If you're going to do most or even all of the thinking, doing, responsibility, accountability, love, care, trust, and respect in the relationship, what's the point of the other person being there?

Recently while talking with friends, I was struck by how much time is spent explaining away and hypothesising on another person’s behaviour. Literally an hour had gone by and a serious amount of excuses and debating had been going on.

“He’s a really shy guy” said one friend as a justification for a nine month absence after their fling, which he’s just ended that silence by getting in touch… via Facebook.

“He’s just out of a relationship and wants to take it slow” another friend explained. “When did it end?” I asked. “Six months ago” and this whole “taking it slow” malarkey was coming after he’d been the driver of speeding things along, so now she looks like she’s pressuring him for a relationship, when really, she isn’t.

“I know this might sound weird, but she basically doesn’t need me crowding her right now”. What, by calling? By expecting her to follow through on things that she’s instigated?

It’s difficult not to feel cautious about a fledging relationship when so much airtime is already being devoted to finding justifiable reasons for what a person isn’t doing when there could be talk about what they are doing.

It occurred to me while thinking about these excuses and also reading the many comments and emails here at BR that, a person doesn’t really have to do or be very much in a relationship if you’re willing to do most or even all of the emotional and physical legwork.

Before things really have a chance to unfold and without each person owning their own, you’re willing to basically account for them. You’re using up your mental resources thinking about what’s behind their actions. What about what you think, need, want, and expect? How are you supposed get a gauge on how you feel when you’re so busy getting a Ph.D in them?

I see people waiting months or even years for someone to come through, to deliver the commitment goods or to even leave their current relationship. To make the waiting time ‘easier’, they come up with every damn excuse under the sun but don’t truly absorb the real reason as to why things aren’t proceeding. It becomes easier to make another excuse and basically say, “Let me give you another chance to deliver because if I face the reasons why you haven’t, it’s just too bloody painful”.

If you’re willing to make excuses, to make excuses for their excuses, to fantasise even before reality has had a chance to set in, to see potential even when their current and continuing actions and words contradict it, and to believe in their promises or alluded to plans even when they don’t materialise and you end up being disappointed, what does this person really have to do?

If you’ve got an advance answer for everything, when actually they’re already showing or even telling you the answer for these very things, does reality matter? If you tend to default to blaming you, does the real reason matter?

I said the same thing to my friend that I’ve said to many readers: Why would you blame you for the fact that someone failed to deliver on something that they suggested without prompting from you? Why would you think that it’s a reflection on you and that the offer was genuine but that you effed up and now it’s been withdrawn and put on hold?

When we make excuses for people and are willing to expend chunks of our lives filling in the gaps between someone’s thinking and actions, we’re making things very easy for them while making things very hard for ourselves. It’s burdensome, it’s tiring, and it’s unnecessary. Why make things so easy for them? Because you love them? Excuses haven’t done much for you lately other than keep you knee deep in something that ends up detracting from your self-esteem.

Excuses create very imbalanced relationships because by making excuses for the other party so that you can ‘keep you in play’, you are assigning a greater value to them in the process, as if to suggest that they don’t need to step up. Er, yeah they do. You are important too. You are a person of value. They’re just not that special that you should basically step up as their unpaid interpreter and translator. If this relationship is ever going to go anywhere, you both need to step up.

The reason why so many people latch onto excuses is because the unvarnished truth is harder to digest when there aren’t some excuses buffering it. But making excuses for people opens you up to hurt, it detaches you from reality, and may even prove to be a distraction from ensuring that you’re with people and in situations that reflect your own values.

It’s not about seeing the worst in people or even trying to see “the best”; it’s about seeing reality and often that means not letting your imagination run wild crunching a gazillion reasons as to why something has happened. Keep your feet firmly in reality, watch, listen, pay attention to your own feelings and observe. Don’t judge you and don’t make excuses for them – let the truth, whatever it is, stand by itself without you cloaking it in excuses and act accordingly.

Your thoughts?

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127 Responses to What Does a Person Really Have To Do If We’re Willing To Excuse & Explain Away Everything?

  1. yoghurt says:

    “It occurred to me while thinking about these excuses and also reading the many comments and emails here at BR that, a person doesn’t really have to do or be very much in a relationship if you’re willing to do most or even all of the emotional and physical legwork.”

    Fantastic post – thanks Natalie. I am so glad that you’re here :)

    One of the things that I realised about the EUM was that I really really LIKED myself when I was around him. I was mega-understanding, mega-intuitive, mega-understanding and mega-wise – I was the best person ever! And the more he treated me badly, the more I got to be the ever-understanding, ever-sensitive, ever-kind person that I was so proud of.

    With hindsight, it isn’t terrifically surprising that I WAS so insightful, given that I didn’t do anything but think about him and nosy into his psyche and ponder all our conversations interminably for clues.

    This had two results, both of them heinous. Firstly, being rejected by him (in a shock turn of events, given that he’d been rejecting me ever since we’d met…) was extra-specially horrible, given that that was the very very best that I was capable of being. Despite all of my concerted efforts I was treated like an empty baked-bean tin and that was depressing. Because, after all if the very very BEST of me was only worth being discarded, what about the scuzzy bits that I hadn’t let him see?

    And secondly, it occurs to me that it can’t have been very nice for him. Nobody could like being the weak-willed, woodly, untruthful, miserable little advantage-taker that he was every time he came near me. No wonder he was far keener on the shiny new someone who hadn’t seen his arse.

    There are times when I really miss feeling as though I’m good and nice to be around, and to see that reflected by the other person. But most of the time I’m glad that St Yoghurt has gone – I’m not convinced that she had a personality of her own.

    • dancingqueen says:

      @ yoghurt,

      I thought that what you said was interesting
      “it occurs to me that it can’t have been very nice for him. Nobody could like being the weak-willed, woodly, untruthful, miserable little advantage-taker that he was every time he came near me. No wonder he was far keener on the shiny new someone who hadn’t seen his arse.”

      You might be irritated at this BUT ( ah the caveat:) ) have you ever had someone who is always portraying themselves as too understanding in your life? It is a huge pressure and not very nice. I understand he was a jerk, but at the same time…it is not very nice dealing with someone who never gets mad and acts super-humanely zen; it just feels false, it breeds mistrust and even if he had not taken advantage, the flip side was that he would have felt angry and irritated that he was with someone who was always so “ever-understanding, ever-sensitive, ever-kind person” as you yourself admit, even, it probably was too much.

      When I was reading your post, I thought back to this guy I dated when I was about 24. We were together for about 9 months. He moved to another state to be with me after barely knowing me, when I was transferred,and at the time he always made me feel completely pathetic. He was so patient, so understanding, always one for a shoulder to cry on as we both adjusted to a new place… I felt so guilty, smothered, angry with him because he only showed me this nice guy side…he never got angry, never had even a grumpy moment. It made me so angry at him and then guilty and mad at myself. Everyone thought I had a perfect boyfriend and I was just a huge bitch to not appreciate him.
      That feeling is awful. It was even worse, when, after we broke up he ended up acting really spiteful and saying all these awful things…it was like he felt owed for having been nice and it not having worked out.

      We have all done it; been nice when we were afraid to not be ( except maybe teachable ha just kidding teach:)) It is not nice to be a doormat, nor wiping one’s feet on one….

      • yoghurt says:

        Hey look – I was so super-understanding that I wrote it twice!

        It’s okay, I worked it out a long time ago and, actually, I’m sure it was very irritating!

        There are other factors (I’m at my best conversationally when it’s quiet, there are few distractions and only one person to talk to… 4am anyone?). But I think that the point I was trying to make was that, in a relationship like Natalie describes, it might be that you’re more in love with yourself – or at least a particular image of yourself – than you are with them. If your thinking’s twisted in that way – and mine was – then they’re just acting as a mirror with flattering lighting.

        You aren’t looking at them, you’re looking at you.

        I’m not overly-sympathetic to him, though, I have to say. Nobody forced him to come round and avail himself of my free therapy and I frequently stated, both out loud and with my actions, that I wanted him to leave me alone if he wasn’t going to treat me properly. Not in a very effective way, like not answering the phone, but they were desperate times…

        • Victorious says:

          Hey Yoghurt I was a more Super Understanding GF than you were,OK?!!! Ugh! How I cringe now, but I agree with you, I can see how he encouraged this state in me, by witholding sex, managing me down etc, capitalised on it, by generating The Worlds Most Super Understanding Girlfriend, TM. and then of course he despised me for it, and quite rightly. Who wouldn’t? What is important is that we get over despising ourselves for it but make damn sure we won’t ever do it again. My ex basically just had to show up. I did all the thinking, overthinking, megaoverthinking, plenty for both of us. I have to tell myself there is no shame in my wanting to make that relationship work, and I have cut my losses and been NC for 6/7 weeks. We hurt and we heal.

        • dancingqueen says:


          ah gotcha now!
          “But I think that the point I was trying to make was that, in a relationship like Natalie describes, it might be that you’re more in love with yourself – or at least a particular image of yourself – than you are with them. If your thinking’s twisted in that way – and mine was – then they’re just acting as a mirror with flattering lighting.”

          I think that I have done that but I am not sure; I have to think about it. I know that I have done that-eww so ironic-AFTER I have had a crap breakup. To this I mean, take the high road and be ridiculously evasive so as not to let them know how much they hurt me or to not let people call me bitter…oh such wasted energy! Ah I hope that I fall in love again at some point with someone healthy; I learned so much here, it seems a shame to not be able to test-drive all this new knowledge:(

          • Lilia says:

            I don´t think it´s a bad thing to not let an AC know how much he hurt you… it´s a way to protect your pride. And indifference hurts these guys more than a tantrum.
            The thing is to maintain NC and not to engage with him again.

            • dancingqueen says:

              thanks Lilia, I think that you are right, the last guy that I “did not let know” was a super narc so it probably wounded him a bit and glad to have done it.

              You know that you have had a bad breakup, when you are in the self-help aisle with books like ” Is your ex a Liar: how I healed and got my power back” Ick cringe. If I am ever looking at books like that again, yes he is a liar:)

      • Kitty says:

        I just finished reading Why Men Love Bitches and she basically explains how ‘nice’ girls actually turn men off by being doormats. EUM will be turned off regardless but it’s true that being too nice can be frustrating, which sounds so awful doesn’t it?

        It’s an interesting read, I think what she has to say overall combined with Natalie’s books have really, really made me change the way I see myself and think about my relationships.

        • grace says:

          I threw all my dating advice books into a skip in Amsterdam. That was one of them. Here’s the thing, I don’t care if men like doormats, bitches, martians, strippers, nice girls, respectable women, older, younger, fatter or thinner women.
          Plus I find most EA men like most EA women well enough. It’s the EU who like to blame us for their lack of commitment – she’s too nice, too bitchy, too wifely, not wifely enough.
          Mind you, I realise this comment may very well make me sound like a bitch. Hmmm.

          • natashya says:

            grace, i completely agree with you.

            that’s what i love about BR. it’s about keeping it real and taking care of yourself. when you do, you don’t need to be a bitch or wait for 3 days to call mr. charming back or whatever other nonsense is in those books.

            • Kitty says:

              I think the title throws people off, that book actually is all about putting yourself first and stop being treated badly – by asserting one’s independence and basically getting a life and refusing to let the guy become the be all and end all.

              Anyway I just wanted to share that it helped because it was relevant to what the other person was saying about how frustrating it is to go out with a people pleasing doormat.

    • natashya says:

      yoghurt, you hit the nail on its head with this one: “…being rejected by him (in a shock turn of events, given that he’d been rejecting me ever since we’d met…) was extra-specially horrible, given that that was the very very best that I was capable of being. Despite all of my concerted efforts I was treated like an empty baked-bean tin and that was depressing. Because, after all if the very very BEST of me was only worth being discarded, what about the scuzzy bits that I hadn’t let him see?”

      i’ve been struggling a LOT with this lately bc it applies to me, too. i was the best i could be in my own (authentic) way, and it STILL wasn’t enough. scary. i also take consolation in the fact that i do realise the ex EUM simply wasn’t capable of receiving any of my love, care and affection as his heart was still tied to someone who was still drip feeding him ‘something’.

      i made excuses, too. ‘oh, he is behaving distant because it’s difficult for him being in a new relationship after his marriage broke down 3 years earlier and not having dated since.’ bla bla bla. it’s still a poor excuse to say he wanted to be with me and in the very beginning showed me this, only to constantly reject me after his idea of the honeymoon was over.

      i am also really mad at myself, disappointed even, that after almost 3 months, i still manage to shed tears over him on almost a daily basis and using him as an excuse for my unhappiness. i also do it to myself, you see?

      • Grace Pamer says:

        Oh I know that cycle oh so well. Trying for perfection and then wandering what else you can do to make the person happy. It’s not a nice state of affairs as it leaves you feeling incredibly insecure and doubting your every action. Luckily I learnt this lesson early in life but I see it happen so often. Easier said than done but for a relationship to work you have to be totally truthful to yourself and not get lost in some ideal of who you should be. Sometimes when we’re needy we forget our real voice and end up as some convoluted version of our perfect persona. That is never going to work for as you rightly say you just come across as the altruistic, ridiculous perfect person that your partner cannot relate to. Better to air your laundry openly and just be yourself, let that hair down and have the confident take it or leave it attitude because nothing trumps that in the end for me.

        Great comments Natashya and Yoghurt and as always great post Natalie.

      • gentle soul says:


        I too have been guilty of falling into the trap of wondering how I could possibly have been not good enough.This was short lived though as the more I though about things the more I realised the problem lies with the EUM.I could be the best person to walk this planet and still at the end of the day the EUM would respond in the same way.

        • natashya says:

          gentle soul, you are right. my ex EUM overestimated his ability to be in a relationship and/or overestimated his interest in me. rationally i know it’s HIM and not me. my non existent self esteem and my heart, however, are battling the hurt and rejection. i’ll get there, i know. but it’s taking me way more time than i had anticipated.

          • yoghurt says:

            Aw natashya :(

            If it’s any consolation (and I know that it probably isn’t), ime it’s much harder recovering from an Epiphany Relationship than any other, so it’s pretty normal to be taking longer with the processing.

            It’s no longer just a case of getting back on the horse, because you’ve realised that that particular horse has been giving you headaches for years and years.

            I remember evenings where I sit and (literally) hit myself on the forehead repeatedly and try to get my brain round the fact that He Wasn’t Worth The Misery. It helped a bit to remember that I was upset about a lot of things and not just him, but tbh mostly it just felt like being upset about him until I’d sorted ALL of it out.

            I got better, though, and you will too. Every time he contacts you and you don’t reply you’ll feel a little bit stronger, every thought or memory that makes you cry is only going to make you cry once. I know it’s hard work, but you WILL get there x

            • natashya says:

              thank you, yoghurt. yes, it is a consolation. thank you for your support and kind words. it helps.

              he was my epiphany relationship. and a fantasy one, while at it.

              it’s the fantasy that’s so hard to let go. i know rationally that i deserve better than someone whose heart is still tied to his ex wife. i do deserve someone who’s as into me as i am into him.

              and yes, i am upset about a lot of things in my life. i just channel all that is wrong through him.

              i was doing better for a few weeks, but the last 2 weeks with the breaking of NC 3 times has really messed with my mind and my recovery. i seriously feel like i’m back where i started almost 3 months ago. and that wasn’t a good place.

              this ‘relationship’ only lasted 4 months, btw. i just can’t believe that 3 months after the fact i’m still processing so much. when i push it away, i dream about it at night. there’s just no escape from it.

              NC was/is the only thing that really helped me. it was very hard in the beginning, but after about 3 weeks, i already benefitted from the results. i’m back on it though. day 4.

    • marie83 says:

      Hey Yoghurt,
      I felt very much with my ex too – I was always super nice, the only difference was while I felt happier with him and being part of a relationship than when we were apart I didn’t like myself very much, I had no standards and irritated myself by justifying the reasons why I should bite my tongue rather than point out when he had been an arse! He would leave me essentially making me feel like I wasn’t ‘good enough’ and if I got annoyed at the cruel methods he employed to end the relationship he would use it as confirmation that he was doing the right thing as I was ‘mental’ Obviously this led to me putting up with all manor of crappy behaviour just to keep myself as an ‘option’ Now I see I was chasing a feeling and I am actually starting to realise that it is ok to not be ‘perfect’ it is ok to be in a bad mood sometimes and for it not to be held against you for the rest of your natural born life

    • Spinster says:


      Thinking back, I think I did something a bit similar with my College Ex – making excuses, placating, etc. Dear g*d, what the hell was I doing? 😐 Funnily enough, I wasn’t really like that with anyone else. Ugh, never again.

    • cc says:

      to some extent this was me, too, with the exEUM. brilliantly analyzed and expressed. …except…he was still a flinty, selfish dick. yes, i did what i did, but that was all him.

      yoghurt, i love you.

    • ShockandAwe says:

      Hiya yoghurt,

      Were you dating my ex? Your reply really made me feel like you were talking about him. I did the same: gave it my all, and in the end it wasn’t good enough for him. That’s what devastated me after he broke up with me today, this time for good. I think he just found out that he won’t be sent to work in my country over the course of the coming year, and therefore, I think he preferred to move on to a new source of “narcissistic supply.”

  2. Heather says:

    Natalie, you have done it yet again. I have been NC (firmly) with my EUM AC for 37 days. Thus after yet *another* falling out due to his disrespectful behavior *again*. I spent so much time excusing his poor behavior and blame games at the expense of my emotional well being and self esteem. I was busy blaming me, and thinking he was right in calling me insecure. Insecure for what? Expecting him to do as he said he would do, but when he never came through and I questioned it, he turned it on me. Finally, after much rinse, lather, repeat…I finally flushed. I’ve never felt better. Or stronger. Thanks for the BS free way if telling it like it is.

  3. Sandy C. says:

    Yes you are right much as I hate to admit it. He’s been playing me for four years and I am exhausted trying to be everything I should be for him while he reaps the benefits but there’s nothing in it for me really. When I read that they have to step up to the plate because I’m important too it was like yes, yes indeed I am. Thanks.

  4. Wise ol owl says:

    To answer the question in your title, Not a thing, not a damn thing. I recently got out before really getting too overly involved with a man about an hour away from me. I went to see him perform, and he was most happy to have me as a fan–he lit up when I appeared. He said we’d get together and he’d come see me…and he’d said it over & over in our emails, but it never happened. I’ve gone radio silent and have not heard a thing. I’m too old to be a groupie, and while there was definitely a spark, it never turned into a flame. Thanks to these articles, I’m at no loss and am proud of myself for not continuing to do all the work. I’m reflecting right back to him his level of interest in me, and it actually feels damn good. Thanks for this site, it’s helped me more than words can say!!

    • Natasha says:

      “I’m too old to be a groupie…” I. Love. It. If you think about it, Fallback Girls really ARE like groupies for the EUMs and ACs of this world. Who usually has groupies? Musicians. Athletes. A very small percentage of EUMs and ACs are rock stars or starting quarterbacks, right? Yet a lot of them have a more devoted following than any band/team/premium ice cream brand. Why? Because their assholery and unreliability makes them so damn special? Hell to the no. Good for you for bouncing on this dude!

  5. amanda says:

    Amen for this. This posting was the story of my affair with the MM I keep whining about. Thank you, NML. A PhD in the other person; priceless! It’s been nice to realize with each passing month, now that the affair is over, although admittedly its been hard to maintain NC, how much *less* I know about him. I used to dig for as many details I could about his real life… especially concerning his work schedule, which would change from month to month. He would only communicate to me while he was at work, so I somehow felt less anxious about not hearing from him when I knew that he was home. I was making excuses; there is something inherently wrong if the person with whom you are having a so-called relationship can’t contact you when he is at home. The less I know, the less I can make excuses for, the more room I have to see how inherently flawed the relationship was.

  6. Thumper says:


    Thank you for posting your comment. I think you nicely summarized precisely why these relationships are so hard for both people. For the one who loves an EUM: If he is willing to reject me at my “best,” how could he possibly accept me at my “worst?” These relationships are not-so-subtle reminders of how little we really must value ourselves to be able to tolerate Assclown shenanigans.

    And for the EUM: Deep down, why would any man want a relationship that, consciously or otherwise, is based upon pandering to what is are his weaknesses? To keep his fragile ego intact, the EUM must blame the “bad object” (any person who loves him), discard her, and move onto the next shiny surface until IT (she) begins to patina. Such a sad and lonely existence.

    Though it has been a long and painful journey (We broke up in March; no contact since May), I think loving ending a relationship with someone who was incapable of real love was just the shot in the arse I needed to put all of that “loving energy” into the person who most needed it–ME! I am now starting to enjoy and appreciate the fruits of all of this hard work (and it was HARD). Ironically, I can see now that this never would have happened had I not given my heart to an Assclown.

    I think these guys are accidental messengers of The Universe, giving to those who will accept them, “invitations” for healing and personal growth.

    Kudos to you, Yoghurt, for these insightful comments.

    • BRwiserNow says:

      BRAVO Thumper!!!

      “I think these guys are accidental messengers of The Universe, giving to those who will accept them, “invitations” for healing and personal growth. ”


    • Revolution says:


      You wrote: “And for the EUM: Deep down, why would any man want a relationship that, consciously or otherwise, is based upon pandering to what is are his weaknesses?”


      I wonder this OFTEN. Why do these idiots get high off of what basically amounts to someone loving them under duress.
      I just don’t get it, because at the end of the day, our “addictions” to these men/women are much like an addiction to something as toxic and phenomenally mundane as a bag of Doritoes. Does that make the bag of Doritoes special? Hardly. And it gives us a fat ass and probably cancer. Not a great legacy for Doritoes or EUs/assclowns.

      Thanks for the clarity of your comment, Thumper. You’re onto something.

      • dancingqueen says:

        You know what is even weirder? How opposite the EU/FBG thing is. EU’s love being idolized for doing little, but most FBG’s would be creeped out by a man who we did nothing for, who was still hanging around. I know myself that I can suddenly get very irritated with someone who shows no boundaries…yet I have struggled to hold boundaries up myself. It is like I am hating myself, in a way…hmmm must go think about this deeply while drinking diet cocoa.

    • K says:


      Pandering to his weaknesses. You are onto something, the problem is that they don’t perceive themselves as “weak”. They’re special and wonderful, which makes them entitled.

      Just like we are addicted to the cycles of the relationship, HE is addicted to us TOO. But his addiction lies in HARM. He is addicted to the reactions/responses/pain of his victim.

      I know that’s a hard concept to integrate, but it’s true. Most EUM’s and assclowns have a lack of empathy. As Sandra Brown says, “They are emotionally rewarded by the harm they cause”.

      We are addicted to the cycles. He is addicted to our pain.

    • yoghurt says:

      “And for the EUM: Deep down, why would any man want a relationship that, consciously or otherwise, is based upon pandering to what is are his weaknesses? To keep his fragile ego intact, the EUM must blame the “bad object” (any person who loves him), discard her, and move onto the next shiny surface until IT (she) begins to patina. Such a sad and lonely existence.”

      Kudos back atcha for this, thumper. Great insight.

  7. araja says:

    It really take been in a drama free relationship ro realize how good it can be. I met the most awesome man this year. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be but for non-AC reasons. My contractor. ?
    No drama, no AC and completely EA. So refreshing and I miss him terribly but that’s as it should be. :) It’s the first time after a break-up that I haven’t wanted to kill a man but wish him all the happiness and love in the world. ?

  8. araja says:

    Not sure what is with the ‘?’. Lol. :)

  9. Karina says:

    Natalie! You did it AGAIN! This is exactly what I needed to hear, thank you so much! One thing I did learned in the process: When a man says he loves you but doesn’t act like it. ONLY Believe in what he DOES > NOT what he SAYS

  10. Gina says:

    I was one of those people who used to make excuses for other people. I now see things at face value. If someone is not following through by not calling, spending time, showing me that they care, etc…it’s because they don’t. All the excuses in the world are not going to change that cold, hard fact. The best thing for me to do it to see it for what it is and keep it moving. The sooner that they show that they don’t have my best interests at heart, then the sooner I can transform into a Terminator and terminate their asses from my life. I can then devote my precious time and energy on cultivating friendships and/or a romantic relationship with those who demonstrate by their actions that they genuinely care about me. Life is too damn short to be wasting it on users and abusers.

  11. Jule says:

    Timely post for me Nat. Right between the eyes true. AC didn’t do squat for me or the relationshit when we were seeing each other. He never really called, just measly one word texts, he stopped taking me out for dates. He stopped asking me to go out. Sure he wanted me to come over at the very last minute, always, and you know what for. When he was doing the quiet treatment on me again in early to mid Nov, I asked him what is going on. He stated he liked his “space”. (my guy friends say that is man talk for wanting to see other women.) So I went NC, no warning, just blocked him. I’m sure he doesn’t care about that at all. Now he has all the space he could ever want, not that I ever got any of his precious space in the first place. The thing is, I wonder if he has tried to contact me. And here’s the thing, I don’t think he has. He doesn’t give a rip about me and I know it. If he wanted to talk to me or see me, he could find me. He knows where I work and where I live. But why would he make that effort?

    Well I’m on day 15 of NC from him and unfortunately I’m having doubts. I’m having those sad feelings, missing, etc. I shouldn’t be because I’m so busy at work and I have enough to keep me busy but every time I’m on his side of town (I have to be some times because of my daughter) I think of him. Well I admit to being a tad bit jealous of all of you ladies who go NC and they hunt you down anyways and get in contact with you in whatever way they can. My AC wouldn’t lift a finger for me. I should be relieved, happy to move on, but this week, I’m not :(.

    • Little Star says:

      Jule honey, nothing to be jealous of:( My both ACs (ex and current) contact me from time to time, and TRUST me, it’s even worth. It’s stops me from moving on, it’s keeps me holding and it’s makes to have excuses for them. They are not changing they still offering the same shit:(
      Please stay strong, it’s early days of NC and you will fell better eventually and it’s good that he is not in the picture, at least you can concentrate on YOU and do not have to see or talk to this loser! All the best x

    • natashya says:

      jule, be glad he doesn’t contact you. a few weeks ago, when i was doing better, i broke NC and skype chatted (txt) with him for a bit. it took me over a week to get back to somewhat ‘normal’. it made me realise the only way to move forward is full NC again. so i did. blocked him. stopped visiting online communities where we both active etc. all well. then, last weekend i received a very short email from him asking if i was ‘okay’ bc he had a bad feeling about me. this put me into a tailspin again and i haven’t fully recovered yet. it’s awful. it’s really better if they stay away. no new contact is no new pain and getting further away from the source of the pain is the only thing that helps. who cares if they still think about you or what they feel about you. they weren’t enough when we were with them, what should it matter now that we’re no longer with them.

      • Ms Mini Mouse says:

        thanks so much for this insightful comment you are so right.

      • amanda says:

        Natashya! : when you said

        “who cares if they still think about you or what they feel about you. they weren’t enough when we were with them, what should it matter now that we’re no longer with them.”

        You are spot on. Amen. Thank you for this reminder.

    • recoveringloveaddict says:

      Jule, wow, they really are all alike! The AC I knew sent a lot of one word texts. They were such a letdown. I hated that because I wanted more to keep feeding my fantasy, I wanted that rush I’d get when he would sometimes throw me a bone and text something substantial. It frustrated me when he didn’t give me more. I think it was deliberate on his part. I think it was to keep my expectations down.

      What’s to miss? I don’t miss HIM, I miss the him he pretended to be. I don’t miss HIM, I miss the feelings, the attention (which became less and less), the drama. I don’t miss HIM, because it was all about ME.

      • natashya says:

        “What’s to miss? I don’t miss HIM, I miss the him he pretended to be. I don’t miss HIM, I miss the feelings, the attention (which became less and less), the drama. I don’t miss HIM, because it was all about ME.”

        wow. thank you for reiterating this. yes, this applies to me, too.

    • K says:


      Ohhhhh myyyy….you dodged a bullet…

      I remember feeling this way about my ex AC before I was really ready to let go of him and not clear about who and what he was. I would tell myself and anyone who listened that I wanted NC and intended to stay NC. Then when I did, usually for a couple of weeks, I would start to doubt, then start to cave, then I would contact, lather, rinse repeat. IT was NOT worth it. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that there was something WRONG WITH ME to desire someone who treated me like shiat! My desire and intensity for him was equivalent to my low self esteem and semi truck loads of self doubt.

      Try to stay NC. He is what he is and thank your LUCKY stars he is NOT contacting you! Try to see it this way if you can…you’re not a good enough VICTIM for him. He needs someone that will, without doubt, and without question, LIVE on a steady BS diet! Abusers and other toxic critters know who will buy the BS and who will not. That he doesn’t want to pursue you IS THE COMPLIMENT. :)

  12. Tulipa says:

    “does reality matter? If you tend to default to blaming you, does the real reason matter?”

    I have often wondered this does reality matter to me?
    I knew the truth of the ex eum situation from the first date. There was no respect, no interest in my life just a testing to see if I would have sex and not demand a relationship.
    I felt like he had picked me out in a room full of people because he knew I had no self esteem,
    fed me some crumbs which made me high.
    I blamed myself when the crumbs dried up myself, but I still thought I could see the reality of my situation and yet I was so passive didn’t do anything about it except be miserable and wait for my next time around with him.
    It is horrible to be miserable with him and miserable without him. I keep telling myself you are choosing to be miserable, you are choosing to blame yourself for his problems etc.
    I don’t know what my reality is, I’m sure this comes from childhood when I was told my reality was inaccurate. Even now if I recall events from childhood they are explained away and it is a life of pretend and my family refuse to deal with reality.

    • k says:


      I understand just what you’re describing. I was in that place last year, a year out from my relationshit with my ex. It’s less now, but that feeling of self doubt still floats around my life. I wonder if you’ve thought about therapy, maybe? If there are childhood abuse issues, dealing with those will help you find yourself and where it was that your reality as a child was stolen from you and you can work through it. Just because your family doesn’t deal with reality, doesn’t mean that you need to live in THEIR fantasy world. The good news is that you have awareness about yourself, even if you don’t quite know who you are yet. There is hope and it’s hard work and very scary, but it really is so much better than being with someone who cannot give us what we need or want. Now is the time that you get to find out what YOU want and what YOU need. :)

      • EllyB says:

        Trauma can be really powerful. Only now am I starting to realize that more than ten years ago, I’ve spent three years with a partner who was probably a classic narcissist. At the beginning there was the usual love bombing, then suddenly after a few months he started telling me I was a real nuisance, a burden, “too needy” and so on. There were also sneaky put-downs such as unfavorable comparisons to other women (I’ve mentioned them elsewhere) plus severely controlling behavior (silent treatment).

        For more than a decade, and despite my ongoing healing efforts since last year, I kept blaming myself for the early end of the “honeymoon period” and the demise of that relationship years later. I simply didn’t make the connection between “love bombing”/sudden cooling down and psychopathy. Even if I have been NC with him, my toxic parents and some other toxic individuals from my past for several years, my mind somehow refused to “see”.

        Of course, I met him at the age of 20 when I was still severely traumatized by the abuse at home (narcissistic mother, pedophile father), and back them I simply stumbled from one trauma bond into the next.

        Healing takes time.

        • sushi says:


          you are right, healing takes time and also unfolds. And it takes joining some dots before you become aware of others. It was really painfull and overwhelming in the beginning but I feel it`s becoming a calmer, positive journey, I`m liking getting to know me.

      • Tulipa says:

        K thank you that you understood sometimes I don’t even understand myself knowing the reality of something and still choosing the wrong option, but I need to put more effort in and focus on me.

        Elly B how right you are healing does take time especially if you have bounced from one traumatic situation to the next. At least we on the right path and can avoid these situations in the future.

        • Magnolia says:

          And Tulipa, you know what the funny thing is? Once you finally realize – hey, everyone invalidated my reality, and I developed a deep need to have them validate it, but now I will just validate my own – only then do they turn around (maybe) and start respecting you and even giving you the very validation you no longer need.

          Kind of like ACs that way, who cannot be communicated with except by leaving them.

  13. k says:


    Very insightful post. Two things occurred to me as I read this post: It seems easier to get faux positive self esteem from someone else if they show the slightest of interest. The excuses happen when the person “unfolds” into an assclown and the excuses begin to take on a fantasy flavor all their own. It’s SEEMS less painful to indulge the excuses and the fantasy than it is to fix our own broken selves or self esteem.

    I spent ALL of my adult relationship life making excuses for two assclowns. Subsequently, I lost a combination 30 YEARS of my life distracting myself from me. Ultimately, the fear of facing myself was more painful than dealing with the assclowns in the relationshits, but eventually that changed when I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and my dignity was all that was left, the last shred, when excuses didn’t work anymore and it was face ME or fall permanently into the relationshit “abyss” the rest of my life. I didn’t change till my self esteem and dignity were so shredded, I would go literally insane if I didn’t GET OUT. They were distractions. Now I wish I had dealt with the pain of ME first, before excusing the pain of THEM to avoid it.

    The second thing is how habitual this really is, and for how many people it is habitual for. Do we all feel like shit about ourselves? What is it about us or is it perpetuated by other factors, that says we should be AFRAID to be alone, instead of suck uppy, dependent and spending our lives in one trauma bond after another with one assclown after another?

    Yoghurt, you said, “There are times when I really miss feeling as though I’m good and nice to be around, and to see that reflected by the other person. But most of the time I’m glad that St Yoghurt has gone – I’m not convinced that she had a personality of her own.” BINGO. To see that reflected by the other person…
    THAT is what I mean by faux self esteem. Deriving our positive energy FROM someone else, rather than FROM inside of us. They are basically mirroring us, but it’s not REAL because WE are not being true to ourselves. It’s a feeling of hyper awareness of ourselves. We have this person on a pedestal, therefore, because we “want” them to accept us and are excusing assholery to get it, we dissolve into fantasy, hence, those heady, floating on air, hyper aware, hyper insightful, hyper whatever feelings. But that isn’t REAL. Because in a healthy relationship, we don’t NEED to be walking around with our head in the clouds, we don’t NEED to feed off the energy of assholes for OUR self esteem needs. I understand exactly what you’re describing, but ya know what? It’s been two years now since the demise of the relationshit. And NONE of that was really the genuine me, it was the me on hyper drive to PLEASE HIM. It got to the point that he was my DRUG and the only time I really felt good was when I was around HIM. I got “high” around him.
    Sooooooooooo different now. I wasn’t that person. All that hyper-whatever was that pathetic, people pleasing, distracted chica who didn’t want to take the time to work on herself out of FEAR. Fear of being alone, fear of never having another assclown, you know…that kind of WASTING time kinda fear….

    I’ll be fifty this next year. Next hurdle in healing, dealing with REGRET and WASTED time being soooooo stupid because once you face the fear of yourself, it isn’t THAT bad. It’s painful as HELL, but you only have to do it ONCE, if you do it deeply….had I done this much younger, I might have held out for the “prince” I deserved, or at least, a HEALTHY man…that isn’t likely now and by choice.

    • Confused123 says:

      WOW K.
      I felt like I was punched in the stomach when I read your post. All of your post spoke to me but the part that really spoke to me was, “THAT is what I mean by faux self esteem. Deriving our positive energy FROM someone else, rather than FROM inside of us. They are basically mirroring us, but it’s not REAL because WE are not being true to ourselves. It’s a feeling of hyper awareness of ourselves. We have this person on a pedestal, therefore, because we “want” them to accept us and are excusing assholery to get it, we dissolve into fantasy, hence, those heady, floating on air, hyper aware, hyper insightful, hyper whatever feelings.”
      I spent 15 years with my EUM-Ex husband. Great man to be friends with with, have a child with but NOT to have a relationship with. I’m feeling especially low today as the man I was dating (and only dating) has decided that he does not want to date me anymore. I guess that was my exit cue. He was not an AC and was honest, caring and EA but I guess it was not meant to be. I feel for araja above as I know what she going through.
      So after this revelation, I made a decision. I AM TAKING A BREAK FROM DATING. Ideally for the next 6 months. (Not before June, 1st 2013) I need a break. 2012 has been tough overall. I have felt rejection every way possible. Professionally and Personally. :(
      What I’m hoping is that you wonderful ladies on this site can keep me strong. Any volunteers to be my sponsor? :) And I am going to need one.
      I’d ask my friends if I had any. :( Most of them left with the AC earlier this year.

      • sushi says:

        it`s a bit of a bummer when you go through this (I`m convinced) transition stage when you fire your AC and AC friends and there is a big gaping space in your life as you realise who exactly you surrounded yourself with all these years. Yep. Going through that too. Not sure what the sponsor position involves, but I volunteer! :)

      • K says:


        When we are not healed from past abuse or relationshits, even if we find someone who is wonderful it still won’t work because the negativity inside of us, our low self esteem, low/no boundaries or sabotaging get in the way..so it’s not just a one sided deal where whom we choose is the issue, it’s healing OUR wounds TOO.

        I believe we live in a instant gratification society and there seems to be so much pressure to be “hooked up” with someone, hence all the overlapping and assholes in the dating pool (predator to victim ratio seems evenly split!) these days….
        It’s GOOD to take time for YOU and to heal YOU. I don’t give into that bullshit pressure. WHAT is the RUSH? WHY do you NEED to be in a relationship or dating RIGHT NOW? If you’re not healed, then YOU are not good dating material EITHER and it’s knowing that that saves someone else from pain too, as well as yourself.

        I think this is a GREAT revelation for you and if you stick to it, when you are ready to date, with the nice men you’re meeting maybe the chances are really good that one will work out down the road. It’s not your picker that’s broken now, it’s you that needs a touch up! Good for you in recognizing it. :)

      • MagicPotion says:

        Me too. My friends either left to join Team Assclown or showed their true colors by defending him. In a weird way, I’m glad to be rid of them all, even if it’s lonely at times.

    • sushi says:

      K. that was a brilliant take on my life ! Only I don`t want to regret in 10 years time the chunk of my life spent on regreting things now. I am mostly in quite a happy place where I don`t actually think about having, or not a future relationship.I am absolutely astonished at how much I value my time to myself at the moment ( as opposed to all obliging doormat for AC number whatever) and I`m paying attention to the relationships that are in my life. I wonder if I`ve arrived at the “focus on yourself” bit.Anyways, I loved your post.

      • K says:

        YAY!! This is such a great place to be Sushi!! And I understand completely what you mean. :) The moments of being alone aren’t as fun for me as I’d like them to be yet, but I have reached the point where they are peaceful and I like NOT being abused. I’d like to reach the place that you’re in Sushi. I look forward to that!

  14. Kadija says:

    Thanks for a great post Natalie, 3yrs I was doing all the thinking and excuses in my relationship with my ex, I kept blaming myself for things going wrong, how I wish I had listened to my family and friends who could see all the red flags which I was ignoring and making excuses for…he kept disapearing after each arguments and I kept going back to find him, and everytime we had another argument he would blatantly say to me, U WERE THE ONE WHO CAME LOOKING FOR ME, how gutted did I feel, but u know what? I kept going back for more of the same, the worst of this is, I have been played for so lond and couldnt smell the coffee for what it was, 5 months has elapsed since he left and I have been strong and not called or text or talk to HIM, actually I found out, he had traded me for a younger version, 27yr old girl, he is 44yrs old, so am I.
    For 3yrs Ive put up with so much excuses that I could have easily attained a Doctorate in the excuses field. My kids taught I was insane to put up with him..
    Natalie reading all your post has opened my eyes to seeing things for what it really is, its never too late to learn or to know that yes I was responsible for the cr-p my ex was feeding me, being the perfect candidate, ripe and ready helping Mr Unavailable to spoonfeed me with assclown crumbs…
    lessons learnt.

  15. Little Star says:

    Natalie, I cant THANK YOU ENOUGH!!!

    I also had an excuse for my current AC’ behaviour “He’s just out of marriage/painful divorce and wants to take it slow”…Yesterday I met him and gave him an opportunity to explain himself (for the last time, I hope!), what he thinks about us and where “we going”… Ha, he wants to carry on as it is “booty call relationshit” and he cant see himself living with someone and building a future…WOW, he is not pretending anymore – just blank honest. I stopped him there and said: “It is mean that I AM WASTING my time with you, so I am going to date other guys who want a proper and lasting relationships” I do not think he believed me, as I never had shown any actions, did “talks” without any consequences, but reading your post today Natalie, you inspired me…NO MORE EXCUSES, no more!

  16. Lilly says:

    “Keep your feet firmly in reality, watch, listen, pay attention to your own feelings and observe. Don’t judge you and don’t make excuses for them – let the truth, whatever it is, stand by itself without you cloaking it in excuses and act accordingly”.

    I’m trying to do this right now. I’m still working with the exMM, but I’ve stuck to my decision that all work be conducted via email only, and for the most part I’ve kept it professional, although I’ve slipped up a few times. I got the chance to express my distress about the baby for what it was worth, but he has avoided any talk of him so I’ve had to let it go. I’m not happy to say this, in fact I’m ashamed to say it, but the contact with him is strangely comforting. I don’t understand why. This man was so cruel to me and I haven’t forgotten his cold-heartedness. I’m not angry anymore just very sad. He has once again suggested we meet up but, I’m listening to my feelings. I don’t want to see him and I won’t be going, so why do I still want the contact! Natalie says not to judge yourself, but I feel as if I’m a weak person. I don’t think I’m excusing his behaviour, but maybe I am. I want to let the truth stand by itself, but I don’t know what it is.

    • dancingqueen says:

      Maybe Lilly you wanting to keep contact is the last vestige of denial; as soon as you know longer work with him, I think that it is best to rip off that bandaid, don’t you?

      Look, it will hurt for a few months, but soon you will look back and wonder what took you so long. You don’t need him. He is like a phantom limb that aches and you need to remind yourself that he is not needed to support you or add to your life; he is a myth and a space of illusion…:( hugs.

      • dancingqueen says:

        no…not know.

      • Lilly says:

        Dancingqueen, you are right! That’s what it is, a bandaid, and I’m slowly peeling it off. I just can’t bring myself to rip it all off quite yet, but I am getting there. Thanks DQ and hugs back,xxx.

    • Learner says:

      Lilly, my “lil” NC sis,

      You may feel like a weak person, but your actions show that you’re a strong person! You have continued to refuse to meet with him. You are taking care of yourself by going into therapy. It is normal to feel sad still – you lost your fantasy relationship PLUS, more importantly, your baby. Your ability to continue living your life as authentically and with as much determination as you are is significant evidence (p <.05)of your strength (sorry for the quasi-research-speak).

      "I want to let the truth stand by itself, but I don’t know what it is." Here is a suggestion of the truth: The exMM is a man who is not capable of giving you the empathy, care, love or respect that you deserve. The more you keep up the "NC with someone you work with" the better. Stay strong Lilly xo

    • Skadia says:

      Lilly I know this struggle. I also work with my AC and I also feel comforted when we are in contact… it is a hard road and you should not beat yourself up at all. Moving on is hard when NC is really just in one part of your life… I think it’s a truly different experience altogether than a traditional NC. Hang in there!

  17. Zsuzsi says:

    I’ve been wanting to share this comment under another post about feeling rejected and thus analysing the crap out of yourself and him. It’s also about him giving himself excuses. (Sorry for my English, I’m Hungarian). Really, it’s an attitude that all men learn unconsciously, while growing up, that as a man, you are just entitled to think for yourself first. And deal with the consequences later, if ever. We women are robbed of this very early, not socialized for self-preservation but for desperately seeking connections, and as a mean to gain this, no price is too expensive. I also think that learning to love yourself- as it is permanently advised in this blog-, is not about seeing, or better to say JUDGING yourself as a deserving person. Really, you dont even have to list your good traits and be proud of yourself. You don’t. Men don’t analize their motives, they just do what is convenient for them. By default. Even the most loving,available,normal ones. That is self-love, cruel as it sounds for us analizers. (A note written to myself: Men are conditioned to feel fundamentally better about themselves, to need to adapt less to others’ expectations; to not needing to measure up to a more „perfect” themselves. They feel more secure, because they are more in control throughout life, more entitled to get their ways, more assertive or aggressive about getting their needs met by others; more able to judge others. Power is totally handed over to them by insecure, love-seeking women.)

    What does it have to with the present post? Well, excuses are again part of robbing ourselves from our own power. And we do it not because we are born stupid or weak. It’s just somehow most women lose the ability of firmly staying in her own skin, safe and secure by self-preservation instinct guiding her no matter how other people treat her. I think this is boundaries that Natalie refers to often. You can strengthen them as your muscles at the gym, but not by thinking, not by wanting to be “objective. That only allows way for excuses to creep in.

  18. Zsuzsi says:

    I basically came to realize that we don’t need a reason to be blatantly taking sides with ourselves. This is what keeps men strong. This makes them able to get the emotional work done by women. Very energy-saving.
    Let it give you too, the strength to make a decision fast and not looking back.

    • Lilia says:

      That is so true, Zsuzsi!
      I guess it has a lot to do with the way society works, and the fact that men are still considered to be more important than women, get paid more, etc. It is more natural for them to feel entitled to obtain whatever they want, whereas we have to make a conscious decision at all times to defend our needs and maintain our boundaries.
      This year I´ve found in different occasions that some men will sever ties with you if you exert your boundaries, both in work and relationships (friendly and romantic). It is a hard lesson to learn, and it explains why we women are so reluctant to defend ourselves.

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      First of all, your English is great, so no need to “excuse” it! 😀

      You are truly onto something here. As little girls we are stifled…even as toddlers.

      We are praised for being “cute” or “pretty.” We are told to play “nicely” and preferably “quietly.” We are instructed to speak “softly” and to behave like a “lady.” We are told not to get our “clothes dirty.”

      If you’re adventurous or curious and like to explore, if you’re rough and tumble, like football and baseball and climbing trees and building forts, you are told to tone it down (not always, BUT a lot of the time)…basically to go have a quiet tea party or play with your dolls in the corner.

      Ever notice if a boy gets into a brawl, or is running around yelling his head off and being exuberant, it’s “boys just being boys”???? And in school, boys are called on to answer questions more often than girls are.

      Oh it starts so young No wonder so many of us have a hard time speaking up and being people pleasers…we’re silenced and taught to please others before ourselves (if ever) from the cradle on!

      • K says:


        I believe what you say is true, but there is something about it that bothers me. The men are what they are, in some of what you outlined, IS abusive. Controlling, entitled..just a couple of things in there that are dangerously close to it…
        Abuse can’t be excused out of men either. There ARE good men out there and I know a few of them as my friends. They have empathy and compassion about people in their lives and passion about their beliefs. What you’re describing is what I have seen in abusive men. Our society is knowledgeable about abuse and what it is. I do think that politically lately, women are being suppressed, reproductively, and otherwise, but..that’s abusive too and it comes from abusive men with abusive agendas.

        I’m sorry if I’m misinterpreting what you’re sharing,it just hit me strongly as an excuse for men covered in the nature vs. nurture argument. I don’t know quite how to verbalize it but I do know that many women who have been abused use the “the men will be men” excuse and to a degree society DOES perpetuate this. I hope this is changing given that women have such a strong voice currently in our system..we just need to be louder…

        very thought provoking post…

  19. Karina says:

    I really needed to read this today. It is time for me to set my foot down and tell my ex to either work his issues out or leave me be once and for all. All this game of I kiss you after not seeing you for almost a year and then dissapearing again is not healthy for anyone, not even him. He needs to grow up a whole lot more, guess in men being 38 years old is not a determinant as to how mature one is. SMH!

  20. annied says:

    Natalie!!! I love you and your wise words. Never get tired of hearing them and learning from them :)

  21. Monica says:

    ***I*** finally had the guts to end my almost 6 yr affair.Yes, he was married.How did I let it get that far..I was separated from my cheating husband and he was my friend. He pursued me and being in an overwhelming state, weak , low self esteem I went for it with my kids in tow. Quite shameful! I just wanted to be loved!!!Long story short, I built my confidence back up, therapy, hanging out more with friends, being around people that really love and support me. I finally open my eyes and decided I deserve better and not his crumbs. My kids deserve a real man in their life so I made a leap of faith. Scared crazy since I still had a little bit of self doubt but anything is better that what I had…Its been a month now and feeling empowered that “I” ended it.

    I am so thankful for finding your website.

    • Magnolia says:

      Wow, Monica – congratulations. 6 yrs is a long time, a big rut to have busted out of. Good for you!

  22. Tired says:

    I only wish is that i had stopped making excuses fir ex mm years ago , id be somewhere better now . Oh he had to do the right thing , yes i was a booty call my exscuse . He cant get to attached coz of the guilt bla bla bla , why o why couldnt i have found this site years ago and walked then ? Instead of put my self thro more pain , i could do with some help as i been doing so well. Last two days i plummeted down all because he changed his fb status to in a relationship , he been single a month but i know this bs . I known all along he was with the ow and now there togehthrer . I feel so crap , mot good enough , she has money i dont . Im just a working mum . He met her and left his wife within a year kewpow !!! I feel he gets to be happy and i get left to feel crap . Anyone been in same boat ? With advice to keep me going ? X much appreciated x

    • Victorious says:

      Tired why are you looking at his facebook? IT IS FORBIDDEN!!!! You are responsible for protecting yourself and you are quite deliberately putting yourself in harms way by looking at his FB. Stop it!

    • swissmiss says:

      Tired –

      Let the OW have him. Believe me, if you were a fly on the wall, you would NOT want him. He isn’t someone different and wonderful with her. He did not have a personality transplant. He is the same man who didn’t care that he was messing with the life of a living, breathing human being.

      I find that all the excuses I made when I was with the MM kept ricocheting in my head well past the breakup. “It wasn’t that bad,” “Maybe he meant something else when he said that…”, then when I went NC a few weeks ago and was trashing the electronic communication, I looked at only one em and realized it had been hell. The ups and downs, the ambiguous phrases designed to give him a perpetual escape hatch. Me, trying to nail down jello.

      Last night, on the way back from a 2000 km trip to see my mother in hospital, I picked up the phone without thinking, and there he was again, calling to let me know he is “thinking of making a dramatic change in his life.” It’s like a parlor game, where clues are thrown out and you are supposed to guess the meaning. I hung up. I wish I had done something more rationale and less emotional, but that’s all I can manage right now: avoid, whatever it takes.

      Tired, you lost nothing but your self-esteem. You have your life back. It doesn’t matter how much you have in your bank account. You are your own woman, under nobody’s yoke. Don’t rewrite history. It was tortune being with him, you know that. You’re safe now.

      • Victorious says:

        Swissmiss, totally echo your sentiments to Tired. Also, you did make me laugh with your ex saying he was “thinking of making a dramatic change in his life.” and you are supposed to guess the meaning. Last time I was hoovered up by the ex narc, he told me, very seriously, that he had “been doing some deep thinking and seriously re evaluating his life.” Of course I latched onto that for dear life and asked what that meant for “us.” Oh no, I could almost hear him shrugging down the phone, “Sorry, I still don’t know what I want.” What he needs is a fucking personality transplant, just like you said.

    • Tulipa says:


      You are out of the situation now, you have found BR now and have the tools to move forward.
      But same as me you aren’t following them firstly you have been looking at his facebook keeping tabs on him.
      Of course it will set you back and trigger thinking bad about yourself why her not me? Stay away from Facebook go back to the facebook post and re read it.
      Same as me you are avoiding looking at yourself and focusing far too much on him and her and what she has that you don’t have. You need to look at yourself and why you think you are only capable of attracting a cheating married man and think that is all you are worthy of.
      You need to take care of you and be nice to you.
      That is the essence of BR look at yourself, change yourself see what you can do for you.
      You say you wish you had found BR years ago but you have now and you are out of the situation you just need to fine tune things like stop knowing what is going on with the, and caring what is going on with their relationship and change your focus to you.
      I need to do exactly the same thing. I have waited out a relationship the ex was having and went back it was NOT one bit different to the last time I had dated him, same old crap etc. It will not be different for you either should he want to come back the role has been cast and won’t change. You are worth more and deserve more than what he has to offer.

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      Go read my and Victorious’s comments to you in the Revisited: It’s Just the Holidays/Christmas” post.

  23. Lyds says:

    Thank you Natalie for discussing this!

    I have been guilty also of making excuses but of a different kind. Making excuses covering up my bad choices, the soon-to-be-ex-husband’s insecurity(ies). I wanted to save face. I didn’t want my mum to be right…I didn’t want to disappoint my Dad…I didn’t want to prove my friends right that thought men are crap and love is overrated. I thought my needs were superficial and vain. I really believed when he would accuse me of being mean, thoughtless, or that I didn’t love him.

    No one is perfect but I’ve since started to learn being separated that I’ve been too nice and sweetie sweet and giving with the men in my life making excuses and jumping through hoops like a circus poodle. The moment I said I’m moving out I’m tired of feeling miserable was the first time I really put me first and stopped being a crutch.
    You can’t really love anyone in a healthy way if you hate yourself xx

    • Grizelda says:

      Interesting, Lyds, and I agree with what you say about us covering for them because we want to save face. It’s laughable that if we have an assclown on our hands but aren’t quite prepared to dump him in the trash where he belongs, we will still go out with them, have sex with them, give them a place in our homes and our lives… but we don’t want them tarnishing our reputations. Because that’d be just a goddamn step too far! No, suddenly we become spin doctors and PR gurus tasking ourselves with planning and executing good-news campaigns on behalf of someone who doesn’t give a toss about us. Because we don’t want to be seen to be associated with someone who doesn’t give a toss about us.

      Collaboration is enabling, and it’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. If this person is a hideous assclown, we should be shouting it from the rooftops.

  24. Jennifer says:

    With my ex I was like his pet, though he felt more for his cat Carl. I was jealous of my boyfriend’s cat. Truth is Carl was better at expressing his needs than I was. When I was younger and I expressed concern, my needs and emotions, I was ridiculed or hit or met with contempt. As an adult I’m finding it hard to relate in life. I just reasoned I’d let those around me take care of me, take responsibility and take the fall. I’ve let my life get so out of hand, I feel like a twenty eight year old infant.

  25. espresso says:

    OMG I made tons of excuses for my ex. I worked SO hard to “understand “(ie excuse) He was “trying”, he didn’t “know how”, he was a “decent man”, how could he hurt me so much?Why didn’t he understand me or why was he never there for me? He said he was “trying” but why would he really have to when I just made it easy and I never ever backed up my words with action. I refused to face reality because it scared me so much.

    I spent SO much energy on the relationship, so much talking, explaining, illustrating, working, crying, pleading, hoping, arguing, freaking out. I took 80% of the responsibility for it. And all the time..he wasn’t even “there.” He didn’t even tune in. But I dismissed this..what was wrong with me????? I was often confused. I remember telling a therapist once that he helped around the house a lot and was a good father (he is and was). The therapist said that I took the housework part because it was all I could really get from him but it wasn’t a relationship.

    I become exhausted by it and eventually my body/sexuality just shut down (where my truth really lies)…it took awhile for my brain and heart to follow because I felt so guilty…this is a fabulous post. Thank you for this!

  26. Lucy says:

    I make excuses for other people but never for myself. At the moment I can’t get over the fact that I feel that I’m a crap person. I did something terrible some months ago. I cheated on my ex boyfriend and from then on, I gave up on myself. I thought “I am a bad person” so I’ve continued down that path and I’m not who I was before. This is despite how he mistreated me. I just don’t know how to forgive myself.

    • natashya says:

      lucy, these feelings are ‘normal’. okay, you did something that wasn’t right. now you feel awful about it. you regret it. that’s healthy reaction, you know?!

      if you don’t do something about it, there’s a problem. just like you, i did cheat on someone (who mistreated me) rather than getting out of the relationship. i did feel horrible about it for a long time. but i also made a pact with myself that i would never let myself get to that point again. and i haven’t and i won’t.

      i am not proud of what i did, but i learnt from my mistake so not all is lost.

      i hope this helps ((hug))

  27. Sadder but Wiser says:

    I’m struggling to get clear about something… Like many commenters on this and similar posts, I too have gotten hung up on trying to be the best person I can be in a relationship, show my best self, be happy and interesting and fun. I thought, if I’m intelligent, fascinating, and (most of all)have my shit together, this will be attractive to others. I wanted a man to see all these great qualities and think “Wow, this lady is really something special!” After all, who will want me if I’m miserable and sullen and have tons of problems? Aren’t those red flags to be avoided? I sure don’t want to be with someone miserable and sullen. Won’t people be drawn to me if I’m upbeat and wonderful? Don’t we all want “wonderful”???

    Yet it apparently doesn’t work that way. People are drawn to “authentic,” not wonderful. I have to drill this into my brain. I have some good male friends who have wives I think are absolutely shrews. They complain, they never seem to be in a good mood, they’re negative, they’re sharp-tongued… and yet my friends are crazy about them. I must be missing something, as my friends aren’t dumb men. It’s like that old cliche, men seem to like bitchy women better than “nice” ones – but perhaps the bitchiness is really a sign of strength and non-doormat behavior that breeds respect. I read this somewhere: “People are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems and an individual’s life energy.”

    I remember the ex telling me, right before he dumped me, “You are the best person I know.” For a second I thought it was a great compliment. And then the nagging unease hit and I had the thought “Uh-oh, this is the kiss of death for this relationship.” I knew it then even though I didn’t want to face it. Because although it still doesn’t completely make sense to me, people do not want to be with the “best person” they know. Why is that?

    I understand that being a “real” person, a person with ordinary human problems and flaws and quirks is more genuine and appealing than being a Mary Poppins, practically-perfect-in-every-way. But where is the line between having flaws and faults that make you “authentic” and having flaws and faults that are huge, screaming red flags to a potential partner? I’m sure that a lot of EUMs and ACs have defended awful behavior by saying “Hey, I was just being my authentic self.”

    • cc says:

      try drilling this into your brain:

      authentic IS wonderful. all by itself. set your authentic self to equal wonderful and you’re there. accept who you are and start there, work with that. you don’t have to overly please.

      the difference(s) between having normal flaws and being a walking code red is:
      – being respectful of one’s self and others
      – taking responsibility for one’s deeds and actions
      – actually being appropriately emotionally available (able to love but NOT a doormat)
      – you have your shit mostly together and you enjoy your life but you are still able to say, without guilt or apology, “yes, these are the problem areas of my life, here’s what i’m doing to change what i can, here’s how i’m dealing with what i can’t change”

      also, remember, when you compare yourself to your friends and their wives – you maybe weren’t around when their relationships began, so maybe you don’t rememeber when the wives were perhaps sweeter and more beguiling. there’s a lot of history in all of those relationships, both parties remember when their partner was an earlier version of him/herself and factor that in. you don’t get to see that, though. so don’t think that being shrewish wins, i guarantee the wives weren’t so shrewish when they were dating.

      also – not everybody fits. we have to accept that not every interaction is meant to work out – THIS is another reason why it is so important to be YOU and not chameleon yourself to fit someone else.

      and don’t fall for the EUM/AC “authentic” bullshit, even in your own head. “authentic” is as much or more about being an individual with preferences and particular needs as it is about having flaws.

      …wow, that was quite the grab bag of advice. i hope it made sense.

      • Sadder but Wiser says:

        Your first sentence nailed it for me: “authentic IS wonderful.” Thanks CC, lots of good advice here. Let the brain drilling begin!

    • Mymble says:

      I was a very very shrewish wife, bc I was for many years up for much of the night tending to two infants who never slept through till they were two, while hubbu snored peacefully, then was working full time durin the day to pay the majority of the bills. Not to mention picking his skiddy underpants off the floor and cooking his din-dins. He didn’t love me because I was a bitch, he knew he was getting a good deal and having his lugs burned by me from time to time was a small price to pay.
      Although he did on occasion hit me. And no I wasnt a shrew when we dated.
      Hope this explains it for you.

  28. Confused123 says:

    I completely hear you. I understand all too well when you say,
    “When I was younger and I expressed concern, my needs and emotions, I was ridiculed or hit or met with contempt. As an adult I’m finding it hard to relate in life. I just reasoned I’d let those around me take care of me, take responsibility and take the fall. I’ve let my life get so out of hand, I feel like a twenty eight year old infant.”
    I struggle with the same issue. All I can say honey is better late than never and better at 28 than 38 which is what I am. :(
    Though the Carl part made me laugh. :)

    • Jennifer says:

      Confused 123,

      Thanks for the reply. And you ARE right! Better late than never. And, ahhh, yes, Carl :)

  29. Leslie says:

    You just described my last so called relationship to a T. To answer the question, “What does a person really have to do,” well, he let me know (and mine). half hi half his age

  30. miskwa says:

    Confused: we are ALL your sponsor. Bailing out of dating for awhile is a good idea. There’s lots of Nats old posts on the subject of breakups. It sucks, it hurts, but at least this dude honestly came out and said he doesn’t want to see you anymore. Lots of men out there lack even a shred of that kind of courage and honesty. You are right, 2012 was a crappy year. The new, currently angry and hard hearted Miskwa ‘s motto for 2013 is “Take no s@#t, and no excuses”.

    • Confused123 says:

      I like your moto for 2013 is “Take no s@#t, and no excuses”. AWESOME!
      You are right. He is courage and honesty. ? And kind and rather sweet. I’m not pedestaling him, promise. It sucks that he has feeling for someone else but I’m glad he has a chance to maybe find something special with someone. ? He deserves it with everything he been through and the amount of work he’s done to change himself.
      For me, I guess I’ve had a lot of loss in ’12. Starting with my dog, my cousin, my job etc. Some loses were good for me though, like the AC. The think is that I learnt was I am EA. Phew! I just need a break. I can’t start something new with someone new anytime soon. Not till I’ve recharged my mental and emotional batteries. ?
      I do feel very lonely right now. I have next to no friends, my family is about 10000 miles away and I have no parties or holiday events to look forward to ?. Basically, I’m looking at all this alone time as the universe’s way of teaching me to happy with myself and find comfort in solitude. Not easy when you’re an extrovert.

  31. Demke says:

    @Jule… I’ve been where you are.. Feeling how you’re feeling. My ex and I used to break up, get back together so many times, it was a joke. And we’re adults in out 30’s! He would chase me every time, in the past year… It would taking him longer…

    Anyway… Because I’ve been where you are many times, it’s okay to want someone to hunt you down, because they love you. But anyone who really, truly loves you… Would not play such games. My ex would come back as if everything he said/did was genuine. He was so full of shite, lol. I remember being so distracted of thoughts about him, and if I would ever hear from him. I wasn’t ready to let go yet.

    In the end, all of the drama, the upsets, the disappointments, proving yourself, blaming yourself, accepting bad behavior, giving a hundred chances…. Spending all your time and thought energy will be all for nothing. I did all of that for several years. Huge. Waste. Of. Time. My hope for women still at this stage in the ‘game’, cause it really is a game, btw. That you do yourselves a huge favor… Stop wasting your time already. It’s not love. No matter what you ‘think’ you feel… It’s not ‘it’. “where there is love there is no question”. It’s not about us not being good enough… Its not about ‘us’, but we’re hell bent on believing that it is… Although these assclowns know we think that of ourselves, and feel they can do as they please to us, behind our backs, and we’ll believe whatever they profess…

    They know exactly what they’re doing the entire time. They’re ‘playing’. My ex used to say to me, “I’m just your puppet, you think you can do whatever you want with me”, projection at it’s

    I know he’s with someone else now, it’s been 2 months NC. I get a little nostalgic at times for a few seconds, acknowledge what I’m feeling, and then I remember the lies, the cheating, and the disrespect… And I’m back to being happy that I am no longer wasting my time on this person and driving myself crazy. I learned a lot, got my self esteem back, which i have no doubt is the reason why I don’t give a flying ‘bleep’ about him anymore. That is huge for me. If I can get over it and move on… ANYONE can.

  32. tired says:

    l p b and victorious and Swiss miss unannounced the boost I so needed.yes I’ll try and break habit of looking as I only hurt myself . he’s a coward and that’s how he lets people know .his wife on approach to Xmas must be devastated .I took myself off to English and concentrated on my essay.I feel so used but remain bc and can’t help wondering what’s so great about her he up and did leave.he has no home or money put himself in a shit situation for this women.it is just life I guess and I have to accept he choose her and moved on . I know I’m not ready and have turned down offers ,one only last Sat night as he came across a control freak.instead of feeling uncomfortable saying no I just did and didn’t care if he didn’t like it . I will move on when I’m ready and find someone who isn’t a liar and a coward.if he ever came knocking I’d like to be a new me that didn’t answer .whether I was single or not . I only hope he gets a lesson like I did . thanks to you all x

  33. Lulabear says:

    I have to say that this is by far one of the best articles or comments on co-dependency I have ever come across – it’s just plain simple! When we don’t want to see the truth or live in reality – we make excuses.
    Ask any of my friends and they can tell you that I have a Ph.D in this!!! I wasted most of my life in idiot compassion mode. There’s nice and then there is just plain…(fill in the blank).
    I am really trying to move out of this mode but it is very hard – it’s a lovely life path that I have perfected and am now really trying hard to ‘reroute”…reading articles like this is a great reminder to me to keep moving in a direction that will be more fulfilling.
    Thank you Natalie!!!

  34. pinkpanther says:

    Talk about making excuses for a man. Here’s one I did the other day, it makes me sick.

    Guy I know, who I see daily at the dog park, is talking with another guy who I see daily as well. They’re talking loudly so that their conversation is public for anyone within 15 feet or so. I’ve know them both for years and have had many a friendly conversation, though I’ve noticed both have an underlying insecurity in relating with women.

    Second guy has a new GF. First guy says “well when are you going to bring her over so we can dress her down and bend her over”.

    If guys want to say this shit to each other in private, go right ahead, but saying this crap so that everyone can hear it is F’d up. Making it a hostile public space!

    This isn’t the first time he has made sexist, racist, homophobic remarks. On three separate occasions I have stepped up and called him out. And those three times he has moped around afterward.

    This time, I didn’t say anything. It’s been bugging me every time I see him now. Bugging me for two reasons, first, I find myself trying to make excuses for him. I don’t want to have to hate him, it’s such a drain, and there are things I do like about him, but he has crossed so many lines often enough.

    But I know still underneath whatever lie I tell myself, I think he has a lot of rage toward women, people of color and gays. He’s sort of the classic Archie Bunker type. He’s a bigot and he’s got two little daughters and a wife. It’s pathetic.

    Actually I think I’m going to say something to him today. I’ll let you guys know what happens.

    • yoghurt says:

      Heya PP

      I know what you mean and that comment made my blood BOIL just to read, but I don’t think that you have to hate him.

      When I was younger I used to work in a pub in my hometown, where an awful lot of people belonged to the BNP and the average viewpoint contained a lot of nasty racial stereotyping and bigotry.

      I didn’t ever like it, I didn’t ever accept it, I didn’t ever let it go without challenging it but, generally speaking, I got on okay with most people and most people got on with me. I disliked the attitude but I didn’t dislike the people – and getting to know them gave me a lot more insight into WHY they had those attitudes, as misguided as they were. Which is as well, really, because otherwise there wouldn’t have been many people to talk to.

      I probably didn’t make a difference to anyone’s thinking but, looking back, I’m happy with the effort that I made.

      With the man you describe, I’d say you run a greater risk of hating him if you DON’T say anything. You can like someone in a vague sort of way and recognise that their ideas are wrong or misguided or repellent.

      Not that there’s really any risk of this, but I wouldn’t get emotionally enmeshed with him in any way (huh, when he’s such a charmer..!), or take responsibility for his attitudes, or start thinking that maybe YOUR attitudes are wrong and his are right. But, if it’s safe to do so and you’re going to be interacting with him on any basis in the future then I’d DEFINITELY stand firm to your boundaries and protect your sense of integrity by letting him know that you don’t appreciate hearing sentiments like that expressed in your hearing.

      If he has a problem with that then it’s his problem. And his thinking’s clearly all squiffy anyway, so his opinion isn’t really worth much.

      • K says:


        You’re a much bigger person than me!

        One of my son’s is gay. My children are bi racial. We have quite a bit of diversity around here…

        I have six children and when they were younger, my ex husband and I would take them all grocery shopping with us once a week (looking back now, I don’t know how the hell we managed THAT) and with that many children in tow, there were ALWAYS looks or comments from the cashier when we went through check out. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked if I the kids were ALL ours, if we were Mormon or Catholic…this use to irritate the shit out of me. So I devised a comeback to this stereotypical question with “No, I’m not Mormon, I’m not Catholic, I just enjoy unprotected sex!”…humor was a great ice breaker for conversation..fortunately, it wasn’t as serious as it is now to have a son who is gay. He has a partner now too, which makes it all the more difficult when faced with outright rude, intentionally nasty comments by others, some are downright hateful. When it is aimed at your child or it is about your child, where I use to come unglued, I no longer respond and walk away from that stuff. Toxic is toxic. Hateful, bigoted, mean spirited, ignorance…it’s all TOXIC and it’s very abusive, because regardless of what the bigotry is, where the hate is or came from, it doesn’t matter. If it’s directed at a human being, it’s abusive. Period and I don’t deal with abusers anymore.

        I won’t share with you when I came unglued recently because of a vile comment made to me because my newest grandchild is half black.

        There is a line between ignorance and abuse. I’m not there to teach someone how to not be abusive. I do believe these people know that their comments hurt those they are targeted at.

        • yoghurt says:

          Fair enough, but I think that there’s a clear difference between someone directing their targets at you (or your children, which imo is the same thing) and between someone’s opinion offending you.

          I’d like to think that if I’d seen any of the aforementioned people targetting people or aiming to hurt them then I’d’ve stand up and be counted (not sure, though, I’m a big coward) but they weren’t, they were just sounding off in an ignorant way. And I’d tell them that I thought that their opinion was ignorant, and point out why.

          I can’t especially think of a good reason why we should associate with people that we disagree with, except that I don’t know how we expect any wrong-headed opinions or viewpoints to change if we don’t. Doesn’t mean that we have to condone, accept or put ourselves in harm’s way for it (which is the difference between being targetted and witnessing an opinion). But I don’t think that making ourselves miserable hating them achieves a great deal either. If the worst comes to the worst, you can refuse to engage.

  35. espresso says:

    I loved your post about how women are conditioned from day one to be uncertain about their decisions and then overthink about whether they have the “right” to say what they want, even to themselves. As you say, the forces that have shaped how women think about themselves and how we learn to doubt ourselves have been in place SO long and are so strong and are constantly reinforced, not only by men and our neediness around them but by other women too. In my work life I have often found it is woman who are much more resentful about other women speaking up and being powerful. Instead of supporting this they often gossip, cut down, diminish or are personally cruel. I have been on the receiving end of this and have seen it happen to others.
    I LOVE what Natalie says about evaluating situations and us having the right and responsibility to do so….I think I am pretty good at that but have always always second-guessed my assessments (over-analyzed) and then tied myself up in knots about it after. I jump right into extreme self doubt rather than trusting myself and my skills and having confidence that I handle things well. And even if I sometimes make a mistake – I do not have to be perfect. Brilliant post!

    • K says:

      Now THAT makes sense to me! I think I misinterpreted Z’s post. nice perspective espresso!

    • Skadia says:

      Espresso, absolutely! Conformance by bullying is what I call it. There is a small part of those women that want to have the guts to enforce their boundaries but a larger, scared part that are afraid of what may happen and that part gets angry at you for messing with the dynamic they’ve bought into.

  36. FX says:

    I came across this old joke email and it made me think about how much analyzing we waste our time on when often there may not even be a reason – other than poor communication. Also, how we are so willing to twist ourselves into pretzels. Please excuse the gender stereotyping.

    Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn’t flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn’t say much. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “Nothing.” I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said that he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior. I don’t know why he didn’t say, “I love you, too.” When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. To my surprise, he responded to my caress, and we made love. But I still felt that he was distracted, and that his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep…I cried. I don’t know what to do. I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.

    Shot 86 today. Can’t put for shit. Got laid though.

    • Zsuzsi says:


    • Lilly says:

      FX, I think I just recognised myself! Thanks for the laugh.

    • K says:

      This was funny..

      But it was also sad. I could see how he could have rectified the situation with one sentence.
      “Shot 86 today. Can’t put for shit anymore honey! SO BUMMED! So, ya wanna get laid?”

      Explained the situation and added some humor to it, and THEY would have gotten laid and BOTH would have felt good about it too lol!

  37. Learner says:

    The exMM was a walking excuse. I didn’t realize just to what extent until recently. When I went NC in June, I deleted all (non-work) emails from him, “de-friended” him from social media, and got to work on myself. Last week, though, I found two years worth of recorded IM chats between us from 2010 and 2011 in the depths of my computer (that I didn’t realize were there). I was hesitant to read them for fear of feeling weak, or having some nerve-wracking bodily response, but I am so glad I read them! I have just finished the first year`s worth, and what a difference in my interpretation of our chats now, compared to back then!

    He often “stood me up” for times we decided to talk on the phone or meet online for a chat between our weekly in-person visits, and he gave every excuse in the book. And I fell for them, and added a few of my own for him. What a nice, patient, kind, forgiving FBG I was for him! He even commented how understanding and forgiving I was, and *I* said things like “I have given you too many chances – I am a fool”. Of course he denied this. He also future faked, gave thinly veiled reasons why he wanted to see me other than for the obvious, and told me that he needed a “fix” of my love, that he was addicted to love. Many times, he said he didn’t want to hurt me, but liked picking me back up again after the low points in our “relationship”. He knew exactly how to turn my dissatisfaction back to adoration, using the words he knew I wanted to hear.

    What an eye-opener! With my BR knowledge, it was so EASY to see what he was up to – to see through his excuses, to see how he played me, disrespected me, took advantage of my feelings for him. All with so little effort, as I did all the “work” for both of us. I now realize the strength of the whole fantasy-relationship delusion. All I can say is “Wow”, and wonder how I was so blind. I was cringing with embarrassment for my (former) self.

    Now that I have my values clarified, my boundaries firmly in place, and my self esteem improving steadily, I vow never to allow myself to become so deluded ever again. Hindsight is 20/20, and I am using this clear vision to build a happier future. Thanks Natalie for this great post.

    • Lilly says:

      Learner, I’m so glad you’re still here! You have come so far in such a short space of time and it’s so inspiring that I know I’ll get there too.It may not sound like it sometimes, but I can see those things too. I was also exactly as you described. The nice, patient, kind, sweet, understanding FBG/Option. Not anymore. I can also see through the thinly veiled reasons why he wants to meet up and that’s why I won’t. Keep reading those messages I may join you and re-read all my old emails (guilty as charged I kept them all!). I may end up bursting those delusion bubbles completely. Hearing about your progress has cheered me up no end and I’m smiling ear to ear. Hugs to you sis, xxxx.

      • Skadia says:

        I even accused him of treating me as an option… sadly with the vehement hope that he would somehow prove me wrong. Convince me that what I knew was not true. SMH. Hoping I get to where you guys are – right now any historical communications make me feel like I WAS THE CRAZY one… crossing my fingers that it changes soon…

        *NC for 3 months after a 1 year relationship with an AC I work with*

  38. I'm the one you speak of says:

    “The reason why so many people latch onto excuses is because the unvarnished truth is harder to digest when there aren’t some excuses buffering it. But making excuses for people opens you up to hurt, it detaches you from reality, and may even prove to be a distraction from ensuring that you’re with people and in situations that reflect your own values.”

    Spontaneous unsent letter to ex after reading Natalie’s post:
    “Ah the truth, that I was wrong about you. That I invested time and children and finances and a home in you. I don’t want to be wrong about you, I want my fantasy, I will lower my expectations again and again, my deal breakers will be broken, I will have no more lines to cross, I don’t know what I like or want anymore, I just want you to be happy and be what I thought you would be, I’m a shell of what I was.”

    That post just hits me…. I feel like a puzzle piece, that when you can’t find the right place to put it, you just make the wrong ones fit, squish them in. I did that as a kid, to finish quickly or see the complete pretty picture, but you always know its the wrong piece and it doesn’t work for you. I also thought as my ex would just mind fuck me that it was better/easier to think I was crazy than he was actually as awful as he’d have to be to hurt me and our kids this way.

    I’ve been looking at truth and it isn’t pretty. Not about him as much as me. How terribly chameleon-like I am, ever adjusting to conform with the environment…how I suction on like a barnacle and ride along someone else’s journey. Trying to be really nice and get along… “go along to get along” I say. This season is all about what do I want. Me. You know that person who’s body you inhabit. What does she like to do? Can she try to be her own best company? I’m so used to being completely enmeshed that a normal relationship feels distant… I’m used to the drama and the constant vigilance and “being on”. What if I don’t have to do that, to absorb myself in that way? If I don’t, what’s left? There she is… someone I used to know… I am picking up the pieces and carefully intentionally putting them together so they fit, and my pretty picture is not there yet, in fact I think someone shook up the puzzle box and mixed everything up, there may even be a few pieces lost or missing… but I’m gratefully and faithfully trying to honor myself, pick me up, and love her.

    I love this blog. I don’t know if this make sense to anyone. I always come here for coaching about my value, it really helps.

  39. R says:

    This article is so true.

  40. amanda says:

    The exMM decided to get in touch with me yesterday after blowing overall very cold for a couple of months. Those couple of months have given me time to reflect on how our so-called “friendship” post- the affair which ended a year ago is a fallacy in itself… all of the issues which NML sheds light on in her brilliant columns. I feel like I’m finally making my peace with this and am moving on. Anyway, the exMM comes to me because he has a problem. In these last months when he was blowing cold, he was having an affair which blew up in his face. His new OW got upset that he wouldn’t leave his marriage for her, and e-mailed his wife and spilled the beans. He had purportedly been trying to mend his marriage with his wife over the last year, but I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and he’s now back in the same hell he was in a year ago when he broke things off with me. As you can imagine, he was feeling pretty desperate. I guess he needed an ego stroke so he reached out to me. To his credit, he made it clear that he didn’t need me to help him, nor did he want me to panic on his behalf. I’m glad that he set that boundary straight. The old me would have Florence Nightingaled the pants off of him, would have offered to be the “friend” that saw him through this. The new me is, quite frankly, relieved to have no blood on my hands this time around, and feel quietly vindicated with this further evidence that he is the same old EUM-AC-MM that everyone complains about here. This time around, I don’t have to make any excuses for him! Why, because I don’t need anything from him anymore. I don’t want to help him, other than send a little compassion in the direction of him and his family. Thank you, everyone here, for helping me finally see that one cannot every hope to have a healthy relationship with a man like this.

    • jewells says:

      I’m so curious, this sounds like my exMM, our relationshit ended a couple of months ago when the penny dropped that he was ‘playing’ me mid ‘managing’ me. I threatened to email his wife all his text messages if he didn’t come clean himself. I told him I’ve been played like I’ve never been played before and that he had two choices – either he told her or I did. In a conversation afterwards told me he did, that they were in counselling and that he had to cut ties with me as part of the plea bargain to make things work with his wife and counsellor (which was MY blessing as he couldn’t screw with my head anymore and leave me to sort myself out). I’m also finding it a coincidence that he also used the word ‘hell’ alot to describe his situation at home even BEFORE all this came down. Makes you go hmmmmm… does he live in Montreal?

      • jewells says:

        It was interested when the penny dropped, I was so MAD. The problem was that my feelings have taken some time to catch up with that knowledge. I vacillate between yearning and missing the ‘good’ parts, cause it was sooooo good, and being pissed off because I was ‘duped’. I want to come to the place where I can have compassion for him…still working on it and have a therapist now to help me through it and the underlying reasons I wound up with him in the first place…time will only tell…I just know I’m not there yet…

  41. Amanda says:

    Jewells, alas, no. This drama is unfolding in the Pacific Timezone. Also, the OW did make good on her threat to contact the wife. But it just goes to show you how much commonality there are in affairs and other relationships with ACs and EUs. They all sound the sane! I’m sorry that your MM put you through this hell. I’m glad that you took a strong stance, and that you feel more relief than desperation to have cut ties. Here’s to true healing…

  42. Amanda says:

    And, yes, the healing is not easy. I’ve tried hard to be compassionate as well, which includes being compassionate to myself. It’s easy to feel sorry for these MM given that they are truly confused and lost, and it’s sad to contemplate the distance that must have grown between the married couple which left the MM feeling like an affair was an alternative, but then we have to continually remind ourselves of that line between true compassion and serving as a fallback girl. That is, we can’t make excuses for them in the name of “compassion”!

  43. jewells says:

    Oh, no excuses for sure. In our last conversation he also said to me that he had erased me from his computer and phone, BUT had kept my info, ‘and would I like him to let me know how it’s going’… he still saw me as an ‘option’…I’ve changed his info to ‘R*** LIAR Y***’ and put a sticky note on my computer of a list of words to describe what he is underneath the charm and ability to say all the right things, so that I have a quick reference to reality and not make or accept excuses if I make the choice to engage in a conversation with him in future.
    BR has been a godsend and I found it within days of the cutting of ties, so many articles that clarify all the things that happened and put me firmly in a reality frame and not ‘his’. I’ve flo’d, been: future faked, fast forwarded, managed down (that’s when penny dropped); he sees me as an option, made excuses…and more.
    I’ve never been in this postion before and it has been a huge learning curve, but the blessing is that I HAVE learned so much that I feel much more confident to enter the dating arena with more confidence – I had no perameters before, so in a way this is exactly what I needed to gain the knowledge I sorely lacked before. And yes, compassion for oneself is key, and I also had an epiphany the other day: “If I love me, I can forgive him.” In forgiving doesn’t mean I let him back in, but just let it all go once and for all and moving on with an appreciation for what transpired and the gift hidden within. That’s what I strive for for myself.

    • jewells says:

      Oh, and I don’t feel ‘sorry’ for him. His line was that they had ‘decided’ a year ago that the marriage was over. Well, apparently she wasn’t privy to this info. Also, if it was ‘over’, either they should have been divorced by the time I bumped into him, or been in counselling. Neither was applied. That tells me that he refuses to take any responsibility for his life and ‘action’ is not in his vocabulary. One of his parting lines was: ‘I was taught to put others before myself’…maybe the counselling he and his wife are in will teach him what that means…

      • jewells says:

        Also, I don’t find feeling ‘sorry’ for someone productive, nor do I accept someone feeling sorry for me. Another of his parting lines was that ‘his sister pitied [me]’ (for the fact that he chose to work on his marriage) and that he ‘will always feel guilty for the person to have made that happen to be left behind’….the arrogance that he (I never met or conversed with his sis, so I don’t know that she was aware of me or that he was just using her name to speak for himself) sees me as someone to be pitied because I ‘lost’, and that I’m ‘left behind’….I don’t see it that way now that I’ve processed so much and had my own therapy. I see it as his arrogance and subtle control and put downs – just more of his AC behavior. I didn’t ‘lose’, if anyone did, his wife did because she still lives with his head games and psychological torture and clever B.S. Hopefully for her, they’ve got an equally clever therapist…

  44. Natalie G says:

    I’m totally flabbergasted in a very good way … I can’t believe how much this is ringing true !
    I need this advice thank god I found your site ! I’m the fall back girl … Not anymore 😉 iv ordered the book !

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.