One of the things that really scares a person who’s embarking on instilling some much needed boundaries in their life, is this notion that having and asserting boundaries is going to scare away everyone. The thing is, the only people who take issue with healthy boundaries, are the ones that you need to have boundaries with the most. If somebody takes issue with you owning your right to have a line and a limit, it’s not because you’re not ‘doing’ it right and if you tweak your boundaries enough, they’ll sign off on them; it’s because that’s a code red alert that they see boundaries as a problem and that’s about their issues, not you.

A person whose personal values centre around love, care, trust, respect, integrity and essentially owning their own and letting others own theirs, while also being able to practise compassion, empathy, and conscientiousness, has no issue with you having healthy boundaries and will respect your right to assert your needs, expectations, wishes, feelings and opinions, just as much as they respect their own right.

Two people with healthy boundaries.

Two people with healthy boundaries.

One with healthy boundaries, one without

Both out of bounds with your boundaries

I’m not suggesting that they’re going to pat you on the back and skip off each time you say or show no, but then it’s not as if you’re going to be doing this each time somebody says no to you, hence that’s not going to stop you from having healthy boundaries (hopefully) as your desire to live your life authentically and happily shouldn’t be dictated about the amount of applause you get for doing what you need to be doing anyway.

You having boundaries won’t greatly affect a person with healthy boundaries, if at all, because they weren’t out of bounds in the first place.  They might even be relieved or pleased to see you doing right by you. All that you having boundaries does is ensure that you’re in your own space and that actually, you’re not crossing theirs either.

Once you know and respect your own line and your limit, it means that not only can you relax and go about the business of being you and living your life, but it also takes care of another pervasive fear affects many boundary ‘virgins’ and novices – predicting that boundaries will be exhausting and ‘bad’ for you due to having to patrol your perimeter 24/7 and having to be ready and waiting to be attacked.

Not everyone is a threat. In fact, once you are aware of your line and your limit (your boundaries) and are willing to step up when needed, you are then aware of what does and doesn’t work for you and spending enough time in the now, to be able to differentiate between real and imagined threats, and to also be able to distinguish between what’s yours and other people’s behaviour.

You only have to be acting as if your boundaries are under attack, if you’re unwilling to trust you to take action and live in preparation of being effed over, or if you’re surrounded by shady people and intend to keep it that way instead of apportioning your efforts towards people that you don’t have to keep swatting away from your boundaries. You having boundaries is going to feel bad to you if you have an unrealistic expectation that your boundaries will force people to change their ways and if you keep looking for them to make you feel better about the fact that they crossed your line, when that’s like going into the lion’s cage and expecting it not to bite you and then going back to reason with it and asking it to behave like a dog.


In reality, you only have to ‘step up’ for people who like to tap dance all over your boundaries, so unless every last person in your life is shady, you can chill out and enjoy being you with people who are in your Circle of Trust.

Boundaries are there to guide you and others on what does and doesn’t work for you. Not everything is ok with you hence your boundaries are your way of directing you out of harms way and towards healthy people and situations.

Boundaries are like garlic and daylight to vampires. They’re not going to scare everyone away but they will rightly filter out people and situations that would deeply compromise and even endanger you if you were to continue. It’s very possible if you were surrounded by shady people and you’ve gone for the cutting off option, which may have been appropriate due to how toxic the involvement was (there’s also keeping a safe distance via limiting the level of engagement, saying and showing no, focusing your efforts on forging other healthy relationships etc.,) then it’s going to be a little quiet, which of course will gradually improve as you focus on rebuilding your life. Of course these things take time but don’t kid yourself that having crumbs or faux relationships romantic and otherwise, is better than having boundaries, because many a person has felt at the loneliest when they’re being trampled on by someone and they’re having to abandon who they are and their self-respect in order to keep things going.

If you’re afraid that you will be lonely with boundaries, this is something that you’re predicting that may not be accurate – fears rarely are – plus you could buffer yourself by ensuring that you have things to do planned in your calendar. If you believe that loneliness equals boundaries, examine the reverse belief that companionship equals having no limits and basically putting you in harms way. Is that what companionship truly looks like to you? Nowhere in the dictionary does companionship have doormat or even abused beside it.

Healthy boundaries, which is basically treating and regarding you with love, care, trust, and respect and knowing your line and your limit so that you guide and direct others to treat you similarly or jog on, have a cumulative benefit. The more consistently you maintain them, is the more they pay off and you start to realise how good you feel, with and without company. Don’t chase instant results – make an investment in you and your present and future happiness.

Your thoughts?

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122 Responses to The only people who take issue with you having boundaries, are the ones who need your boundaries the most

    • Mel says:

      Thank you Natalie and again, like so many others have said, it’s like you’re telling my story…or speaking to me personally, every time you post!

      I’m here tonight to gain strength from all you guys, as I have recently relapsed after 7 weeks of NC. I hate myself for it, I just can’t seem to kick him, like a drug…I’m just not strong enough it seems at the moment to stay away. I know though that no one can do it for me, that I have to do it for myself. I’m really, really struggling. I’ll keep coming here, try to keep some perspective regardless and hopefully my next attempt will be a triumph! If you’re reading this and you’re struggling too, or like me, have relapsed, then know you’re not alone xox

      • Lorraine says:

        Hi Mel,
        I know its so hard when you still have feelings for him. You keep telling yourself maybe this time will be different, he’ll be different. Are you dating him again or was it a one time thing?

        You must know the outcome on some level or you wouldn’t have said, “hopefully my next attempt will be a triumph”.

        Allison recently asked me if I had gotten my “prize”, how would I feel, would I be happy?, etc. I know if I went back to him today, nothing would be different. I would be constantly disappointed and feeling empty. What about you Mel? Do you think he can make you happy? Seven weeks was a triumph. I’ve never made it that long without some form of responding to him contacting me. He has shown up at least every three weeks in one way or another. Again, this week, like last week, he was walking where I run. This time he gave me this crazy smile and waved as I ran by. Believe me, my heart wanted to stop, but my head said, “don’t you dare”. I haven’t gone running since then and I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t run there anymore or until my heart shuts up.

        Keep coming here, you don’t want to be in an unhappy relationship or settle for crumbs. Get strong again…

        Good Luck and big Hugs,

        • Mel says:

          Thanks Lorraine for your kindness. Sounds like you’re doing really well! It’s so hard isn’t it?
          My biggest regret about this man and what upsets me the most, is I know deep in my heart that he is , given different circumstances, the love of my life. I will go on, and I will eventually meet a lovely man and maybe even marry him, but he won’t ever be ‘the one’ which is something I didn’t ever want that to happen to me. A married with 2 kids friend of mine confessed to me recently the same issue…that although she loves and adores her husband, he’s not the love of her life, someone from her past was. I just think that’s so sad.

          • Tinkerbell says:


            It’s time to stop going there. The man has enough sense to know that if you didn’t want to see him, you wouldn’t risk it by continuing to go where you know he will be. PLEASE make the change. If you moved 50 miles away, you wouldn’t be going to that same beautiful spot to run. YOU have to make the change if there is going to be any, because he will not. Why would he? I’m sure he knows it’s disconcerting for you to meet up with him unprepared. THINK, girl! Leave the past behind and move on.

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi all,

      I’ve been dating a guy for about a year, who’s still not filed for divorce although did move out and got own place afew months ago. We met online and I knew he was separated from day 1. I’m divorced and thought I was therefore quite emotionally experienced and also that I was getting into a relationship with a man ready for divorce- a year later, neither seem to be the case. I feel like an amotional baby and he’s still as married as day we met.

      I just started NC less than a day ago now, telling him to call me when and if he files, because he’s yet to do so and very recently told me his wife has decided she’ll fight the divorce- meanwhile, over the past few months he’s been coming up with lots of excuses why he hasn’t filed and finally I had enough, as think if he really wanted to be with me, he’d have filed.

      Thing is though, my head tells me to maintain NC because I deserve better than a guy who doesn’t love me enough to have filed, but it does not stop this from hurting and I’m also annoyed that I’m actually thinking aobut him even more since I set NC! (I’m even wasting time wondering if he’s hurting too, which I know is stupid)

      I guess I’m writing because I don’t feel I can talk to my friends about this- quite understandably (all being married themselves), they think I’ve got questionable judgement for getting into this relationship in the first place and I don’t feel comfortable talking with them.

      If I keep things to myself though, I think I’ll quickly end up caving and making contact. I need to be strong and let the chips fall- if he files, great, otherwise I need to move on with my life.

      I’m hoping to get some support and to develop more of a backbone in the process, as feel very weak and isolated. Help!

  1. Jo says:

    You could have been reading my mind today Natalie! Love the analogy of the wolf – I was saying to myself – telling a shark it’s a shark is not going to increase your survival prospects! Divine timing from you to he and my gratitude to you god the support in my decision to assert my new found boundaries xxx

  2. Jo says:

    *me *for – silly predictive text ;) c

  3. Karen says:

    Simply put, boundaries are like cockroach killer. Use it and the human cockroaches like players, cheaters, mooches, passive aggressives, assclowns and other psychic vampires stay away.
    These pests are lazy at relationships, so they rarely hunt for fast or mean prey–they like the low hanging fruit, like codependents and people with low self esteem.
    Screw them! Some of my boundaries against “certain people” are like electrified fences. ZZZZZZttt! Bye bye, assclowns.

    • chez says:

      Love your comment Karen! My ex assclown has disappeared after breaking my heart and stringing me along to “win” him in a war against his insecure ex-wife. He knew the day i wouldnt “play” anymore and slammed my boundry door shut. Shame… bet they still playing toxic drama games with eachother. You right! They like the low hanging fruit, like codependents and people with low self esteem.

    • Mindy says:

      Wow Karen – Great analogy. Love it!.

    • JLN says:

      Thank you, Karen. The day I should have dropped my recent ex is the day he told me he picked me out at a party because, “you didn’t look like the kind of girl who would have a lot of other guys competing for your attention.”

      Talk about being told very clearly how little someone thinks of you.

      Boundary practice begins immediately. First boundary: no more men who think they can’t do any better. :-)

      • JLN says:

        Or that think I can’t, either…

        • LovefromNel says:

          JLN, this guy sounds like an absolute . . . well, I was going to write doofus but that’s too kind! Doesn’t quite capture what I want to say. If anyone has seen the Jennifer Lawrence post-Oscars interview (2013) where a journo asks what she thought when she fell – “a bad word . . . starting with the letter F.” Hahaha this is what scenario came to my mind just then when I wanted to refer to your … let’s just say .. . effing doofus. What an absolute d*ck. I cannot believe he said that. My ex-EUM made a round-about comment that I should lose a bit of weight. They sound like they’re on par. They think they are so damn perfect, and well, there are just many things we should change about us, aren’t there? And they feel like they’re settling. Pfff. Dickheads. Incidentally, I’ve now lost quite a chunk of weight and I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the EUM. His loss. And it’s your EUM’s loss too. These clowns are as worthless and superficial as … well, as they show themselves to be, eh. Hold your head high, develop your worth through BR, and know that the right man will never say things like that – ever. Best wishes. Nel

  4. NINA says:

    Can these boundaries be applied to Mothers in laws as well? Would this work and would I see any results?. Its a different relationship than with a man but it can be just as emotionally damaging. My mother in law loves to step on boundaries and I have to repeat my decisions at least a few times for her to finally get it. It is as if she think I will change my mind if she keep asking the same thing. And when she finally gets it, there is drama and chaos coming for my husband and I. Its dreading dealing with her. The only good thing about this, is that my husband is always on my side. But I am about to have a baby and I will need an extra doses of boundaries, specially because she assumes she will be the babysitter which is not the case, keeping her at a distance is important for us and by her babysitting we won’t be able to have peace. So Natalie if you have written any blog that relates to my situation I would like the link! Or if you haven’t written one, I need one that deals with Family members specifically mothers in law.

    • CC says:

      me too, I have a mother who constantly crosses boundaries, even when she tries not to!! I have had to limit my communicaiton with her, but this constantly being on guard for boundary crossing is exhausting…

    • Tinkerbell says:

      This post applies to anyone busting your boundaries. It’s not only lovers, husbands etc. who do it. Friends and family can be the worst culprits. I really hope you won’t have to stay there with MIL after the baby comes. You can see already that it will not be the best of circumstances.

  5. HappyAgain says:

    Its gotten quiet for me because I finally began implementing boundaries and making choices for my well being that offended others due to their oen boundary issues. Its been hard because I invested the most w those I had to walk away from or maybe I wanted ROI but nevertheless the friendships I lost and relationship I walked away from were detracting from me FAR more than adding. Ive had to refocus and also appreciate my real friends more. Natalies article is dead on. I dont regret the choices I made though.

  6. Nearly succumbed says:

    Thanks, needed this. I’m 12-18 months out of a relationship. I say 12-18 because for the first 6 months I thought there was hope of (another) reconciliation (see the red flags already, eh!) Those 1st 6 months after our final breakup (hey, I admitted it was final, that’s progress) we would still meet, go out, converse. This is someone who at the start of our relationship made a point of expressing how they’d been cheated on and future faked. Well now she’s with a married man and in a relationship where the two of them should have been out of bounds (well, most definitely him). I sought instant relief in seeking a replacement way too early but thankfully my (admittedly) desperation drove away any potentials. I thankfully realised this but recently almost succumbed to boundaries we should employ (if only to protect ourselves). However, I had the reserve to take a step back and understand that her boundary may be reduced due to her current relationship hitting rough water but that’s not for me to sway her course. I tried being a lighthouse to guide the way but I felt myself climbing into the lifeboat to speed out and “save” her.I turned back to docks though(difficult) because the sea is rough enough and my boundary was weakened too as I felt the need to be needed which is not a basis of a healthy relationship.

  7. chrissa says:

    It is difficult to have boundaries when I was married to him for 20 years. I started NC about a month ago and I get those nothing texts or emails. One line nice and the next nasty. Anything to try to bait me. I have learned a lot about myself since reading both your books. I am 51 and have always had a man. All have been emotionally damaged and unavailable. This one ended with him “meeting” someone on POF which turned out to be a Ghana romance scam. Oops. So he was gone in a week, house up for sale. I am living alone for the first time ever. It is really scary sometimes. So now that he has no one, I have somehow become the fallback girl. All the standard lines of, he doesn’t know what he wants blah blah blah. I found myself apologizing for what he did! That’s when I decided I was not responsible for the crappy choices he made. Being sucked into this craziness has made me realize how unavailable both of us were for the last 23 years. So boundaries are much needed here and I will continue to forge ahead while treating myself with love. I am done with feeling worthless! Thank you Natalie. I read some of your words every day and write in my journal. Each day is a little less time thinking about his B.S. and focusing on me. Big hugs to you.

  8. chrissa says:

    It is so funny as I am reading other posts I get a text asking if I really wish to have nothing to do with him! WTF? Yes really. I guess it is still not clear? I have not responded to anything in a month! Talk about not respecting boundaries! I suppose I could say, wait there is a part of me you forgot to step on! Thank goodness for the delete button! Or I could say, wait you left me for a 27 year old fake person using a pilfered porn stars picture. No I will find this all hilarious and not respond at all! 8 months out and still shaking my head at this man who I knew for 23 years is now some shady character from a cartoon! Oh dear.

    • oregon girl says:

      Good job, chrissa! If you were with him for 23 years then you have taken a lot of crap from that AC. Good for you for busting out and doing what is right for yourself. I salute you!!

  9. oregon girl says:

    Yes, it has been a little quiet at my house. I finally came to my senses and broke things off with my MM AC. Sadly, at the same time, my best (girl) friend and my daughter moved to other cities. I found myself all alone. It was so tempting to jump back into the arms of MM just for company but I didn’t. I’ve also had three different MARRIED men hit on me since my breakup, and in all three cases I said a firm NO and then kept my distance.

    I see this as real progress for me. I am choosing to be alone and to live quietly at the moment rather than allow my boundaries to get busted over and over. I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long long time. Reading these posts here, and reading the comments by all of you wonderful women, has been like a 12 step program or support group for me. I honestly could not have started to heal my broken self without the help of Natalie and all of you.

    I have been 39 days NC and I am proud of myself. I am going to get a small tattoo very soon, a little tiny anchor, to remind me that I am my own anchor in my life. Not to get swept out to sea by another MM or AC. Even though I am 53 I don’t feel in a huge rush to find another man before I get “too old.” I’m still just working on myself, getting healthy, and when the right man comes along I will know it and won’t have to go through all the BS I have been through for these many many years.

    Natalie is right: every time I tried to put a healthy boundary into place, MM howled and screamed until the boundary dissolved into wet paper. Finally I realized that the boundary was important for TWO reasons: 1) I am showing the world how I expect to be treated, and 2) I am showing myself that I am worthy of good treatment.

    NC has been a difficult but important part of keeping my boundary in place. I took Natalie’s self esteem class online, and it was terrific. Here was my takeaway from that: values are the healthy things we say YES to, and boundaries are the hurtful things we say NO to. Keeping both of them in place is how we build up our self esteem. We are worth it!!!

    • chez says:

      Finally I realized that the boundary was important for TWO reasons: 1) I am showing the world how I expect to be treated, and 2) I am showing myself that I am worthy of good treatment. Absolutely love this! will remind myself this every day

  10. Tinkerbell says:

    Excellent, well-timed follow up to the last several you’ve posted, Natalie. Thank you, Lady Genius.

  11. Karenita says:

    Thank you for this message! I get angry when people don’t respect my boundaries, but then I wonder if I’m just putting up too many walls. I do that often. Regardless, if that’s where I’m at these days, that’s where I’m at. The right people will get that. I just haven’t met them yet, but I’m sure they’re out there. Somewhere.

    • NoMo Drama says:

      I’ve had that thought about walls. Eventually I concluded, hell yes! I have walls up because there are a lot of people who need to be kept out of my life. Now these walls have windows and gates, so I can see out and decide who can come in. As the topic says, the people who object are usually the very folks who need to stay outside.

  12. Tired says:

    Hi this is spot on , ive learnt a lot in last two years . I have been doing well and i got over the first mistake i made the married man . I got over it and starting getting back on track when i ended up growing to like a bloke at wk . He was just out of a ten yr marraige so it was a no goer but i ended up liking him more than i should . I set my boundaries and he kept blowing hot and cold . Finally he quit his job and it was a blessing in disguise as it removed him out my life . He was in touch but went cold on me so i told him that was enough and to not mess with me again . He c
    Has since friend requested me on fb i added him then two days later thought better of it and removed it . I did really like him but realised he was in a mess and in no position to offer me what i wanted . I to was scared to put up boundaries but im glad i did or id be in a lot worser state . Im getting over my plop of madness as we speak . So yes never be scared to set your boundaries . :)

  13. NBH says:

    Boundaries are essential to our sanity! I grew up in a deeply dysfunctional, alcoholic family, and have spent most of my adult life unpicking all the threads and putting myself back together again. When I first came across the concept of ‘boundaries’ I couldn’t get the hang of it at all, but like everything else, it gets easier with practice. The first realisation was that if I’m experiencing something – it’s mine! And nobody else is ‘to blame’! The other thing that was difficult at first was to listen to the little inner voice that was telling me when my boundaries were being crashed by someone else – and that I had the right to act on it.

    I was in a (short lived) abusive relationship a couple of years ago; on one occasion, when he was trying to blame me for something he’d done, I calmly told him that he, and he alone is responsible for his feelings and his actions – just as I, and I alone, am responsible for mine. He called me all sorts of names in response (abusive people will not like firm boundaries in others) and it’s useful to remember that when someone tells us we’re selfish/insensitive/uncaring/all the rest, they’re actually saying “You’re not doing what I want you do do!”

    It was the death knell for the relationship – a monumental blessing in itself.

    When we assert our own boundaries appropriately, it gives others the opportunity to experience theirs appropriately, too – and the relationship will either flourish if the other party’s healthy, or collapse altogether if they aren’t.

  14. Diane says:

    Thanks Natalie! You are so right…I have been NC for 8 months now, I walked away from the whole cicle of friends, it has been hard, but it is what I need to do now. I have one good friend who stood by me…you really do find out who your true friends are

  15. Karina says:

    I soooo needed to read this today. In a week marks one month that my sister and brother in law ca,e to live in the apartment my parents pretty much passed down to us. He doesn’t help around the house or even bother contributing money, yet I have to swallow and put up with his smug attitude and the fact that he doesn’t talk to me in my own home. Today I finally had it and told her to move and if not I will do so and they can keep the damn place. I also told my parents that by enabling this behavior is that my siblings really haven’t grown up and that once I move I’m not having any of that in MY place. Funny how it then all became my fault.

    Boundaries are non existent in my family and I have been one to tell them to back off all the time…this time I’m settin gmy foot down! Thanks Nat!

  16. Sissy26 says:

    What I find the hardest is saying no. When I do my boyfriend tries to guilt trip me and make me feel bad about not agreeing to do whatever he’s asked.
    Most recently I was excused from work from my doctor due to severe exhaustion, stress, and depression. Go figure. During this week my boyfriend asked me while still in bed sleeping if I would take his 4 year old to scho because he was going to be late to work which is 5 minutes away. I said no. Mind you I had taken her to school the day before.
    Because I said no I was given the silent treatment all day. No calls. No texts. I call him when he gets off work and ask whats up. He tells me he thinks it was shitty I didnt help him and since I didn’t take his kid to school he was 30 mins late to work. He told me normal people help others when asked and that it wasn’t like I was doing anything to not be able to take her. Oh, no just sleeping on my day off. I’m just thinking hey news flash I didnt get a week off of work so you could take your time getting ready for work and drop off your kid at school.
    Needless to say that day was pretty much ruined, but I only felt bad for about 5 seconds and then proud that I said no bc normally I’m the yes girl.

    • lynn says:

      sissy26 – is he alwasy like this? He is being very passive aggressive and child like in my opinion. He seems selfish and not very understanding. Does he recognize your leave from work for exhuastion, stress and depression? Is he causing any of this? Your body may be telling you something about your relationship your mind/heart can’t.

    • A says:


      Is this a pattern? He seems selfish, inconsiderate and immature, not to mention unwilling to communicate. If you find yourself always having to enforce boundaries with this guy, it might be time to walk away.

  17. NoMo Drama says:

    Establishing and maintaining boundaries can cause repercussions within a group dynamic — that is a complication that can be really annoying to deal with. For example, when you set a boundary with a family member, others often try to interfere, with guilt trips, interventions, etc. and you end up having to explain and defend those boundaries over and over again, inevitably setting up NEW ones with other people. As a result you may be distanced from several people or a whole branch of the family.

    Same thing in the workplace; there will always be someone who says “s/he’s really not that bad, why don’t you talk to them?” or try to force the situation. The anticipation of that kind of turbulence can be a deterrent for some.

    Setting and enforcing boundaries is often a challenge to status quo that estranges you from people as they can’t deal with the new dynamic. Sometimes that’s just as well.

    • HappyAgain says:


      You are exactly right. Short of someone being a straight up a@*hole its the status quo that causes the other issues. I found when I started making changes in my own life for my own well being it offended some “friends”. My acupuncturist and I were just talking about last week how being your own person and aware of yourself (needs, feelings,etc) aren’t encouraged in our society because you cant be controlled (ie its not convenient because it throws a wrench in status cuo) if you are whether it be by government, families, or friends.

      “Setting and enforcing boundaries is often a challenge to status quo that estranges you from people as they can’t deal with the new dynamic.”

  18. HappyAgain says:

    I was no longer “useful” or convenient for certain people once I started having boundaries and taking care of me. But Natalie’s right people who have an issue with them are the ones who need them most.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Asserting your boundries is definately empowering, especially if it is with someone who didn’t treat you right. When I started to assert my boundries with my ex-EUM/AC he never got nasty, but he actually ramped up his pursuit. If I hadn’t stuck to my boundries and realized that I wanted something different and that I wasn’t going to deal with a person who thought it was okay to reject me and date someone else and comeback like nothng happend, I would had been unhappy all over again.

    Creating these boundries and taught him that he was longer going to do the same crap to me. In addition, I had been N/C so by the time he started calling I was done with him so there really was nothing he could do to hurt me anymore. It’s crazy that you have to teach grown people that it is wrong to mistreat other people and expect to be rewarded. The funny thing was I never told him don’t call or talk to me, I showed him through my actions that he was no longer significant and he needed to go away and leave me alone.

    • Lorraine says:

      Your post hit a chord with me as did this article. Since finding BR, I’m just beginning to realize the whole “boundary” thing. I look back on my relationship with the AC and I can’t believe how I felt I had to literally jump through hoops for him. Some days I would be exhausted, not doing for myself because I was too busy dropping everything to cook for him, shop for him, go somewhere I really didn’t want to because he “needed” me to. I could go on and on. Ugh.

      Now that I’m showing him I have boundaries, by not saying hello or stopping to see him, I feel like he is also upping his pursuit and making a sick game out of it.

      Tinkerbell was right when she told me he would take the wave and pass by as some weird invitation. Crazy, right? He’s suddenly showing up again. Testing, testing, testing…

      I love what you said about letting him know that he can’t date someone else and come back like nothing ever happened. What’s wrong with these guys?

      You sound like you have it together and thats so good. I’m still on shaky ground some days, but what I’m learning about boundaries and what I won’t put up with now is amazing.

      I’m looking forward to the day that I truly mean it and can without a day show him how truly insignificant he is to to me.

      • Stephanie says:

        Its funny because once he realized I wasn’t the same person who let him mistreat me, all of sudden he was interested in a relationship! LOL Mind you, never mentioned the women he was dating the last time I saw him. You what, I never once asked him about her or what happend between them. I suspected she started to expect something from him and he was starting to go cold and thought he could fallback with me. Well I showed him.
        I got to reject him (in a nice way) and watch him play nicey-nicey to get me to open the door. Well I stuck to my guns and he eventually got the point that I didn’t want anything to do with him. I did this without telling him about himself (although I was thinking it).
        I realized with my new boundaries he didn’t past the smell test. When he called me a 1 1/2 later telling me he was getting married (to that women) all I could do was pat myself on the back because I knew I made the right choice to cut contact. It does get better!!!

  20. Feistywoman says:

    My life is quiet due to establishing my boundaries and cutting/blocking out those who don’t respect them. Am I bothered? Absolutely not. I came out of a social group as I was tired of meeting shallow people, players and emotional vampires! My one good female friend and I have the same boundaries and that is why we get on so well. I recently got talking to a woman at a dinner and she wanted me to keep in touch. Well I was the odd number on my table and when a guy who was clearly a chancer/player turned on the charm and shone his light up her backside she all but ignored me. Will I keep in touch? No, simply because she ignored me once she had some male attention and that was rude busting my boundaries as this told me she is unreliable and inconsiderate of others. I am also very wary of women who say they don’t want to meet a man but then lap up attention from a man ignoring others having seen it so many times before. The hey presto they are an item. Boundaries are something I have always enforced in my life without realising it once I got confident about myself and life. Those who I meet who don’t like it can just keep moving! Timely article Nat so on the button as always.

  21. Lilia says:

    Well I finally changed the locks of my front door so that my Narc AC father won´t be able to get in my house whenever he feels like it – without even knocking first – as he has done for years (that is, whenever he is in town, because we live in different countries.)

    This has brought up a lot of memories of him completely disrespecting my boundaries when I was growing up – heck, I don´t think I was even allowed to have any.

    Now I´m preparing myself for the drama that will follow when I´ll have to tell him No, I will not give you a new key, just ring the bell like everybody else. Oh yes and it would be polite if you´d call first to know if and when I have time to see you.

    He´ll be back here in about 3 weeks and I´m trying to peptalk myself into not being afraid of his anger and manipulations. Thanks for the post, it really helps.

  22. M says:

    Wanted to share some of my experiences of respecting boundaries when applied to dating. Met a nice woman who seemed to like me too. We went on two dates, she showed all signs of sympathy but I did not make any moves like trying to kiss, etc. just enjoying each others company, laughing, seeing a nice performance, etc. She was going on a trip for few days. We talked about meeting again, she sent me a sweet thank you text after second date. After that just silence. I texted, I called, no response. My old self wants to pursue, but I know this will not help a this point. What I think though is shew went cold turkey because I did not make her feel sexual when we saw each other. In all my past relationships I was the seducer and they liked it. Now, I am just trying to be the “nice guy” and realize that being sweet friendly guy often does not promote romance. No matter what you ladies say here on the site, deep down every woman wants to be seduced. Yes, often you get seduced by wrong guys and I feel so sorry for you reading the horrible stories that happened to some of you. Yet, I have to say that “strategies” that men’s sites advocate in the end work in creating attraction, and I don’t mean friendship type of attraction. I’ve been friendly with women and they don’t feel like they want to take it beyond that. I love this blog, but boy is it depressing sometimes. I’ve learned a lot here and will use it in my next real relationship, however I have to say then using logic in romance does not work neither for you ladies, nor for us. Some things work on subconscious level and being a nice person rarely turns anyone on. I asked my therapist what her women clients complain about. She says they go out with “nice guys” and there is no chemistry. Then she says that chemistry is overrated. These days everyone wants passion, and since we know that passion only lasts a while, people just drop out once they don’t feel “sexy time” any more. I’ve been in two long term relationships and one that could have been long term but I realize that I messed up by doing some of the stuff described here. She did too, but never acknowledged that. Our relationship started out very passionately, as things cooled off, she became more critical of me whereas I tried to stay more calm which she interpreted as emotionally unavailable. I see now where it came from. She read BR and instead of showing it to me tried to “teach” me. I was a willing learner, but insecurities sometimes took over and I behaved defensively and in ways described here sometimes. I did love her and wanted it to work out. Anyway, I remember that after our very passionate beginning she blamed me for moving too fast with her, etc. we argued about it. But my point is that if I did not act passionately with her, she may not have fallen in love with me. There are some animal instincts that drive all species, and we are no exception. I think it has to be a balance of course and most people are just ignorant. However, challenging “boundaries” often is what sets off romantic (sexual) tension. Without it, we are just buddies hanging together.
    By the way, here is an interesting article from NY Times about equal marriage leading to less desire and less sex:

    I know that for many wounded women here this may seem like blasphemy. I think there is something there. All people hate routine. When marriage becomes a routine both partners secretly crave that exciting feeling they used to have. I think this is the root cause of all the troubles. We want stability of predictability and excitement of unpredictability. Seems like a conflict of interest. I don’t know what solution is. I am just discovering that the feeling I had all along are very common, men behave in very similar fashion and so do women. There is some “evolutionary programming” which we are trying to bypass and as a result end up alone and bitterly frustrated.
    So sorry about some of your asshole boyfriends, but perhaps we should not label everyone EUM because a man keeps a bit reserved and cool and does not share in your emotional turmoil but is there to lean on, we are in fact different.
    Hugs to everyone. Don;t give up, give men a chance!!

    • NoMo Drama says:

      Why does it have to be one extreme or the other?

    • Feistywoman says:

      Ok here goes. I being female like to be pursued and will not drop my knickers for any man after two dates! So if you are going by the 3 date rule then think again. Personally I don’t wish to see a man who is only out to date and shag and if that is his history then I’m out. You don’t know why this woman didn’t respond, hardly know her but she isn’t worth beating yourself up for nor is she worth living on the conjecture diet. They say every woman loves a bastard but those that do haven’t learned much. How about being yourself, making it clear you like a woman and want to see her again rather than just wanting to jump her bones. If you want that then go on-line or to clubs. So if a woman can’t see what is in front of her then her loss. Yes chemistry is important but you can’t force it. This woman is putting up a massive red flag having blown cold or trying to let you down lacking the courage to tell you. She sounds like she is immature, bad mannered and unavailable as if I didn’t want to see a man again I’d say, not just go NC hoping that someone will go away if I ignore them, that is for teens not adults. If a man came on really sexual on me in 2 dates I’d run for the hills but there is noting wrong with hand holding or a peck goodnight on the cheek say and if a man asked if he could do either I’d be really impressed. That is the mark of a gentleman who respects a woman’s space and boundaries. Personally I would want to date and get to know a man other building on any attraction and chemistry before I decided if that was a relationship I wished to pursue. There are plenty of considerate, nice women who would like to meet a genuine, considerate man. However if I am not attracted to a man I won’t even date him if asked because I don’t believe in on-line dating, don’t need a man on my arm to validate me as a woman plus won’t lead a man on. There are women who are serial daters not knowing what characteristics they wish in a man and vice versa. Those people are to be avoided as they are likely to have a lot of baggage, blow hot and cold or go for the grass being greener. Either way they are heartbreak hotel material and best left alone. Decide on the qualities you wish in a woman recognise then when you see them and there is the chemistry after the initial attraction. No woman wants to feel she is a make do woman she wants to know and feel that you are with her for specific reasons other women haven’t got i.e she is different and special.

      • Feistywoman says:

        Plus she also wants to know you aren’t desperate as that brings with it poor selection in the make do scenario.I can sniff a desperate man out at 50 paces as I can a player simply because my bullshit radar is finely tuned but I am also gifted with being very astute about people.

    • Lynn says:

      M – Its great to have a male perspective. My first reaction to her going cold on you after two dates was ‘it was two dates!’. She gave up to quickly. There has to be something wrong on her end that she already went cold turkey. I take my time when dating. Last year, I met a great man who didn’t kiss me until the 5th date or so. Yea, I was getting a little impatient…but we were building something by talking and getting to know each other. We didn’t work out due to religious differences. The guy I dated after him was a guy I was close with for 2 years, and always wanted to be with but he was never sure what he wanted. He is very passion driven and it was easier to have sex with him outside of a relationship then in it. I did the whole fwb thing with him for awhile. :( Not a good decision but it was fun at the time. His mom pushed passion on him and his brother pushed being with someone who is your best friend. He likes to be on a ‘high’ therefore something was missing with us…for him. Not for me. I am not sure he will truly find what he is looking for as he definitely is emotionally unavailable. I am 5 months NC and still pretty hurt. Anyway – I am now rambling. I think there is something to be said about the nice guy. I don’t want to get caught up in they physical right away again because it clouds everything. I get what you are saying about if you didn’t act passionately she may have not fallen in love with you…I am not sure if that is the only reason she did fall in love with you. Falling in love is by chance…and that gets things started, but it takes work to continue the love and to continue the growing of the relationship. I think passion ebbs and flows and there are different ways to express it. I do not think that you will look at your partner and want to jump them every time you look at them. That is how my ex felt he should fell. hang in there!

    • grace says:


      She’s dating other men
      She’s playing hard to get
      An ex turned up
      She didn’t fancy you
      She met someone on the trip
      She’s decided to take time out
      You didn’t pay
      She doesn’t date pisces/leo/cancer
      You said or did something unwittingly that set off her internal alarm
      You buttoned your shirt too high
      You buttoned your shirt too low
      You were too nice
      You weren’t nice enough
      You talked about yourself too much
      You didn’t talk about yourself enough
      You mentioned an ex
      You didn’t walk her to her car
      You insisted on walking her to her car
      You’re not tall enough
      You’re too tall

      Or such other trivial, bad, or good reason

      You just don’t know. I wouldn’t change yourself or your whole approach on your flimsy “evidence”.

      Unless you want a treatise every time a date doesn’t work out, and are prepared to give the same yourself (which sounds tedious) then you need to be comfortable with the not knowing. It would be nice to get a polite “thanks, but no thanks” but it’s hardly significant after two dates.

      • grace says:

        I can’t believe I forgot one!

        Even though it’s been x months/years she’s not over the ex.

        That’s why I didn’t follow up with a particularly nice man a few years ago. He was so nice I still remember him. but I just wasn’t ready. I did him a favour, really.

    • simple pleasures says:

      M- you said, “What I think is though is she went cold turkey because I did not make her feel sexual when we saw each other.” And if that’s what you assume it must hurt your feelings. Maybe desire was not there on her part.
      In my late 20′s I had a great crush and dated the nicest, loving,respectful man. He would have been a great husband. But after 6 weeks or 6 months (can’t remember) I found his voice really grated on me, I couldn’t stand it. I realized I didn’t want to spend my life with him.
      Many years later I saw him at a party and we had a really great catch up, how’s your life been all these years talk. Turns out he was very hurt, upset, rejected etc. when I ended the dating. I had no clue. Like Natalie says the first 6 months are the discovery stage, then you know if you are on a track to progress and have a relationship or not. Some people know earlier on what they want, others well, they end up here.

    • Mindy says:

      @ M you said:
      “We talked about meeting again, she sent me a sweet thank you text after second date. After that just silence. I texted, I called, no response. My old self wants to pursue, but I know this will not help a this point. What I think though is shew went cold turkey because I did not make her feel sexual when we saw each other. In all my past relationships I was the seducer and they liked it. Now, I am just trying to be the “nice guy” and realize that being sweet friendly guy often does not promote romance.”

      You are jumping to conclusions and assuming when you think what you are thinking. And none of your thoughts are based on whatever the truth is. Your projecting your past experiences with another woman on her. Since she didn’t respond you won’t know the truth, so don’t make one up to “fit” whatever you’re issues are. And jumping to the conclusion that she didn’t reply back cause you didn’t make a move on her on the first date. There could be so many reasons why she didn’t. Take some time to think about what those other reasons might be. Maybe she’s not interested, maybe she was dating someone else before you and has decided to pursue that. Maybe she’s decided not to date anymore and can’t bring herself to reply and tell you she’s not interested. What I’m trying to say is there is probably other reason(s) and your projecting what happened with this other woman who blamed you for going to fast in that relationship and now are applying it to this woman and others. Just a thought.

  23. AMMarion says:

    About boundaries…

    Thank you, Natalie, for another great post!

    Boundaries are essential for any healthy relationship – in love, in friendship, with families and employees.

    You are also right that just setting your boundaries is no guarantee that nobody will ever try to infringe them!

    There are people who, no matter how clear you set boundaries, they just refuse to respect them.

  24. Tinkerbell says:


    I enjoyed reading your post which gives much food for thought. It’s refreshing to be made aware of the innermost workings of one man’s mind. Don’t try to be what you are not because you think women want it. Just be yourself. You can let a woman know you’re interested without attacking her or rebuffing (exaggeration of descriptions here). Every woman is different just as every man is different. If we were all the same there would be no “discovery phase” that Nat talks about. Be gentle on yourself and allow things to progress naturally. If they don’t, she just wasn’t the one. Keep reading and posting.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      I had not read your attachment when I commented above. When I went back and read SOME of it, it didn’t have much value, imo. It doesn’t take into account the many different religions and cultures which exist in our world. Mind you, I didn’t read all of it so maybe there was a reference later on in the piece. These beliefs and practices, have a very strong impact on how men and women relate to each other including and particularly sexually.

  25. She-Ra says:

    You lost me here: “We went on two dates, she showed all signs of sympathy…” That last word. Is it a typo? If it is, ignore my next comment.

    If not, then I’m not sure what you want from a woman? Her sympathy is not attraction-making and implies you want her to be an emotional air bag to your woes. Were you talking about your past?

    Might want to avoid heavy convos on the first couple of dates. Just an idea. Ask her questions and listen. Pick up on something she just said and add to it or ask for more. This shows interest in her.

    If she seems uncomfortable with the topic, change it without making her feel awkward. Just a couple of tips because you sound so serious and being funny is very sexy so long as it isn’t crude or disrespectful or at your date’s expense.

    Not making “moves” physically is a good thing the first date or two, but keep in mind most women are fending off less than respectable men and could be confused if you don’t find subtler ways to show “chemistry.” Walk beside her. Compliment her. Hold the door open for her. Have your hand brush her arm and so on. It sounds old-fashioned but I’m dating a wonderful man who did all these things and frankly, he’s not my type, a mite bit older than I typically date and slightly long-distance but BR and his way of treating me like a lady paved the way for chemistry. That and he was patient and gentle. Qualities you seem to think women don’t want.

    Not true. EU women are probably attracted to EU men, but you don’t want to pursue an EU woman either.

    Being sexual isn’t about one extreme or the other. It is how you make this person feel when you’re together and there are lots of ways to promote that in your favor without being a jerk or AC.

    And here’s the rub. Maybe, she wasn’t attracted to you enough to keep going. She didn’t string you along (at least not yet) or use you or anything else. She ceased contact. It hurts but it happens to all of us. You don’t know what is going on in her personal life either (two dates doesn’t mean you know much so don’t kid yourself). Whatever the reason, you won’t ever know it for sure but you’re taking a leap into believing this woman whom you had two dates with represents all women and what they want or don’t want. Egotistical on your part much?

    We’re guilty of the same thing on here. We think our value and who we are relates to how people treat us. Rejection hurts our pride and ego. I don’t think you should paint with one brush or the other because dating is a verb (active) and this woman wasn’t the right fit for you. Maybe the next one will be.

    If you claim you were the “seducer” in your past relationships, I would recommend you find a way to channel that energy in positive ways without being just another Don Juan. Sounds like you are acting somewhat disingenuous. Seduce away! If that’s your true nature, you should honor that but maybe change what you think seduction is. It’s a broad term.

    You also say, “using logic in romance does not work neither for you ladies, nor for us.” I think Natalie is actually trying to help us see the logic without being militant about it. How is one woman going on 2 dates with you and not responding further lead to all your above conclusions. Sounds illogical to me.

    Being a “nice person” does turn on the right people. I don’t know what your definition of “nice” is and it may differ from my own, but if you treat a date with respect, interest, consideration, reasonable trust, care and thoughtfulness, you will find a woman who values this over a flashy seducer. Just maybe it wasn’t this one woman you use as example.

    You refer to a past relationship: I’ve been in two long term relationships and one that could have been long term but I realize that I messed up by doing some of the stuff described here. She did too, but never acknowledged that. Our relationship started out very passionately, as things cooled off, she became more critical of me whereas I tried to stay more calm which she interpreted as emotionally unavailable. I see now where it came from. She read BR and instead of showing it to me tried to “teach” me. I was a willing learner, but insecurities sometimes took over and I behaved defensively and in ways described here sometimes. I did love her and wanted it to work out. Anyway, I remember that after our very passionate beginning she blamed me for moving too fast with her, etc. we argued about it. But my point is that if I did not act passionately with her, she may not have fallen in love with me.

    I’m curious though for further clarification. You say you “messed up” doing EU actions? Followed by “she did too.” Why don’t you start by taking your own inventory first. Let her worry about her. I’ve been with too many EUM’s who are knee-jerk quick on fobbing off responsibility. Maybe you’re not but reading this makes me wonder. You own your own.

    “She became more critical.” Of what? Sounds like it went physical fast but you weren’t willing to put much more into the relationship beyond that. What was she supposed to do? Natalie teaches us about honoring our boundaries and this sounds like you were invalidating her boundaries and are now complaining about being called out on busting them.

    Are you guilty of what you keeping pointing a finger to by saying “after it cooled off she became critical?” After the initial honeymoon phase, certain things are going to come to light. Were you willing to fix them? I’m not getting that impression from what you say here. Sounds like you wanted it on your terms. She’s a BR reader. You seem more interested in blaming her for “teaching” you rather than “showing” you. No offense, but it seems like you weren’t stepping up to the plate so what recourse did she have? I just want to know where you are attributing your actions in this equation.

    She blamed you for moving too fast. You say you acted passionately and but for that she wouldn’t have fallen in love with you. Sorry, but you don’t know that’s true. Are you guilty of the Push Pulley or blowing Hot and Cold? She had every right then to be concerned. Just because you get a woman in bed doesn’t mean she’s yours for the long haul.

    I disagree with “challenging boundaries is sexy.” No, it’s not. How can there be trust or solidarity if from the start you’re challenging a person’s boundaries? Earning someone’s trust is one of the sexiest things long-term. Short-term? Maybe not.

    You digress into the marriage issue. Marriage takes a lot of work and effort on both parties. Neither partner should take their significant other for granted. This attitude is what kills marriages. It is more about what am I getting than what I am I giving. If you didn’t take a spouse for granted, then I think the level of excitement would be maintained and mature over time into something even more valuable, comfort and again, trust.

    Men want respect. Women want to be cherished. Where’s the evolutionary conflict you refer to?

    You close with this: So sorry about some of your asshole boyfriends, but perhaps we should not label everyone EUM because a man is a bit reserved and cool and does not share in your emotional turmoil but is there to lean on, we are in fact different.

    Please reread Natalie and then reread this condescending observation. Everything is on a spectrum. Maybe you’re not an asshole, but I have to wonder what your now ex and reader of BR thinks of you? Maybe she shares a differing opinion. Isn’t that fair? Being reserved and cool is your label, maybe it isn’t hers. Maybe you threw her mixed signals, or acted hypocritically, or whatever. If you say you did much of what Natalie writes here, then I would urge you to review the why of your actions before you start brandishing both sexes with a smear campaign that is not by the way a one-size-fits-all. You could maybe do your own homework first and it doesn’t appear you have except to make arguments which benefit and dovetail with your actions. I could be wrong but after a medley of master manipulators, Natalie has opened my eyes.

    We are in fact different. Yes, we are and I don’t know you M so you may be a stand-up bloke. I did see a lot of swiss cheese holes in your comment that remind me of a guy I dated years ago. He was deplorable and also had a convenient way of slanting his behavior in any sort of retrospect to serve him. I’m so over that from EU people I could scream. I see this same excuse making in your comment. Women and men are biologically and emotionally different but you and me are not from Mars or Venus. We all want the same things even if we go about it somewhat differently. I read a comment by a man who went out on two dates with a woman and is rethinking his game and rethinking the battle of the sexes? Boo-hoo!

    When we are mature and ready enough to stop feeding the misnomer of battle and start willingly work cooperatively to suit our needs and the needs of others is when this fallacy may be well disproved.

    It might help to make amends. Did you with this past Br-reader? Did you apologize or did you just sweep it under the EU rug? Given your comment, I have the impression you hold yourself in much higher esteem than maybe you should and are looking for any reasons to continue to behave like an EU instead of digging to the root of why you are an EUM.

  26. Wendy says:

    My ex tried to kiss me on the 1st date, but I turned my head and he kissed my cheek, hehe. He said he usually would kiss women he was attracted to on the 1st date, but I was the first that wouldn’t let him. We didn’t kiss till the 5th date. My boundaries seemed stronger before I really started to have feelings for him emotionally.


    That same ex I mentioned above I came to discover, after his charm started wearing thin, was passive aggressive. He had boundaries, but would bust mine left and right. I would speak up whenever he would overstep my boundaries and he would say I was being dramatic. If he didn’t like what I said or did, he would literally run away and ignore me for a day or two or three or four. Depending on much I upset him, sigh. I should have run like the wind the night him and his mother got into an argument in front of me and I backed away, just for him to turn on me saying I was a horrible girlfriend for not standing up for him in front of his mother. He yelled at me saying that he needed a girlfriend that would stand by him and that he even had an eye on some girls that probably could do a much better job than me. I should have kept quiet that ride home and calmly gotten out of his car and said goodbye and never looked back, but no. I cried and begged and pleaded for him to forgive me? Huh!!! I was apologizing when it should have been him apologizing to me…live and learn…

    Now I’m in a recovering mess. We dated a year and a half and tried remaining friends for a year. We are now on day #14 of NC because…I upset him about something I said. This time, finally, I’m trying to have strong boundaries like I did before my heart melted for his…it’s so hard!!!!! :(

    • Lorraine says:

      Fourteen Days! Thats great, keep going with NC. You definitely deserve so much better than him. So immature and threatening to find someone better? How insulting! Stay NC so he can’t berate or insult you anymore. I know its hard, but try to see him for what he really is and then it will begin to get easier.

      Remember, it won’t change. You go back to him and you’ll be hopeful that things will be different, but then, bam, he’ll show his true colors again and the whole cycle will start all over. Fourteen days, keep going girl.

      My AC was the same way, he had boundaries but walked all over mine. I wasn’t allowed to have boundaries. I’m learning a lot now. I never want to be in a situation like that again, even though my heart still melts for him. (Why, I cannot even understand) But, he’s a toxic, awful person who doesn’t deserve me. I know that and I want better. I know if I ignore him, eventually I won’t even care or have to think about ignoring him. I’m very hopeful for the day to come that I whole heartedly can say, “Ugh!!! I can’t believe I was so crazy for that idiot!” And feel nothing.
      You should too.


  27. JustHer says:

    I need some advice.

    I met up with a man for a coffee on Sunday. I liked him, but I was the one who said we should meet up for coffee or drinks sometime.

    I have always been the one to text first or message first. I have tried to give him signs to let him know I like him – but it hasn’t really helped.

    On Sunday he asked me out on a date, but since then I have heard nothing from him whatsoever. No text or message. I saw him a few times since and he has not acknowledged me in any way other than a friend.

    I know it has only been two days, but I expected to hear something by now. It is also his birthday today and he has some plans, which, as far as I can tell, I am not part of.

    I am trying to work out whether he is playing me (definitely a boundary-busting trait!) or he is merely busy and confused.

    • lizzp says:

      Oh no Just Her. Please just get on with your life and stop this slippery slope into analysing someone you have had one coffee with and met two days ago. If he wants to ask you out then he will and will do so in a timely manner. Although not clear I’m assuming he did not really ask you out on a date during your coffee as you don’t have a a day/evening and definite time in place? I’m guessing you mean that he said ‘let’s go out on a date sometime’ or some variation of that? If that’s the case then I’m afraid that he did not ask you out on a date. Thinking about his motives like you are is way over the top and I think you should stop that. It seems like you are already invested. Step back, take a breath and carry on with your life.

      • JustHer says:


        He said, “Would you like to go on a date with me?” and I said “yes, where?” To which he gave me a location.

        But over coffee on Sunday we talked for FIVE hours! That’s a long time.

        SO I assumed he’s interested and was just shy/busy.

        I realise that I am over invested and I intend to just ask him straight out if he is interested in dating seriously or not. I refuse to be dragged along.

      • lizzp says:

        Re the birthday message: What for? I have to agree strongly with what Lillia says about that. You just met this man and had a coffee. I’m filling in gaps here for myself but am assuming he mentioned his birthday and his plans to you during your coffee meet up. Or possibly when/if you bumped into him this week? (you say you have seen him since Sunday). This is all about keeping your boundaries straight in my view. Whenever it was that he mentioned his and plans to you, a grounded and genuine response coming from a woman with self respect would be along the lines of “well happy birthday for Tues/Wed, have a great night”.

        • JustHer says:


          A bit of background that I realise I should have added is that he works in the same company as me now, but different departments.

          We saw each other every day for the past 3 or 4 weeks at lunch (a bunch of 6 of us go to lunch together every day), that’s how I met him. But outside lunch we never interact. Ever, unless I initiated it.

          He mentioned his birthday plans at lunch the day before his birthday.

          I feel really stupid about how I have acted as a grown woman, indeed! I should not have invited myself along as a part of his plans.

          I’m just wondering where I go from here – do I now wait for him to contact me or just leave it be?

          • lizzp says:

            Just Her, thanks for clarifying. I’d say you need to get in touch with your own intuition. Ask yourself perhaps these questions for starters: (1) why have I initiated contact (outside work lunches with him)on every occasion? and the counter part question; (2) why do I think he has never initiate spending time with me (outside work lunches)?

            The one thing I can tell you now, based on all your comments and clarifications, is that his *actions* (or lack thereof)are showing he is not worth it. He has *done* nothing, from what I can tell, to earn your efforts and interest. So far he hasn’t had to, however even if you treated yourself with more restraint and respect, I suspect he wouldn’t bother either. That’s because he likes things easy and unplanned and for others to do the work for him (ie what happenned on his Despite four hour convos and all.
            So in answer to your question; Please don’t continue to invest yourself in another EU man. Leave it be. (And take him off that goddamn Pedastal ! How do you already know he is everything the AC wasn’t??? Please, you haven’t known him long, he has never had to lift a finger to get to see you (you always initiate your ‘hang outs’) and he has never followed through asking you out on a formal date. Watch out,I’d say the anxiety or uncertainty you’re experiencing is probably related to you slipping into fantasy land).

            • lizzp says:

              I want to add, Just Her- you *are* worth a reciprocal dating/discovery where two people put in real time and effort to spend time together; You *are* worth a co-piloted relationship based on respect, care and love. You should expect nothing less in all your relationships/friendships.

              • JustHer says:


                I am close to tears today because I felt like it has ended up being one bad joke. I have decided not to follow up anymore.

                I found out that he slept with another woman a few months ago and while I told him my entire dating history, he forgot to mention her (she’s from our company too). And if he can get that far with her, he can OBVIOUSLY make the effort with me – he just doesn’t want to.

                I am no longer interested in pursuing this. It was a big deal to me because it’s the first time I have opened up and tried seriously with anyone since the AC (2 years ago) and I really put a lot of hope into it.

                Given that, my boundaries were poor and I let him find out all about my past history, while needing very little in return.

                Thanks again, lizzp, it is women like you who keep me going these days and keep me insane. I’m jumping off this train before it crashes.

                Love, JustHer.

                • LovefromNel says:

                  Lovely JustHer,

                  Please don’t be too hard on yourself for this, ok?

                  Speaking from my own experience, and from past posts I’ve had with you I feel you are pretty similar, in that we are innate people pleasers. Before discovering BR, I had no concept of boundaries. To please others, we allow people to bulldoze whatever little fence stands between them and us. This little metaphor helps me make sense of this concept.

                  It takes time to establish boundaries (or re-building our downtrodden fence), and a lot of reading and learning. Don’t be too upset with yourself for having poor boundaries with this guy. Things take time (to build!) and the most important thing is that you’ve realised yours were still a little wobbly with this guy.

                  It is soooo difficult not to revert to what we have always done. Essentially we are doing a bit of re-wiring – intellectually and emotionally – to quell what was once our nature.

                  Take care of you. Don’t be hard on you because it is far more important to acknowledge the mistakes and be able to learn from them. Because the next guy who comes along will appreciate your strong sense of self with a well constructed white picket fence!

                  I hope that helps in some way. I just don’t want you to be cranky at you. Because the train crash analogy in your message to lizzp made me a teeny bit sad. You are nowhere near that crash, ok?

                  Love Nel

                • lizzp says:

                  Just Her, I’m late in replying to you here. You say “And if he can get that far with her, he can OBVIOUSLY make the effort with me – he just doesn’t want to.”.

                  How do you know he made an *effort* with this woman? Is he seeing her now? Are they in a co-piloted relationship? What does this other woman want from him? A relationship? A one night stand? It’s not right to be asking yourself these questions in usual circumstances, however I do because in your head seems (to me)to be this odd, self sabotaging and unfounded equation: he slept with x (womanat work) = he had more time for her = he hasn’t touched me = I am not worth it.

                  Here is another equation for you: he had a one night stand with x because he could = he has not pursued a one night stand/sex with you because he’s not sure he could get away with it without a fuss (understand I am imagining *his* thought process here)=he will keep letting you chase him until you are ‘gagging for it’ (his thought process)and make a move on him = he will sleep with you then discard you.

                  So you can see there is nothing to be upset about huh?

                  • lizzp says:

                    p.s. you see it really doesn’t take that much *effort* on his part for him to drop his pants for a night of sex. Just unbutton and unzip, though I’ll concede that if he usually wears a belt, well he’d need to at least unbuckle that too and I guess (if not a complete doofus) take off his shoes and socks.

                    But seriously, you may be right in one respect that he most certainly wouldn’t want to exert the *effort* he likely anticipates of having to mollify you the morning after and explain why it is he doesn’t want a co-piloted relationship.

                    • lizzp says:

                      just Her, to try and make things clear here on this issue of *his* supposed *effort*. If you can look at it from this perspective: either he (a)was required to exert no *effort* with x pre or post sex because he felt sure (however it was he arrived at this conclusion)that she would not object to being used for sex; (b)as above however he felt sure x’s self esteem was such that she would not ask him a’where is this going’ type question post sex even if he intuited she might object to being used for sex; (c)he followed the same pattern of letting x chase him until she made a move and then the next morning/middle of the night when he wanted to leave he was questioned by x and felt obliged to transfer his share of responsibility to her; (d)he wanted to continue with x on the (probably unspoken) proviso that she continued the chasing which to his mind meant the emotional responsibility remained with her, x saw him for what he was and dumped him\stopped being complicit a pronto; or (e) he pursued x respectfully, took her on dates, engaged in a co-piloted discovery and then they had sex when they were mutually ready and then he was dumped by her because *she* was EU.

                      RE the A and B scenarios you can pat yourself on the back for not being subject to his ‘efforts’, ie (a) he knows you won’t be used for sex; (b)he knows you have better self esteems than to keep quiet with him post sex and not question him. In the case of scenario C, well done as you have now put a stop to that which means you have avoided the related scenario D. In the event that you believe in Scenario E, you can now see him immediately as EU and getting over a dumping but at the same time recognise that you chasing him then having sex with him is not going to fix him and make him ready for a relationship with *you* and yes he is not putting in effort because he *both* doesn’t want to and hasn’t *had* to. That he doesn’t want to is absolutely NO reflection on your self worth.

                      Just Her, regardless of all scenarios the fact that he hasn’t *had* to make any true *effort* to see you, well that does say something about how *you* value *yourself* and you know this. This is where your upset most likely comes from and please don’t think I don’t relate because I do. I have been there. Have the honest conversation with yourself, have some compassion for yourself and move on. Please understand too that if you hadn’t chased him he would not have pursued you because of *his* bottom line Emotional Unavailability and that is all you need to know. His EUness is absolutely no reflection of your self worth!!

    • LovefromNel says:

      Hi JustHer

      I hope you have been well!

      I have always done what you have too but I was a bit cooler when it came to my recent ex (the EUM).

      I would hold back on organising another date. Let him do that if he’s interested. You deserve nothing less. But I don’t think there’s any harm in sending a friendly happy birthday message?

      I hope that helps.

      Best wishes,

      • JustHer says:


        I did end up sending him a birthday message and then we texted for a while. I ran into him this evening (his birthday) and asked if we were ever doing that date – to which he asked when I was free.

        I said “how about tonight?” and he immediately agreed. We have just got back after another 4 hours of a date. We went to a park with great views and drinks afterwards. But he didn’t try ANYTHING. Didn’t even hold my hand!

        We get along so well, but I sometimes feel like there is someone back in his home town that he has serious feelings for and he hopes to get back with them someday. I’m not sure, but I just get this vibe.

        Thanks for your help,


    • Lorraine says:

      Just Her,
      What I’ve learned from BR is that if you have to ask the question, “is he playing me or just busy and confused”? That’s a red flag.

      I would move on. Seriously, after being through what we all have with ACs and EUMs, don’t think twice about someone who isn’t acknowledging you or making an effort.

      My advice for what its worth… NEXT…

      LOL Have a great day!

      • JustHer says:


        I know am giving too much thought to this. Yet, I feel like he represents everything the AC didn’t.. Kind of like someone who offers something completely different and better!

        I would rather know for sure and am thinking that maybe I should just ask him (see recent date I wrote to Nel about above) what he expects?

    • Lilia says:


      Never ever assume someone is confused. Unless they´re in some mental institution, you have to assume that everyone you encounter is doing whatever it is he/she feels like doing. Once you accept that, you can see the situation for what it is: you are more interested in him than he in you.

      That´s a terrible situation to be in because now you´re overanalysing his every move and being hopeful when you shouldn´t be.

      Please just move on and forget about his birthday. Those “friendly” birthday messages are strategies we think will make guys like us, but to them they´re just indications that we´re into them when they´re not. You don´t want to feed his ego, don´t do it!

      • JustHer says:


        You’re right that he MUST know what he is doing! He has had no long term relationships, but has had serious feelings towards many of his exes.

        He said that here (his new town), I am the person he has got along with the most, but that could just mean as friends.. right?

        I just got back from another ‘date’, where absolutely nothing happened. Yet we spent forever together! SO odd. Mixed signals!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Just Her,

      I disagree about sending him a B-Day message. Why should you when you don’t have a relationship? One coffee and he’s been giving you the cold shoulder ever since? He’s not confused, he’s just changed his mind about you. It’s not about you. It’s him. Don’t beg for attention by sending him a card. GOOD FRIENDS forget birthday cards, emails, etc. Why is he so special that his birthday would be so important that you would leap to send him a card. NO!!!

      • JustHer says:


        I didn’t send him a card in the end, but did text him. But (as above) we spent his birthday night together for 4 hours! But he didn’t try ANYTHING. He didn’t even hold my hand.

        Apparently his friends had planned some sort of surprise party for him, but instead he chose to spend the time with me.. yet didn’t say anything.

        I feel like he’s in-and-out of his own thoughts and decisions!

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Just Her,

          His behavior is ambiguous. I would get on with my life in other areas and stop making him a priority. He’s not indicating the level of interest that should keep you invested.

          • JustHer says:


            Thanks for your reply.

            You’re right and I have now broken contact with him.

            I don’t intend to contact him anymore at all. I found out that he slept with another woman a few months ago and while I told him my entire dating history, he forgot to mention her (she’s from our company too). And if he can get that far with her, he can OBVIOUSLY make the effort with me – he just doesn’t want to.

            Time to move on. Thanks for the encouragement honey!

            • RP says:

              Hi Just Her,

              Really, you had no business telling him your dating history, nor does he have to provide you a list of who he slept with in the past. You are not in a relationship (or even have a friendship IMO)and even if you were then it is not something that needs to be discussed when two people are living in the present and are genuinely interested in each other.

              Who knows what his situation was/is with the other woman you mentioned but I think he can pick up on your “neediness” (sorry to use that dreaded word!)and might feel cautious about initiating a sexual encounter with you in case you start demanding more from him.

              If that is the case then consider yourself lucky to have been spared the “F&%K and go” treatment.

              All the best to you!

              • JustHer says:


                When I first read your post, I was indignant and upset, but re-reading it, I honestly feel that you’re right about the crux of it.

                We are friends as I have known him for a few months now and seen him every day (just as friends). But I also do think that he enjoys being chased and CAN tell I am really interested (i.e. needy about him) so he put in minimal effort.

                I am glad I have woken up and realised he isn’t all that and I really should stop chasing him.

                He asked me about my dating history on our first coffee ‘date’. And I asked him his. It is not that I care about his previous relationships, but the fact that if he is willing to go far with others, I feel like I should have realised he IS NOT interested in me and that’s why he is not pursuing me, not that he is ‘confused’.

                I feel like I was too into it and he wasn’t. Simple mismatch of feelings and I am now through it.

                Here’s to a better start next time! :)

                • RP says:

                  Just her,

                  I am happy that you decided to stop putting effort into this guy. His asking you about your previous relationships and discussing his exes on a first date is a huge NO NO (and a bore) in my books. Sounds like he is trying to get the wrong kind of information out of you!

                  The feeling of “Neediness” can also be a useful indicator for when it is appropriate to back off. We simply do not feel this way with the right person in friendships and relationships.

                  Sorry if my first response sounded harsh, I should tone it down a bit! I completely understand how you feel. It is very easy to become hopeful and prematurely invested, especially after being single for quite some time. Most of us want to be loved in a healthy relationship. This does not make us needy or pathetic, it makes us human.

  28. Selkie says:

    I don’t know M, maybe she went cold turkey for other reasons other than her unfulfilled longing to get seduced. It was rude of her not to respond, I agree, but I don’t agree completely with your reasoning. I was almost rooting for you until you felt the need to mansplain that no matter what we ladies say, deep down we all want to be seduced. Are you for real? It made me feel icky in the gut. It would be sad if you continued dating with this line of thinking you shared, that boundary challenging leads to a healthy relationship ( hmmm, or maybe just more drama sex?), and that because you were ‘nice’ to the latest girl you went on TWO dates with and now feel rejected because she didn’t return the interest ( that part sucks, I get it ) , you justify needing to resort to ‘game strategies’ to get women to respond or play the way you want them to. After you just decided and declared that being a nice guy gets you no where, you give us advice not to give up on men???? Which men…the nice guy you just said has no chance because women just want to be seduced or the player who gets the women but messes with there head and knows what’s best for them? Are you trying to shoot yourself in the foot or was it unintended?
    And by the way, some of us who read here are wounded, some of us are a little healed, and some of us are better than we’ve ever been. Please don’t assume if we don’t agree with you or the article you cited, that it’s just because we are all wounded women. Many of us have never been so clear and level headed. And just so you know….I’d still pick a nice guy over some pushy charmer who thinks he knows better about what I want than I do. Being a nice guy doesn’t mean you can’t flirt and show you are attracted to a woman with romantic gestures. Find some middle ground M while remaining a gentleman.

  29. Sissy26 says:

    Wendy & Lynn

    Lynn I fully agree that his behavior is childish. I do think our relationship has some to do with my depression. I wont sit here and pretend like I’m some empowered female bc at this point thats not the case. It took me 2 years to make sense of the emotional abuse I suffered with my ex and I really thought that I was ready and I could break this dating pattern. I then met my current boyfriend and thought I had, but a year later and I feel like Im in the same relationship all over again.
    I try, I really do. I pray, attend church, and go to therapy yet I still manage to find guys who treat me poorly. I dont know any other type of love. It sucks and Im trying to work on myself and get stronger bc I cant wait for him to change bc that wont happen.

  30. Wendy says:

    Sorry sissy26! I was typing on my phone. I hate the spell correct…

  31. jeanette says:

    @Wendy. Be strong. Don’t let that man back into your life. You should write a list of all the times he didn’t treat you right. When you feel like contacting him look at the list as a reminder of why you shouldn’t.

  32. Tinkerbell says:


    You shouldn’t have such a problem getting over him if you think of him as the 2 year old he has shown you. You want a man, not a crybaby. That’s so infantile for him to expect you to help fight his battle with his mother. And, getting angry over every little thing? You’re better off without such a loser.

  33. Tara says:

    Silly question. If they are EUM are they always going to be that way? Or is that only for AC? How likely is it for an EUM to become EU? What does it take and are we talking years??

    The reason I ask is I met a guy and we’ve been out a couple of times. He seems okay. Divorced. Kids. Self employed. But I get the feeling he was EUM but maybe now he’s not? He hasn’t called his ex a psycho. He does seen into himself more than I like but that could be nerves.

    I guess I’d like to know the recovery rate or how likely are former EUM to be EU for real and how much more likely are they to revert back to EUM since they already have the habit of being it before?

    Is it better to just avoid anyone who has been EUM in the recent past and try to meet a EU guy? Nit too many of those to choose from but I don’t want to ignore red flags by being hopeful.


    • grace says:

      If you’re not sure about someone after a couple of dates either move along, as is his right and yours, or try a few more dates to confirm what you want to do.
      Don’t mentally start signing yourself up to months or years of waiting for him to come good.
      Everyone has had bad relationships, stress, bereavement, financial uncertainty, mental and physical health problems that have made them EU for a time. It doesn’t make them bad prospects, but it does mean there’s no failsafe way to assess someone. You have to judge that yourself. Which takes more than a few dates unless it’s clearly bad (drinks too much, whines about ex, pushy etc).

    • Stephanie says:


      Just pay attention to any red flag behavior that may indicate that he maybe an assclown or EUM. Sometimes, when we’ve been hurt we tend to get nervous when it comes to dating. So don’t be paranoid, give him the benefit, but keep your eyes open. Read Natalies blog on code red behavior.

    • M says:

      Hi Tara , I can give you a feedback based on my own feelings and experiences. After I broke up with my first wife of 11 years I met my next relationship three months later. She was young, naive and hopeful and it worked. Yes, I had many things on my mind but she was so loving that I would never think of going back. We were happy for quite a few years. We broke up, I now see that I caused it all and yes there is a high chance that somebody who has EU traits will revert to his old behaviors. It’s really up to you if you want to take the chance and trust him. Something good may come out of it, there is only one way to find out. I see men around me, I see women, there are so many common traits. Honestly I like women more. You are nicer. So, about finding a nice man: will you spend your whole life trying to predict if this guy or that one will turn out to be EUM breaking your heart? I think you can always find red flags in everyone. Being hopeful sometimes is what make things work out. I’ve become less hopeful lately and I don’t like feeling this way. Give man a chance, perhaps tell him what your needs are in the beginning. How about telling him about articles on BR and having a nice discussion about some of this stuff? I don;t have children but I think this guy may not be as “available” as you would like because of his family. Something you need to accept and perhaps if not lower you expectations but understand that his child may be a higher priority sometimes. There are guys who don’t give a damn about their children and will focus on you. My brother is more like that these days. If you had him as your boyfriend, you’d never be second to his children and have lots of adventures with him. His ex-wife is behind of him giving up, but hey, he will not be spending his weekends with them. Yet, he is not most emotionally available guy, so you never know. And by the way, his ex-wife is a psycho and unfortunately he is quite damaged by their relationship unlike me who had wonderful women in my life. Tara, you have to try each relationship on before making conclusions and also sometimes accept a man for who he currently is and perhaps he will return your love with plenty more. For example, I would appreciate a woman who was cool about my ex-wife, kids, past relationships mistakes, etc. If you are unlike any other woman he met, he may value that if he is smart enough. But then you will see if he is or not and then can make a good decision about whether to stay in the relationship. But there is only one way to find out: go for it and not put him under a microscope which readers of BR may tend to do. Hell, I put myself under microscope after reading all this stuff, hard not to. There is something selfish about it, isn’t there? It’s like: “Aha, I am equipped with BR knowledge, I got you now, you will never be able to hurt me because I will spot all the read flags and bail before you have a chance to break my heart.” I discuss this blog with my therapist. You know what she says? “Things are a lot more complicated in life that these books you are reading. Just live your life. Also, don’t forget that these books are a business for people who write them.” She is a woman, a psychology PHD, in her late 50s-early 60s, she has experience in life. This blog is great, I love it, but I am also thinking that sometimes being too careful may prevent us from taking chances and succeeding as well. I was saying I’ve become less hopeful, but I don’t like being in that state. I want to take chances and somebody to take chances with me. Nobody will ever screen clear of all the red flags in my opinion. If you think about it: you are meeting a guy somebody else dumped. There must be lots of things wrong with him, otherwise she would never let such a great guy go. Somebody must have dumped you in the past, does that mean you are damaged goods? Well, to some people yes. Taking chances may or may not work. I guess taking educated chances is better from “risk management” perspective, but perhaps being too calculating also diminishes chances of developing romantic feelings in the first place. Give this guy a chance!! ;-)

      • Selkie says:


        “Also, don’t forget that these books are a business for people who write them.”
        Does your therapist charge a fee? Does this invalidate what she says or what her motives are? Natalie isn’t preying on injured people for profit, so I don’t think her charging a fee for her books makes what she says merely profit driven or less helpful. The books are based on her personal experience and not a PhD, but she doesn’t claim to be a therapist and her blog is not a substitute for one. Not all of her posts apply to me or you perfectly, so take out of it what works for you.

        so, more to point with your comment, I policed my boundaries like a hawk when I first discovered I should even have them, but they’ve relaxed since I’ve gotten used to living my life with them. This didn’t happen overnight. I believe it’s part of the healing and learning process, just like grief has stages, I think healing does too. In the meantime, I wasn’t ready, so if I had met a great guy, I wasn’t able to be present anyway, so giving him a chance while I still didn’t have it together would of been unhealthy for both of us and unfair to him. The comments you might read here come from all spectrums of people, in all stages of healing, hurting, and circumstances. Life is complicated, like your therapist said, but many of us find this blog slows the spinning and we can find some even ground. Those who are unable to find their feet should seek professional help from a therapist or doctor.

        I think the beauty of Natalie’s writing is precisely how uncomplicated she makes things. If what your therapist says works for you and fits what you’ve discussed about your own situation, then we can assume she is saying what is best for you and your situation. If you feel what she suggests is more helpful for you, then listen to her guidance.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      EU and EUM are the same. The “M” just stands for “male”. What you want to know is if an EU person, male or female can ever become EA. I just want you to understand the abbreviations we’re all using so that the question you’re asking makes sense. I believe it’s possible for an emotionally unavailable person to become emotionally available (“EA”),but it takes a great deal of work by such a person on SELF and how to revise their thoughts and interactions with others. Also, I don’t believe that you can assign someone to either category on the basis of just a few dates. I know you want to know the answer so that you can protect yourself from getting hurt. But, EA or EU can only be accurately determined over an extended period of time. Sorry. Just work on YOU, your self esteem, self respect and your own needs and wants from a relationship.

      Have you not read Natalie’s book “Mr. Unavailable and The Fallback Girl?”

  34. M says:

    Hi everyone, thank you for your comments, you did pick up on many good points. I am not trying to “game” anyone, and by “people want to be seduced” I don’t mean it in sexual terms only. I am mostly speaking of the energy created during interactions between men and women during courting. I was a bit frustrated about how this woman just cut contact after we had really nice time together. Perhaps it could just developed into a a friendship, who knows. We live in a big city, the center of the world really, I invited her to interesting places, she enjoyed my company I could tell. Being a “nice guy” is self-proclaimed, I agree with you. But I was being a gentlemen, I always am, not because I am playing a game. It is really confusing out there. I want to have a good relationship. I take responsibility for my failed relationships in the past. Yes, I had really nice women love me. My first two would say many nice things about me and our relationship. The last one, I don’t know. I tried hard and did lots of good things, but did not listen to her feedback and perhaps did not give what she needed, but what I thought she needed. Yeah, I can see that now… I believe I can do better next time knowing what I know. However, I don’t often meet a woman that I really like, so I put a lot of expectation for myself (betting on potential) when I think I met one.

    Hey, She-Ra, yes, it was a typo, “sympathy” meant “she liked me”. Sorry in my native language “sympathy” means “liking somebody”. Anyway, I did not talk about my exes, not too much about myself, we had really nice conversations. Just weird how we made plans to meet after she comes back and then silence.
    Reading this blog and especially your stories made me aware that yes, perhaps I am not the best guy in the world. I was a loving and caring husband and boyfriend, but I have these periods when I want to do something for myself when I acted inconsiderate and would just tell my partner that I am taking a short trip by myself because I need to get away from the city. I would ask if she was OK, but I did sound a bit like I was going to do it anyway. Stuff like that. Also, after last relationship broke up I, kept chasing her and she had to cut contact. Just like described here on BR. I never acted like this before, just lost it because of my grief. With my previous two exes, we supported each other though the break ups and never pushed each other into acting crazy. The last one cutting contact triggered very strong emotions in me that I could not handle properly.
    The sources of my EU? I can see it in my family now. My parents were good and loving, but boundary busting is a way of life in our culture. Also, I can see how my dad is withdrawn and my mom is a pushy one. I thought we had a great family until I’ve learned better. Also, my heartbreaks make me more “unavailable”. After the last break up I feel less hopeful to be honest. I keep trying, but sometimes it feels that as we get older all the people around are caring this “baggage” and no amount of BR therapy is going to fix the “broken”. I don’t consider myself completely broken but yeah, I am not the same guy I was 10 years ago. I like talking to women and have female friends who speak their mind. I read BR. I can see certain trends that don’t promote relationships as easily as before. Women are wiser and less naive, more demanding. Men are immature and frustrated and think they need to learn “the game”. Being genuine game me my three real amazing relationships. Yet being myself also lost them. I can see why I lost them. “They are who they are”, NML says. Yes, it’s true. I believe I can change things. I want to.
    Thank you for your support and honest comments, you are a very nice crowd. Hope you find love too.

  35. M says:

    One more thing I wanted to ask about. Regarding this last woman I described above. I texted and called few times to which she did not respond. Last text I sent was about an invitation to see a nice dance performance and then I said that really enjoyed spending time with her, was puzzled by her silence and hoped to hear from her again. I will not contact her again. We work very close and may bump into each other. I think it may be uncomfortable for her after she ignored me like that. I would feel completely ok talking to her and not mentioning it at all, but deep down I would be itching to ask why she disappeared. We never talked romance anyway, I would like her as a friend.
    Do you think I could clear the air like that? See, there are some cultural differences between American and European, I’ve been here longer and feel like an open conversation is always better then uncomfortable silence. I would just say, “Hey, I really liked your company, just wanted to ask if you want the friendship but then you have to pick up the phone if I call”. This would not be to try to progress from friendship into something more. Or I can just walk by saying “hello” and keep walking.
    Would you feel comfortable if a guy who you thought had interest in you and who you ignored after two meetings, asked if you wanted to be friends? I know, this sounds like offering “friend card” after a break up, but with this girl we never talked romance at all and nothing more than friendly dates happened. I liked her, she was funny and we made each other laugh. I want to have nice people in my life, romantic partners and friends.

  36. Chutzpelady says:

    This Blog is a godsend: Natalies elegant and always meaningful posts and all the amazing comments here.
    I found BR while I was in the midst of a “Comeback” with my first love, when I was ca. 17. He dumped me then. And because I wanted to enlighten my clouded childhood-memories (sorry, I am German speaking so my grammar and style isn’t always perfect here…) I decided two years ago to contact him again. He is now a wellknown and really rich guy, but relationship wise a total looser. He was dripfeeding me informations, every date we had presented me with new surprises. In his own words he was a cheater, he warned me not to fall in love with him. Red Flags over and over. But I simply could not install boundaries, because only after this experience and through Natalies posts I found out, that I have a right to have them!
    Anyway, every date I had with him I had to beg for. What a humiliation. I am 61, not a teenager anymore! After every date I felt anger simmering in me, when I expressed it via emails, he mostly ignored my concerns and my opinions.
    He war arrogant, always on the run to very important projects. And I was just this woman who challenged him.
    I cannot believe that I accepted his behaviour for so long. I believe now that I did never learn standing up against meanness. When I did so as I child I was beaten up by my father, ignored by my mother. Only a couple of weeks ago I started to set boundaries concerning my younger brother und my older sister who are constantly verbally abusing me. Well one is never to old to get a backbone!
    Two weeks ago I met that man again for dinner. Without warning he told me, that he was in a relationship with a woman and started telling me details about flying in to see her, etc. Well, I managed to survive that dinner (in a restaurant). Back in his car, I asked for some details, which I regret now. They met through friends, in London, blablabla.
    I cannot understand how he confronted me so nonchalantly with his news. We couldn’t he just send me a polite mail and tell me that he wasn’t available anymore. I think he was cruel and downright mean. We didn’t have sex but kissed.
    By informing me way after being involved with somebody else he treated me like somebody absolutely unimportant in his so very important life.
    I told him that I would not see him again. Since then I wrote every day an “unsent letter”, as shown in Natalies worksheet and guide, to work through my feelings of shame, anger and humiliation. I do suffer and it affects my work as a writer. (yes I do write about it, but it hurts deeply anyway)
    I asked myself,why did I not end it before I was replaced behind my back? Why is it possible that those powerful get into relationships, even when they are neurotic, cheat? Why do the succeed to bring a really warmhearted woman to her knees?
    How can I get over this deep disappointment and see the light again?
    Do those men KNOW what they are doing? Or are they just downright stupid? Thank you for reading me. O god….!

  37. Chutzpelady says:

    To clarify: We never had “real” sex, because I was extra careful with him. But he was the one who started touching me, when we had your first date. And we kissed. So he knew that it wasn’t a platonic friendship going on.

    • M says:

      Hi Chutzpelady, I think by this age we all know what we are doing. So he kissed you. “People kiss”, said one woman character in one Seinfeld episode to Jerry while breaking up with him. Sounds like he played with you a little and felt no regrets since you were asking for it yourself. Sorry about your pain. I think he quickly realized his mistake and told you about his relationship for you to not get your hopes up. I am sure he felt guilty about it, but was probably flattering to toy with you a little. It seems like you never got over him leaving you years ago when you were 17. You are 61 now, he and you are completely different people then you were back then. I can relate, certain things I carry with me for years never forgetting. I think this is what EU is all about, we can’t completely move on. I think this is what makes it harder as we age to find love. We accumulate these past hurts and want to resolve that past pain by playing out a phantasy reunion alleviating that past pain. I think there is no way to just forget about it if you are still thinking of him since you were 17. So you must treat it like an addiction. An addict in recovery knows she can’t ever be cured of her addiction, so she has to consciously make a decision to not take the drug every time she feels the urge. Easier said then done, I know. I’ve sent out many stupid emails, and did humiliating things I later regretted. It’s the rejection that gets us. Some women from my past never rejected me and we have good communication and I’d never do anything stupid to lose their respect. This one who went NC, made me lose my mind. But it is not her responsibility to do anything about it, it’s mine. So all you can do is to try to forgive this man and find peace eventually, but don’t try to get him to soothe your pain, he probably feels very guilty about the whole thing and will avoid you like plague. Hang in there and try managing obsessive thought through mediation maybe?

  38. Peanut says:

    Thanks Nat. Your words are invaluable.

    Everything written in this is true; spot on.

    Don’t be afraid of walking away from people to gain self respect.

    Ain’t no shame in that.

  39. Peanut says:

    It’s a blessing when people with poor boundaries want nothing to do with you.

    I am never more flattered than when my family leaves me alone. Nothing in this world feels greater.

    I love this blog so much. xx

  40. Peanut says:


    She’s not interested.

    The reason I ended it with the ex was because he was not respectful enough.

    Not sure what you mean by “nice” guy. I’m not a “nice girl.” I’m pretty warm, but observant and mostly assertive, and generally confident unless faced with a life or death situation. And even then I hold my own.

    I want a man no less of what I am.

    Attraction can be tricky and our childhoods/caregivers play a bigger part than most people want to admit.

    Healthy relationships are built on values–like values–nothing more, nothing less.

    We do give men chances; the problems arise when we give unavailable men a chance.

    • M says:

      Peanut, ‘nice guy’ means I was being respectful, fun, interesting, took her on good dates which she enjoyed very much, etc. Did not try to fastforward things, just trying to be more like the man BR readers want in their lives. Is it all genuine? Well yes, in a way, I’ve always behaved this way and did not force myself upon anyone, but in the past perhaps I would be kissing my date the first time we went out. I don;t know if this one would want me to, I thought she might have but honestly I did not want it badly enough. But you are right: “She’s just not that into me”.
      I wrote so much today did not get much work done ;-) These conversations are quite addictive. Cheers everyone, read you in the next BR post’s comments!

  41. Autism Sucks says:

    Since I have put up boundaries, I am a very isolated person. But you know what? That isn’t always the worst thing. Some of the people that have abandoned me over my healthy boundaries? Good goddamn riddance.

  42. Lilia says:

    Re your offer of friendship: where are you, in the US or Europe? I´m trying to get an idea of the cultural nuances in this situation.

    As for your plan to clear the air, I´d start by asking yourself first WHY you would want to do that. Is it a way to ask for an explanation? Do you want to let her know that she disappointed you? Do you want her to think that you don´t care that she rejected you romantically, because you see her as a friend anyway?

    I can only imagine that if you go on the friendship-path she´ll interpret it as a way to save your pride. Something like “Me, feeling rejected? Nah, I didn´t care about her anyway”. It´s a way men use to save face and we´ve all experienced it some time or another.
    I´d say don´t do it. Be emotionally available and don´t play those silly games. Be polite if necessary but ignore her from now on. You had some romantic interest in her but weren´t reciprocated. The truly attractive man doesn´t embark on those boyish strategies but respects himself enough to acknowledge the situation for what it is and move on.

    • M says:

      Thank you, very well said, Lilia. I am in US, we are both from different European countries. I think what you say is true. Saving face is behind my wish do ‘clear the air’. I will not do it, it would be boyish, and I want to stop my boyish behaviors if I want to be with a real woman who will respect me as a real man which I guess I am not always…

  43. Elizabeth says:

    This is the best advice! I’ve had unhealthy relationships where as soon as I started instituting proper boundaries, the person flipped out. Simple boundaries like, “I’m going to finish doing work before I see you.” This was a big sign that I was neglecting my own needs for my relationships. Awesome article.

  44. Wendy says:


    A married friend of mine with two kids told me the same thing about her. There is a man from her past that she loved more than any other man, including her now husband.

    I know that my ex and I were meant to be, but something went awfully wrong. Before we met, life happened to him and instead of him moving on and letting go of past failures, he became a product of his past and is now paralyzed by his past and so when I came along he couldn’t believe something so good could happen to him. He would even ask me, why me. I’ve failed at all my past relationships. I smiled and said, I guess me too since I was standing in his presence at that particular moment. He said he never looked at it that way. I know he did stupid things, he would act like an immature 2 year old sometimes, he had an unbalanced relationship with his mother, but I thought his soul was beautiful. Those moments where he let me in, where we were spiritually connected, no words needed to be spoken. He would have moments where he would tell me his fears, his desires, his dreams. He had never connected with a woman like he had me. Anxiety crippled him. Me loving him so deeply scared the heck out of him. He knows that him and I would have been amazing, but he’s so crippled from his past and anxiety, that he sabotaged it. But now that leaves me in an utter state of emotional confusion. I must now do my best to let go, move forward, and remain hopeful…sigh

  45. Tinkerbell says:


    Listen to Lilia’s good advice. Don’t make her any more important in your life than you are in hers. Please forget her and move on.

  46. Nigella says:

    It was his birthday, Feb. 26. Last year, I had spent the evening with Mr. Liar buying illusions about our future as a couple that he fed to himself and to me. “I am thinking of getting a flat in London. Is that something that might interest you? I want us to live together,” said the silver-tongued charlatan. Even then, a part of me sensed that his words were just words – ephemeral if not empty.

    I recall a snippet of that deceptively beautiful night to share the good news that – unlike last year – today I did not buy any illusions. Instead, after a demanding yet exciting day at work, I decided to buy something small yet special for myself: a heartwarming dinner at a nice restaurant. I savored each bite, counted my blessings, and looked forward to several things both near and afar.

    To feel happy, I didn’t *need* him last year. I didn’t him today and I certainly don’t need anyone like him in the future. Had I pretended that it was okay for him to ditch me for his friends, backpedal on promises, belittle my interests, disrespect my parents, literally feed me crumbs, disappear on me for days, then perhaps our sham relationship could have lasted longer than a few months. If I have to compromise my boundaries or have no boundaries to be with someone like the Liar, then I prefer to be on my own. Taking care of ourselves – daily & thoughtfully – is the key to fending off boundary-busting people.

    Before calling it a night, I wanted to thank all BR posters that helped me get through last year. Thank you also to Natalie for her life-changing insights into relationships. Slowly but surely, I am getting better at teaching myself and others to respect my boundaries – and for now I am giving people a few chances to understand what I am telling them. But after a certain point, boundary-busters just need to be expelled from your life.

    In being alone, I feel free with my truths rather than trapped with his lies, half-truths, illusions, and destructive habits. I feel free.

  47. Peanut says:


    superb advice.

  48. Noquay says:

    Sorry it took me awhile to respond but here goes. First off, the woman just wasn’t into you. We have been told ad nauseum to givea guy a chance, a second, third, fourth chance. It’s something about her, what she is/isn’t looking for. A$$holes come in both sexes and unfortunately disappearing is now acceptable behavior by many. Nope, we don’t, as a whole, want to be seduced; pursued maybe. From the perspective of anolder and yep, ssomewhat overedumacated chick, this is what we want:
    Financial responsibility
    Good self care (dress, health, lifestyle)
    Similar activity level and lifestyle
    Physical attraction
    Compatibility in the areas of values, intellect, sexuality
    Emotionally present
    I am assuming men want these same things, eh?

  49. HappyAgain says:

    Charlotte, you seem to have a good understanding of it all. Honestly getting through it is a process and alot of Natalie’s articles will help. You will feel sad but also tell you the truth like you are and you are wise to know you need support to help you take care of you. Do some things you like and dont dwell on wondering about him. He’ll make it right if he chooses to. All the best. Hang in there and be encouraged.

  50. Paula says:

    Finding this blog was the best thing I’ve done in a long time :) Love, love, love it

  51. Gingerbell says:

    This is a very insightful post regarding boundaries. I have generally been the type of gal pretty hesitant to draw my own lines in the sand in fear that my job, relationships etc will be compromised. I have in the past announced my boundaries and for those who are not used to them, they are instantly rejected. I have almost found myself defensive as I do it because it is so uncomfortable and I immediately expect a negative response.. and sometimes this is the case. I work in the film industry where people will push and push and draw as much energy from you until you backfire with anger and/or exhaustion. It’s never a good outcome.. so what I have learned is set them quickly, firmly and with as much positivity as you can.. If you show little drama and requirement for back up from the people you set the boundaries with the better. You must be convinced these rules are the best for you foremost or no one else has a chance of respecting them.

  52. “…many a person has felt at the loneliest when they’re being trampled on by someone and they’re having to abandon who they are and their self-respect in order to keep things going.” I sit here, as I type, fighting the urge to call an ex who obviously doesn’t care about my boundaries. That one quote above, from your article, saved me from making a mistake. I would only be granting him permission to ignore my boundaries, yet again. Wow, this isn’t easy when it’s happening to you!

  53. gi says:

    I just wanted to tell you this blog has been helping me a great, great deal. I can see so much clearer now. I “dated” an EUM (if you can call “date” having him showing up regularly on weekends to spend the night over and then spend the rest of the week texting me 3 or 4 times a day until weekend was there again, for 5 months) and I can’t believe the anger I’m feeling right now. Towards him, but also towards me. Because I disrespected myself so, so much. Allowing him to show up at 4 o’clock in the morning. Letting him mock things I said (in a kidding manner, but still, it hurt me). Hearing him once compare me to his ex, understanding full force that he wasn’t over her and that I would always be in her shadow, and not being able to even protest. I just “swallowed” it, feeling hurt and trying to “process”. Him showing up 1,5 hour after saying he’d come over (late at night) and me still opening the door. I was so terrified he would leave me I demolished all boundaries, and feel so ashamed now that I sometimes feel my face burning just thinking about it.
    If I ever date again, I’ll have to be tough and remember to set my boundaries and hear my gut. As difficult as it may get.
    Again, thanks and sorry for the poor english :).

  54. […] even if what you thought was loyalty has, and to blame it on your worth, is to keep up this whole owning other people’s behaviour and pretending that you have Jedi mind tricking […]

  55. […] even if what you thought was loyalty has, and to blame it on your worth, is to keep up this whole owning other people’s behaviour and pretending that you have Jedi mind tricking […]

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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