Recently an acquaintance was struggling with a technical issue at work. I offered to take a look, expecting to spend 10-15 minutes checking it out. They immediately took me up on my offer, while wasting no time informing me that it was a waste of time. “Oh OK then – I’ll leave you to it” I said, only for them to backtrack. After a quick fiddle around with it, they asked if we could have a quick call – one hour of basically saying over and over again that they’d “tried that”, they’d done “everything possible”, and essentially telling me that they didn’t think that it could be resolved. Every.single.last.suggestion was shot down and during and after the conversation (I use that word loosely), I couldn’t help but wonder:

If you think that you know it all, or that you’ve done it all, or that nothing else can be done, why are we having this discussion? Why are you trying? Why are you appearing to be searching for a solution? Or are you just going through the motions so you can tick off your effort checklist?

In truth, it was much closer to them being genuinely frustrated by the issue and wanting a solution, but based on what they’d done up to that point, they believed this to be ‘everything’ and they’d actually gotten very comfortable complaining rather than doing. Interestingly, with a bit of delving, it seemed that they’d been doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Sound familiar?

Why do we basically engage in insanity in these situations? Because we’ve gotten behind a course of action, which in spite of the fact that it’s not working and that there are in fact compelling reasons to change, we still believe that we are ‘right’ or at least that we have exhausted everything in our power.

Some people are happier, or at least more content, putting their energy into defining and talking about the problem, than they are at seeking out and trying solutions. It gives an illusion of busyness.

Some people are also happier trying out one or a few solutions and then if it doesn’t work or proves to be trickier and more ‘resource hungry’ than expected, writing off their efforts and deeming the search for a solution to be a failure.

When the term ‘self-esteem’ is mentioned followed by anything to do with opting out of unhealthy partnerings, I often hear the stock phrase of “Easier said than done.” What does this even mean? Isn’t everything easier said than done until it’s done?

I talk with some people about their relationships and everything has an objection. Everything. Now when you think about the fact that this essentially boils down to objecting to yourself, you can see how self-defeating this is. How can you in one breath call someone an assclown and rattle off a list of misdemeanours that are scary to hear never mind experience, and then in the next breath object to the validation of how shady the person’s behaviour was and then even try to fend it off by suggesting ‘good points’ or pitching excuses?

When you spend a lot of time and energy diagnosing the problem and complaining about it, and then shoot down any solutions and pooh pooh anything that doesn’t let you remain in your comfort zone, it’s the equivalent of saying “Jaysus, when I was complaining, I wasn’t actually looking to do anything! Whadaya take me for? I’m just blowing off some steam and getting validation that the situation is shite/a pain in the bum/futile/whatever.”

You’ll know you’re a shooter of solutions, if aside from saying guff like “Easier said than done”, you also say:

Yeah I’ve tried that – Really? Did you try it a different way? How long was it for? Isn’t it a bit like going up to a door, trying it to unlock it and then declaring that the door is broken when there is not only a pile of alternative keys behind you or even another way in, plus there are people on the other side of the door, so obviously it opens?

It’s too hard – Why because it’s not easy or even instant?

It won’t work – But you’re not saying what will – you’ve already resigned yourself to a helpless outcome.

The town/city is the problem because X,Y,Z – Then a suggestion is made to move. You can’t because it won’t sell. Rent? Nobody rents (really in the entire place where you live?) House swap? Oh no you couldn’t let anyone in the house you don’t like anyway. Or you can’t move because it would be too hard, or people wouldn’t like it. In fact, insert any objection like “too old”, “too late”, too this and too that and put down all of your objections.

The last chance saloon has gone – How do you know – because you decided? So what happens next?

It won’t help – Well if you know why it won’t help, suggest an alternative.

I won’t meet anyone anyway – Well it doesn’t sound like you’re planning to!

But it’s me, isn’t it? I’m the problem (After being told that someone else’s behaviour was out of order.) – Somehow, you manage to bring it back to you, even when it’s about them.

This is all dismissive talk that allows you to stay and complain. It’s draining to be on the receiving end of, but it can be pretty draining to engage in it. Listening to it is like being in Groundhog Day – all routes lead back to “It won’t work” and “I’m not good enough.”

Ever picked up a self-help guide with exercises and tips and skipped them? Is it that you think you know everything? Or do you think it won’t work anyway? Or do you expect change to happen in your comfort zone without you stretching yourself?

You’re painting yourself into a corner. The truth is, you haven’t seen it all, you haven’t ‘done’ everything, and you definitely don’t know everything. None of us do, even the person that you believe is the most intelligent person to walk the earth continues to seek new knowledge and try new things – from the moment one starts assuming they know everything, they haven’t got anything left to do, which may suit you if you’re avoiding action…

If you take up a position of complaining and repeatedly expressing dissatisfaction, it gives the impression that you’re unhappy and would like to change the situation – not just to others, but also to yourself.

When it becomes apparent that you’re not an action person, over time it damages your credibility – you’ll give the impression you just want to sound off or even empty out on those around you, which eventually becomes draining. On a personal level, it’s also likely to fuel blame, shame, and regret, as you begin to recognise that you’ve been talking yourself out of exacting change in your life and that you’re not able to rely on you.

Don’t let complaining about your life be your purpose. What can you do? What are your alternatives? What do you know for next time round? What is working in your life?

It’s fine to identify problems in your life, but don’t become so enmeshed in complaining about them or even making them your identity, that you become inactive and stop assuming the responsibility that you actually have for your life. Just as you can be a part of the problem, you can be a part of the solution – devote your energy to the solution. Don’t palm off issues and make out like it’s all on someone else or external factors for your life to be better or that if you have to be responsible, then it’s ‘impossible’ or at least very hard – which would you prefer? Sympathy or happiness?

Your thoughts?

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205 Responses to Which Do You Prefer – The Problem or The Solution?

  1. RML says:

    Goodness this hits home today. I’m at that place where I’m practically boring the heck out of myself talking my sob story over and over again. It’s time for me to seek professional help and get off the victim track already. Because what do victims attract? More predators! No thanks!! Thanks for the kick in the pants, Nat…

    • Flower White says:

      thank you for saying it: Professional Help, abdicate the victim role. I got some two years ago it really helped. The therapist told me that I shouldn’t be trying to raise a grown man. Hugs to you.

    • ixnay says:

      Victims also attract helper/saver guys who we then hurt.

      I think I’ve made some kind of progress in that I’m not looking for a nice, nurturing, unthreatening guy to take my sorrows away. I’ve done that twice, gotten involved with sweet, kind people while I’m still in grief/love with an ex, and I end up being the withholding asshole. And even sweet, kind people can get really angry when they realize they’re being used (even though I never meant to use them).

      • requin says:

        ixnay, I did that. Luckily I caught myself doing it even before I went out w/ the guys more than once. I *thought* I wanted a sweet nice guy to help heal while grieving the loss of my EUM, but quickly found out that I couldn’t handle a nice guy. I aliented both nice guys because I acted the asshole (in my case, mostly it was due to blowing warm then very cold, then coming round again looking for them to still be nice. Gee, we dont like it when EUM does it to us, what’s wrong w/ this picture?). At least I smartened up to what I was doing fast, and realized I need a lot more time alone before I can even try that route.

  2. Flower White says:

    Excellet post Nat. I do notice that many of the women who post here sometimes say the same thing over and over: that they are gluttons for romantic punishment that they ‘can’t’ (WON’T) leave some jerky AC or MM or EUM. I think some women DON’T want to be happy they just want to whine and get some attention, be listened to then go back for more drama.

    Yes its their identity. These days I can’t stand hearing 40+ women whine like teenagers and I have scant patience with them and admit to slicing women like that out of my personal circle cause it’s toxic, birds of a feather. I can listen to a gal pal whine for about a year! If she is STILL with the same man but still whining not moving in a positive direction OFF WITH HER HEAD, so to speak. I am choosing my personal MENTAL HEALTH first its not healthy to hear a gal pal crying the same old song over and over… her drunk/abusive/absentee/MM/EUM did her wrong but she loves him.

    One lady I whom I cut off 2 years ago (whom I still do love like a sister but its too toxic for my mental health to be around her) is STILL whining about her EUM that she has CHOSEN to stay with for 5 bitter years-they don’t even live together! She is now using other friends as a crutch and a therapist while she goes back for more punishment. Now they are complaining to ME about her whining to them. I tell them I don’t want to hear it cause that’s how she rolls!

    TOUGH LOVE is needed.

    • Tea Cozy says:

      “She is now using other friends as a crutch and a therapist while she goes back for more punishment. ”

      Flower White, I’ve had the same issue with two female friends (both about 50 years old). I eventually cut them out of my life for the reasons you mentioned (mainly, my sanity), but also because I began to feel like I was enabling, and therefore complicit, in behavior that I strongly disagree with (both women were in Other Woman scenarios). By venting to me, they were able to relieve their internal pressure, and go right back to the cheating men for another go-round.

      While cutting these people out of our lives is difficult, it ultimately frees up a lot of mental space for healthier thoughts, and frees us to help other friends who are genuinely interested in problem-solving (per the theme of Nat’s post).

      Also, I feel it helps create a perhaps needed social incentive among women to do the right thing, or risk losing their social support. I think we women can and should hold one another to higher standards. It’s good for the individual; it’s good for the friendship; it’s good for women collectively.

      • Flower White says:

        Tea Cozy
        tough love is much needed after a certain age and a certain point.

        Your quote is really good “I think we women can and should hold one another to higher standards. It’s good for the individual; it’s good for the friendship; it’s good for women collectively.”

        ITA! Two women whom I still love like sisters got axed from my circle and both are still with the men they continue to whine about! Its mind boggling, after a certain age and in this day and age of Oprah, Nat and google, that mature women chose a life of romantic misery.

    • anoosh says:

      there was an article in the NY Times on “de-friending” which was riveting, as were the 100s of comments there, and on facebook.

      friendship in the 40’s has been a difficult issue, the whole concept has gotten turned upside down in my head. I sympathize with weeding out unhealthy relationships, I’ve done it over alcoholism/drug abuse, major betrayal, disloyalty, selfishness, thoughtlessness, backstabbing, out of control narcissism. but I have many mixed feelings. none of us are perfect, there are times when we do go through very difficult seasons. I was flying solo for many years until the latest heartbreak. no one heard many sob stories from me for about 10 years, save a very few unrequited love spells. The last year & half, I experienced what felt like a cataclysm after getting the rug pulled out by “The One”. I mistakenly assumed I had a good support system in place, since I thought I had a lot of good karma in the bank for all of my total devotion to friends. Au contraire — it hasn’t stopped shocking me just how little reciprocation I got for that.

      So this last few years, with the downturn in the economy, career & financial stress, mid-life hormonal changes, and the biggest romantic disappointment of 15 years (not to mention favorite cat getting lymphoma) — I’ve had a lot on my plate. I’ve been very careful not to overburden people, and yet for some, they just couldn’t be bothered in the least. Aren’t true friends supposed to be there when times are tough? Dropping people bc we grow impatient with their problems, weaknesses, human frailties — seems like the disconnected techno-addicted cultural madness we’re now living in is not exactly making people more compassionate.

      I feel very distrustful now with new people, and even old friends I’m reconnecting with. after so many disappointments and rejections with “friends”, I found myself thinking today I didn’t have any use for investing in them anymore. that I’d be better off in the long run doing whatever I could to find a compatible male partner, creating a life with someone, maybe adopting children. at least then I’d have a family. Sadly I don’t seem ready to date anyone just yet, so I guess I’ll have to wait it out a little longer. in the mean time, count myself lucky to have a…

      • Flower White says:

        @anoosh I read your link with interest!

        Yes, true friends go through tough times however, true friends don’t enable you to stay stuck in a dysfunctional relationship. Its not productive to allow a friend to complain about her man for years. Which is the topic of the unfriending of which I focus on.

        • Tanzanite says:


          I feel for you,I really do.I would just like to say that I didn’t talk to anyone about my situation for a year and it made me ill because anger turned in on yourself makes you depressed.

          I joined a support group” positive steps for women”, it was good to let it all out, good to listen to their stuff as well, and now we talk about other things and it has done me the power of good.

          It sounds as if you have had a lot to deal with,I did too,and one of the reasons it took so long to recover was I kept thinking about all the things at the same time,instead of tackling things one at a time.

          keep trying xx

          Flower white-I agree with what you say to a certain extent and you do have to learn when to draw the line but I don’t know why you think women 40+ shouldn’t expect romance.Why not ? A lady at my textile class was telling me about her romantic Paris trip with her husband , she is 60+,is she being a silly old fool ?

          The situation I found myself in also came with experience of ageism for the first time in my life,as if I shouldn’t expect to be loved ,respected and cared for because of my age,but I do deserve that,everyone does ! There is no difference between a girl in her 20’s who keeps banging on about a bad relationship and a women 40 ‘s who keeps banging on about a bad relationship.

          Women over over 40 have a heart and soul too and sometimes can’t love for a long time after an experience with an insincere charmer.Heartbreak doesn’t get better with age,it gets worse because your options are fewer .Despite this,I have managed to move forward,I do feel better and it has nothing to do with a man.

          • Mymble says:

            I agree about ageism.
            I have to say I did seem to bounce back easier when I was younger.
            I don’t quite see why older women should be given “tough love!”
            Everyone should be treated compassionately and actually I try to treat older women, such as my Mum and Aunties, with more kindness and respect. And that would certainly apply if they had been hurt by a man.

      • ixnay says:


        I read that Times article yesterday when it came out and I hated it. All these people so proud of their boundaries and their personal growth that they drop old friends with nc and the “I’m busy” brush-off.

        I have a very good friend who recently visited NY and I wanted to talk about the recent go-round with my ex, and she was like “I don’t think I can hear this anymore, I almost feel like I’m enabling…”

        Just let me vent for an hour and give me a hug . This is really what I’m going through and I want to be heard.

        I have another close friend, ex-neighbor who now lives overseas and emailed me with “tough love” that he wants to hear how I’m doing but not any more episodes of my junkie addiction.

        When i read the Times article, it was like I could hear the rationale of my friends between the lines: I refuse to enable my friend’s stuckness; I refuse to be a sounding board for someone who won’t move forward no matter what advice I offer. It sounds so healthy and good-boundaries, but it feels from my end like being silenced in my time of need.

        I have another good friend who has listened every time I wanted to talk about it for 13! years now. I recently apologized to him for sounding like a broken record and for asking for so much of his time, and he said that first, things never exactly repeat; they cycle, and that is how we learn, and that emotions are very powerful around love for everyone and wherever I am with it is where I am and how can that not be okay. That is a different sort of having boundaries, where you really let people be where they are. It’s hard to do because you want them to just “get it” and be somewhere else. He wants that for me, but on my timetable and not his. I’m very lucky and I don’t think he’s an enabler; I think he’s able to understand that I feel defined by my story and simultaneously see that I am not my story.

        So in a way the urge to shed friends who are not keeping pace with what you perceive as your own growth is a kind of self-protection: “I can’t handle that this person reflects back to me what I no longer tolerate in myself.”

        • Ixnay, I’ve got to admit that I felt very uncomfortable reading your comment, for you and your friends, so much so that I felt the need to respond:

          There are people here who are struggling to make friendships. The fact that you expect that everyone that’s your friend should listen to your problems and complain about them if they don’t, while already having a really good friend who has listened to you for *thirteen* years, shows that you don’t really recognise the value of your friendships.

          Why do you need to tell every single friend you come into contact with the same story? If you’ve been heard with one friend, why would you need to be heard by several others?

          Can they be heard?

          There are people here who would kill for *one* friend. Ok maybe not literally.

          There are people here who have lots of friends but have a friend or two that they get their thoughts in order with.

          Your friends aren’t saying that they don’t want to be your friend – they’re saying that the friendship doesn’t have to be on your terms and asking if it’s possible that they can talk about something else because they think there’s more to you. Maybe they hope that in asserting their boundaries, it may help you.

          I know people who have cancer and some are dying – even they don’t want to talk about it all the time.

          You talk about a visiting friend and what *you* wanted – an hour of venting and a hug.

          Well guess what? When Mr Unavailable comes a knocking and you expect a two way street, or don’t want to do things his way, or maybe you want to spend some time chatting, having a laugh instead of him using you for an ego stroke, shag and a shoulder to lean on, he thinks “For f*cks sake. Can’t she just let me do my thing and give me a shag at the end? If she was the type of person deserving of my love and commitment, she’d do it”.

          Your friends don’t want to pity you all the time and you shouldn’t want your friends to take pity on you in every conversation.

          I’m sure you won’t like what I’ve said but I also hope that you may consider another perspective.

          And here is a true story – I know someone that chats around her friends about the same guy. On a number of occasions, because she prioritises her issues, she has belatedly discovered that someone has just had a family member pass away before she called, a miscarriage, a job loss, is worried about cancer or has been diagnosed with something, their kids are ill or have a problem, they’re depressed and so forth. That doesn’t change her problems but it certainly adds perspective when she’s been complaining about him for years but theses concerns are fresh for her friends.

          • Allison says:

            Ixnay, I commend your friend! She is not doing you any favors by allowing you to vent about this guy. It is enabling if it has been going on this long.
            I hate to say this, but I feel it is abusive to a friendship to treat someone as a sounding board.
            Yes, we all have problems and wish to share our hardships in life, but when the same problem has been going on for years, and we wish to rehash it again and again, it is not fair to others.
            I think that if people are trying to get you to set boundaries and make some positive moves in your life, you should listen and take some positive steps, not blame them for not wanting to hear the same story again and again and again.

          • yoghurt says:

            I’ve been reading these comments with interest, I don’t really know what I think or what I have learnt or *should* have learnt from recent experiences, so hopefully ruminating on this will give me some clarity.

            ” I mistakenly assumed I had a good support system in place, since I thought I had a lot of good karma in the bank for all of my total devotion to friends. Au contraire”.

            anoosh – this really resonated with me – I had a horrible shock when it turned out that, in addition to The EUM debacle + broken heart, an unplanned pregnancy, two house moves, a ridiculous amount of work (not to mention my favourite cat developing a terminal heart problem) over the last two years, I also had very few people to hang out with.

            So I was angry and assumed that my ‘friends’ weren’t ‘real friends’. But then I got to see it from the other side… I have had to cut someone that I used to consider a good friend off – she was always very sympathetic and comforting about my situation but that was in the three or four or so minutes that she would listen about it. The rest of the time she would spend obsessing about her very complicated (and, I believe, mostly fictional) love-life problems and would often end up crying, shouting and marching off in tears (she’s bipolar, which may have had something to do with it) – very draining and there was NO solution, ever, I couldn’t ever do enough.

            I’m sort of muddled on this issue, but I think that she was encouraging me to stay stuck in my delusions because it enabled her to develop and embellish her own. I avoid her as much as possible now. So am I not a ‘real friend’? Probably not. We were both getting something out of the situation but it wasn’t healthy for either of us.

            I also realised that for a while whilst my life was the pits, I was avoiding my nice normal friends who wanted normal, fun, reciprocal friendships and instead being drawn to the moody, the depressed, the needy and the whiners – for whatever reason I was more comfortable with those people – I felt that the ‘normal’ ones were looking down on me for being such a mess. Incidentally, since I’ve been a bit better and have been focusing on being better and building better relationships, those nice friends are, it turns out, still my friends and always were, it was ME that was avoiding THEM and luckily they’ve forgiven me for it! I don’t invest enough in healthy friendships and that’s something I want to change.

            I’m not sure if this adds anything to the argument, but I found it interesting to realise.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            I have a bit of the opposite problem.

            A friend of mine met someone decent and now they have a relationship which is going really really well. And I am so happy for them! However, as a friend I feel like they have now totally neglected me :(

            I hardly ever hear from them anymore.

            I’ve made other friends but I don’t know, I feel a bit cut up at that.

            When I get into a proper relationship, I want to spend time with my friends and not neglect them.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            Your friends don’t want to pity you all the time and you shouldn’t want your friends to take pity on you in every conversation.

            Oh dear… I am guilty of this!

            I walked out on my assclown (good decision, nothing but crumbs to offer) and went NC. Then the pain hit and it was monumental! Thank GOD I found BR.

            I suffered from ‘thinking and talking too much’ syndrome as well as obsession about ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ and ‘analysis paralysis’ and I got a terrible, terrible case of verbal diarrohea, or as I like to call it – attack of the ‘blah blahs’.

            Blah Blah Blah Blah about the AC ALL DAY. Blah Blah Blah Blah going round and round in my mind like a hot whirlpool 24/7 and I thought my mind would explode!

            It was like this huge dam wall holding back all this boiling hot water and then it exploding – or having assclown blah rabies – I just *had* to get it out.

            And yeah, I felt a bit guilty that after 3 months I was still talking about them . But by that time I had managed to get down to the psych and they intervened, but it was such an excruciatingly difficult process – it was like being at war with myself.

          • Flower White says:

            THANK YOU Nat for your perceptive and kind response to @ixnay

            “Your friends aren’t saying that they don’t want to be your friend – they’re saying that the friendship doesn’t have to be on your terms and asking if it’s possible that they can talk about something else because they think there’s more to you. Maybe they hope that in asserting their boundaries, it may help you.”

            Sadly, too many (in my case, mature women) want to set the terms of friendship: listen to me vent about the same old stuff over and over…just cause we’re friends, you know.

            Two my dear girlfriends did NOT value my friendship as the main topic of our convo was their EUM. They don’t want solutions they want to swan about crying getting back pats & hugs and hour-long one-way convos about a sick situation that they are going right back for more of.

            I’m SO happy I cut them off, as they are still with the men they’ve complained about for years. Both are 40+!

          • Mymble says:

            That is so funny I laughed out loud. Me too. The blah-blah-blah. I have actually had a friend tell me very bluntly that she doesn’t want to hear anything about the AC MM. Ever. Again. I talk to my Mum (we have had some pretty bad bust ups over the years and she is kind of EU in some ways but her refusal or inability to discuss feelings can on occasion be a strong point) and she won’t put up with it either, keeps the focus on the
            practical! And actually I prefer it cos even I get bored of the sound of my own voice going on about that topic.

          • ixnay says:

            I hear you, Natalie.

            I really had a visceral negative reaction to the Times story and commented from that place.

            The three friends I mention are my three best friends; I do not talk about my long relationship with anyone else but a therapist (and here). I do value them; these are all friendships of over 20 years during which I’ve listened, done favors, house- and pet-sat, the whole texture.

            I had spent a whole afternoon with my visiting friend, and agreed to do her a large favor, prior to mentioning my ex. It’s not like I felt she “owed” me, either.

            I don’t actually want pity; I want perspective. It really helps when someone can hear what’s going on with me and see it differently than I do. For example, that same friend, a long long time ago, when I told her about these confusing conversations (that I now recognize as gaslighting) with my ex, where he would invoke Buddhist metaphysics in the most simple requests, said, “That’s the intelligent man’s ‘shut up, bitch.’ ” I loved when she said that, it just was so helpful.

  3. Dublin says:

    So very true Nat. It’s been a month of NC with my EUM/AC. I haven’t returned a single call, email, text, throw flowers in the garbage, and the xmas gifts he sent to me after he told me a week before xmas he didn’t want to be in a relationship/he didn’t love me that way, never did. Why is he still doing this? After a week of not hearing from him I thought good he finally gets it and is gone. Nope saturday night I’m home by myself watching movies. And knocking on my door. It was him..holy shit balls…why? He begged my to hear him out. So I let me in and heard him out. “Valentine’s Day is coming that was our first date. I realize how terrible I was to you. And how much I love you and want you in my life. I’m so sorry for hurting you”. WHAT..after 4 years of hurting me over and over, saying sorry over and over and this time he really loves me? BULLSHIT! I told him I have zero interest in going back to hell with him. Opened my door and told him to leave. He was stunned, he really thought I would take him back. And truthfully I had to open the door then because I was afraid I would take him back. I cried all night, but why would I cry over this human piece of shit? I cried because the fake relationship I built in my head was over. I cried because I feel alone. I cried because I miss the sweet, tender times with him. Then I thought no more crying I’m done. I’m trying something new, not being his doormat or anyone’s door mat any longer. Nat your posts have helped more than you know.

    • Tasha Boo says:

      Dublin, I applaud you. You sound very strong and I think what you did was excellent! You heard him out, didn’t get sucked in (yet again), and asked him to leave. Well done! Four years wasted on this guy is more than enough :-)

    • SnoozieQZ says:

      Congratulations Dublin!!!

    • Flower White says:

      @Dublin: BRAVA MY DEAR!!! Hugs and a mug of something hot & tasty for you to sip on, very well done.

      I’ve been there oh please keep up NC! The bisexual ex, last time I read his email (six months ago) he basically said that I was special unreplaceable it’s lonely out there and you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

      Too bad. Upon too many occasions he chose to treat me horribly and I went back for more. But I kept my mouth shut and didn’t dump on my friends till it was over.

      You cried because you’re a woman, hormonal. Keep crying those tears will dry soon. I’ve been there the pain was hell but he had no place in my life. Reading your story made me feel happy that I am free and single and wise and ready for a normal love

      It doesn’t matter what some jerk wants it matters what WE want!

      There is ZERO reason for you to go back.

    • PJM says:

      Dublin, that took such courage. Well done – and yes, you can have a huge cry afterwards when no one’s looking, and that’s OK too.

      That was your Line in the Sand, kiddo, and you drew it. You are officially no longer a FallBack Girl!

      Hurts like hell, but everything new does, doesn’t it? That’s just the clean air of freedom and good choices sweeping into your lungs for the first time, like a newborn baby.

    • jennynic says:

      Dublin, I could feel the emotion in your comment and I want to give you a hug and high five you at the same time. Good for you for taking care of you. Stay as strong as you just showed him you are. A better life is out there waiting.

    • Australia says:

      Congrats on your strength Dublin. 4 years is a long time – and in that time he could’ve shown you how much he wanted to be there and not hurt you, but … he didn’t. Stay strong!

    • sushi says:

      Dublin, that poor man is trying to press that reset button so hard and he is confused, cos it worked so well before. Also panicking that he lost his mojo. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    • ixnay says:


      That was incredibly brave of you. I am really happy for you and excited for all the great things you can invite in your life now that you’ve opened the space that was on hold so long for his shenanigans. I know it’s incredibly sad in a way, but that’s genuine, cleansing grief and not that quasi-grief that in the back of your mind you still think he can come and make all better. It’s really inspiring to me and I wish I’d been as strong the 2nd, 3rd, 4th… time I went back for more of the same.

      ((((Dublin)))) !!!!

    • SM says:

      I’m copying and pasting this and hanging it on my wall so I can see it everyday! Inspiring! I’ve been on two dates with a guy, seems good but I feel my old self and ways starting to creep in. You know, why hasnt he called, should I call him, does he just want to have sex with me(even though we havent) yada, yada, yada, You all know the drill. I dont want to be that person anymore, I want to just let sleeping dogs lie, I want to let the chips fall where they may and accept the outcome, I want to continue the happy streak I’ve been on, I want to not act like he is the last chance saloon, I want to not compromise my boundaries and I want to have compassion. There, I feel better now.

      • Dublin says:

        Thanks Ladies! I really need to hear your support. It’s hard, I wish he never showed up. I thought the crying would stop but it hasn’t…yet. I’m staying strong, sometimes I just want to crawl in a hole and hide. But he has control then doesn’t he. He sent an email to me last night, telling me I still have stuff at his house. Emailed him back, I told him to throw them out, burn them, whatever he choose to do. I told him I will never go to his house ever again, and never contact me again for any reason. And if he continued I would file a police report for stalking. I hope the police statement will be enough to keep him away. Considering he lied to me the first 3 1/2 years about being in prison for multiple drinking and driving arrests, AND drugs. He doesn’t want to end up in prison again, so I think he will be gone for good. Ladies THANK YOU!!

        • SM says:

          Dub I read your post again just now and it is empowering as it was the first time. Where do these people come from?

          • Dublin says:

            I don’t know. It’s a mentality I can’t grasp. I don’t even want to try and understand it anymore. I just don’t want people like that in my life. And some of these men are so very good at manipulation, lying, cheating, sweet talking. They have turned it into an art form.

        • EllyB says:

          @Dublin: Tears were a big “flaw” of mine, too… or so I thought.

          Recently I’ve realized that nothing can stop me from crying after I’ve been exposed to toxic people. I cannot change that. The only thing I can change is not exposing myself to them anymore. That’s what you’ve started doing. Thumbs up!

  4. BanannaBubbles says:

    Yep that’s me. Has been me for a long time. I would say that my reason/excuse that I use to stay in sucky stuck is I’m lazy and my laziness really comes down to Fear.

    When I start to enact change, try a different tack, think outside the box, actively do things differently, Fear descends on me. And so I talk the talk but then I wallow around in my laziness cause I know that when I walk the walk I have to tackle the yucky feelings that come rushing in (You’re not good enough, worthy enough, smart enough, pretty enough, insert whatever enough here).

    And it’s funny because I use to always be a person of action before. My motto was always “You can bitch, whinge and complain all you like as long as you are actively doing something to change the situation”
    After the end of my long term relationship I think I just gave up (motto be damned!). It was a hell of a lot more easier to throw my arms up, cry “Whatever” and stick my head in the sand. It’s a lot more easier to stay in stuck, point my finger at everyone else then point it back at myself, go around in a vicious cycle of blame them then blame me then it is to stop, finally fully grieve, finally put myself first, my needs, my wants, finally start to like and love me.

    But I am starting to walk the walk. I’ve put a lot of things in motion to bring about a lot of change in my life and I’m facing Fear almost every day. The days that I let Fear win are the days I bitch and moan, but I’m surrounded by people who support me, understand me, who are my own personal cheer squad and that gives me the power to face the Fear the next time it rears its head.

    • Flower White says:

      Hi Banana thanks for writing this!

      “I would say that my reason/excuse that I use to stay in sucky stuck is I’m lazy and my laziness really comes down to Fear.”

      Yup. I wish you ladies and Nat had been around when I was in my 20’s and 30’s, with info this potent there is no need for a young lady to waste time with an AC MM or EUM.

    • grace says:

      I’m afraid. I’ve met someone I kinda like who seems to like me except I keep running away when he tries to ask me out.
      I consciously try to stop myself from indulging my bad habits: fantasizing, worrying about breaking up (when we haven’t even been on a date), listing all the things he won’t like about me. It’s a little disheartening that the habit is still there but I feel I have control over it rather than the other way round.
      Don’t be hard on yourself, it doesn’t help. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone you love and believe in.

      • Grace, breathe out. Having a little anxiety but going ahead with your eyes and ears open, is totally normal. It’s been a few years – to have some angst is to be expected. Like you say, own it. You are in charge of your feelings, not the other way around. Now I must slap my hand and avoid fantasising about buying a hat 😉 Joke!

    • MaryC says:

      I was there too BanannaBubbles fear had taken over my life and I had a zillion excuses for everything. It took me quiet awhile to stop the selfpity routine mostly because I didn’t want to, I liked it for it gave me righteous indignation for being cheated on and left. But after awhile (well over 2yrs) that got old, I didn’t want to give him that power anymore. I wanted to be happy again but only on my terms. I finally am.

  5. assclownsRus says:

    It important to be mindful of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You have to dance the whole dance, but you keep changing partners and sometimes the dance lasts a very long time. When you are dancing with Anger, your EU man is an ass clown, an evil, soul-less monster who lied, cheated, and feloniously stole your heart, and you want to tell him about himself. (Sometimes you do.) When you are dancing with Denial and Bargaining, you remember what was good (perhaps even wonderful) about this man and this relationship, and know in your heart of hearts he is but a flawed person (as are we all) who deserves to be loved, understood and forgiven. Yes, you CAN wait for him to finish dancing with his ex. (And then you feel bad about telling him about himself while intoxicated by your dance with Anger, and sometimes you break NC to apologize.) When we dance with Depression, we think we will always dance alone, no one will ever move you the way HE did, nothing else could ever be so special (or yourself so UNspecial). Acceptance comes with the understanding that this EU man is BOTH awful and wonderful (and living his own hell at some level), you made your own choices (perhaps you were seriously misled but really you DID disregard a few red flags, didn’t you?), gambled with your heart and lost, but that does not mean YOUR dance is over forever. You are not the loser; he is, because he does not have YOU. Yes, you must make better partner choices for yourself, but hey, you LOVED somebody with your whole heart and you took a leap of faith. Not everyone can do that, it takes courage, and at some point that courage WILL get you to acceptance, without the bitterness or regret that will make you jaded or EU yourself. Yes, I know, quite a lofty goal; sounds so good but feels like shite. I write this for myself as much as for anyone else out there trying process through the utter mindfu*ckery of these awful situations. I am still dancing my way to acceptance. Gotta go, my dance card is really quite full, catching my breath after my dance with Anger, Depression beckons, but Denial and will cheerfully be awaiting another go … When I get truly sick of this dance, perhaps I will finally choose Acceptance, who is hopefully waiting the wings. Writing this is WAY better than sending another email, thanks, Nat, for having this space.

    • Flower White says:

      what you wrote is great! Women need to understand that and also
      TIME waits for no-one you’ll waste the prime years in aguish over a dweeb!

      CHILDREN many of you ladies have children! Kids don’t do what you SAY…they do what you DO. They’re watching you get moody over some jerk. You really don’t have the luxury of this. You are their hero their idol their role model face facts, women are the primary caretakers of children so you mothers have to prioritize children over the man if not your children surely suffer.

    • kmac says:

      assclownsRus…your words really resonated with me. Thank you. They are all just the stages of loss, and the way you expressed it made it seem quite natural and self-forgiving. After breaking 4 months of no contact with the narcissist, and having him respond begging for an ego-boost dinner date even though he has a girlfriend, and then finally after I sent a short but to-the-point kiss-my-beautiful-ass type e-mail I’m quite certain he cared nothing about, I realize I’ve been through the stages and am ready to move on, vowing to be aware of the red flags with boundaries in place. Will I get it right? Who knows, but I will not stop trying, and as a teacher, sometimes I think that’s what matters most.

      Oh, and Flowerwhite…I take it you’re under 40? I’m 40 plus, anything but a whiner, and grateful to have this wonderful site of sisterhood (with the occasional weighing in of a brother) when times get tough. I will say, at the risk of falling into your judgement zone, that quite a bit changes physiologically, and therefore emotionally, when you are in your 40’s. Toxic is toxic, and good for you for deciding “off with your heads,” I suppose. Until you get there yourself, though, please remember that positive and negative can be found at any age.

      • Flower White says:

        @kmac I’m sure I don’t know what you mean as I’m 40 plus and freely admit to being a ‘tough love’ person also, the Lady of the House aka NAT approves my comments and that’s good enough for me. Heck yes I’m judgemental, thank you very much.

        After a certain age its tiring and sickening to hear mothers and grandmother mope and infest their work and family circles.

        Nat stated it perfectly I agree “Which do you prefer, the problem or the solution?”

        Pretty simple. Thanks for taking the time to dialogue.

      • Kmac says:

        Trust me, Flower White, I have a sister who is the person Natalie describes. She is always the victim, and when I try to encourage her, she just finds another reason to complain about how much she is suffering. She is two years younger than I am, but she has been this way all of her life. It’s tougher to just decide she’s toxic and stop communicating with her as she’s my sister, but sometimes I go through phases where I decide that is exactly what is best for me, and even for her. It seems the more I buy into it, the worse she gets.

        I apologize if I seemed defensive; it’s just that there are so many wrinkles beginning to appear at warp speed, and hormonal changes that seem to make the fallout of anxiety and depression after getting raked over the coals by these men no much worse. I’m trying so hard to see what my part is, and also be gentle with myself as I go through these changes, but it’s not always easy.

      • Stephanie says:


        I agree with what you say. I’m finally knocking on the door of acceptance and I thought I’d never get there. I spent days and weeks wallowing in so much self pity that I just couldn’t think straight. The narcissistic AC was an experience I had never ever had and I just didn’t know how to handle it.

        However, I knew I had to change a few things about myself. One thing was fear/laziness (as mentioned by a few people earlier).

        The other day I went to the hairdressers and was so happy with my hair style that I decided to hop on the tube (that’s subway to those in the US) go into central London to visit a renowned Italian coffee shop on my own. Now, this may not sound like a big deal to some of you, but I can become shy in social settings where I don’t anyone, so one of my goals is to put myself out there a bit more. My best friend has just got married and has 4 children so she doesn’t have the time or money to socialise as much as me. I’ve organised a posh night out with another single friend this Friday because I just can’t sit around in my PJs thinking about this AC any more.

        Natalie replied to me in a previous post about change and she said I have a good handle on what changes I want to make, in order to do them I need to break them down to make them seem more accessible. Sometimes we just need to make the effort or else we will get stuck on hurt and will remain there, whilst in the meantime complaining and moaning to any one that will listen.

        I’m not saying its easy Ladies but you’ve got to start somewhere :-)

    • Natasha says:

      This is such an amazing comment. “Dance the dance of grief”… I was moved by the way you put it. It is a dance. Acceptance is waiting in the wings for me.

    • jennynic says:

      Your comment was very real and moving to me. You have put into words the way I have felt for so many years, especially right now. My boyfriend broke up with me this week and I feel like I’ve gone through anger, denial, bargaining and depression in a matter of days. Hour by hour, actually. I like how you say that courage and faith to love someone will get you to acceptance and that Acceptance will be waiting in the wings when you get sick of the EU dance. I find that very hopeful, and that maybe I won’t always have to dance alone.

    • Jen says:

      Excellent post(s)!
      I have been on baggage reclaim for a year and a half, and it’s been such a journey. But the second, literally, that I started applying these concepts to my life things started to get better. It wasn’t easy. In the year and a half, I went back to the ex AC once for about 5 seconds. I met a whole bunch of EUMs, that I systematically put in the friend zone, even when it hurt. I dated a guy that I wasn’t really into for valid reasons, and I dated an EUM future-faker for a short time until I wised up and flushed. I can’t say I haven’t been hurt, but I can say that the time it took me to jump back on my feet again has considerably shortened from before.
      I changed a few things in my daily existence that really helped: I take a multivitamin every day now, I tell myself I love myself and look me in the eye every day, I joined a soccer team. I spend time with myself and enjoy it. I don’t complain about my lack of love life, or at least I try not to…
      In the last few months it has all become clear. I love my life, and I know love is coming. It may be around the corner, it may not. I have goals, hobbies, and people who I respect and who respect me in my life.
      Going through the stages of mourning is a continual thing. I think right now I’m in acceptance, mostly because I recognize that I’m not quite in the other ones anymore, so I must be getting there. But it’s an ongoing process.

    • jasmine says:

      assclownsRus great words. i think we all need to read it. thanks heaps for sharing.

    • Christina says:

      Very perceptive, and well put!

    • Dublin says:

      Wow Ass I read your post, my god it was like you were in my head writing what I was feeling. Although you said it much better than I could. Great post!

  6. brenda says:

    I have been recently talking to a Man I have met over the internet…
    I have noticed that most of “my” conversations have been about how Ac Dissapeared,how I have chosen Bad Men,How low I feel about myself at times,and honestly the list goes on…
    I am clearly not ready to date,I know this,I have got to stop lying to myself and others that I am getting better.
    I am clearly still in the greiving process.I go to work,comehome,spend most of my days in my Pjs,and just sorta exist…
    I have not broken NC,so I guess I can be proud of that,but all in all this is not the life I want to live anymore..
    I want to be that Happy,engaging,carefree,person I once was..
    I guess its time to seek some further help.
    But I will tell you this,This site has been a life line for me…

    • Flower White says:

      Honey I promise you you will be happy! You’re grieving sure but look, nobody died. It hurts but one must give it perspective. Just keep coming this page, we’ve been through it, sure, it hurts! time to pamper yourself with some goodies cause you’re not ready to date you should not be on-line dating right now, btw, not even pen pals!

      Tip: watch comedies but not romantic, slapstick and cartoons ! Helpful.

      Do some online shopping order an accessorie in a bright, sunny color like yellow or pink. Drink something red green or orange. Think sun, tropical! Hot foamy oily baths, good fragrences. Hugs to you, dear you are getting better every day!

    • MaryC says:

      Brenda (( )) Hugs to you, you’ll get there. Don’t beat yourself up for doing what you have to do even if it is just being in your PJs. I have always felt PJ’s are an important part of healing.

      • Lynda from L says:

        There is no shame in admitting you need a little longer before dating.
        There is no shame in the PJ donning!!Everyone in the world needs to do this sometime.
        There is great pride to be had in your NC!! Good on you.
        Read a great book, couple of days later go for a stroll…chat with someone. A friend, family member. Go and see them. Just take wee steps, enjoy your own company. It will change, slowly…

    • Stephanie says:

      Brenda, my dear I know how you feel. Its good that you recognise that you are not ready to date, don’t jump in again to soon. I promise you that you will eventually start to feel better. Its tough dealing with an AC especially when they passively but aggressively drop you like a hot potato (remember I’ve been there!). I thought after my experience I would be on my own forever. My mum said something to me the other day that Natalie has also said in previous posts and that is ” how can you possibly believe that you will never meet anyone when you can’t see into the bloody future!” :-)

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Oh no, be very careful!
      This is sending a signal like a beacon to assclowns and EUs everywhere!

      Last year, after I went NC I thought I would date (it had been just over a month or two). I told the person I was chatting to (lazy communication) that I had met over an online dating site (danger) that had was busy all the time and disappeared for a while (months, more danger) that I had pulled the plug on the AC.

      Well what do you know- the person’s ears must have pricked up and they blew hot and asked me out. It was ambiguous and I wasn’t sure if it was a date or not – so I rang up and asked. It was a friendly datey… basically pure ambiguity. And they were always busy with work… So I did the friends only thing (ugh- why did I do that?!) but all I got was a crumby friendship too – hardly ever saw them.

      I managed to take a hint and leave after a while. Point is – if you have to tell the dates about exes, something is wrong. I got caught into thinking that I’d spent enough time and rationalised that because we didn’t actually have a titled relationship (we had a fantasy one) that I’d need less time to be ‘over it’.

      The dating ban continues (now 9 th months). I know it sounds long but this is the LAST time I let an AC in and they get away with as much as they did. I’m spending the time renovating myself.

  7. dancingqueen says:

    You know that was the big realization many months ago…not only that I needed to change my reactions to people and stop blaming myself for their behavior but also that I needed to change myself…to be more forgiving of my mistakes…and stop running the drama from my childhood in my head and being so critical of myself. That needed to be backed up with action…prior I knew this but for some reason DOING it…affirming myself…not cutting myself was that hard to break! I had often heard of affirmations but I had always made fun of that…when I started doing them and writing encouraging and forgiving notes to myself it was like I was finally DOING an action…it clicked suddenly. Sometimes it is just about finding a fresh response-actio n not a TALK-action.

  8. grace says:

    My dear counsellor, when I was complaining about how I couldn’t change, said “You think that because it’s all you’ve ever done and it’s all you know”. Ladies, just because you’ve always done it, or been doing it a long time, it doesn’t make it RIGHT. It doesn’t make it the ONLY option. You have to open your heart and mind to other possibilities. Otherwise, what’s the point of your human intelligence? You’re not a hamster in wheel.
    Over the course of 20 years I left someone for the worst EU ever. Then I married someone I didn’t even like, I then lived with someone who was physically abusive, I then went into a relationship with the worst/best playa ever which ended in depression and anxiety and THEN I got mixed up with a MM/returning childhood sweetheart (but I only met him the once and no touching thanks to Nat).
    But NEVER again. I am so happy now, more than I ever thought possible. Who’d have thought.
    If I can change, you surely can.
    And don’t tell me that you can be just friends, or keep him on your FB, or it’s better having him around than wonder what he’s doing. YOU’RE WRONG.

    • Natasha says:

      “And don’t tell me that you can be just friends, or keep him on your FB, or it’s better having him around than wonder what he’s doing. YOU’RE WRONG.”

      Amen Grace! I spent five years obsessing over an assclown and, after a year and change of NC, I never even think about what he might be doing. When he gets in touch, it’s an annoyance.

      Ladies, believe me, I thought the sun rose and set out of this guy’s ass, so if I can get to this point, you can too. “Out of sight (and out of Facebook), out of mind” might take some time to work, but it DOES work. Promise!

      • Sugar and Spice says:

        “Ladies, believe me, I thought the sun rose and set out of this guy’s
        ass, ”

        Lmao! Thanks for the laugh…had the same feelings for my ex once upon a time….

  9. PJM says:

    Top stuff, Natalie – it reminds me of the ‘Why you’re stuck on hurt’ post as well.

    It’s easy to move one’s addiction sideways, from Drama-Queen-with- Partner to Drama-Queen-with-Support-Network. It’s a sure sign you haven’t really changed the behaviour; just moved it around. Sometimes our capacity for self-deception is pretty amazing.

    People are complex things. We have so many layers, and just when you think you’ve gotten to the core of the problem, OUCH – there’s another one …

  10. Irina says:

    So true, energy in to actions and solutions …… that how I see

  11. tracy says:

    For years, I was the queen of the “yeah, but…” It was a way to not face that the men in my life were being AWFUL to me. Yeah, but his business isn’t going well, Yeah, but he says I’m being needy so I won’t ask where he was this weekend, Yeah, but his mom was mean to him when he was little so I won’t call him on his bad behavior because then I’ll be like her, Yeah, but my daughter’s mature so she can stay home alone for the weekend even though he’d never have his (same age) kids do so. Yeah, but he has intimacy issues so the fact that he stopped calling suddenly after dating 5 months must mean there is something wrong with ME, that I’m not good enough.

    Bullshit. Guys like this are incapable of loving, mature, stable relationships. End scene.

    One can make a million excuses for bad behavior. But at the end of the day HE is the one with the problem, not ME or anyone else here. Step outside yourself for a minute…look at yourself as if you were your best friend…would you want your friend to deal with this kind of treatment? No. What would you say to her/him? Then say it to yourself. Though I am currently seeing a divine man, all the things I have ever wanted, (having suffered through my LAST EUM/AC) I have finally found my sense of self.

    • RadioGirl says:

      Well said, Tracy. I think the “yeah but…” syndrome is a symptom of FBG disease. Thankfully we can come to BR for a shot of common sense to vaccinate against it.

      Long may you continue to enjoy your new relationship – I bet it feels really different having your sense of self completely intact this time! Well done for getting away from the problem and deciding to live the solution instead.

  12. jennynic says:

    This post is yet again, timely for me. I have made some positive changes in my life, but not enough. I’m coming to terms that I’m unhappy with my life in a low grade, behind the shadows kind of way. I’m not depressed, but I’m not happy either. I have no passion for my career, I’ve had too many bad relationships, I’m getting older and still alone, and I am just tired. I get out and do stuff, lots of very active stuff, but at the end of the day, many times, I just feel hollow. I have used relationships to fill that hollowness, then I held on with a vice grip when I should of opted out because I didn’t want to feel hollow again. I’m having a hard time feeling passion for life lately. I need to make more changes, but I don’t know where to begin. I research new careers all the time, look at online schools to change my degree, think of moving to the mountains instead of living at the beach. It’s like I have so many things in my head that I don’t know where to start. I feel like I need an engine rebuild instead of a tune up. I know I can do this, I want to do this, but I just don’t know what it is that will make me happy. I suppose some of this is fear, but some is just not knowing what I want and don’t have any direction. Just last night I was looking up jobs on a dude ranch (my degree is in the medical field), then a job as a naturalist at a remote alaskan resort. I want to take a jewelry making class, a creative writing class or a pottery class. I’m thinking so hard about changes that I feel dizzy. I know that I need to make more changes than how I relate to men and relationships. I need changes that will fulfill me and ease the hollowness. Then maybe the right man will see me for what I am, and so will I. Oh yeah, tomorrow I’m going to an author’s lecture on a book about finding the love of your life by finding yourself. Keep tryng till you get somewhere, right?

    • dancingqueen says:

      okay I have to say…can we all agree to STOP saying “I am over 40…50…and…” Ladies: age is not a factor to use as an excuse for making an effort to meet people hck my Dad and my 4(th!) stepmother met when she was 73 and he was 81at his proctologist when he was getting checked out and she was covering the secretary’s duties for vacation…and they are very happy. Stop using age as an excuse…I feel you I am 45 myself but an excuse is not going to get you in a relationship if you want one. For all the messes out there there are some quality men and stating your age to yourself is just negative self-talk….I spend literally 6 months having bad dates and boring setups from friends etc because I really decided that I just had to put myself out there. I have been with someone new for about two months now and he is 51 and he has NO interest in being with a really young woman…there really are some decent men out there but you HAVE to STOP dwelling on age as an excuse! :)

      • jennynic says:

        I hear you, but I don’t think I use age as as excuse not to make an effort to meet men. I meet men all the time. I get asked out by guys of all ages. I have discomfort at my age sometimes when I reflect on where I wish I was in my life right now and how I’m still struggling with certain things. I think, shouldn’t I be happy by now? I want to find happiness, and although I would like a stable loving relationship, I want to get away from the mindset that this future relationship is going to be the answer. I do have some issues with myself that even though I’m in my 40’s, I still don’t quite know how to make me happy yet, and that does bother me. I just got dumped so I’m feeling a little blue right at the moment and don’t quite know what to do with myself. I’m not devastated but it’s making me look at MY life closer and question how I can be happier without a relationship. The whole age thing for me is more about being disappointed that I’m not happier with myself. I admit that I’m not thrilled with the wrinkles and peri-menopause but that is not the core of my issue. It’s my self esteem and by my age, I wish I had a better handle on that. I haven’t lost all hope yet, but I do get frustrated. I can relate to what Kmac said above about the changes we go through at this age.

      • grace says:

        I applaud and heart you. xx

    • yoghurt says:

      “I have made some positive changes in my life, but not enough. I’m coming to terms that I’m unhappy with my life in a low grade, behind the shadows kind of way. I’m not depressed, but I’m not happy either. I have no passion for my career, I’ve had too many bad relationships, I’m getting older and still alone, and I am just tired. I get out and do stuff, lots of very active stuff, but at the end of the day, many times, I just feel hollow. I have used relationships to fill that hollowness, then I held on with a vice grip when I should of opted out because I didn’t want to feel hollow again. I’m having a hard time feeling passion for life lately. I need to make more changes, but I don’t know where to begin.”

      jennynic, I don’t know exactly how old you are but is it any comfort to know that I feel EXACTLY the same way right now? And I’m thirty… which I know in my head isn’t really old at all. And for me, I think it’s a stage of the process, just a manky no-fun one.

      Whenever I’ve heard people say that ‘change is hard’ I’ve assumed that it’s hard in a Go On That Quest! Conquer Those Orcs! Defeat Darth Vader! sort of a way, which is also exciting and fulfilling at the same time as being difficult and scary.

      But truly, I’m coming to realise that change is hard because it just feels like wading through treacle, unrewarding and knackering and often you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. It’s getting up from the nice warm settee, going out in the cold and taking a chance on an evening that you don’t enjoy much anyway.

      I wish I had some sage advice or solutions – then I could apply it to myself and chirk up a bit at this end too :) – but I think that the point at which these things stop being an effort and start being an integral part of the way that you conduct yourself is the point at which they become enjoyable. And every time you face a fear or discipline yourself to do something then you’re getting closer to it.

      • Elle says:

        Jennynic, I would start with one things, and when you start to enjoy the benefits of this experience (confidence, enjoyment, new knowledge etc) or else decide that it is not for you (which is OK to do), THEN see if there’s another area of life to work on. Right now, you seem to be doing anxiety-somersaults in the ocean, unsure which direction is up. I’d suggest starting with a lighter, hobby-style course, then slowly reviewing your career. Think carefully about whether you truly need immediate (one bandaid rip) radical change or whether you can change a small part of where you are now in order to step closer to this bigger goal. Be gentle.

    • Izzybell says:

      Hi Jennynic,

      I can relate to your post about feeling dissatisfied and wanting to change but not knowing how/where/what to do differently. Surprisingly, lately I’m finding that what actually is making me happier isn’t making any major external overhaul changes to my life but instead choosing to do small things differently on a daily basis. It’s like traveling: doing something slightly differently that I ordinarily do one particular way has sort of revealed a whole new view of the rest of my life and given me the chance to appreciate more the good things that are already there.

      This may sound hokey, but even just wearing colors I usually think are too bright, taking a different route to work, cooking recipes for myself with veggies I’ve never used before– these tiny shifts seem to be pumping the prime for bigger changes in the way I feel about myself and my life. I’ve also been practicing being more outspoken about my boundaries and needs in my relationships with friends and family, particularly when I feel bothered by something, and this has helped a lot too. Feeling more at ease and happier with what I’ve got makes contemplating the larger changes that I might like to make less overwhelming and urgent and more like a hard-but-potentially-fun long term challenge…

      • RadioGirl says:

        I would second your approach, Izzybell, and have been finding over the past few months that this “little-by-little” style seems to be the way forward for me too. I partly arrived at this because, certainly after I’d first broken up with the ex, I knew I was in too fragile a state to make any big life changes and wanted to build up to anything major in a less daunting way. Now when I review my progress in the present day, a year on from being more or less razed to the ground by the end of my relationship, I feel that all those little changes are actually adding up to a bigger shift in me that I had been consciously aware of. I’ve always advocated on here to be gentle with ourselves, and I’m certainly going to continue with the softly-softly approach.

    • Anon says:

      jennynic; I feel what you are saying. You need a change, but a strategic one, to get you to a better place, not another change that leaves you empty/half content? I have done a lot of changes in my twenties and thirties, since those are the years for gaining experiences; making goals; marathons, friends, travel, career. I have already changed cities, jobs, types of guys I date, neighborhoods etc.- and I don’t want to do it all over again, at this age, alone. If you don’t have a family, do you become a lifetime hobby-ist? It is the ‘dimishing returns’ concept, there are fewer people out there when we age- less men to date, less women who have time for friendship. Any new experience will be a bit of work/a drag to do without a partner. I have no desire to move to a new city and drive a Uhaul myself, unpack myself, cook and eat dinner alone- so no desire to move. No matter how I look at it, the problem is being single, (when compared to all the happy couples with schedules filled with non stop family activities) & the solution is marriage and babies, how to get there? I know what the bloggers will say; “don’t look at it that way! don’t talk like that” Popular culture books and trends like ‘The Secret’ say only put positive thoughts into the universe, no mentions of fear or negative. Ok, but it seems phony and a slight to myself to not be honest. Am I the only one who feels this way?. This is my reality right now. Some times you need to articulate what you are feeling, what nobody is saying. I never imagined my life as it is now. I am frightened.

      • Jennifer says:

        Hi Anon and Jennynic,

        I last commented on here about six months or so ago, freaking out about how scared I was of being alone and doing things alone, just like you. That freak-out caused me to have a real epiphany which led to a lovely relationship I have been in since then. This is what the epiphany was: if you want to have the kind of relationship you claim to want, with someone who is there by your side to do things with you and be there for you and love you, you have to make the decision to be with a nice guy. That’s it. In a way it’s kind of easy to swear off EUMs and vow not to date until you’re healthy; I think the problem a lot of people seem to have is that they don’t know how to BECOME healthy. There’s no magic to it though, you just have to make that decision to go against what your hormones are telling you is “attractive” (read: EU) and instead give a guy who will treat you right a chance, even though if you are like me, you have probably been telling yourself your whole life that guys like that are awkward boring losers. But they’re not – they are actually the answer to the problem you are expressing. (Also: to women who feel they won’t be attracted enough to nice “boring” guys, little do you know how much your sex life will explode when you are with someone who is always available to make you happy!)

        I hope this helps. And I’m confident you do both know at least one nice guy each because all of us do! But many of us write them off.

  13. Anne says:

    What about finally taking action and then having groundhog days about wanting to undo it? It is difficult to not be fully behind my choice of action. So, after all my support people listened on and on about me defining and analyzing the problem, I finally make a change and now they have to hear on and on about how much I want to backtrack. I would NEVER have ever believed I would be like this.

  14. miskwa says:

    Right on in many ways. Yep, I am one of those folks that feels very stuck in her weird town. I am putting my energy into fixing up the place as much as I can so it will eventually sell for enough to allow me to get out. However, house swapping, getting enough rent, or bailing on the mortgage are not options. What I am not doing is breaking NC with my particular AC nor am I settling for any sort of “less than” relationship.

  15. Natasha says:

    One of your best Nat! I’ve had to cop to quite a lot of this recently. I’m very blessed to have people in my life that will say, “Hey girl, you should date!” and I must admit that I’ve unpacked my handy-dandy Excuse-O-Matic machine, which spouts out phrases like, “I’m better off by myself/I don’t see it really going anywhere even if I did meet someone/I’m happiest on my own”, etc. when pressed about it. Then approximately 3-7 days will go by and I’ll call my mother and weep that I’m going to be alone forever and if I have to go to another wedding by myself I’m seriously going to consider bringing my dog as a date, as it would be arguably less pathetic. Here I am with people giving me concrete advice on how to meet with someone and I’m calling my mother to do a Bridget Jones (No, my dog is not an Alsatian. Thank God.)

    The most ironic part of it is I’ll think, “Why are these people bringing up dating? I certainly never bring it up! I could be happy single FOREVER.” Errrrrrrr, hello?! It’s not that I’m truly unhappy with my life by any means, but yes, I have moments where I get sad about what’s happened and what hasn’t happened yet. Maybe then it’s time to DO something about it!

    Loved this article. So much.

  16. Christina says:

    Oh yes! I tend to be a problem-solver, so I quickly get impatient with people who don’t seem to want to make any move to improve a bad situation. At the same time though, I have been there, more than a few times.

    And I know that for me, that desire to stay put, even in an unhealthy situation is really driven by fear. What if I fail? What if I try all of these things and none of them work? What if the solution is worse than the problem? What if this puts me outside my comfort zone? And on and on.

    Of course, during all this questioning, no change is happening, and misery just keeps piling on. Inevitably, all of the things I worry about above, usually don’t materialize. Getting outside my comfort zone is the only certainty, and that’s only hard for a little while, and usually worth the effort.

    In the end, action is fear’s worst enemy. Once you face the thing you fear the most, and realize that you can survive it, that life goes on, often better than before, it becomes easier to keep moving.

    • Sugar and Spice says:

      “In the end, action is fear’s worst enemy. Once you face the thing you fear the most, and realize that you can survive it, that life goes on, often better than before, it becomes easier to keep moving.”

      I like it; I like it. So true! I just wish I could remember this in every moment…sometimes, I run away, or I distract myself, and sometimes I don’t realize that I am running away or distracting myself, or even from what I am distracting myself from…procrastination is a problem for me, but I’m getting better…trying to improve my focus, and follow through…it’s just the free floating anxiety that I am trying to get used to, but it’s funny because when the anxiety isn’t too bad (not the kind that paralyzes me with fear) in that moment I feel alive, not flying through the air with bird wings alive, but “hey, I can feel this moment” alive….

      Your quote reminds me of one of my favorite people, Eleanor Roosevelt. She said something like “You must do the things you think you cannot do” and “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

  17. anoosh says:

    I’ve woken up in the middle of the night. Fell asleep with TV on, to a late nite talk show I rarely ever watch, perhaps 2x/year. In my dream, having a mtg w/Alec Baldwin (?!), then all of a sudden a band was performing on the show. I heard the name of the artist, and in my dream said out loud, “oh, my ex’s son plays with them…”, was listening to the song– and then I bolted awake. It *was* the exEUM’s son, who does play in this band, and there he is on national television. My insides felt like I was on that spinning teacup ride at Disneyland. I can only remember a handful of times my conscious mind forcing me awake, the awareness what was happening in the room was fully incorporated into my dream.

    Why did I stop at that channel? Why couldn’t my subconscious just let me keep sleeping? I didn’t need a painful reminder today. I’m at 2 months of reinstating NC, after allowing contact for a few months. I was doing a bit better. Been trying so hard to make changes, accept the loss, really move on, which is *way* overdue (1yr 8mos). Seems like no matter how hard, something bizarrely out of the blue will come along that reminds me: don’t kid yourself, you’re far from not loving him anymore. It’s torture at this point. I had the attention-seeking thoughts: email him, mention his son, make contact– but I’m not acting on them. Guess that’s why I’m here.

    I met his son, we spent time when EUM & I were together. It made me feel that he really was serious about making me part of his life. I’m certain he would’ve let me know his son was coming here to my city (it was ultra LDR) up until recently, even if we weren’t “talking”. It’s just more proof that it’s LONG over and we’re not “friends”. As it should be. But my heart is still aching, and I looked on mutual FB friends pages to see if there was any talk about it. I NEVER do that. But I did just now, feels awful. I even looked at his wall, which is mostly not public. I clicked on a “now friends with” post, only to see a gorgeous young woman who now works at his school. Not good.

    I’m being honest here, I do so want to be free of this. Trying my best not to give in to self-defeating beliefs described above (last chance saloon, Over-40-So-It’s-All-Over etc). I’ve *folded*. It just doesn’t seem to be enough, bc I can’t seem to get to the end of this heartbreak. Maybe it’s just the…

  18. Wolle says:

    Excellent article! I often call this playing both sides of the tennisfield: very exhausting and no one wins anything. If you have the energy to obsessivly complain, you have the energy to change yourself and your behaviour.

  19. Lia says:

    Ah, the good ole comfort zone…I really needed to read this today. I’ve been trying to hold myself accountable when I know that I am making excuses for myself. And it’s a lot easier than it used to be, but it’s also very easy to slip back into a comfort zone without even realizing it. I have a friend who has been beating a dead horse for 3 years with the same man, and every time she leaves him I hear the same story about how he’s never going to change and that she’s done…yet slowly but surely she ends up right back where she used to be. It’s frustrating to watch from the outside, and I figure that it must be incredibly draining to actually be in it and do it over and over and over again. But then again I also know that I have done that very same thing, and it was very draining. Somehow seeing from an outside perspective has allowed for me to see just how ridiculous it is to put yourself through something like this.

    I think that in order for someone to do what needs to be done, they have to actually want to do it. Sometimes we want change, but we don’t want to be the ones to make an effort to make it happen.

  20. cherri says:

    those things above hit home, except I have never told a soul of my situation, so everything just goes round in my head –
    thankgod for your blogs , as they all hit home with me, and I am changing my mindset and realising I am not crazy, that everything I have done, or thought is quite normal when faced with situations
    so far your blogs have helped me stop taking much credence of anything he says- stop, indulging in drama,mind games, investigating, evidence gathering or trying to control things. I have started doing things that make me happy, not making him the source of my emotions, but at present the fear of being alone and facing life into old age alone keeps me here,the pros outweigh the cons at present – but I am growing stronger in myself and the kids are older , had your blogs been around 25 years I would have had the strength and youth to opt out as I never realised any of these things about going into relationships

  21. Kmac says:

    Jennynic, I could have written your last post. I feel your pain, and sometimes I don’t know what is harder, crawling into bed alone every night, or waking up in the morning with the stark realization that I’m 48 years old and nothing has turned out the way I thought it would. One thing I am learning from my spiritual practice is that the very notion of trying to “get somewhere” is what is causing the suffering. It’s been a tough concept for me, in that I wonder if it means I’m not supposed to aspire or work toward something different. Maybe not. Maybe it’s about seeing clearly what is motivating the job searches, etc. and making certain that it isnt just one more means of trying to get away from ourselves, much the same as when we get involved with men who can’t love. I try to remember the old saying: Everywhere you go, there you are again!
    Hang in there. I am with you in spirit.

    • ixnay says:

      I think the spiritual thing is that if you stop and be fully aware of where you really are, you are somewhere else already, someone else already. It’s the frantic escaping that prevents real change.

      I do a lot of yoga and bodywork, and you have to be present to your body awareness in the moment, and only then can you work from where you are. If your mind is on the next pose or the way you were more flexible last week, what happened, or someone else’s better practice, you are jumping out of the very awareness that is required for change.

  22. Gina says:

    Thanks for posting this Nat. Like you, I am sick and tired of listening to the whining and complaining about how bad EUs, ACs, MMs, etc. are and excuses as to why some of the women on this blog cannot (or refuse to) do the work that is required to move forward. This blog is to be used to encourage us to make better choices when it comes to choosing romantic partners, and to opt out when these people do not treat us with the love, care, and respect that we deserve. It’s purpose is to enlighten and empower—not to create a haven for people who act like victims and want a place to come to so that they can have a pity party

    • brenda says:

      There are people on here that are in every stage of grieving.
      That being said,There will be all kinds of Different emotions,Different thoughts..I find this a safe place,to express how I am feeling from day to day or week to week.
      I am still grieving,it has been 4 months,and yes I am still greiving,But there are also alot of great moments I have,and alot due to the posts that Nat writes..
      I dont see myself or any othere woman On here as A pity Party, Or vicitim…I see us all as people who did not have the knowledge at the time to do the right thing for us….
      I am in no way chastizing what you wrote,we are all entitiled to our feelings,But I dont think that Nat sees us as Pathetic woman on here that keep playing the victim role…
      I could be wrong as I cant speak for Her of course,But I have always found her to be loving,yet realistic,And that is all what we need..
      I have seen many women grow on here,and yes some are stuck,But we all do things in our own time!

      • Gina says:

        Hi Brenda,

        I truly understand what you are saying, and I agree with you that people grieve and heal in their own time. I also believe that you and everyone else on this board should take as much time as you all need to heal completely. If that means talking about your pain until the cows come home (I know I did), so be it because that’s the way in which you truly heal. Therefore, it would make me a hypocrite to tell someone else to do otherwise.

        My comment was directed as those individuals who do NOT truly want to heal or move forward, and who use this board to vent just for the sake of venting. Therein lies the difference.

        • brenda says:

          Thanks Gina!
          I understand all to well what you are saying as well….I really do..
          I have a gf who has been with this Man for 7 years..There is not a day that goes by where she does not complain about him and think very low of him,And yet she cant leave..
          Heres the irony…She was the person who told me about this site!!!
          I listen to here vent,throw my 2 cents when I can,and when I am exhauted I just say I have got to run…
          So I do know what you are saying Gina….
          I guess for me,I have never really followed specific person on here,I try to make it about me,sure I take some great things,some not so great things,and I leave the rest…
          I wish I still was not greiving,I wish I was stronger,but hell I have come along way to where I was 4 months ago…Somedays are good and some are downright painful.Thanks again,Gina…..There is always 2 perspectives!!!

          • Gina says:

            Hi Brenda,

            Go ahead and let grief do its job. Feel what you need to feel and as time passes you will notice a change in your heart, mind, and soul. You have to go through each stage of the process in order to come out clean and purified on the other side. Cry when you need to cry, and feel sorry for yourself when you need to as well. I’ve been through all the stages and let me tell you…THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!!

            You are a survivor, and you are going to be just fine!


    • Hi Gina, Flowerwhite, Kmac, Jennynic et al! I wanted to follow up as this post seems to have brought out some strong feelings on the issue of friendship, venting, and playing the victim.

      It’s a question of tolerance and boundaries. I understand, respect and to some extent agree with some of the concerns raised but here is my take and bear in mind that this is just how I roll:

      1. Tolerance, boundaries and empathy are like muscles – the more you use them, the stronger they get.

      2. At one point or another we have been and done the very things that we may not like in others. Everyone is at different stages – some get it quickly,some take a bit longer, some are slow but steady, some will keep putting their hand in the fire and will either show up here and go ‘Oops’ or go dark for a while and they may or may not move forward in the future, and some are stuck and will hopefully come unstuck. Whatever stage you’re at, Baggage Reclaim is here although this is a low BS environment so ‘oops’ people tend to move on.

      3. Some of you have got to a good point in your life – this is great but be careful of impatience with others or even pulling out your pedestal.

      4. I’ve been at a very happy place for 6 years now. I couldn’t do what I do without what I mentioned in #1. I haven’t forgotten where I’ve come from and I recognise that we’re all partial to a moan and we all have habits. I’m definitely not sick and tired of anything (Gina) on BR – out of complaining comes enlightenment for many others. Whenever I find myself feeling like I’m being drawn into fixing and enabling someone, I just step back, evaluate and know my own boundaries.

      5. One of the benefits of people posting comments and a regular community, is that yes you can complain and even have your own Groundhog Day but there’s a trail. It becomes clear when there’s BS.

      6. Friendship *is* about being friends through the good times and the bad, but it’s not about treating people like armchair psychologists or even receptacles for verbal diarrhoea, or the type of thing you only feel like participating in when you need them or you can feel needed, or you’re at a loose end.

      7. I still have most of the same friends – I appreciate them sticking with me with raised eyebrows and a friendly ear through all of the craziness. Pay it forward ladies.

      8. That said, I’ve never pushed the boundaries with my friendships, nor only shown up when I was single, nor expected them to agree with everything or demanded their time.

      9. That said, sometimes it’s just about being a friend, listening and not having to be right.

      10. That said, it’s important to have boundaries – my mother called me a few times a week over a 3 month period a few years back – only 1 conversation was remotely positive and being held hostage at the end of a phone or sitting with your stomach gnawing as you ingest someone else’s offload is unpleasant.

      11. If you don’t like the conversation, shorten them instead of sitting there and then moaning about them afterwards and then doing it again. Change the subject, let it go to voicemail.

      12. My friend stuck with Mr Unavailable for 10 years and I could predict their relationship and breakups to a tee. We were all in groundhog day with her. Thankfully she’s beyond that now but we’re all still the best of friends. It wasn’t easy but she never placed any excessive expectations and we had to not try to be Florences. That and she’s a brilliant friend who was there for us and great fun, even when she probably wanted to talk the crap out of her own stuff.

      13. It’s not about enabling – boundaries knocks that on the head. That same friend I mentioned – because we’re friends, we were able to say that she was doing the Groundhog Day thing. Was she thrilled? No. But she 100% respects that and listened to that feedback and was self-aware. Just like I had to be when my friends gave me a nudge.

      14. When your values change, your friendships may shift. It’s not about judging the person – I don’t want to be friends with someone who only likes me when I’m down or who only reaches out when they’re down, or is a coke head or whatever.

      15. I love BR and the community. There are some seriously fantastic people here – I’m glad that ‘complaining’ brought them here and I’m even gladder that many of them grow and evolve right here.

      • anoosh says:

        Thanks so much for that. Gives me perspective & hope on this rather PMS-y day, as well as your other comment way above. I’m working on rekindling some old friendships, taking it slow, treading lightly with new people, trying to get a good sense of people, boundaries, etc. I do feel very thankful for the few true-blues. Two of them both have had very serious health issues come up in their immediate families in the last couple months (autism, stroke & cancer). It’s true, we don’t know what life is going to bring, good to keep in mind making the most of today — that really is all we have, I suppose. Thank you for your understanding, patience and insight. You truly have a gift, and so many people are benefitting — I know I am, and I’m working hard at not becoming a WHoopsy! Girl :) also, keeping in mind not wanting to become a “kvetch”, as we say in New Yawk…

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Thank you Natalie for the clarification. I felt a bit intimidated to comment again because I don’t want to be perceived as a stupid, whining, former OW who is unwilling to face the solution which, of course is clear as a bell, don’t be an OW. What brought me to BR was shock. I was a mistress, no flipping way not me. What kept me coming back and still does, is the wonderful, supportive community. Thank you all for listening to my complaining, ranting, and raving but most of all thank you for not enabling me to continue on that destructive path. It took me sometime to see the solution. I’m still working through the solution and growing and evolving. As I dug deep, it ended up not being as simple as simply not being an OW! There are some seriously fantastic people here. I’m still a bit jittery about posting though.

          • Tulipa says:

            @ runnergirl
            I hope you don’t stop posting many of your comments have helped me connect the dots.
            I am amazed at the patience of people on here and for myself I’m pretty sure I’ve clocked up three years of posting comments all about the same person. That is a long time of not getting it.
            I wish you luck on your contuning journey, runnergirl.

          • Runnergirl and ladies (and any guys)

            There seems to have been a bit of sidetracking here so I hope for what will be the last time, that I can clarify again:

            This is my site and I’m surrounded by some wonderful people from all walks of life. I put a commenting facility here to talk about the topic on hand for each post. There are guidelines there that protect readers and ensure that it is not used as a forum. This protects the tone, integrity of the site and limits the amount of ’emptying out’ on the site – instead on topic discussion is promoted.

            This has helped to create a collaborative and supportive atmosphere. I appreciate that there will be differences of opinion and some people might even get on your tits, but can we cut the Dynasty levels of drama please? It’s completely unnecessary.

            To complain about people using the comments for the purpose intended, which is to contribute to the subject of the post and expand beyond it, which may include sharing experiences and insights that still currently piss you off, is to miss the point entirely.

            I don’t expect everyone to agree with one another no more than I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. All I ask is that even if you don’t sugar coat it, that you’re respectful and don’t create Dynasty levels of drama.

            This is a post about looking for solutions and mindfulness – nobody is trying to censor you, it’s not about discussing your issues within a blog designed for that, nor is it about judging people for not doing things in the timeframe that you’d like.

            It pains me when people make generalisations about women – it pains me even more when we live up to them. Live and let live. Even me as the person who writes this site cannot control everything. So what if someone writes a comment that is on topic but a spot of navel gazing? You don’t have to respond! You don’t even have to read it and roll your eyes. You don’t even have to judge them – it is amazing how quick we can be to pronounce judgements on people when we’re not so hot on using our judgement where we need it – making decisions in our own lives.

            The majority of people that read this site don’t comment – there is always something to be learned through the shared insights.

            I appreciate your situations are your own but don’t forget, it’s not all about you. This post, the comments – they are not a personal attack. Oddly, none of the people who would openly admit to being complainers are even commenting on this topic!

            Now I’m going off to enjoy my day and de-drama myself! Have a good day x

      • Flower White says:

        Great post and thanks for the shout out, Nat.

        I think women could be more honest with each other and learn to appreciate their friendships. While I did cut off two women that I love like sisters I have other friendships that have lasted over 30 years.

        Yes, I made the mistake of going overtime whining and venting about a bf (about six years ago), and a couple gal pals gave me the boot! It hurt but I had to own my part in it…why did they get sick of me? Oh right…I held them hostage for hours at a time crying about a man that I went right back to, over and over I’d call them up crying. Face palm! In retrospect I’m ashamed of how selfish and hurtful I was to them, as my tunnel vision didn’t include their lives, only me-me-me.

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Thank you Natalie. I get it. I realized your post and the comments have been intense for me. That is a good thing! I’m starting to recognize that whenever I get that “jittery” feeling from your posts and the comments, it means there’s probably some baggage there for me to work through. There’s def some baggage here for me to work through. I’ve been thinking about focusing on the solution rather than defining myself through the problem. I didn’t realize I was painting myself into a corner. But I was.
          Tuplia, we’ll get it. Keep pushing forward and I will too. It’s nice to know my rambling about my self discovery has helped you. Your insightful comments and everyone else have helped me too. That’s the wonderful thing about BR. It’s funny you mentioned “connecting the dots”. I’m a dot connector. But I see from this post, when I don’t want to accept that a connection between the dots creates a problem, I can slip into denial, and attempt to rearrange the dots to suit me and try to create a faux solution. Nope. Dots are dots. Solutions are clear even though I want to hide in denial. MM’s aren’t relationship partners. MM’s are liars and a whole host of other things. There’s no possible connection with a MM. Sometimes I just hate solutions cos, well, they’re solutions that I don’t want to accept. However, I’m starting to get there, god dammit. I’m kicking and screaming less and less these days as I work toward accepting the solution. May I still add, WTF, god damn him, he needs to get his ass kicked, blah, blah blah. Just a bit of anger, again. I’m so grateful Natalie for everything you do and so grateful for all of you who comment even though it scares me sometimes. That’s a good thing. Underneath the anger, lies the hurt, still. How can these guys get their cake and eat it too? How do FBG’s dish up the cake? Just rhetorical questions at this point. Tons of hugs to everyone.

      • Lo J says:

        Love, Love, LOVE this, Natalie. You worded so perfectly. Thank goodness for you, BR, our girlfriends who have stuck with us through our “stuck” periods and through our personal growth and may we “pay it forward” as you say!

  23. Lynda from L says:

    I’m in a really good place with regard to this at moment. Thankfully I’m getting a handle on the rumination/analysis of the EUM and my constant attempts to diagnose the relationship problems. NC is brilliant for this.
    There were problems, I feel confident that I made the right call to leave.Ultimately I feel I was worth more, to myself,than being in the relationship.
    I stopped expecting him to feel I was worth more.
    No amount of tinkering, long winded pleas or asking for validation from him was working.
    I’m concentrating today on what can be fixed, which is myself.
    The article reminded me of job I had several years ago,where the Friday afternoon meeting would run on for hours..whilst everyone moaned, gave excuses,talked about issues as if they were difficult or unique(they weren’t). It pissed me off so much that eventually I got another job and left but not before I had a couple of months of moaning myself about the meetings/working practises. It seems to me that we have to develop the insight to stop ourselves doing this, cos it’s definitely catching!
    We actually recognise when we are in an environment,romantic,working,family, friend -where the vibe is positive and solution-focused. The key, it seems to me, is trying to shoot for this in most of our relationships and recognising we ourselves are the starting point.

    • brenda says:

      Your so awesome:)….

      • Lynda from L says:

        Thanks Brenda,you are growing, you know…reading your bit above, I thought… I hope Brenda doesn’t see coming away from dating for a little while as a set back? You made a big step when you decided you need more time to recover. You are healing in every way, my lady!
        I can feel it.

      • Red Velvet says:


        I second that. Lynda is fab.

  24. Greenfern says:

    10 days ago I made the decision to end the madness with the ex.
    Opting out was probably the healthiest decision I have made for myself, after a 7 month relationship. I found my SOLUTION!

    Thank you Natalie for this forum; I have found solace and sound thinking reading these pages.

    He insisted that I did not try hard enough to accommodate his ADHD related issues; his marijuana addiction, his lack of libido, his erratic behavior, depression, chaos, financial problems. He made unreasonable requests for emotional support and personal assistance, while he gave didly s**t about my basic needs for companionship. He told me I should have set my needs aside until he figured himself out. Ha!

    Whoa. That was a wake up moment there. I could of hung in there for years moaning about it; looking for validation. But this time I gave myself the validation and permission to look after myself. Although it feels pretty raw still but I have this new sense of power that I have taken back.

    In his fourties, he is moving back with mom again, maybe she can take care of him. Good bye chaos man!

    • Elle says:

      Good on you, Greenfern! You will no doubt go through spots of uncertainty about this, maybe even intense moments of guilt, but the list of his qualities that you included suggests a relationship that is objectively far too difficult and stressful for ANYONE (not just you) to feel happy and healthy. It is actually the most compassionate and sensible thing you’re doing for both of you, as individuals. He needs to fight for his own life, on his own, and you now have a wonderful opportunity to thrive. Don’t look back!

  25. riotgirl says:

    Thanks for the article Nat, it’s exactly what I needed.

    I was with a sociopath for almost 4 years. It wasn’t all bad… we got along well, enjoyed each others company and the chemistry was amazing. But after constantly being lied to, cheated on, yelled at, used for money and sex and having endured an emotional abortion (he still blames this choice on me calling me a murderer), it hurt me — and I ended the relationship. I loved him but I felt that I couldn’t keep him happy and that someone else would be better for him. I truly believed that if I was the right person for him, he’d never do this to me.

    So yes, it’s hard to do No Contact even though he has emailed me every few days letting me know how much he loves me and that he understands why I hate him, then switching to blaming me for what a cold-hearted *b* I am and that the girl he knew would never do this to him. I’ve changed my phone number and resisted emailing or messaging back for… about 9 months now. But I am still tempted to reply every time. I try to reassure myself that no matter what I say to him, that he’d twist it around to be my fault. He’s finally emailed me to let me know he’s moved on. He said we could still be friends now and talk if I wanted to, but if I didn’t — to have a nice life. I don’t know why, but I feel happy and sad at the same time.

    So yes, I express my frustration to close friends… not all the time but it’s mostly when I feel weak and hope that they can strengthen me to keep doing NC. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to give in. Then I read Baggage Reclaim and all the responses and feel really encouraged. I hope I stop thinking about him soon and that I continue to have strength not to let him back into my life. I think I have chosen the solution this time. Sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing right? :)

    What do the readers think about Stockholm Syndrome in these cases?

    • d. says:

      “He’s finally emailed me to let me know he’s moved on.”

      What an AC! If he moved on, why is he contacting you? Keep it moving…

      • Fearless says:

        Yes, people don’t email you to tell you they’ve moved on (that’s just attention seeking) – they just move on! You”ll know when he’s moved on when you don’t hear from him. But let him know *you* have moved on – by blocking his incessant shite from your inbox! This guy sounds like a leech. You’ll get more clarity if you stop hearing from him; his constant drivel is keeping you stuck in faux love.

        • riotgirl says:

          @Fearless: First of all, I love the boldness of your statements.

          Yes, he is a leech and yes, it’s a faux love.
          You’re right. I’m going to do this today! :)

      • riotgirl says:

        @d: Yep, I was thinking that also. Maybe its his “subtle”way of saying that he has a girlfriend now and doesn’t care anymore, trying to tell himself that he “won”.

        Good advice d. Am keeping it moving! :)

    • mymble says:

      Stockholm Syndrome!
      Well there’s a great song by Yo La Tengo of that name!
      Is it where the hostage starts to apologise for and defend her/his captor? If you said it wasn’t all bad living with a sociopath maybe you had a mild case.. he does sound pretty bad and being friends with him sounds like a BAD IDEA. He may lock you in his cellar so you never, ever run away from his “love” again.

      • riotgirl says:

        @mymble: Your comment really resonated with me:

        “He may lock you in his cellar so you never, ever run away from his “love” again.”

        He did try to lock me in… with a baby! But that didn’t happen because to me, it never felt right. Messed up huh?

    • Allison says:


      Why not make things easier on yourself: Block!

      • riotgirl says:

        I… haven’t done that. I should though. I haven’t because a few times he had emailed me to say that he was going to come to my house and do this and that. So I left it on there because to me, it was like a warning sign that I could prepare for. Maybe I’m just justifying this to myself. Gah.

        • Fearless says:

          “Maybe I’m just justifying this to myself.”

          Yeah, I think you’re right about that. We can ‘justify’ almost anything if we want to. Block him.

    • Lia says:

      Yea, I can see that being part of the equation here. Abused children love their parents too. So do women whose husbands abuse them. I witnessed an abusive relationship and I can tell you that she loved him too. And whenever she would go back to him she would tell me that there were some good times along with the bad. I don’t know enough about the syndrome, but I figure that it has something to do with the inconsistency of affection shown, and the other person feeling as though they won’t be able to get that love from anyone else…

      I don’t think that it’s a bad thing that you vent to a friend. I think, to a certain extent, we all do. I mean whose gonna be there for you in a time of need if a friend won’t?..but I also think that there’s a fine line between leaning on friends and using them as a crutch. No one likes having their emotional energy drained or feeling like they’re being used, even if it is a friend, so just make sure you give as well as take.

      • Lynda from L says:

        Riot Girl,
        Ask not about Stockholm syndrome or learned helplessness or any label(and I say this as someone who used to like to label)…
        Ask simply how the relationship with him made you feel on a daily basis?
        If the answer is crap, then you have all the definition you need.

        • mymble says:

          Absolutely, how I hate the labels!
          My particular bete noir is the “sex/love/romance addict” label that is so popular just now. Many people shag around for a while, and mostly they stop because they get fed up of it. Some keep right on doing it, because they like it, or haven’t got anything better to do, whatevs. But now – its a medical problem! They can’t control it! It needs professional help! Partly it’s used to demonise and dismiss other people, on the other hand it’s used to avoid responsibility for ones own actions.

      • riotgirl says:

        @Lia: Yep, I think it’s partly due to low self-esteem or maybe like Nat has mentioned in the articles, that we’ve invested so much of ourselves, our emotions, time, money etc… that we don’t want to see it fail either. Or maybe we believe we can ‘save’ them.

        Thanks for the advice. I am sick of thinking about it, so I presume that my friends would too. But I agree with you that there is a difference between support and using your friends as a crutch. Mostly, I don’t talk about it to my friends because they dislike him.

  26. grace says:

    I know it’s not funny but
    ” I lived with a sociopath … it wasn’t all bad” made me laugh out loud,
    Block him.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Yeah, I can relate. My ‘logical circuitry’ just got upgraded though:
      It used to be:

      Good + Bad = GOOD

      and now it is

      Good + Bad = BAD = FLUSH

      Relearning maths takes a little while, but I am getting there.

    • riotgirl says:

      I didn’t even live with him lol. We only ever saw each other on the weekends… maybe that’s what made things bearable…

      It is pretty funny now that I read it again.

  27. Confused2 says:

    I havent posted in awhile but im having trouble processing the “solution” to my own so called drama with my EU. He said he was being cautious and just wanted/needed time. He outwardly said that him and i were not in a relationship but that the companionship (and sex) was exclusive. Needless to say i tried make this work because i felt well hey, I can understand being “cautious and needing time” so let me give this some time. 7 months passed and throughout those 7months i cant say that i was happy or got much out of this (whatever you want to call relationship). Periodically (well lets say prob every 2-3weeks) I wanted to see where things were going but when i tried to ask he would just always say: “dont force it, lets take it one day at a time”. I dont know why it was hard for me to accept that (perhaps my own ego??) Either way, i guess you can say that this but a strain and drain on our relationship. Me feeling so insecure about the whole thing but yet wanting so hard to give it time to see if things progressed. Needless to say he grew tired and weary and this past Sunday (after me trying to call him several times with no answer and no text) I acted out again and said: “I feel like a complete A**hole with you”. Meaning that i was giving but not getting and why the heck was i still doing this to myself. Sunday he sent me this text saying that he couldn’t do this anymore. That he had strong feelings for me but that he could not put up with my constant moods and that it was stressing him out. That if he was to blame for all of my unhappiness, sadness, depression etc…. than he cared enough to back off. So as i sit here and try to anaylze things, i realize that perhaps it was me not being able to “accept” that things were the way they were that caused so much of the issues. i have to take responsbility for my part in all of this but i guess i also feel ashamed at not having acted or been more in control of my feelings he was being who he was wasnt he? I feel like i want to apologize for the way i was always disclosing my displeasure to him rather than “accepting” that this is who he is/was and either opting to leave myself or not ALLOWING myself to have been so easily swayed by his words/acting like he wanted a relationship and telling me he just needed time. Perhaps he did need time, perhaps he didn’t. Either way, wasnt…the truth and the reality of the situation that he couldnt be and or give me what i wanted when i wanted and i couldnt “accept” that? In not being able to “accept” that, should i not have (for myself) created those boundaries that you keep talking about? Those boundaries were not up to him to have for me….
    I just feel ashamed that he closed the door on me as if to say: “you are some out of control chick who is blaming me for your unhappiness and you know what, im not gonna put up with it anymore. your cool and i like you but if this is causing so much stress its not worth it” Or am i continuing to blame myself and not make him accountable for his own actions?

    just trying to work through this….

    • d. says:


      let me start by saying i know how you feel and i feel terribly sorry that you are experiencing this. our situations are very similar. i have been “seeing,” ahem “sleeping” with a guy for a year now and he pretty much said the same thing. it feels really degrading to have someone you actually care about use and view you as his sex option. and you do not deserve that. i’m all for people who choose to engage in those relationships, but, unfortunately most of the times, it is us women who end up getting played while going along and settling on a fake ass relationship. his needs are/have been met with him doing little to nothing to get you. it’s good that you have come to accept this realization, and now it is time to you on. do not beat yourself about it, learn from this experience and apply this lesson into the most important relationship — the one you develop with yourself. his parting words you are some out of control chick who is blaming me for your unhappiness and you know what, im not gonna put up with it anymore. your cool and i like you but if this is causing so much stress its not worth it” are his lame ass attempt to make you feel further out of control and validate his mixed messages and him not being about to tell you the truth that he only wanted to screw you. i know it sounds harsh, but, i swear i am going through the same thing right now. i had ended it and like a fool backtracked right into his bed and lying ass. it isn’t worth it. i say this to you because i am saying it to myself. delete, delete, delete…as painful as it may be, get that man out of your life. he means you no good! if you allow yourself to stay down, the thought of him will consume you, keeping you from self progression, and delay your meeting someone new. i’m starting today…too…AGAIN!

    • Confused2, I had to do a search on your email to get the back story to all of this – I don’t think you’re confused, you just don’t like the information that you’ve been receiving. “He outwardly said that him and i were not in a relationship but that the companionship (and sex) was exclusive.” Nothing confusing about that. He said he didn’t want a relationship and that it was casual, which immediately told you that he was unavailable. He never came to you and said “Hey, I know I’m getting all of the trappings of a relationship without *actually* having to give you one and commit, so hey, let’s make it official”, hence he hadn’t changed his mind. If he had changed his mind, he’d have told you, but he wasn’t planning to change his mind. Because you knew he hadn’t changed his mind, it’s like you felt compelled to remind him every 2-3 weeks ‘Don’t forget – you’re supposed to be planning to change your mind!’ If you have to ask, he hasn’t changed his mind. Yes you have pushed him but all you’ve done is push him into reiterating what he’d already told you at the beginning. He wasn’t intending to change his mind – a decent guy would have let you go and gone about sorting out his business. Instead, he kept you on layaway so he had an emotional airbag and sex on tap. All you need to own is why you are in a relationship (term used loosely) where you are treated in this manner. His problems are his and exist independently of yours – focus on your own problems. You can’t ‘make’ him accountable. Make *you* accountable for why you are persisting in this.

      • Sugar and Spice says:

        “You can’t ‘make’ him accountable. Make *you* accountable for why you are persisting in this.”

        I feel that one: I wanted to make my ex accountable for failing to deliver on his promises, and his stated values, and his mistreatment of me in the end.

        I wanted him to tell me: “I’m sorry that I treated you that way in the end, I know that I said that I would never blah, blah, blah, and that I would blah, blah, blah….”

        I had him up on a wisdom/guru pedestal, so I was like, hey wait a minute Mr. Guru, you are supposed to be enlightened, so you have to come back and rectify this situation “cuz” it wasn’t very enlightened of you to…you didn’t practice what you preached! But he never did rectify the situation, and, YES, I couldn’t make him accountable….

        I remember trying to twist it around in my head…thinking I must not be enlightened enough to figure out what happened; it must be me; I must lack wisdom, understanding, etc because, surely my Mr. Guru must be right, and I must be wrong…it must be me…I did something wrong because I’m the one who isn’t good enough, not him; it must be ALL my fault; otherwise, I am going to have to face the reality that this man isn’t my knight in shining wisdom.

        I am still angry about what happened; I haven’t let go of what I decided was his mistreatment of me, but the anger isn’t as strong as it used to be; it is more like something that nags me in the back of my head, and I say to myself “I still don’t like what he did to me,” but I don’t have ANY desire to “tell him about himself,”

        … and it really taught me a lesson about believing too much in other people and never mistaking them for my God, and believing in myself, and taking responsibility for shaping my own wisdom, and running my own life…not allowing other people to define me, and on and onnnnnnnnnn………….


    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Oh dear.

      I have a few tests now – the touch test, the ‘visualise the deal’ test and now the ‘strip the sex’ test. (Hmm. Maybe I’m getting too carried away?)

      ‘Relationships’ (if you can call them that) based on sex don’t progress. Strip away the sex and what do you have? If it is causing you pain, then that is not love. He’s got an emotional capacity of a stone (as did my AC- they were much the same).

      Trust me, I was in a very very similar situation to yours- trying to pump up some person who had not had a relationship in about 3 and 1/2 years, we didn’t have a title and I suspect was ‘cruising’ other people. It sounds like you’ve had a fantasy relationship and reconciling reality with what they did can be extremely difficult – I’ve been there! It’s like not knowing if it is night or day or *both* at the same time.

      I’d suggest going NC very quickly, don’t blame yourself – they are EU with or without you *anyway* and seek professional help quickly. I’ve spend months at the psych and them and I have probing my life and I’ve found very interesting things, the source of my EUness and I’ve made huge load of progress!

      Title Deed – Unavailable
      Terms and Conditions of Engagement
      If you get with me:

      * I will need time to sort myself out but it will be on your time.
      * We are NOT in a relationship, and never will be
      * I will place an exclusive hold on your body
      * and ban you from seeing anyone else
      * I will blow hot and cold, impacting your mind
      * You agree to hand over your self-esteem and self-respect

      ________Signature here

    • grace says:


      We’re not in a relationship
      I need more time
      Let’s see what happens
      I enjoy spending time with you
      The timing is wrong
      I’m bad/messed up/no good for you
      Let’s be friends
      I can’t deal with your moods/needs/expectations/opinions/ texts/emails/ phone calls/ conversations

      Don your space suit and abort mission

      You can understand him being cautious? Sod that. This is my life. If he can’t be serious and committed to me – bugger off. I don’t expect it on date one but it should at least be on the table. I’m not someone’s good time. Just because you like someone and he likes you, it doesn’t mean you should agree with them on all points.
      Confused, it was never there for you to lose. You got exactly what he promised you – sex outside of a committed relationship. I don’t care what they say in Hollywood or books or what happened to a friend of a friend of a friend – you don’t get an upgrade from that.
      As others have stated, your two options were a) live with it or b) walk away. You tried a). Now it’s time for b).
      It only gets worse from here. He knows that you know what the deal is. If you carry on seeing him, he’s REALLY going to start taking the ****. New levels of carelessness you wouldn’t have thought possible. Stop laying your heart at his feet to stomp on.
      Solution: NC all the way.

      • Fearless says:

        Excellent, Grace. Your comments always help to keep me grounded.

        “He knows that you know what the deal is.”

        Yes, and we know that he knows that we know (!!). We too (me, anyway) are very good at playing daft a lot of the time… so we have an excuse to stay in it.

      • EllyB says:

        @Grace: Do you think they publish such phrases in some kind of secret English textbook?

        I suspect so, because I had an ex (years ago) from a foreign country who spoke little English, but those phrases he all knew. Sigh.

    • A says:


      I’m sorry to hear that you’re beating yourself up so much over this–I can relate as I’ve been blaming myself again as of late. First, definitely do not apologize to this man. You have done nothing wrong, he’s the one who was stringing you along. Second, I can understand “taking things slow” when you first meet, but after a few months of seeing one another, it shouldn’t be a struggle to figure out what your ‘title’ is–there should be some kind of progression. Seven months of needing to take things slow and refusing to say you’re in a relationship is not reasonable. If this guy is so unable to be in a relationship, he shouldn’t be having a pseudo-relationship with you. You were way too understanding of his commitment phobic crap, so do not entertain the idea that if only you were more patient he may have come around. You spent seven months doing things his way and nothing changed.
      Don’t be ashamed of having a conversation with him about where things are going–you were right to do that, but if faced with a similar situation in the future, an ambiguous answer such as the one you received will serve as notice that you should walk. Finally, his comment about how he cares about you enough to walk away is total crap–as though he’s doing some noble thing by ending things once he notices that you are tiring of his bs and actually expecting something of him.

  28. anon says:

    I agree with what you are saying but for once, I think you may be missing a trick here.
    Quite often people need to feel heard. They need someone to validate what they are going through and accept it before they can move on to fixing the problem.
    All we often need in life is a little sympathy and a good listening ear. Once we have that, the energy trapped in focusing on the problem is allowed to flow out and run it’s course. If the person we turn to for support is impatient or doesn’t realise what help we are asking for, we get stuck at that phase, with half-processed emotions. We dig our heals in and refuse to budge because we haven’t been heard.
    Once we genuinely feel heard, we are then free of that energy and that makes us ready to move on to stage two- solving the problem.
    Weirdly enough, trying to skip stage one, just because we are one step ahead, can actually prevent us ever reaching stage two and solving the problem. If a friend comes to us with a problem and we have no patience with their process, we can actually make the situation worse! We have to get down to their level and relate to it if we ever expect to guide our friend up to our level- the level of solutions. If we ourselves have been through what our friend is going through, we can actually be less supportive. It’s as if we expect our friends to be where we are in the process just because we have been there, done that and learnt the lesson.
    I believe this is where parents get things wrong and alienate their children, stopping their children from feeling able to turn to them when they have a problem.
    We have no right to get frustrated or impatient with another person simply because we have already been through the process and beyond. We need to respect that in order to get from A to C, everyone must go via B. That is how we all learn. From our own experience.
    There is no cutting to the chase. Attempting to do this is what gives people issues and stunts development. We have to allow people to learn. The best way to do that is to enable people to find out for themselves and guide them in the right direction. We can’t just teleport them to where we are or they will never learn the lesson themselves.

    • Flower White says:

      @anon it’s true, women do need to be heard.

      After years of the same thing it gets old, though. And older women needing to be heard, over and over, about the same thing -Mr.Wrong, points to a serious issue with them.

      Maybe its an American thing (I live in Northern California) but some women expect their friends to be their therapists, listening and absorbing the same old story. It gets old, and feels sick after awhile.

      Instead of cutting off one of my dearest friends (30 plus year friendship!) -she is in a relationship with an Ass Clown, she and I have a deal. I refuse to listen to her whine about him, as she choses to be with him for over 15 years! So…she doesn’t bring up his name and I never ask about him nor do I socialize with them as a couple. Thus the friendship is preserved. Alas, two other friends got the ax, they refused to seek help and tried to use me as a therapist, no can do, that’s what Nat is for 😉

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Just like there is no shortcut to love
      There’s no shortcut to self-love, self-respect and healing.

      It takes time, we all have different levels of damage and types of damage (I shudder to think how I would ever recover from a future faker and am yet to experience contact with that pedigree of Assclown).

    • ixnay says:

      Thanks, anon. This is really what I was gesturing at in my comment above about wanting to be heard by my close friends.

      What I find is when I am listened to on the first level, the conversation quickly morphs into something that both people contribute to and get something from. If I’m asked to relate from a later level, I feel inauthentic and anxious.

      And thanks, too, for mentioning the family of origin stuff. My mom had zero patience for problems, and many suggestions for solutions. I just wanted sometimes for her to register that I felt bad without immediately giving me 5 options for action. That’s how she operates, and it works for her but I really wanted to be cuddled and comforted. Of course I didn’t know that when I was little, but I did know I felt very anxious and hurried with all the suggestions that I “just do this” or “just try that.” I know now that she is uncomfortable with emotion and has a very pragmatic, action-oriented way of dealing with it. I know now that my distress was uncomfortable for her to sit with and she was showing me what worked for her. And I know that I’m asking, probably unfairly, for my close friends to give me some of what I wanted as a child.

      Of course, I choose men to love and admire who have zero patience for sitting with emotion, who are busy and productive, and who offer me 5 courses of action when I want to be cuddled and comforted.

      This sounds like I’m an emotional basket case, infinitely needy, asking everyone to join me in my lukewarm bath of pain. That’s a caricature I’ve internalized, but a caricature nonetheless.

      I think that what happened in my family of origin, and also happens in my relationships, is there is an artificial bifurcation where one person becomes the designated receptacle for holding the emotion and the other becomes the keep-it-moving, nothing-to-see-here-folks, get-things-done person. Our society really values the latter, but you’ll notice they often come paired with the over-emotive or designated”‘depressed” partner.

    • Eloise says:

      While I agree with your point in respect of children, I believe – as adults – we empower ourselves when we take responsibility for ourselves and the lives we have chosen and created.

      While tea and sympathy is fine from time to time in friendship, I believe we step over the boundary line when we expect our friends to do the work of a paid therapist on a regular basis. It is not the responsibility of a friend to validate our experiences (even if, as has been suggested elsewhere, we feel like we’ve built up a big deposit in the friendship bank). If, as an adult, we “refuse to budge because we haven’t been heard” – we are blaming others for the fact that we are unwilling to move on. This is disempowering.

      I totally agree that after a stressful experience it is important to process emotions and talking about what has happened is an element of that. I believe problems arise when we get stuck in the pain/hurt/talking stage. IMHO having a ready supply of friends to continue the talking stage with – often just perpetuates the problem and prevents us from moving on.

      • anon says:

        What I meant was we need someone in our lives to give us a bit of a hug and to pay attention to what we are feeling and then we can let it go. I’m not talking about rehashing the same thing over and over again at all. That’s dysfunctional! But I think it’s equally dysfunctional to expect ourselves or our friends to skip over our feelings and jump to the solutions. We have to allow ourselves to flow with life. To allow emotions once they have occurred to run their course. Feeling as if we shouldn’t have these emotions aka everyone around us trying to snap us out of it or not caring how we feel means that those emotions are trapped inside. One day they will have to come out. Perhaps when we hit some sort of crisis in our lives these old wounds come to the surface in counselling. My own experience of counselling has taught me to honour my emotions, let them flow out and let them go. I find that I get over things a lot faster these days as I work through my emotions. So I think allowing this process time and space is an investment in future happiness, solid confidence and ultimately self respect, since our emotions should be important to us and used as sign posts towards happiness and change. I just think that it’s wise to use your intuition when someone turns to you, so that you can tell the difference between when a friend needs a ‘hug’ or when a friend needs ‘advice’. Most people know themselves what to do, but if we tell them what to do, they may get so busy trying to fight to be heard (their feelings noticed) that they may not use the emotion to move and take action. It’s just something I have noticed that works with other people and is my natural process that I go through myself. You can take it or leave it. But I think there’s a time and a place for tea and sympathy and there’s a time and a place for practical solutions. In life it’s wise to pick your moment and this is very true in these situations in my experience. I don’t think friends should be therapists, but I do think they should provide support in the short term and vice versa. That’s what friends are for… plus having fun, which is easier to do when we’ve moved through life’s hurdles.

        p.s. If you don’t have the time, patience, energy, head space, have your own problems at the time, have had a bad day, then it’s probably just better to say so to your friend and hang up the phone.

        And if you are the one being way too demanding of a friend or of your friends in general, then it should be taken as a sign that you need to care enough about yourself to go and get yourself a counsellor, relationship counselling, split up, take time out and take some action. Why go round in circles of unhappiness? It’s a sign to change something in your life.

        But hugs are good too 😉

  29. Confused2 says:

    Thank you for your response D.
    He didn’t actually say this to me: “you are some out of control chick who is blaming me for your unhappiness and you know what, im not gonna put up with it anymore. your cool and i like you but if this is causing so much stress its not worth it”
    I said it was as if (meaning this is what it felt like to me). I guess its my interpretation as my biggest fears came true which was I felt: Being too emotionally demanding. Why couldnt I have just chilled out and allowed things to happen? Now I dont know for sure if it was my impatience/being too emotionally demanding that messed things up or if indeed with time things wouldn’t have changed for me/us? I feel I pushed him away….
    Again, I’m not sure if i am blaming myself here :/

    • brenda says:

      Honey,He was this was before you..Not because of the things you said or did…
      He showed you exactly who he was,an Unavialable Man that wont commit.
      Mine told me he sucked at realtionships,told me he had anger issues,and hated his Mother…
      Why didn’t I take his word for it?He knows himself better than anyone else…But NOOOOO I had to prove him wrong,Show him That I know the way,the truth,and the light…Ummmm NOPE!!!!He was all those things and more.
      And yes when he up and left with no Good bye,I heard thru the grapevine that I was the crazy one…
      I know exactly the pain you are feeling,the coulda shoulda woulda…It wont help you replaying it in your mind…The only thing that will heal is time….
      My heart is with you…

    • FX says:

      Confused2, I feel for you and don’t mean this to sound harsh but it seems to me that you really only had 2 choices with this man: 1) Accept a casual relationship with him and be happy with it or 2) Opt out. He made his relationship boundary very clear to you and you kept trying to bust it to get what you wanted from him regardless of what he clearly stated was on offer. I think if you apply the wise advice on this site to cut both ways when it comes to boundaries, you will be able to appreciate the futility of trying to get the relationship you wanted and not continue to second guess what you could have done differently.

    • d. says:


      i re-read your comment after making that post.

      i know it’s hard, but do not wreck your brain about why you couldn’t have been more chill. this guy wanted you to be more “chill” so that he could easily continue getting his needs met, meanwhile your needs fell by the wayside. you didn’t push him away. he didn’t want a real relationship, he wanted to have the relationship on his terms and you wanted more. which meant that he needed to quickly abandon ship because he didn’t want to be responsible for your feelings for him. which, probably on some level makes him feel “bad” because you two don’t want the same thing. it sucks! but, the reality is, he isn’t the one anyway. someone who cares about you wants you to know that he wants you so that there is no anxiety on your part, and he won’t keep you guessing.

      i know this fool i’ve been dealing with is not the one. and, i am getting him out! he doesn’t deserve to have me when it suits him. and, i need to be more accountable to myself to face the music and tell his ass to GO!

      i’ve been actually thinking over the weekend, how wonderful and refreshing it would be – to meet and be involved with someone who actually wants me. instead of me doing the chasing, wining and dining. i’m resolving to the idea, that when i start dating again i’m not settling and compromising anymore. essentially, you end up feeling bad about yourself, and that is not sexy.

      i hope you feel better.

      • riotgirl says:

        @d. and confused2:

        I am ashamed to say that I may have kind of been on the other side of the fence. When my boyfriend broke up with me, I told the ex (the sociopath). I mentioned that I was not ready to date or see anyone else but he suggested that we just ‘hang out’ since he was lonely as well. After a few weeks, he said that he thought that by supporting me that I could see that he is the one who truly loves me and kept pushing for us to be together. I kept telling him that I wasn’t ready for a commitment (because I wasn’t) and that we broke up for many reasons and I couldn’t try anymore. In the end, he said that either we get back together or we can’t be friends and I stopped it. It was messy and I regret my side of this… but I learnt things the hard way.

        So in response to you ladies, I would say to take courage and get out. It is going to be hard because there is that bond but do remember your worth. You deserve to have someone who loves you and wants you and is willing to make you a priority in their life. Try spending more time with friends/family and people who enrich your life and make you feel worthwhile. Things really do get better and I am sure that when you both meet someone wonderful, you’ll wonder how you ever put up with the rubbish in the first place!!!

        • d. says:


          i too have used guys as rebounds. that is why my behavior with my “Lying Hell” is so crazy. all the things i said and did to my fallback boy, “Lying Hell” is saying/doing to me. yet, i’m still “convincing” myself of something different. it’s sick and really a waste of my time and energy. it’s like you know the truth, but, you deny yourself for various reasons : loneliness, an ego upper by getting the one who doesn’t want you, company, etc.

          • riotgirl says:

            @d: I totally understand. I hung in there for about 4 years… until I found out that he was sexting and sending pics and videos to his brother’s ex-girlfriend (who has 2 of his nieces). I was disgusted that he could even go there… that was a real wake up call for me. So even though my heart wanted to stay, my head said that I needed to get out. It was hard but it does get easier everyday.

            I even took 9 months off from any kind of dating/relationship and spent a lot of time on doing the things I loved, spending time with people who love me and accepting the single life. Eventually, I met this guy… who is totally not my type. I wasn’t even interested in him romantically but friendship led to more and now, we’re getting married next year! When I compare my relationship with him, to the ex — the differences are glaringly obvious.

            When I look back now, I realised that the more time I spent with the guy where the ‘relationship’ was going nowhere… I could have missed out an opportunity on a healthy relationship that was going somewhere. Just my thoughts… but hang in there! You’ll see the light in time! :)

      • grace says:

        I always was that “chill”, relaxed girlfriend. It’s not actually what men (or women) commit to. Don’t get it twisted – if hes’ not ready to commit it ain’t happening whoever/whatever you are BUT should he ever be ready, it won’t be to someone who is “chilled”.
        Think about it, what woman is ever going to say:
        “I married him/moved in with him/ had a child with him because he is so CHILLED OUT”
        CHILLED OUT is for your fbuddy, your casual sex partner, your “for now” companion, your party escort, your harem, your drinking companion. If his no.1 requirement is that you be chilled, you know where you fit in.

  30. Intotouch says:

    You have perfect timing Natalie. I was walking home this evening thinking I’ve spent three and a half years trying to be different and find a good relationship and I’m tired. At what point do I give up and try to accept being single? So. Yes, it’s true, you’re right. I can do more. Yes I can keep trying new things.

    I also think that I may need a month off because this failure after failure is exhausting and the thought of another singles group night out makes me want to put my head in an oven. But I won’t give up. Thank you. It is possible. I can keep trying. But I may need a break. Looking for men is feeling like having a part time job. New faces all the time, new events, new venues, new deeds. The idea of years of this horrifies me. But I can bear two weeks on, two weeks off. I don’t know. I’ll figure something out.

    Thanks again. I needed to get tough on myself today and commit again to working towards this healthy relationship goal. Now. Off to cook dinner and then drag myself out in the freezing cold to a jazz night by myself. Maybe it’ll be the best night of the week. Who knows?

  31. need to stop the madness says:

    My first post, so please bear with me…
    Firstly, before anyone else says it, I am an idiot, I know it, my friends know it and Mr unavailable AC certainly knows it….

    I fell in love seven agonizing long years ago with Mr Unavailable AC, during which time I have been promised the earth, sun, moon and stars. – promises of ‘I’m leaving’ (on a specific date) every months for 13 months, even to the point where he encouraged me to tell my ex-husband and my children that he and I were an item and he would be moving in, only for him not to turn up on the day he was due to arrive….WTF!
    I even forgave him that. You don’t have to tell me I am STUPID – I know.
    Reading this blog has opened my eyes even more to what a total flaming schmuck I am. He has given me future faking galore and is so focused on the enjoying the drama of the problem while I scrabble around working out an action plan based solution. Reading today I have realized he enjoys the drama too much, revels almost in the continual crisis, knowing all the while it is killing me.

    I can’t get a handle on NC – even though I know I must. We work together and he is such a convincing story teller/woo-er/future faker/liar/cheating sh*tbag AC ! I seem to have purchased a one-way ticket to disaster…..

    • Lynda from L says:

      Hi NTSTM,
      Welcome, the good news is that you actually purchased a return ticket, you’ve just mislaid the half you need…
      Tough News is that averting disaster means you have to stop telling yourself that you ‘can’t handle’ NC.
      Sign up for the No Contact Newsletter here and stay on site.
      I know you are hurting and angry with him, with you….but your post shows that you do understand how bad the situation is, you’ve got insight. Time to use that insight and put yourself first.

  32. FX says:

    This post is very timely for me! I went back to my therapist with whom I’ve previously worked on other life issues, to talk specifically about my AC relationship. She challenged me to think about my interpretations of events, thoughts, etc., by asking “Is that the only meaning that could have/the only way to look at that/the only option available/the only way to react, etc.” And also to question whether a given thought or foregone conclusion I believe is really “true.”

    In my own recent analysis, I’ve been making connections between why this recent relationship is so crazymaking and experiences and relationships since early childhood, including with my father. It shed light for both me and my therapist on why this is so difficult to move on from. She advised me that when I get flooded with emotion, I should take the time to feel, acknowledge and label my feelings but have activities I’ve already identified that I can then turn to that require focus elsewhere.

    I do know that if I applied the amount of thought and energy to being productive in my work and social life that I’m investing in processing my emotions and the relationship, I would be happier. My therapist assured me that I will when I’m ready and beating myself up about not being able to be done NOW is not being productive either!

  33. Gina says:

    Hey Nat and the rest of the gang,

    I totally understand that everyone is different in how long it takes them to process the loss of a relationship, as well as how long they spend in each stage of the grieving process. Heck, it took me a whole year to process the loss when my relationship ended a year ago. I was ONLY referring to those individuals who give a zillion excuses for why they cannot move forward. Let me give an example clarifying what I mean: I have a girlfriend who hasn’t been out on a date since 1999. She is 35, and has a great personality. She calls me to vent about how she gets jealous that her friends are dating, getting married, and having babies. Whenever I would ask her what she was doing to change her life, she would get mad at me and say that she only wanted me to listen. After listening to her vent for the umpteenth time, the boyfriend and I tried to introduce her to one of his friends. The purpose was to simply get her out and practice socializing with the opposite sex. She talked to the guy on the phone and enjoyed the conversation, but made up lame excuses as to why she could not go out with him. I respect her decision, but unless she is willing to do the work required to change her life, I get tired of being her sounding board.

    • FX says:

      It sounds to me like your friend has some issues she needs to address… Having been on both sides of this kind of stuck with other problems, I will quote a good friend: “As your good friend, I have listened and listened and wish I could help you because I know you’re unhappy and in pain but there’s nothing more I can do. It’s time to recognize that it’s not getting better doing what you’re doing and you need to find a therapist to help you figure it out.”

      Sometimes, we just have to admit that staying in our own head or even talking to our friends isn’t producing any new solutions and we need objective help. What a coincidence that I went to my therapist for the first time in a long time yesterday!

      • Gina says:

        Hi FX,

        Actually, she got mad at me and is no longer my friend. I offered to let her stay with me if she could not find an affordable place to live (she’s being put out of her apartment due to remodeling). Noting how she gets jealous of her other other friends who are now in relationships, I asked her in a very nice and polite manner if she would be jealous of me having a boyfriend if she decided to come and live with me. To my surprise, she got mad that I would even think such a thing and broke off our friendship

        Glad that you went to see your therapist! It’s SO good to be able to talk things out with a trained professional.

  34. Kmac says:

    Natalie, after reading these posts and experiencing the horrible set-back I did today, I wish you would write your thoughts on how hard we are on ourselves. A couple of you have been so supportive of my being upset about breaking NC (oh the importance of this practice…I cannot even find words adequate enough to express it) on my birthday. Since then, I have been like the alcoholic who took one drink after 4 months of recovery, and proceeded to spiral completely out of control. After managing to ignore texts, e-mails, and voice-mails he responded with after I texted him, I read two Facebook entries by his gf (it’s on her band’s website…it’s public) that made me crazy enough to write a not-so-nice email. He responded with one that waxed on about what an extraordinary woman I am, blah, blah, blah…I’m sorry you feel this way about me…blah,blah, blah. And like a drunk on a bender (how did I get here after 4 months of dignified no contact?) I sent one back that was the most scathing thing I have ever written, telling him all about himself. I hated myself as soon as I pressed send, BUT, I hated myself even worse when I got one back that was quite kind and civilized (he said the name-calling was not very Buddhist of me, a practice which he knows is very important to me, and that stung, because I knew he was right) saying he was happier with his life path and with this woman that he had ever been, that he was excited for the challenges of her having three children and how sad it is that I can’t be happy for him but he wishes me all the best. And now I really hate myself. For losing my dignity, and because certainly, I am the one who must be deeply flawed if she can waltz into his life and make him healed and whole and capable of loving her back. Intellectually, I know how twisted and irrational this is. My gut tells me that this guy is a raging narcisssist, and that this is their m.o. especially in the beginning, so why, oh WHY can’t I shake the self-sabotaging thoughts? And how do we know? Maybe they will live happily-ever-after, though I have my doubts given the fact that he was texting me pictures of us together two days ago to try to get me to agree to a friendship. And why does it matter to me? So here is how this relates to the topic: Is this an example of me blaming others for my own issues? It’s just that he seems to be doing…

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Get back in the saddle!

      After I went NC, two weeks in I got all nostalgic and lonely. So I send them a text apologising at how I walked out on them. My friend was incenced that I had given that much thought to the assclown – you should send a retraction! they told me.

      And I learned this:


      Press the reset button on yourself, go NC again, delete or block his number, get internet blocking software if you have to – you can block specific URLs.

      Stay strong Kmac!

    • grace says:

      He’s got nothing to do with you.
      I mean that in a good way. You are separate people and his life is not focused on screwing you over (that’s just a byproduct because you keep interacting with him).
      I understand that the email exchange was unsatisfactory BUT IT ALWAYS IS. I’ve been reading comments here for a couple of years and … if they don’t reply we don’t like it, if they reply positively we don’t like it (he’s lying, he’s future faking, you know he doesn’t mean it), if he’s mean we don’t like it, if he’s philosophical we don’t like it, if he offers friendship we don’t like it, if he blows hot we don’t like it, if he sends pictures we don’t like it. ETC. The solution – stop emailing him and get real. You don’t want to be his email buddy or his “friend” (what he has in mind for you isn’t friendship). You want the relationship which you think you deserve.
      Well, you don’t deserve it – you’re too good for him!
      NC him. And if it’s possible to block a public site, block it.
      You might think that all this emotion you’re feeling can’t possibly be because you had a bit of contact. Surely it must mean something significant? It’s a sign! You should be together! You should be friends! You can learn why her and not you!
      Nuke him completely for six months and tell me then if you still think it’s significant.

      • Kmac says:

        I feel, though, like it wasn’t his response that led me down this path, it was mine. The fact that I responded. The fact that I was such a bitch about it. I feel like he wins. He’s got the (other) girl, I’ve got nobody. I lost my dignity, he maintained his. Nothing can be done about it. After 4 hours of sleep, and still feeling as though I’m going to be sick, I will put one foot in front of the other and try to get to work. What’s done is done. And thank you, Grace.

        • grace says:

          Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your frame of mind, he doesn’t care.
          He’s probably just surprised it took this long for the worm to turn (not that you’re a worm but the saying is apt).
          We kick ourselves up and down the street, imagining that he’s thinking x, y, z. What you think is not what he thinks. He’s not thinking very much at all.
          As for his new GF getting it all – would you like it if your boyf was emailing his ex, sending her pics and wanting to be friends?
          Just flush – him and your self-persecution. We’ve all done it. It’s only as big a deal as you make it. Enjoy your day!

          • Tulipa says:

            Have to completely agree with Grace here.
            We kick ourselves up and down the street, imagining that he’s thinking x, y, z. What you think is not what he thinks. He’s not thinking very much at all.
            I did this for almost all of 2011. Thinking way too much thinking. Thinking about what he must be thinking of me kicking and beating myself up every time I interacted with him and yes a couple of times via the phone or text I told him about himself. Just another opportunity to be hard on myself, to hate myself etc etc.
            Then he called and asked to meet up I went along and WOW WOW. I could see he hadn’t thought about me at all, hadn’t given a single thought to anything I might have been going through in regards to him. It was very very clear to me this man had spent no time thinking of me but he had been living his life, getting on with things etc etc. And to think nearly a whole year had passed for me in stuck and beating myself up and I could see how unnecessary and unproductive this had been. I felt a huge burden roll away.
            I hope, kmac, you realise it was just a bump in the road and you return back to no contact because believe me he will be losing no sleep over any of your interaction.

        • ixnay says:


          He didn’t maintain his dignity. He used what he knows about you to wrong-foot and shame you, and he touted his “happiness” with someone else to hurt you. He did this because you didn’t go along with his plan of getting together behind her back and you committed the cardinal sin of using your head to discover he had someone else, which he was quite intentionally keeping from you.

          *He* behaved badly, you called him on it, all of a sudden you’re a bad Buddhist and he’s this grounded, happy, committed guy who wishes you well and only hopes someday you can get to his place of serenity and open-heartedness.

          It’s a classic mindf*ck, designed to silence you, shame you, make you doubt yourself and all you know about him from experience. It’s like he put his thumbs in his ears, waggled his fingers and said “nyeh, nyeh!” He does NOT win, he did NOT take the high road while you wallowed in the mud. He manipulated you to obscure from you and himself that he’s a two-timing loser. You called things like you saw them and he kicked sand in your face.

          I just went through this. I, and it killed me, had to point out to my ex how unfair he was being to his new gf by inviting me out, how he escapes commitment with her by engaging with me, and that I believe he did the same with other women when we were together. I wasn’t mean about it, but it did thwart his plan and cast him in a bad light, so by our 4th dinner-talk he had claimed the high ground and calmly told me how great she was and how they were moving forward — after having fronted that she hardly existed. I had said, “How would she feel if she could hear the way you’re describing your relationship to me?”

          His way of resolving the bad behavior I pointed out was to switch tactics and act like I’d been pursuing him and he had to set me straight. It was the same maneuver you’ve just experienced. The actual honest and compassionate, adult and mature thing to do would have been, in both our cases, for him to say “I am really sorry I am jerking you around when I know you love me. I’m afraid to not have you to turn to, so I kept you in the dark and told you things that would make you let your guard down and didn’t tell you things that put me in a bad light.” NOT “I acted like I was single but actually I’m a lot happier with this other person you made me admit exists. Nyeh, nyeh!”

          The point is, they punish us for seeing things clearly, and they fight dirty. They did it when we were together, they’re doing it now, and you can bet they’re doing it in happy-happy joy-joy land, too.

          • Kmac says:

            Ixnay, thank you for making me laugh for the first time in three days. Happy-happy-joy-joy land. I love it. Thank you for helping me put him and his behavior in perspective. The road ahead is long, but a belly-laugh is an excellent start!

          • Elle says:

            Kmac, Don’t worry, we can all relate to elements of what you did and how you’re feeling. The situation of ending a relationship with someone who harmed you is inevitably and invariably awkward and unsatisfying, if not devastatingly hurtful and shameful. It’s very hard to move away from this without some sort of ‘re-correction moment’, where your mind and body jolt quite extremely. You can get back on the path of something far more gentle and accepting now. I wouldn’t focus on his happiness, I would focus on your own. The race is long. Who knows who is happy and what success is? As one of my friend says, maybe success is being caught leaving the loo door open at work? I kid. But we can’t know someone’s inner life or how they change and what satisfies the definition of ‘making it’. And, if he is happy and able to give to someone, and this is something I had to come to in my own heartbreak, isn’t that a net good? You want this. You don’t want more damaged arseheads at large. Spend some time being compassionate and disciplined with yourself, and this won’t feel so important or indicative of who you are and where you are going.

          • sushi says:

            Kmac, ixnay put it so well, he is blatantly manipulating you and you have nothing to be ashamed of. It`s a blip in the grand scheme of things. His girlfriend has a real problem now, you are shot of it, blips or not. The upshot: you know what he is like regardless of how he ends up twisting it. Thing about manipulators is they make you feel like you are the crazy one. There is an excellent book called “In sheeps clothing” by George K.Simon Jr, you would recognise him in there.

      • NCC says:

        OMG grace i was just thinking that today ultimetely when all is said and done, we don’t like anything they do…because we know they aren’t a good fit for us or our lives, it’s just that need we feel to have some sort of control and validation. I was just saying to myself, I don’t want him to be nice, because I know that I’ll fall for it in this stage, and it’s only going to cause more pain. Then if he’s mean, I’ll still feel bad and then need his validation again. It’s a vicious cycle that proves NC is the only way. This is a tough tough process, but everytime I go back to putting the focus on myself and stop just looking at him as my problem, rather than going with my gut solution, and rather on the WHY thoughts of what he’s doing and has done, I start to realize that when he’s “nice” it doesn’t feel good, when he’s “mean” it doesn’t feel good, and all the other examples you give. It’s because I fundamentally don’t trust him because he LIED to me, he proved to me he’s not a good bf and I know I don’t want to be associated with a liar! I don’t want his friendship, I certainly don’t want to give him friends with benefits, and if i hang around him, my pattern is to allow this, and I can’t do that to myself anymore. He may be capable of being “nice” but I know that if I attach myself to whatever form of contact with him he’s throwing my way, I will always want more…..will always still want that illusion to come true. I’ll be stuck and I won’t be facing reality head on. I’ll be miserable. Getting real with myself, I say, this is what I DONT want. He may be telling me he missed me, he was sad when I stopped calling, but you know what? He can still go WITHOUT seeing me, he’s STILL got other women in his life. If I allow myself to live in the deluded world that says his words mean something, all I’m doing is wasting my life. He’s not someone I can just be “buddies” with. I’ve always allowed the ACs/EUMs to be the director and I was the over-anxious actor in their little play.

  35. Tulipa says:

    Sometimes it seems so simple:
    Problem: I don’t like the weight I have gained over the past year
    Solution: Change my diet and join the gym.

    Problem: I don’t like my job
    Solution: Apply for other postions, look for other avenues in the same field but do something different.

    Problem: I didn’t like how the ex eum treated me.
    Solution: Cut him off and go no contact.
    Now this seems like such a simple thing to do, but I could not do it. I looked at it as though I was being asked to climb Mt. Everest in the middle of winter wearing summer clothes.
    Now when I look at it this way obviously I prefer the problem because I was not prepared to use the solution. So now I know this is the case and I came to this conclusion sometime last year I feel to shut up about him. I don’t see the point anymore saying anything when the solution is so simple.
    I must say in turn this has helped me in other areas, though my friend who I do talk to hasn’t said anything I’m sure he is relieved I’m not going on and on anymore.
    Nor do I allow myself to dwell on things I tell myself well if you are so unhappy and caught up in the drama, you have the solution you cannot tell yourself that no contact won’t work because you have not properly and fully implemented it and until you have I don’t want to think about these things. I drove myself round the bend last year with all my over thinking and I don’t plan on doing the same this year thank goodness.

  36. kmac says:

    Thank you for the links, Natalie. I just wanted to add my closing thought, which got cut off, but which I thought was important. If you are going NC, really go NC and work on letting go at the same time. I think I misused the practice, in the sense that the lack of closure and anger and hurt was building in me the entire four months, and while he was falling in love, I was secretly still fantasizing about him and not really letting go. So, when I found out about his girlfriend and how happy there are, it became too much and I just let it rip. I deeply regret it. My good friend who is a 30 year recovering alcoholic said when we fall off the wagon, it usually means there is unfinished business or something unresolved, something we still need to learn. I’m not sure what the lesson is, but at least now I know the relationship is truly over.

    • kmac says:

      Elle, thank you for your kind, beautiful, and insightful reply. I am always deeply moved when someone takes the time to reply, and find it very healing.

      • riotgirl says:

        @kmac: Don’t be so hard on yourself. I think anyone being pushed to their limits: mentally, emotionally and physically… would react the way you did. I think its completely normal to be angry and although writing that email made you feel bad, I think it was good you vented out some of your feelings — regardless of his reply.

        From my own experience, there will be times when you will never get closure. You won’t ever know why he chose to text you, send you pictures or choose that girl over you. What you do know is that, he didn’t choose you but be glad, because you shouldn’t want to choose someone who future-fakes and is dishonest anyway. And I know it’s cliche, but you deserve better. We all get what we choose to put up with, even though sometimes it’s hard to see that. I got my own closure when I realised that for a relationship to work, two people need to love each other. And although he doesn’t love me or will ever love me… that I still have the capacity to love someone with all my heart and find someone who can and will love me back. I hope you see that for yourself too.

        There’s nothing wrong with falling off the band wagon from time to time, but the most important thing is that you keep picking yourself up and get back on. I promise that one day, you won’t even fall off. :)

  37. Tess says:

    Interesting comments from all, and I’ll add that sometimes, at least in my circle of friends most who are married, it’s difficult to get anyone to really understand where your heartache is. I get it that repeated rehashing of the situation isn’t healthy for either the ventor or the ventee, but in my world virtually all my girlfriends are married and their tolerance for the single chick’s (me) problems with men is quite low! They feel perfectly entitled to drone on and on about their stepkids problems and their husbands issues, but if I bring up the latest happenings in my single world, they look at me, and maybe, just maybe I’ll be blessed with a comment, but it’s clear they don’t want to listen. This is true even of my single friends as they are all attached as well! It’s hurtful and occasionally caused me to just keep everything to myself, which has been sad. I don’t think one should have to seek out a counselor just to have someone with whom to have a discussion.

    The reality is that much of this is information, especially for we older women, that we won’t readily share, and if you’re involved with a MM, there may be only one or two persons on earth who know your situation, and much as you feel stuffed into a corner by the MM and not able to really express your feelings, that special girlfriend may be the only person on earth you have to talk with.

    As with any relationship, it can be abusive and that goes for the girlfriend relationship where one figuratively beats the livin daylights out of someone by never making any progress. In that case, I suggest as a friend that she seek professional counseling. I would never tell a friend to get lost when she most needed me, abusive or not.

    Bottom line is if I’m expected to sit there and hear on a weekly basis about your most recent GYN exam and about the problems your having with your mother in law, you should have the kindness and patience to sit with me and be a shoulder to lean on for me. That’s what friends are for.

  38. assclownsRus says:

    There is a question of balance. Yes, it is ok to feel like a victim, especially when you really have been lied to and abused. It feels so empowering to say, “I’m nobody’s victim!” but in the context of an EU relationship, that quickly morphs into blaming YOURSELF for all the grief you are experiencing. How every convenient for Mr. EU! You basically are saying he can behave as badly as he wants and you will always blame yourself for not seeing it coming — rather than him for duping you. Leaving your front door unlocked may be an oversight or it may be foolish, but it still does not justify a burglarly of your house. The burglar is still accountable. It’s ok to feel violated, vent righteous indignation, and moan and cry about it. Sometimes that shoulder to cry on is just what is needed, and it should be freely given and gratefully received. BUT being a victim should not DEFINE you or your life. At some point, you do have to change the lock and keep living your life. You DID have one before Mr. EU, you know. Friends can get sick of having to rescue a dedicated victim who just won’t lock that door yet moans about an endless parade of burglars. Where do you draw the line? I, too, have ended friendships where I have wound up nothing more than a dumping ground for endless self-induced misery. As for me, there does come a point where I lose credibility even with myself, and I find myself reluctant to even talk about it anymore. That is pretty close to the point of acceptance and letting go, actually. The value of a blog like this is to serve as a reality check. Sometimes you need a shoulder, and sometimes you need a good swift kick in the arse… both can be acts of great compassion!

    • Polly says:

      I have been guilty of leaving the doors and windows wide open and laying on a sledgehammer to make it even easier to wreck the place…never again though. I have become much more security conscious and will be guarding my feelings and self esteem much more thoroughly in future! Thanks for the post Ass. Brilliant x

  39. Ami says:

    I woke up this morning after miserably breaking NC with an ex EUM/AC and I’m just wondering..why am I doing this to myself? I’m not really putting a lot of effort into finding a solution, it’s all rather halfhearted. I can’t honestly say that I have been putting in 100% and use any setback in life to return to the ‘victim status’..which is pathetic. And unnecessary.

    All while I’m doing this my ex EUM/AC is getting on with his life going from strength to strength whilst in the meantime mine has stagnated. While it is totally apparent (and unfair) that karma isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing here..what can I do about it??? Nothing. I don’t abide by the same moral code that he does.

    Life is passing me by. And it’s sad.

    Hoping now to stick to NC this time, I feel really annoyed at myself and upset this morning, I’m letting myself down. :(

    • riotgirl says:

      Don’t give up Ami. Just keeping getting back on NC. Each time you will resist him longer and feel more confident about it.

  40. grace says:

    Wow, look at this poor woman’s predicament. And the advised solution? Tough.

    • Fearless says:

      Interesting link Grace. It does sound harsh – but it’s also sound advice – just hard take if you are that wife. I like the bit of advice they give about the only way to be certain you’re not being led yet another merry dance by these deceitful men is to simply leave them – for good.

    • Flower White says:

      Whoa. Poor lady and they gave her excellent advice. If that was me, I’d have to hit the door. Seven years of an affair? Kids or no kids, we’d be gone. She will have no peace with him and yes, she needs a good lawyer.

  41. JeniP says:

    Oof, this was a hard one to read . . . When you are all caught up with the problem, and other people’s problems, it can feel as if action is being taken, when it’s not! I had to have another long, hard look at what I am constructively doing to move myself forward in areas such as job, new relationship, making a habit of positive thinking. I have had to resist negative comparisons too to friends who *have* been taking action and moving forward . . .

    I am taking action just by reading your great posts, Natalie, and applying them to my thinking and to my life. Thank you, again!

  42. Sugar and Spice says:

    I prefer the solution:

    In the past I think I just didn’t have enough self-awareness, patience, and courage…focus…a feeling of being safe…a belief in myself…a “real” relationship with my Creator or myself, etc. to change my…and….

    I’ve stopped playing it safe. I am taking risks, and I am out of my comfort zone, and I feel alive. Sure, I make mistakes, but I am learning from them now in a more productive manner.

    No, it isn’t easy!!!!

    I have problems with anxiety and procrastination, but I realize that “these” are new behaviors that need to be repeated over time to stick, and I am an extremely strong woman; this I know, and I will get there.

    What helps me the most is just to go ahead and admit what I’m afraid of, whatever it is, and then I talk to myself about my fear, and how I can complete a task in such of a way that is comfortable enough for me to just get started, with the understanding that I am going to be uncomfortable, and then I just try to do it as best I can…one baby step at a time with a great deal of breathing…taking breaks, praying, exercising to release stress, and mustering courage, and learning to just feel what I feel without intervention, and getting help when I need it. (Natalie helps me understand things that I just don’t “get.” She has a way of explaining things that just turn on the light bulbs in my head, and I say “ah-haa, ok, I get it.” :) And, reading other peoples’ stories helps me to not feel so alone, and it helps me to see that I can overcome my issues. Also, I joined a support group for my codependency, so I can “talk things out and gain perspective” in a safe environment. ).

    One of my friends told me that eventually you get used to the feeling of discomfort, and you learn how to take action in that moment. He said he likes it because when he feels that way, he knows he is growing. I don’t know because I’m not there yet, but he made it sound kind of like a runner’s high.

    Ok, I’ve gotta go …. I don’t want to do it, but here goes………..

  43. Bluebyu says:

    One of the things I’ve learned thru my road to change/transformation is that, really people change when they get to the point where they are fed up. I use to say all the right things to my friends about my relationship even if it was a relationship in my mind. I wanted everyone to think that I won’t or wouldn’t do anything stupid, because I knew better. The truth is I did, but I still did the stupid things and I didn’t change until I came to that conclusion that change was needed and I finally said enough is enough. I use to say, to myself I know this is not the right person for me, I know I am not being treated right. I knew all the right things to say to people when the time came to say it, yet I would do the opposite of what I said and convince myself it was different. I knew how to advise people against bad treatment I myself was being subjected to, It was almost like an addition, it couldn’t be stopped until I made the change realizing myself worth or I got to that low point where I hit rock bottom; sometimes the relationship took me there other times I reached there on your own.
    I wonder sometimes, if we ask for help so we are better prepared when the time comes for us to make the change; or if we just want company to help us along the way. For the most part, we know all the things that will work as well as what wont, were not willing to try them or were afraid of the outcome when we do. I went thru a traumatizing divorce; I was always a strong person before that. After his affair I thought I would find someone when I was ready. I was reasonable ok looking, but I didn’t expect to find men who emotionally bruised me, lied, didn’t call etc. At first I was like no I am not dealing with this, then my I insecurities took over making me believe I wasn’t working hard enough for the relationship. Was this why I wasn’t happy, was I getting picky or was my past relationship failures causing the result of the treatment I got. It took my concern for my kids to make me think about the people I was subjecting myself to. When I meet someone now, I think to myself and forced myself to bring a question to the forefront of my mind, do I want to introduce my kids to this person? If they mistreat me how will they treat my kids? Relationship failure is hard for everyone, it can make anyone weak in their stance and second guess every thought, move or situation…

    • jasmine says:

      very much agree Bluebyu, i think eventually every one still pining over their ex or stuck in a relationship will reach that ‘fed up’ moment. it happened to me, even though i didnt think it would. we all has this point when we decide enough is enough and of course it happens at the right time for everyone,.

      “it couldn’t be stopped until I made the change realizing myself worth or I got to that low point where I hit rock bottom; sometimes the relationship took me there other times I reached there on your own” perfect description.

  44. MFR says:

    Food for thought. I think there’s an important angle to this issue for the many people who come here having been being involved with or pursued by someone who’s attached, and wondering if that person is going to become available. It’s important to realise that an attached person who’s problem not solution-oriented is unlikely to end their relationship, however genuinely unhappy they are in it, because it suits them to stay and moan, look for distractions or live in denial rather than act decisively (which, obviously, doesn’t bode well for a relationship even if they do become available…). As soon as a solution-oriented person cheats, or is tempted to, they recognise it as a do-or-die signal for their relationship and either fix it or end it. When a problem-oriented person cheats, they either try and forget about it and behave as though nothing’s happened, or use the third party as an ongoing distraction.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Thanks for this MFR,really got me thinking…problem solving style is
      another reason why people repeat the same relationship, again and again. Insightful.

    • Polly says:

      Brilliantly put. And as the other woman I think it is very easy to act as a further enabler to them not solving their problems or leaving by playing armchair therapist and nurse. Helps make their stuckness more bearable for them and is self defeating for you. (depending on the outcome you want!)

      • Mymble says:

        I played the armchair therapist too , to the extent that he was telling me all about the “mean things”(she called him a sexist! Imagine! How rude and hurtful!) she said in their joint counselling (he had said breakup counselling but now I wonder if it wasn’t just plain marriage counselling). Yuck. I think he had made a conscious decision to seek an affair so as to avoid having to leave his marriage. It was beyond self defeating, it was humiliating.

        • Polly says:

          Hehe Mymble – yes we really have heard it all haven’t we? I used to get regular emails saying things like – ‘she’s being really vile this evening’ or ‘she hates meeting my needs…boo hoo hoo’ I of course lapped it up, trying to be nicer and kinder than her. Having come through NC on the other side I only feel compassion for her now. And contempt for him

          We live and learn and grow…

  45. MFR says:

    Thanks Lynda, I’m glad you found it insightful. It’s just something I realised after an experience with an attached former colleague who declared his feelings for me when I left my job. I told him the feeling was mutual and to go away and do what he had to do. From then on he developed a pattern of disappearing for ages and then reappearing. Projecting my values onto him, I’d assume his re-contact meant he’d reflected and come to some sort of decision, only to find that nothing at all had changed and all he wanted was a distraction. He’d moan about his predicament without accepting any of the obvious solutions presented to him. Basically he didn’t want to be in his relationship but believed no-one else would want him, and I made the mistake of repeatedly [verbally] reassuring him otherwise, thinking he’d act accordingly. I got wise to the pattern eventually and told him to beat it, but looking back, the signs of a man of inaction were there from the start and it’s a shame I didn’t see them earlier.

  46. Magnolia says:

    MFR, thanks for the great insight.

    I’ve gone on a few dates with a ‘nice’ guy who has three kids (who of course I have not yet met). I like the way he talks about his kids; we have a lot of laughs when we chat; I like how he looks and how he kisses, and also liked that he doesn’t seem to push much on the physicality.

    The last time we went out, after many outings without feeling an urge to blurt, I found myself repeating a pattern of giving signals of my anger towards men/brokenness/hurt.

    It didn’t feel dire, but it felt very … familiar. And something felt exasperating about the whole thing. I don’t know if this makes sense, but I guess it’s my old way of testing whether the guy is emotionally responsive or not. I didn’t get whatever reaction I was going for: concern, I guess. For this I’m glad, because I had a chance to drop the drama and look at other things going on.

    One: when I asked what he was looking for in a relationship, he said, “No expectations, no limitations.” When he’s not smiling right in front of me, “no expectations” sounds a heck of a lot like “no demands” and pretty much “no relationship.” Two: when I asked if he was done having kids, he said “It would have to be perfect for me to want to have another, but I’m open to it.” Sounds to the ears of one listening for the positive, as a challenge to try for the “perfect” situation. But perfect = impossible so he may as well have said, “no.” Three: when I asked about what he was looking for in terms of who he dated and their compatibility w his kids, he gave a decent in-the-moment answer but it was pretty clear he hadn’t thought about it. Four: he’s been consistently late picking me up.

    What feels different is that while none of these interactions is cause to get furious, I am actually now confident that they’re enough to act on. I have the impression of someone vaguely irresponsible, unfocused, and willing to take what comes. Before, none of these would have felt “wrong” enough to justify opting out, in part because I have been living my life in somewhat the same way.

    Now that I am loving myself more, I am focused on … my focus. I’m trying to build my get-it-done muscle, which I believe is the same as, if not connected to, the solution muscle. I have some goals, I’m aiming toward them, I have a sense of momentum. This guy … he’s not an AC, but I can see the signs of halfheartedness in his life, in his outlook, and can’t help but already notice some sloppiness in our brief courtship. He reminds me of every buddy I ever had in high school and university, and even of my brother and father.

    I don’t know if this counts as recognizing an EUM, but for me it is very empowering to notice that his lack of clarity (about himself, and his dating aims) is a turn-off. Before, it would have been a catalyst to try to motivate him (cue memories of Dad!) If I got closer to him and started expecting partnership participation, I’m sure it could very quickly start to feel as though he was weak-willed, or indifferent, about ME. No thanks.

    It reminds me that my friends who enjoy the best relationships that I am aware of are action-oriented women who chose similar partners.

    • grace says:

      What you like about him is in terms of a relationship. A good relationship with his children has no bearing on whether he will have a good relationship with you. And, this is the cynic in me, so feel free to ignore – I think men sometimes talk it up to impress women or themselves. How he looks and kisses isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. I’ve laughed with lots of EUMs and ACs.
      I think he’s warning you, subtly. He may not even know that he’s doing it. He’s doing what I would do if I had started a relationship about a year ago – I’m ready but I’m not ready, I’m open but I’m not open, I have expectations but not really.
      Was I a goood candidate for a serious relationahip a year ago? NO.
      It’s in your hands to decide what to do. It’s tricky when they are not out and out villains. It’s good that you’ve raised the bar. Bon courage.

  47. sushi says:

    Hi Magnolia, I think you are reading him right. What he said to you I feel is thrown up in the air so you: get cought up in the positive bits and start “convincing him up”out of negatives. Definitely mixed signals. The action bit – he is consistently late. Will you be able to be surprised if things were to go not how you want them? No, he`s told you. But ever so subtly, allowing plenty of room for you to conclude that you just didn`t manage to be good enough if you let it ( except you are not, wow!!! go Magnolia!). When I read it I had a wave of recognition wash over me too, the uneasy feeling, the familiarity of being mindf**ked by apparently a nice guy. Brrr…that feeling is giving me the creeps.

    • EllyB says:

      Completely agree with Sushi. Magnolia, you deserve much better than that! Besides, to me it seems as if you’re still making way too many excuses for his shady behavior. You don’t need to do that.

  48. Cookie says:

    I just had an epiphany today: I am and have constantly been in the ‘complaining’-zone for years now.
    I am trying to stop it, since self-pity is really something I don’t like, but I think that I have only been making really tiny steps and expecting great results without realizing, that tiny steps just aren’t enough for the kind of issues I am dealing with.

    I am still carrying a lot of pain and anger around with me, I so want to be loved and cared for but feel that I always hit an invisible barrier with men, but also friends, when it comes to opening up. I am getting better, but I am awfully afraid of being hurt and rejected.

    Funnily (actually it’s not funny), I always had to be the grown-up since my mother always had to deal with more important stuff than my fears and my problems. She still does that and it’s making me feel like shit for ‘daring’ to reach out to her. Basically, I have been the fair-weather girl for all of my family and friends, since I learned early in life that it is the only way of being accepted and loved.
    So I have been looking for a man who can take care of me, love me, make me feel safe and at the smallest (really paranoid, and I am not exaggerating) inkling that he could deceive me or abuse my trust, I have started behaving shadily, being mean, closing up and watching everything from inside as if from far-away and detached. I have then started having conversations over what exactly their problem is with them and basically, left them no chance.
    God, I am only realizing now that I actually made men pay for their emotional investment with me, because it is not even what I really crave (so it could not satisfy me), I have been craving for the love of my parents all along.

    I feel like I should take myself out of the game entirely and really deal with stuff, dig up the most painful things and make peace with them (I never told anybody that I have been sexually abused by a ‘boyfriend’ when I was just 15, because I didn’t want to be pitied or be ‘that girl’). AWFUL! I’ve locked myself in for so long and it just doesn’t work anymore, as I am being more and more honest with myself.
    I have been reading on here for weeks and so many of your posts have really hit home and made me realize so many truths I wouldn’t see before.

    But – and that saddens and ashames me – really, I have been the assclown and the EU in 90% of my relationships. I was so hard for such a long time, that I really acted like a jerk, before the other one could get around to it (and I am now sure, that a lot of them WEREN’T jerks).

    And it horrifies me that it’s ongoing. I have been dating a guy (who probably is an EUM, but is really trying hard on opening up, since he knows, that it’s not his normal way of being) for 3 months and have just yesterday slept with another guy, who I know likes me.
    What is wrong with me? Basically, I am again toying with 2 people, well, make that 3, since I am also deceiving myself. I don’t want to be that person anymore.

    Writing this down and being so brutally honest with myself is really helping and I am realizing much better, why I am acting like I am. I am starting therapy next week and I can’t wait.
    I want to make peace with myself.

  49. Spinster says:

    “If you think that you know it all, or that you’ve done it all, or that nothing else can be done, why are we having this discussion? Why are you trying? Why are you appearing to be searching for a solution? Or are you just going through the motions so you can tick off your effort checklist?”

    Oh, how this shit annoys me to no end. 😐 If I catch myself doing, I check myself immediately because I hate when someone does that to me in conversation, so I definitely don’t want to make it a habit of my own. 😐

  50. Penny says:


    your comment “I am clearly still in the greiving process.I go to work,comehome,spend most of my days in my Pjs,and just sorta exist…”..really resonated with me. I am in a similar situation in my life after being humiliated by an ac. i dont really enjoy life i just kinda exist. it’s funny because a few years ago many would have considered me the type to nevvverrrr take the crap that i did let alone wallow over it for months after. i go to work, come home, can go days without pulling a brush through my hair. i used to enjoy clothes, had hobbies, was confident and social. now i am quiet, reclusive and timid.

    i was sitting down to myself today thinking how am i going to fix this. guys ask me out on dates and sometimes i feel compelled to go on them..then i get scared and cancel which is a not a nice thing to do. i am now EUW. now i realise that i am in no way ready to date BUT i have to start making some changes if i want things to be different. i badly want things to be different. i know im going to regret the time iv spent putting my life on hold in time, im only in my twenties.

    @ Flower White: i loved the advice you gave brenda.

  51. Shelly says:

    Excuses, I have them for my excuses. I think I start my every sentence with ‘but’ right now. If it is not because of this reason, then it was because of that reason. God, I am surprised I have a single friend left right now. I have systematically destroyed my life, my professional credibility and my sanity it seems. All over an ass clown I had no interest in to start with, not even in the slightest. I have no idea why I even fell for him – it was an odd kind of charming not enough to provoke the ‘whoah too full on response’ – just a few caring emails, a cute nickname, a thoughtful non-date date and some fun in the park, and slowly but surely with every four hour ‘how are you today – have sweet dreams’ phonecall my every thought started to revolve around him as he replaced me in the center of my universe. Then suddenly from nowhere he pulled the rug from under my feet and explained he *really* liked someone else and I must have simply got the wrong idea about ‘us’- we were just good friends. Now I am certain that old me would have told him to take a very long walk off a very short pier. Yet the new me could only nod in agreement. Of course he was right, yes I’d got the wrong idea – of course we could be friends – especially after silly me had made such a silly mistake. He was very quick to reassure me that plenty of other women had got the wrong idea too – it was curse of being a *such* a nice guy you see. Course you all do…

    But no not me. Instead I became best friend extraordinaire. Have you ever seen the ‘but I’m your best friend’ production? I should have sold tickets, it was a real west end worthy drama where no matter how much I broke my life to fit with his – he simply drifted further away from me. The more I gave the less I got. I should have let him go. Instead I clung. I clung so hard it hurt physically and mentally. I ended up losing friends, destroying any semblance of professional credibility as I let my work slip. I the only way I could slip any further right now is by getting back into to contact with him – and guess what I want to do. You guessed it. Despite my life laying in tatters on the floor, mainly, if not entirely because of this idiot – I shun fixing that mess. For reasons beyond what is left of my logical mind what I want more than anything else is to invite him back and unlock the door so he can mess it up some more…

    • grace says:

      Ooh you’ve been well and truly mindF*cked.
      Don’t contact him. One day at a time. Block him off FB, delete his number off your mobile, delete his texts, clear your call log (you WILL forget the no. eventually), delete him from your computer backup, get a new phone if you have to, block his email.
      Imagine that you’ve been kidnapped by a cult but you escaped. In this vulnerable time, you have to tell yourself that what you are thinking and feeling is cult hogwash. It’s not real.
      You’re still in there somewhere Shelly. Keep moving towards the light (not the one shining out of his arse).

    • Fearless says:

      Keep reading Nat’s blogs. Here’s the reality: He is NOT that special – You are NOT that desperate.

    • yoghurt says:

      Shelly, your post made me want to cry because I’ve been there, I really have. I got messed about, friend-zoned, obsessed with and eventually accidentally pregnant by someone that I didn’t originally rate very highly either. When I looked at my life afterwards, EVERYTHING that I’d had before – friends, financial security, house, routine, health, professionalism, sleep-patterns – were gone and instead I had a baby (who is admittedly ace), a room in an elderly relative’s house and a lot of head-scratching. It’s comebackable-from, it really is. I’m not ‘there’ yet but I’m happy and I honestly didn’t think I ever would be again.

      The first thing that you need to do is to block this nasty little user from your life. He’s manipulative, he’s taken advantage of you and even if he DID change his mind (he won’t) he wouldn’t ever make you happy (unless your childhood dreams involved a husband who would make you feel insecure and confused?). I don’t know if you’ve done this yet but delete his number and his email address, block him from your phone and email and go and mop the floor (or do something else strenuous and mundane) every time you want to think about him.

      Think of your life (as you’ve described it) as a very unstable building full of volatile high explosives – you do not need some numpty wandering around in it and clicking his lighter for fun.

      I’d also maybe recommend looking into investigating WHY you had such a strong reaction to this one man, as I can tell you now for nothing that he isn’t actually God. In my situation I worked out that I had a lot of other issues – that I’d ignored for a long time or developed killer strategies to deal with – that were ‘triggered’ by one rather ordinary dude. That was why the experience was so painful and all-consuming, it wasn’t that he was my true-love-from-past-lives or my soulmate.

      So maybe look into seeing a counsellor or a therapist to investigate the effect that he had on you? It sounds as though you need more support to deal with this than you’ve got, and professional help will provide that.

      Anyway, good luck. And keep reading and posting here, because it is brilliant. There are so many people here who’ve pulled back from where you are now, so it really can be done.

  52. Shelly says:

    Wow – I went out last night so missed all your responses. You’ll all be please to know I went to my first burlesque class left my phone at home and even smiled – may have even made some new mates in the process.

    In response to you three lovely ladies who took the time to help me thank you!

    @ Grace – You are right, there was a whole cult and I am not the first as he has it down to an art! And yes, while he may believe the light comes from his arse – it does not! It looks to be a long long road, yet I am now far from alone. I am systematically removing him from my life – unfortunately not entirely as we sadly work within the same field – but I can be professional when I have to be and nothing more right (I know there is some posts I need to swot up on here!)? i.e. remove him off my personal phone, FB, personal email, etc. But work related treat him like the CEO – comms only if necessary, only ever work related and always 100% professional? (no finding reasons either!)

    @ Fearless – I now have that lipsticked to my mirror – as marker penned to my forehead (where it should be TBH) is not exactly work friendly!

    @ Yoghurt – For someone who has obviously been through the ringer and not only got out the other-side, but is still strong enough to even think about helping others… well hats off to you! Thank you so much for taking the time to offer practical solutions. I do need to personally block him from my life, as he never deserved to be in it. I’m glad I have started down this road. I have to say when you mentioned therapy it sends shivers down my spine. I am too afraid someone will stick the word nutter to my head and say I can’t cope. Which is irrational I know as therapy is meant to give you tools not a label. Yet this period of my life has been so irrational and so self destructive that I feel shamed to admit to it offline to someone face to face – and that undoubtedly is unhealthy in itself. I don’t like feeling so foolish, admitting I got so far out of control or that I placed this ‘friendship’ before everything else in my life. I’d really like to like to blame him more, but I know really I have issues that let me do it to start with. I don’t think I will even start to really heal until I can admit this to someone face to face. Yet with most things in my life I just want to bury it and forget it happened (and I have done that so…


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


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