If you want people to ‘let’ you be you, not only do you have to ALLOW yourself to be YOURSELF in the first place, but you’ve also got to RESPECT YOU by not busting your own boundaries with constant approval seeking.

Many of us have grown up around people who have their own ‘quirky’, annoying, or downright outrageous ways of behaving. Some of us have been spared the childhood induction but then in adulthood have discovered that we clash with certain types of people or have issues in certain situations that leave us with a, “People won’t let me be me!” feeling.

If you struggle with having boundaries or asserting them, you will definitely have felt this way. It may be one of your biggest objections to having boundaries or asserting yourself in general because it seems like the type of people that you’re around / are attracted to or even the ‘world’ will ‘penalise’ you for basically being who you are and representing your own needs, wishes, and expectations, which is actually what assertive people do in general.

Here’s the thing: I get it, believe me – you don’t get to write a site like Baggage Reclaim without having cut your teeth without a lot of outrageous carry-on in your life – however, it is actually down to you to let you be you.

The alternative – expecting the universe to break you off a piece and grant you all your wishes, needs, and expectations without running into any issues and everyone acquiescing to them – puts you between a rock and a hard place. In that place you will either:

Engage in passive behaviour where you essentially silence who you are but somehow still expect to have your needs, expectations, and wishes met. Somehow you expect to ‘be you’ even though you’ve probably forgotten what that is while getting rolled out like a doormat on the People-Pleasing Trail.


You go down the passive aggressive route where you play nice and agreeable and appear to go along with people’s agendas and then you engage in ‘opposite’ and sabotaging behaviour in an attempt to get your own agenda through the back door.


You push through your needs, expectations, and desires with brute force – aggression – which leaves people feeling bullied, abused, and taken advantage of.

Likelihood is that you’re doing one or both of the former two and occasionally erupting when you can’t stuff down your feelings, needs, expectations, and desires any longer.

You have to allow you to be you instead of going “Oh they won’t do things my way so I’ll disallow my identity and go along with them” because that’s how you end up busting your boundaries or waking up one day not having a frickin’ clue who you are.

Your whole life will have gone by in a sea of avoiding asserting yourself, possibly because you thought it was a ‘bad’ thing to do, or possibly because you didn’t think that you ‘deserve’ respect or that you even have the right to assert your own needs, expectations and desires.

It’s not that I’m a hardass but I’ve learned this the hard way after my passiveness (and yeah at times passive aggression and aggression) brought myself and my health to its rock bottom – if having needs, expectations and desires scares people away, let them jog on and jog on fast.

The alternative is going through life with your hand on the head of the ‘real you’ that’s trapped inside of you and pushing it down or even smothering or drowning it. Slowly. Don’t allow this.

The key is in recognising the flaw in a ‘masterplan’ of spending your life knocking heads with the same people over and over and over again in different packages and situations.

So many readers have shared stories about how they’ve had family, friends, or exes talk over them, belittle, shut down their opinions, refuse to talk, shout instead of talking, silent treatment and all sorts of unpleasant carry-on and they rightly decide that they don’t want to be or are not this way. But what do these people then do?

They repeatedly engage with / go out with the same types of people and in knowing who they are, expect the other party to change.

When these people have conflicting values, different agendas or just don’t conduct themselves in a way that when they’re both interacting they feel that they’re able to represent themselves, they keep engaging with them in a way that says “Change so that I can be be!”

Of course change doesn’t happen or is limited and because it’s a recurring situation they end up feeling like they’re not allowed to be themselves. Actually, when you’re doing this, it’s the act of trying to get people to make you the exception to the rule and attempting to right the wrongs of the past that’s actually disallowing who you really are.

The truth is, someone who for instance has very conflicting values especially on the personal values front which governs character, and who even takes advantage of or even abuses you, is not someone who you could really be yourself with, unless being you is someone who isn’t themselves or is in a victim role.

Trying to change them is also the equivalent of attempting to disallow who they are so that you can let you be you and have your needs, expectations, and wishes met – yep, it’s the very same thing that you don’t want them doing to you.

Wouldn’t it be easier to be with someone or around people who you just be who you are and they’re themselves and you have a mutual relationship, whether it’s romantic or not? Couldn’t you just be who you are and let the chips fall where they may instead of worrying about ‘bad consequences’ or trying to change others so you can ‘catch a break’? At the very least be around people who are acquainted with the concept of respect.

Also, people cannot know who you are or ‘allow’ it when you present a ‘mask’ of a false self in the first place.You’re thinking “Let me be me!” and for the other person it’s the equivalent of “Er, but you don’t know who you are anyway! Sometimes you’re this, sometimes you’re that – make up your mind even if you cut me out of it!”

I’m now myself and there are still some people in my life that I majorly clash with because who I am doesn’t fit with who they are. They’d maybe like me to be more BS inclined or to relax my boundaries where they could run amok. That’s OK.

Allow you to be you instead of cutting that down with what you think you ‘should’ be so that you can feel approved of – in the end you finally realise that it’s your own approval you need most of all.

Your thoughts?

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146 Responses to When You Feel Like People Won’t “Let” You Be Yourself

  1. Mika Maddela says:

    It’s so hard to be yourself when you’re around people who have different core values and integrity as you.

    Like if I’m trying to lose weight, and all the people I surround myself with are into into eating shit food, they tend to be like “oh stop that eating healthy nonsense.”

    I see it happen in relationships as well. I’ve been around people who don’t understand why they can’t find the right men to be in a relationship with when they surround themselves in situations where it’s soooooo hard to meet good men who don’t want just booty call. I have never ever found a man I can be in a relationship with at dance clubs or bars who JUST WANTS to go home lucky and into my pants.

    I’m not saying you’ll never meet a husband that way but seriously, don’t what did you expect.

  2. J says:

    Your writing is amazing and it seems that you speak right to where I am.

  3. Lucy says:

    Well I did do the passive thing. I didn’t articulate my needs much because I felt he should know. Then someone did that to me and now I know how it feels from the other side. It makes the other person feel powerless and that you don’t trust or respect them enough to share yourself with them; and that you cannot be emotionally close with them. That’s what it is. It’s fear rather than respect and it makes people feel odd around you. When you face emotions head on, you earn respect and caring from your friends and family.

    My new challenge is learning to say ‘no’ and to push my comfort zone with others. I’ve discovered that I think less and less before opening my mouth, so I feel more natural and in the moment. I have experienced none of the dire consequences I expected with doing this. Really it was fear that was stopping me from asserting myself. I would not assume anything if someone else stated their limits and boundaries but somehow my internal dialogue was warped.

    I have social anxiety and your posts have really helped me reverse some of my irrational beliefs about others’ behaviour. You’re a life saver.

    Unfortunately I’ve been suppressing who I really am for a long time (since I was a young girl). I feel like I’m going through another adolescence trying to figure this out for myself. I know I will feel more secure if I keep practising. Thanks NML.

    • Learner says:


      “My new challenge is learning to say ‘no’ and to push my comfort zone with others.”

      I am right there with you. I am familiar with that fear of asserting oneself after suppressing ones needs for many years. And even though we are grown women, I think it’s OK that we get another “adolescence” later on. I don’t know how old you are, but I know many women in their 40’s and 50’s who are re-discovering themselves, or even *discovering* themselves for the first time. When we have a bit of life experience behind us, I think we need those defenses, built up from necessity as children, less and less. We can afford to break down a few walls, realize the “sky won’t fall” and get to know and care for ourselves like we never have before. Let’s keep practicing Lucy, we will get there!

  4. Lilia says:

    I´ve become an outcast in my own extended family because at one point I decided I wouldn´t participate in their sick custom of “covering turds with marmelade”. That is to say, act as if everything is lovely when in fact things are rotten underneath – or not so underneath.

    All of my childhood, I pretended – just like everyone else – that it was no big deal that my AC dad once had an affair with my mom´s youngest sister. Well not everyone else, my grandfather never knew, but my grandmother got mad with my mom and me when she was told. It was a thing of “kill the one who gives bad news, not the one who actually did it”. So, my wicked aunt became the favourite, weirdly enough, and her daughters too.

    Anyway. We all fluttered around, trying to keep the peace. There were Christmas celebrations, birthdays, family visits every sunday. And everyone acting as if everything was normal! Once my grandmother passed away, I finally confronted my aunt. It was like I was possessed by Kali. Afterwards, it was like I had had a huge de-cluttering session, I only maintained relations with a reduced number of family members. The vast majority practically severed ties with me because I, for once, had been honest. But I am happy with myself and now I know who is worthwhile and who isn´t.

    • runnergirl says:

      Lilia, I’ve experienced the same exact thing with my “family”. I call it “estranged”. I fluttered about trying to make it okay when it simply wasn’t okay. I went NC with my father over a decade ago for his illegal (substantially), immoral, and illicit behavior.
      I went through the same thing with my siblings, who are still pretending nothing is wrong as well as my stepmother who is still hanging on to her pedophile husband, my father. Even though the event that busted my father occurred with her daughter and her darling daughters. At some point there is a line. My line was my daughter. Period. My father is NOT going to violate my daughter in any way shape or form. Period. I don’t care if we don’t have X-mas or Sunday dinners together. I don’t care if my siblings agree or disagree. I wish it were different. But it isn’t. Topline: My father is sick, very, very sick with no chance of recovering (he’s approaching 80 with the same behavior). Those are the facts. It is disappointing as hell. But I’m accepting the fact that my father’s pathology has nothing to do with me. My father totally influenced my life. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I have all the great traits he passed on. Thanks dad. But he doesn’t influence or determine me anymore. Why do I need the validation of a pedophile? Similarly, why do I need the validation of an EUM/AC/MM? I just don’t thanks to you Natalie. I just don’t. When I’m meeting new online guys, I’m so happy to be 53 and finally being me. Some guys are a bit taken aback at how happy and comfy I am. I’m not desperate and there is no fire! Thus, they have to treat me with love, respect, and care within the first correspondence or I simply won’t respond. I’m the boss of me…only. Oh and I’ve got a heavy hand on the flush handle. One wrong move and they are flushed. And NEXT! Hope a few guys out there are reading. Talk about expendable.

    • cc says:

      yep, lilia-
      this was me. i was the confronter of the family. it was murder for a while. now they all thank me.

      brava, brava, brava. kali rocks!

      • Lilia says:

        Ooh, Runnergirl, I´m so sorry, that must be really terrible. I´m happy you found the strenght to get out of the sick dynamics of your family, it is extremely hard! As for me, I´ve analyzed the experiences with my father for years, and I know it has damaged my self esteem and my ability to trust others. But only now am I realising the family situation made me feel like a victim too, and seriously affected my self esteem as well. I´ve spend the last few days thinking about that, feeling anger all over again, and I think it´s something I still have to work on.

        CC: good for you, yeah Kali rocks!

  5. PurpleLily says:


    Im dying to comment a bit more but once I am done with this crazy weekend at work, will be reading all the previous posts.

    Nat, amazing posts this past month.I hope you know how much you contribute to our daily smiles, well being,self esteem and strength. Love your work!

    • cc says:

      agreed. this exact articulation of this issue was probably my central problem. eeesh.

      natalie, all growth, all insight, i’m convinced, comes from pain. i’m sorry you’re in pain. but look at your output. a.m.a.z.i.n.g. still, i’m sorry for your pain.

      • Learner says:


        It’s good to hear from you. I agree Natalie’s posts have been amazing this month – I love how she balances posts about EUM’s etc, with posts about self-esteem and asserting boundaries. Very helpful. I hope your job situation has been sorted out, and that you are progressing well after your “relationship”.

        cc – I agree that growth occurs after pain, but I think there can be pain-free growth as well. What I believe, though, is that “all growth involves risk”. Too often for FBG’s, it seems that risk = pain. Perhaps the painful situations lead to deeper growth than other kinds? I’m hoping the next risk I take results in happy growth :) Actually, I wish that for ALL here on BR

  6. Kerry says:

    Kudos to you. That was incredibly brave. My family also swore by a code of silence about the elephant in the room… the elephant being drunk mom. I was the only one who ever used the word “alcoholic” and pointed out the abuse, and for that I was considered a “problematic child,” and bullied the hardest by my mother and ostracized by the entire family. I was a brave little kid, but I still paid the price by absorbing the information that I am bad, a problem, shameful, etc.
    Today, I’m learning that as I finally establish my boundaries there are people working against me with comments like, “you’re so sensitive,” or “you’re so angry,” or “don’t let that bug you so much.” One “friend” said something really insensitive and when I let her know it was unacceptable, she told other people, “I’m worried about her. She seems so angry.” Don’t you just love these passive aggressive putdowns that are disguised as concern?
    Instead of hearing me and seeing me, they’re trying to make me the problem again. I am editing these people out of my life, even if they can be a lot of fun on a Friday night. :) In the long haul, they’re not respectful of my boundaries, and if they don’t get what I’m about, then they just gotta go.

    • sofie says:

      “Don’t you just love these passive aggressive putdowns that are disguised as concern?
      Instead of hearing me and seeing me, they’re trying to make me the problem again.”
      That used to make my blood boil, (although I didn’t know the underlying reason of it) especially because I surrounded myself with these people time and again, because I really believed it was out of concern! Of course it isn’t, real concern is not somebody patronizing you or even taking your side because you’re friends, real concern is saying ‘is there something I can do to make you feel better, can I help you with a situation’, or just listening to you without judging but with love and care.
      But once I realized, not only that most of my ‘friends’ were using me to make themselves look or even feel better about themselves by putting me in a bad spotlight, making me out to be ‘quite a figure’ and realizing that my anger and ‘imaginairy’ hurt which I couldn’t place and I thought they were so concerned about, actually came from their passive aggressiveness, that insight changed the world for me. It’s not that I suddenly became misses happy and perfect through shifting the problem onto them, but I could see what my own problem réally was. No selfconfidence, very poor boundaries, definitely actions not matching words, and like leaches some of them blossomed by that. I couldn’t see that before. I was angry and frustrated all of the time. Since I flushed most of these people after my epiphany about them (and a LOT of reading BR and other helpful reads and therapy), oddly enough (but not really) I feel peaceful, calm and pretty darn happy with myself. I feel even better about flushing them then I feel about letting a difficult and very unhealthy ltr behind me. They can be angry and frustrated now all they like. It’s their turn to look inside themselves now, because I don’t give them the light of day, so they have to find another victim for their passive agressive BS. I bet, just like the man with a harem, some of them have victims like that in line for them.

      • Kerry says:

        Sofie, Your definition of “real concern,” and your insight about your friends using you to make themselves look and feel good absolutely nailed it for me. I think a big part of the reason I too feel frustrated and angry the way you used to, is that I am trying so hard to get them to understand my position. It’s like I need them to see why I’d be angry, or offended, or hurt. But it’s like the ex AC all over again. Why am I trying to have a relationship with someone who’s incapable of having a relationship? These “friends” are also self-involved soul-suckers, and my attempts to convert them into real, feeling, empathetic people is just a total waste of my time — not to mention a lack of respect for myself. There are only a couple left that I haven’t flushed, and even though I’ve reduced them to minor roles, their presence is irritating enough that they need to be cut entirely so that I can find peace and happiness in every corner of my life.
        It goes to show that when we change, it’s like a ripple effect outward, every aspect of our lives must change in accordance. I guess that’s what they call living authentically.

        • sofie says:

          absolutely Kerry, I struggled a lot with the damage my ltr had brought me, fell, crawled up again, fell again until I finaly got it. And when I did, all there was left that felt so awkwardly wrong in my life were the people who were supposed to be there for me and be happy for me and share things with me and so on. Genuinly. I read every single BR-article again but with my mind aimed at those friendships and started rethinking things again. So I ended up flushing everybody who didn’t support me or who made me feel bad about being myself. It’s not that they wouldn’t let me be myself, they’d push my buttons so hard or so passively hard that they only pulled out one side of me. The frustrated one. It hurts like hell to take total distance, it’s so difficult to do, but it really is like pulling of a band aid. A person who now has the time and space to breathe and to heal because no one pushes you down, and who will be a lot more succesfull in attracting healthy people from that day on. I know I have, I haven’t been bored for a second and even if it started with just one person showing me real care and trust and love, that’s how it starts. I can see the wood for the trees now. And it’s irreversible. Good luck Kerry!

    • Revolution says:


      “One “friend” said something really insensitive and when I let her know it was unacceptable, she told other people, ‘I’m worried about her. She seems so angry.'”

      Yep. That’s what the weak do to try to manipulate us down to their level. I can’t be bothered with such nonsense. If they’re so effin’ “worried” about us, why don’t they just come to US about it? Acch. Assclowns and passive aggressive undermining “friends”: Be gone with you now!

      • Lilia says:

        Kerry, Sofie, Revolution:

        Yess I´ve had my share of the passive aggressive “concerns”, my extended family used to be a true viper´s nest (one of the comments about my dad&aunt affair: “what´s the big deal? it was just a few shags, what´s wrong with that?”). That is, until I confronted wicked aunt and ties were broken.

        I still have this childish fear that my (deceased) grandmother will scold me some time in the afterlife for interrupting the peace. But then I think, at least my grandfather would´ve approved, he was a true no-BS man (and that is why he was never told about this drama).

  7. Magnolia says:

    When I first started reading BR, I didn’t really know what NML meant by “be you”. The understanding didn’t come easily. I would post here and receive this (seemingly) bizarre feedback that I was not “being me” and I should let myself be myself for longer than a hot second. I was seriously confused!

    I now understand the phrase “be you” to mean: only you can hear your own inner voice, only you can listen for what you really want and need, and only you can then “be” according to those wants and needs, asserting yourself when necessary, choosing directions to move in. I listened again to NML’s new year video for 2012 just last week, where “being you” is such a strong message. This time, I could follow NML’s logic.

    “unless being you is someone who isn’t themselves or is in a victim role.” – that WAS my default mode. I grew up with the unspoken (but sometimes spoken) message from my family that my very being was a big hassle (I was a ‘mistake’ and an expensive burden), which I tried to overcome by being a good girl who never asked for anything. I got the message from my peers that “just being” brown-skinned and poor was grounds for exclusion from white Canadian society, friendship, jobs, money, and from the sexual desirability that would allow me to have a family in this country. I tried my best to “be” in a way that could overcome the shoddy reality of my “just me”. In my heart I felt being “me” was being “just me” and that to do that was to admit that I was worth very little, that I was one of the disposable members of my community.

    So when I heard “be you” I was like, “what else can I be but what I already am”? but couldn’t see that I was very active at doing things that weren’t about listening to myself. I had little inkling that “me” was a voice inside that had stopped bothering to speak up ages ago, a voice that thought she might get love if she didn’t ask for too much, a voice that I had no practice listening to.

    It’s funny, I think, that I had an aha moment just before moving out of the la-la landlord place, and that it was something so small: I said “no” to a request to put the modem in my room. But because I said it in the moment, consciously short-circuiting the usual daze that would have me say “….um …. okay …” I really felt that I had just “been me.” If I could have texted you all at BR, being like “Hey – I was just me!” I would have.

    My roomie, who had asked, wasn’t thrilled to hear no but he dealt with it and the world did not come crashing down. In the next minutes, as he tried to suggest places to put it (to get it out of where HE didn’t want it) I found myself saying “no” a few more times: calmly, but firmly.

    I expected a passive aggressive hissy fit, à la my father, but it never came. Dude just kept at the suggestions until we found something we both could live with. And when I finally said yes, I meant it. That’s how it ought to go in relationships: both people feeling comfortable saying no to each other, with the understanding that each wants to make sure that agreements don’t happen unless they are yes-yes.

    • Sunshine says:

      Magnolia! Hooray!
      I love when the answers are clear and easy!
      A married (divorce in process) guy w/a live in gf who’s been sniffing around my office followed me in the other day and said, “hey, give me your number!”
      Without even THINKING, I said, “No.
      Aww..come one, we’re friends!
      “No. What’s your girlfriend’s name? Spell it?”
      While he was hemming and hawing I was writing a dedication to them on a card I made (intuitively only minutes before for just such an occasion I suppose) with my art and a prayer for relationships and handed it to him.
      He sort of stuttered and said, “Oh, I didn’t mean I wanted your number like THAT…we’re FRIENDS!” and tried to play it off in a way that clearly showed he DID mean it like that and was cold busted.
      He booked it out of my office real quick.
      The whole interaction took less than a minute, and it felt SO good! To be so quick and clear and show who I really am (a kind of quirky chick who isn’t going to listen to your bs about your gf and is going to send you packing with a prayer to restore your relationship! sorry, dude, I got your gf’s back on this!) and not worry what he thinks.

      No confusion, no haze, just ‘No’, adios sayonara don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out!

    • cc says:

      yes, magnolia-
      every kid who had to be a chameleon just to survive has this problem. i’m so glad for you. now you’re you!! YAAAY!!!

    • AMD says:

      Wow Magnolia!!! That was awesome… I think you have just turned on the lights for me!

  8. dancingqueen says:

    I feel like I can’t even care about men right now; the last few posts just hit my family issues so hard and keep doing it.

    “I’m now myself and there are still some people in my life that I majorly clash with because who I am doesn’t fit with who they are. They’d maybe like me to be more BS inclined or to relax my boundaries where they could run amok. That’s OK.”

    The thing is that I am not okay with it, I don’t even know if I want to be. I am at the point now, where I almost wish that my brother would do something horrible so I could bring myself to no contact him, because dealing with his lack of ability to deal with our family stuff right now, and my demented dad and all his bills that we need to sift through, makes me feel crazy.

    I get the above idea, that I need to be myself and not seek their approval and I don’t feel like I am expecting that from them, but I can’t seem to not be mad about their lack of help. can’t seem to be able to have my family in my life, without them getting angry that I will not let them run over my feelings, be abusive to me and/or be the nice people-pleasing person who was the scapegoat;I don’t know what to say except I wish that I could go no contact with all my family right now, except for the fact that I love my niece and nephew and I can’t do that, thus. It is so hard having to be civil to people who just keep pushing your boundaries, ugh, I just feel so…sick of my family. Maybe it is tired from so much work too, and maybe pms but I am just only able to feel negative things towards them. The worst is that I feel so annoyed that I can’t even feel like I want to change my hostility…it is shitty but that is how I feel.

    • cc says:

      um…if i understand you correctly, you’re in a tough spot. i’m sort of in the same spot.

      just feel bitter and angry if that’s how you feel. its ok. but i think there’s a more active way you can handle it so you won’t feel so used.

      boss them around if you want, assign them tasks. don’t wait for them to offer to help. tell them you need help, and give them a task. i’m not suggesting doing this to provoke confrontation when they don’t do their task, but you’ll feel more active and less put upon. then, if they don’t do a task that clearly needs doing, they’re the asshole.

      don’t feel bad about calmly asserting your boundaries. their lack of ability to deal with them is their problem. i just think you need to take a step forward with this so you don’t feel they’re always pushing you back. does this make sense?

      i’m saying ‘own it’, proudly wear your boundaries, your preferences, your needs. don’t tentatively defend them; affirmatively assert them. don’t worry about not pleasing. just be straight up, up front. this way, you won’t get so tired defending and you’ll feel bigger, stronger for having more … power about it. stand up straight, be proud as hell of you, and push them back with your energy. you see? and fuck’em if they can’t take it.

      • dancingqueen says:

        Hey cc! Did you get my comment on the last post? I replied a bit late but I am very happy that you had your “poor loser” moment of sorts…well done!

        Wow you are so wise…

        You gave ne a lot to think of…assign tasks…that is so obvious…why did I not think of that? I think because in my family we all have our “roles”; I am the one with no boundaries that feels guilty for trying to have them and takes on whatever is given to me, my brother is the always-right one who can be a jerk and still feel perfectly content with not looking at himself in any way but a flattering one and my sister-in-law is the gracious one who will stand up for her kids but expect me to take crap because, in her mind, I should not feel upset about it…I am supposedly so tough according to her…

        I think that you are right; the weird thing is I feel so guilty; I know that there is absolutely no reason I should but I do. I feel mortified and upset that my father, despite what an ass he is, is living in a hoarders home and being taken advantage of financially by his new wife ( this would be the second time that this has occured btw, his last other marriage with the oxcycotin addict, his wife embezzled from him…)

        I guess I just need to get behind me; if it makes me uncomfortable to pretend that none of that is happening then I should not only try to deal with it but also, try to get my brother to take his fair share on. I think that he thinks that he can just opt out. I think that he just is ver different than me and I need to accept that, not the behavior, but the fact that he will not volunteer to step up, and be a bit pushy and just try to delegate. Thanks!

        • cc says:

          yes, dq-
          i got your comment on the last post, i thought i wrote back – i’ll check.

          um…you have absolutely no reason whatsoever to feel guilty. and while you’re at not doing that, don’t feel quite so bad for your dad – yes, i understand that he is not well, but when he was well, he made (no disrespect) terrible choices. that are now affecting you.

          stiffen your spine, dq. there is no reason to be taking this crap from anyone. don’t accept their judgments. don’t accept their world views. you make your own.

  9. Sheila says:

    One of your best!!! At least for me. This one really hit home for me because I have people tell me all the time to be “this way” or “that way”. I finally had a light bulb moment one day when I told myself that they (other people) criticize me so that they can be comfortable around me. It used to hurt but now I just think it is rude when they do. I have never been the type to tell others how they need to be, but am amazed at how other feel they have a free license to tell me “who” I should be.
    I am really glad you wrote this article;)

    • Revolution says:


      Your assessment about these peoples’ intentions are, I think, spot on. They are uncomfortable with you because either a) they are intimidated and/or jealous that you are comfortable being yourself (something that they probably struggle with), or b) they are upset because they can’t manipulate or control you.

      There is a difference between respecfully giving feedback to someone based on a mutual, dignified relationship. And then there are people who, whether consciously or subconsciously, just want to have power over you. Don’t let them. We were all dignified with free will. Don’t let anyone take it from you.

  10. runnergirl says:

    Natalie, for the first time in my life (53 yro), thanks to you and BR, I’m finally not afraid of having and enforcing boundaries and values. I think I’m finally figuring out who I am. I’m thinking the people who object to who I am are the people who need to jog on. Mostly, so far, I’ve enforced my boundaries and just as you say, they’ve jogged on. No response to 11:00 pm (booty call) texts, no response when I’ll call tomorrow and then a call a month later, and no response to I’ve been busy excuses. Most importantly, I have jogged on as well. I’m not going to change them. I’m no longer going to attempt to aggressively or passively or passively aggressively attempt to change them. Obviously, there are conflicting values, boundaries, and beliefs. I’m showing up authentically, honestly, and being me. Yup, that sends the EUM/AC’s running screaming into the night…Wahoo! Let us both jog the frig on. It’s election season in the US (our Presidential debate just concluded). Thus, I’ll sign off with: I’m runner, I approve this message and I approve myself. Wahoo, I approve myself. Natalie, you are beyond a saint.
    Ladies and gents, this is the best site on the web and Natalie’s books are the BEST on the market. I’m totally loving the self-esteem e-course too. The e-course has helped me to dig even deeper…although I didn’t want to!

    • Teddie says:

      “Natalie, you are beyond a saint.
      Ladies and gents, this is the best site on the web and Natalie’s books are the BEST on the market.”
      Where is the “like” button?! I totally second this!

  11. Tinkerbell says:

    Lilia. “Covering turds with marmalade” –hilarious! Only a BR fan would think of that one. Brilliant.

  12. Tired says:

    That is me to a tee , i was mentally abused in my rlship witjh my ex hubby , i got the silent treatment , or if he didnt like any of my hobbies hed go on and on and on till i quit , if i stood up for myself i would then second guess myself and worry id upset him . Somtimes id have a go back he spat fully in my face to stop me rowing as he said he didnt know how to argue , or just push me other , in the last two yrs when i had started to say mo he says now )i left) that he respected me more . But its left a pattern where i stand up formyself hen worry like shit that ive done wrong or they wont lke me anymore and second guess my self or yep do somthing eles or give in to appease !!!!! That horrible word guilt . Mu first boyfriend was extremel moody and there started for me the doormat that is tired . I have changed and down some standup things i even called a halt to shitty behaviour from exmm and then yep instead of stayinh angry and walking , i decond guessed and tried to be friends couldnt follow thro , this man was plainly using me nowt bettet to do and simpering tired was there please you been a absloute arsehole but still we will be friends becsuse i cant deal without your crumbs anymore . Yep thats how low and who nat says doesnt know who i am anymore , i loved music , but because the ex was in a band cant bear to lustrn ti it and wonder if i should take down my music stuff coz it remind me. I do st times feel lost as i dont know who i am id morph so much i, when i had hit rock bottom i cried to councellor im so lost who am i as the girl in the photograph ten odd yrs ago is so diff from one now

  13. selkie says:

    Excellent post, so clear, so right on and so needed right now. I feel stuck on this issue. I’ve had some growing pains when it comes to having boundaries and enforcing them. I’m not good at it, it comes out all lurchy and ungraceful. I called a guy who was pushing my buttons a bitch a few weeks ago. One reason, I felt it emotionally when he very rudely tried to push my boundaries and second, he became even more disrespectful when I asserted my boundaries, finally third, I lost my temper. Anyway, I went home feeling like I had lost control over myself and the situation. I don’t want to turn this into a feminist debate, but lately I’ve been SO sensitive to the rude and demeaning comments made to me, especially about women. I’m not a hot head, and am usually fairly in control of myself but I really don’t know how to effectively assert myself. I went out and bought a book called Verbal Self Defense to help me handle myself when people push my boundaries. In trying to improve this, I’ve also started studying the philosophy of yoga sutras which is about being present in your own skin and being responsible for improving your own self and your state of mind. One thing I read in the sutra was : ‘remain undisturbed by the errors ( problem causing behavior) in others.’ That struck a chord with me. I like who I am, but sometimes feel the need to defend every little boundary push, even on things I should walk away from. It’s like I’m lashing out now for all the crappy things and people I endured in my past. I feel like I switched from people pleasing Bambi to godzilla and I don’t like it. Yet another layer of onion revealed. Sometimes you just gotta laugh at yourself and say….really?

    • Mymble says:

      I’m with you there, the sexist crap makes my blood boil, likewise racist comments that unfortunately are not so unusual in my workplace. Losing your temper isn’t a good look but actually just letting it go isn’t really on either. I do sometimes get it right and say something dignified, firm and factual back. Have confidence in yourself, the anger is (I think) in part a fear
      reaction, in these circumstances. That said it’s impossible to get it right and think of the perfect response every time.therapy has been very helpful to me in seeing myself as a woman with value and character not a needy child who is in danger of exposure as inadequate.

    • runnergirl says:

      Nice description Selkie: “I’ve had some growing pains when it comes to having boundaries and enforcing them. I’m not good at it, it comes out all lurchy and ungraceful.” Me too! I feel like a colt learning to walk with those long gangling legs. Sometimes I’ve probably hit the flush button too soon due to a boundary “push”. At this point, I don’t want to wait around for the boundary “bust”. I haven’t tolerated much crap as I find myself and my balance. I figure I’ll find that balance as having and asserting boundaries become more natural and internalized. It’s like the colt learning to walk. Sometimes they fall but eventually they become graceful. I think Nat sums up the balance perfectly: “Couldn’t you just be who you are and let the chips fall where they may instead of worrying about ‘bad consequences’ or trying to change others so you can ‘catch a break’? At the very least be around people who are acquainted with the concept of respect.” We’ll get there. It’s tough in the beginning to remain undisturbed by their issues and to walk away. Remember the handsome golfing/tennis B-day boy who stood me up on the second date because I didn’t call him to wish him a Happy B-day, although we only met for 3 hours and I did buy him a birthday card,which he never received because he was a no show? Then he became such a pest begging forgiveness that I blocked him. I didn’t even feel the slightest need to explain. My only response was WOW! You’ll find the balance between Bambi and godzilla. I’m thinking the intermediate is just WOW and walk, on those graceful legs.

      • selkie says:

        Yes Runner, I remember the man-child who stood you up. All that handsome didn’t add up to anything but a shiny polished turd ( as someone ((Lilia?)) here said ).

        I had a dream the other night that a very large snake had gotten into my car and tried to bite me while I was driving. I had to try and grab him by the back of the head to control it. I grabbed him, but he was too big and he kept almost wiggling loose from grip and his fangs were scratching me on the wrist. When I woke up, it made me realize how much I’m struggling with this issue of ‘contolling the snake’, or boundary busters. SAME night I had another dream that 5 men were following me on a dark sidewalk, and I was scared, but tried not to unfairly judge them, so when I get to my door, they tried to get in, but I was able to shut the door before they could, but then said to myself, maybe I over reacted, then I saw them across the street stripping a car, again, I tried not to be judgmental and said to myself that they probably owned the car, but the cops rolled up and they all ran, so my gut was right and the truth was clear all along, but I ignored it over and over. Is this a perfect picture of not trusting myself?
        Oh, and Runner, I hope to eventually walk tall on graceful legs, even with the wrinkles on my knees!

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Been there, done that!

      This need to enforce every boundary is common and WILL calm down. It’s like a pendulum…we were way to one side when we didn’t enforce boundaries, no that we’re actively practicing, the pendulum has swung way over to the other side. It will settle in the middle as you get more comfortable.

      As for people calling you a bitch…I’ve learned a little bit about that as well. It’s the first place small minds go when they are getting their way. The perfect response, it disarms them every time, is to say (with a smile is even better),”Thank you!” They’ll stutter and nine times out of ten reply, “What????” You respond with,”Thank you. I am a bitch. Babe In Total Control of Herself.” Then walk away laughing.

      • Revolution says:


        Fan-freakin-tastic!!!! “Babe in Total Control of Herself”!!

      • selkie says:

        Thank you La Pintura Bella. It does take practice. The flip side, at least we know we are working on things which is a whole better than living with boundary blindness . As Runner said above, a possible premature flush is better than a boundary bust.
        Love the ‘Babe In Total Control Of Herself.’ I hate being called a c***. I found out the ancient origin of the word means ‘ a force to be reckoned with’ That would qualify for another “thank you”.

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          I concur. Isn’t it funny how it’s the Little Boys Pretending To Be Men who use the B and C words the most? How truly sad for them. Force to be reckoned with…I hate the word too, but LOVE the ancient definition.

  14. Tired says:

    Im struggling today , why is it so bloody hard to put it all behind you , to pick yourself up and get on with it

  15. grace says:

    For the first time in my life I am in a relationship with a man where I am myself. It’s not because he lets me be myself but because I know how to be myself. I would lose my identity in relationships. Even if the men were okay, I felt – fuzzy, like I didn’t really exist. My counsellor put it like this – when he first met me I was insubstantial like the wind could blow me away, but after nine months of counselling I was more “weighty” (of course I made a fat joke).
    I used to be very passive, which then spilled into passive aggresive after I got sick of being passive. I don’t think we should pride ourselves too much on being calm, easy going, not needy, the perfect girlfriend etc. In my experience, it was ike being a non-person. No-one is perfect. The boyfriend and I have a church persona. Of course at church we are going to behave a certain way, it’s not about being fake but appropriate. But when we let the other one see the less-perfect parts of ourselves the relationship bloomed. I don’t want to know his representative (shout out to Chris Rock), I want to know HIM.

    • Victorious says:

      I am so pleased for you Grace. YOu are right about how we can become unrecognisable in relationships. Especially, it would seem, with EUMs. I became more and more eager to please a man that I became obsessed with being the perfect girlfriend. But of course it was all doomed and the more I prostrated myself in front of him like the proverbial doormat, the more distasteful he found me and my behaviour. Still wouldn’t let me dump him though! My mother has always disapproved of me and been hypercritical of every tiny little aspect of my being and so for me to find a man who was soooo complimentary was too much to resist. However, in accepting him I lost myself and I was not being authentic and was not being myself. I was literally lost. I am now determined to be myself whether that is alone or with a partner. That’s where the happiness will start.

    • Gina says:

      Thank you for sharing this Grace. I wish you all the best in your new relationship! You certainly deserve it!!! HUGS!!!

    • cc says:

      WOO HOO!!!! *does the happy happy non-fake outa church dance* *fist pump*

    • runnergirl says:

      So wonderful to hear Grace. I think your topic sentence perfectly encapsulates Nat’s post: “For the first time in my life I am in a relationship with a man where I am myself. It’s not because he lets me be myself but because I know how to be myself.” Therein lies the key, knowing how to be oneself regardless of the consequences. And being vulnerable, those less than perfect parts…yikes so scary. So happy to hear the relationship bloomed. Thus, I’m assuming the convo went well? Grace, you are such an inspiration to me. Thank you. BR and Natalie have been my saving grace for two years.

      • grace says:

        Thanks everyone
        Still not had the convo,we’ve both been so busy that all we’ve been able to do is catch a quick walk. Convo at the weekend. We will be honest and see where we are. I always used to just coast in relationships. I guess this would be “work”. He wants us to share how we really feel about each other. I’m not going to try to predict it. We are looking forward to seeing each other though.

        • cc says:

          good luck, babe.

          • Fearless says:

            All the best from me too Grace. Don’t predict – share how you feel.

            “He wants us to share how we really feel about each other.”
            OMG. Are there really men out there who ask women to do this! Where are they all hiding? Lol.

  16. Sally-Ann says:

    I am 45 and still acting in the way you describe with my Dad, I have always had to be ultra happy, ultra enthusiastic, ultra grateful and if my mask slipped at any time there would be sulks and long awful silences.
    I became so fearful of these that I now find myself in that ‘mode’ whenever I see him or speak to him. It’s exhausting and I’m petrified to be myself with him.

  17. lilmissmadam says:

    Ahhh, totally how I was feeling and just read this post by chance this morning.

    “The alternative is going through life with your hand on the head of the ‘real you’ that’s trapped inside of you and pushing it down or even smothering or drowning it. Slowly. Don’t allow this.”

    That’s so sad, but so true. I don’t want to do this to myself anymore, I want to fastforward where I’m back to a happier more stable me.

  18. Spinster says:

    Trying to change them is also the equivalent of attempting to disallow who they are so that you can let you be you and have your needs, expectations, and wishes met – yep, it’s the very same thing that you don’t want them doing to you.

    Very good point; never thought of it this way before. Thanks for the food for thought.

    A simple yet favourite line of mine (from a song) is “Just take me as I am or have nothing at all.” Age & wisdom have made that even more clear to me.

  19. Jennifer says:

    For the first time in my life I am discovering who I really am. It is scary but I must say I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m actually the type of person now that I once would have described as rude (I’m not. I used to confuse assertiveness with rudeness) and boring (I’m not. I just like balance in my life). I’m actually starting to really like who I am and see that yes I have had and will have challanges in life, but I have a lot of experiences, opportunities, and things to be grateful for.

  20. Grizelda says:

    Girls are usually brought up in society to ‘be nice’ at all times, despite whatever they feel inside. If they express disagreement with something an adult or other child wants or says, they’re often punished or told not to be stubborn, not to be rude, not to be selfish, not to be mean. Comply, they’re told. It’s so much easier for everyone else if the girls would just comply.

    Perhaps this sets us on a sure course not to be our true selves in adulthood as Natalie describes. That’s why there’s this internal struggle — our formative training has caused us to suppress ‘us’ in favour of the ‘us’ that we feel our parents/partners/friends/etc want us to be.

    Boys are generally not subject to that kind of subordination training in childhood. They tend to be encouraged to be active, to stand up, to voice their views. Do men have the same problem of not being themselves in adulthood?

  21. Tired says:

    Im struggling so hard , it really hurts ive been forgotten just like that , like i dont exsist , i havent nroken nc as i just humilate myself , i cant remember a time when i was happy

    • Victorious says:

      Ok tired. Try to imagine a future point where you will be happy. what will that look like? Make it realistic please! Now think about how you are going to get there. Would the ex AC/EUM fit into your dream vision? No he would not because he is never going to make you happy. He is incapable of it. I do understand how you feel and for what it is worth, I felt dreadful yesterday. I cried and literally had to sit on my own hands to maintain NC. I was DESPARATE to talk to him. To hear his lovely gruff voice say my name. But I didn’t and boy oh boy am I releived today that I stayed NC. Because guess what? Today is a good day. Today I am a bit embarrassed I ever went out with him. Today I keep remembering all the times he told me how insecure HE was about ME at the start of our relationship and that really I should have bailed then as it was clear to everyone that he wasn’t right for me. I was away in what Natalie calls the Justifying Zone, and if you haven’t read that post please do Tired. Anyway, I hit my rock bottom and have rebounded to somewhere really good today. You can do the same. It is just a bad day. We all have them. AC or no AC. YOu will feel better and you will be happy. Concentrate on yourself. We are all rooting for you.

    • Teddie says:

      Tired, be glad he leaves you in peace, this is a blessing in disguise, as Nat has pointed out many times. Would you rather he were buzzing you sporadically like the blue-arsed flies? Be glad he does not temp you to break NC, because this is you safety line, NC all the way!

    • cc says:

      in addition to victorious’ advice, try this. and…this is going to sound really hippy dippy, but its true, so stay with me on this….

      right now you feel a big nothing right? an abyss, a black hole, like you’re untethered, no gravity, in pain, right? …stay with me….

      now. we’re all in the abyss with you. i’m in the abyss with you. you’re not alone. don’t flinch away. …stay with me…

      now, just be. relax. breathe. be. we’re with you, we won’t let you go floating off. so just be. be with yourself. be with us. stay with us. stay in the nothing. brrreeeeeaaathe. its ok. really. the nothing is ok. … stay with me …

      now, with us, see that the nothing isn’t actually nothing. it seems so dark because you’re so used to looking right into a bright light. but its not really dark. its not scary. its a big beautiful space. there’s energy here. breeeeathe. … stay with me ….

      now, can you feel the energy? can you feel it is love? we’re with you, floating in this lovely void, and all our hearts are beating. you feel it? you can make this love yourself. you can make this an opportunity to turn away from the bright, glaring light, and stay in this new space, a new identity, a new you.

      don’t be afraid of the nothing, tired. the nothing is your friend. it is your threshold to a new beginning. i want you to stay in this nothing. and breathe. and trust. and let go. and move on. trust me. its ok. really.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey Tired, I’ve been following your comments for over a year and I never known how to effectively respond. I’ve so walked in your shoes. The only thing that got through to me when I was struggling so hard and it was like I was forgotten and didn’t exist is, it was up to me. Natalie and the wonderfully brill BR community kept saying that I had to focus on me, not him. You have simply forgotten yourself. That’s all. You do exist. It isn’t up to a cheating, lying, AC to determine whether you exist. However, being an OW is like you don’t exist. That’s the problem with being an OW. You do exist but you don’t as long as you remain an OW, lurking in the shadows, accepting crumbs. It felt to me like being a rat. Don’t know if I’m making sense to nonOW’s but it is the OW rock and a hard spot. So yeah Tired, you get to be TIRED. Can you contemplate what it would be like to not be tired? What would happiness look like for you? Write it down, indulge yourself. What would happiness look like for you? Go for broke. Imagine what happiness would look like. Write, write, and write some more cos if you write it out now, there is a possibility you could see that your actions now are not matching your words. That’s what tripped me into reality.

    • Grizelda says:

      Tired, it’s hard to improve on what the others have said. I’m just going to mention your line “I can’t remember a time when I was happy.”

      Your relationship situation has always made you very unhappy. Examining it, thinking about it all the time, or returning to it is going to do what to you? Make you very unhappy. Because there is no happiness there, right? You know it yourself. You’ve lived through it. You checked out all the nooks and crannies for happiness, over and over again, but no, none is to be found there. Be satisfied that you tried. You tried really, really hard to find some element of joy there, some chink of light in the darkess. Be satisfied that you did your best, and that’s all there is. Nothing more you can do can change this.

      But there is happiness to be found, and soon! It’s not far away from you. In fact, it’s just around the corner… if you turn the corner.

      I was saying on another thread to Lilly that, although I’m a newcomer to all this, coming up on four weeks NC I am feeling much better. That panicky, desperate sensation that made it feel like acid filled my veins is gone. I no longer get poleaxed by sudden overwhelming surges of heart pounding dread and anxiety, getting the full-on dry mouth terrors and hand shakes. I no longer have paralysing fight-or-flight seizures. I stopped losing weight after I went from 120lbs to 100lbs and lost so much hair that I had to Draino the plughole in my tub. That, at least, is all behind me now.

      Now I feel totally normal for a few hours at a time, while other hours of the day I feel relatively sad and blue. My dreams are weird and he’s in them, admittedly, as my subconscious tries to express what he meant to me. Last night he was there with one an ex boyfriend of mine from long ago, the first love I lost. The topic of him churns away in the back of my waking mind half the time. But it’s — how can I put it? — shrinking, a bit faded, and lacking in colour and intensity. I’m looking at my situation a little bit more objectively now. I just care less about the man than I did, and I’m starting to feel better for it. I feel strength returning — both mental and physical. Several hours of the day, I actually feel balanced. I actually chuckled yesterday at a joke I remembered! It’s been so many weeks since I laughed.

      NC has done this. And Natalie’s teachings, and the teachings of the wonderful women on this website. And keeping my journal — over a hundred A4 pages of outpourings so far, the entries becoming shorter and less frequent as the days go on. I love my journal and I will burn it and send it up to the sky some day when I consign this incident to the past.

      I have a post-it note stuck to my bureau where my laptop sits. It’s a reminder. It says on it, in my own clear writing: You have overdramatised everything. Just chill.

      I wish you could join me here, in this improved state. Then you’d see for yourself. Please, please come this way.

  22. Karina says:

    Nat…I am going through this exact same thing lately! You so read my mind! It so happens that I am finally getting to a good place and I have a full-time job (that although I hate…it pays the bills!), go to school part-time for my masters, which I LOVE!!! And now I feel I am ready to get out there and date again. Well…some of my “friends” feel they have to put their two cents in and say that I’m not ready to date because I have so much going on…I was like what the frick?!? I mean, seriously? I’m finally immersed enough in my own life and sicovering stuff I love about me, changing that which I don’t like and moving on enought o feel comfortable to let someone in and these people feel like they have the right to dictate what I can or cannot do just because according to them they’re “worried.” About what? I don’t have an effing clue! I feel like all my life people have been wanting to control me and I am pissed to the point where I have left most of those people out of my life.
    I want to be me and I want to be happy and I am slowly getting there with all I am doing in my life, but it is really anyone’s business if I date or not? They ask me to change, change what? My views on dating? I already have and I have boundaries in place, it just so happens that I need to place those boundaries with the people who feel they have authority over me when I am and always have been my own BOSS!

    Thanks for reminding me to take charge of my life once again Nat! As always…BRILLIANT! =)

  23. GGo says:

    It’s hard when it happens in families. My mother once said she wished I was more assertive. Thing is, she’s the one who punishes me when I am because she has a bit of a family dictatorship on the go. I’ve had to distance myself from her at the moment because if I carry on interacting with her I’ll end up doubting myself and doubting myself is what led me into abusive relationships as an adult with men. So I guess I am learning a thing or two. Change the company you keep not yourself and not other people. It’s not essential to always get on brilliantly with everyone in our world, but it is essential to only interact with people who can respect you and vice versa when a disagreement occurs.

  24. Revolution says:

    I have mixed emotions about this post. Not the post, per se, but the emotions that have come up in me as a result. The reason I am confused is because I relate and don’t relate at the same time. Here, let me explain.

    Unlike you, Nat, I have always been somewhat of a hothead (Shocker, right?). It’s not that I was aggressive or bratty. I just learned early the lay of the land with bullies (adult and child varieties) and learned at a young age that when you are pushed by a bully, you need to push back twice as hard so that they get the picture. I was scared inside, but on the outside I didn’t take any sh**t. If you messed with me or my friends, you’d see the bottom of my boot. That still stands. I have always spoken my mind and I have known since I was little who I am. My mother, thank the Lord (and poor, saintly woman that she is), let me be me and loved me unconditionally. Others, as you can imagine, had less than thrilled reactions to me.

    So at some point in my earlier years, I learned that I had to take it down from a 10 to a 5. My energy had to be dimmed. The thing that sometimes confuses me about this is that, while from my experience in the world I know I’m a likeable person, it seems that A LOT of people have a hard time with my more staightforward approach. It’s only few who love me in my full,feisty glory. So this begs the question: at what point does the majority win? In other words, is it me or is the rest of the world (or a majority of people) that has to change?

    I’m answering my own question a bit here, but I believe it’s a bit of both. I can still be who I am, but I need to tame it down (slick that cowlick back a bit) to fit in and function with different personality types in this world. But I can’t compromise who I am or my needs and wants in order to do that. There is compromise and getting along and covering over disagreements and learning to work with people and to pick your battles wisely. And then there’s being bulldozed. I can do the former, but I’ll die fighting against the latter.

    For the love of God, I’ve rambled. As a side point, my mother told me the other day that she’s praying for me that I learn to be patient. I told her she needs to buy her religious candles in bulk and light those suckers up, ’cause it’s gonna be a long vigil.

    • cc says:

      you didn’t ramble.

      i think its all about skills and nuance. you be who you are…you don’t really have a choice, none of us does. but you process the input from the world as a series of choices and options. its feedback. and when you take feedback, you have to consider the validity and the point of view of the source. if its useful feedback, you add it to your skill set – but you don’t change who you are, necessarily. you just improve on it.

      i was a 0.5, who went to an 11 and now i’m about a 3-7.5, depending on the day and what’s going on. as i’ve gone along, i acquired all kinds of skills and shades of nuance i never knew i could wield. some i even used to hate in others. …but i use them better. and i can even fly my (freak? bitch? flirt?) flags even higher now because i have more skills, more shades of behavior and i own myself better. i could still use improvement, but i’ve come pretty far.

      be the happy hippo. you are who you are. just refine yourself.

    • Gina says:


      I think that the answer is to find the right balance that works for YOU. There will be people, like myself, who respect people who have the guts to be straightshooters such as yourself. On the other hand, some people are rubbed the wrong way by it. Perhaps they are intimidated?? Anywho, it doesn’t matter. I would say to pick your battles. There may be times when you cannot afford to put up with any b.s. and have to tear someone a new arse. On the other hand, depending upon the situation, you may need to tone things down a bit…BUT…do so in a way in which you are comfortable. In other words, do not compromise your self to try and fit in. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Say what you mean and mean what you say because those who matter won’t mind, and those who mind won’t matter.”


      • Revolution says:

        CC- The happy hippo! Ha ha! I LOVED that line! Thanks for your response. Yes, true, it’s all about nuances. I also agree with taking feedback, but considering the source. SO TRUE!

        And I also got your comment from the last post, so thanks for that. This sounds totally lame, but you are an inspiration to us! :)

        Ah, thanks for loving us straightshooters, babe. Honestly, we’re all softies underneath. (Shhhh….don’t tell!) I do agree with picking your battles wisely. Honestly, I let so many things slide that I don’t deem significant. But I get that weird, warm, swirly feeling in my stomache when a manipulator is “testing” me, even with something small, and I put the kibosh on that sh**t right quick. It’s all about context, isn’t it? I LOVED the Dr. Seuss quote, thanks for that! ((HUGS BACK))

  25. Revolution says:

    Please note, Natalie, that my previous comment is NOT a dissenting opinion to your spot-on post. I’m just trying to find myself in it, and struggling a bit.

  26. Tired says:

    Thanks victorious it helps to know you have days like it to and i am proud of myself as i didnt text , mymble words echo round my head , he doesnt want you around because you make him uncomfortable he knows he hurt you and he doesnt want you watching knowing anout ow etc etc , yes i got a few pat on the head trxts to kerp peace . I dont want to humilate myself further and i am still doing nc it helps to post my vent /ramblings on here but i did it . Last week or week bf. i would have crumbled to hear him , i still obsess on how he is with ow etc etc but cc also nailed the hareem bit on head to and i cant go back as it is sooooooo clear what he is . I cant as you rightly say pass off or justify his behaviour where i exscused it bf , i can see now what it really is not a relationship but crumbs . Thankyou teddie tis true i need time to heal , and he wasaking me ill x

    • Mymble says:

      You tried being with him, that didn’t work, so do something different, NC. But you have to give it a proper shot and ride the ups and downs. One day you will look back and laugh at this guy with his silly antics and ridiculous narcissistic harem. These guys are not happy, that’s why they have keep on pumping themselves up with more and more female attention to keep afloat. My therapist said he has seen many of them and they have poor self esteem. I would surmise that the exMMs wife has seen through him and thats why she kicked him out. I’m done with him too. I was thinking tonight, he is probably living the life of riley now, in his new high position and his new pad, collecting lots of attention and wowing the women. I expect he is discreetly shagging around, though he has to be careful for his reputation, and he doesn’t like bother. But i laughed to think, he is a jackass and he’ll have that cross to bear for the foreseeable future. Your ex is a jackass too, and all of them, the wife, GFs, OWs, OOWs will end up detesting him. What sort of a life is that? It sounds crap to me.

      • Learner says:


        You said “These guys are not happy, that’s why they have keep on pumping themselves up with more and more female attention to keep afloat. My therapist said he has seen many of them and they have poor self esteem.” Thank you for that. I have felt it to be unfair that the exMM seems to be living a happy life with his wife and OW gig, but I like the idea that maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I bet “my” exMM is still “discreetly shagging around” too – and I once thought I wanted to be his life partner. NO THANKS. He can keep his harem of jackasses – I am seeking real happiness and a genuine life. Glad you are able to laugh at your ex – hoping I will get to the point of doing that more, too!

      • Grizelda says:

        I know we all fear that the exMM/EU/ACs are out there having a great time without us. But WHY?

        What makes us think they can actually have any kind of a great time anyway? They pursued and captured us because they were ridiculously unhappy in their mental states at the time. And being with us didn’t make them any happier or any more fulfilled despite what they might’ve tried to claim, to prove, to suggest, to promise, to lie about, along the way. Unable to genuinely feel anything deep themselves aside from that nagging sense of unhappiness, they sucked our emotions dry and moved on. They haven’t improved. They haven’t changed. It’s not like they’ve actually received the professional help they clearly need! They’re just sucking dry the emotions of someone else now in the same ridiculously unhappy existence of theirs.

        Is a mosquito made ‘happy’ when it flies away with a bellyful of your blood? Or does it just use someone else or keep returning to you for more? It needs the blood and it won’t give up til it gets some. And whoever’s blood it is doesn’t matter to it.

        I have to disagree with most therapists and self-helpers who say things like this are all about his lack of self-esteem. I prefer the new thinking, that it’s all about his totally off-the-scale and out-of-control self esteem. Whenever the self-esteem gauge dips slightly below Full, he will do anything it takes to top it up and feel ‘normal’ again.

        Having an overwhelming ego and gargantuan self-esteem means they’re never, ever sorry for their actions.

        • Revolution says:


          I’m not so sure they all have grandiose egos and high levels of self-esteem. It depends if they are a narcissist or not. They could just be your run-of-the-mill EU person or AC. And a lot of THOSE are also narcissists, but not all.

          The EU who was in my life told me a couple of times, in a very starkly honest moment and half to himself, that he hated himself. This was not to manipulate me. I saw the truth in his statement. And not only in his statement, but in the way he led his life. He was (is) not a happy person. I’m not saying that’s true for all of these men spoken about on this site, but it was true for mine.

          Am I sad for him? Yes, I actually am. Does it diminish the sh***y things he did to me, or my need for NC? Hell no.

          • Grizelda says:

            It’s very interesting Revolution that your EU said he hated himself. If he wasn’t trying to manipulate you and he was being genuine, he seems to have inferred that he could neither understand nor control his own behaviour in how he interacted with you. “I don’t know why I do these things, but I do these things anyway” sort of thing. Yes that’s quite a different mindset from others who have an overabundance of self-esteem. But both of these types still end up at the same destination — utter failure of appropriate concern for other people’s needs and how other people feel.

            • Revolution says:

              Actually, Grizelda, when he said he hated himself, it was an independent statement. In other words, it wasn’t an explanation for, or in response to, his behavior towards me or anyone else for that matter. It was just a statement of how he felt about himself.

              But yes, I agree that both types ultimately arrive at the same destination.

        • Mymble says:

          I don’t know about the guy you were involved with but the person I have mentioned most definitely didid have low self esteem. Like Smaug, he had a soft underbelly. I read my therapist out some of the things he had said, the compliments he paid himself…why else would he do that, unless to reassure himself? A truly confident man doesn’t need to advertise and tell you who and what he is. The reason they are so wrapped up in themselves, and unable to love the women they are involved with, is that they are obsessed with their own quest for validation. Their underlying anxiety and fear leave no room for anyone or anything else. They wouldn’t need it if they had real self esteem.

          • Grizelda says:

            Ah I think Mymble there’s a difference between a truly confident man (with a mature and appropriate level of confidence in himself), a totally unconfident man, and a man with an out of control level of overconfidence.

            Yes if someone is confident enough, no announcements of greatness ever come from him. He’s balanced. Call that the middle of the scale. But slide to either end of the scale, to the ‘zero self esteem’ end on the left, or the ‘absolute overabundance of self-regard’ end on the right, and that’s where they start acting out. Perhaps on the left, they’re fearfully trying to convince themselves (and hoping you’ll chime in your support). Perhaps on the right, they’re trying to convince or bully you (so that you can more fully appreciate what a splendid specimen of a man he clearly is). Each end of the scale seeking validation for totally different reasons.

            • Victorious says:

              These are very interesting points. The Ex EUM had a shattered self esteem because of childhood issues that he had no intention of recognising or ever addressing. Most people take cocaine to feel immensely powerful and capable of anything. He told me he had to take it just to feel “level” or “normal” He also had to be “in a relationship” just to give himeself a feeling of normality. It is sad but he will never change.

            • Learner says:

              Grizelda et al,

              I love the mosquito analogy – I agree they don’t seem to care whose “blood” they suck. The exMM would say he didn’t ever break up with affair partners as he didn’t want to hurt anyone. (Riiiiight). He claimed to have low self-esteem, didn’t want to be seen as the “bad guy” and used it as a convenient excuse for any poor behaviour. Meanwhile, if I ever suggested he had faults, he would turn it around and make it about me being a perfectionist. His ego was very fragile on the one hand, but he was quick to talk about how he managed to get so much done at work – he bragged about “having lots of balls in the air” yet taking on and succeeding at extra projects. I actually felt like I was just one of those balls he was juggling. I used to think he was an interesting, complex and competent man – now I see he was trying to get validation from many sources at work, and through his many “relationships”. I think I read somewhere about people who seem to have a “superiority complex” actually feeling inferior to others, but compensating by seeming to be super-competent and superior. Does that fit with the ideas here?

    • Learner says:


      I feel you re: it’s hard to leave it all behind you and get the exMM out of your head. It’s weird – when I read about “your” exMM, and his wife that ignores him, and his involvement with the other OW, I wonder how you could even be serious about having feelings for him. Then I realize that “my” exMM is the same gut, different package. He has a wife, and a long-term OW, and also strung me along for 3 years. Anyone reading that must wonder how *I* would be serious about having feelings for *him*. They are not normal. They have related to us in a way that had us believing lies, they cashed in on our empathetic, caring nature. They exploited us and we let them. We got all tied up in fantasy relationships, thus rejecting ourselves.

      I totally get how you feel. I am past 3 months NC now, and even today I had a sort of “flashback” and missed who I thought he was. I ended up crying on the way home in my car. Random and took me off guard. I was on Facebook and a friend had “shared” a picture from the website “I dated that douche”. It’s not the kind of site I would normally read, but the pictures had me laughing at how ridiculous are the situations we FBG’s get ourselves into.

      You are right, it is clear what these guys are. We are doing well to go NC with them, and to stay OUT of their harems. We must work on ourselves to protect us from these users. Strength to you, Tired xo

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Tired: I have YEARS of experience forgetting myself and thinking the ex of the moment had forgotten about me, too. Long story, but suffice it to say that with a real willingness to heal and change myself, help from a good therapist and places like this wonderful blog to focus and clarify things for me, things are soooooo much better.

      I wanted to tell you something that made a HUGE difference for me. One day while mourning the ultimate assclown and wondering why he just couldn’t step up and decide if he wanted me in his life or not, I had a MAJOR change in thinking. I swear God himself reached down from the heavens and slapped me upside the head.

      I realized, it wasn’t AC’s choice or decision to make at all. It was MINE! I had been asking the wrong question all of these years, relationship after failed relationship. The TRUE question (and the only one that matters at all, btw) is: “Do I (emphasis on “I”) want Insert Name of Current Guy Here in MY life?” Honestly, that was the one single moment where everything began to change for me and real healing started to happen.

      Really look at him. Not who you thought he was. Not who you want/wanted him to be. Look at who he is, look at how he behaved and look at how he treated YOU. Is that what YOU want? Is that good enough for YOU?? Put yourself first…not him. You’ll be amazed at what that little, all seeing, all knowing voice inside says. It will make things much easier and is the first step to really being happy. Because by doing this and listening to yourself…YOU are remembering YOU, not forgetting YOU.

  27. Laurie says:

    Best BR post EVER. I printed it off and I’m carrying it in my purse to refer to in weak moments. Last night was one of those times. I tossed and turned. IF ONLY I hadn’t been assertive. IF ONLY I hadn’t expressed my expectations and my needs. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten upset with me. Maybe he would have loved me and would have really meant those things he said about wanting to work on the relationship. Maybe I’m too much. Maybe I need to lower my expectations. So that…I can be miserable? So that I can be with someone I don’t trust? So I can be with someone who is angry and agressive? So I can be with someone who ignores me?

    I prided myself in my relationship with my ex-husband (before we married) in thinking that I was the perfect girlfriend ( I had no expectations, never asserted myself, never articulated any of my *needs*) He told me I was perfect. And this EUM married me. And why not? He had a blow-up doll 2.0. But I couldn’t keep up the façade after we were married. I’m not perfect. I do have needs. And by “false advertizing” I had deceived my husband into thinking he got a customized Stepford wife.

    Is it possible that someone could actually want the authentic me? It seems like every time the *real* me seeps through, the guy runs for the hills….and then comes running back to me…..and then goes running again. Of course, I don’t know if I’ve ever started out a relationship just being me. I still feel uncomfortable having needs and expectations. I feel like that’s wrong somehow, probably because every time I’ve expressed a need or an expectation, I’ve gotten a negative response. I’m still working though this.

  28. Kerry says:

    I’ve been where you are. It hurts and it takes awhile to get beyond it.
    But look at it this way. If he did, say, throw you a bone and call you just to say, “I miss you and I’m hurting so badly,” you KNOW that you would not be able to just leave it there. You’d be hooked all over again. And that would just be the Nightmare Continues, Part 2.
    You’re too vulnerable right now to communicate with him. And the beauty is, once you stop being vulnerable, you won’t care.
    So, be glad that he’s cowardly, or licking his wounds, or pretending he doesn’t care or whatever he’s doing to get by. The crucial thing is that you are NC, and each day you do the work to heal yourself and move on from an unhappy, unhealthy, totally unfulfilling relationship.
    It’s been more than a year of NC for me, and I’m so over it. I still struggle, but I’m way happier now than when I was with the AC. THAT was hell on earth.

  29. courtney says:

    These posts are always so timely. One awesome thing about BR is that I’ve not only started applying it to romantic relationships but also friendships because those are also crucial interactions where boundaries, core values and respect must thrive. Two people can be very different and still have a great friendship with each other in the friendship because they set and respect the boundaries they put down. With romantic relationships, I was always very aggressive with “boundaries” – but really I was just in “demand” mode as Natalie listed. With my friendships, it was a different boat entirely. I acted in passive-aggressive mode, never really asserting myself until the very end, where I a) either terminated the friendship by asserting myself and releasing all the pent-up emotions or b) changed my own self to suit the person’s needs, wants, to avoid conflict — at least until I could achieve option a.

    I think there was only one situation where I did calmly and respectfully approach that person very nicely and told her what bothered me, but then ended up doing option b and a anyways because of course, the person wouldn’t change (but why was I expecting her to? Her rude behavior was a part of her and she just didn’t care). There really is a problem for us to expect other people will change on our terms—that’s expecting them to not be authentic to themselves (unless it’s a very specific behavior that they could and should change, is there really much point in having high expectations, especially when we’ve allowed boundary-busting behavior to occur so often?). The real issue that needs to be addressed is whether WE should put up with such different drastic core values and continue to tolerate someone crossing over our boundaries just to ensure that they remain the “real” (rude) people that they are – all the while being the “fake” us to accommodate these oh so lovely personalities. I’ll tell you, EUM’s and AC’s exist in friendships all over, it’s just that we tend to obsess more over romantic relationships than we do friendships. But friendship is a good place to start when establishing healthy boundaries can and carrying over that model for future relationships.

    I did recently “break up” with a boundary-crossing friend who perpetually treated our mutual friend 10x better than she ever treated me (and of course, went to her playing the victim saying she was all hurt that I ended our friendship and I am sure much more about me that I didn’t hear about). I feel so much more relaxed and at ease, but again, I wish I hadn’t waited so long. If you wait to assert yourself, you’ll have years worth of complaints that the boundary-crosser won’t be able to take in. It really does become your fault because you failed to assert yourself the first time around and make sure the person knows not to cross that boundary. However, I can’t stress over that because I know it’s over. What’s done is done – the important thing is I am really taking steps to finally learn how to love myself and exist as the “authentic” me. Not the victim who permits boundary-crossers and then complains about them, but the victor who cuts ties with these toxic people and lives her life knowing there are better people to invest time/energy/effort/your awesomeness on. Also, I’ve learned not to pursue people who are flaky or don’t have time for me on their calendar. It used to be that I would want to hang out with toxic people just because I felt so bored or so lonely—but then I started taking on the role of my own emotional “babysitter” if you can call it that and started doing things for myself, on my own, and realized it really isn’t so horrible to be calm and at peace. Chasing toxic friendships, Narcissistic eum’s and ac’s used to take up a lot of my life. But now I pursue my own goals and try to chase my own sense of self– life is too short to waste on these people. At the end it’s not about who’s more right or wrong but who is going to make you happy? It’s a simple question. Ask it about everyone you hang out with, and it’ll be an eye-opening experience.

    • A says:

      Interesting comments about friendships. I find myself struggling over when to accept that something is just a feature of who that person is, when it’s acceptable to say I’m unhappy or disappointed about something, and when I should just walk away. The latest example involves a friend who is from out of town. I really like her and thought we were close friends. She has come in several times in the past year to visit her significant other, and on each visit she stays for a while. The point of the visit is to see the S/O, but I’m hurt as to how she has handled things with me. On one visit it took her quite a while to reply to my email after she told me she was here (I’d suggested times to meet up that I thought would work well for her when she couldn’t be with the S/O due to work anyways). She didn’t respond until those times were no longer an option (a week or two later, can’t remember how long exactly), and then it was really tough to even carve out time to meet once for a coffee, and I was being pretty flexible. On her second visit I ran into her somewhere–kind of disappointing that she was here and didn’t mention it. She seemed to pick up on the awkwardness and said she wanted the first while to be all about the S/O…that she hadn’t been here *that* long and was going to contact me. Ok….but then I didn’t hear from her for a while. The story continues along the same lines. On the latest visit she told me she was here and that she had been for a month or more but had been busy going to weddings and with some work. It bothered me that she hadn’t mentioned that she was here, especially on the heels of awkwardly running into each other the previous time (it could easily have happened again). I had also emailed her about something within that same month that she was here (unbeknownst to me) and did not receive a reply.

      As I write this it sounds like she really doesn’t give a crap and maybe that’s the answer. When we have met up though we’ve had a really nice time, and have a lot in common and seem to be able to relate to one another in many ways. I just don’t understand this behaviour. (Ok, now this just sounds like the classic “I have this in common with the EU, so I want to make it work!” scenario even when all the key things are missing. Sigh)

      Anyways, I don’t know whether I need to just accept that she is treating me more like a casual acquaintance than a friend she would like to see, or if it may be worth it to tell her that I’m hurt by all this, even if in the end it doesn’t change anything. I think she’s been rude and kind of inconsiderate. I’m not expecting to spend a ton of time together or anything, it’s not like I would pressure her to meet up right away, but I would expect that she would mention when she’s coming to town, particularly if she’s going to be here for a while.

      • sofie says:

        I really understand where you are coming from, but this friendship you are talking about does not only seem one sided, I’m afraid it is. When only one of you is worrying and overthinking things (you) and the other half seems to live without a care, and not only that, but does not consider the fact that her behaviour might cause hurt to somebody else (and really, not answering emails, delibaratly ignoring them even is hurting, no matter how close a friend it involves) but being all nicy and understanding when you do get to drink that coffee, she is trying to block your feelings. It’s really hard to confront somebody in the flesh when all of a sudden they seem to be the good friend you’d want them to be right? Really, treat this as it was a romantic relationship for just one moment and you would see you are just an option. It’s not that I would suggest NOT to tell her you’re hurt, but tell her once and make a decision from there (and make sure your actions match your words!). If she genuinly listens and changes her attitude towards you: great, if she gets defensive and says she doesn’t understand where you’re coming from, you’re being overly sensitive, she didn’t mean to make you feel this way (shifting the emphasis on YOU) stay calm ànd walk away. Friendships should make you feel stronger, not weaker.

      • grace says:

        Long distance friendships are tough. And by long distance I mean an hour away, not even that far.
        I’m pretty much out of touch with all my long distance friends now, other than the occasional bit of facebooking. To be blunt, I don’t need them anymore now that I have made new friends who are local. And to be fair they don’t need me either. They were always friendly when I initiated contact but most of it was coming from my side.
        I did use to very much value having friends that I had known for ten plus years. But as people grow, move, change jobs, get married, have kids, emigrate the friendship, however good, may not survive.
        I’m not saying what I do is right or wrong. The boyfriend puts a HUGE amount of effort into maintaining his friends all around the world. But, he’s younger (yeah I’m pulling the age card) and also happy to stay up until 2am to make a phone call when there is a time zone difference. I wouldn’t. It’s horses for courses and maybe this friend of yours is not feeling it like you do. I wouldn’t say I was hurt myself. I would drop it, maybe try again and if that doesn’t work, just move along. Who knows, you may reconnect but if it has to be forced it’s not worth it.

        • A says:

          Sophie, Grace, Tinkerbell, thanks for taking the time to respond. You’ve all given me something to think about it.

          She did suggest meeting for coffee in her latest “I’ve been here for a month” email and I think she would follow through. But I think she’s been rude a number of times over, so I’m not sure I want to respond as though it’s all good. I can overlook this kind of stuff when it’s a one off, but when it’s happened every time it gets on my nerves. At the same time, I’ve always really liked her and so I struggle with it.

  30. Tired says:

    Thankyou kerry wow a yr i can only imagine what that feels like , me its a a couple of weeks so early days , and im obsessing and anaylasing the crap out of it when i should just bin it . He wont be back he has his hareem and ow . Of that im sure. I just want to heal and not think anout him anymore to not feel his life is great and mine nothing, i dont want to engage in talk with men and catch myself saying in my head its not him , just to not think about him at all x

  31. Tired says:

    Thankyou for your support , mymble spot on again , and this is my fourth week at college doing english o level of a thursday evening . I have also started councelling as i saw signs as its second time he done it to me and the LAST. Ive also signed up for guitar . I stay nc .

    • dancingqueen says:

      good musical instruments are great, no love song composing though;)….maybe you can write a used-to-love you love song:)!

  32. Kerry says:

    Yeah I’ve gone over the same thoughts, “if only I hadn’t got mad that time,” “if only I hadn’t threatened to end it,” “if only I’d been more grateful for that crappy gift he gave me for Christmas…” There was a really good reason we reacted the way we did – because deep down we knew we were getting a crap deal. If we’d trusted our instincts, we wouldn’t have signed up in the first place.
    I love what you said here because I relate to it:
    “Is it possible that someone could actually want the authentic me? It seems like every time the *real* me seeps through, the guy runs for the hills.”
    Let’s re-frame the thinking. What if your inauthentic, low-esteem self attracted an inauthentic, exploitative guy? The two of you have a bit of fun, being inauthentic.
    But you can’t stay that way, acting fake. Nobody can, because we DO have wants and needs and true colours. We are human.
    What if inauthentic guy showed his authentic self… and it was pretty darn ugly? And your authentic self showed up in response, and really couldn’t stand the guy?
    When we pretend we have no needs, we’re being a welcome mat. And we attract EUMs from a mile away. I’m guessing he was the first to act badly, probably because he didn’t respect you, or it was old habit, even though he enjoyed the ease of your welcome mat-ness.
    That’s what happened to me.
    So… what if, once we do act authentically from the get-go, with needs and wants in full display, we attract healthy, happy guys who appreciate that? No more games. Just the real us. I have a funny feeling that only the ACs and EUMs will run for the hills.

  33. Tinkerbell says:

    YOU HAVE GOT TO make up your mind to start thinking about other things besides that man. The obsessing about him is unhealthy, unproductive, emotionally draining. You can do it. Decide YOU ARE stronger than you may feel you are. I’m afraid that if you do not toughen up you will end up weakening and sliding back into to that deep, dark black hole that is him. Find stuff to do, read, join a book club, visit with friends, go to a movie, go to the park and enjoy the fresh air the beauty of nature, people watch, start a crafts project if that is your thing, find a therapist, join a gym, go to night classes, learn a new language, if you drive take a class in car maintenance, flower arranging, sewing. There a literally a million things you can do besides mope over him. HE IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME. Pleeeeeeze take care of yourself. Then write and tell us good news of what you’re doing to help yourself. Remember, even GOD helps those who help themselves. I KNOW how it feels, but you have not expired. You are still alive and as long as you are alive BREATHE!!!

    • dancingqueen says:

      @ Tinkerbell and Tired,

      Tinkerbell, excellent advice! Yes there are literally a million things that you can do, Tired, besides obsess about him…if you are going to keep doing it at least please do something while doing it…go jogging and obsess, knit and obsess, learn French and obsess…it might help you obsess less and get back to yourself.
      Tired once I spent several months in a beautiful country, on vacation, crying about an ex. Now I wish that I had at least gone to more museums there, are had a bit of perspective. good luck.

    • Learner says:

      right on, Tink!

  34. ACaddict says:

    Hi, it’s been a while. This post brings up several different ideas that I’ve almost incessantly been trying to grapple recently. So I was thinking about these two lines:

    “You push through your needs, expectations, and desires with brute force – aggression – which leaves people feeling bullied, abused, and taken advantage of.”

    And this one: “Trying to change them is also the equivalent of attempting to disallow who they are so that you can let you be you and have your needs, expectations, and wishes met – yep, it’s the very same thing that you don’t want them doing to you.”

    These statements, when I first read them, sounded similar to those supposed “experts” on dating who will basically shame you for making a mistake in a relationship, “or else”… After about a year of reading their bull shit about how to manipulate an AC into a relationship while compromising yourself for the sake of the supposed connection you have with them, I finally found BR and to say I was relieved is an understatement. So when I saw these two statements, it felt like I listening to the clown dating instructors who basically scare you away from standing up for yourself. Notice though I said “felt” and that’s why I re-read the post to get some context on how these statements are set up.

    Still I feel a bit conflicted when I read those two specific sentences, so I’ve been trying to almost re-write those lines to fit a way of thinking that works better for myself. Like case in point is an example today with my mother. So I’m playing the piano, and she asks me to come over to where she’s cooking. She then asks whether or not I want to help her cook. And I said, “No thank you.” In response to this, she tells me: “You always say ‘no’. Thanks for being a team player.” So basically what she asked me wasn’t a question. She was actually telling to help her cook, and then when I said “no” (because I’m allowed to say “no”– can thank BR for that), she passive aggressively slapped me in the face.

    Cue eruption on my part. Suffice it to say, our argument wasn’t pretty. She is calling me an asshole, and I am calling her one too. She threatens to kick me out of the house daily even though she knows I am taking the year off to recover my mental health. The irony of life I guess. Turns out instead of the bullies at school, now I am dealing with bullies in my own home. (Mental health is a disaster still by the way. Psychiatry appointment on Monday. Woo!)

    So where does this leave me? Was it “bad” of me for trying to impose my needs on my mother, aggressively, which turned into a name calling battle and her threatening me to throw me out of the house? Or can I chalk this up as a natural reaction to someone who just doesn’t get it, and even though I know my aggression will achieve me nothing, why blame myself for my reaction?

    I think to me thing that is most important here is that NML wants us to just plainly opt out of these situations in the first place for the sake of our health. We have to allow ourselves to be ourselves rather than achieve that through other people; getting aggressive with them is obviously not going to achieve that for us. We are locked in our own prison; the irony stings.

    However, and here is my main critique of these particular sentences: I think if these sentences were phrased in a way that put the blame on us for being aggressive with our needs because we are only hurting ourselves rather than because we are hurting others with our expectations of their appropriate behavior would make more sense to me. I don’t know if this is off-base or I’m about to start another argument on here. Cue shit show.

    I can agree though that maybe me shouting at my mother for being a bully is kind of ironic if I’m being a bully too by shouting and getting all aggressive. Maybe I have stepped into the dark side.

    (takes breath)

    • Magnolia says:


      I used to get into shouting matches with my father over his manipulative behaviour. Yes, I was getting drawn into becoming just like him and it sounds like you are too.

      Neither the shouting nor manipulation are healthy, and should hardly exist in healthy relationships between two adults.

      You’re dealing with your mother, though, who naturally has a habit of directing you and trying to get you to do what she wants. You will naturally have the need to please her and at the same time outgrow the need for her input. When the parent isn’t mature, the growing you need to do can’t happen while you’re still dependent on them and you’re not getting a good role model for dealing with conflict nor for asserting oneself.

      You need to get out from under and start to parent yourself. It took me years to understand that what felt in my house like simply giving back as good as I got was actually bullying behaviour. I left home having normalized that behaviour and though I rarely raised my voice (because I associated the lack of control with my dad) I still had no sense of boundaries and of why telling someone all about themselves is actually disrespectful. I was horribly critical, backstabby, and defensive.

      I sympathize with you if you feel your mother isn’t modelling maturity, straightforwardness, assertiveness or patience to you (sounds like she uses sarcasm, which is never fun). Make a plan to get yourself around people who can model that behaviour.

    • grace says:

      Anger often hides hurt. your mother felt hurt. You felt hurt. Why I do not know. That’s for you two to figure out. It’s taken me years and my mother’s disability for me to turn down the dial on my responses to her. I understand where you are. It feels like a truckload of STUFF gets stirred up that is disproportionate to what is actually happening. It’s not a big deal for her to let you finish playing the piano. It’s not a big deal for you to help her cook. It is a big deal for names to be called and threats to be made.
      I’m not talking right or wrong here, but how you choose to deal with it.Latest studies show that actually it DOESN’T help to express anger. It causes too much stress to the mind and body. It does need to be dealt with but not like this.(I’ve been chucked out a couple of times by my parents, even when I was a little kid).
      It is really tough to live with parents as an adult. When I lived with mine for six months I had to take antidepressants.Accept that and cut yourselves both a break.
      “A kind answer turns away wrath”. Says the bible. I would add “(sometimes)”, but the principle stands. We can be ourselves, get needs met or make compromises without being aggressive. It’s what hostage negotiators do though I hope it’s not THAT fraught at home!
      I always regret it when I lose my temper or get snappy. But it’s human and an apology goes a long way.
      If you genuinely are living/working for/married to/etc the personality disordered and the abusive I would get just get out though.

      • Revolution says:

        A complete and correct answer, Grace. I concur wholeheartedly.

      • selkie says:

        Grace, how’d you get so wise? Love your spin on expressing anger here. I’ve struggled with this lately, and you’re right, we feel better when we don’t lose our temper with people. even if they deserve it. Like the old saying says, “Take the high road.”

  35. Tinkerbell says:

    I agree with what you’ve said about being naturally feisty and wondering if you should compromise or if others should accept you in all your feisty glory. I am the same. My friends and family are extremely devoted and close to me, always seeking to keep me happy. That was never my conscious goal for them to be that way, but maybe unconsciously it has been. I’ve been spoiled. However, I compromised when I stepped back and allowed my over-protective husband to handle everything and run my life for me after so many years of struggle as a single mom. I compromised again with the MM who was the first male in my life in the 6 years since my husband died. Now, I’ve come to the conclusion that my goal should not be compromise, not to actually change myself, my character, my personality to please anyone else because in doing that I am being false. But by the same token I don’t need to be so brusque and overly aggressive, either. I have in the past been self-centered and absorbed in my own thoughts, feelings and desires. Me, me, me. No one else mattered. My parents indulged me. Now I make more of an effort to consider others and their needs or feelings as much as my own. It is a more contented and less volatile existence for me and for those closely associated with me and they are seeing the difference. The key for me is NOT compromise, but moderation. It takes nothing away from me and it works for me. Most importantly I am still being who I am.

  36. Lady Lisa says:

    Another great post, Natalie! As always I’m inspired by your wisdom and insights:-)

  37. Tired says:

    Wow thank you all so much for your support im blown away , im awake and didnt wake in night good sign i feel . All your post hit a nerve with me , as i see how you are all coping .
    Yes learner the ex mm is unhappy in his hareem mine was and still is i bet never content , it was always on the want new car, guitar he doesnt know how to be content so he likes his hareem blowing smoke up his bum , he gets to when gighing have a crowd of blokes and girls kiss his fat behind . Yes totally insecure hes fat , balding and always had poor sel esteem , thats why he lives the band gets to go out and play act single four nites a week with people cowtowing at home hes mr average .
    Me i was down here never going gigs , so blissfully unware till hareem member blew lid and i let rip , him he was worried it all coming out so sent ow on way and chased me down thats what hurts he knew how i felt and used me till it blew over and she came back , me i went neurotic as my friend said and any girl would becoz total trust gone , i thpught did i drive him away with my neurotic ness ? I went down pub put didnt go in he came out and said ” i told you i would hurt you again he just didnt want me in there causing a scene sent me home , to ring and come out with a load of crap about not knowing what he wants yad yada yada . I went sae him and i got yhat all again etc etc tears the works and as i left i had basically said id except crumbs ……… Butvi had read here and i couldnt turn a blind eye can you see ??????? I had awoken up and try as i might my head was kicking the crap out my heart as well as him !!! So i went saw him one last time and said no gave my statements quietly etc and went . Tried to do mates bit but as mymble said off hook and uncomfatable so he slowly just pat pat on head and i went wtf !!!!!! And i went nc
    I dont want no part of him hes like a cancer infecting everyone with his shitty morals , let the oow have him hell do to her what he does , he wont leave the wife , finacial readons and more mess and he knows it . Me ill get over yes cc im with you id rather be here with the support om getting , in with the other girls deciding where to go , and who i am for the first time in 42 yrs . Theres lots of things for me to try and do . But i wont just for once in my life crumble , and do what id normally do what everyone expects me to do the same ole story , im gonna be me and msybe one day ill find somone but any red flsgs im mot clinging on im gone , ps actually i did tell ex mm that if je hurt me and im gone , i just realused i did it ! In a quiet way i did it ! Lol THANKYOU you wonderful bunch xx

  38. Tinkerbell says:

    It breaks my heart that your mother was so disrespectful and vindictively selfish in her treatment of you. Here you are playing the piano, relaxing your nerves and allowing yourself to be transported to another place and time, enjoying moments that every human being needs at some time, and here she barges in to your reverie asking if you, but in reality, demanding that you to help her cook. That’s the same as her saying, “Look, you’re not doing a damn thing around here, serving no purpose, come here and do something important. Help me cook.” Frankly I can’t blame you for losing it. But she is the one to be pitied. How callous! I feel so bad for you. I used to play the piano myself and derive deep pleasure and fulfillment hearing others, particularly my pastor who plays beautifully. AC, I only wish better days for you. I hope there will come a time when you can find peace and be left alone to do as you please finding solace in what you enjoy wherein you’re not hurting a soul just trying to be YOU. I wish you success in finding the serenity so essential to mental clarity. Unfortunately your mother is not helping you achieve that. I’m so sorry.

  39. Tired says:

    Its nearly the end pf the week and hell be going home soon he works just ten mins away from whete i live and this is when i find it tough knowing i mean nothing to him , has he missed me ? No hes prob laughing and joking with his new bird . Do i crumble and say hello , no coz ill come away feeling twice as worse as i do now . He doesnt want me and im begining not to want him x

  40. Lessons Learned says:

    This applies to both my EU relationships, although one more than the other. I would be myself, assert my needs, then have anxiety that I was too much, too full on, too loud, too quiet, too funny, too smart, too needy.

    I have mentioned in a previous comment that I have a very close male friend who has become single along with me.

    While it is still too soon to consider whether there is a relationship potential there, this post struck a cord with me. When I express myself to this friend, he loves me more. He remembers small and “embarrassing” revelations I have made in the past, and he reminds me of them in a way that lets me know he understands, and likes me more because of that revelation, not less.

    When I leave this guy’s company I feel full, I feel authentic, and I think he feels the same.

    As I said, I don’t know what will happen there, but I think that is the feeling you should get when you are with someone who is available and compatible. I have never had this feeling in a romantic relationship before (at least not beyond the honeymoon period).

    I think this is one of the best posts Nat has written. I think whether you feel authentic in someone’s company is a very good barometer of the health of that relationship.


  41. Gina says:

    “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” Unknown

    If we have toxic family members, which I did, that’s not on us; it’s on them because we were born into their lives (that does not mean that you should not distance yourself from them for your own mental health though). However, we choose the type of friends that we allow in our lives. If we knowingly allow toxic people in our lives, that means that we, too, have toxic traits. Kicking them to the curb gets easy once you learn to love yourself. Learn–as many of you are already doing–to be happy and content with yourself (be your own best friend). That way you will not need the approval and validation of others. I did some ‘house cleaning’ earlier this year and washed a few so-called friends right outta my hair. It isn’t easy at first, but practice makes perfect. Your self-esteem will increase exponentially. Seek out and surround yourself with people who are positive, loving, and uplifting influences in your lives.


  42. Alie says:

    Assclown dumped today!! And for good. I am overjoyed. What a relief! Can’t be more grateful for this Last Shitty Thing – pursuing my fellow office friend, nicest girl and engaged.
    This is the end of a year of mindeffery, manipulation, and mistreatment. No more. My god, how much I’ve learnt.

    At long last I am completely myself, but better, stronger.

    Thank you, Nat! This is a reason to celebrate:)

  43. Tinkerbell says:


    Sofie is spot on!. She is treating you as a convenience, an option, when she has nothing better to do. She has told you her visits are primarily to see he S/O, (I suspect he’s more than that) but seeing you is clearly secondary on her agenda. It is hurtful, the way she has behaved. Oftentimes,in relationships, one party is more involved and demonstrative than the other. But this woman is just FAKE. I, personally, have no patience with that kind of EU behavior, and from another woman?!!! No way. Bad enough from a man. I’ve learned to treat folks exactly the way they treat me. If they seek me out, I do the same. Otherwise, I don’t overextend myself anymore. She is a grown woman and can make the effort just as well as you can. If she does not it’s because she doesn’t share the same feelings. People can be incredibly phony to your face. Maybe she does enjoy time spent with you, but it’s not enough to sustain her continuing a meaningful friendship, afterwards when you’re no longer together. Don’t make her a priority unless she is willing to do the same. So far, not the case.

  44. Tinkerbell says:

    A. I may have been too harsh. I was reacting from the standpoint that you have been making the effort and she has repeatedly been minimally reactive to your overtures. Maybe she has issues that you know nothing about and tries to put on a happy face when she sees you. Who knows. What due to the nature of it being a long distance friendship, perhaps you should pull back a bit and give her a chance to be the aggressor. Good luck.

  45. Tired says:

    I am so proud i havent text nc all the way , sussed today hes hiding stuff on his fb , why do that if you got nowt to hide , soooooooo glad im out of the mind fuckery and lies and hareem. So glad i dint want to compete for a inch of that man i want a whole loaf lol whoop xx

  46. Tired says:

    I mean i nearly did , but i held off so glad i did , after sussing what i did im toooooo smart for him know him to well , yes grezelda its all about his huge ego and poor self esteem he has weight issues and once apon a time i was a notch on his belt . Im soooo glad im out of that he cannot hurt me or use me or tell his ego fantasy to me one less member of hareem and as he gets older there drop off one ny one as they to click and hell be left with nothing kids wont know him he always gigging wife will be gone and his glory days over living the dre at a end not satisfied not content always a hole inside him because hes mever had a deep meaningful bond of trust with anyone , pinning for his hair lol . Me ill be in a healthy loving rlship and he wont cross my mind only that he was the man that taught me all bad things about a bloke there is thankyou .

  47. Learner says:


    “someone who… has very conflicting values especially on the personal values front which governs character, and who even takes advantage of or even abuses you, is not someone who you could really be yourself with, unless being you is someone who isn’t themselves or is in a victim role.”

    What a great way of looking at this issue! I used to think that I could really “be myself” with the exMM. I felt very comfortable around him on a day-to-day basis (well, on the one day per week when we spent time together). I didn’t feel I had to censor what I said (unless I wanted to talk about our “relationship”), I could be silly, I just felt this ridiculous amount of JOY when I was with him. My face would hurt from smiling so much.

    But, in reality, I was NOT being “me” in the bigger-picture sense. I had to fight back my feelings of guilt for being in a relationship with a MM, I had to suppress my desire to be in a full-time, loving, committed relationship with him, I had to put up with knowing he could lie and cheat. It was not good for my health. I didn’t sleep well, I had abdominal pain, I was anxious on the days we were not together, and I had to get by on a crumb diet, like so many others on BR.

    This felt like the needs I had to supress as a child with emotionally distant parents. It always felt like my needs would be too much of a bother for people to meet, and I never honestly felt worthy of having them met.I know I have used all 3 of the strategies you wrote about at various times.

    This is another lightbulb moment for me, courtesy of your posts. It is time for me to be ME. I have needs, and I am worthy of having them met. Thanks again Natalie!

    • runnergirl says:

      Thank you Learner. As always you have such a wonderful way of interpreting and applying Natalie’s posts. Like you, I thought that I was finally allowed to “be me” with the exMM. You completely captured it. I would go to school on Monday exhausted from laughing so much over the weekend. It was really great not having to censor small scale things, like my wacky sense of humor, my bleeting heart lefty inclinations and his right-wing nut conservatism.
      Oh you so nailed the issues with regards to the bigger pic. The guilt, the desire for an honest, respectful relationship, knowing he could lie and cheat, what a juxtaposition of emotions. I had to push down, smother, and drown the real me and ignore the Mondays when I went to school exhausted from crying over the weekend when he had to be with his wife and family. Once when I threw one of my many aggressive-passive tantrums, I described it (probably screaming) as a giant thunder cloud that was always overhead threatening to burst. Thank god it burst. Apparently, we all survived the epic flood when my thunder cloud burst?
      Thank you Learner…very helpful addition to Nat’s post. Lightbulb moment for me courtesy of your insight! In writing this comment, I relived that nasty roller-coaster. The highs were soooo high. The lows were sooo low. That’s not me now.

      • Learner says:


        Ah yes, those wildly contrasting Monday feelings. I know them well. It’s a wonder our students didn’t think we had some kind of “multiple personality” disorder! And yes, we survived the epic flood when your thunder cloud released its wrath :) Thank goodness we can see (ourselves) clearly now the rain is gone 😉

  48. Colee says:

    Hey everyone, it’s been a while and I just wanted to say that I’m ok :) after I went NC it was so hard and still is hard sometimes, especially if he texts me saying stuff like “I saw you last night and you looked so beautiful” but I just remind myself that he doesn’t really think that, he’s just saying it to try and come back into my life. I am a lot happier without him, I think I would rather by on my own, than be with someone who treats me the way he did, no matter how imperfect I am I don’t deserve to be talked to the way he did to me, I don’t want to be anyones emotional punching bag and to anyone else struggling with NC keep it up because you can do it and you will feel a lot better when you do xx

  49. JR says:

    hello all…I’m reading more of BR because I need it. I’m in trouble. AC has been trying to get back in the door and he makes a compelling case. Meanwhile, nicer new guy I’m seeing (not sure about him yet) was crabby recently and doesn’t seem very fun to be around. I feel myself gravitating to the wrong side. I have held my ground and told AC that his booty texts are not OK or ENOUGH for me but yet…ughhhh. I wish they were. I’m confused. And worried and also thinking those thoughts, ah huh,,you know the ones.

    • runnergirl says:

      But JR you know the booty call texts are NOT okay (for you) and you know the exAC is an AC, right? Your choices are not simply nice, new crabby guy or ex AC. If you give into and act on “those thoughts”, you’ll have to push down, smother, and drown the real you. There are other choices out there which do not include booty calls and crumbs or crabby nice guys. Stay strong. Stay present with you. Why aren’t you NC with the exAC? Is the door still open?

      • runnergirl says:

        JR your comment struck a chord though. I recently met a seemingly nice online guy. We struck it off intellectually online so I thought I would give it a shot and meet him. His manners were atrocious. He was 30 mins late because he was still on the golf course. I agreed to wait. When we met, he was large and sweaty, gave me a big hug (yuck) and promptly told me to watch his clubs while he went “pee”. Nice intro thought I. At the restaurant, while waiting for our order, he grabbed fries off the plate being cleared. Swear to god. Gratefully, the play-offs were on and I pretended to watch the game while trying not to barf. When the ladies next to us ordered a big platter of ribs, he leaned over me and proceed to tease them about eating ribs. I proceeded to actually watch the game. He rubber-necked every lady in the restaurant telling me how much prettier I was. By that point, I was totally into the game on TV. It was a good game. As I drove home after dodging his desire to stick his fat tongue down my throat, I did think about how much better mannered the cheating, lying, exMM was. I haven’t often done the comparison thingy but this one was so ill mannered, he made a cheating, lying MM look like a well mannered suitor. So my point, my choices are not limited to a cheating, lying MM or an ill mannered slob, although he was being totally himself. He was being totally who he is. There was no mask and even his representative took the evening off. And the chips fell. He’ll find someone who will join him in eating fries as the plates are being cleared and someone who will watch his clubs while he pees. It just won’t be me! Your choices are not limited either. I do have to give him credit for just being him. But I get to be me and that doesn’t work for me. You get to be you too. If crabby doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you settle for AC, right? Although, I do get what you are saying.

        • JR says:

          Runner, I loved your story of chubby sweaty guy eating fries. Ha…I think I had a date once with him too. LOL.

          You are so right about the fact that these are not my only choices. I have a plethora of choices in the world. I just know that I’m tempted and I happened to love every second with AC when we were together. I miss the kisses most of all. It’s hard to see all the choices when they aren’t right in front of me yet but I know they will appear eventually. I know I’m playing with fire here by not shutting the door on AC completely. I guess I will have to keep reading, listening to all of you and not see him in person.

    • FX says:

      JR, Please steer clear! Remind yourself of all the crappy, devaluing behavior that led you where you are. I bet you were tamping down “you” and would have to do it again to be with him again. Trust me, it only gets worse if you give them more chances to F you over. I missed the communication, familiarity and feeling of “connection,” yada yada and fell for his lame attempts after 2 different periods of NC. Never again!

      I’m curious, though, can you share what you consider a “compelling case” to give him another chance when he’s sending you booty texts? I admit to falling for this in the past myself, btw. Blech at that recollection. After 4 months NC, I read the texts I fell for in the past/ The mortification and anger at myself mostly for not being true to my values is a painful but excellent reminder why I can never engage with him again.

      • JR says:

        FX — he is not saying for me to take him back because things will be different. Not at all. He’s actually being straightforward and being himself by saying exactly what he wants — which is a physical relationship with me. He said “we had very good sex and it’s ok to admit to yourself that it was incredible” — the compelling case comes in where he says we can enjoy an yes it was very good, he’s not promising things he won’t deliver, I’m not having that same sexual energy with the person I’m dating (we haven’t gone there yet but I can tell there is not a lot of chemistry with the new guy) I’m a busy single mom who works full time and who often wonders if I even have time for a regular relationship. The tough part is that I’m old fashioned in my heart and I can’t stay neutral. I develop feelings for the person I’m intimate with and then I’m a mess. I meant to say that I wish that was enough for me that I could walk away after the act and not feel a thing, but that’s not the case.

        • Sadder but Wiser says:

          Jr, please don’t let this guy talk you into something that you know deep down in your heart is going to hurt! Really hurt. His so-called “honesty” isn’t a plus – it’s establishing a power structure in which he is permanently one-up and you will be permanently one-down. He would get exactly what he wants: sex with no other emotional reponsibility. You won’t get anything you want beyond a momently physical pleasure and illusion of intimacy, followed by days and months of misery. You will resent this imbalance bitterly and hate yourself for giving in.

          Yes, I know how powerful it is to be offered sex when it has been wonderful and you know it probably will be wonderful again. When my ex dumped me I was so crazy with sexual desire for him I actually considered calling him and begging him not to give up sex with me. He could have it anytime, anywhere! I didn’t want it to end. But I knew it would make me feel worse about myself in the end.

          It’s just sex for him, fun and games. It won’t be love, caring, trust and respect. Some women can handle it. I can’t. You can’t. It’s a path going nowhere but to a dead end full of pain.

    • Alie says:

      JR: wishing that booty texts were enough is like wishing that you could only sleep 2 hours a night or be full with a yoghurt a day. The ego issues a check that the body or mind or heart cannot pay up. Do not lose touch with how we, as human beings, are built: we do need 7-8 hours of sleep a night and 3 proper meals a day – with all the vitamins and nutrients -, and we do need a proper relationship with all the healthy attributes. Don’t starve yourself emotionally on booty calls because you don’t starve yourself physically, and who knows which one is more important.

      I had exactly the same set of mind: acting cool with booty texts and faking that they’re enough, hoping they will one day BECOME enough (this is EMOTIONAL ANOREXIA) How healthy is that! I slammed the door on it yesterday and feel incredibly at ease, healthy and full with self-love and self-care.

      I wish you the same: take very good care of yourself, in the end – we are all we have, just that.

      • JR says:

        Thanks Alie and FX and Runnergirl. Alie, I like your term emotional anorexia. True true! I explained to FX about the compelling case AC makes about how good the physical was and can still be good and he isn’t making empty promises. He just wants me to be his FWB plain and simple. When I said I wish that were enough, I meant I wish I could do that just like a guy…just as a fun activity with no emotions, just the physical fun of it. Some women can. I can’t.

        • JR says:

          But like you say Alie, wishing that were enough is like wishing we didn’t need food or sleep etc. I get it. I’m a dreamer sometimes. He knows where I stand. The booty texts don’t work with me. I told him each time I’m not coming over. I haven’t seen him in person in over 2 months since we were going out.

  50. Lucy says:

    When I was much younger and an insecure teenage girl, older women would tell me “just be yourself”. I didn’t even know what that meant because I had no strong self-identity. My identity was lost in “being nice” and accommodating. When I finally gave that up, and shortly after found this blog, I had a full-blown identity crisis. I suddenly had to figure out who I am.

    I have come across a number of toxic people who seem to think that being themselves gives them complete free reign to violate the respect and boundaries of others. They are the sort of people who will treat others poorly and then turn around and tell them that “you should accept me for who I am”. These are the same types who claim sacred values and twist their poor behaviour to fit into the mould so they can look like better people. So you get people who parade honesty as a valuable quality, say hurtful things in the name of “honesty” and try to justify disrespecting and hurting someone with their words. These people actually believe in their self-delusions (managing to convince others of their value) and their own hype, convinced that they are decent people.

  51. runnergirl says:

    Ahhh, third date guy just called, yup called. I’m scared. Third date is on for Sunday. Suddenly my knees got wobbly. Where did my graceful BR legs go? I feel like the colt that went splat. I’ll be re-reading all the dating as a discovery phase and re-reading everything. Yikes. This guy is blowing very hot. Fortunately, I have Natalie, all of you, and I have a sense of ME. Between now and Sunday, I gotta get more of me figured out! Here goes. Another opportunity to discover who I am. I am scared and I am happy. Does that make sense?
    PS. At 53, shouldn’t I know me by now?

    • Learner says:


      It sounds like you have yourself pretty well figured out for 53. Of course there is always more to learn – otherwise it may be dull living to 80+ !

      You are allowed to go splat every now and then, too, in the re-learning to date phase. Enjoy your reading prep, and let us know how it all goes! Is he really “blowing hot”, or is he just a decent guy who knows that a phone call is more real than a text, and is just excited to see you?

    • simple pleasures says:

      Runnergirl, delight him, as you do us by just being yourself.Be as you usually are on a Sunday. I envision this as, “Hi third date guy, on Sundays I usually have coffee and a croissant and do the Sunday crossword and suduko. Wanna do the puzzles too? Then I read the editorial page, did you see the debate? And what about the jobs report? Then I usually go for a run,
      wanna put on your sneakers and go for a run?. And what about your usual Sundays Mr. third date? Oh, football
      watching, ok.(You can leave out the part that you’ll be checking in with the BR community) You go girl, relax!

    • dancingqueen says:

      Runner you are excited and looking forward to a third date with someone who interests you! Yay you! As my old boss used to say “You are not scared, you are exhilarated!”. Have fun discovering and just let it all unfold.:)

  52. teachable says:

    Hi Selkie,

    The boundaries ‘push back’ you describe is not uncommon. I’ve done a lot of work, learning about how to have boundaries in group & individual therapy & then working with others professionally & passing the knowledge along. Often, when when we first become really consiously aware of our people pleasing behaviours, & attempt to assert ourselves, we end up over shooting the mark. In the early days as we practicelour new way of being, our attempts can be a little clumsy & instead be aggressive. There are all sorts of reasons for this. Firstly, we can’t expect to execute a new behabiour with perfect finesse straight up in every situation, from the get go. We may also realise that certain situations are tiggers for old wounds, in either a passive or aggressive direction. It can sometimes be helpful to reply a situation which didn’t go so well & imagine how you improve upon a similar cirmstance next time, actually rehearsing what phrase you might say or what you might do in your head. This rehearsal is likely to then come to mind when or if the situation represents.

    Alternatively, if an anxiety inducing interacting is pending, similarly, try rehearsing how you might handle it in advance.

    Stalling for time is also a good technique in any situation. Literally taking a moment out from the conversation, excusing yourself for a moment (allowing you circuit breaker time to think & compose yourself) & then returning to it to complete your interaction. The simple ‘count to 10 silently in your head’ method if you are feeling your anger rise, can also be helpful to distract yourself to aid impluse control.

    I’ve used these techniques myself & they sound very simple & dorky but do work.

    I like the sound of that book too. Do let us know if it’s any good or not.

    T :)

  53. teachable says:

    I have a sticker on the back of my car that says that. IE Babe In Total Control of Herself! I kinda like that one!

  54. teachable says:

    Sometimes removing yourself from the source of an impending explosion before it erupts can helps ACaddict. Easy to say in hindsight I know. I read you post though & imagined you replying to your Mum’s team player comment with a big belly laugh & slap on the back as you wryly commented instead, ‘I learned from the best of em’ before informing her heading out for a walk & asking if she needed anything at the shop.

    It may sound nuts, but sometime’s we have to train ourselves not to take the bait. If certain people can’t be trusted not to bait you when you’re mentally fragile it’s also ok to take a break from seeing them until youl feel more capable of coping with their behaviour. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens to the best of us.

  55. teachable says:

    Bowl me over with a doc martin! I have the same problem as you Rev. A very similar personality type. Mine developed because it literally had to, in order to survive. It was just my & sister & I together against the world from when I was 3 1/2 yo onward. She was only a baby when we were put into the orphanage & it was job to make sure I looked after her. I did my best but there were bullies targeting me at every turn (I at least managed to shield her). I quickly learned to push back, & twice as hard. We would not have survived otherwise.

    Hence I don’t relate to my female gender role at all in the typical sense. It’s often been noted I’m very in touch with my masculine side although I’d argue I’m.more androgynous. Whatever I am I know it scares the shit out out of men. I’ve actually been told this!

    I don’t build houses like Selkie but I don’t passively take crap from anyone either, especially, not men! This is why I’ve been single so long. I just don’t tolerate their BS. And neither should I or any of us!

    • Revolution says:

      DOC MARTINS!!!! HA, I miss those. Teachable, my dear tough girl, I don’t know if you just posted this comment or I just missed it the first time ’round, but I’m glad I read it!

      Ironically, I tend to relate very much to my feminine side, but in more of a femme fatale way. I like powerful women, always have. And it’s uncanny how many men, no matter how I’m dressed or how docile I act (at least momentarily :), always comment on my “dominatrix” vibe, ha!

      I’m not a controller, but on the other hand “don’t tread on me”, knowwhatimsayin’? :) Hey, can we bust out our flannel shirts and doc martins and paint our fingernails black and rage against the system together? Ah, I miss being 14….

  56. lo j says:

    Runnergirl … as we are ever changing, I think everyday we learn more about ourselves, we’re ever growing … we never know completely who we are … how boring that would be!!! :-) Enjoy the ride!!!

  57. teachable says:

    All the bestlwith the ‘the talk’ on the weekend Grace. I’m rootin for you. T xxx

  58. Jacf says:

    I am lucky that my ex is far too secretive and sneaky to risk his lies and life unravel online on Facebook. I never even knew the name of his ‘friends’. I think his lack of online presence has helped me immensely in moving forward. I am in no way over him and wish I could see what he is up to but deep down I’m so glad that I can’t.

  59. Cat Nils says:

    I’ve lived a lot, maybe died a few times over, however lately for some reason I’ve attracted a nut case. He wants me to change my life. Recently I’ve retired from work, planning to enjoy travelling, taking good care of myself, and hopefully finding a good male companion along the way. Many here might have already experienced this “life changing” phase already. Do I have a freaken sign posted on my forehead, reading “Looking for an assclown to change my life?” C’mon! Some men have not found dignity nor peace, and now they wish to teach others by bullshit alone, with no credentials on their part, name or proof that they know themselves enough to be life coaches and finance counselors? Have you had your share of men, who claim you can be a millionaire in a year, “IF” you follow their advice on how you can change yourself and become rich via becoming a “doormat” however they themselves can never “show you their own results or money?” OH by the way, they say trust them, you are not good enough as you are, or be in a relationship with them, he wants you to change….and why?…he only wants YOU to change so YOU can accommodate his greed, his narcissist personality and his empty pockets, all the while he’s convinced you that you are negative, and that is the reason you’re not a millionaire, however YOU have no debts, you’re retired, and you have a nest egg! Have you noticed what that man has? NOTHING! yet he will be teaching YOU. If you have changed yourself and thought you weren’t good enough while being brainwashed, just remember they were also brainwashed, and nothing you can do or say to change it…nothing will ever satisfy them, its not just about the money, its the control they crave, its their FIX, like a cocaine user’s fix, only YOU are the Fix they can’t live without. Narcissism has reached a new height through marketing of “self improvement” a new you which will rob YOU of loving yourself, it might take a while before you realize it, be vigilant. Any comments I would appreciate…thank you
    Cat Nils

  60. Soso says:

    Ive taken this article and applied it to my work life situation. I’m 28 and I often find myself complaining that my employers and co-workders won’t let me be me. You see, I’m quiet, verrry quiet and reserved. I don’t like small talk and that gets me into trouble. I often am out of a job due to lay-offs, they can’t fire me because I excel at my job BUT I truly believe that my overzealous bosses use the company’s financial problems as an excuse to get rid of me because they find me uncomfortable to be around. I find myself being passive by taking on big projects that overwhelm me because I don’t speak up. I am learning to assert myself more. I’m also starting my own business so that I have control and financial freedom. Thank you for this piece.

  61. Miss MovieStar says:

    Yeah I can relate to this.I have been in my current relationship for 4 years. We are planning on getting married on February 14 2013. It was pretty rough between us the first couple of years because I felt like I couldnt be myself and I was more or less walking on eggshells and he was trying to be Mr asshole Control Phreak or AkA Drama King #2: The Proprietor: (example: I asked him to help me pray for something I needed from God and when God answered my prayer the next day, he wanted or actually told me he wanted a THANK YOU in writing sent to his email LOL – unreal. lol) I told him he needed mental help after that request cause he wasnt joking . For the last 2 years he has been in and out of jail (hes now in prison) and would you believe he is still trying to be Mr.Control Phreak with Narcissist tendencies behind bars, only this time something snapped inside of me and I said phukk it, This is MY life not yours and I am going to be myself from now on,the person I have always been even before I met you and if you dont like how I am and what I do etc then theres the door, dont let it hit your ass on the way out or in other words if you dont like the way I am, then you dont have to marry me mf. I dont need another mother . If I decide I do need one I’ll let you know. until then find yourself someone else to put on a leash cause you havent got one around my neck married or not. I swear he is so deluded but I wont go into that here. I swear to g— I hate people who try to hide behind their guilty conscience bs by trying to accuse their other half of doing something that they are not even doing and in reality its them who are actually doing it. You follow me? And whats really hilarious is that they dont even have a piece of a clue that you are on to the head game they are trying to run on you. He is for a BIG surprize when he gets released next year. lol. I found all the pieces to the game puzzle that hes been playing with me. This game of psychological Warfare is coming to a close. Time for me to be my authentic self and blow his cover . ( I swear with some people its like, I swear to g– if you had a brain ,you’d probably take it out and play with it lol)
    Today is my Birthday, I turned 51. Time to go light the candles on my cake and make a wish!!

    what is 51 I feel like 25 anyone want to racer me around the block lol.

  62. Melissa says:

    @Miss MovieStar…Err, why are you even considering marrying this man? This in no way reads like a healthy or loving relationship.

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.