it by opting out
      End Unavailable relationships and cut ties
      Define and maintain boundaries
      Break your pattern
      Address your beliefs
      Discover your values and live by them
      Own and use your power instead of being helpless
      Use dating as a discovery phase
      Ask questions and make decisions
      Be accountable and responsible
      Get on and stay on the Bullshit Diet
      Get a life that extends beyond chasing love

      I’ll leave you to do your own research – if you really want to change, you’ll search on here, elsewhere, get professional help etc.

      • MissE says:

        Thanks! I think I was just venting my own frustration and more so impatience. That really is the beast: impatience.

        I have been trying to do all those things and have been successful on one hand but I guess I have to realize that these behaviors and motivations have been built overtime and some are deeply entrenched, therefore me “getting over it” is going to also take time. My impatience shows up as because I am such a fast learner in other areas of life and pick things up quickly, I expect that once I read some books and articles and do a couple meditations, overnight I will be “cured”…but clearly that is not the reality and I have to give myself ample time to unlearn these things . I have to realize, and not only realize, but accept and be okay with the fact that I am still going to make mistakes; but at least now I am conscious and introspective and can apply critique to my behavior and see where it falls short versus being oblivious.

        I’m a work in progress (as we all are) and I need to calm down lol and stop expecting microwave results.

  10. cavewoman says:

    Oh yes ma’am and it’s not just about love life either. The same may be true about some career aspirations, business ventures, any grand plan that comes with a very low likelihood of success. Long shots are safe because we always have someone or something else very handy to blame just in case. Should we succeed, we are prepared to take credit and feel brilliant — but we cannot be responsible for the odds against us, can we now? The job market,the stock market, free market, meat market… We can always blame the economy or that assclown’s duplicitousness and commitmentphobia… pick your poison.

    Me and my exes were nice complements and mirror images of one another. While I was an underachiever and would shortchange myself in ambition, I loved to love them against the odds. They on the other hand had their heads up their -ummm- in the clouds? in hopeless aspirations, thus avoiding intimacy in relationships. I used to admire their dedication to their scholarship…. until I realized those are just long-shot faux goals, and setting faux goals is just another type of risk aversion…

    Long shot romances need to be fantasies! I was all about *waiting* for the real relationship to begin. While you’re waiting, you pretend the rejection isn’t final. In reality, I was waiting instead of loving and living, because I had already been rejected… There’s a superlong shot to get un-rejected.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      So true. If you get rejected you think ‘oh well maybe in 5-10 years I can try again and they might have changed their mind’.

      Then I think, that’s * C R A Z Y *. Why should I fr*cken go on a mass mega marathon and put huge energy when I could just ring up and ask if they are still interested – of course the answer will be ‘no’. It’s not like they’re sacrificing themselves for me. What have they done that’s so great/special. Nothing! They’re probably shagging around.

      This WILL be the LAST time *THE* *LAST* *TIME* I allow this BS to wreck my life. Months were lost at work, my brain was jammed with spinning thoughts, it was just insanity. It is coming up to nine months and I have emerged from no-contact finally and it feels good. I think of them and then I think WHO CARES SO WHAT?

      Fantasy is really really bad! While you are fantasising about loaf you get a crumb!

  11. Jaydee says:

    Lol, yep this is me, 20 years later and still went back for the same dose of unavailable. I still can’t stop laughing, and head-banging desk. Perfect relationship to start again after 10 years divorced, going back to the man (not ex-husband) who I knew would have me back in a flash, who set my heart afire but at the same time, unconsciously knowing that he would not be available. Because even though I thought I was available, I wasn’t. Lol. Obviously, still got work to do, yeah I could recognize his behavior, but now I can understand it and hopefully finally start making informed decisions on my behavior.

  12. FedUp says:

    I know why I go for Unavailables- because it’s easier than getting hurt. But it’s like how do you change that? It’s easier than going through yet another breakup where the other person leaves it all unresolved. Only to never regret it and move onto someone else 5 minutes later. I also find that if you’re young and attractive, people don’t want to stick it out if things get bad. Alot of people my age know they can always find someone else anyway. It seems everyone my age just wants to jump from relationship to relationship. It gets tiresome putting yourself out there. Only to get dumped coz the other person wants to be single.

    • grace says:

      You get your heart and mind to a place where you are willing to risk being hurt. The irony is that you’ll be LESS likely to be hurt because you’ll be happy and will make better choices.
      Step 1 is to let go of the notion that no-one wants a proper relationship and everyone will let you down.

      • Natasha says:

        “Step 1 is to let go of the notion that no-one wants a proper relationship and everyone will let you down.”

        Yup! Very wise words Grace. FedUp, what you’re describing is a scenario that was on perament replay in my head for a very, very long time. I’m 30 and, even though my friends are all committed/engaged/married, I’d still be telling myself this! I know you are a little younger than I am, but PLENTY of people I know wanted and had committed relationships at your age. I’d get involved with the players that moved on to the next one in 10 seconds (or, in a few cases, had the “next one(s)” going at the same time as me) and I know it can start to seem that “everyone” is like that. I promise you, they’re not. I think if you look around you, you’ll see some very positive examples right under your nose! I used to ignore them and say “Well, they must be much more special than I am. Woe is me.” I can’t tell you the sadness I could have saved myself if I let go of that mentality sooner. Hope this helps!

  13. Tulipa says:

    If your type is basically packaged as unavailable and you know they are doing things that detract from you or at the very least are not conducive to a healthy, mutual relationship, you’re also let off the hook from truly having to risk and commit because you know it’s not going to work out.

    I have been looking at what I tell myself. I have always since I was young told myself that a healthy relationship isn’t for me and all my choices in boyfriends etc have reflected that.
    The very thought of someone loving me was terrifying, how could someone love me so unworthy etc etc.
    Lately I have been thinking even though I have had good reason to think I’m unlovable doesn’t mean I can’t change and and actually try of course I have to learn to love and like me first.
    I have seen that my definition of love is screwed up anyway and I personally owe Runnergirl a thank you for opening my eyes to what my thinking of love was all about.
    I have also released how lazy I have been in relationships that won’t work, don’t work in spite of this I have hung on like a limpit and why because I want to stay in my lazy ways not challenge myself to change to tell myself change is too hard there is so much work to do.

    I have taken no steps to change myself, but I so desperately need to what I have been doing isn’t working anymore.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey Tulipa, I completely hear you. I had to go on a BS diet big time. Before I googled “other woman” and found BR last December, I somehow figured out my real goals from faux goals. My journal entries last December are amazingly on point. However, implementing my real goals has over the last year has been the challenge. Staying involved with a MM/EUM/AC will never result in a healthy, loving, committed relationship. Period. Thus no matter how wrong it “feels”, NC is the only way out.
      You are worthy, wonderful, and deserve a loving relationship. I totally get the “limpit” and “it isn’t working anymore”. Take the first step, a baby step…do something, a tiny little thing, for yourself tomorrow. I’ll be waiting to hear. A tiny little goal. One little nice thing from you to you.

      And I’ll do the same. It’s about us.

      • Tulipa says:

        My defintion of love and relationships is so screwed up.
        The wierd thing is when I first got involved with the last eum I knew already it wouldn’t work, I thought I’d get involved anyway because it will only last a few short months and I’d been single for 17 months.
        Who knew it would turn into a 5 year long drama.
        I admit to liking the distance to not having to be accountable, he did not smother me, he did not demand anything from me. He did not like me which is strange I know but I could live with that. But I was also miserable.
        My dad taught me love means abandonment and rejection the relationship with the eum had a lot of rejection in big and small doses.
        My step dad claimed to be “in love” with something he told me often I felt smothered, sick and my thinking was if this is love I want nothing to do with it.
        Runnergirl, it was you been honest about your father that woke me up to thinking I have been defining love by how my dad and step dad showed me. I went for my dads version of love full of rejection etc. because I would be running so fast if a man told me he liked me, I associate it with so many bad memories.
        Throw in a hefty dose of my mum the absolute best teacher of denial, thats not happening to you. She is still married to my step dad go figure. She also without knowing it taught me EU ways she just wasn’t there.
        Its a long story but in some ways it reveals why I have hung in there for five years with a silly eum.
        It makes me cry that the challenge you have set for me to do one nice thing for me is soooooooooo hard. Reminds me of math homework that always seemed to be impossible. However I will think of something.
        Have a good day and enjoy doing something just for you.

        • runnergirl says:

          I’m totally with you Tulpia. I cannot for the life of me figure out what I was thinking when I got involved with the exMM. I don’t think I was thinking. But I do remember thinking that he wouldn’t “get in the way” of what I do not know. That is so clearly my EUWness. No accoutability for him. No accoutability for me. Fair trade. That’s the daddy issues. When my father’s criminal behavior was revealed, his new wife simply ignored the facts as did my siblings. Umm…I’ve never said this before, my father’s new wife’s daughter (30 something), was the one who blew the whistle. Her mother stuck by my father and abandoned her.
          Okey dokey, moving on from our past, what did you do today for you? I struggled to find something to do t00. You totally made me laugh about it seeming like math homework. I think based on Molly’s post, I’m going to go out for dinner and a movie, AlONE. Stay with me Tuplia.

          • Tulipa says:

            Hi again,
            Well I think I did something for me.
            I went to the gym which is good all round really especially for my mental health.
            Thank you again for your comments which have been helpful to me.

  14. Magnolia says:

    Soul Seeking, you used the phrase “make it.” Omg, that was one of the ACs favorite terms: “Let’s see if we can make it.” “If you’re that jealous, I don’t know that we’re going to make it.” “I’m going to work on my issues; I think we can make it.” The term itself sounds like one a long-shot thinker uses. I used to think, make it? How do you know when you’ve “made it” in a loving relationship? When you put a ring on someone’s finger? Hardly. The relationship is just beginning, then, right? Maybe on our death bed, his or mine, we look each other in the eye and say, honey, you’re here at my bedside, therefore we ‘made it’?

    I suppose it was supposed to mean some kind of magical plateau where we finally felt comfortable with one another and were happy committing. Because we wanted different things (him, my submission; me, okay let’s be honest, his) that could only happen if one of us gave up what we really wanted.

    I used to think it was such a long shot that ‘anyone’ would ever love me. But really what I meant was, it is a long shot that the kind of guy I want would ever want me. Now that I’m working on my self esteem, I think back and wonder if I ever really knew what kind of guy I wanted.

    In retrospect, the true long shot was that the man-I-believed-would-make-things-better actually existed! Better odds of snowballs growing on trees in hell!

  15. Sarah T says:

    I agree with the idea that we hang onto these guys to prove that we CAN be the exception but, for me, I don’t feel I did so to avoid a real relationship. I definitely wanted something real and I had a habit of choosing challenging guys as if that would make my ‘win’ all the more worthwhile. Low self-esteem I guess. The bitch of it is though that because I was all out to win and was employing my best tactics/approach etc his rejection hurt all the more. He rejected me when I had been a living, breathing version of what I thought he needed. I put my needs second, hoping they’d be met. The one time in the 6 month experiment (hardly a relationship!) that I got pissed at him for not being a kind, caring supportive friend brought things to a head. He ended things the next day! So, yes, it stung as all my invested time and effort was wasted, my ego was shot to pieces and I was kicking myself for ignoring my gut instinct and the red flag of the ‘I’m not looking for anything serious’ admission on our 2nd date.
    The only way I have found to deal with the ‘loss’ constructively is to recognise that it was doomed from the start, that I had some fun, that it would have never worked and that I have learnt my lesson.
    I’ve been seeing someone now for 4 months and I have totally found what I was looking for. It feels COMPLETELY different to my drama-fuelled days with EUM so there is hope to hang onto for all of you who feel you’re destined to be on the treadmill of misery forever! Big hugs xxx

  16. Stephanie says:

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head, I definitely have a long shot mentality, I’ve been NC for nearly 8 weeks now and I’m still considering sending him a text in the hope that he’ll wake up and want to try again with me. It’s really just a fantasy because if he wanted me surely he would contact me right? Still doesn’t seem to stop me from thinking maybe, just maybe. I need to get it out my head that it’s unlikely that I will be “the exception to the rule”. However, I do believe that I was looking for a healthy committed relationship I truly was, the problem was he wasn’t! I’m not sure what it will take for me to get it into my head that he is unavailable and if he wanted the same as me then we would be together. Before I can meet someone who is available I need to move on, it such seems to be taking longer than expected!

    • Crystal says:

      Been there Stephanie, and you will get it when you want to get it for you. Don’t let posts like this one add to the self sabotage you do when trying to suss it all out. The guy didn’t realise how good a catch you are, because you don’t. Let everyman love you till the right one snaps you up, see yourself as a man magnet where they are all after you, because they are. Then start picking the flowers rather than weeds. xxx

    • grace says:

      Maybe you were looking for a truly committed relationship. If you were both single, both over the exes, both in a good place, then if it didn’t work out, sure, it’s just one of those things.
      But RIGHT NOW you’re not looking for a truly committed relationship by pursuing this man – you’re looking for validation, to be right, for a return on your investment, to stop the pain of the breakup. There’s a difference between the long shot and the long game – this guy is now a long shot. The long game is to look to the future now, a future without him and a future with better things.
      I will tell you something that I found out only very recently and which is kind of amazing – plenty of men and women break up AND DON’T GO BACK!! Do that.
      I agree with Crystal that it’s nigh on impossible to meet a good man and maintain a good relationship if you don’t think much of yourself. But I disagree very much that good self-esteem will make an uncommitted man commit to you. Good self-esteem will enable you to walk away from Mr EU, but nothing on this earth will make a man ready to commit if he’s not in the market for that. You can’t love him into it, bully him into it, manipulate him into it, ignore him into it, demand him into it, impress him into it. And why would you want to?
      Cheryl Cole couldn’t get an AC / EU to commit to her.Nor Jerry Hall, nor Jennifer Aniston, or Helena freakin Christiansen, not even Kylie. These women aren’t chopped liver. Neither could I. You’re in good company though I say so myself!

      • Stephanie says:


        Thank you so much for your words, I just wish that you could say them to me whilst poking your hands through my laptop and physically shaking me as well lol! Crystal, you are right I am a bloody good catch and I need to remember that. Grace, you are also right there is no way after 8 weeks of us both doing NC that anything good will come out of me contacting him. What I am honestly looking for is closure, validation, to stop the pain, and to see if I’m right! He was never going to commit from day one, and nothing I say or do will change his way of thinking. I fell for his looks, his personality (although it all seems fake now), the whole package. At first I was shocked that he wanted me! That’s how highly I thought of him. My sister said to me at the time, “he may be good looking and have a good job (he’s a banker) and all that but your a good catch as well don’t forget that” and that is where I made my mistake. When he stood me up and didn’t return my calls, I allowed it to consume me and make me ill. One thing I do know is that this will never happen to me again. Ladies I thank you for being real with me because even though my friends and family have given me more or less the same advice hearing from people that don’t know me or him makes sense. I’m bearing up and I know I’m gonna get there. Thanks

    • AngelFace says:

      I’m at week 8 of NC too, and I also have had the strong urge to call him & I want to talk with him/see him. But I didn’t call or see him, and I’m not going to. I keep reminding myself of all the horrible things he did and said to me.

      Maybe we are going through something natural, in that, at this time we are missing them? But with more time these thoughts I’m having of him will fade away. Hope you stay strong and I’m glad to have other friends here who are also in around week 8 of NC!

      My next relationship will not be based on a faux goal or fantasy.

  17. Alice Ayres says:

    This post resonates utterly with me because I am a married woman who has always been involved with faux relationship goals with unavailable men, because I am unavailable myself.

    I think that it has taken a long time for me to own this, because for years I have was casting myself in the role of ‘misunderstood wife who’s needs are not being met’ which is complete bull****.

    My husband is an amazing, loving (and very patient) man, who understands me COMPLETELY. What I wasn’t getting in my 20+ year relationship with him, was the stomach churning anxiety of a doomed or faux relationship, which stupidly, I had mistaken for TRUE LOVE. What an idiot I have been.

    In my adulterous relationships, I have been seeking out the “Cathy and Heathcliff” thing, and spinning my emotional dials, in the name of grand passion. But of course, because I was married and unavailable, there was no way I could look for that with men who were ACTUALLY wanting a REAL commitment (and any man who’s decent and looking for something real WON’T be providing that kind of drama anyway), so I picked men who were also married, or separated but still involved, or divorced but still living with ex-wives, or in America or Timbuktu, or in whatever way, hot messes and NOT REAL.

    The only thing that’s REAL in those situations, is the harm you do to everyone involved. The pain is very real. The rest of it is just shadows and dust.

    “In a fantasy relationship, it can’t ‘fail fail’ because it’s not real which means you’re not responsible or accountable and you’re let off the hook from having to actually put yourself out there and invest your efforts into a full fledged relationship.”

    Time for me to leave you good people at BR, pull myself together, grow the f**k up, put myself back ON the hook and be responsible and accountable. For the first time in a long time. Not sure I would have had this ‘duh’ moment without this site. So thank you all and good luck to everyone…

  18. Crystal says:

    I’m not sure I understand any of it. I don’t see any problem with your dreams or aspirations and all of them are long shots thats the point of a dream. If you make a man your dream to come and step up to the mark and you’ve told him that that is what you want and he doesn’t fulfil the task move on to the next. Its not supposed to be about hanging on their every darn word and believing in their excuses its about being hard core and driven to have exactly what you want because you want it and not listen to the crap they tell you why they won’t give it. Just say what it is you want and leave it there, be so adamant on yourself that that is ONLY what you want and not accept nothing else and that is what you will get. I’ve had some crap relationships which have only concreted my vision and never detracted from it. Let the idiots go find another idiot. When we waste our time on idiots and know that they are idiots I can only say that it makes us the bigger idiot for thinking that an idiot is going to be anything other than an idiot. They are a person that didn’t sign up to come to the relationship school of Crystal, yet if they do start one they had better be man enough to finish it or get with MY programme its as simple and as basic as that. I just have absolutely NO TIME for TIME WASTERS. Its a bitch when you realise you just hurt yourself with the wrong one for a while and have to learn from it concrete you vision and go out again with another perhaps idiot, yet just ask him straight out from the outset… Are you looking for a girlfriend or a committed life partner? Basically are you just interested in getting relief from sex for your hard life little man or are you actually going to care for the thing that sustains your happiness? Do you see women as there to please you or as your prize princess? At least by the 4th date know this. Like i said its a numbers game to the guys they know one girl will put out what they want for no investment, they are what ever you want to call them mostly time wasters when it comes to relationships because I’m only interested in a committed partnership that has a purpose to make dreams huge ones and make them come true together and unfortunately the guys didn’t read our fairytales so we have to tell them what we want. If you are in a rush to get married and settle down tell them they are not mind readers. Some…

    • grace says:

      If this is working for you, if it makes you happy and optimistic, if it’s leading to a fulfilling relationship then no-one can argue with you. Carry on as you are. If it’s not working, then you have to change it.
      I will say that it sounds a bit stressy to me.

  19. only_the_lonely says:

    I just wanted to give a BIG THANKS to Natalie for this website. It has given me so much insight into things as I am 38 and have recently in the last couple years started trying to date again after a 7 year “dry spell”. After going out with several people, I met someone who seemed to be fairly normal the first couple of months but as the relationship progressed I realized something wasn’t “right” when he never had time to spend with me like I needed him to. Anyway, we have broken up a few times I have done NC and then ended up going back time and time again. It’s been a year now since all this has been going on and a friend introduced me to your website a few months back when he and I were in a “break up” and I realized after reading some of your post that he is definately a “Mr. Unavailable” and I’m just as guilty for sticking around! Of course he and I have started talking again and all the stress of the whole situation has returned. In all of my 38 years I have never been in a relationship (if that’s what you call it) like this! It has been the most confusing thing I have ever went thru. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going I’m always stressed always sad and down and I could kick myself in the ass for going back into that. I now realize that I was MUCH happier being single for 7 years. I just have to find a way to leave him alone and get back to the comfort of being single. It shouldn’t be that hard, after all I only really see him on the weekend evenings. It truly is a battle within yourself and your mind when you’re going thru something like this but it does help A LOT when there’s somewhere to turn to like this website!! This particular article I needed very much so today! So thank you once again Natalie and everyone wish me luck as I try to get out of this situation and this battle with my own mind…..

    • mirelle says:

      Oh, yes, Mr Unavailables have a special skill – to teach us how to live on crumbs. We learn how to survive with little crumbs of (fake) attention/ passion/ excitement just to wake up the next day and see the ugly reality-that we are unhappy, ashamed and humiliated.
      We feel frustrated, lonely, even more lonely that we feel when we are truly single. We become angry with ourselves. Then we start to crave for the little crumbs because they represent the only “good time” in our lives, far from the misery we created by accepting to be treated like this.

      “I learnt to live half alive and now you want me one more time” Christina Perri – Jar of hearts

      Listen to this song of a Fallback Girl waking up to reality. It really helped me. The sooner you start NC, the better for you. Make yourself a gift for present: kick him out of your life!

      • MissE says:

        This resonates with me so much!

        Ultimately, living on crumbs leaves you so malnourished though!

        Sometimes I feel like I either have to be single, like only_the_lonely or I’m going to date a Mr.Unavailable. All last year I decided to be single and focus on me. It worked well. The minute I started liking someone at the beginning of this year, I had a minor panic attack about it. I didn’t trust myself. Sure enough, he did turn out to be a Mr. Unavailable and it was also during this time that I found this site and had revelations about myself. I then sometimes wish for being single and unconcerned about men again….if I like no one, then nothing hurts. But once I do….they’re unavailable and the hurt, the living on crumbs, the frustration starts again.

        I know that it is problematic to desire being single because I am avoiding relationships/romance due to fear….that’s not a good look! I almost retreat to this when I feel overwhelmed, like my only choices are singlehood or enduring the anxiety of dating an EUM. It’s particularly upsetting when I feel like I’ve learned….but it’s deceptive to learn when single and not actually having to put it in practice….then the universe sends me a guy/situation to practice all these things and it’s like I fold and end up doing the same thing…or I avoid certain mistakes but continue making others. I then get so frustrated, like OMG! Have I learned nothing?! I get tired of the “just kidding moments” where I think things are going well then it turns out this is an EUM in disguise lol! But I’m learning and I have to build up resilience and realize it may take a few more disappointments before I find a fulfilling relationship.

        • mirelle says:

          Maybe they’re just frogs we must kiss before finding the Prince…:)
          Or some little tests for us to see if we learnt the lesson and know how to deal with the EUMs now: throw away as soon as possible and never look in the waste bin.

  20. colororange says:

    “Your focus is directed at the fantasy of them leaving where you imagine what life would be like if you were both together, but this doesn’t become real which means you don’t have the responsibility and accountability that comes with a full time, committed relationship.”

    Uhh, somebody just shoot me today. Last night I cried on and off, mourning. I wanted a relationship with the ex for a long time and held on hoping I’d get it. And this morning I’m in a foul mood, hate everyone, and wondering why all over again….why he wants to stay with her…..why he doesn’t want me. Why doesn’t he want me? I guess because it feeds into my thing about no man wants me. I pray. I meditate. I read. I go for walks. I go to support meetings. I focus on other crap. But still my mind takes me there. It takes me down that road every friggin day. It hates me or God hates me or life hates me. All of it. Why can’t I get through one hour without thinking of him? Why?! I want to know WHY he wants her and not me. I want to know and that may be THE REASON a lot of men don’t stick around me. I feel so clueless. What is it about her? What. And how the hell am I supposed to get over this? It hurts.

    • grace says:

      If you have an anxiety problem , it may be time to see the doctor. I near drove myself mad with anxiety after the break up with the playa. I wanted to die just to get the thoughts out of my head.
      Of course, only you can decide if medical intervention is needed.
      All over the world men and women pick someone for them. Does that mean everyone they didn’t pick is a walking loser and a disaster? Not at all. Leaving aside the fact that his man is married, just because he didn’t pick you, it doesn’t reflect badly on you at all.
      I pick people to be my friends. I pick the fish that I will keep. I pick what I will have for lunch. It doesn’t mean that all the things I don’t pick are crap. Cos I’m not the Judge of the World and neither is he.

    • Fearless says:

      Think of it this way: why do you want this guy (MM?) and not the man who lives half way down the street? Why? What’s wrong with all these other men? Why are you not choosing one of them? By your reasoning there must be something wrong with all these other men because you are not choosing them. But there isn’t. I remember one of Nat’s posts on a topic like : ‘Everything is not about you’. It might be worth another read? I prefer raspberry jam to strawberry jam. Why? I just do. And not because there’s something wrong with strawberry jam.

      • colororange says:

        All my life someone/something else has been chosen over me. Dad chose drugs and alcohol. Mom chose Dad. And the pattern repeats in all my relationships. All. My. Life. Should I take it personal? Well, yeah. What are my choices here? I’m inclined to shut down even more. Opening up to others seems fruitless. I get hurt and disappointed continuously. Retreat even more. My heart literally feels like it is broken in half. My life experiences have have made me so sensitive to anything. Why in the world should I choose ME (whatever that means) over others? I was never chosen or if I was it was brief. What is the lesson here? I’m the only one I have to lean on.

        • Skyscraper says:


          You sound seriously depressed. I have been where it seems like you are, and I resisted absolutely everyone’s advice to seek medical help and counseling. If something is amiss with your brain chemistry, you cannot think you way out of it, no matter how smart you are. And the messed-up thinking is what keeps you stuck thinking nothing is going to help.

          I am replying because I can so relate to everyone, starting with Dad and Mom choosing someone else over me. But here’s the thing. Even if someone (even the MM) chooses you, it will not ultimately fix what is killing your soul. YOU have to choose you. And help in learning how to do that is available.

          The phone seemed to weigh 800 pounds when I picked it up to call for that first appointment. But I did it, and things DID get better.

        • Magnolia says:

          Hi Color: I agree with the others – I hear you saying “my mind just goes there” and “my heart feels broken in half.” Right now it sounds like the problem is how deeply your situation, and thinking about it, affects you. I too have been where you are, and will likely go there again, but what sustains me now is knowing how to get out of, or wait out, the hopelessness.

          I feel the way you do now when I’m tired, when I have been eating poorly, when I’m stressed, when I have lapsed in being kind to myself.

          When you’re healthier you will be able to think of “all you have been through” (that’s how I phrase my painful history to myself so that I can think about it without getting sucked into it) as a whole host of challenges and obstacles that were the hand you were dealt. As in, wow, I’m a pretty strong person to be who I am after everything I have been through. I don’t think you’ll ever look back and see roses, but you will be able to see it without falling into “why me”? In fact, you may even come to see that those obstacles, and everything you learn that helps you reduce their emotional weight on you, have helped you become strong.

        • Sushi says:

          Colorange, coming from this situation in childhood it is hard to even realise what it is to have a choice now. When I started reading BR I was so overwhelmed I thought I would go crazy sometimes because I used the information intended to help me to be even more critical of myself- that is what I knew as normal .After 9 months of being propped up by everything I read here I got up the courage to act ( instead of just thinking about it) in my own interest and it was like pulling teeth at first and actually scary – so not used to putting myself first ( or near first). What I am finding so far is: Making choices consciously stops you feeling like a victim of people and circumstances. It stops you feeling out of control and at mercy of other people and it gets you out of this spin of desperation. That`s why you should choose yourself. Give yourself a permission to judge people, make decisions and mistakes, even if it feels selfish. I let myself have wobbles and refuse to do the dormat thing I`m so good at. I`m finding that I stand up for myself now and it feels sooooo satisfying ( I also have lots of wobbles and they pass). I`m starting to feel like I can trust myself and it`s not so important what other people think of me. Or if they choose me or not. IF I CAN DO IT SO CAN YOU and it`s absolute boll**ks that you can only lean on yourself, you can lean on everyone here! To start with. Other people will follow, honest.

        • Fearless says:

          I sympathise, really I do. But here’s the thing with this current let down you are experiencing: I understand that this man is married (correct me if I’m wrong). If he is married he has *already* chosen someone else *before* he even met you (or got involved with you). An OW is not waiting for him to make up his mind between her and his wife, she is waiting for him to *change* his mind. There is a pretty big difference there. We should never, anyway, wait and hope for a man to “choose” us even if he is freee to do that – this is bad enough – but to hope for him to change his mind about someone he has already chosen is sheer masochism, so it’s no wonder you feel annihilated, again.

          I too had a father who never chose me – alcohol. I am now also painfully experiencing two beloved siblings who are very busy choosing alcohol over a decent life/relationship with me (and with themselves, more importantly). I turned fifty years old this year and I have never, ever had a man I wanted choose me (bar once as a teenager). I am the archetypal “unchosen”. I used to wonder and cry and lament for years ‘what is wrong with me?’

          With my BR head on now, I look back and I can see a string of men who did and wanted to choose me! I wasn’t interested in them! I stepped over all the decent blokes who were choosing me to get to the scunner in the corner who never would. I see that now.

          So here’s the thing I think is true: the problem is not the choices this man or other people/family in your life are making (they are responsible for their own poor choices/poor behaviour/poor parenting skills); the problem is not the choice(s) this MM is making (or anyone else) – the problem is the choices *you* are making for yourself. I don’t know if it helps but you could try to see yourself as “chooser” and not vulnerable victim of other people’s choices. Don’t wait for other people to choose you – you have to choose you and an involvement with an MM is self-neglect. Yes, other people may have been very neglectful of you but there’s no need for you to join that club. Do for yourself what these other people won’t or can’t do. You need to choose you (act in your own best interests – stop hurting yourself and start loving yourself). Easier said than done. But we need to start somewhere. All the best to you.

    • MaryC says:

      Hey girl been there too. Long short of it, sometimes there is no reason it just is. Somethings can never be explained and I truly believe even if we knew it wouldn’t make us feel better anyway because it not what we want to hear. I’ve learned the hard way that I might not like what has happened to me but I have to accept it because I can’t change it.

      Right now you’re not ready to accept and that’s ok because it not easy to do that, trust me its a hell of alot of work but in the long run for me so worth the work.

      Warm ((Hugs)) from cold Iowa (in the midwest of America)

      • Jane says:

        hey. I know how you feel too. My mum communicated to me that my needs were unimportant, that who I was wasn’t ok so I had to be what she wanted – had to be what everyone else wanted because I believed who I was wasn’t ok. But that allows people to pick or not pick me. That takes my control away from me.
        Why do you have to chose you? Because you are all you have and you have done a great job taking care of you so far. You have a pattern in your past and some of your choices reflect that pattern. Get to know why and who you are and you make the choice next time. Get help if you need it , it works

    • AngelFace says:

      I feel for you, and hope you feel better today. Sounds like you need a road-trip, a vacation, or 3-day weekend in a different location – if you can afford it…. or maybe plan it for near future?

      Something about getting away, pulling nice outfits from a suitcase and doing something brand new… Or this weekend, doll-up and go to another part of town… a museum, a cafe, shopping – something you don’t do in your normal routine…. And, listen to yourself because if you do need to see a Dr it is best to take that direction. Best wishes for you.

      • colororange says:

        Thanks everyone for your kind words.

        I am doing a bit better today. Seeking help and doing certain things takes $$$$. I have been to therapists before and it did not help. Right now I’m seeking as much *free* help as I can get. I tell you I need some sort of energy healer and some intensive therapy about once a week…..but how will I pay for it?? So I do what I can within my means. Soon I will be getting my hair cut and looking into newer/nicer clothes (what I can afford) and figure out a way to meet a new man. Looks like I’ll be spending more time at the bookstores. And again, dating sites cost $$$$$$$. Everything costs $$$. I feel royally stuck and wondering how I’ll ever get out.

  21. Soul Seeking says:

    Hello Christina & Australia,

    Thanks for you sharing. I know that 5 years is a long time, a VERY long time. That was the reason for the break-ups. I broke it off with, each time, because there was no forward movement. I accused him future faking, unable to commit, even called him an AC. It was always due to my frustrations of not being together. I started talking about moving in together 2 years into the relationship. We live 4 hours apart so its not like we see each other every week.

    Australia, you mentioned Him being closed off from his emotions is a hard thing to change.

    Just ask yourself : What do you want? and are you getting it? He has come a long way, a very long way from where he was at the start. He tells me he loves me several times a day. I can see it in his eyes that he truly does. He is not afraid of committing. It really is about the money. Needing a bigger place and moving expenses are the issue. I know if I was able to afford it, I would find a way. But I can’t do it either right now. I have 2 in college and 2 at home still, he has 1 in college and one at home. I own my home and it’s paid off. To sell in this economy would be crazy. He rents and to get a place to fit our families would be much more than either one of us is use to or can afford. So it’s not that there isn’t a desire, it’s that we have been unable to afford it. Very frustrating indeed.

    I am the more affectionate one, yes..I initiate it 95% of the time when we are together. He does reciprocate, not always as much as I’d like, however I would admit that I am probably trying to make up for lost time of not being together. If we were together all the time I probably would not be as affectionate as I am during visits.

    Am I getting my needs met?…hell no! Then again, its due to us not being together for the most part. He has been talking about how he intends to move things forward the past few months. I have not initiated the talks, he has. So I am giving it one last try. It’s sh*t or get off the pot time here. For both of us!

  22. Rosegirl says:

    Hmmm I guess it is howww exactly you define a long shot and a lot of that for many is contextual..
    I think where I mess up mainly in my life (particularly relationships) is with my childhood. I suffer with severe PTSD…(one of my most earliest memories is my father attempting to resuscitate my mothers’ blue lifeless body on their bedroom floor…she accidentally killed herself—an attention seeking attempt gone horridly wrong—abuse followed with him–there’s just so much)..I never ever try to attempt to make anyone feel sorry for me (my worst nightmare, I despise sympathy it makes me feel abnormal) but it still has affected me majorly.
    Sometimes I feel that by going for anyone is a long shot and I can’t recognize the difference between someone who’s treating me well and someone who’s treating me unwell. I see a therapist but it still is really tough. I tend to go after long shot relationships more than any other.
    I wrote a few months back about the guy I was last with (bruised me by accident during rough sexual play, tired to pull down my top against my wishes to show said bruises to his friends, pressured me into sex, etc.. etc.. etc..)
    I would love, love, LOVE one day to meet someone special but it seems so far from my grasp.
    I just I guess in a way feel fundamentally flawed..even III feel as if I’m placing a burden on my partners by talking about my past or by even being me. My last partner certainly let me feel this way by accusing me of ‘bringing him down’ during my low moments (which I’m ashamed there can be some of sometimes with nightmares and flashbacks). I wonder should I even talk about my past..I’m not all doom and gloom I try to stay happy and positive as much as I can.
    Since the last guy I’ve been alone I’ve been working on me, I spend a lot of time reading, studying..spending time with my friends..but there’s always this emptiness. I’m so scared of getting involved with anyone. I’m in my late twenties but I feel in my 80s. I almost feel like I don’t deserve anyone.
    Is it a long shot to hope someone will love me even though I’m not, I don’t know…normal?

    • NML says:

      I remember you Rosegirl – what a terrible thing to not only experience and witness but to also have as your first memory. I would challenge any child not to be severely traumatised by it especially then with your subsequent experiences of abuse.

      That said, you *are* a normal person. Having these experiences doesn’t make you an abnormal person – it makes you a normal person who has been challenged by some incredibly difficult situations as a child. I don’t think you realise that what you’ve had is a normal reaction and in some respects has acted partly as a coping mechanism.

      There are people knocked by far less – you’re so strong, you just don’t know it.

      I said this to you before and I’ll say it again – when you share very personal information about yourself and your past, it must be with someone who has proved again and again that they are trustworthy.

      It’s not about being secretive – it’s about being selective. This allows you to do the due diligence. You also have to take your time and never, ever, ever participate in anything that you’ve been coerced or rushed into.

      Only someone who is self-absorbed and Unavailable will feel burdened by you disclosing your past or how you feel about it or how you’re affected. They can’t be centre stage plus they panic that by telling them, that they’ll be needed, wanted and expected from more than they want to be.

      You don’t have to be alone but I would invest some time and energy with a professional that can help you to better live *in spite* of those early experiences. I would take a step back from relationships until you have those measures in place – you don’t need *more* inappropriate experiences to add to your load. These traumatic situations can cause you to need a bit of a reorganisation of your wiring – by normalising inappropriate and even dangerous behaviour while also normalising being desensitised to stress, it becomes very difficult to work out where you end and a jackass begins.

      The long shot seems much safer for you – it could be like righting the wrongs of your past if on the off chance it worked out, or it’s also like trying to do better this time round with someone similar to an earlier aggressor. It’s also less risky in terms of being vulnerable.
      I’m not saying it’s easy but love is out there for you. I personally know people who after losing their parents in awful ways or experiencing terrible abuse, have managed to live normal lives. The pain and the memories don’t entirely go away but they don’t own so much of you either. But do get professional help because it will actually aid the process.

      Hugs x

      • Rosegirl says:

        Thank you NML,

        I am in no way near ready for another relationship (the thought of one actually terrifies me no joke, churns my stomach and brings me out into cold sweat ). Sometimes I’d like to think I could have one but I know I’m nowhere near equipped. I’ve been asked out on dates but woaaahhhhhhhhhhhh..I’m so scared. Like ‘Michael Myers’ scared. :)

        I see my therapist one a week. She tells me that the reason he perhaps chose me is because he thought (following my premature admissions) that I might not notice or take seriously *his* abnormalities.

        …that’s the thing about disclosing your past as you have mentioned in a recent article—(which I adored, thank you :) ).

        I’d love to find love one day but yes, terrified. I do feel abnormal…a part of me knows the right guy will be accommodating when I am screaming in my sleep…when I get nervous and shaky because something reminds me of something…when I might have the odd few weeks of being down…this is who I am sometimes right now.

        I feel scared of bringing anyone down (this is why what my ex said about me bringing him down hurt me so much)..I try to keep myself to myself as much as possible….I don’t want to make anyone unhappy or feel low because of me.

        I’m hoping that there is someone (who I might meet eventually) who will accept this aspect of me—it isn’t entirely me…there is this part that it bubbly and fun and happy.

        I pray.

        • Elle says:

          Hugs, Rosegirl. While I haven’t experienced the sorts of traumas you have and don’t presume to understand what they have meant to you, I do have PTSD symptoms that emerge from time to time, from a spate of past events. Like you, most of the time I am cheerful, competent, outgoing and warm, but then I can also misperceive – usually over-respond to – threats. It’s frustrating at times, and makes me more prone to long-shot thinking because those who do ‘indulge me’ with any kind of protector zeal, I think, are tying me to the past/negativity, while those who don’t, can’t ‘win’ either because they don’t really know me. Then there are those who have their own problems and are frightened or beleaguered by mine, or, more likely, what they presume to be mine. For what it’s worth, right now, I am not focusing on whether there is someone out there for me, rather on practising keeping myself healthy and positive (watching thoughts, avoiding mood-traps, being creative, taking good risks, being gentle to myself, putting myself to bed on time when I am tired etc). I remind myself that I got through that stuff and the skills I needed (or responses I had) then are no longer necessary. If this is all indirectly preparing myself to recognise ‘him’ when he shows up, then that’s good too! Anyway, really just to say that I can relate to your feelings, RG. All the best

  23. Jane says:

    I think one of the key issues here is why people go for the long shot. The reasons may be complex and definately need looking at. For some it isn’t as simple as a bad choice – what is it that keeps us in it?
    I’m asking myself that over and over. I think know why I behave the way I do but I don’t seem to be able to work out how to stop it.

    Like Soul and Australia I am confused. Athough we ended 6 months ago (after me finally getting the message that he just wasn’t available for me) I’m still ‘friends’ with him although I question every day what that means. My life has formed me into a people pleaser – it is a horrible way to be because I don’t want to be disliked, I don’t want to hurt anyone but I want my needs to be recognised. Because of who I am I select people who enable me – therefore they will never put my needs first because then I am not pleasing them. Not everyone – but many. Its lonely. Some days he was understanding, some days not so – butI miss and want the good days.

    The exEUM really taps into this in me. He regularly withdraws or tells me I’m not ok when I do what I want. I question whether I am ok over and over. Tonight he asked me to his house for a chinese (he has money for the first time in ages!) but I am unwell – I have muscle problem in my neck and am in a lot of pain and didn’t want to drive. Thats ok. Thats reasonable and in fact a good friend might say ‘poor you shall I come to you?’ but not him. He tells me I always reject him, I never do what he wants (not true and in fact he has turned me down more) I respond with apologies and begging to talk but he has gone – no reply, I am being ignored. Familiar territory.

    And I know this behaviour is not ok. I know I am not wrong. I KNOW. but I am still crying and feeling bad because I let someone down, because I am not liked. My mother left me a legacy and a half. But I am aware of it now and must work hard to overcome it and part of me is saying that if this is how our relationship works then it has to go. It is making me ill and unhappy. I need to set a more realistic goal and let him live the life he chooses for himself.

    • Australia says:


      I think a lot of us here on the site are people pleasers – which is why we get ourselves into these relationships. We are so good at empathsizing with our EUM’s, and we do what we would like done to us – so we are understanding and giving and in doing so, we become doormats and lose all our boundaries.

      You said: My life has formed me into a people pleaser – it is a horrible way to be because I don’t want to be disliked, I don’t want to hurt anyone but I want my needs to be recognised.

      So you don’t want to be disliked, however aren’t disliking yourself by engaging in these unhealthy relationships?
      So you want your needs to be recognised, but are you acknowledging your own needs? Why depend on others for your needs?
      So you don’t want to hurt anyone? Aren’t they hurting you?

      You said: He tells me I always reject him, I never do what he wants (not true and in fact he has turned me down more) I respond with apologies and begging to talk but he has gone – no reply, I am being ignored. Familiar territory.

      He may tell you that you always reject him, but is that the true? Or is this his way of twisting your mind into believing him?
      He may say you never do what he wants – is that true? I highly doubt it seeing as you are a people pleaser.
      You don’t want to let him down yet how many times has he let you down? You say you are “friends” but how much energy and time are you still spending thinking about him?

      I don’t mean to sound harsh, I mean hell – I am in a similiar frame of mind – I don’t want to let my ex down. But more importantly, I don’t want to let me down. I have become stronger and am finally acknowledging my needs by asking myself … What do I want? It is a question we people-pleasers fail to ask ourselves. But then when we are taken advantage of, we get angry at ourselves for not thinking of us first!

      Whenever I make a choice now, well at least I am trying to do this … I ask myself: if I make this choice, will I be letting myself down? Or will I proud of myself?
      At the end of the day – you only have yourself, so make sure you are proud of yourself as thats where true peace of mind comes from. I am trying to live like this but it really it takes a huge mind shift, and you have to let go of the people who are not adding positivity to your life.

  24. Arlena says:

    This one had a surprising twist. Reading the title I thought I know what’s coming, it’s something about not losing sight of the bigger picture, fine with me and then Nat aims elsewhere. You might think after 1000 articles everything has been said – but no, not with Nat! Love it!

    As long as anxiety issues had me in a tight grip every aspect of my life seemed to put every goal into a far future for when it’s over. Hoping, waiting, trying short cuts, but never right through the anxiety, that seemed to be like a dark tunnel and WHAT IF I got stuck after perhaps overestimating my courage?? Better put up a tend in front of that dark tunnel in wait for a magic pill, step-dancing around a problem, turning every stone, reading the next self-help book or … whatever, but please not through THAT tunnel. Time passes. Now it’s through that dark tunnel as there is no other way.

    That meant taking another decision that didn’t feel good but was right. I left my new-found therapist after she crossed my boundaries and didn’t waste time to make her understand. As Nat tells us relationship insanity is doing the same things expecting different results, I ended my therapy insanity which brought me straight to someone, a former sufferer, who now works with fellow sufferers. I found trust through this site, through Nat’s honest and straight reflection of her experiences, and all you ladies, meaning business, which backed me up so I signed up to her, and will try an off-beat path!

    As I am actually long-sighted and in need of reading glasses, this is what I lost sight of, that what is actually in front of me, right now. How do I feel? What do I want? What can be my next step? The next step is always possible. Living the moment and enjoying all the little things right in front of my nose. Taking action is what I always feared – action shall be it. 😉

  25. Stephanie says:


    Thanks, let’s see if we can make 8 weeks of NC into 18 weeks! I’m determined to start a fresh on 1/1/2012. I went to the gym today and I’m taking steps to try and get back on track. I’m not trying to make it sound easy but I’m certain it can be done. Sounds like a cliche but we need to love ourselves (again) before anyone can love us. It’s taken a lot for me to actually understand that.

  26. JeniP says:

    I’ve recently sat myself down and talked myself out of a fantasy relationship! How powerful are they! I realised from a comment I read in another book (‘Dangerous Women: The Guide to Modern Life’) that I had been dating quite a string of emotionally unavailable men and perhaps hadn’t been taking this seriously enough. I googled this species and came up with your blog, and lo . . . I am that emotionally unavailable woman you talk about. I’ve been reading BR pretty much every night since!

    It’s given me a great deal of new courage to stop wanting ‘a relationship’ in a vague sense and to enjoy a relationship with myself first and foremost. ‘Dangerous Women’ (see above) also says that that special ‘allure’ comes from when we have a private relationship with ourselves; it’s a kind of stillness.

    I have loved reading this blog. I keep laughing to myself because in many ways, you’re writing about me!! I know the kind of relationship I *want* but keep thinking I’m too boring for anyone to want me, even though I know in my head that I’m not . . . Yes, I grew up with a distant (probably, back then, depressed) dad for whom the best thing I could do was keep out of his way. Much more hopeful now for the future . . . Liberated to love my own life as it is, am keeping a Feelings Diary and when I go out I’m not just looking out for the men; first and foremost, I’m HAVING FUN. Bless you, NML.

  27. Tracy says:

    My ex husband and my most recent ex were both complete narcissists. And bipolar alcoholics. Yes, I went to that well two times! Why? I think I was trying to “correct” a wrong the second time. Trying to see how “I” could make it better. Trying to figure out what “I” did wrong the first time. Narcissist #2 was better in bed, for sure, much better looking, for sure, not as nasty on the surface…but in the end was just as evil as far as making sure that I felt like shit all the time. Of course, BOTH felt like they were doing me a huge favor by being with me, and let me know of their ‘generosity’ on a regular basis.

    Post break up with boyfriend I found myself dating another narcissist. This time I dumped HIM after three dates, never felt bad, never regretted it. I was tired of the evil.
    I have started, recently, to date a normal man. No mental illnesses, no ‘habits’. At first, though I found him kind and funny, there was a certain ‘boring’ aspect. No sirens. No fireworks. No adrenaline rushes.
    But…he likes me. And tells me so. He listens to me and remembers what I said. He asks about MY day. He asks about my children and tells me about his. He values loyalty and kindness. He asks what “I” want.
    If he doesn’t call for a day, I don’t freak out, because I am pretty darned sure he’ll call tomorrow. And if I send a texts, he responds. And when we start a texting frenzy…he picks up the phone and CALLS.

    Mind you, this is all friggin’ WEIRD to me. Again, I keep wondering where ‘the rush’ is. It ain’t coming. But it’s never felt so peaceful before. This may not be ‘the one’, but finally, I think I know what I SHOULD be expecting.

    • MissE says:

      This is great! I’m glad for you!

      I too wonder if I did meet a great, normal guy, would I know??? Would I even be attracted?!

      I think I like a bit of tension in my relationship…I know I do but I think I confuse challenge and being stretched in a good way and tension with anxiety! I need a man who challenges me intellectually and spiritually, who we can push and pull in a healthy manner but I DON’T need someone who makes me feel emotionally unstable and I don’t need a relationship that is kept afloat by drama. Even thinking about this….I just realized I started to panic as I tried to imagine what a relationship void of anxiety looks like. I feel like anxiety may be familiar to me and I may get bored with a man who doesn’t make me anxious…. :-/ oh gosh….

      I also realize I have a fear of commitment, as much as I want it and a fear of losing interest. I’m scared of settling down with a man, especially for marriage and waking up and not wanting to do it anymore, I’m scared of growing apart, I’m scared of cheating on him. I think this fear also stems from my parent’s relationship that is not even a relationship…I don’t even consider them a couple…just my parents. I am terrified of just becoming roommates with my partner and I’m scared that I’ll be like my dad and be restless and cheat. I admit it…I think I love long distance for this reason and everytime I imagine a relationship it ALWAYS is a LD scenario or where we have hectic schedules and so all our time together feels like a vacation, and it’s always passionate because we don’t really have mundane life to deal with. I don’t think this is very realistic….although I imagine maybe some people do have such a life if they date celebrities etc.

      I’m scared of losing myself in a relationship and desire my man and me to have our own lives and interests that keep us as interested in each other as when we were dating…but I wonder where I cross that line and get into the area where I always want some level of distance between us. Hmmm….I need to ponder this. I feel sometimes that dating a celebrity or a man with a hectic job is perfect for me as I don’t need to see him 24/7….I think I am scared of what to do if I do see him 24/7….it makes me feel suffocated. Oh gosh…I’m MissE and I’m an EUW

      • Blue skies & sunshine says:


        Oh, I know how you feel! I have been working through the section of Nat’s book about challenging your beliefs and my one belief that I found hardest to overturn was: ‘relationships either end, or get boring’. Like you this is probably based on witnessing how my parents related to each other.

        Anyhow, after much introspection it occurred to me that I certainly don’t apply this rule to friendship type relationships, or family relationships – I know that these *grow* in depth and intimacy and value the longer they continue. And I realised – why would this not apply to all relationships?

        And I also realized that the moments when I felt most content in my most recent (complete rollercoaster EUM) relationship, were the – infrequent – quiet moments of peace and companionship. And I thought: I want more of those, please, and less drama and heartache.

        So now I think that when I believed ‘relationships either end or get boring’ it was really that I have simply never been in a relationship that breaks this (slightly misconceived) rule – not that they don’t exist at all.

        And funnily enough – my father died quite recently, and I have spoken with my mother about their relationship, and seen it with adult eyes for the first time. It was a lot more nuanced than I ever gave them credit for. I guess the same thing looks different when you look at it with different eyes.

        • MissE says:

          I’m so glad you posted this!

          I have the same exact belief that relationships either end or get boring, but have never thought about it or articulated it, so seeing it written down and realizing that that is what I think makes the difference.

          It’s so funny…I have seen relationships that don’t seem to be this way and am optimistic and hopeful that when I do marry it won’t be that way….but I think deep down it’s still a belief I hold and a fear I have that affects my choices.

          So much to think about

  28. dancingqueen says:

    Thanks Nathalie you are right..of course I can make it happen…I made my friendships happen…normal, loving relationships happen (erm..some by accident lol)…my house family relationships are better…so of course yes I can do this thanks for the reminder…colororange and rosegarden dont worry it does get better colororange your mind is just not thinking rationally because you are depressed..I agree with the person who told you to shake up your routine..even going to a Zumba class or finding a new park might make you feel better..and rosegarden you have had a hard time of it but you ARE normal and you seem like you have a very good heart so just trust that you will make something of that pain that will help you and others…finally tiredofassanova…thank you for always making me laugh with your name and comments..hugs all and chins up!

  29. lynne says:

    i have an old friend and for the first time since i have known him, he is ready to walk down the aisle.

    he met a woman and has “fallen in love”. his past relationships, which were long ones, one 12 years!, were fraught with his ambivalence.

    now, he has NO ambivalence and doesn’t even express the desire for hook-ups or sexual adventuring. he says his conflicts have all fallen to the side … meeting THE ONE has changed everything. no more doubts, no more ifs.

    i think it boils down to meeting the right one … and for most of the unhappy relationships on here (my ex included) it’s because neither is THE ONE.

    and my friend’s new GF feels the exact same about him.

    • grace says:

      I think it’s more subtle than that, I think you don’t meet the right one until you’re ready. Also, YOU have to be the right one too. It’s not just about finding someone right and everything is fine, and all your issues fall away. You have to be right in yourself. If he’d met this girl in his EU days, chances are he’d have done her over too (if she’d have anything to do with him).
      But I’m glad to hear he is happy now.

  30. runnergirl says:

    “With an affair, it can’t ‘fail fail’ because even though you’re very invested and are likely hoping or even wheedling and begging them to leave, you can’t fail at a relationship that hasn’t actually started. It hasn’t. Your focus is directed at the fantasy of them leaving where you imagine what life would be like if you were both together, but this doesn’t become real which means you don’t have the responsibility and accountability that comes with a full time, committed relationship.” I’m still struggling with this very critical fact of being an OW. I really thought that I wanted the accountability and responsibility that comes with a full-time committed relationship. It is difficult to own the fact that being involved with a MM runs totally counter to what I thought were my goals, let alone my integrity or my values. My actions could not have been farther from my feelings. Gotta get my actions to align with my real goals. So simple. Just thinking aloud with the most brilliant folks.

  31. Sugar and Spice says:

    Fantasizing about my men, has always been a problem with me; the longer the long shot, the better. I’ve been working on this, and I know it doesn’t serve me well; I think I hide behind the fantasies because I enjoy them more than I enjoy real relationships because I get to control what happens in the fantasies, and it is like having my own version of the relationships with limited problems that I create and solve in my head with passionate happy endings.

    I started fantasizing about life in general as a child to deal with my dysfunctional existence, and I guess I never stopped. I remember that if I liked a guy, and he didn’t like me, I didn’t worry about it because I could have him in my head. And, whoever I was dating, well, the fantasies were even better because I would fantasize the relationship to …”women who see things that don’t exist.” Of course, this would cause problems because the guy couldn’t live up to the fantasy, so I would break up with him, or vise versa. Funny, I never really cared about the break ups because I was not really emotionally attached to the guy in the first place; he was just a stand-in of sorts.

    Somehow my childhood fantasies have become a real problem for me because they have invaded every aspect of my life, …again, I am a woman who sees things that don’t exist.

    My friends tell me that I’m afraid to put myself out there, and I know that they are right. It is back to my uncomfortable comfort zone….

    I’ve been working on myself, however, and I’m confident that I’m going to overcome this problem; It tickles me that I am so shy, but it is really painful when you know that you want to be intimate with someone, and you are just so scared to death; I am an EUW. Heck, I am just learning how to get in touch with my feelings. Yet, when I had an online lover, I was able to share a kind of fake real intimacy with him…you know, hiding behind my computer, but I really liked the experience because although it eventually ended badly, when I reflect on it, I recognize that I can share real intimacy with a man one day, if I can just get past the fear.

  32. Tinkerbell says:

    I think when you’ve spent time with an EUM that you swore was a “relationship” you become used to accepting crumbs. So when the “love affair” is over you continue to give YOURSELF the crumbs. Thinking up reasons to call or text, longing to see him even accidentally, wanting to hear the sound of his voice are all crumbs. Why would that be enough? Why would you want more knowing that he is not capable of giving you what you need – a mutually healthy, loving relationship that shows signs of progression. Two women posted that they were at the 8 week period of NC. That was the hardest time for me and I went through all of the above. Another month has made a huge difference. I was determined to stick it out, and not give in to temptation. It is absolutely essential to use this time to work on YOU. Forget him. You can heal your pain by taking that wasted effort spent on him and directing it to yourself. NC is very hard, but it’s better than wasting precious time on a lost cause. Live, enjoy and remain free of the frustration, aggravation and sadness. God did not make us to spend our lives in misery.

  33. Stephanie says:

    Sugar and Spice

    I agree with you, because I too am somebody who as a child I fantasized a lot! My upbringing wasn’t bad but as a child I was very shy. I still am shy to a certain extent which is why when I met this guy I centered my life around him without asking the proper questions and acting on the red flags. I’m working on it though because your fantasies can be comfortable but they are not real. What we have to remember is that we are good bait for narcissistic men, they see us coming from a mile!

    • Sugar and Spice says:

      Wow…, Stephanie, thanks for the warning because one of my ex’s, well, we went to couples therapy, and he refused to go back because the therapist, politely, told him that he basically was a narcissist, …hmmm….that’s really scary….good to know….

  34. debra says:

    Great post. I don’t just do this in love, I do it in my professional life as well. I quit a very stable job to become a writer. I got agents in North America and the UK and wrote a few books. The second they sold, I stopped writing – I became terrified of actually achieving what I had set out to do.

    I keep saying I want certain things, yet if I look closely at my behavior, it would appear I want anything but. I say I want a loving healthy relationship yet have had an endless string of assclowns, commitment phobes and one killer narcissist. I claim to want an active social life yet spend way too much time in front of the TV or the computer. I want to be a successful writer but am doing everything in my power to destroy what success I get. I guess the good news, if there is any, is that I now see that is what I am doing. I know recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it but that is so much harder than it sounds. I don’t think the goals I am setting are wrong. It is just that, on some level, I am terrified of failing or don’t think I deserve it. How warped is that?

  35. Arlena says:

    LOL –Reading Natasha about ASSCLOWNVILLE made me wonder what the city limits signs did look like. I barely paid attention. Surely there was a huge print “Welcome to ASSCLOWNVILLE” and you were gifted with a doormat, weren’t you? Well, I am lucky not to have bought property downtown, just rented a flat and moving a few times. From my last stay I had a lucky escape, nearly bought a place but got warned in time. After that it was never the same. I roamed for a while, looking for a better place, rough times, but then I got to HAPPYTOWN, much better, and finally I am about to move to NEW SELF CITY, an amazing place. Does one of you remember those hot and cold taps back in ASSCLOWNVILLE? BRRRRRgh… Here it’s not either this or that. Everything so different. – As we have some funny talents here on BR, does one of you remember some other specifics – just for nostalgia and a good laugh!?
    I mean wasn’t there a smaller sign reading “Do enter only with rose-tinted glasses and a fur coat of denial!”? Didn’t we keep them on even in summer, did we? – Though I heard of recent flights, ASSCLOWNVILLE still is a thriving place, nevertheless let’s imagine all FB residents would leave town, marching out whilst singing an anthem, I wonder what the lyrics would be? What would become of the town? It’s been long, I forgot, but what was written on the back of the town’s exits? Oh, and do you remember those funny shops where you could buy what was called “CRUMBS”? AARGH, they were so expensive, never tasted well, you stayed hungry and here in NSCity you get loaves, self-made LOAVES! What crazy times, what crazy folks, I was one of them… and oh, THE DAILY ASSCLOWN, all those lies all day long, foul propaganda…if only I had known better I definitely would have moved earlier… – ah, the picture, isn’t that the place where we played longshot distant guff, wasn’t it with two balls, or so?? So many weird games played over there …. I wish I had real writing skills, well, I better leave it to the pros – and thanks for all the funny moments on BR 😉

    • Natasha says:

      “Surely there was a huge print “Welcome to ASSCLOWNVILLE” and you were gifted with a doormat, weren’t you? ”

      That was AWESOME! :) I loved your whole comment Arlena – so dead on and so funny. Isn’t it fantastic that we’ve all decided to reside in New Self City?! I’d also like to say that not only do you have “real” writing skills, you have amazing, incredibly clever ones! *Big Hugs*

      • Arlena says:

        BEAMING SMILE over here! Thanks for your encouragement, Natasha. I think when we’ve really accommodated in NEW SELF CITY and feel safe again, laugh more often than cry, another step in our developments might be to really understand, embrace and appreciate maleness and femaleness, what’s it all about beyond our contorted assumptions.

  36. mirelle says:

    I think I have accepted poor behaviour and crumbs from some EUMs and a MM just because I was more EU than them, not because I truly loved them or because I truly wanted them as committed boyfriends or husbands.
    I feared a real relationship.I feared to be accountable for the choice I make, I always wanted to know that the door is always open for me to leave from a relationship whenever I wanted. I liked the secrecy of these relationships because nobody could judge my decisions and my behavoiur, nobody knew about them, so I was safe from criticism of my colleagues, friends or family. I know how cruel and jealous my colleagues are. I know that friends always feel tempted to express opinions and give unrequested advice. I know that my mother and father would like a prince for me and no boyfriend would be good enough. (Although, now they are exasperated because I’m still single at 30, and, in their opinion, any man would be just perfect ).
    I feared marriage. I still do. I didn’t want to get married, not even when all my friend got married, nor when a guy proposed/talked about marriage. I didn’t want to marry the MM who got divorced. The thought of being married still makes me feel used as a machine for making babies, and housekeeping. After a four year experience with the MM I can say that being the wife of an EUM is the worst experience one can have, far worse than being his mistress. We both were lied to. But his wife was betrayed, physically abused, used for money, humiliated in front of friends and family. Things that didn’t happen to me. She still loves him and wants him back, I don’t. So I’m scared that one day I would love/make an obsession for a husband like him.
    Moreover, the “nice” guys I met, the alternative to EUMs were, in fact, other types of EUMs. They accepted my poor behaviour and my disrespect. They insisted when they clearly saw I wasn’t interested. They still try to make contact, although I am still not interested. All those weird guys bored me to hell and made me feel like crap because I dared not to love them, when they were so “nice”.

    I dated bad kissers and guys who disgusted me physically, an impotent, stingy guys, who would better cut their own head than pay for a drink, smelly guys, cowards, whom I protected from dogs in the street, guys who weren’t able to do anything with their life and even psychos who spied ladies’ room conversations and then kept track of their relationships.

    That’s why the crumbs from EUMs looked so tasty. They seemed to be normal people, they were good kissers, they offered me flowers and nice dinners, great sex, they smelled good, they were bold, had good jobs, were confident and interesting. They made me feel gorgeous for some time, then vanished when I got bored or lost interest, and reappeared when I started to miss them. Plus, they needed no commitment.

    These were crumbs most EU women get; all you can get from a relationship without the real commitment. I think that I was so selfish as an EU woman that I wanted my EUMs to commit to me, but without me offering any commitment in return. I would have liked to eat my crumb whenever I wanted to. I wanted the MM to get divorced and be available when I needed his company. I wanted an ex EUM to commit because he used to disappear with no warning, especially at Christmas/ Easter etc. I needed validation and the “girlfriend” status.

    Nat’s blog taught me that commitment requires two people with both feet in a relationship. In my EU “relationships” there was no toe inside. That looked safe. That should have protected me from suffering. It wasn’t safe at all, the lack of commitment doesn’t mean one doesn’t get hurt. On the contrary, I was very lonely,hurt, angry, frustrated and depressed. All because I lived on crumbs for years. I felt like a beggar after feeling like a know-it-all independent strong girl for most of my 20s. It took me months to understand why I accepted the crumbs. Now I know that it’s all about my own unavailability.

    • MissE says:

      —- Mirelle, your post resonated with me so much!

      This is me! It’s so crazy and I always feel like I am in such conflict….because I am! Perfect example, the guy I talk to now. He’s EUM and for the longest while (and even now) I would get so upset that he wasn’t attempting to take it to the other level and give me the girlfriend status, I wanted him to want to commit to me and be my boyfriend and be around when I needed him…when the truth is….I don’t even think we’re a good match and if he truly overnight offered that I would hesitate and freak out because I don’t think we should get involved in a serious, committed relationship. But nevertheless…he is still around and we’re doing this ambiguous thing and I get upset every time he cancels plans, can’t do things, doesn’t treat me like his gf….yet I clearly feel I shouldn’t be!

      I want him to want me and commit to me, yet I don’t want to commit to him smh. I too have experienced that the guys who seemed ready and willing to commit and chase me were men who I was not interested in and who had nothing much going for them, while the EUMs were the ones with all the other good qualities. My last relationship was with an EUM who wined and dined me, who had a good job, who my parents liked, who on paper seemed like the ultimate package and who wanted me! I didn’t have to guess or question….he pursued me, took me out, but he was a fast forwarder and future faker….declared he loved me less than a month in, took me to meet everyone a few weeks in and everything was hot and heavy and then it came crashing down as he pulled away. Funnily once we started “settling down” and I found myself spending weekends at home with him and his son, just watching tv and being normal I was secretly freaked out! I would be glad to get back to my own space and see him during the week…I then began to wonder how I’d ever get married if I started freaking out about something like that, when surely I’d have to live with my husband everyday doing mundane things smh.

      I do realize though that these are my own EU issues that I have to work on, or I’ll forever be in contradiction and I won’t get what I want…as all I want are faux goals.

      • mirelle says:

        This is just about us and our self esteem problems. We think we want the girlfriend status, but we only think of validation “Oh, if he finally agreed to make me his girlfriend, it means that I’m cool! He didn’t even wanted a gf but I convinced him to give me that special status!”…And if things get a bit serious “wait a minute…but I don’t really like him” When he gets distant ” Oh, that’s OK, because , anyhow, he didn’t even wanted anything from me, so I’m safe now!”

  37. Tina says:

    Hello. this is a great post. I have had my share of unavailable men. Many times I have shaken them off but there was one who did me in. ( 9 years of it and now he is marrying another. Her problem now) Anyway, I still deal with the residue and I haven’t been with him in 11 months. I have kept to myself (no dates, just getting some me time) but recently had 2 interactions with dudes who came off one way and then the TRUE colors came out quickly or maybe I saw it faster than ever. And one said he likes me plently but doesn’t have the time and attention and we are friends first anyway. Well my friend put out the booty call/no strings thing to me and I said NO WAY. I don’t go there. (and I really meant it) and I felt good about it! and you know what he now respects me like the lady I am. Hey he isn’t for me but I don’t need to keep him around and use and get used. Just wanted to share…Peace.

  38. Bri says:


    I’m with you today. Cried myself to sleep last night because 5 days after the MM told me he was close to leaving, he pulled away again. We’re now on a “break” so he can take some time to think and miss me, and the come back stronger. I’m going along with it because I want him back but how does any of that make sense? You love someone so much you need a break from them?

    I foolishly looked up his wife’s Facebook last night and just one picture of them sent me off the deep end. How do I know what’s true about his marriage? She recently had weight loss surgery and I’m a recovering bullimic so you can guess at all the insecurities there. Why can’t he just choose me if he’s so unhappy w/ her? Why can’t I finally say enough is enough and I’m tired of the constant crying? The pain, the crushing feeling. I had to tell the girls in my dance class last night my eyes were just puffy from allergies.

    Why can’t I strive toward health and finally move on? Why do I keep putting myself in a position that makes me miserable? Why does he have so much power over me? Is this what love can do?

    • Fearless says:

      “I’m going along with it because I want him back but how does any of that make sense?”
      Bri, it doesn’t make any sense. You need to go NC with this man so you can see that.

      “You love someone so much you need a break from them?”
      No, you don’t. He needs to cut you off cos it’s coming up the Christmas/new year holidays, which he’ll be spending with his family.

      “How do I know what’s true about his marriage?”
      You don’t. You can’t. He won’t tell you. And there’s a good argument that someone else’s marriage is none of your business.

      “Why can’t he just choose me if he’s so unhappy w/ her?”
      He’s not. That’s why. He has chosen already. He married her.

      “Why can’t I strive toward health and finally move on? Why do I keep putting myself in a position that makes me miserable? Why does he have so much power over me?”
      The answer to these questions are in all the various posts of Nat’s Blog, Bri. But you will deal with these things when you actually want to. Same as MM – he’d leave if he wanted to. He doesn’t want to.

      “Is this what love can do?”
      Bri, No. This is not love; it’s dependency. This what betting on the long-shot can do. You are experiencing what every OW does. It comes with the territory. It comes with having a faux goal.

    • colororange says:


      I understand what you’re saying and have no answers for you. The NC I am in started after I told him I was in love with him (have been for a few years) and he saying he was blown away by it, and needed to think now along with some other things he said. Well, that was 2 weeks ago. I’ve not said a peep nor heard a peep. It hurts like a friggin train went through my guts because to say something that honest to someone and them go quiet? Unusual really since he’d usually keep talking to me anyway. *shakes head* I don’t know. He’s staying married because he wants to……to agree with Fearless. I don’t know why he wants to. My negative and self-loathing thinking tells me because he does not see this grass any greener than what he has. This is a slap in the face since I know of two women whose husbands left them for another woman. So it happens. Men leave their wives to be with the OW. Just not in my case. I hope to God in even a month I’ll be in a much better place than this because this has taken me down so far.

      • grace says:

        yes men do leave their wives and vice versa.
        But I really do think it happens quickly. It was headspinningly quick when Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston.
        I don’t think it happens after years of being jerked around and dumped. Honestly, whatever her issues, I don’t think Angelina Jolie would have put up with that!
        Anyway, even if MMs do leave their wives, it’s still a long shot. why walk past all the single men for the married one? Even if he IS Brad Pitt? (he’s not is he?)
        And he doesn’t have to explain to you why he wants to stay married. You can’t walk up to every MM and say “I want you. Why don’t you want me? Explain yourself?” Yes, I know it’s more complicated than that, I exaggerate for effect. and also, at it’s heart, that IS what y ou’re thinking. Stop it!

      • Fearless says:

        I had an affair with a married man about 20 plus years ago. I remember reading the statistics: 1% of married men who have an affair will leave their wife and 99% of those who do leave go back again. If that’s not a long shot, nothing is.

        “He’s staying married because he wants to……to agree with Fearless. I don’t know why he wants to.”

        Since when did married people need to have a reason to remain with their spouse? They want to stay because they are *married*. That’s reason enough. That’s the whole point of marriage. They don’t need a reason to stay – they would need a reason to walk out! And plainly none of the MM’s I’m hearing about on BR think they have any good reason to walk out – so you’re right about these MMs not having any reason to think the grass would be any greener with the OW. They know that it wouldn’t be. It’s the OW who doesn’t get that.

        These men know that an affair is one thing but to leave your wife and family and deal with all the ensuing problems just to be in same situation, different woman is whole different matter. They don’t want another wife – or a different wife! They want a bit of fantasy-fun time. That’s all. They know too that living with him would be a whole different experience for the OW than the “exciting” affair with all its clandestine hot sex and candlelit dinners… he knows the affair is not real life – it’s a pretence – an escape. Neither of you (OW/MM) are really being your authentic selves – you can be who you want to be in the affair; you can be all windswept and interesting and sexy and flirtatious – you can be anonymous almost – cos you know really deep down that you won’t ever have to show the real you – it’s like a holiday romance that trundles on way past its sell by date. Just give it up. It’s a piece of nonsense.

    • grace says:

      I’m with fearless on this. the denial is breathtaking. But at least you recognise that you feel crap. But you have to do more than feel crap, you have to do something.
      How many times has he broken up with you? Even if he wasn’t married I’d question the self-respect of any woman who keeps going back to man who dumps her.
      This is nice, isn’t it, he breaks up with you just before the holidays so he doesn’t have to cope with your “demands”. And then he’ll pick up with you again in the new year when he’s fulfilled his family commitments. Probably dump you again for valentine’s day so he doesn’t have to deal with that. Then the school holidays.
      That’s not love. It’s bordering on the abusive for him to just pick you up and drop you. Don’t let him do it anymore. I knew he’d be back. That’s how they operate. He’s not that special.

    • ixnay says:


      I’ve read your comments over months, and you’re just torturing yourself with this guy.

      I have been spending some time on a website called (I’m in the other position from you.)

      I think it might provide a seriously needed dose of reality to read the message boards on that site. People post who have recently discovered their spouse’s infidelity, people who are trying to work it out with therapy and marriage counseling, people who are divorcing, and, quite interestingly, there is a forum for unfaithful spouses.

      There’s a lot of insight about the dynamic of the unfaithful spouse, the betrayed spouse, and the affair partner. It’s not just kvetching and drama.

      Somehow I think seeing how common your situation is and how predictable its stages, and how it affects (and can be rooted in) the marriage patterns… might give you more distance or perspective.

      I don’t recommend this lightly. I love Baggage Reclaim because it focuses on us, while this other site is very much about people “in the weeds.” But reading about how unfaithful spouses actually think about their affairs, in their own words, and reading about the choices betrayed spouses face, in their own words, I think might be eye-opening for you, in a way that pulls you out of fantasy.

      This situation has nothing but pain for you, no matter how it plays out.

      • runnergirl says:

        Hey Bri, “We’re now on a “break” so he can take some time to think and miss me, and the come back stronger.” Dear lord. Dear lord. Even my exMM didn’t spout such shit. OMG. Please think about you. Where do you want to be next year? Do you want to remain the OW for another year or more?
        Is it my imagination or do OW’s suffer from a unique disorder? I’m with every OW in demanding, hoping, and winning his heart. OW’s seem particularly stubborn. Although Fearless seems to rival us OW’s. It’s like a dog with a bone.

        • Fearless says:

          Runner, yep I was very, very stubborn with the EUM, for sure. I just would not let it go even thought the odds became astonishingly ridiculous. But I knew this when i was in it. I think that for me, really, I did understand that he was not a man who was ever going to step up and step in, I just settled for what I was getting when I was getting it on the grounds that it was better than the alternative. And I am still not entirely convinced, if I am totally honest, that it was not better than the alternative. it depends what we think/perceive/know the alternative to be. I believed (and truthfully i still do) that I will most likely remain single for the rest of my life – I am probably basing my future prediction on my past experience – if it’s not happened by the time I’m fifty, why would it happen now?! I used to be a very attractive girl and that wasn’t enough, so now that I’m an older version of that…? That’s my mentality, rightly or wrongly. I know if I want to have a chance – just the merest chance! – of a good relationship/marriage I need to break out of that mindset. My expectations with the EUM next to nothing really – I knew what he was like; I could predict his every move – none of it surprised me. I was very used to being on the periphery. I just tried very hard to accept it (him) for what it (he) was; I think that’s what was really going on with me. But I also knew it wasn’t enough; i was always left wanting and hoping for more – so I couldn’t accept all of the “less than I deserved” and keep on smiling for him – so it was on and off and on and off like nobody’s business; but it was always me who made the contact to get it on again. I really can blame myself more than him for the endless re-setting that went on, cos it was usually once I’d decided that “this” was better than nothing.

          • grace says:

            I knew as well with the playa. I knew what he was the very first time we sat down for lunch. But I persevered because I couldn’t deal with the pain of breaking up. But deal with it I had to. It’s gonna come, either deal with it now or deal with it later. Do it when you’re in your 20s or 30s/40s/50s and beyond. That’s the unpleasant choice.
            On the plus side, once you’ve done it the future is so much brighter. You know you can do the thing that is hard but good for you. The truly ironic thing is that you’re unlikely to go through it again because you’re no longer desperate enough to chase the long shot.
            My brush (no sex, no kissing, one meeting) with the MM lasted 6 months (yes too long but fantastically short for me). I was able to cut him off before I got in over my head because I’d cut off someone before who I really did love.
            I may sound unsympathetic, but I know how you feel colorO and Bri. I’ve been there myself with abuse, self-harming, depression, anxiety, affairs, MMs, EUs, ACs. Much as I sympathise, sympathy cannot help you. What will help you is to make a choice for yourself.

          • runnergirl says:

            So true Fearless. I settled for crumbs thinking it was better than the alternative but I didn’t even know what the alternative was! I just feared it. However, your comment made me think about the alternative. Here’s what the alternative is for me now: Honesty, self-respect, self-esteem, and love; Real goals; No long shots; No tilting at windmills; No fantasies; No Nutcrackers. In fact, my Nutcracker xmas decoration are going back in the box.
            I have some possible answers to your questions (which made me think about my mindset at 52): “…if it’s not happened by the time I’m fifty, why would it happen now?! I used to be a very attractive girl and that wasn’t enough, so now that I’m an older version of that…?” Speaking from one older version of an attractive girl to another, it’s not about appearance, right? Plus, the guys are 50-something too, i.e. older versions and some lack hair which I’m assuming you have. The exMM was tall, dark, handsome, with goreous hair, and 50, and had crows feet like me and smile lines like me. So what. Here’s why I’m thinking it could happen to us older versions now: We are doing the work to be available. We are working towards making our actions match our words. We are aware that our present deviates from where we want to be and are no longer engaging in behavior that detracts from where we want to be. We won’t sell our souls to a EU/AC/MM for a crumb of attention. I won’t beat the horse here. That’s why I’m thinking it could happen now. We’ve changed. We aren’t that woman. That’s why I’m thinking “it” could happen after 50. I wish we could get together for a bottle of wine and some pasta.
            PS. I was as fast as he was in hitting the reset button, if not faster. For that I am accountable and I won’t make the same mistake in the future. I’ve replaced my reset button with the flush handle.

        • Fearless says:

          ha ha! Runner, yes they do suffer from a unique disorder – it’s called a married man!

          • Fearless says:

            Thank you Grace and runner for your excellent comments. I so love you both!
            I am with you runner; the world is full of men (is that a good thing? Lol!), so it’s up to me to be available. I don’t think I am dead set against the idea of a man in my life… I am getting closer to the notion than I was a year ago for sure. I would like to have one decent relationship before I die! I guess I’m just not up for being pro-active about it – not yet anyway, still trying to find my feet. Grace you are right that I am not likely to experience the same shit as I did with EUM – that I am not that desperate anymore. Like you with the playa – I did love him (all by myself!) – I too was constantly postponing the pain of *finality*, as in a final, no going back break up.

            I am pretty resilient (often shows as stubborn!) – i have dealt with all the stuff life has thrown at – I am the type to just get on with it (good in some respects but not if it’s a crappy relationship!). Fortunately, I have not had the kind of difficulties that others, like Grace, have experienced – never had therapy, no self harming, never had depression (have had periods of feeling low, but nothing clinical or seriously debilitating)… none of that stuff. Other than what I now see as my EU-ness, I have enjoyed good health and a good life all round. My dad (dead four years) was a depressive alcoholic, but he was great when he was sober and not depressed! And my mum is loverly! So I’ve not had it bad. I have just been shit at picking men! Okay so I’m rambling again; I’m off before this turns into an autobiography. No more long shots for Fearless – real goals only – no faux of any kind! At least that’s sorted out for me now, if nothing else is . Phew!

            Runner, pasta and vino sounds good! Let me know when you’re next in Scotland!

  39. Miyako66 says:

    I was separated 9 months ago from a husband I felt no passion w/for. He’s 46 and would not work for 3 years, I left finally thinking it MIGHT light a fire under him-well, he got a job at Walmart for Mummy who he moved in with (yes he holds more degrees than I do, a JD and and an MBA), I felt justified in leaving. This comment is not about THAT @ssclown. I know he is. I’ll be filing for divorce in a few months. Starting a new job I was not looking for anything the same week I left K, I mean, I have not looked at a guy in 10 years…then BOING…R came into my life, the attraction was immediate and intense for me. He was very shy which I justified, making x amount of assumptions based on his being Asian very reserved and generally spoke to NOONE. RED FLAG. Still I wanted him very very , much it was like I was 19 again and he made me come alive after being quite dead for years, anyway, realizing that I need to get a divorce FIRST and take time for myself, I pursued blindly, I didn’t ask him out but I struck up a convo and it seemed to go well, yet he would sometimes speak to me, sometimes ignore me, was mean, shook in my presence, (I thought he was nervous-PROOF he wanted me too!) Knowing I was leaving for a new job I tried to “move things along” by striking up more convo, bad idea. This person has got some serious issues, I doubt he’s ever been out with a woman in his life and while he did do some things that a normal person would take as interest, I can’t continue to impair my dignity. I’ve come back down to earth. And it hurts, but I will take care of myself and when I am ready I won’t let someone grunt at me in an elevator and feel like I deserve that, I won’t get invested in a fantasy that at best was 20-80.

    I read this post hunkered down in my office, door closed, avoiding R on 2nd day NC (we work together and he has a penchant for poking around on me when I stay away), and ended up breaking NC on the 3rd day only to have Mr. Switchy bite me when I said “Hi”, passing by his station. I guess I am wondering why it is the harder we have to work for these men, taking crumbs the more we want it? THIS was a long shot and I never saw it until I impinged my dignity to a level was that was finally unacceptable to me. I have to admit I am fantasizing he will pop bye and say good bye on my last day, (he won’t-evidence I’m…still invested 25%) Thank goodness I am leaving in 5 days, but I was to thank yoy Nat for the great advice on this site, AMAZING has helped me get through a very painful time in my life. I won’t see “signs” hopefully going forward where it’s just him being him. Feet on the ground. Love myself more. “Tosses hat in the air ala Mary Tyler Moore,”

  40. This post got me to the “T”. Ever since I can remember I’ve been engaging in hopelessly ridiculous relationships where I invest almost everything (including dignity & self respect) and get almost nothing back. The last little while it started to dawn on me that the problem started way way back – with my somewhat narcissistic father and has only started to improve after I put the simple beauty of your NO CONTACT policy in place. After falling fatally in love with a married man and then guilt-ridden to the core, moving in with a mentally and emotionally abusive sociopath, I realized I had some serious work to do. Months later, I eventually got to the bottom of it: my relationship with my dad. Which I’ve chosen to end as it as it is still as unhealthy and draining as it has always been. Hoping and wishing it will change, that he’ll become a more functional father and behaving as if he is – is a long shot fantasy in itself. Now that I’ve stopped accepting the unacceptable from the ‘first’ man in my life, I’ve (thankfully) lost the ability to stomach it from any other. Which has given me the freedom to embark on a gentle, loving relationship with a real and available man. Thank YOU Natalie for your hard hitting wisdom – it has helped me find a more authentic heart path!

    • NML says:

      Amen Scarlet. It is wonderful what you have recognised about your relationships and how by tackling it at the root, everything else has lost its attraction. I can relate in some respects, especially to “Now that I’ve stopped accepting the unacceptable from the ‘first’ man in my life, I’ve (thankfully) lost the ability to stomach it from any other.” I have pretty good relationships with my parents now (although they can be precarious) but the day I stopped looking for them to change, to ‘choose me’, to validate, to be things that they hadn’t as a child, is when my relationship with myself and what I expected of others changed. It’s like you stop ‘starving’ because the gap created by seeking to fill that void with them has been closed. I would never put myself through that again and growing myself up also stopped me from having unrealistic expectations of others and setting faux goals. Kudos to you and keep shining xx

  41. Shucks says:

    Well goodness, I haven’t heard it put so straight forward before. I have been such a “long shot” thinker. I might’ve based my so called pursuit of love around being someone’s exception. Hell, no wonder it hasn’t worked! This all makes perfect sense, so much so that it should’ve been obvious. Thanks! I needed that.

  42. Kali says:

    In my own personal situations I was the hopeful in the basically “dead” relationship. My now ex was my first love and strung me along for years in hopes for a decent future with what I would eventually find out was scum of the Earth. I hope that whomever does put themselves in the position to be the other person, woman or man, can eventually realize their worth and get out before it is too late.


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.