When I talk to people who are afraid of what they think that being in a relationship means, or with frustrated couples, one of the underlying beliefs that can cause a multitude of problems, is this idea that they have to agree on everything. Eve-ry-thing. Have to. That’s why I’ve heard from so many people who pursue their idea of a soul mate – somebody who thinks, feels and acts like them all of the time. I’ve yet to meet anyone who is with someone like this but I have come across many people who believe that they had this vision within their grasp for a period of time. Of course real life came along.

We can’t agree on every last little thing. Of course we can pretend that we do but the truth is that even if we keep it zipped, privately we don’t agree on every last little thing with every last person who is in our lives. We don’t. You don’t.

If you’ve been thinking that you’ve got to, you’ve been setting you up to fail. If you’ve believed that you can disagree but then you feel really rejected, wounded, and possibly tend to bail/attack when people disagree with you, there’s an underlying belief that you have to agree and that disagreeing means something negative about you and/or the other person, or it’s assumed that the relationship is doomed. Hell I’ve seen people assume that their jobs are doomed due to a disagreement!

If you’ve had one of these ‘soul mate’ relationships end, you’ll likely have felt terribly wounded by the loss, or if this person is still around, disappointed that they haven’t lived up to this expectation while possibly blaming you or feeling cheated. “You screwed me over! You’re not perfect!” “I want a refund! You’re not my Siamese twin!”

If we want to go out with or be around people who are exactly like us so that we get to live out our version of “Well if it were me…”, we might as well go out with ourselves or one of those cardboard cutouts that they use for promotional displays, or even one of those ‘human’ blow up dolls.

We don’t have to agree on everything. Find me the court order, the commandment, or even the life rule that states that we must do this. I guarantee that you won’t find it.

The only person who thinks, feels, and acts like us all of the time is us and that’s only if we’re being authentic. Some of us are such people pleasers that we’re playing multiple roles at any one given time, all with an invisible doormat costume.

A painful tale I’ve heard numerous times is the one where we think we’re with The One and then we have what seems like this minor disagreement or even a big legitimate disagreement and… that’s the end of the relationship. We kick ourselves for having said anything and play the whole scenario in our minds over and over again. We trick ourselves into believing that if we hadn’t argued at all that we would have lived happily ever after and feel punished for disagreeing.

“I thought we could have worked through the disagreement like normal couples do” has been said to me many times.

Sometimes we recognise the crack pipe thinking and tell ourselves that it’s not that we could never have disagreed but if we’d held off having any disagreements until year two instead of say, month three, that we could have weathered the storm and lived happily ever after. We scared them away by being human. Yeah…

How people deal with conflict along with the inevitable bumps in the road, tells you a lot about who they are. Most people can seem like The Best Person On Earth during the honeymoon phase or when things are running smoothly. The person who will end your relationship over an argument, especially if it was petty or the result of needing to discuss something that was a real issue, doesn’t do conflict management and that’s not conducive to a relationship, never mind a healthy one.

When you hold onto this belief that you have to agree with others on everything, you’re effectively shooting you in the foot and removing your power before anything even happens. It promotes conflict avoidance so you’re going to suppress your true needs, wants, expectations, feelings, and opinions, out of fear of causing disagreements. Either that or you’ll be at the aggressive end of the spectrum and will attempt to coerce and even bully people into seeing and agreeing with your point. Of course when you railroad people into this, you’re never truly confident that they agree with you – they’re either scared of you or just hoping you’ll move on. Actually they’re probably exhausted as well…

When you expect never to be disagreed with, it’s avoidance of stretching yourself and doing due dilligence, after all, if you assume that everyone ‘should’ be like you, how much work is really involved with getting to know someone?

Disagreeing is an opportunity to explore our own and each other’s positions. We need to have this curiosity. You need to have this curiosity because the people who agree with everything even when they don’t or even shouldn’t, aren’t learning and growing.

You can love someone and disagree with them at times. You are two different people. Love does not equal ‘Always do as I say and expect’; that’s control.

I used to be terrified of not agreeing with people as if I expected to be laid into verbally or physically. I either bailed, retreated, or if I’d been simmering like a pressure cooker for a while, exploded. I was also guilty of deciding what people ‘should’ say and then being mad at them for not reading my mind. That’s just not healthy.

I don’t feel judged when I have disagreements (unless I actually am being) – when we put the energy into judging the person or ourselves, we forget to listen and possibly end up being super-defensive. When there isn’t an expectation of being agreed with all the time, you expect that you’re going to differ in opinion. Yes some disagreements will be harder than others but each one teaches you more about you and the other person. If you can’t disagree, you can’t have a relationship with that person because it omits reality, respect and trust, and that’s just for starters.

Your thoughts?

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97 Responses to We Don’t Have To Agree On Everything, Especially With Loved Ones

  1. True partner says:

    I guarantee you though if a woman gets smarmy and tells a man he’s soooo right he will treat her like a princess whereas if she tells him that he’s treating others badly or otherwise disagrees with him on anything significant he will justify his behavior that she’s so mean. And that’s where mistresses beat wives every time. Telling a man what he wants to hear will never fail.

    • Tulipa says:

      “I guarantee you though if a woman gets smarmy and tells a man he’s soooo right he will treat her like a princess”

      I completely disagree.

      I never disagreed with the ex AC I had a fantastic blow smoke up his ass machine and he treated me like complete and utter crap.

      In my case I wasn’t the other woman, but I have read enough other woman stories on here to know if that is all a man wanted someone to agree with all he says and does why aren’t these men leaving their wives in droves to be with this woman who is getting ‘princess’ treatment?

      • Lacy says:

        Thats too funny.I think I had that same machine I would just stare and tell him how fine he was,I ran red lights to go buy him and his friend food with my money,also washed his clothes his dad, Mom,and his 4 kids, maybe even his girlfriend who knows. I Won’t ever know I’ve been Nc since 2-15-13, it is hard only because now I’m in my grief stage and secrectly hoping he would come back begging so I could say no.He has been calling my landline but I don’t answer, he came by I didn’t even peep out the window.My daughter answered on accident but automatically replied that I wasn’t home as soon as she answered,and I heard him thru the phone he sounded kinda rude, no hello just(where is your mom I’m at the door) so a teenage girl gave it right back and hung up.My thoughts are consumed with him but not sexually or wanting to be back in the game but just why would he do those things to me? And why if he didn’t want me he kept lying and then give part of the truth here and there? I will be glad when I’m over this madness but I have no desire to talk to him or see him.

    • paolo says:

      True Partner. I don’t agree with you. I like a woman to challenge my beliefs and argue with me in a civilised way. Otherwise i’d feel like i was with someone with no mind of her own.

    • MomInWA says:

      True Partner,

      I respectfully disagree. Maybe some men, sure, but my man likes me to talk to him about my feelings and point of view when we disagree. I feel pretty lucky that we do agree on most things, but of course we can’t always agree on all things. I appreciate the man who can listen to me and who will love me through disagreements.

      I really enjoyed the article, NML, thank you! I have a defense mechanism where I bolt when people disagree with me. I’m changing my attitude and behavior! It’s work but it’s worth it. I don’t want to lose any more good people over simple (and sometimes dumb) disagreements. It’s a good day! 😀

    • Allison says:

      Sounds like much will be sacrificed on her side. Which of her needs get met?

      I don’t know any man that would have respect for a woman that would agree to everything he says. Are you the OW? If so, I think you may be deluding yourself.

      This is really old-time thinking. We have evolved!

    • Revolution says:

      True Partner,

      While I appreciate your comment, I don’t agree either. Because if that were true, I’d never have had any dates, and (*ahem*) many men find me attractive, even though I’m a feisty little wench sometimes. The difference is that, as Paolo alluded to, I disagree in a civilized way, without stripping them of their manhood and/or dignity. And I have to say, men love a woman with her own mind. It’s sexy as hell.

      Sometimes I think that I think more like a man than a woman, because I can see so clearly why we as women are attractive to men. And it’s not because we’re either doormats or feisty sex kittens. It’s so much more subtle than that. It’s about connecting with our true femininity, which is so much more powerful than we understand. And it’s not even about men at the end of the day. It’s about getting back “home” to our nature. Though men do notice and appreciate it once we do.

  2. So true. I keep thinking that the perfect person and me will just ‘connect’. We will like the same things, dislike the same things and generally be the same person in two different bodies.

    It just doesn’t work like that.

    The only think I do expect to be the same though are values – such as fidelity, trust, hope, respect, but otherwise, surely the relationship would be dull if everything was exactly the same?

    I think in the beginning of the relationship I was just too quick to “agree” with everything said because I didn’t want to come across as an argumentative and ‘difficult’ girlfriend and I wanted to avoid hurting his male ego.

  3. Heather says:

    Still learning this one. I find myself slipping into the bad habit of going along to get along. Ouch! All that does is build resentment and walls. I see it happening where my first response is to run – dang it after this many years you would thing I’ve gotten past this insanity. I guess unchecked it can run amuck.

  4. Tanzanite says:

    Hi Natalie/everyone

    I think it’s a sign of a good friendship if you can accept differences of opinion.The problem with disagreeing is that some people would automatically think that means you don’t like them but that’s not true at all.

    I now always ask myself this question- Does this person enhance my life ?

    When we think of the people who brought us to this site the answer is always no.

    • tiffrbug says:

      Thanks Nat! This has perfect timing. I have recently learned, or let’s say “remembered” the value of conflict. I love meeting “different” people and being “open” to their opinions. In fact, I realize it leads to learning and growing, which I love!!

      I have also realized how unrealistic the expectations were of me in the last relationship. I was told “my parents never fought” and “don’t sweat the small stuff”. I felt like I was tip-toeing and trying to not start conflict, which always led to more. If I got mad because he made me wait, I was told “I should just be happy he was home, and not ruin the whole night.” Plans were made for me, and it was a problem if I raised the fact that I would like to be consulted first. I was made to feel stupid because I didn’t think “JackAss” was funny. If I wanted my coffee with Splenda, it was ordered with sugar because “that was stupid.” I was not allowed to have any concept of self. Good luck with finding a doormat, Jackass! I can’t wait until history repeats itself again, for him, that is. :)

      What’s crazy is, before I got into that relationshit, I was always so bold, and always standing up for what I believed. I was a part of things that inspired growth, and I was an awesome leader. I came out with none of this. As I get little parts of me back, I am starting to experience more conflict, and I think it’s a good sign. :)

    • jewells says:

      Tanzanite, that is such an excellent question to ask ourselves about the people that we have in our lives. It doesn’t matter how sexy sweet lovely adoring handsome attractive we find someone, or how long we’ve known our bff’s, or what role we think they play in our lives….the bottom line check in for ourselves is exactly that: do they enhance or detract from my life? When I review that who brought me here, I agree with you whole heartedly on that one – definitely a detraction, on many levels. Someone who seeks to manipulate a situation to their advantage through lies disempowers us and could never be an enhancement no matter what fantasies they spin.

      • Tanzanite says:


        It works with all relationships too.It cuts the analysing down to the minimum.

        It took me 5 years to recover from the AC/non relationship but just the other day I realised I don’t think about him very much at all.If only I’d have spent less time analysing his behavior and more time asking myself if he enhanced my life.

        You live and learn.

  5. stacey allam says:

    very hard o express my real opinion to others that arenot my husband he calls me a zelig because especially when i was younger i went along to get along

  6. cameron says:

    Mmm mmm mmmm….love that Natalie straight talk..having been the outspoken and vocal female to a controlling male for many years before YOU helped me chart a new course in my life…I am very familiar with this ‘fantasy’ concept of a soul mate and the concept that all conflict is ‘unnecessary’ and we should just ‘get along’ and lets do, feel and be the same people…ummmm I’m not THAT girl!! Oh how good it felt to get ME the empowering feel of being myself AND how quickly I started hearing the very ‘caution’ sayings like – ‘you’ve changed’, in fact anything that starts with YOU…and most sentences do with these people…is a big red flag for me now. Natalie yet another breakthrough message that I, for one, will read and reread..thank you SO MUCH for helping me to see the light.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Hi Natalie, Hi everyone,

    I remember a while back a friend telling me that my relationships never lasted because I needed to find someone who liked the same things as me and vice-versa. I told them that if I wanted that I’d be in a long term relationship with myself, and that I would love more then anything someone who shares my beliefs like being honest at all cost no big black lies no little white lies, in my opinion it takes a courageous person to be honest,
    I believe respect is something that is given to each other, My other beliefs are love, kindness, forgiveness, accountability, and more.
    Anyways this post has me thinking about my EX now and what he told someone after he dumped me for his new ex girlfriend, he said that me and him would’ve never worked because we were so different meaning I wasn’t artistic and I didn’t share the same fascination in music, so he cheated on me and then started dating her and yes of course he rubbed it in my face any chance he could find and I thought is this my punishment for being me for being an individual?
    I can’t be any one but me, I don’t know how to be any body else.
    This thought came to me what good a common interest Ie. walks in the park holding hands if the one your with can without forethought disrespect you deceive you and cheat.
    I think it’s normal to disagree and healthy and as for common interest, well they’re not that important.

  8. Tinkerbell says:

    I’ve been pondering this topic for awhile and it has come at the right time. My bf and I are VERY compatible. However, we do not argue and rarely even disagree. I’m talking about the heavy stuff like goals, values, opinions about family, the world, etc. I like the fact that I say exactly what I mean if we have a discrepancy and he does also, so that there are no “loose ends to tie up later. We enjoy each other immensely and it has little to do with sex. I wonder if this is too good a relationship. Has anyone had this experience with a man? How do I handle this when I’m one who has always thrived on drama and conflict. It feels great to be at peace, but I wonder still. Feedback, please. We’ve been exclusive for 9 months.

    • VermontGirl says:

      Tinkerbell, I understand completely your confusion over finding yourself in a peaceful, no-drama relationship because I am experiencing the same. I don’t think anyone “thrives” on drama; it is spirit-draining and takes us away from our true selves. We may find it familiar, but it’s not healthy to have constant upset and conflict. It sounds like you have common core values with a real chance at something lasting. Don’t question the gift!

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Thank you Vermont Girl. I was doubting myself after that post telling myself that I was on the wrong blog to get a response to my little “problem” I didn’t expect an overwhelming response because this blog is not about great relationships. But I did want to hear at least ONE person’s view as I’ve wondered if this is “normal”. Thank you. I will stop viewing it as a problem or as a total abberation from what is normal. I will just be content and participate in happy times, without questioning it all.

        • DiggingDeeper says:


          I was thinking the same thing: It doesn’t sound as if there is a problem.

          But I hesitated to respond to this comment because I have never experienced a good relationship, so with that said: I can only imagine that it would probably ‘feel’ differently…to be in a good relationship, but it would not be a ‘bad’ different, so I say trust your gut with confident spidey senses in tact.

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Digging Deeper. Thanks for your response. I need to relax and stop anticipating a problem between until it presents itself. 9 months is still the dating/discovery phase? I guess. We are still learning about each other. I’m thankful that I have love, care, trust and respect and feel comfortable that we are very close friends with a bright future for a deeper relationship.

            • Mymble says:

              I don’t know and no-one else can diagnose your relationship. However, I wonder how you really feel about this guy? I had a couple of long term relationships which from the outside looked picture perfect; nice guys, spent a lot of time together,no drama, rows, or abuse. BUT they were essentially tepid and emotionally unsatisfying.
              There was little real intimacy and in my heart of hearts I wasn’t deeply interested in spending my life with them. I was EU and so were they, and we were with each other to avoid being alone.
              Only you know if that is relevant to you but what you said about being friends reminded me of myself.
              My belief is that some passion is necessary, if it’s “vanilla” that’s a sign of underlying lack of interest (on your and/or his part)

            • Allison says:


              Relax and enjoy this relationship. No self-sabotage!!!!!
              He sounds like a good guy, don’t let you EU tendencies allow you to over think and screw things up.
              Remember, you deserve happy and normal.

            • runnergirl says:

              Tinkerbell, like the others I hesitated to respond because I was interested in how folks would respond. My initial thought was not to wait for the other shoe to drop. I know if I ever walk in your shoes for 9 months, I’ll be waiting for “it”. Darn, if I have one good day, I find myself waiting for issues to arise the next day! For me, if I were walking in your shoes, I would want to stay grounded and present and be able to evaluate the type of disagreement when it occurs. As Natalie suggests, disagreement is an opportunity to learn about the other person. You are still in the discovery phase.
              PS. The exMM and I disagreed vehemently over honesty, trust, and respect out of the starting gate. But I suppressed my values, needs, and desires until I boiled over. He never had to read my mind, I expressed it and then stuck around (my actions didn’t match my words)…until I hit the wall. Take it slowly and gently and keep your BR eyes open.

        • selkie says:

          Oh Tinkerbell :-) I wrote a response to you but then erased it instead of posting it because I thought, ‘what do I know about normal relstionships?’ and didn’t think I had any helpful words to offer other than…..’YOU give me hope’….and similar to Vermont Girl, don’t question the gift. Stay in the moment.

  9. MSA says:

    @True partner:
    I couldn’t agree with you more. This was my problem with my ex husband; whenever I disagreed, I’m labelled a bad and unwise wife, unloving and selfish. It was like the gates of hell were opened on me just because I had a different opinion than his. Other times, I’m superb, I’m the love of his life, amazing and all that s**t, just because I’m saying, “yes.. Ok… Whatever you say”, I was on the verge of schizophrenia (not literally, but yeah, it almost felt like that) and was actually diagnosed with severe depression and borderline PTSD. I told him why not blame me for global warming and the wars around the world too?!! Maybe those, too, are my fault. He TAUGHT me conflict avoidance. Our arguments ONLY ended when I apologized… For anything. What’s horrible was that I didn’t even see what he did. He made me believe him and lose my self esteem and faith in myself and judgement. When I finally saw the truth and threw him off the pedestal, he said he didn’t recognise me, that I’m such a rebel and again.. Not a good wife or mother for wanting to leave him. Yeah well, see if I care now what you think. I am thankful to have people in my life who truly love me and believe in me, and had no idea he was doing this to me, but saw the change in me when I was with him.

    Anyway, point is, some people can lead you to avoid conflict at any cost. When the cost was my self esteem, that’s when I woke up and realized he’ll never change and if I continue with him, the guilt trips will never end and I’ll just lose myself in the process, my children will lose me. I’ll turn into this maimed ghost that’s trying to be his shadow. Enough of that already!!!

    Thanks Nat for that post. I’ve always wanted to hear what you had to say about conflicts being a normal part of any healthy relationship. Those that go too smoothly probably have something hidden there and is better recognized and dealt with before it erupts like a seemingly inert volcano that destroys anything in its path.

    One thing I appreciate about my latest ex bf, is when we disagree, he reassures me, saying things like, “you’re still beautiful even if we disagree about this” or when he wanted to pursue his studies away, he said, “this doesn’t change the way I feel about you, but it’s something I always dreamed of doing” and I know that’s true. We still might get back together, but each of us is still sorting out stuff in our lives.

  10. Teddie says:

    Often, there is this confusion between being in agreement and being understood. “You don’t agree with me”, is assumed to mean “You don’t understand me”. This is so irritating! The only healthy thing to do is to make clear “I understand your point, I get where your coming from, and I am still of a different opinion.”

  11. Tired says:

    I was or was mentally bullied into being a compliant wife . To the point i sounded like a parrot “you okay” id say like a mantra . Oh somtimes id disagree but itwould turn into a row or brow beating from him and id doubt myself . My ex husband said he respected me more last two years i stood up to him . So agreeing all time doesnt get you a better deal . I aldo was a chief sympathiser to the ex mm and that DID not change my treatment . He prob had quite a few various forms of harem to text when he felt crap . If i ever kicked up hed just walk away . So id say be true to yourself FIRST of as its our selves we live with every minute of day . With the hubby it did fester into resentment for me , turning into dislike resulting in me making a huge whooper in my life lol . If id just been me id have left and not got into mess i did . We ate better friends now but now and then hell try and brow beat me . I feel the appeaser rise up from bit of stomache but i say what are you going timmid for? You are free now if you dont agree say so !

    • Lacy says:

      I agree tired we should be true to ourselves.Agreeing just to fit in u will wind up losing yourself.I agreed to all kinds of nonsense and when I tried to voice my oppinion he would say that I was unreasonable and thats why we couldn’t get along.I would listen to what he had to say and it mostly was things he think I should do or think.I shouldn’t buy a car in cash I should lease one,or I should wear my hair short not long he likes short better if I’d say well I like short to but its expensive for me to maintain he say I’m making excuses, or I should eat chilli fries and how is it that I don’t like them? I said its not that I don’t like them I just prefer not to eat that kind of stuff,so I tried them they were good but,I still don’t prefer to buy it or eat it, he said I was always being difficult. I’m me a work in progress I try not to be defensive but if I don’t agree I just don’t but I don’t have a problem with someone else’s view points.

  12. Alba says:

    Hi there! I’m new here, read this site a lot but never commented before.
    I really do agree with this post, but how do you know it’s healthy disagreement or too much? The guy I date says he gets to know people by playing advocate for the devil. He’s always testing my boundaries to see ‘what kind of person I am’ and to be fair I don’t really like that even though I apparently past all the tests till now. He said that I’m behaving so ‘right’ that this is the best way for him to really ‘know’. It seems like a huge red flag, even when he is not really crossing my boundaries, only poking them, does a lot of thing right and when we talk about it and sees I’m serious doesn’t try -that particular thing- again. I’m really confused because if its serious enough to consider leaving. We are really honest, exclusive and have really open communication.
    Sorry for the spelling mistakes or grammar btw, I’m not a native speaker :)

    • Tabitha says:

      Alba. Don’t worry about your English, what you wrote was perfectly understandable. I did see red when I read it though!
      You have to “pass his tests!?” GRRRRRRR!!!!!!!
      Sorry but this smacks of you having to jump through hoops to gain this mans approval. Does something about this relationship feel familiar to you? Did you have to work hard to gain your parents approval?
      I would flush him. If you are not ready to do that yet, just proceed with caution and watch what he does. Is he treating you with love care and respect? Do you feel safe and valued? If not then run the other way with your head held high. Good luck.

      • EllyB says:

        Alba, I totally agree with Tabitha! It is some really ugly game this guy is playing (well, at least he admits he is doing it to everybody…)

        I’m quite sure at some point you are going to “fail” his tests because he will intentionally set you up to do so. It’s part of his brainwashing, intended to make you self-conscious. Yes, he makes you jump through hoops and I agree with Tabitha’s GRRRRRR too!

        Please leave him. You deserve so much better!

        Btw I am not a native speaker either. Nothing to worry about!

      • paolo says:

        Alba..I have to disagree with Tabitha..Sorry…Sometimes a man will test a woman as much as a woman will test a man..It’s a way of making sure we’re not falling for a secret skanky hoe or some other awful thing we don’t know about…Any man that starts to care is going to make sure he is not falling for yet another woman he can’t respect down the line..And trust me there’s too many women out there these days that are like that, just as much as there are men…Fine in the beginning, then the cracks start to show as they unfold and the red flags become a pleanty.

        • EllyB says:

          Paolo, I agree that we should watch people carefully. Anyway, “testing their boundaries” should NEVER be a part of it. “Testing someone’s boundaries” in my book means committing small acts of abuse and to see how the other person reacts to it – basically like with the frog and the hot water. It would never occur to me to do that do a date! It is absolutely not okay.

          • EllyB says:

            And btw it is totally contradictory to “respect” a woman only if she refuses to put up with abuse. A woman who refuses to put up with abuse would dump that abuser as soon as he tried to abuse her!

            • Alba says:

              I actually agree with this too. And besides, there’s a lot of contradictions. He says I have a lot of boundaries and I ask to much of people and that the consequence of that is that I filter out a lot of people that may add value into my life. He even told me to test his boundaries a bit more and be not that ‘nice’. On the other hand I asked him, why would I let people cross my boundaries, I don’t feel good when that happens, the other person respects me less and I devalue myself. He actually agreed on that and said that he wouldn’t like it if I actually would put up with it.

              • pinkpanther says:

                He sounds immature, something wrong, something kind of nasty in this way of thinking. And the fact that he tells you is NOT indicating it’s ok because he’s being “honest”. What he’s telling you is he has trust issues (I know alot of us do, and that’s no crime), but he seems to like games and if you don’t want to play along, he might not be the guy for you.

            • paolo says:

              Sorry EllyB, but it’s not abuse to test a woman at all. What is abuse about wanting to find out if the woman a man starts to have feelings for has character or not? Women test men all the time for this same reason. Its kinda hypocritical for to say a man shouldn’t and kinda lame to play the abuse card. Especialy where there isn’t any.

              • EllyB says:

                If I understand you correctly, some men (or women) treat a woman (or a man) “a little bit badly” in order to see how he/she reacts. If he/she puts up with it, then “not cool”, if he/she doesn’t, then “cool”. Did I get this right?

                To me this doesn’t sound “normal”, but quite frankly… childish. What a waste of time. I would not want to spend my time with a partner trying to find out what he would put up with.

                I would want to be with somebody who would never think of treating me badly, and likewise it would never occur to me to push his boundaries either. Boundaries simply aren’t meant to be pushed. They are meant to be respected.

              • Tabitha says:

                Paulo I think most of us here consider deliberate and consistent boundary busting to be abuse, whatever the motivation.

              • selkie says:


                The abuse card? Calling her lame and hypocritical because she disagrees with you? Wow.
                Ironic given what this whole post is about.

              • Tinkerbell says:

                IMO, you should reveal clearly that you are male. This will avoid misunderstandings because men and women think differently on a lot of issues. I read ONE of your posts that very subtly revealed this fact. Maybe others have not read that one. Then too, maybe I’m the dense one.

                • paolo says:

                  Tinkerbell..What part of the name Paolo seems ambiguous??

                  • Hi Paolo

                    Just a quick note to say that the comment regarding gender slipped through my net as it shouldn’t have been published. Aside from the fact that your name speaks for itself, there is no obligation for any person to clarify their gender and comments within guidelines are welcomed from both sexes.

                  • Tinkerbell says:

                    I realize it’s a man’s Italian name. Like I said, maybe I’m the dense one. I only made that suggestion since there were differing opinions about your posts. Just for a better understanding. Certainly not to REQUIRE that you reveal your gender. Sorry to step on toes.

                • EllyB says:

                  I’m not sure whether gender is really all that relevant here. I’ve met guys who were exposed to very similar mind games from their wives/girl-friends, and they were suffering and questioning themselves just as much as we do when being treated this way.

                  • Tinkerbell says:

                    No gender is not relevant and, yes, men do encounter many of the same relationship problems that women do. I only brought it up because oftentimes their views and opinions, and solutions are quite different from ours, as women. Obviously, the blog has changed and we can no longer assume a female is posting. That’s a good thing and I have NO PROBLEM with men posting. We all benefit the wider the input and variety of different kinds of people posting.

                    • paolo says:

                      If men didn’t encounter the problems women do in relationships then wouldn’t find Baggage Reclaim so invaluable…They must do..I can’t be the only one.

    • Allison says:


      What kind of tests?

      When you tell him this bothers you and want it to stop, what does he say?
      If he continues after you have voiced your feelings, he is disrespecting you and playing mind games.

      I couldn’t put up with this!

      • Alba says:

        Well, it’s actually on all area’s. But there were a few incidents that actually bothered me.
        – After he says something sweet he instantly ‘undoes’ it by saying something stupid or mean (in my opinion, he thinks its just joking) We talked about it twice and when he understood that I really didnt like it he stopped doing it
        – Trying to see how I react to him being late, he knows I don’t like that and would go away doing fun stuff with friends if someone stood me up or is late. He is a bit later every date. Yesterday when I told him I’d rather have him come half an hour later because his previous appointment was running late he said it wasn’t necessary. After that he called every 20 min. giving an update but in the end he was more than an hour late. Normally I wouldnt take that but because of the phonecalls it felt like it was only 10 min. or something each time, afterwards it felt like he kept me ‘in place’ by calling but still not really rushing on his behalve.
        – We had a third thing that was minor, but I told him it was important for me. He promised he’d do it, but didn’t. I asked him why, he told me he didnt think it was a big deal and he would do it if he rememberd. We had this talk 3 times over 3 weeks and only the third time he did it immediately. He tells me when it is really important he would do anything for me, but I should cut him slack on ‘unimportant stuff’.

        I feel that I should have the choice of what is important for me, and I feel like that after he tests this one boundry and decides its in its place, he moves on to another one. In this proces, I feel like I still hold on to my boundaries but they are streched or he is walking on the line all the time.

        • EllyB says:

          Alba – most of those incidents admittedly sound like rather “small” issues, but what worries me is the fact that he explicitly told you he was “testing your boundaries”.

          I think a healthy guy would simply apologize when being late because he would feel bad about it. A healthy guy wouldn’t claim his bad behavior was a “test”! This is quite condescending actually. In such a case, it should be up to YOU to judge his behavior (is he disrespecting you by being late too often)? Instead, he makes it all about YOU by judging your reaction to his behavior. This sounds wrong to me.

          Likewise, a healthy guy would not quickly “undo” the nice things he said to you because he would want you to be happy.

          It really sounds like him playing mind games, and I wonder whether things might get worse with him over time.

          • Wiser says:

            I had a boss once who was always making these little “tests” to see how the staff would respond. He would say odd, rude or challenging statements to see how off-balance it would thrown us and if we could make some kind of witty comeback. This was his way of finding out how “sharp” we were. In reality it was just his way of making sure he stayed on top, with the rest of us squirming and uncertain of where we stood. Needless to say, we all hated him.

            What you’re describing is not healthy or caring, nor is it a legitimate way of finding out what kind of person you are. It’s a sign of a complete control freak who enjoys mind games. Run!

        • Allison says:

          This guy sounds very passive aggressive and is into mind fuckery!!

          Who does these things! This is not about your values or getting to know you

          • Allison says:

            Also, this guy is managing down your expectations, so that you will expect little in the future.

            • selkie says:

              It seems more like some sort of control thing for him to have you constantly PROVE your boundaries while he tries to break them just to test you? That’s just weird and sounds exhausting really. You are not his lab rat.

            • Holly says:

              Is this the man I was dating? Sound very familiar. What complete mind games. He seems to have wheedled out your insecurities and is playing on them. This is very disrespectful and sounds like he doesn’t really care, no, he doesn’t care about your feelings.

              Yes, he is managing down your expectations and in the meantime you are getting more involved (even if you dont mean too) yet confused and he has got you exactly where he wants you…… On a string. Sorry if I sound harsh but if I were you I’d get out. Ha, it’s easy from the outside saying that. I stayed and got third degree burns!

          • paolo says:

            Allison, Selkie, etc..Sometimes i will not contact a woman to see if she is still interested in me and wants to make the effort..That is the kind of test im talking about..I don’t see anything abusive in that…The tests i put to women are more to do with test of healthy balance so that im not running ahead of myself and imagining it’s going somewhere it isn’t..Stuff like that..I don’t think that’s abusive at all.

        • Lilia says:

          Alba, frankly this guy sounds like a sadist! The whole business of “testing you” seems like an excuse to be cruel. And then telling you to do the same back to him? Really, what dangerous game is he trying to get you in?

          I once had a guy tell me an ex girlfriend of his always got sexually aroused when he was angry. In the beginning I just thought Well, what a strange girl. But then, as this guy´s behaviour got weirder and weirder (this was done very subtly, over time, so I didn´t really notice at first) I realised he was “testing” if I would engage in some masochistic setup with him. Once I saw things clearly it scared the sh*t out of me!

          Please Alba take care of yourself and run away from this man! We don´t want to see you involved with some 60 shades of pain-character!

          • jewells says:

            Yes, I agree with all that has been said on this man Alba. He is ‘grooming’ you. It’s what predators do, this situation will only get worse and you will lose yourself. RUN.

  13. MSA says:

    Wow!! if I had short term memory loss, I would’ve thought it was me who wrote your post. The difference is that we’re in the middle of the children struggle now, but neither of us wants to take it to court, for their sake rather than anything else. So, in a way, I’m still under his coercive influence, it’s making me more sick now that I’m aware of it. Can’t wait for the time when this is all settled and I’d be totally free from that snare. Enjoy your freedom and strength :-)

  14. Sunyata says:

    My friend I was once engaged to and I were having a laugh about our previous disagreements. I was tickled pink hearing him describe what especially would set him off is if I didn’t agree with him about how he saw himself.

    If I so much as hinted that he was anything but The Kindest Man Who Ever Walked the Face of the Earth tm, he would feel APPALLED that I could even THINK such a thing and it would start a long tirade of Just How Incredibly Kind He Is and Just How Obviously UNkind and Wrong I was for having the unmitigated gall to disagree with his opinion of himself.

    I feel so happy that we can laugh hysterically at the ridiculousness of it now :)

  15. NK says:

    Would you say breaking up with someone because they don’t see themselves as getting married to anyone ever a value or opinion?
    Also, this guy hated soup and healthy food. As much as this is a difference you can live with, It really really got on my nerves. Like we would have banter all the time and disagree about other things and part of that is what made him attractive but this and him not eating breakfast with me (because he doesn’t eat breakfast) just wouldn’t leave the irritating factor.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      NK. One of my dearest friends is in a new relationship with a guy 55 yrs old and never married. They are progressing nicely but, since I am protective of her I cannot help but wonder how long this will last. IMO, confirmed bachelorhood is a value. He’s a good-looking guy who recently ended a 3 yr relationship. Makes me wonder why he didn’t marry that one. But, it sounds like SHE gave HIM the boot.
      I think if we have any kind of self awareness we know what we can live with in a relationship. But, we compromise and fool ourselves until we cannot do it anymore. It’s all about being authentic from day one and not deviating from it.

  16. Wendy says:

    It’s blogs like this that I have to fight every urge NOT to break no contact and send this to him! Today is no contact day #7! Sigh…

  17. EllyB says:

    This is something I am struggling with in general. Whenever I am being attacked for disagreeing with somebody, I tend to take full blame, I desperately try to find fault with myself so that I could change my mind and agree with them. Until now it never occured to me that maybe the OTHER party could be overreacting and that I am not “obliged” to agree with them only because they are angry with me.

    • EllyB says:

      Of course, I usually try to argue with people, I try to see their point of view, try to understand why we might disagree, but sometimes they just claim my opinion was totally inacceptable and get more and more angry at me the more I try to explain. In such a case I feel incredibly guilty when I cannot agree with them, as if I was the most horrible and nastiest person in the world. It can become extremely painful at times. Anyway, I think “making” somebody angry doesn’t necessarily mean that I am evil or worthless.

  18. lo j says:

    EllyB … First off, you have given some great comments!! You sound much stronger. Good for you!!
    I used to be like you regarding disagreeing with others. A lot was the fear that they would leave, or that I wasn’t worthy, or by God, that I was WRONG!! Lol! But everybody has their own experiences, opinions, backgrounds, views, etc, including me, so they have their own perceptions, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak, (bad metaphor I love cats), and it does not determine your worth if you don’t agree. If someone does not agree with me, I still love them. I know if I don’t agree with some people, they still love me. I have to be respectful of course and them as well. It’s not about your worth. You are always worthy even if you don’t agree. Ones who get upset when you don’t agree are ones who make it about THEIR worth.

  19. noquay says:

    I try and respect others opinions but never force myself to agree with anyone. My ex husband and I used to debate on many issues, use of our land, social justice issues, issues of family and doing so made us respect each others intellect. A previous poster stated it well; does this person enhance your life? The opposite of this is being a drain. If a difference of opinions leads to disrespect, name calling, constant criticism then it is flush time. You do have to agree on lifestyle, core values. If a man is not responsible, self supporting, drug free, chooses to be unhealthy, does not want to do his fair share, does not respect the natural world, he will never fit into my life no matter how much trivial stuff we agree on.

  20. TammyT says:

    What a timely post! A friend and I were just talking about this last night. As the daughter of a narcissistic mother and having multiple toxic relationships, being a people pleasing doormat was ingrained so deeply I thought I’d never be able to change! That was over a year ago. Today is a different story, thank goodness! It took A LOT of hard work, pain, and acceptance to get to this point. All worth it!

    If a love interest or even a “friend” makes me feel like I’m not allowed to express myself or have my own opinion, off they go! They can go find someone else to spare their fragile egos. In the meantime, I’ve got some living in reality to do.

    Love the blog, Natalie. This place has been a godsend.

  21. True partner says:

    Thank you so much MSA. Exactly. And hell I’m “feisty” and so was the other woman, but I was feisty about things that showed up his values where she was “feisty” about nice safe stuff like how his wife should treat him better. Groan. So. Damn. Predictable.

    No one cares if you’re feisty about non threatening things. But challenge a deep seated assumption about loyalty or FOO issues..oh yeah you’re the harpy and the smarmy one who says what he wants to hear is his soulmate.

    I don’t believe nice people exist anymore. I used to be one but I only got screwed over for it by 2 people. He is now broken down with how he destroyed his character (great but it doesn’t undo what he did to me) and she still trumpets what a great person she is “despite the complexity”. There was no complexity. There is no complexity to intruding in someone else’s marriage. It’s just plain the same as knifing them in the back on a train and pushing them out the window.

    • Wiser says:

      True, I can hear the anger and bitterness in your post and the “hell with it all” attitude. I’ve been there too, most of us have. But you don’t have to stay there, you really don’t, and you don’t have to let the behavior of miserable people change who you are! They only have that power if you give it to them. One of my favorite sayings is “It’s not life’s tragedies that ruin us, it’s our OWN tragic response to the tragedies that ruins us.” The tragedy is not that these low-lifes betrayed you – the tragedy would be in letting it ruin the rest of your life by keeping you from loving again, trusting again, feeling joy again, being the nice and caring person you are at the core.

    • Revolution says:

      True Partner,

      What Wiser said. Plus, another thing: with the type of person you’re describing, you can be hell on wheels or Mother Teresa, and it doesn’t matter. Either way you cut it…

      You. can’t. win. with. these. people.

      Sending you hugs, cause I know it’s cold out there at times. Now find your way back to the fire, love, and warm yourself again.

    • Allison says:


      I misunderstood your original post, as I thought you may have been the other woman. I’m Sorry!

      It is terrible what happened to you! it sounds as if the woman was also someone you knew, which is a further betrayal.

      Are you still with this guy?

  22. Peanut says:

    I always felt I had no right to disagree with my family. They would always bully me with intimidation and I would cower away in submission and fear, retreating to my quite corner where everything would be ‘okay’. But everything wasn’t okay. I wasn’t okay. My soul withered away and deteriorated each time I let them push me around. My family are some very intimidating and sometimes very violent folk.

  23. Anais says:

    This article really spoke to me. I tend to be afraid of disagreements in relationships and friendships out of fear that the other person will get mad for disagreeing, and become either verbally or physically threatening. I don’t know if mindset has something to do with how I was raised. But I’ve accepted that it is something I struggle with. I’m taking baby steps to abandon that mindset.

    All these years, the fact I try to avoid conflict encouraged me to seek men who I felt were my “twin” lol. But after being with one who was so similar that we had the same strengths AND weaknesses, I realized it wasn’t healthy. And also quite boring at times, as though I was speaking to myself! Relationships promote growth among two whole people, so it’s much better to seek out your complement, rather than your clone “If two of you are are too alike, one of you isn’t necessary”

  24. paolo says:

    Maybe this article kinda links to the article a while back about being afraid to ‘putting a foot wrong’,, or something like that. Like..we have to be perfect all the time, say the right thing, or we won’t be liked no more by the person we fancy?..Then we get to kick our own asses like it’s got anything to do with something we said or didn’t say when we break up, when it’s likely a whole host of other stuff for why it didn’t work out.

  25. crigri says:

    I didn’t know where to place my comment, but maybe some of you ladies would like to help me with an advice. Is it ok to wait for a guy to get his diploma? He has one month untill his doctorate degree and hasn’t been involved in an serious relationship for many years. I feel he is seeking me for moral support and also to hang out, but I don’t want to get too much involved untill he finishes his doctorate. Can we be friends until then? Thanks.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Crigri. What’s your relationship history with him? It’s hard to answer that question unless you provide more details. My thought would be “Sure. What’s wrong with waiting?” But also, I’m wondering why you’re asking. Who is he to you?

    • Magnolia says:


      If you’re asking if you should wait until after someone finishes their defense before asking them out, and they’re only a month away, then sure, wait to ask them out, if you’re doing so because you can see they’re super busy and you are simply being patient. I’m less than two weeks from defending my PhD and if someone were to ask me out now I’d say no thanks, but maybe ask me after April 8!

      But it sounds like this person “seeking you for moral support” might be pushing for involvement (i.e. sex) now. If that’s the case, then his looming PhD “finishing” (does this mean his defense? does it mean handing in the thesis but still months before the defense?) hasn’t prevented him from seeking your companionship. If you’re having doubts about getting involved when he is already trying to advance things, don’t blame the PhD.

      Like I said, I’m days from finishing, and while it would make NO sense for me to try to start a relationship in the few days before the event, I haven’t stopped doing things with/for the friends I’m making here. Those relationships are developing organically while I study and finish and will continue, based on what came before, when I’m done school. I’m not going to magically morph into a different person when I’m done and neither will this guy.

      In any case, a month is hardly any time at all. If you have to ask if it’s okay to “be friends” for a month before “getting involved” then you’re not actually friends. Also, if you’re wanting to make decisions based on what we tell you is ‘ok’, then maybe you should step back from this situation and work on your own instincts about relationships.

  26. True partner says:

    Allison yes I’m still with him. He falls over himself now to show love and respect. I actually believe he had a breakdown of sorts and she was there to whisper in his ear while I was there for him to take out his resentment (of missed opportunities, mortality you name it).

    I’d be a fool to throw away a husband desperate for redemption and bust my kids family up and take all the pain, loneliness and financial hit of a divorce.

    And yet nothing will clean the stain. I’ll never look back on a faithful marriage. I’ll never feel I was first choice because if that then he wouldn’t have had her for a year of our 15. I don’t think I will ever forgive the past because it can never be made whole.

    I won’t ever trust or love again. If he can do that then anyone will.

    • Allison says:


      How can you possibly have a marriage, if you cannot forgive, as this does not benefit you or the kids? Why stay together if you will not move forward? Personally, I could not stay with someone after such a betrayal, but that’s me.

      Have you been to a counselor?

  27. crigri says:

    We’ve been hanging out, most times just us, since january. It’s his defense (thanx for asking, I didn’t know the terminology).
    He is pushing for involvement, but also he’s been sending mixed signals. On one side he gives me flowers, pays for when we go out, trying to hold my hand at the movies, on the other hand he rarely calls, we talk most on im, saying how busy he is, but never passing a chance to hang out. Thank you for answering.

    • Anais says:


      Based on what you say, he might be trying to keep it casual. I think you are right in being cautious and not putting your eggs in one basket over him. Not having his diploma yet might be a convenient excuse, it might not. However, guys tend to keep things status quo if they sense you’re pre-maturely invested. ie., already decided to be available to him whenever he wants before he asked you for a relationship. So with that said:

      “saying how busy he is, but never passing a chance to hang out”

      who is usually asking to hang out, him or you? If it’s him, this is a good sign. If it’s you, don’t ask and see if he asks you. Also I would cut down on the electronic communication and see if he tries to keep in touch over the phone. There is a chance he’s using the IM mostly because right now he knows that it’s an acceptable option to get in touch with you. Basically my advice is to stay back and see what effort he makes. Good luck!

  28. Spinster says:

    “We kick ourselves for having said anything and play the whole scenario in our minds over and over again. We trick ourselves into believing that if we hadn’t argued at all that we would have lived happily ever after and feel punished for disagreeing.”

    I did that in my last long-term relationship. Glutton for (self-) punishment. Looking back, while he was a decent man, we would’ve had other disagreements and we probably would’ve broke up anyway.

    I’m getting to know someone now, and I’m being more diligent in this regard (and others). This whole post was perfect timing. As always, thanks.

  29. noquay says:

    Speaking as one who defended a fairly controversial doctorate many years ago,
    I see some inconsistencies in this dude. Yep, he is probably stressed, especially if his advisor and he are still doing last minute stuff or do not agree on the presentation. Then why does he have time to hang out? I see someone who wants to push you into casual sex but does not want to put in the effort to be an actual partner in the relationship. Mixed signals are always a red flag if not a huge, flapping, banner. See what happens after the defense but untill then no sex, no emotional investment.

  30. Tinkerbell says:

    I put this comment at the end of the post so that if you go back you may see it more easily. Thank you everyone for your comments. I din’t think to check back before, because I thought nobody would respond anymore. Thanks so much. I feel more assured by your comments – basically, “appreciate the gift”. I’m no longer waiting for the other foot to drop, because I know I won’t be rendered incapable of going on with my life. He really is a good man and is worth my total committment, not a lot of doubts.

  31. Tabitha says:

    BR Emergency.
    I am LC with narc mother but felt I HAD to invite her around for easter as I had invited my brother and his family. Well, she arrived, and IMMEDIATELY started shouting at me, really shouting, criticising me for some arrangements I had made with my brother about some help he is giving me (voluntarily) with regard to a garden chore (seriously) Normally I would have taken it but I thought Hell NO! BOUNDARIES! This is my home and she is an invited guest. It is not acceptable for her to shout at me in front of my children, my brother, his wife and their children. So I called her on it and said “Do not shout at me in my house, why are you shouting at me.” well, she nearly dropped dead from the shock of being confronted. She just shouted “You never learn, you never learn” and left early having pratically ignored me all afternoon. My brother tries to brush it over my saying she is getting old and senile but he knows as well as I do she has been like this our whole lives. She is a narc control freak who cannot cope with being challenged when she throws out her nasty shit. So what do I do now? Part of me thinks I should call her and say “what the hell was that all about?” but to be honest, my gut feeling is she is toxic and I don’t really want her in my life any more. She will NEVER apologise so if I don’t make the first move she will just cut me out. I can’t help feeling that would be for the best though. Thanks BR cyber saviours.

    • Mymble says:

      Unfortunately if you do phone her up to discuss it, or to smooth things over, you will be signing up for more of the same. Sometimes we (Me included) go over the top with people, particularly family, and later regret it. Normally people experience regret about that and try to make amends. If shes the kind of person who is always “right” and who finds it necessary to control and dominate people around her then the possibilities for rebuilding a reasonable relationship are very limited. My mother has very strong opinions about certain things, particularly issues regarding how I bring up my children and sometimes she goes OTT and gets quite aggressive in her disapproval. It’s boundary crossing, often hypocritical (she was an unsupposrtive, harshly critical and unengaged parent herself so her exaggerated concern for my childrens wellbeing rankles) but I have decided to let it go UP TO A POINT. The sad truth is I feel little real affection for her, she showed none whatsoever for me as a child. But she is generally nicer to my kids and they are fond of her, and I don’t hate her so as long as she doesn’t push me too far I’ll tolerate it. I did once completely cut her out for over a year – total NC – when she massively overstepped and behaved really unacceptably.
      Anyway your Mums behaviour sounds unacceptable, completely unjustified and not something you want going on in
      your home. If I were you I would sit on it for a while and consider how you see your relationship going forward. Make a considered decision as to whether you want to discuss it with her, or go NC.
      She is your Mum, so in my book she gets more leeway and she gets second chances, BUT she doesn’t get carte Blanche to abuse you.

  32. Tinkerbell says:

    Tabitha. Just remember that is your mother. That said, I would not tolerate that kind of treatment. I am a person who will cut you off if you repeatedly mistreat me, and not look back. It does not matter to me if you are my parent, or a relative. You are still a human being and should know how to conduct yourself like one, and not like a mad, crazed, animal. I certainly would not contact her first, and I would be very leary about having her back into my home. And, definitely not with other relatives present since she has low regard for publicly embarrassing you. But you have to decide.

    • Tabitha says:

      Thanks so much MM and Tink. As you can probably imagine, this is far from the first time, which is why I was already LC. I was strictly NC between the age of 21 and 29 but when I had my kids I stupidly let her back in.
      She is constantly critical of me ( and everyone else) which has badly affected my self esteem over the years. If I actually listed some of the horrible things she has done to me you would be shocked.Never physical abuse, just evil manipulations, words and mindfuckery.
      So, when I woke up this morning I actually felt happy with the situation. If I am honest, I kind of hope she doesn’t apologise as then I will have an “excuse” to stay NC with her.
      In a way this is all part of my BR education coming into play. I never had boundaries, because my mother would not allow them. Now that I have exercised my boundaries she really will not know what to do. She will be beside herself with narc rage. Her usual tactic is to use my teenage daughter as a weapon against me, so I am ready for that. I think even my daughter is starting to see that there is something seriously wrong with granny!
      Thanks to Nat and all of you for helping me to get to this point.


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


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