a nightmare on relationship street

If you’ve ever stayed in a relationship long past its sell by date, you’ll have worried about what you’ve ‘put in’ and become focused on getting a return on investment. Instead of thinking about who they consistently are and the present, you think about the good ‘ole days and wish they’d change back. Or you look to the future and practically squeeze your eyes shut and cross your fingers and toes that they’ll realise the potential you’ve envisioned for them and the relationship.

These thoughts and images rattle around in your head trapping you in indecision and when you think about leaving you’re seized by that perennial fear that could keep you awake at night and even worse, caught in a bad romance – What if they become a better person in a better relationship?

Potential in relationships is about consistently having or showing (via actions) the capacity to become or develop into something more serious – commitment and a shared future.

Capacities are individual and independent of one another – you can’t make them have a capacity they don’t possess anyway. It doesn’t come from the intensity of your feelings or your hopes, prayers, or even demands for them to change.

If you’ve read this blog for long enough and my ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, you’ll know I’ve warned of the perils of Betting On Potential which is essentially gambling at the relationship casino, only you’re an inexperienced gambler that hangs at the wrong tables, has no exit strategy and will go for broke before taking a hint. You don’t know when to fold.

You think that if they do ‘improve’, that it must mean that the problem wasn’t anything to do with them or the relationship; it was about you. That’s why so many women in particular get stuck on ‘Why her and not me?‘ and ‘Is he giving her the relationship that I wanted?’.

This is tied to low self-esteem because you internalise your experiences – when people piss you off, overstep your boundaries, or relationships don’t work out, it cuts to the heart of that niggling fear that it’s something that you’ve ‘done’ and that you’re not good enough to ‘make’ them become someone else. For you.

I get it; relationships take investment of energy, effort, and emotion plus as a result, there is a passage of time, but this doesn’t mean that you can stage a sit-in with an IOU especially when you invest in someone that has a limited capacity to yield a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship.

Give yourself healthier odds of yielding a mutually, fulfilling co-piloted relationship with a joint agenda, by investing energy, effort, and emotion in appropriate relationships and recognising when to opt out.

If you get too hung up on ‘time’ once it goes beyond a certain point, you reason that you’ve started so you’ll finish. You’ll be frightened of being only minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months away from the ‘better them’ and that if they change, you won’t be around to reap the benefits.

Unfortunately while you keep yourself awake at night and avoid taking necessary action, whether that’s both of you addressing the areas of concern or recognising that only one of you wants this to happen or that you’re incompatible (see why relationships don’t always work out), you’re actually locking yourself in a prison of your own making.

When you worry about them being a better person in a better relationship with someone else, you rob yourself of the opportunity to be your best you in a better relationship.

This isn’t as good as it gets and they’re not your last chance saloon. By treating them like they’re your ‘property’ and that you own the right to their progression or their stagnation, you actually erode your confidence making it even harder to do what’s right for you, this relationship and them.

You don’t recognise when to put the relationship defibrillator down and stop saying CHARGE! In fact, you might have given up and are now holding onto the corpse of your dead relationship and refusing to let it go for fear of the grief that comes with it and what you’ll need to do.

You’re living in the past.

Somewhere along the way, you convinced yourself that this person and the relationship on offer was worth a punt and whatever has happened during that time, this relationship has stopped (or maybe never did) delivering what you expected. You’ve got ‘stuck’ on the potential and all the things you think you’ve done that justify you digging your heels in, but you’ve missed the bigger picture in this:

In acknowledging that you fear them becoming a better person, it’s time to acknowledge that comparatively they’re less than a better person now and what that means to your relationship now.

In order to truly be emotionally available, honest, and authentic, you must be able to admit when you make mistakes and errors in judgement, or where something isn’t working for you because if you don’t, the mistake, error in judgement, and it not working actually get bigger and create more pain. They rob you of better opportunities, personal growth and to ultimately feel something beyond disappointment and guarded hope.

You are human, you love, you want to be loved, and sometimes, you make mistakes.

Relationships serve to teach you about yourself and the pain lessens and the lessons stop repeating themselves when you heed them. You can’t learn those lessons if you’re living in the past, Betting On Potential, and clinging to a relationship for fear of them being better somewhere else. That’s not love; it’s control.

If you stay in a relationship long past its sell by date out of fear of what they might become elsewhere, the lesson you ultimately end up learning is that it’s not relationships that waste your time; it’s the reluctance to be honest and accept your mistakes along with living in fear.

Last year when I wrote about fear means it’s not happening yet and how we get hijacked by our fears and react to stuff that’s not happening and ultimately they’re not a better person in a better relationship – they’re who they are. You’re reacting to the possibility of it happening by blowing smoke up their arse and putting them on a pedestal and imagining the realisation of this fear.

That’s not good for you or for them. If your happiness and the relationship is reliant on them becoming something that they’re not now, your relationship is screwed.

You’re trying to control the uncontrollable – you don’t own them.

Waiting around to be 100% certain that they won’t become a better person means there is no limit to when you’ll opt out because if you’ll wait for that certainty, you’ll put yourself through a lot of pain to get there.

Love isn’t about having the power to change someone and requires acceptance and respect. I appreciate that you have put in time, effort, energy, and emotion, but they’re what make it difficult to leave the relationship but they’re not reasons to stay in a relationship that’s not working.

If your relationship isn’t working, it’s not because you’re not ‘worthwhile’ enough to get them to change into someone else to pay you back your investment and give you the relationship you want. Either both address the reasons it’s not working or accept you’ve become incompatible.

If you stay in a relationship, it’s because you’re both co-pilots working on a joint agenda. You’re not keeping score about your investment and tallying up what you think you’re owed and the decision to work at it is based on mutual love, care, trust, respect, and acceptance.

When you stop worrying about what they may or may not do on your watch, you realise you’ve been trapped in an open prison of your own making. You’re free to get up and leave and ultimately be your best you in a better relationship.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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196 Responses to When you’re afraid they’ll become a better person in a better relationship, without you

  1. chelsea says:

    Good post, I know how it felt feeling dreadful about what my ex would and wouldn’t be doing and having this wild imagination of what was going on and it held back my healing for so long.

    It wasn’t fun having to think about them having a great time or doing better because it really is just a waste of time and it isn’t fair also because I was just having this wrong expectations of his character or im falsely judging these people etc etc.

    When I finally realized I needed to let go and just be happy for him or whatever his doing then I started working on myself. I wasn’t being held back and anymore and I’m becoming free of that fear of what is going on in his life. I also accepted some things that I did wrong, it took me a while to come to a realization and was in denial but when I accepted it and forgave myself I felt better. It also made me realize I didn’t need to be in his life anymore so I stopped obsessing.

    Thanks Natalie for all the great posts =)

    • Maya says:

      I can’t wait for the day I feel nothing, currently think of ‘how loved up’ he must be with his new gf and feel bitter ‘he could take things to the next step’ which he wouldn’t do with me….

  2. leisha says:

    Natalie, Much of this article spoke to me. Thanks.

  3. Elle says:

    I am a sucker for this sort of thinking, not so much in the relationship – it doesn’t necessarily keep me in there (though almost certainly an element of this investment dynamic at the subconscious level) – but it invariably plays havoc once the relationship is over. It’s my bloody ridiculous ego, making up all sorts of fantastic scenarios for them. I ask: how dare they not thank me? how dare they not share this with me? and – the most toxic – how dare they be rewarded by the world after leaving me? These all apply even if I left them! It’s madness.

    But, fortunately, I see early on how controlling and unloving it is, and h0w, essentially, I do want good things for these people, and, as you say NML, this thinking is more a form of possessiveness and self-torture, really. You have to keep letting go, over and over, and the best thing is, as you say, backing yourself in order to be more fulfilled and better at being you, and, hopefully, meeting someone with whom you can be that person.

    (BTW, one issue that keeps coming up for me, NML, is that the guys I date say that they’re attracted to me for being a bright, interested, attractive person, but then they slowly fear and devalue these qualities, and tell me – directly or otherwise – that they’d rather a different kind of woman, someone who they could have more on the side, as a loyal dog. I can understand this – it’s nice to be in control of your life and have someone on the side not interferring too much, being sweet and supportive – which I am, but among other things – but it still sucks in practice!)

    • Elle says:

      Als0 – as an extra note (and having observed my brother’s divorce): both of you can ‘win’ (for want of better language) – i.e. come out better from the end of the relationship, and, the truth is that no matter what happens, who the ex ends up with, the same stuff comes up. Relationships ask of us the same qualities, no matter who we are with. Yes, it sucks that they’re probably better at relationships for being with us, but we’ve also learned to, and, in general, we learn all the time from people without thanking them or letting them control us.

  4. Movedup says:

    Great post Nat. I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t care what he is doing or even if he exists. I accept him for who he was when he was with me – an EUM/AC. Whatever his relations are with other people really is none of my concern. I am more focused on what is in front of me. I am in a healthy relationship with all the landmarks and hallmarks – my focus is on working on that relationship not one that never really was. I am also more focused on me and branching out into areas that I would not have explored before – adding to my interests so to speak. Trying different things and new challenges – above all facing fears that go poof when I expose them for what they are – just Feelings Emotions Appearing Real.
    Don’t believe everything you think – its all about you – and you might just be wrong.

    • Minky says:

      I am in exactly the same place and it’s fantastic! I still have fears and doubts, but i don’t let myself get carried away – and i see it as me not taking things for granted with the brilliant guy i’m with now. I am actually kind of grateful for the fiasco that was my EU relationship, because i really value what i have now in a way that i never could have before.

      After months of NC and finally moving on, i got to the point where i couldn’t care less about the ex EUM either. I am on speaking terms with him, as we have mutual friends, and i can definitely say that he hasn’t changed at all. But i have changed and that’s the most important thing! :)

      • Audrey says:

        @Minky- good for you, enjoy the new relationship:-)) We can learn alot from our bad experiences for sure and the motto goes “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.

  5. Cindy says:

    If I had listened carefully, my exEUM told me how he was the whole time. But I ignored it. Then I lived it for myself. Then I made excuses. Then I finally wised up.

    I know one day another woman will walk into his life, if she hasn’t already. It is almost unbearable to think about but really, he will be HER problem, not mine. What if she is more like him? They will probably get along great. I’ve seen it happen before. Maybe she isn’t so great either and that’s how things work out between them two.

    But I know one day there will be someone better for me and I can go into it with my eyes wide open.

    • erinr says:

      “If I had listened carefully, my exEUM told me how he was the whole time. But I ignored it. Then I lived it for myself. Then I made excuses. Then I finally wised up.”

      Cindy, you summed up my relationship with my AC exactly!

      I also feel the same as you, that whoever he ends up with next, he’s her problem, I’ve washed my hands of him!

    • deege says:

      Same with me, my clues were in the first meeting, but i missed them, and by the time i found out, i was committed and said to myself, “well, this isn’t so bad!” Now coming up on my fourth month of NC, and had a couple of “poor me” days recently…after finding out a couple of online contacts were totally misrepresenting themselves. the good news is, i found out quickly, did my homework and listened to the clues. YAY! Growth, but i will forever be a work in progress. Grateful to Nat for the insight, and all of you out there who are in the same boat as me. it’s pretty crowded!

    • Minky says:

      “What if she is more like him? They will probably get along great. I’ve seen it happen before. Maybe she isn’t so great either and that’s how things work out between them two.”

      I’ve seen it happen before too. I used to worry about this with my ex EUM, but then i realised that it doesn’t matter if another woman is better suited to him – he is not suited to ME. And what does that say about the woman in question? That she puts up with more, has lower standards, is more EU? Hardly a glowing recommendation, or cause for envy!

      And yes they may change, but it’s unlikely, and i am sure we all have better things to do than potentially wait years for something that may not ever happen. Some men are players til the end, because they can be!

      Much as we might love someone, they may not be the right guy for us. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for this. The right guy will come along and we will be open to a healthy relationship because we’re not faffing about with some emotionally stunted idiot!

  6. better_tomorrow says:

    strong point, even if uncomfortably true.

    A lot of these issues can be derailed by higher self esteem and the ability to let go. There are many ways to say it, but for me it boils down to that.

    A lot of emotional energy is spent on relationships that are no longer, or never were. Some of it is necessary for processing, most of it is time wasted. We should not torment ourselves with what a former partner is doing. Do we really think they are doing the same as regards us?

    We give ourselves closure. No one else.

  7. Nevertoolate! says:

    This is a great post. Years ago, I lived with and loved an alcoholic. He never spent enough time with me because he was always out drinking and I have a vast array of interests. His prior girlfriend was always with him, I always felt he loved her more. The one after me he is still with and is glued to her as well. Then I had the aha moment, they are content hanging onto him, have no interests than to baby him, the new one is a big drinker as well. I truly believed he loved me as much as he was able, but not enough (substance abuse=EUM), and I realize we did not have enough in common to make it work.

    • EllyB says:

      Nevertoolate: I think being able to have a “great relationship” with an alcoholic isn’t something to be proud of. Be glad you don’t belong to this club of women! By the way, I think most therapists would call them co-dependent.

      Besides, wanting to “baby” an alcoholic sounds like an incredibly selfish thing to me. A quick google query for “Adult Children of Alcoholics” shows why.

  8. Magnolia says:

    Thank goodness, I’m finally getting bored with this question. I would get irked thinking about all the perks the AC gets in life and how unfair it is that he can continue to be a jerk without consequences (other than losing me), so I might as well not bother thinking about it; anyway that has nothing to do with me, he’d be out there grabbing perks whether I’d come along to judge the fairness of it or not.

    If he’s a better person now for having been with me, so be it. He’d have to be to recognize what he lost anyway.

    But when I think of how he treated his ex-girlfriends with whom he was still in touch while he and I were dating, and what losing THEM had done for his personality, I wouldn’t hold my breath thinking that losing me has made much of an impression.

  9. colororange says:

    I have had an ongoing issue with boundaries. How do you deal with people that do not respect your boundaries, somehow make it like you’re wrong or they just go on doing what it was you wanted them to stop? Don’t take you seriously. I have boundaries but usually keep them to myself because of the simple fact most people I try to have boundaries with just don’t seem to care. Then I feel bad/guilty if they do quit doing what I wanted them to quit doing. What is that and how do I overcome it? I’ve been working with the feelings diary. But I’m still having trouble voicing when something someone is doing is bothering me especially if they keep doing it. I can get caught in a vicious circle in my head. I’m tired of being miserable all the time because I let everyone else dictates how I feel. It’s such an ingrained habit. I want to know what it feels like to feel good the majority of the time instead of bad.

    • NML says:

      Colororange, there is such a thing as painting yourself into a corner. There is an entire section dedicated to boundaries so I won’t go all chapter and verse http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/category/boundaries-in-relationships-2/ However the issue isn’t actually them busting your boundaries – people do that. The issue is how you handle it. You’re pissed off with them when they don’t respect your boundaries and you’re pissed off with yourself and guilty when they do – do you see something wrong with that picture? Boundaries are for you, not them. Those who don’t respect them, distance yourself or cut off. Own your right to have boundaries and stop persecuting yourself. If you don’t think you’re worthwhile having boundaries, quite frankly no-one else will. Get on board with respecting yourself. The sooner you do, the better you’ll feel otherwise you will get stuck in a corner complaining but never actually doing and feeling better.

      • grace says:

        NML, Orange
        Yep, just distance yourself. That’s what I did at work when a gaggle of women were bitching about me. I just stopped being friendly with them, stopped offering to help them (mug that I was), and just got on with my work. A few months down the line, they are actually nicer to me than they ever were!
        There doesn’t have to be a big showdown. People don’t say to themselves “today I’m going to bust Orange’s boundaries”, they just take advantage in a somewhat thoughtless way. When they can no longer do that, they just give up or move onto the next target. It really doesn’t have to be a big deal.

  10. Learning says:

    Man, as I try to really get healthy and emotionally available for a positive relationship, I realize I’ve been on both sides of this.

    I’ve been that person not wanting to move on with the hope that he’ll come around and be as awesome as he was in the beginning, even though he’s treating me like crap now. I’ve wondered then, when I finally get the nerve to end it and say I want just friends, why he is absent from the friendship.

    And I’ve been that person who just wasn’t so into a guy who was really into me. Who thought he was going to marry me, in fact. I dropped him when the disparity between our two feelings grew to be too great. I’m sure he’s still wondering why I committed to the guy after him. I’m sure, because he’ll still bring it up from time to time over the phone or over coffee as to the reasons “why we couldn’t work out.” I’ll then ignore him for a long while after that because I don’t want to mislead him, as it’s clear his feelings could be easily rekindled and I don’t want to hurt him more. When he gets in touch again, he’ll tell me he wishes that I at least were a better friend if I can’t be a lover. But how do I tell him that I don’t want to be a better friend without giving him the idea that maybe this means I’ll turn into a lover?

    I’m never going to change for him. I tried him on, and it didn’t work out. No amount of waiting, hoping, or trying to change his personality is going to do it for me. In fact, the more he tries, the more likely it will be that I will be turned off by it, because I will wonder why he is still so hung up on me and can’t move on?

    Same for the last guy I was in love with. I haven’t talked to him in a long time, and I don’t talk to him. My feelings could be rekindled for him VERY easily. When we were awesome, we were really awesome – at least for me. Maybe he’ll always be emotionally unavailable. Maybe he’ll change for someone else. But he won’t change for ME, which is the important point, so why does it matter? I loved him. He tried me on. He didn’t love me the same way back. Nothing I can do will make him love me the same way back, just as there’s nothing that other guy can do to make me love him back. The only things we can do,…

    • grace says:

      You could cut it off with the still-in-love-with-you ex. I get that it’s nice having a guy around. they’re really handy for a bit of company and moving furniture (I’m not kidding!) but, really, is it fair to have him in your life when he obviously wants more? The reason he can’t move on is because .. you keep seeing him. Sometimes you have to lose the old to make room for the new, even when the old doesn’t seem to be doing any harm.
      And the other ex, definitely lose him, even as a fantasy. Holding onto men who belong in the past, as friends, fantasies etc makes you unavailable for the man who belongs to your future.

      • Sam says:

        “Holding onto men who belong in the past, as friends, fantasies etc makes you unavailable for the man who belongs to your future.”

        Thank you Grace – you said it perfectly. Once I realized what a great relationship I could potentially have on my hands with the guy I’m with now – I really knew it was time to never look back. I’m not shorting myself or the great guy I’m with now by even attempting to maintain any sort of relationship with the ex. NC is still and will always remain intact from the last EUM/AC.

    • Aimee says:


      I am hoping this does not come off as harsh, as it is not meant to be. But can I ask why are you still hanging with a guy who obviously still has feelings for you? Are you able to still be friends with someone you still care about and hoping to be more?

      I had to let a really good male friend go because he wanted more, I did not. I realized he was still hoping. I didn’t want to lose our friendship, but I also didn’t want to hurt him anymore just because “he thought” he could handle being friends. It was the right thing to do for me. Just a thought!

      • Learning says:

        Hi Aimee,

        I respect your opinion. You did what was best for you and for the guy involved with you. I don’t get in touch with this guy – he calls and gets in touch with me. Sometimes I pick up to see where he’s at and if he’s over it and ready for something platonic. I really don’t want to hurt him. I also don’t want to circumvent him and decide things for him, either. He’s an adult man, definitely no longer a youngster, and should be able to make decisions for himself as to what’s good for him and his emotions. I don’t want others to make decisions for me, so I show him the same courtesy. I don’t get in touch with the other guy because I know I’m not ready to be his friend. I have held onto hope, however, that when I’m ready in the distant future and most likely in a different relationship that we can have some kind of light friendship. I’d hate for him to decide for me that that’s not possible at that point because of my feelings in a distant past. Just my thoughts. I’m willing to reconsider and to be wrong.

        • NML says:

          Learning, there is something in your comment that actually demonstrates a strong element of how Mr Unavailables think of Fallback Girls. You said:

          “He’s an adult man, definitely no longer a youngster, and should be able to make decisions for himself as to what’s good for him and his emotions.”

          Translated into Mr Unavailable speak: “She’s an adult woman, definitely no longer a youngster, and should be able to make decisions for herself as to what’s good for her and her emotions”.

          Obviously that is totally untrue, otherwise half the problems that readers on this site have wouldn’t exist. It’s your prerogative why you continue to ‘not make decisions for him’ but you know, sometimes, as adults, both male and female, we have to make uncomfortable decisions based around OUR boundaries and OUR comfort levels which does involve making decisions for other people.

          If you left it up to the average Mr Unavailable, he’d NEVER make a decision and opt out and spare the woman he’s involved with. Does that mean she shouldn’t make the decision for him and more importantly for herself?

          • Learning says:

            You know, I agree in a big way, Natalie. I think it would have been wrong of me, once he made it clear that he had a lot of feelings for me that I didn’t reciprocate, to keep dating him. That’s why I broke up with him – which is making a decision for both him and me. I’ve always been very clear that I’m not interested in anything more than friendship. I just wonder how responsible we’re supposed to be for someone else’s feelings. I want to be empathetic and try to do what’s right by him, but do you think that extends to what these other posters are saying – not even picking up the phone and to cut him off completely? That seemed a bit extreme to me. At some point, is there a level of trust that we have assume – that the other person knows what they can and can’t handle? I don’t know. I don’t have any answers, it’s not a rhetorical question. I mean it in earnest. I do wish the couple of unavailable men I’ve been involved with would have taken my feelings and needs more into consideration. I would have been hurt though, if that consideration extended to cutting me out of their lives “for my own good.”

            • NML says:

              Learning, let me give you a very real example:

              Mary and Joe used to date but when she tried to progress the relationship he said “I don’t feel the same way about you”. Joe recognised that he couldn’t reciprocate on what was clearly her deep feelings for him. He *does* like her though and is flattered by her interest and if he was 100% truthful with himself, when he suggests friendship, he gets to enjoy the ego stroke and keep her in his back pocket as an option. It also makes him feel like the Good Guy after turning her down.

              Mary while being a grown adult, doesn’t cope with rejection well and has some relationship habits that cause her to cross her own boundaries and do stuff that she’ll later come to see as detracting from her.

              After trying to distance herself from him, she reasons that she’d rather have him on *some* terms rather than no terms. She also reasons that if she bides her time and plays ‘friend’, he’ll recognise her value. She is hijacked by her feelings and believing she knows better and then stemming the feeling of rejection by being a ‘friend’ but they’re not friends.

              Joe really enjoys the friendship and knows that he doesn’t feel the same way. He feels he’s made his feelings clear through actions and words and that everyone is out for themselves. He’s enjoying himself – if she’s not, she needs to man up and opt out.

              He meets someone else and assumes Mary will be fine about it. She’s very upset and accuses him of using her for an ego stroke and misleading her. He denies this and says he was always clear about his feelings. She feels even more rejected and tries to pitch herself as the better option. He realises that he’s grossly misjudged the situation. He restates his feelings. She’s not listening. He *does* like her but when he decides to distance himself from her, it’s so that he doesn’t mislead her anymore. She doesn’t listen, she won’t accept and being a friend is sending the wrong signal.

              • Pirouette says:

                Sounds like my situation to a T. Only with some making out and sex thrown in.

              • Learning says:

                I really appreciate you taking the time to write this response, Natalie. That does sound like a very painful situation. I sympathize with the Mary of this story. Perhaps too much. Part of what’s been so hard for me about NC with the last guy is that I felt like I didn’t even have a choice about it. As in, he never really wanted to have a friendship, seemingly doesn’t care if he ever sees/talks/hears from me again. The one time I did fall off the horse and break NC, he acted very indifferent about hearing from me. That really got me where it hurts. It was like, “Really? You really value me so little that you don’t even care to be my friend?” Whereas for some women it might feel validating to go no contact, in this instance, with this man, it felt like a final loss, on top of the loss of already losing him as a lover. I wanted to feel like I at least meant something to him. But if I’m really honest, friendship isn’t possible either because of how strong my feelings were for him. They could be rekindled so easily, and he would be able to tell that they were even if I tried to hide it, to pretend I was just cool with things as they were, if we tried for a friendship. And then I would probably be wondering – well, he keeps hanging out with me as friends, so maybe it could turn into something more? Maybe he knows all this and that’s why he doesn’t do anything, I don’t know. I don’t see him as being as empathetic as all that, though, unfortunately.

                I guess that’s why I thought it was okay to be friends with this other guy who was really into me, the one time the tables were turned on me and I was the less interested party. I figured that it would be the kinder thing to do to give him some matter of say in the situation, to let him see if he could do friendship and that it would feel better for him if he was the one to go no contact and cut me off if he found out he couldn’t handle it, rather than making the decision for him. It hurt like hell when I had the decision made for me. It was like a last humiliation, that I could be completely punted out of someone’s life. Where it basically didn’t even matter that I went NC. But I think maybe you’re right – maybe the kinder thing is to be really, really…

              • TeaTime says:

                Wow, substitute “Teatime” for Mary and my xAC for Joe and you get a short version of what I went through over a span of 8 months. Ouch.

          • Magnolia says:

            “But how do I tell him that I don’t want to be a better friend without giving him the idea that maybe this means I’ll turn into a lover?”

            I would just say exactly that.

        • Magnolia says:

          “He’s an adult man, definitely no longer a youngster, and should be able to make decisions for himself as to what’s good for him and his emotions.”

          It took me a long time to understand why this argument doesn’t convince me, in my own life. I’m still in touch with an ex from a long time ago who does not still harbor feelings for me. But my opinion of him has changed as I’ve gotten to know him as a friend. He uses this argument to justify convincing at least one of the women he’s seeing now into being comfortable in an open relationship.

          It sounds logical: she’s a grown woman, etc etc. But the truth of the matter is I have met this woman, and she is wonderful but clearly has self-esteem issues and issues around believing she will ever find the kind of relationship her heart wants. She has had a rough history and is open about her struggle.

          What I realized is that she is a grown woman who has shown my friend that she hasn’t yet learned to make firm decisions in her own best interest, and it suits him just fine. In fact, he talks about how she is ‘growing emotionally’ by being put through the ‘challenges’ of maintaining an open relationship.

          I never understood how anyone could string me along, because I am so uncomfortable misleading people who clearly are more interested, that I never understood why anyone would do that. My ex is not uncomfortable with ‘managing’ a woman who wants more than he wishes to give. He has rationalized capitalizing on this woman’s demonstrated lack of skill in defending herself by saying, “She’s a grown woman who should be able to defend herself.”

  11. Ariel says:

    This topic seems is one of the final hurdles I’m trying to get over regarding my ex-AC. Sure he had all the hallmarks of an AC, and he started his new relationship before ending ours and cheated on me, and I’ve accepted that none of it was my fault, but what if he decides to become that ideal person for her? The one that decides to never cheat again, cares deeply for her emotional well being and decides to be the best person he can be for her?

    I hope that is exactly what happens, because then all the pain I have gone through would be worth him becoming a better person. I think ACs change only when they want to and not a second sooner. If they get married and have a beautiful life together then I would give my blessing. Sadly though, I fear he is just moving on to the next victim…as I found out late in our relationship, he cheated on his ex wife for a year, (of course he excused it because she “didn’t respect him”), and he left his fiance earlier in his life to be with his now ex-wife. At 40-some years old, I doubt he has learned a lesson all of a sudden.

    Thank you Natalie for this blog, you always seem to be in my head knowing what issue I am wrestling with. To those commenting, thank you for the beautiful support of each other, it has inspired me to give my love to people that actually care about me.

    • meagen19 says:

      “I hope that is exactly what happens, because then all the pain I have gone through would be worth him becoming a better person”

      I hear your sentiment. But as far as I’m concerned, I won’t be a martyr for anyone. Even if my ex EUM is better, he (and his becoming better) was NOT worth the pain I went through!

    • ICanDoBetter says:

      “he started his new relationship before ending ours and cheated on me, and I’ve accepted that none of it was my fault, but what if he decides to become that ideal person for her?”

      The very start of his relationship with her is already not ideal. She got involved with a man who cheated to be with her. I have heard too many couples having problems over this very issue, when the relationship begins that way. There is always that lingering cloud of doubt hanging over one person’s head. It might be different if he had taken the time to work on his issues, and then enter a new relationship in a proper way.

      • Ariel says:

        So right ICanDoBetter! I don’t know if she knew about me though. Whether he has changed into a better person or not, I’m actually starting to not care. I feel like I’m graduating. We should have a graduation day at BR! I am finally free from Assclowns past and present!

  12. PJM says:

    Oh so true. So so so true. But as far as I’m concerned, the ex can have all the girlfriends he wants; I am not remotely convinced that anyone will get that man to change, because he just plain doesn’t want to. He’s happy the way he is.

    I am so glad that he’s gone, and I am so much happier since he’s been gone (over 6 months now). I learned a huge amount from all that pain, but I wouldn’t have learned it – really LEARNED it – if it hadn’t been for this site.

    There’s a guy at work who’s suddenly noticed me (works in the same place, but a different department). And do you know, I’ve already got him pegged. He’s from overseas and his English is fine, but he’s got no mingling skills or small talk ability – at least, not at any work function I’ve seen him at. But he DOES love his Blackberry … He will come and stand near me at a function, but not speak to me. He will sit behind me at a presentation. He will speak when spoken to, but not otherwise.

    And of course, I go through the whole interior dialogue: ‘he’s just shy’. ‘I should make it clear I’m available’. ‘I should do this’. ‘I should do that’. ‘Maybe if I just do this’.

    And so far, I’ve done NONE OF IT! YAY! If he’s actually interested, he can figure it out – for pete’s sake, the guy’s South American, and they’re supposed to be demonstrative, right?

    But if he’s just a clone of the last EUM – an electronic-media-addicted Aspie – then I’m much safer where I am.

    Woo hoo! Happy Easter, everyone.

    • Audrey says:

      @PJM.. its great, and very empowering ,to be able to spot the emotionally unavailables and assclowns and no good men. I can say that before I came onto B.R. I hadn’t a clue about men and was way too naive for my own good and too tolerant as well. We’re no longer suckers!!!! LOL.

      Happy Easter PJM and everyone here.

      Happy Easter, Nat, I wish you a lovely Easter with your family. xoxo

  13. MovingOn says:

    Great article Nat. I am finally moving away from my EUM/AC. He said something a few weeks ago that opened my eyes wide. Every thing I had ever thought, second guessed, wondered about…was confirmed in a few sentences, by him. I had an “ah-hah” moment.

    I have been in the mind set that the next woman was going to benefit from all my hurt and “teaching” him on life and love. I am finally at the point of, ‘WHO CARES?’. It wasn’t working for me; it NEVER would have worked between us. I was in la-la land; listening to his words vs his (non) actions, letting him be the pilot. Allowing him to call all the shots for the (fake) future, blah, blah, blah. I am moving on…letting go (again), moving forward to a calmer, better life. One where I call all my shots, make my own decisions, and move towards a future that will make ME happy.

    I am at a point in my life where I don’t even want or desire a relationship..not now. I no longer care about ‘someone’ else. I want to move forward, make decisions for my future, my life, my happiness. I figure this much is true, I can’t hurt AND disappoint myself,; I can only make myself happy and move forward.

  14. Aimee says:

    Couldn’t have come at a better time. Been sick and my self-esteem has been waning, started that stupid obsessive stuff that it was “me”. Not him, or both of us, because…..yes I played my part.

    Years ago I read this great affirmation that has always stuck with me “Wouldn’t it be great if we were doing as well as everyone thinks we are”. Just like judging my insides to other peoples outsides.

    FEAR – such a small word for such BIG problems. But I found years ago better to face then head-on than avoid and sit in them and let them paralyze me and keep me stuck.

    Great Article!!

  15. Jennifer says:

    This is a great post, but for me, I find the problem comes in when I still have to see the person because he is a part of my extended social circle and I can’t easily change that short of not going to my old classmate’s birthday or my office social, etc. I find even once I know the relationship isn’t going anywhere, I can’t get him and what he is doing and who he might be dating out of my head as long as I continue to see him around. I always do NC when I can but sometimes it can’t totally be done because we occupy some of the same space, and I sabotage myself because if he’s in front of my face, he’s in my head!

    Do any of you have any thoughts on how to deal with these situations?

    • Audrey says:

      Jennifer, I think we can emotionally and mentally cut ourselves off from someone, even if we see them around.

      I think you haven’t done that yet (as you still wonder what he’s doing and if he’s seeing someone else) and its sounds like you’re still emotionally invested in him, so it’s not that you see him around that’s the problem but that you still are invested in him.

      At the end of the day, unpleasant and all as it feels, part and parcel of ending a relationship is accepting that he will be with someone else at some stage. It’s inevitable.

      And if do some more work on yourself to cut your ties to him and work on raising your self-esteem (which has proabably taken a knock) you will get to the point where you don’t actually care if he’s with someone else.

  16. TheModernOxy says:

    Great job with this post Natalie, I agree. Its so easy to get so wrapped up in your feelings when you have unhealthy love habits and no boundaries. This post is something that I can relate to. I remember those dreaded nights crying myself to sleep over an assclown. Not anymore! I actually stumbled upon one of your youtube videos one night when I was having oner of my “obsessing” parties. Baggage reclaim has been very helpful.

  17. debra says:

    You are on fire these days Natalie. Another spot on post. This was me, to a T, six months ago.

    It wasn’t that I thought he would magically change into a great guy with the next girl – his track record showed that wasn’t going to happen. For me, I didn’t trust my feelings. I had projected great qualities onto an assclown so long, when I saw him for who he really was, I couldn’t believe it, didn’t want to accept the truth. I then wanted everyone around me to mirror back to me the bad image of him. I wanted and even needed our coworkers to agree with me that he was an assclown, a jerk, abusive, rude etc.

    Now, I see my behavior as childish and unnecessary. All I needed to learn was to trust my own judgement and gut and know that he had shown me what a hurtful, disrespectful and unloving person he was. Whether or not others saw it in him doesn’t make it true or not. That was what he showed me he was. Having self respect and boundaries means that, alone, is enough. I don’t need a Greek chorus around me to tell me he is a bad guy. It really wouldn’t have made the decision to walk away any easier, although I thought so at the time. I just needed to be willing to dump a bad investment and believe in what I am seeing and feeling enough to walk away from a losing hand.

  18. Nikki says:

    I got stuck in this type of thiniking for years in my early 30’s after leaving someone I had lived with for 8 years. When we reconnected 13 years later, he had married someone else and had had a child. Then divorced. I realized he was the same AC he had always been and he hadn’t changed a bit, plus he had made another woman miserable in the process. You may think that once they move on to someone else everything magically gets better but I would bet that 99% of the time if they’re ACs or EUMs they don’t change their ways — unless they have an epiphany :)

  19. Natasha says:

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that, should you have a true assclown on your hands, his idea of “improvement” can often equate to what women with good self esteem would consider to be the bare bones standard of decent dating/relationship behavior. It’s like saying, “I cannot and WILL NOT miss out on getting the bare minimum in a relationship.” I took an assclown back because he claimed to be a changed man. What did I get, you ask? A few more phone calls, a bunch o’ text messages, dates, mentions on Facebook (talk about having low standards..I was elated). What did I NOT get? Commitment, consideration for my feelings, empathy or respect. If he’s a full-on assclown, don’t waste your time wondering what anyone else is getting out of him. There’s a significant chance that it’s not worth having.

    • NML says:


      • Audrey says:

        @Natasha- well said. It’s rinse and repeat with these guys (i love that phrase, Natalie!…)

        • MovingOn says:

          Natasha- AMEN!!!

          I could have wrote this exactly the same-word for word (the only thing I would add to your list that you didn’t get was a future: ” I took an assclown back because he claimed to be a changed man. What did I get, you ask? A few more phone calls, a bunch o’ text messages, dates, mentions on Facebook (talk about having low standards..I was elated). What did I NOT get? Commitment, consideration for my feelings, empathy or respect.

      • Natasha says:

        Natalie and ladies, can I get a “Hell YES”?! Considering the high rate of Assclown Recidivsm, I’ve found this whole issue to be one of largest wastes of emotional energy on the planet. I think it goes double, triple, and quadruple if they’re of the I Know I Acted Like An Asshole, But I’m Still A Really Great Person (Because I Said So) or the I Feel Bad (That I Did X, Y, Z To You, But That Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Going To Do It Again – And More!) Species.

        • TJ says:

          Count me in! Hell Yeah!!!
          After my ex AC pulled the plug on our pathetic joke of a relationship I got the “I really AM a NICE guy after all” routine after my AC of 5+ years decided to move on to his next prey. I say a big fat “Whatever!” to that. He also thinks that calling me at work (I don’t answer, I screen my calls) from an unlisted number and hanging up once my voicemail kicks in, is really cool, shows he is a real NICE guy, the fact that he can’t just leave me alone. He does this at least 10 times a month…What a catch!!! I think not!

          • Natasha says:

            TJ – My ex-AC was a 5+ year debacle (albeit a yo-yo one) too! Oy. After he’d future faked/lied/acted like an ass/fronted like he had a problem with the fact that I am half Jewish to get out of it…he told me he was a really great guy. Say WHAT? This is why a lot of these guys struggle to actually change, because they cannot, bless their useless, shrivelled little hearts, get real with themselves. Thankfully, we actually have the sense to do so haha! What a fool you had on your hands – let him keep dialing himself silly, because obviously you’re movin’ on :)

          • TJ says:

            So true Natasha. At least we can look at ourselves in the mirror and make changes so that we only get better in this life. Something they can’t or don’t want to do.
            Yes, I am moving on. Thank goodness!
            The ex has tried to make it as difficult as possible though. It has been over a year and he still tries to contact me, mostly with the hang-ups on my voicemail… which is downright creepy!!! :) Who isn’t moving on??!! HIM!!

        • outergirl says:

          Here’s my Hell Yes!

  20. Ali says:

    Thanks NML for a great post.

    @Natasha! I did the same thing – took him back and “he upped the ante” (or so I convinced myself with the rose tinted glasses and the fur coat of denial!! – reality check he was just giving me a little more crumbs! That’s all it was – to keep me on ice – to have me continue to be an option – god the balls these guys have – but hey girls we are finally seeing the light and realising that they are what they are – they have always been that way (got that info first hand from his ex – who told me to “get rid of the sick f*** asap”).. God she was right – but of course did moi listen???? Eh no – thought I would be the exception – took more crumbs until I put my brain into gear took Nat’s advice – read all Nat’s posts and books and hey ho I am a new woman.
    Colleagues at work asked me the other day – “Do you have a new man?” I said “No why?” – their response was Bbecause you look great, you are glowing!!” Well I am looking not too bad (because I took the advice of you all here and am starting to look after me, healthy eating, exercise, pampering, and believing in ME), and I do feel an inner confidence that I have never had, ever – so girls take Nat’s advice – stay NC – forget who they are going to be in their next “relationship” cos I can guarantee they will still be an AC. Good luck x
    And Nat I know I say this again and again, but you truly are an inspiration to women – you made me look at my life in a totally different way and my relationships with colleagues, friends and family are sooo much better because I applied all of your wisdom and advice to those relationships too – life is great for me – thank you Nat and god bless x

    • Natasha says:

      Ali – Couldn’t have said it better myself! Dealing with guys like this is often as follows:
      You: You don’t respect or care for me. I don’t want to be an option, I want a relationship. I deserve better.
      Him: What about that time I took you to the movies? And that time when, you know, I called?!
      Keep up the good work sister :)

    • Michelle says:

      You seriously are my hero! As much as we would like to be/hope to be we are not the exception to any rule and they will never treat us the way we deserve to be treated! You don’t just deserve a man you deserve a champion!

  21. Tulipa says:

    You’re trying to control the uncontrollable – you don’t own them

    This is a similar line to what you said to me in another post and is among other things what keeps me in no contact. I didn’t even realise that I was trying to control things, trying so hard to get him to be what he didn’t want to be a ‘friend.’ It made me look at my ulterior motives that all I was really doing was not wanting him to move on and be the exception to the rule. The thought of him being with someone else and better to that person than to me was unbearable. So unbearable I did nothing but stay in the prison that NML speaks about only creating pain for myself. When it comes to him, well I can imagine he was out living life doing as he pleased enjoying himself.
    This time in no contact I have been working on me but I still struggle with turning my thinking around that it is him missing out on me not me missing out on him? How does one turn this thinking around? Maybe it is a gradual thing as my self esteem improves it won’t be an issue anymore.
    Can’t wait for that day when it all just doesn’t matter anymore and I will use the knowledge and lessons I’ve learnt for a better relationship in the future.

  22. lizzy says:

    Truly words of wisdom – hit many buttons for me. Thank you

  23. grace says:

    If these guys mean as much to us as we say they do, we should be happy for them to move on to better things (not better than us but more suitable), as we will move onto better things.
    I never thought I would say this but I I’ve either forgiven them or I’m moving towards that. It does me no good for them to be miserable. I hope they are not. I don’t think they are, they’re so good at looking after number one! And if we still want them to feel regret for what they’ve done, they will only do that when they are better people. They’re not going to get there if it’s just shoddy business as usual.
    It takes time but ultimately, we have to accept that we are separate to them. They’ve a right to get on with their lives and so do we.

    • Magnolia says:

      Grace, I look forward to getting to where you are. Anytime I think of either of the last two ACs I do hope they feel some misery; some real humility and pain. I don’t hope they become better people and live happily; I hope the consequences of their a$$ behaviour finally catches up with them. The thought of them just bouncing off me and skipping along on their merry way is hard. All the compassion and wanting the best for them was used up in their using of me! I have compassion fatigue! I try to just not think of them because I am trying to feel how I really feel, and if I can’t wish them well I feel like a bitch, so better not to think of them. Do you think eventually, as I grow, I will wish them well?

      • grace says:

        I don’t think you can force it, it takes time and healing. And you have to do something with that time, rather than just missing them. Forcing yourself to “get over it” will only make it worse cos that’s another thing to beat yourself up about. Treat yourself kindly first.
        I have a happy life now which makes it easier not to hate the exes. And I’m REALLY happy that I’m not waiting around for a player to call me, or for a MM to throw a crumb my way. I’m glad they’ve gone!

      • meagen19 says:

        Amen to that

      • EllyB says:

        Magnolia, I think Grace is right! You can’t (and shouldn’t force it). However, I think it helps to identify “unhealthy thoughts” and try to direct your focus onto happier things instead, because otherwise you constantly end up in the same (mental) downward spiral.

        Something that seems to help me a lot, too, is reading. This includes this website (obviously), but also many books about traumatic bonding, unhealthy relationships, abuse, manipulation and so on (of course, you should avoid the ones that blame you!).

        They seem to have very positive effects on me in the longer term, because they change my way of thinking. It takes time. Sometimes, weeks or even months after reading something, I notice how I react differently to certain situations or see them in a very different light, and it’s quite obviously due to the new insights I had gotten.

        • leisha says:

          EllyB: I’ve noticed a lot of my own self in Melody Beattie’s book, “Codependent No More”. She, like Natalie emphasises putting the focus back on ourselves and dealing with our own issues. It’s a powerful thing to know you can change…and this site and other resources help us identify our problems and alter our behaviors and beliefs and these enable us to assist ourselves in gaining knowledge to the path of happiness and acceptance.

    • jupiter23 says:

      I don’t wish my exEUM the best. I just can’t. Do I hope he’s happy? No. Would I like him to be miserable? I used to but not anymore. Not because I’ve all of a sudden become gracious but because I only have energy for thinking about myself in this situation, about whether I’m happy. Sometimes I do get angry and feel like punching him but then I come back to myself.

  24. Sarah says:

    Oh my. Just what I needed to read this morning. Think I had my epihany moment last night about my ex-AC/EUM when he rocked up at my flat to inform me that he was in love with his girlfriend. Up until this past week he was seeking a FWB arrangement & dinners as and when it suited. I admit that kind of arrangement would suit me but then I realised how my own emotional unavailability is affecting my thinking, thoughts and knocking of my own self-esteem, it makes me no better than him. I’m actually so mad with him and evenmoreso with myself so today is a fresh start & a hopeful and newer more positive me.

    I needed this like a big kick in the pants, thank you.

    • outergirl says:

      He’s a grade A azz, no doubt, but he probably had to rub this in your face after you declined [I am assuming] that ‘generous’ offer of friendship. It’s all about their ego’s and their low self-esteem.

  25. shattered says:

    I think the hardest part for me is realising that after 2 years, he could just move on so easily to someone else. Without a thought, like I never mattered at all. I don’t want his offer of friendship (aka becoming part of his harem of exes) but you;d think that after seeing someone for all that time, it would leave even a little hole in their life. Its the ease with which EUMs and ACs move on, that amazes me. I had a text from him, which was clearly meant for the new woman, asking her to run away with him! Easter weekend will be hard, as last year we spent most of it together. All my friends are married and have plans, so I’ll just have to keep busy with something and NOT think what the AC is doing.

    • sam says:

      This guy “accidentally” texted you something that was meant for his new girlfriend? Ugh, girl….keep busy and you will be over this guy in time. – My ex never ONCE texted me accidentally while we were dating for 2 years and then after the breakup I started getting all these texts supposedly meant for someone else. Riiiiiiiight. real mature. Loser.

    • Natasha says:

      Shattered, Sam is right (and very funny I might add, I just almost spit coffee all over my computer when I read that)! This guy sounds likes a Grade A Loser and well…kind of a weirdo. Who does that?! Have a chocolate bunny (or several…I’m in the midst of Passover and I’ve had six already to make sure I honor the Catholic half of my heritage) and definitely do not worry about what he is doing. Because we know what he is doing…sending phony baloney text messages. That’s just sad. Hugs :)

    • Maya says:

      What a loser this guy is, it was definitely NOT ‘by accident!! He is being a phoney. I admire you, 2 years is a long time, I am so soft I got upset over an AC of a fewmonths, and found out he has a gf so feel like it just ended all over again! Need to get a life! All my friends are married but I am keeping myself busy…. Please do the same x

    • outergirl says:

      Hi Shattered
      Try reading Nat’s post about being chopped. Of course it hurts, we are all sorry for what you have been through, but this is about beings so malformed and underdeveloped that it’s just easier for them to kick dirt over things and not think about the consequences of their actions. Normal people feel and have remorse. AC’s and EUM are not among them

  26. MaryC says:

    I’m a firm believer that a lepoard doesn’t change its spots. I don’t think the basic core of someone ever changes, I think one learns to control whatever they need to in whatever relationship they’re in at the moment. But sooner or later the “real” person usually comes out especially when stressers come into play.

    Is she getting a better version of what we had? In the short run probably, in the long run probably not. Its been said that we’re creatures of habit and that most people don’t like change and that includes our basic selves.

    • TJ says:

      I would have to agree, a leopard does not change spots. I feel that we are, underneath it all, a product of life’s experiences & of course our own authentic personalities. I do think that one can learn from one’s experiences if there is the impetus to do so … ie. an epiphany of some sort…The desire to write a different chapter.
      Problem is in the case of an AC there really is not much reason to change. They quickly move from one relationship to the next because they can. It’s simply easier. There will always be vulnerable people out there for them to take advantage of. I do not wish to live my life thinking of myself as a ‘victim’… and I am not… I was just someone who fell for a class “A” manipulator (who had fine-tuned his game long before I ever met him with other women). I can say that the blame for this whole debacle was equally mine because I was not “well” in terms of boundaries, ideals etc. My self esteem was just not up to par, if it had been I certainly wouldn’t have got involved with AC to begin with. For a long time, I was devastated to learn that the ex most likely had been foolin around the whole time we were involved. I did take that personally at first, but a good friend pointed out to me that the AC didn’t betray ME, he was just being his authentic self. This is his pattern throughout life. Wasn’t personal. Still isn’t nice, but isn’t about me. So, yes, they may move on to someone else but 9.5 times out of 10 they will behave the same way with that person. It is the Law of Attraction that removed this person out of our lives – we are better off without them & free to attract someone infinitely better. JMO.

  27. Sam says:

    My extremely emotionally unavailable ex ended up with a friend of his that I knew while we were together, a girl that I always liked but something was off about her, and I had always pegged her as emotionally unavailable as well – this being based on what she told me about herself and her past relationships. I was always worried he would end up with her after we ended things and I suspect they are together now but NC in every single form keeps me from confirming it – and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I keep wondering how long two emotionally unavailable people can last….I can see him being content as can be with her. I can’t honestly say “I’m happy for him” or “I just want the best for him” – I’m not there yet but I have to say the dynamic between the two of them does get me thinking on how that works out.

    Must stop wondering….must get on with my life.

  28. Michelle says:

    I have been involved with a MM for the past year and 1/2. It is crystal clear to me that I should put an end to our relationship based on many reasons. Its ok for him to disappear for a day…who know where he goes and for what reason. He knows for some reason I can’t bring myself to do it…I have tried but he always real me back in or talks me out of it. He has me believing that we have a strong solid foundation. How can that sustain me? I want so much to believe and trust him when he says this. I am sure his wife is a perfectly reasonable woman why can’t I trust her frustrations with him (they are exactly what I am seeing) as to who he really is. I can clearly see my boundaries have been crossed numerous times why can’t I break away from him? Is it habit? addiction? I honestly think I would benefit from solitary confinement! I give him chance after chance after chance thinking he will change but it never does.

    • Aimee says:


      Sorry you are hurting – I am confused tho – how does this man believe you have a solid foundation when he is married? It may be “solid” for him – but is it for you? And why shouldn’t he go missing for a day – he’s married?

      “It is crystal clear to me that I should put an end to our relationship based on many reasons” I hope number one is because he is married. He can never give you what you want or deserve – of course you could be the exception.

      “How can that sustain me? I want so much to believe and trust him when he says this.” How can you trust him when you know he’s living a lie with his wife?

      I hope you can let go for your sake – you deserve more! And he…..he deserves a swift kick in the arse! Read Nats stuff and get your self-esteem back girl!!

    • grace says:

      you’re in that bizarre place where you’re wondering why someone else’s husband can’t be a good boyfriend. how can he? it’s impossible! Your boundaries have been crossed mainly by you. I’m sure if you were to actually think about it, playing second fiddle was NOT part of your life plan.
      He can’t be there for your birthday, he can’t come to your friend’s wedding, he can’t make plans and keep them. He has a wife. He has to be there for HER birthday, for HER friends, for THEIR plans. I know I’m pointing out the obvious but in my brush with a MM, it took me a while to get it – he’s not your boyfriend so stop expecting him to behave like it.
      Yes, cut him off. You’re going to have to eventually, might as well be now.
      At the very least, see him less. Start doing your own stuff and make other plans. Please don’t sit at home waiting for him to come over and have sex with you. You’re better than that!

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Michelle, I’m 5 months and change out of the mistress role and still struggling. Grace is spot on. A married man cannot be our bf because he is married to another woman. They don’t “miss us”, otherwise they’d be with us. Keep reading. It sucks and it it is tough but they want a shag, shoulder to lean on, but they are NOT going to leave the wife, no matter how they aren’t having sex or connecting. Write us if you are the “exception”. He’s just going to be married and shag whoever he can on the side. Don’t get it.

        • Michelle says:

          Each and everyone of you are right on with what you are saying….trust me I know, I know, I know!! Unfortunately, I was sucked in by the most talented future faking, assclown, EUM that ever walked the face of the earth before I even knew what hit me. Sucks that the freakin “chemistry” between us has been there since we were teenagers and now that a part (I am sure some parts are just fine – despite what he says) who does he come looking for!

          He is really good….because initially his investment, the energy, the effort and the emotion was much more than it is now. I am the stupid idiot who believed every word he said. If only I had started reading baggage reclaim from day one…before I ignored all of the red flags, crossed my boundaries and fell in love with a married man – who I honestly believed was headed out the door of his marriage within a month or two.

          Although I would like to have believed I would have been every exception to every rule written, he just doesn’t have the capacity (I can see that now) to ever be the great man I need and deserve.

          Now, for the hard part breaking away from him because he is also a master at realing me back in! I have to be strong at least now I have the clarity I did not have before.

        • Michelle says:

          Did you just have enough humiliation one day and leave? I have been gradually (apparently I fell pretty hard) leaving…that is the only way I could do it. I have clarity now and know its not right…I just have to brace myself for the pain.

          This, I think, is the absolute key…Potential in relationships is about consistently having or showing (via actions) the capacity to become or develop into something more serious – commitment and a shared future.

          • TJ says:

            I just wanted to say first off that I wish you the best…
            I agree with what the other ladies are saying to you about this but just wanted to add a couple more things… firstly, take it from me, you will NOT get what you think you want from this MM. I know, I regretably was involved with one for years. If I could change what I did I would in a second. You will regret it if you stay involved, it is years of your life you are wasting. In my case, after years of listening to him future faking, saying he just needed a little more time to leave his wife, crying over this fool, and the list goes on & on…
            He actually did leave his wife. Except he went to another woman. You see, if these cowards actually DO leave their wives (which 98% don’t) they want to start fresh with someone that doesn’t know all their dirty secrets. They, ironically enough, don’t trust YOU after all is said and done.
            In my case, now in hindsight (and a long time learning & reflecting, reading BR etc.) I thank my lucky stars he did not come to me. Michelle, really search down deep into your soul, you really do not want this guy for real, do you??! Would you ever really trust him? If I would have listened to my gut/intuition I would have dumped that piece of garbage years ago. Please don’t make the same mistake I did. Walk away from this guy. If you don’t you will suffer & you will ask yourself why you let yourself be manipulated for a long time. Life is too short for this kind of BS.

  29. Lisa says:

    As always, Natalie is the oracle of wisdom about relationships, and especially about males and how they behave with women. I use the word “males” instead of “men” because I reserve the word “men” for those males who are honorable, monogamous, and trustworthy — which, based on my very hurtful and emotionally damaging experiences since I started dating in 1995 after my marriage ended, only 80-85% of males out there qualify as being.

  30. Mikki says:

    How do we become conditioned to think like this in the first place? Seriously, look at how many of us (myself included) that have fallen into this line of thinking to start with…where does this come from??


  31. Monique says:

    It is very likely that once the AC departs (in need of a warning label) that he will find himself another woman and it will appear, superficially, that they share some level of bliss that was no longer the hallmark of your own relationship with him. But think of this:

    1. He is no longer your AC. Yeah!

    2. If he had learned anything while he was with you he would have implemented it and your relationship would not have been a hot mess.

    3. It is very hard for people to change and they have to believe they need to. I don’t know about you, but my ex-AC likes the way he is and thinks he is a stellar catch.

    4. It would be hard for me to believe that someone who could be with him any length of time could, herself, be emotionally healthy–she would have to miss red flags from every mast–so I know that, in reality, there will be no trading up.

    5. My own ability to find great happiness in a healthy relationship–filled with mutual love, trust and respect–which has happened–not only makes this moot, but tells the story of who has the capacity to move on to better things.

    I think that it is human nature to wonder–“was it me?”–but you need to remember that when you are in a long relationship with an AC, you have lost your internal compass. You have been beaten down emotionally to the point where you cannot see how far off track things have gotten. There is nothing worthwhile to either mourn for or to covet. It’s like escaping quicksand and thinking that it will suddenly turn into a garden.

  32. Rae Rae says:

    I have been hacking into my ex BF’s online dating account for 5 months now. I obsessively check it to see what women he is looking at, hitting on and asking out. I do this because inside I need to confirm that he will not find anyone as good as me. I have been relieved to see that most of the women he contacts are not even interested enough to reply. It makes me feel better to see he is not having much luck (the karma I prayed for) but I also realize its making it harder for me to move on. I want him to realize what as ass he was and realize I was the best he can do (and beg for my forgiveness). I realize this is not likely and I wish I could move on cuz its hard to be interested in other guys. Its been 6 months since we broke up and it was a very traumatic experience for me as it was the same week that my dad died. I feel like I am going to be logging into his dating profile to keep tabs on him for the rest of my life- just to make sure he is not having any luck. Any thoughts on this situation?

    • Sam says:

      You’re asking for thoughts on your situation so I feel comfortable telling you.
      A. Hacking into his FB/social media drug of choice is not healthy and it will never confirm anything.
      B. Speaking of Karma – Karma is playing back on you immediately because the longer you follow up and hack into his stuff and keep a close eye on him (which is dishonest) karma is biting you on the butt and your punishment: never getting to move on.

      If you were the best he could ever do then ACT like it and be the best person you can and be above the sneaking and shady behavior that you are allowing yourself to be a part of.

    • Aimee says:

      @Rae Rae

      My heart goes out to you. If you search my name in the various blogs you can catch up on my story if you want. Briefly – HS crush looked me up after 28 years – 8 weeks in – my mother died. Insisted he wanted to be there for me, never made it to her funeral. Future faked, hot/cold, 6 wks after she died (5 days after to he asked me to move in w/ him) flirting with girl in his backyard in front of me on our date night – wished I walked then. Telling me he wanted to marry me – blah blah.

      I did the drving by to see if he was telling the truth, it was all pretty disgusting. I lost my self-respect and self-esteem doing it. All that did was keep me stuck – we did the yoyoing for 2 1/2 years. I lost alot of security when my mom died and so I held onto him for dear life hoping he would turn back into the guy he was in the beginning, the guy he said and protrayed he was.

      It’s like an addiction. COLD TURKEY is the only way to go. Grab your power back. Your giving your power away ever time you stick your nose in his business. Grab it back girl!! Read this blog – read, re-read it. It has been my sanity!!

    • MaryC says:

      Rae Rae, first of all I’m so sorry about your dad no wonder you’re having such a difficult time. A death and a breakup in the same week can throw anyone for a loop. Its my sense you haven’t dealt with either one and both feed into each other. I have no way of knowing what your relationship with your father was like but I think its contributing to your inability to take the first steps to coming to terms with you ex.

      Its quite natural to want to check up on him and relish in the fact that they might not being getting on so well but that isn’t going to help you at all. Whether he’s doing well shouldn’t be important its how well you’re doing.

      You said “It makes me feel better to see he is not having much luck (the karma I prayed for) but I also realize its making it harder for me to move on. I want him to realize what as ass he was and realize I was the best he can do (and beg for my forgiveness)”. Nat has written about this subject I think she called it staying stuck.

      Our fantasies, desires and dreams of our exes enable us to stay stuck but those aren’t built on any firm foundation that why they’re called fantasies, desires and dreams because we change them to fit what we want at the moment, they aren’t real.

      Maybe some counselling would help to get you started down a much healthier path, a path where you can begin to heal and see a better future for yourself.

      Again my sympathy regarding your dad.

      • Aimee says:

        Couldn’t have said it better Mary. I did grief counseling and it helped tremendously – please look into. I am sorry about your Dad – you are in my thoughts and prayers!!

    • Maya says:

      Rae Rae, I am sure if I had access to my exEUM’s online dating password I would have done the same BUT I am so glad i did not, as it is hard enough moving on, without putting obstacles in the way yourself. When I found out my exEUM was on dating websites a couple months ago, and he did still occasionally contace me in that time with the odd text. I would remember NML’s advice: he’s only looking for an ego stroke and checking if the door is still open. Finally went NC a few months back, yet I was holding myself back: I would regularly check to see when he had logged on and it confirmed two things 1) he was looking for someone else 2) that someone else was not me. He was a very attractive, sexy and succesful guy/ dream guy on paper so I knew it was only a matter of time he would get someone (I guess I still have him on a pedestal in some ways to say these things)… Yet it took some solace knowing he ‘was still looking’ and hadn’t found anyone ‘better than me’…. Then, bam… one day I found he taken himself off the websites. I actually panicked, I knew he had found someone (although various other theories were offered, which were obsessed over). My question to you is, are you a massachist?? He is not necessarily going to get someone ‘better’ than you, she could be nothing on you, but that’s not the point. If he starts getting friendly with some poor hapless female that falls for him, are you going to watch it unfold? It’s sooo unhealthy, you are only hurting yourself, just sit on your hands and find something else that productive to do. You are not moving on this way, merely a spectator to his assclown life.

    • NML says:

      Rae Rae, there’s been a lot said here that is 100% spot on so I won’t attempt to repeat what others have said. What I will say is that I’m sorry for both of your losses. I’ll be honest, the reason why he did break up with you at that time is because twits like him aren’t good at actually having to be supportive and have their own emotional needs, as limited as they are, dwarfed by yours.

      That said, it’s time to get off the hacking crack. This is not Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. I don’t doubt you’re a great woman, but you’re engaging in something that is more akin to someone like him. Hacking into your exes account is a gross invasion of privacy and could have you prosecuted – you’re breaking the law. It may seem like you have a legitimate reason – you don’t – and the truth is, what you’re doing is a waste of time. Short of putting a spy cam in his underpants and his home, tapping his phone, putting a trojan in his computer to track his web movements etc (these are not ideas by the way), you cannot even begin to keep tabs on him. You’re spying on one element of his life.

      If he even got wind of what you are doing, you would actually inadvertently legitimise what he feels are his justifications for treating you as he did.

      Of course it’s hard to move onto other guys – you’re avoiding your feelings of grief by spying. What you’re doing to him isn’t love; it’s control. Always remember that an ass is an ass – he’s this way in spite of you. You on the other hand are much better than ‘this’ – stop devaluing yourself. Get the help you need and force yourself to quit the habit. Fast.

      • grace says:

        It’s a habit and it can be broken. I thought about my ex literally non-stop until I bought a flat. Even I couldn’t keep up the obsession AND buy a flat. So for – oh minutes at a time – I didn’t think about it. It broke the back of it, and once you stop it snowballs and becomes easier.
        Can you get away or do some volunteer work? There’s volunteer work you can do chopping down bushes and ripping up weeds – that might help. Sometimes you have to get out of your head and just be a human body doing its stuff. And being outdoors is helpful. Birds, trees, sunshine, even rain is more interesting than looking up some loser bloke’s dating profile. And, hey, you might meet someone! (eventually, you’re not quite ready yet!)

      • Cam says:

        “Always remember that an ass is an ass – he’s this way in spite of you. ”

        This was a hard lesson for me. I had to accept that my ex-EUM is who he is and the reality is that it has very little to do with me one way or another. Knowing that it wasn’t about me at all made me feel devalued and that was difficult to deal with. I lived in my own mind for many months as the object of his attention and then had to realize that I had told myself these lies.

        I work with him so I can see that he is not better or worse with or without me. After over a year, the reality for me is that 90% of the time I don’t care. The other 10% of the time I use the words on this site to remind me of the pain I was in and how far I have come. And 100% of the time, I have Baggage Reclaim as my home page so I can visit here often and remember the healthy me that I want to be.

  33. gala says:

    Well put, NML.
    I think that if you love someone and things don’t work out, eventually (after the acute pain is gone) you wish that your loved one is happy, even if with someone else. And if he gets to be a better person, that’s great. It means he’s progressing and growing emotionally and this can only be good,

  34. ma says:


    “You: You don’t respect or care for me. I don’t want to be an option, I want a relationship. I deserve better.
    Him: What about that time I took you to the movies? And that time when, you know, I called?!”

    Oooooh yeah!! I know this one!!
    Except add in “Why can’t we try a polyamorous relationship?” “I still desire you” aka I want to sleep with you and other women.

    Well ladies after being strung along for 3 long years with this dude, and having tried everything even thinking, “well, he’s just human and has baggage like the rest of us, I can work on being empathetic towards him and learn how to lean into forgiveness.” You know what? Wishing a hurtful ex partner well is super giving and I admire it. I’ve truly tried being that person, and after all these loops and circles and twisted power games, I’m depleted and honestly don’t give a shit about his happiness. I just saw him today with his new gf (girl he was sleeping with while sleeping with me, but she didn’t know cos it was “just casual”) I gave him the best snub of a “hey”, drank my coffee and held all this compassion for her because she has NO IDEA what she’s in for. I walked on him just a month ago. The anticipation of seeing him with someone else really wasn’t as bad as the reality and if anything being there in the same room as them just affirmed that I absolutely did the right thing. GOOD RIDDANCE, they are now someone’s else problem and not yours!! Enjoy your freedom and growth and empowerment!!! xoxo

    • Natasha says:

      Ma, did you start laughing when he mentioned a “polyamorous relationship”?! Because good Lord does that sound like a highbrow way of putting “I really want to screw whoever I want…with your blessing. While still screwing you. But you can’t get mad…because it’s polyamorous and you agreed to it! Wheee!” If we’re being real here, I don’t really give a hoot about my ex-AC being happy either. I don’t wish bad on him, but can I honestly say, “I wish him all the best in life!”? Not really. If someone’s treated you like crap, it’s pretty freakin’ hard to wish them a lifetime of sunshine, rainbows and never-ending blowjobs. You are definitely right not to envy this woman. I was a “casual” woman seemingly “promoted” to dating status with said ex-AC…and…yes, he still sucked. Majorly. Enjoy your freedom, growth and empowerment too!! xoxo

  35. Ali says:

    @ Rae Rae
    I understand totally about the spying, but as Nat says you have to STOP – i did it, and was like someone possessed! It nearly killed me and i would sit on my laptop every night, ignoring calls from friends etc as i couldnt stop scouring the internet to find out things about him. I now have stopped and feel so much better. It was an addiction and only derailed my progress. What you have to do is take it one day at a time – like a diet or addiction – make a deal with yourself not to get those fingers hovering over his email address/user name etc. I sat one night for hours going back and forward to the laptop fighting the urge – it was awful – now I would never do it – I weaned myself off of the habit and feel so great about it now. Please be strong, you know WHO and WHAT he is now, so stick to NC cos spying on him is not NC – read Nat’s NC book and it covers ALL forms of contact (spying is contact!) Hugs xx

  36. Miriam says:

    I was the Mary in Nat’s story, and finally let go of Joe, 9 months ago I went NC, the best thing I did in a while.
    I am currently dating a man I actually feel positive about. No anxiety, doubt, self questioning. I was hopeless but now am feeling hope, it’s amazing!
    Thanks Nat, for helping me value myself and most important: to set boundaries I will keep up from now on!!!

  37. gala says:

    There are so many angry comments here, so many comments on the fact that he has moved on so quickly ect.
    What I came to realize from my recent debacle is this: as long as you are angry/upset/hurt it means you still care about him (or want to control things). This fear of what he will do/be with and the anger when seeing him with someone else is just the hopes/illusions you have or/and the unresolved hurt. It means that you haven’t really gotten over it. And most important (as was said in one of the previous posts) – you are not thinking of yourself, but are obsessing with the past and him. And he’s just moving on. But then again – he has a free will and will do what he wants regardless of you.
    I think that the the real closure comes when you simply don’t think about him. This is what has happened to me in the past month – I simply don’t think of him at all and if I see him with a new gf I’m not hurt or angry. To me, he is like a stranger, someone you wish well in general terms, but don’t really think twice. In a way it feels like getting out of a cage into freedom.
    Another thing I learned (and couldn’t really find any consolation) was, that the pain goes away when you are done with the issues and the clutter and when enough time passes. The loss of hopes and dreams hurts immensely, but there is no instant consolation. You just have to go through it, grit your teeth and endure it.

    • Natasha says:

      Gala, couldn’t agree more! I think sometimes though it’s not about caring about the person on the other end of the equation – it’s about processing the hurt, feeling like a fool, etc. Caring about what happened, most definitely, but not necessarily about them. In my case, the guy said some mean things out of the blue to me that I would be upset about no matter who they came from – friend, family member, stranger on the street (yes, I’m the sensitive sort haha!). I recognized that the fact that it even occurred meant that he wasn’t worth being upset over, but does it still sting if I think about it? Absolutely. For me, that’s what I need to work on. As far as them moving on, I’m lucky in that we live over an hour apart, have no mutual friends and I blocked him on Facebook. I have a lot of close friends that live in the same area, but do I worry about running into him with another woman? Nope. I wouldn’t even think of it as him moving on, because he was never in it with me to begin with. I really loved your comment because it shows that the hurt does go away – thank you for that :)

  38. Rae Rae says:

    Thanks for the advice above. I know the only way for me to stop logging into his profile is to change the password or delete his account. I don’t want him to be suspicious from a password change so I am going to delete his profile. I’m sure he will make a new one, but I won’t be able to log in and I won’t bother to check it anymore. I really appreciate all of your advice – it has helped me psych myself up to finally stop this obsessive behavior and allow me to finally move on. I will probably still look him up once in a while, but I will try not to, and at least I wont be torturing myself by reading the details as he moves onto his next victim. Thanks NML- you are brilliant!

    • l. says:

      Rae Rae –
      While I agree that deleting his account might help you overcome your obsession, I am worried that he might become suspicious as to how and why it got deleted in the first place. This may lead him to contact the site and investigate the matter further. I am not very tech-savvy, but would imagine there might be a way of tracing this action back to you/your computer??

    • Natasha says:

      Rae Rae, this sort of thing is absolutely traceable. It has to be for safety reasons and they can pull the IP address of any computer that has logged into the account. I have a relative who is a police detective and this is something they use frequently in harassment cases. Please, please, please don’t do it! I know you are hurting now, but please believe me that it WILL get better. I’m sending you lots of love and support!

  39. ICanDoBetter says:

    Another good one, Natalie. This really speaks to the heart of the matter for so many of us.
    I have not posted on here in a while, but in the the past few weeks, I made some major decisions about my life and my health and well-being, and then I put them into practice. I have taken all my energies and focused on those very things, and now I am beginning to see the truth of a lot of what Natalie has been talking about.
    It’s one thing to “know” we need to love, respect, and take care of ourselves, but to act on it consistently is life-changing. I can now “feel” the love and respect for myself, and that encourages me to continue.
    By the way, none of the positive things I am doing have anything at all to do with my ex-AC. It’s all about me. But the by-product is that now I am more concerned with my well-being, and becoming less concerned with whether or not he is a better person with his new gf.
    I am finally starting to experience what Natalie has been saying all along. It really matters where we put our focus and energy. Giving it all away to worry about the ex-AC was draining the life out of me. Putting it back where it belongs, and using it to care about me has been given me new life and energy.
    I grew up believing it was selfish to take care of myself, and that everyone else’s needs came first. But what happens is that you give from an empty, lifeless, place, and the “caring” you are doing for others in that scenario is often misplaced and hollow.
    Caring for myself has given me a newfound sense of compassion and caring for others, alongside a much clearer knowledge of my boundaries.
    I have paid lip service to this concept for a long time, but it didn’t impact me until I finally put it into action.
    Actions really do speak louder than words, even when the actions are your own.

  40. jennifer says:

    This post IS my relationship. My relationship sucks and the more I look back…it always has. Full of dishonesty, disrespect and abuse. 5 years have gone by and nothing has changed. After all this damn time. He still IS WHO HE IS. I’ve hung on to him not wanting him to be someone else’s prince. But in the meantime he has consistently been my nightmare…..and I’m not letting another 5 precious years go by with this person who has proven over and over….chance after chance….that he’s simply not worthy or deserving of my love.

  41. jennifer says:

    This is a very, very important post. And I’m grateful NML felt it necessary to post it.

  42. AngelFAce says:

    I haven’t started NC yet but am considering it. I have been reading all of these great articles of wisdom from Natalie, and the Blogs are really helpful too. And I don’t care who he will be with, or how he will do in his next relationships. I DOUBT he will make much improvement.

    I’ve been working out at the gym every morning before work and this is so helpful. It starts my day out on a real positive note, gives me energy, and puts focus back onto myself. Eliminates all obsessive thoughts. Bonus. Plus the endorphins and muscle tone and overall good health feels absolutely great – after being on a horrible roller coaster ride with an intense AC, EUM, liar, cheater…

    I also moved near the ocean in a lovely resort-like neighborhood, and am already going to brand-new places like cute coffee shops in the morning w my laptop… People are actually talking to me, smiling at me, and making contact because my inner happiness is showing AGAIN. I don’t, will not, stay home alone and wallow in pain or stagnation of my bad and unfulfilling relationship – with a handsome, intense AC, EUM – who has been navigating this whole thing for several months now. I am taking control of my own happiness, and I’m making plans and goals and keeping daily track of the things I am doing for myself.

    I think I will start the NC in the very near future. I’m stronger now and have a Happy Spring and Summer to enjoy!!!!
    Thanks Natalie and everyone who posts comments!!!

  43. Lisa says:

    I am having a hard time letting go. I wish I could comfort myself with the thought that he would be EU/AC with the next girl but he told me the story of his last relationship where he said they went out for 7 years, lived together and he put all his stuff aside to help her out, took the overnight bus to attend her father’s funeral and she shut him out. He said eventually she broke up with him and broke his heart. He said he never got closure and wonders if that is why he cannot seem to get anything off the ground now (business, love etc.). They broke up at least 4 years ago. We ‘dated’ on and off for 3 years. I don’t recognize the person he described which made me feel like he is capable of love and that he just wasn’t that into me. I feel like I wasn’t attractive enough to him (especially because in the last few months we were seeing each other, he was having some problems with erections/staying hard). Needless to say, between his relationship past, how he didn’t show up for me and his lack of physical responsiveness, I feel so rejected and not good enough. It seems he had/has the capacity to love because he seemed to really love her and so now I picture him moving on and being in love and available to someone else. I am worried I will never feel done because I never really got a shot.

    • grace says:

      As Nat would say “There was this one time … in bandcamp”. He’s trotting out this sad story as a way to excuse his shoddy behaviour to you. You’re not her. And this was FOUR YEARS ago. That’s enough time to get his sh** together – get counselling, see the doc about his erectile dysfunction (which had nothing to do with you) or just take time to process it rather than start screwing you over.
      It seems that you think he loved her because a) he let her treat him badly b) he is not over it years later and c) he is somewhat damaged. You really need to re-examine what love is, as I had to do. Cos it’s got nothing to do with that crapola! It’s co-dependency, lack of self-esteem, depression etc. It’s not love.
      I don’t know the guy, but her story could easily be “I went out with this guy for seven years but throughout he was emotionally unavailable and half the time we couldn’t even have sex. He did do some nice stuff for me, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. I broke up with him but he didn’t seem to understand why. Still, I had to move on”. And it’s NORMAL to inconvenience yourself massively when someone’s father dies. That is not really a big deal. I’d do that for any of my friends and even acquaintances.
      Look, the guy is probably not as bad as I’m saying he is but, also, he’s not great as you say he is. He is certainly not the answer to any of your problems/issues – you hold that power.

    • NML says:

      Lisa, aside from what Grace has said which is spot on, I felt I should add a few things:

      You have *chosen* to be with a man that is not over his ex. It doesn’t matter how long he went out with her for, he *openly* admits he’s not over it. It is his job to get over his ex. It is not yours. It doesn’t matter if you’re The Most Perfect Person on Earth – he’s not over his ex which means not ready for a new relationship.

      You are a Buffer, someone that lessens the impact of the hurt from his previous relationship. The only way he’s going to get over her is to stop avoiding dealing with those feelings. Alone.

      Don’t be an ambulance chaser. You have better things to do with your time than help someone get over their ex. If you’re that eager to be loved, be with a man of your own, not one that’s still emotionally tied to another relationship.

      He’s not telling you excuses – he’s telling you exactly why your relationship cannot work.

      You don’t recognise that man because it’s not him. He’s unavailable – this isn’t about you.

      • Lisa says:

        Grace and Nat, thank you for the replies. I didn’t know he wasn’t over his ex until he ‘upped the ante’ when I started setting limits/not being as available after our last reconnect/my NC relapse (2 years in with 6 months of no contact). There were always other reasons he couldn’t show up for me, mostly having to do with work. Now, he’s trying to start his own business and feeling scared and out of his breadth so there was this breakdown conversation where he started to express his insecurities about everything including his past with this girl. He said he wishes he could man up for me but he doesn’t know if he can and at that point, I know I made a choice. I made a choice to hear that he wanted to and that he just needs help. His ex just became a bigger and better excuse for why he wouldn’t commit to me and that is what hurts. Even if it wasn’t a great relationship, he had a relationship with her, he told me he thought she was his soul mate, that he felt tranquil with her, he lived with her, she went to family events with him. He never introduced me to anyone in his life (felt like he hid me away like a troll), certainly didn’t live with me let alone do the things that most would do for a friend despite saying he loved me. Now, I know you will say that if that was the case, you need to work on your self esteem because why would you be with someone who clearly did not want to be with you or treat you with ‘love, care, trust and respect’. I know my self-esteem is poor and partly because of all the rejection I have had (from many guys). I don’t know how you could say for certain that his erection problems didn’t have to do with me because he could get them but sometimes they were hard won (excuse the pun) or he would lose them easily and when I hear guys talk about that, they often say it happens cause they aren’t that attracted to there girl. Combine that info with him not choosing to deal with his shit (if those reasons are actually the reasons he didn’t want to be with me), makes me feel like I was not good enough for him. He is going to wait until someone he is more attracted to comes along and he is going to show up for her. In so many ways he is my ideal, his physicality,…

        I was saying that I am worried that I won’t be able to attract a man with those qualities who will want a relationship with me because those men can get way more attractive, younger girls. He was willing to have a casual relationship with me where he got the fringe benefits of a relationship without having to tend to my emotional needs. What are the chances that after 4 years, he was not over her? I feel like I am the not good enough girl…or should I say, the good enough girl…good enough to shag, talk to, hang out with but not actually make your girlfriend. I know that I don’t have to accept that but often that would mean I would end up with no companionship from someone that I find attractive at all.

        • NML says:

          Lisa, I can’t resist saying this but you’re cut between a not so rock cock and a hard place. One of the rewritten chapters in Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girls describes this situation to a tee. When I get home in a few hours, I will post the link to the excerpt.

          So I will say this: I’ve heard your exact same story with different characters many times. I can tell you with 150% certainty that he’s being very limp with the truth. Erection problems are emotional or physical – nothing to do with you. It is his emotions about himself and *his* past so you’re trying to fix a problem that you *can’t* fix – as it’s not you that needs to provide the solution. His lack of confidence is sucking the life out of him – literally. It is him that needs to deal with those confidence issues.

          • Lisa says:

            Lol, great use of puns Nat. I really appreciate your replies. I guess I am hell bent on believing the problem is me (because I feel like believing anything else would be delusional). He was hard as rock if he’d been drinking a bit or watching porn so I feel like the problem…just not visually stimulating enough. As if the relationship rejection wasn’t enough to knock my self esteem. I am re-reading my copy of Mr. U and the Fallback girl now. I really look forward to reading the link to the excerpt.

            Thank you ladies…you help me get through sometimes where I feel like I am going crazy!


          • Aimee says:


            What I find for myself – if I can take total responsibility then I can have the power. I can change what it is then he’ll want be back, or I can fix it – or whatever BS I want to try and sell myself.

          • ICanDoBetter says:


            “He was hard as rock if he’d been drinking a bit or watching porn so I feel like the problem…just not visually stimulating enough. ”

            When I read this statement, I just had to respond. I was once married to a man with a sex addiction. You would think that would mean he would want sex all the time, but it wasn’t like that.

            What I learned from that situation, through much counseling and groups focused on this issue, was the power of porn and similar things to actually distort the ability to have a healthy sexual relationship. What happens is that a chemical in the brain is released when a man uses porn to get off. It’s like a drug addiction, so he goes back for more. Then, over time, he needs to up the dose in order to get off. This can mean the porn gets more graphic, or perhaps just looking is not enough anymore, and he seeks out more direct stimulation through phone sex with strangers, specialty massage parlors, or prostitutes.

            The key is that the element of excitement must always be there. In my situation, my ex-husband explained to me that it was exciting for him to always see a different prostitute, because of the excitement of not knowing who he would meet up with. But what that meant for me and our relationship, was a lower and lower level of interest because I was his wife, and every day I became more familiar to him. That, and my refusal to engage in degrading acts, just to turn him on.
            Porn is distortion of healthy sex, and the true intimate, loving connection that happens between couples can suffer.
            It’s not you at all.

        • gala says:

          how can a guy who makes you feel so bad about yourself be ideal for you? I can’t imagine being with someone so uncaring. I think you deserve better than him, especially if you think he’s not that attracted to you. If that’s true, then he’s dishonest and has no integrity whatsoever. Someone with integrity wouldn’t be using you like that, they would tell you that they’re not attracted enough and would leave you alone.

          • Lisa says:

            Hi Gala,

            That is true and I made it so easy for him to get an ego boost, sex, a meal, someone to talk to that it would be hard for most to refuse that. It’s sad, I look around at all the beautiful women in the city and think, “he would have loved them”. I feel so ugly and I want to call him so bad. I miss having someone that I was so attracted to in my life but understand that calling someone who rejected me isn’t going to make me feel less ugly in the long term I am 38 years old and have this wicked belief that everyone I am attracted to is going to think I am not good enough so it leaves me feeling like I will have to settle for someone I am not attracted to. And the loop continues making me miserable every day. I don’t know how to stop it.

          • Lisa says:

            Thanks ICanDoBetter,

            I can understand what you are saying about sex addiction. I don’t know exactly what he did with his time away from me because there was lots of it but I never got the sense that he used a lot of porn to masturbate. In fact, he did show me his favouite one to use if and when he did watch something which was a very vanilla porn (amateur) mostly focusing on this really pretty girl’s face who was really enjoying herself and he said, it’s pure love. He said he would get hard the minute he saw it (never responded to me like that). She had that full body type he likes (not mine anymore because I lost a lot of weight). We only watched porn once together while we had sex and it was my idea but I did notice that he was harder than usual that night. He has a colourful sexual past so who knows but the whole situation makes me feel less than attractive. This combined with my overall dating experiences add up to a story for me that I am not that desirable.

    • ICanDoBetter says:


      I experienced some of that same confusion myself with my ex-AC, who clearly wasn’t over his ex. Words can paint a nice picture, but you are only hearing his side of the story, which, most likely, is told in such a way as to make him look good.

      My ex-AC made it sound like he was the model boyfriend, but then as we spent more time together, and because he talked about his ex so much, I began to hear nuggets of reality in the stories he would share. I would even question it, and he would confirm. And that is only the information he decided to share. There is no telling what he was not telling me.

      Fact is, we all do it, to some degree. As Fallback girls, don’t we paint a sympathetic picture of ourselves as wonderful girlfriends who, through no fault of our own, were “done wrong” by these AC’s? Maybe it’s just me, but these days, I don’t even tell my ex-relationship story the same way anymore, after what I have learned about my part in it.

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks ICanDoBetter,

        This is crazy I know but no matter how unbalanced or inaccurate his side of the story may be/likely is, there was a story to tell. He considered her his girlfriend and lived with her, traveled wit her and included her in a family wedding (saw the photo) and that is what kills me. It kills me that no matter what kind of boyfriend he was, he never thought enough of me to be mine. I didn’t even get a shot to have a dysfunctional sanctioned relationship with him lol. I know that should make me lucky but it just makes me feel rejected and like I wasn’t worth giving it a shot.

    • Aimee says:

      @ Lisa

      I felt the same way about my ex’s dead wife. She has been dead 18 years – by the way they were divorced 10 months before she died and he had another girl pregnant 8 mos with his son when she died.

      There is statistical info out there – those that have healthy and happy marriages/relationships VERY likely move on faster as they have had good experiences. Those that have had bad experiences move on much slower, if they move on and don’t close down (EUM).

      I believe the reason my AC has not moved on is his guilt – the guilt that he treated her pretty much the way he treated me and all the ones between us. With that being said – if he looked at his feelings and faced his “demons” then he could move on and NOT be EUM. He does not realize that he can make ammends to his dead wife by treating others better, including himself as I believe he has lost many amazing women. Quite simple I think.

      Denial is amazing. The outside world can see “our” denial quite clear. My AC likes to believe he was the most amazing husband (and ex-wife is now a saint), and he truely believes he’s a great guy (his friends and family tell him all the time, of course they are not in an intimate relationship w/ him). I also believe deep down he is (I didn’t stay with him cause he is all bad). But remember his version of the relationship is based on his skewed vision of himself -“the good guy that showed up, that everyone thinks is great, blah, blah”. How do you even know his version is true?

      My AC didn’t even show up to my mothers funeral, no flowers or card, no paying respects to my family. 4-5 months later he said “I know why God put me in your life – so I could be there for you when your Mom died”. I mean really – he believes he was there for me – as I was going thru my grief he was lying to me, cheating on me, changing the goal posts, breaking up/getting back together, hot/cold, freind card, future faking, name it he did it – and he REALLY believes he was there for me.

      I actually have proof that he was the same – he pulled some of the same crap on me in HS 31 years ago that he did this last time. He hasn’t changed since HS (but I assumed he had cause we are “adults” now – right? WRONG). I believe she is…

      • Lisa says:


        That is so awful, you must have been devastated when he didn’t show up at your mother’s funeral. I am not sure that mine would have done anything different.


        • leisha says:

          Lisa, He is not available emotionally for a relationship. You are taking it far too personally. It’s too bad it took so long to realize that he wasn’t capable of being in it with you, but he did finally let you know. He let himself know. My advice is to let him be. He has to deal with what he knows now before he is capable of really being there for a relationship. You have to deal with other issues of your own…the constant comparing yourself to others and feeling less than, the “I’ll settle as long as I’m not alone”, stuff that really sets you up for a bad trip in any relationship that you might step into as long as you listen to bad self-talk about how much you are not instead of how much you are…intelligent, sensitive, capable of giving and receiving love, being there for someone and capable of accepting care from another…who you are is what you are inside and out…please realize you are humane and loving and a worthwhile human who wants love but also realize not everyone will see that and if they don’t it is no reflection on YOU.

        • NML says:

          Hi Lisa (and anyone else interested), I have put the chapter You Know He’s Unavailable When It’s a Casual Relationship or Sex is a Weapon to download here: http://www.facebook.com/mrunavailablefallbackgirl#!/mrunavailablefallbackgirl/posts/161462590582120 Let me know what you think!

          • Lisa says:

            Hi Nat,

            Thank you so much for sending the link. I think read the part you were referring to about guys who can’t get it up. When I first met him 3 years ago, I don’t remember him having as much trouble with it. When we reconnected after NC, it seemed to happen more frequently that it took longer to get him hard and often in them middle of an act, he would get soft. He would always be able to ‘finish’ despite not always being hard but it felt like if the stimulation wasn’t fast and perfect, he would lose his erection. He couldn’t stay hard with condoms (often wouldn’t be hard enough to put one on or lose it when it was on). Having said all that, he always initiated sex when we were together. When we watched that porn together that one time, he made a comment about a guy in the porn who wasn’t that hard and he said, “he must not be that attracted to her”. I couldn’t help but deduce that is exactly what was going on with us.

          • grace says:

            He’s overusing porn. He’s become a robot when it comes to sex. It has to be done a certain way, and he needs certain fake stimulus (porn and drugs/alcohol). He needs it fast and perfect because he’s been de-sensitised by too much masturbating (to put it frankly). It’s got nothing to do with you. You don’t even have to be in the room. If a man prefers porn to the real thing he has got a problem. Don’t make it about you. The only thing you are responsible for is “reconnecting” (though I see no connection) with this dysfunctional clown.
            The traditional wedding vows include “with my body I thee worship”. That’s a zillion miles away from hearing a man pontificating about porn and making you feel bad. Look, I know that sex doesn’t always have to be a lovely romantic experience but this guy is taking the ****.
            Please understand. I’m going to say it again – it’s not about you! If you can’t accept that, it may be time to get some professional help. I’ve had counselling to deal with my own obsessiveness and anxiety. It helps to hear yourself say things out loud to realise what’s what.

          • leisha says:

            Hi Natalie, I read the exerpt. I like it. I think it is and will be very beneficial…thanks!

          • Magnolia says:


            After reading all your descriptions of this guy, he sounds like a jerk. Guys like him are all too willing to LET a woman believe it’s her fault if she is so inclined. A woman with healthy self-esteem would think, “He doesn’t seem to think I’m hot. Whoever I pick to have sex with for the rest of my life will be a guy who thinks I’m totally hot.” So, buh-bye to guys with half-assed enthusiasm.

            My ex found me attractive enough to parade around at parties when he wanted to look like the power guy with the hot girl, but when we were alone, or at an event that was with MY crowd, I could have ten people tell me I look great and he would have not said a thing. In fact, I think he deliberately didn’t tell me I looked good if I was doing it on my own terms, i.e. I wasn’t trying to look good for him or his friends.

            There were episodes of “punishing” me when he was angry by showing no physical interest in me, but staring at other women.

            Never underestimate the ability of ACs to use a woman’s insecurity against her, to make her doubt herself, and to make her try to do everything to be the one he *really* falls in love with.

            BTW, my ex had a story of the woman he *truly* fell in love with. He could even still produce tears when he brought it up. But it was a story he trotted out to manipulate me, to remind me that I would have to do better to get his full love.


  44. paintedlady says:

    Do i have low self-esteem anyone?

    After being treated extremely well, put on a pedestal for 3 years, i found out about the cheating. I have no idea if ‘she’ was the only one he was cheating with as at the beginning of our relationship he told me he had ‘friends’. Well ‘friends’ to me did not upset me because after all i never considered i owned him, but cheating was a no no, i could not see when we had a really fantastic physical relaionship (his words) he would need to have a physical one with someone else, not to mention the fact i could have picked up any sort of ‘nasties’ etc.

    We fell out over the discovery of his cheating and i have been in NC now for 9 months. The trouble is there are days when i have inside him my head such a lot, i actually long to be back with him as we were before i found out about the cheating, i remember the good times we had together and wonder why he did what he did to spoil the relationship. Is this a normal reaction? Do i need to work on myself and how to find someone in my life who will treat me better emotionally? Does anyone out there know what i am feeling? I have to get over this man as i could no longer have the trust in him i had before. Am i lost cause even? I have been out with other men after him, why cant i get over him? Will i eventually draw a line under this lost relationship?

    • grace says:

      Having low self-esteem doesn’t make you a bad person, or inadequate and neither is it a judgement, like “guilty”. Even if your self-esteem was rock solid (and I don’t think anyone’s is), being cheated on will dent your confidence. And nine months isn’t a very long time to get over something like this. You need to use the time wisely and it may be beneficial to avoid dating. If you’re still in love with an ex, it’s disheartening to try to make yourself like other men and then failing. And then that makes the ex look even better, even though you know he’s a loser.
      There’s plenty of good stuff you can do without a man – get to know your local area, exercise more, eat better, read, get a pet (I got fish), whatever rocks your boat.

    • leisha says:

      What you are feeling and experiencing is normal. It takes time. You never would have felt love for him if he was all bad. You never would have stayed in the association if it was all bad. I, too, have the memories and the longings for him when he was sweet and appeared loving towards me. When it appeared that we could have a good relationship. Yes, it is normal. But, if it isn’t what you need and want and good for you overall; then choosing to opt out in spite of the remaining good feelings you have for the man is what is necessary to one day be available for the relationship that is overwhelmingly positive. I hope this helps. Hugs.

  45. paintedlady says:


    Thank you so much for those words of encouragement, i can see that it’s because i was lulled into a false sense of security during the relationship. I lost my lovely hubby to cancer after nursing him for over a year and this man came along 3 years later and chased me, future faked, told me i was with him now and he would look after me always. Obviously i now realise also why he called me ‘my girl’ (probably not to confuse my real name with another, or two he had on the side) and silly me thought everything was hunky dory. I do have better days, but then i hear a certain song we both liked, go to a certain place we went together and i am hopeless once more. I am a really strong person with a strong personality and it has completely thrown me the way i act over this man. I also know i did love him but as he did not know what love is (his words) maybe i overdid the feelings etc. He said he has never loved anyone, not even his late wife, and he asked me to explain just what love was!

    I have dated a few men since we split, but my heart really isnt in it and i dont intend to hurt these men like i was hurt, so your advice to wait a while is welcome.

    Thanks once again, to Nat and this site and you lovely people who send love and encouragement to us who are still suffering, you really are the best x.

  46. gala says:

    I felt like that sometimes, too. But eventually I got very angry and I couldn’t think of one single reason why anyone but myself could possibly determine my value (or in my case my abilities, my potential for professional success, my looks ect). That’s helped me to get clarity and balance.
    I think a lot of your feeling of “not being good enough” stems from putting him on a pedestal.
    In one of the books I read there was a woman overly critical of herself. Her therapist told her she is like driving on a highway with the headlights pointed at herself. Of course she can’t see the road. He told her to turn the headlights from herself to others.

  47. Jolie says:

    The true EUM won’t be a better man with the next woman. Unless the EUM has a major epiphany and does major soul-searching AND the hard work of working through his issues in psychological counseling, he is highly likely to be the same guy he always was. I recently got to talk to the next woman my ex-EUM dated after he unceremoniously dumped her. My ex Mr. blows hot-n-cold dated her for almost two years after I broke it off. I dated him for 6 months of bewildering flip-flapping and never knowing where I stood after the exciting, short-lived hot and heavy beginning.

    I had thought with everyone else that she was “The One” for him and maybe there was a wedding coming up soon. I went through the, “Why her and not me? Why is he a better man with her and not me, etc…” Well she approached me to talk about their post-mortem relationship and it turns out it only lasted so long because of her determined and tenacious grip to hold on to the EUM. She said he drove her absolutely crazy with the blowing hot-n-cold the entire time, and then just up and dumped her without any explanation. She humiliated herself by camping out on his porch all day to try to get a reason from him. He finally told her that he felt she only wanted him for his wallet. That blew her away. She has a really good job and makes a lot of money. She told me that they always split the check, she always bought her own ticket to whatever event they went to, and he never even bought her so much as a pair of earrings. But that was all the explanation he gave her. I believe that it’s a waste of time to try to get closure from a EUM. By the way, we’re all forty-somethings. Guess there’s no age limit on being foolish about men. So no, ladies, he is not a better man with the next woman.

  48. shattered says:

    After virtually dumping me ( see my 2 previous emails) and then asking to be friends, I told the AC that I couldn’t do that. Today, exactly 1 week later I received a text asking if I want to meet up today or tomorrow. I replied that I couldn’t be friends and don’t wish to be an option on his standby list, then wished him all the best. Never received a reply, but why do I feel like the bad guy! Am I being childish for not wanting to stay friendly after almost 2 years? I do (did) enjoy his company, but it was the typical AC treatment and his harem that got me down. I’m sitting here on my own, thinking well maybe we could have met for a meal, then I think how hard that would be for me to realise I wasn’t ‘the one’. Then I imagine him asking another of his ‘friends’ instead….Ooh why did he have to get in touch, I’m back to ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ about him again.

    • leisha says:

      If you must get in touch after stating what you want/need…ask him “What’s changed? Are you trying to tell me you want a monogamous committed relationship with me?” Cut to the chase and get the answers that you need. If you do this and he gives you BS cut contact. If he says that he does want what you say you want try “suck it to see” keeping your eyes open. If you really think you might be able to keep him in your life after you “get over him” (post no-contact, grieving, etc), then I would suggest telling him (again, if you must contact him because you really want to know what’s up) that you need time to recover, grieve, and do not contact you for “x” amount of time and then ya’ll can see if friendship/acquaintanceship is possible. This at least will stop you from getting stuck in the coulda shoulda crap. These are suggestions only…good luck whatever you choose. Hugs.

      • leisha says:

        Note” Most of what I wrote is based on accumulation of Nat’s writings…just condensed for a rapid response to your emotional stress…I really think you should stick to NC and subscribe to NC e-mails, etc…

        • leisha says:

          Honey , You deserve better and going NC will allow you, if you allow the process, to heal, move on, and have a good life of happiness and peace and self-love and joy.

    • Tulipa says:

      Hi Shattered,
      Firstly, you are not the bad guy you have done exactly the right thing to reject his invitation. It was done via text as NML says this is lazy communication and if he really wanted to meet up then why wouldn’t he phone you and ask you properly ?
      I think he was just looking for an ego stroke he thought oh Shattered won’t be in my harem but surely I can entice her back I’ll give it a go and boom a text for you. He is not looking to make you the one to tell you he has changed to make you the exception to the rule he will be satisfied enough if you had agreed to meet him.
      As someone who tried very hard to be friends with my ex EUM and took whatever was on offer in the way of lunch or dinner I can tell you it is not about him missing you or wanting you back it is about him seeing that you still need his validation and he gets to think wow I treated her badly but she still thinks I’m a great guy. If you had gone to meet him you would be walking away thinking I’m still not good enough and confused about things as the hot cold game continues. Trust me you have done the right thing and it only becomes clearly as you continue on with no contact. Just keep reminding yourself you don’t wish to belong to an ego stroking harem you are better and deserve better than that.
      Good Luck

    • Magnolia says:


      You didn’t even have to respond to his text. Are you in NC? The very reasons you gave, i.e. that it would be hard to sit there and think you’re not the one, etc are VERY STRONG reasons to not be in touch with this person. If you’ve told him you can’t be friends, then you’re done. He may pursue contact, as has happened to many of the women on this site, but that’s what NC is for. Read all Nat’s stuff on NC for more detailed answers to your questions. You’ll see you’re not alone.

  49. Charlotte says:

    Well, I’m back in NC after a 4 month relapse – this is the third time and I have to try to stay hopeful and positive but like some of the women in the last few posts have discussed, my self-esteem has taken another battering. Partly because it has never been very high anyway; partly because of the way I let myself be treated by the AC over 4 years; and partly because I have been very self-critical about going back for more.
    I am so ashamed of it – just feeling pathetic and needy – I was the one who initiated contact with him again because I missed the attention he gave me (even though it was mainly through lazy communication, texting etc. )
    What Lisa said about not feeling good enough really rang true with me, I have never felt very attractive even though friends and family tell me I am (or can be, when I make an effort!) and a lot of what she said about feeling rejected really struck a chord because I think if you don’t feel attractive and worthy, you do take an EUM’s actions towards you extremely personally and it’s hard to find the spirit and strength to work on concentrating on yourself again.
    I know I have to – this is why I have restarted NC. I am pleased because this time I have managed nearly 7 weeks (last time I broke it after only 6 and a half). I have even been afraid to come back and leave a post here because of the shame I feel about having failed again, yoyoing back to a man who has clearly demonstrated that he is not emotionally available/doesn’t want me.
    The issue of feeling that the next person he’s with (or who he *wants* to be with, in this case – I don’t know the details, just that he has been pursuing a girl who has been blowing hot and cold with him, and it’s keeping him interested, although he lied to me about it when we got back in contact) might be “the one” for him because she’s more attractive is something that keeps coming back. I don’t actually know what she looks like, but my mind makes her into a great beauty because of the poor image I have of myself. I don’t think he will magically transform (owing to his deep-seated problems) but also I think that I have deep-seated problems with self-esteem which were there before I ever met him – consequently, even…

    • Natasha says:

      Charlotte, you know what I think might help a lot? Think of other qualities you have beyond looks, i.e. maybe you’re funny as hell, great at helping a friend through a crisis, amazing at a sport, volunteer, are excellent at your job, etc. Focusing on looks alone is only giving yourself, like, a quarter of the credit that you deserve just for being who you are. I think a lot of women (myself included), torture themselves at one time or another over perceived physical “flaws”, but it has nothing to do with why it hasn’t worked out with a guy that is either a jackass, unavailable or just not right for us. Emotionally healthy men with a mental age above 14 (aka, the ones that we should be choosing) aren’t committing to a woman based on looks alone. What is important beyond physical attraction to a man that’s really looking for a relationship? Emotional health and personal security. If it was all about looks and looks alone, supermodels would never get dumped.

      Now, as for the guy in question, if he is chasing her down based on the hot/cold game alone…what does that say about him? Nothing good. If his interest in her is only going strong when she’s ignoring him, does that say love to you? A normal guy, when he thinks he’s found the one, sure as hell isn’t fannying around with his exes and lying about his relationship with said woman. Now, I’m a big fan of keeping the mystery with a guy in the beginning and having your own life no matter where the relationship is at, but I really think that if you have to keep playing games, ignoring him periodically and have an actual strategy to “catch” him (ahem, Christian Carter), something isn’t right. I wouldn’t worry about what this guy is up to and focus more on appreciating yourself! Hope this helps :)

    • Aimee says:


      I am so glad you are back (not that you got burned again). Please never be ashamed. A great book I love to read (it’s in my library) when I am feeling shame – is Healing the Shame that Binds You – John Bradshaw — GREAT Book! A keeper.

      Now back to the work that Nat has layed out for us. My cousin turned me on to this site back in 2009 when I was broken up with the AC. I read – it rang true – and I went back 3 more times.

      Please do not be as shallow as him. We are beautiful!! Look at what happened to Sandra Bullock? It happens to all of us. Now start working on that self-esteem, NC, post, read, re-read, post some more. We need you here!!

      I am not Sandra, or Jennifer Anniston, but I am attractive and sexy and you should see the girls that my exAC was chasing. Blah!! It has nothing to do with looks, it’s who will tolerate the most crap, deceit, selfishness, self-absorption, infidelities and NOT make waves about it!!

      You are in my thoughts, sending you love!!

    • leisha says:

      Do not punish yourself further out of shame. This site is here for support, healing, information. Do not deprive yourself of the healing you can gain from it. We all screw up. I am sorry for your pain but I am very glad you are seeking the remedy. Compassion isn’t only for others it is for yourself as well.

  50. cate says:

    Hello. I’m new to the blog. My friend turned me on to it and i’m glad she did. This post is great for me especially considering what I’m going thru.
    I’m going sort of crazy! I have turned obsessive and I am wondering how to stop this cycle. .. So if anyone has tips/stories to share please reply.
    A few weekends ago I saw my ex out on a date at a brunch place we used to frequent together. We’ve been broken up for just over a year but I was really shocked. He looked totally content with her and I realized they must have walked there and she must have slept over since she was in ‘night’ clothes and shoes. He broke my heart, he wasn’t mean or abusive or anything bad. Just the opposite, we were blissful together. After a year of major bliss, talk of future gained more importance to me – we had always been on the same track but being 5 years older made me more interested in progressing. He realized he wouldn’t be ready on my timetable and wanted me to be able to have all I wanted (kids) and he realized his feelings had changed and he wasn’t ‘in to it’ like I was. I never saw him again until that day. My heart dropped, I broke into a sweat and I haven’t recovered. It was seeing him with her and knowing she was now having sleepovers and walking to our brunch spot with him. Things we used to love doing, he’s doing with her. I have now begun to drive by on weekends and realize he is away the entire time and I know he’s with her. Which is so unlike him, he likes being in his surroundings – so of course I ‘m convinced she has some fancy digs or something. I feel terrible, she was cute (from what I could see) expensively dressed and had a fancy car. So I feel totally inadequate, like something about me was not as captivating, cute, sexy, attractive, alluring, funny, interesting, luxurious, nice etc…. as she is. I want to know who she is so I can learn how I fell short, I think it’s going to lead to some sort of insight. I know I need to stop all this thinking, thinking I could’ve been a better girlfriend (altho I was pretty great i thought except maybe too happy to start considering our ‘future). I could’ve had a more stable career path, I could’ve laughed more at his…

    • grace says:

      It saddens me when women compete for male attention (though you’re “only” doing it in your head). There’s ALWAYS going to be someone prettier/taller/thinner/curvier/younger/blonder/darker/ richer/ cleverer etc than you, that doesn’t make you any less beautiful or special. And YOU are going to be prettier etc. than someone else. But it’s not a competition! Having a fancy car and nice clothes do not make her better than you. If that’s why he’s with her, it’s very shallow and won’t last. More likely, and this going to hurt, if they are happy together they are just more compatible and more on the same page. You can’t make yourself more compatible and want different things. Even if you could, it’s not like you can turn back time and re-run the relationship.
      For what it’s worth, you don’t KNOW that they are happy together and it will last (maybe he dumps all his girlfriends after a year), but it’ s not your concern.
      Relationships end for all kinds of reasons. It’s a horrible shock and no-one likes being rejected. But it’s not a reflection on you as a person (unless you were abusive). You have to stop thinking about her. You can’t learn anything from her. That would be like Single White Female crazy.
      Concentrate more on yourself – your friends, interests, hobbies, exercise, healthy eating, work. For yourself, not to be what you think a man wants. They’re just … men. Their opinion of you does NOT matter more than yours! It doesn’t matter at all, they either like you as you are or … jog on.

      • gala says:

        Hi Grace and Cate,
        That’s a good point – you don’t know what’s going on in that relationship. You just assume the worst = painful thing – that they are happier.
        I can relate to what Cate is saying. I was feeling similarly a year back when I was concentrated on a “friend” who wanted to make me his mistress. I was comparing myself to his gf and going crazy. But I realized later that it was my dissatisfaction with my life that made it all-important how I measured up. I was sort of projecting my frustration onto something else which did hurt me, but was relatively unimportant.
        There must be something you are hanging onto from that time. An illusion of some sort, which is helping you live with a frustration of some kind? Think hard. Find a way to deal with that reason (it probably hasn’t got anything to do with your ex-bf). When you sort that out, you’ll realize it doesn’t matter who he is with and if she seems better than you.

      • cate says:

        Grace –
        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Your words really spoke to me. And yes, it did hurt when you said maybe they are just more compatible. OUCH! I think that might be the root of all this, if I could just know why they are more compatible then it won’t hurt as much. Even after a year, I still hurt over the break up. Sometimes I feel like a little kid, wondering why I didn’t get picked?!
        I will re-read your words and take your advice to heart. Thank you for being there and sharing your wisdom.

        • Aimee says:


          Not that this should matter. But my first thought when you mentioned she was in her “night” clothes is that it was a one-night stand and they were having breakfast the next day.

          Anywho – I have this wonderful, creative imagination when it comes to the ex’s and all my GF’s think I should write books instead of acting it out in my personal life and I think they are right. All I do is mess with my mind when I do this – and you know – that’s why I dumped the AC. Cause he messed with my mind!! STOP doing this to yourself. LOVE!!!

      • leisha says:

        Spot on Grace!

  51. shattered says:

    Of course I know you’re all right about the fact that ACs never change. I will stick to NC. In fact I now wonder if his text asking me to meet was sent to several of the harem. Its the Easter holidays and being single he’s probably at a loose end. Like Charlotte, I miss the attention and having a man in my life, but someone who doesn’t treat me well isn’t better than no one. Leisha – I have done ‘suck it and see’ in the past – twice I’m ashamed to say. Each time I believed that things really had changed, but as Nat mentioned, things became even worse than before and I was left confused and thinking there must be something wrong with me. After staying over one night he left quickly next morning with the parting words ‘see you when I have some free time’ and didn’t contact me for 4 days. I have been an absolute fool over this AC, cooking him meals, buying little things I knew he’d like. I never received a bithday or Christmas present all the time I knew him.
    We all think they’ll be different with the next one they’ve got lined up, but after the initial ‘hot’ phase they’re off onto someone else. A couple of months ago the AC told me he was looking up some old school friends to meet up – I found out they were all female! Enough said.

    • Charlotte says:

      @ shattered,
      I have felt like a fool too with the little things (making him stuff, cooking, treats etc) because the more I did, the less he did for me, though he took them all up willingly. I suppose it feels foolish because the less they do, the more we do it to show them how we would like to be treated.
      Those things you did are lovely though. In themselves they don’t make us fools – it’s the fact that because we use them to try and get certain responses from men who can’t or won’t give them , we feel stupid afterwards. (I just wanted to say that because I don’t like to hear you putting yourself down for doing caring things.)

      • Susan says:

        I am guilty of the same exact thing until I smartened up on day and started making only matching investments. How funny how all the nice things stopped (the cards, baking, little gifts, emails, texts)…..sad but I would love to give my guy sooo much more but I have stopped myself. I even stupidly paid for a hotel room twice because he “forgot” his money. Seeing it all in writing pretty much disgusts me. They are showing us who they are and exactly what they are capable of why is it we can’t/won’t accept who they are.

        We are considerate, giving people and they don’t deserve us or our kindness!!

    • leisha says:

      Shattered, Okay, maybe you’ve fallen a few times, but hey it looks as if you are now on the wagon with your seat belt on and your eyes on the prize…it is a tough journey but it sounds as if you are now committed to getting to your place of peace regardless of the temptations which you have already discovered are unfulfilling. Take the time and remember you will get more perspective as time goes by. I keep thinking of learning to skate and ride a bicycle and any other skill…we seldom do it with perfection for awhile and even when we have developed it, sometimes we hit unexpected potholes and such and spill over…sometimes we are so confident we take a spill because we weren’t keeping our eyes on the road…we learn with each experience more of what to do to avoid future spills…however, sometimes we just get weak in the knees and fall. We are human. Congratulations on continuing the NC. It’s hard as hell sometimes.

  52. Charlotte says:

    @Grace, I’ve just been reading an earlier post of yours which reiterates the point “don’t make it about you”. You are so right! I think a lot of the problem is that we can tend to make it all about us. I know I certainly do.
    The self-esteem we need is so elusive though, I know that if I had more he would never have loomed so large in my life, and if I manage to glean a few moments of it here and there (from work etc) it’ll have been a good day where I haven’t thought of him much (that kind of day is starting to happen, now and again.)
    I also liked what you said, that “Relationships end for all kinds of reasons. It’s a horrible shock and no-one likes being rejected. But it’s not a reflection on you as a person (unless you were abusive). You have to stop thinking about her. You can’t learn anything from her. That would be like Single White Female crazy.”
    That’s funny, and it reminded me of something I read in a novel recently, a woman was lamenting to her friend (post break-up) about what she must have done wrong and that she must be a horrible person. The friend replied “You’re not a horrible person. He is.” Again, this made me laugh, and though it may not be the whole picture, it made the point that when I am making it all about me, I need to try and look sanely at everything that happened and focus on the fact that he was an EUM before me; he was an EUM with me; and will undoubtedly be an EUM after me. My self-esteem issues were there before him; they were there with him; and now I need to sort them out after him. This will be the hard thing.

  53. Australia says:

    Number one, I have NEVER written on here but have been coming to the site for several months and I love the advice, so hopefully I can get some more advice from readers.

    What I’m having a hard time accepting is … when my ex and I were together 2 1/2 years ago in an actual relationship (we have been on/off since .. we’ve been friends, FWB, ‘seeing each other’, not seeing each other, etc.) , even when he would cross my boundaries, or ‘test’ me or keep me waiting, or disrespect me, even though I knew I should stand up for myself, I didn’t. Or I would but a few days later when I thought about and by then standing up for myself did not mean much. I let him get away with all these things, and I knew I shouldn’t have. This probably made him lose his respect for me, hence the continiuos on/off relationship.

    What kills me is that I think the next girl will see these red flags, and NOT put up with them, this will make him respect her, and want to have her because she is strong and won’t put up with shit, she would be a challenge.

    I guess in a way I am hanging on to this relationship because I want another shot at trying and when he does do something disrespectful I want to stand up for myself, and gain my respect back, and want him to make me his everything (like he did for his ex before me – she seems very level-headed and he probably always admired and respected that).

    I also want this relationship because I still love him, and I know I am ‘betting on potential’ but I am stuck on the way things used to be.
    This all sounds really silly as I type this because I know the advice I’ll get is … why do you want someone that mistreated you?
    The answer is because I know he is capable of being that amazing boyfriend and I feel as though we would’ve been together still if I had just stood up for myself all those times and not let him disrespect me. I would be that challenge that he could not get enough of.


    thank you tons,
    fellow reader from down under

    • Australia says:

      As I re-read my post, I realized that I am blaming myself for the end of the relationship because I am saying ‘if only I had not put up with his crap we would’ve still been together because I would have been a challenge and kept him interested’.
      I need to shift gears and put him in 50/50 and say ‘if only he had never treated me like crap, I wouldn’t have to stand up for myself.’


      • leisha says:

        Down Under…I think you’ve got it! Just keeping your self respect and boundaries is hard enough…who needs the “challenge” of someone wanting to break you anyway? That’s a dominance thing…we had daddy’s already. Now we want partners; complements, additions not subtractions. Life is hard enough; why add more unnecessary complications? Remember…anyone can be broken but those who wish to break others are not those who have our best interests much less our backs.

        • gala says:

          “Life is hard enough; why add more unnecessary complications? ”
          Great and absolutely true.

    • grace says:

      If the next girl sees the red flags AND DOES SOMETHING ABOUT IT she’ll dump him and he’ll move onto someone else who will put up with him. There’s thousands of women out there who will. Perfectly attractive, accomplished women so it’s not like a hardship for him.

    • Aimee says:


      “What kills me is that I think the next girl will see these red flags, and NOT put up with them, this will make him respect her, and want to have her because she is strong and won’t put up with shit, she would be a challenge.”

      I saw the red flags and confronted him on them. All he did was change the goal posts and threaten me with the “breaks” and “break-ups” to silence me. And had my mother not died, I do believe I would have left sooner. So, my opinion, the next one will disappear faster, or tolerate like I did, or he will change (big fat chance on that one, they only change when they want to). And I know for a fact that he has had some awesome women in his life before me – didn’t make him treat me better.

      I did all of it – asked him to stop, set boundaries (he didn’t give a hoot about), broke up with him, tolerated it. No matter what I did……it did not work. Cause he is who is. Period, end of story. (Now, I just have to keep remembering this when I have my down moments).

      • Australia says:

        Wow people actually respond to me! haha that is so comforting.
        Thanks a ton for your responses.

        “Remember…anyone can be broken but those who wish to break others are not those who have our best interests much less our backs.”
        I need to remember this. At this point he does not care about making us work, he just gives me these crumbs and I always buy into them, thinking he does see something. But if he did, I wouldn’t be on this forum! I’m living in denial thinking he is simply ‘unsure’ and ‘confused’ and that he ‘may come around’. But I don’t think that is the case so it will hurt/does hurt when I open my eyes to reality of the situation: he does not want me. He wants an ego stroke, sex, a friend, a hang out partner, a text buddy, and thats it.

        It makes me feel better to know that no matter what we try and do, and what we approach we take, they are who they are. (Im sorry about your mother).

        Bottom line. I deserve so much. Why I am clinging on to him is at this point beyond me. Time for change. Time for personal growth and positivity in my life.

        • outergirl says:

          @ Australia
          “He wants an ego stroke, sex, a friend, a hang out partner, a text buddy, and thats it.”
          For many EUM’s; that IS their idea of a relationship. Period!
          We are here for you

  54. Denise says:

    Funny how we believe the next person will benefit from all our hard work.
    To this day my ex H reminds me of who is and will always be whenever I speak with him. He’s very Narcissistic and manipulative. I used to grieve over the fact that he moved on so quickly. Funny how he chooses women who aren’t `very bright’ . .as my son’s would tell me.

    So if you are in a relationship with a so-so character. . don’t waste your time teaching them how to be a better bf. . They may very well take those cues into the next relationship. .

    Think about it. . .are you an entirely different person in a new relationship.
    Probably not. .for the most part. . Don’t waste your time thinking they are!

  55. TeaTime says:

    I was thinking about this and it just hit me.

    I had the rare luck of becoming friends with the xAC’s former girl earlier this year. We only found out by chatting about relationships that we both dated the xAC last year…at the same time. He overlapped us for a whole month without either of us knowing. And we were in the same class while this was happening. (The balls on this one!)

    Anyway, through chatting we realized that though there were slight differences, his core behaviour was the same. He was hot/cold, cancelling/making plans at the last minute, controlling, breaking promises, etc. He backed off from both of us the same way too – when both of us tried to ask more of him.

    What I realized just now? I was the girl he was with after her. I WAS the next girl. We were all the next girls. Did he treat the girl before us better? No! Did they treat us better than the former? Absolutely not! Will he treat the next one better? Unless he stops and really tries hard to become a better person, I highly doubt it.

    • grace says:

      That’s brilliant. Doh, of course we are all the next girl. I never thought of it like that. We’re just the next one in the sorry conga line. Just goes to show, we think it’s all about us (that’s human nature) but it really isnt.

      • Natasha says:

        Sorry conga line haha! Grace, I just almost choked on a rice cake that was so funny. TeaTime, I love, love that insight, I think you are absolutely right!

  56. IntuitiveEnigma says:

    Although I recognize this on an intellectual level, I am having such a hard time processing this on an emotional level.

    My on again/off again ex finally moved on and has a new girlfriend after knowing her a week. It’s heartbreaking for me. I was his first girlfriend (at 23, who would have thought he wouldn’t have a gf?), so I had to deal with all the BS of “I don’t know any better”. I put up with a lot of bad behavior, but since he was a newbee to the game, he got a free pass and I was awarded the “bad bf trainer of the year” card. It hurts like hell because everything I went through with him some other girl is reaping. Let me potty train him while he takes a piss on my carpet so then he can be the perfect little obedient dog with someone else. :/ I can’t help but feel a little bitter.

    • Natasha says:

      Intuitive, don’t be bitter about this – if he’s jumped into a “committed relationship” after knowing someone for seven days… it doesn’t bode well. Like Natalie says, they generally tend to go through the “hot”, aka “sweep you off your feet” phase with a new woman, who then…wind up bitching about them too. If you go through the comments, just about all of us have been “the greatest thing that ever happened to them” for a period that generally lasts anywhere between 45 minutes and 29 days (a whole month of consistency often sends these guys into a panic-stricken meltdown). Hope this helps :)

      • IntuitiveEnigma says:

        The only problem is my ex isn’t an EUM. He wasn’t one of those, just very immature. In fact, I was kinda EUM after being involved with an EUM prior to dating my ex (hence why/how I found this blog)(weird to admit this on here).

        So what if they’re not an assclown or an EUM and they still start dating someone and making it official after barely knowing them. What then?

        • Aimee says:

          Sounds like lust to me. They are definitely NOT in REALITY!!

          • Natasha says:

            I agree with Aimee – I wouldn’t even call someone a “close friend” after knowing them for seven days, nevermind a boyfriend!

    • gala says:

      I don’t think that the “newbie-ness” justifies bad behaviour. I don’t think that dating/relationship is really a game to learn, but simply how mature and honest you are with yourself and others. Even if you are doing it for the first time, you don’t have to treat your gf/bf badly…don’t you think?

      • Natasha says:

        I completely agree – the kindest, most wonderful person I ever dated was in high school! He was 17 and I was 16 and he never, ever treated me with disrespect or acted like a jerk. I’m 29 now and I can’t find a single guy in the 30-35 age range half as considerate and mature!

  57. IntuitiveEnigma says:

    Yeah, I agree. Just a little hard when he chose new girl over me. Oh well, time to move on! lol

    They say the brightest flame burns out the fastest, so good luck to them?

  58. jennynic says:

    Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know” She talks about her ex who has moved on and how he seems happier with someone else, and now she is obsessing over it.

  59. Sibi says:

    I am sitting here sobbing, wondering where the vibrant, confident and capable girl went? The witty single mother, who philosophically gave up her great career and put all of her personal aspirations, dating, plans to travel etc on hold to have her baby alone. The girl I used to be until I fell for a man, who came highly recommended by mutual friends. They said he was fantastic, but that he was a little cautious after the ending of his long-term relationship months earlier. Perfect. He was charming and intelligent. He pursued me ardently and won me over with his wonderfully adept future-faking and flattery. The ensuing ‘relationship’ saw me falling in love for the first time, lowering every one of my defences, missing every glaring red flag to be FB Girl to someone who kept me a secret, acted cold when with me in public and blew hot and cold daily. I found out I was pregnant a few weeks after he dumped me – ironically for being a mother (he ‘couldn’t love me’ as I had ‘a child already’). I then miscarried, alone, in the bath at my house at Christmas, with his words ringing in my ears. I am still really traumatised by it all.

    He came back (I thought he missed me; in reality he was bored and needed an ego stroke) and when I told him about the baby (which I just hoped might make him treat me with respect, if his intentions were dubious) he cruelly said if I hadn’t lost the baby things it would have been perfect. He said to stay, marry him, have his children. Then disappeared. With maybe a lazy text every now and then.

    I changed my number and tried to move on, with others’ saying that he’d regret it, he just ‘had issues’

    I’ve heard he’s flown to Australia to be with an old university friend, who’s now a model/ actress and is well-travelled, exciting and smitten with him. Apparently she looked him up. He dropped everything to meet her, and they’ve fallen in love, doing all the things I would love to do. It’s clear that he’s found the ‘right girl’ and I was simply a stopgap and never meant anything. He’s not EU. He doesn’t have issues. He used me and is laughing all the way to the bank now.

    I just can’t compete. All of the private things I’ve achieved, my efforts to be a great mum, my funny, quiet and gentle English life, now seems so small-town, empty and pointless. I’ve tried to be dignified throughout, but how could someone so cruel land on his feet like this? I’m just lost.

    • grace says:

      Don’t date someone who has only recently broke up, especially if they are “cautious”. Cautious = he will mess you about, while feeling sorry for himself. Mutual friends are not a better judge of a man than you are. Don’t let that blind you to his faults.
      Knock him off his pedestal. You are still somewhat in love with him. To someone on the outside (me) the fact that he’s wafted off with an actress means NOTHING. It says nothing about him as a person or his value as a human being.
      If you were happy before you can be happy again. If you were not as happy as you thought you were, then it’s time to make yourself happy.
      By the way, he is EU. He definitely was with you. And the fact that he’s run off to Australia with an ex screams EU. Being EU doesn’t make someone a bad person or a total f* up, but it does make them a bad bet for a proper relationship.
      Try not to keep chewing this over with friends. This part of your life is over, time to move onto better things.

    • leisha says:

      He’s an ass. Plain and simple. Things and a glamorous life does not make anyone more or less than you. It is good that jackass is going on…he wasn’t with you as you deserve, he future-faked, he is a flake based on what you wrote and despite what those who weren’t in your shoes may perceive. He is not right for you and you have you to rely on and you to work on. You have all of the tools right here on this site to gather the information you need to guide you back to yourself. You can climb out of the pit.

    • NML says:

      Hi Sibi, you’ve had some great advice so I shall add this: I think you’re glorifying an asshole into a gem. While your friends meant well I’m sure, they set you up with a man who was either not over his ex or still in a negative, hurting place from his last relationship which equals nogo. It also means it was dead in the water before it even got going.

      Bad enough that you would then put up with being kept a secret and treated badly by this dipstick, but the most telling piece of info was that you told him about the miscarriage because you hoped he’d treat you better. If you have to rely on pity and sympathy to evoke a slither of decency from someone which incidentally didn’t materialise, he’s an asshole. It’s also a hallmark of an abusive relationship.

      You are blinded by the fact that he was recommended by your friends and that he’s run off with some actress. Your friends have shit taste and like the worst of using Mr Unvailables that are actually assclowns, he’s opportunistic.

      What he has done is manipulative and horrible but stop glorifying this man. Give yourself a time limit for wallowing and then it’s time to get back up. Using an actress and his friends to think you’re not good enough is a mark of low self-esteem. You are better than this man. I would also go for some counselling to help you grieve the loss of your baby which has no doubt got sidetracked in this man’s assholery

  60. gala says:


    this guy has serious issues. I doubt someone so cruel and heartless would ever change and so quickly without some serious disaster happening to him before the change. I’m sure the other woman is either having fun but not serious or she will be abused as you have been. Lucky you to have escaped such a monster.
    And as for the things you achieved – you did so far much more than this guy ever would in his whole life. Be proud of it. To be great mum it’s worth more than money or career.

  61. Sibi says:

    Grace, Leisha, Natalie and Gala – thank you so much for your thoughtful and, dare I say it, tough-love responses, which is just what I need right now.

    I’m really not mulling it over with friends. I don’t want to seem weak, or bore them into oblivion, and so I’m acting as though I’ve not a care in the world. I’ve started a new job, have begun volunteering locally, work out etc – yet at times when I come home, close the door and drop the mask, I’m shattered and I hurt.

    I had counselling after my miscarriage – and pretended that it had helped, to keep close friends happy and to convince myself I’d moved on. But it does still haunt me.

    Having spent literally all night reading through everyone’s posts on this site, with my jaw on the floor (I’ve been guilty of pretty much all of the ‘offences’ against myself!) I’m so relieved to find out I’m not going crazy, that you have all had similar (if not worse) experiences and that it IS possible to emerge smiling again, even after my self-induced humiliation. I have critically low self esteem, as a result of my circumstances, I’m willing to bet, and I need to start working on this before anything else. It’s ironic as my friends think I am the toughest, most determined and streetwise person they know – often asking my advice in relationships! It’s easier to give advice thank to take it though, I feel, especially when you’re emotionally invested.

    So thank you all for being there. It’s so comforting to know I am not alone. I will be making this site my absolute one-stop sanity check. I only wish I had found it earlier…

    Love to you all on your journey to recovery, strength and fulfilment.

    Sibi xxx

    • Natasha says:

      Sibi, just wanted to say I’m sending you lots of support and good wishes! I am fully confident that you will be smiling again, sooner rather than later :)

  62. susie sunflower says:

    @ Aimee

    I am not Sandra, or Jennifer Anniston, but I am attractive and sexy and you should see the girls that my exAC was chasing. Blah!! It has nothing to do with looks, it’s who will tolerate the most crap, deceit, selfishness, self-absorption, infidelities and NOT make waves about it!!

    Amen Aimee – spot on!!

  63. Sandra81 says:

    Oh, yes! I admit having worried about that. Especially because I heard very often that “when a man meets the right woman, even the biggest assclown becomes Mr. Perfect”. Here is a story from my teenage years. My friend’s brother (about 20 at that time) was in an on & off relationship with a lovely girl. Apparently she didn’t lack anything (ok, maybe she was a bit needy and always forgave all his misdemeanours). He didn’t treat her too well: she was always a low priority. Just after they broke up, he got together with a woman much older than him, who was not as pretty/nice/sweet/feminine etc. as his ex. But he was kissing her backside non-stop! :-O 12 years after, they’re still together, they’re happily married and have 2 kids. So, that’s the classic story of the man becoming a better person in a better relationship. BUT, now I wonder if the problem was actually him, or each of the girlfriends. Maybe the second girlfriend, compared to the first one, knew how to make herself respected? Now, from my own experience, I discovered that if you tell them off for wrong behaviour, or express your disappointments, they’re likely to react badly on the spot, but respect you more in the long run, even if that means not pursuing you as intensely as they used to in the beginning.
    As far as my ex is concerned, it’s been almost a year since I met him. During this time, he hasn’t forged a serious relationship with me (nor tried too hard to do so), but he hasn’t done so with other girls either. If he’s dating other people, nobody knows. No names, no faces, no…nothing! Sometimes he mentions characters like “an ex-girlfriend of mine” or “a girl”. And he has lots of admirers, so he would have plenty of choices IF he wanted to have a serious relationship. But he doesn’t, and nor do I see him at least focused on ONE person in particular. My relationship with him at the moment is a friendly one. He’s acting like a true gentleman (I think I managed to make myself respected – at least apparently). 😛 I never make any references to our relationship when we talk , and I don’t ask him for personal favours (except for once when there was a creepy guy in the club and I asked him not to leave me alone). I don’t…

  64. Sandra81 says:

    I don’t try to convince him of anything, whatever he does or doesn’t do – that’s fine with me! Him becoming a better person or a committed man? He would need an overdose of maturity injected in his blood, and that’s not possible! 😀 Maybe someday, but I doubt it will be in the near future. As far as I’m concerned, I’m enjoying the title of “the one who didn’t give in all the way”! 😉

  65. Sunshine says:

    For the “these guys don’t change” evidence files:

    My mother dated a guy in the late 80’s who I couldn’t stand and it was mutual. I remember watching my mother sit alone in the living room, late at night, waiting for the AC who had yet again stood her up.
    Once he took us out for dinner, and when they didn’t have what I asked for we went somewhere else. Not, he said, for ME, but because he didn’t like being told he couldn’t have something.

    He stood her up, flip-flopped, future-faked, lied, went back and forth between her and an ex…and finally it was over.

    TWENTY ONE YEARS LATER, he found my mother (who is now remarried to my father and that is it’s own Jerry Springer episode) on Facebook, and sent her a long self-pitying message about regrets and how she was so wonderful and he was such a dog…the whole thing was written in such a way that it was totally obvious to me that he wanted her to feel sorry for him and was testing to see if he would get some kind of response from her. Ewwwwww.

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.