stop blaming yourself

Every day I hear from people veering between blaming themselves for ‘everything’ or blaming someone else or even everyone else. Invariably they completely miss the point and the bigger picture.

Trust me when I say that it’s not your looks, your religion, or the fact that you were in a bad mood one day, or that you didn’t answer on three rings, or that you weren’t patient enough after doling out 50 billion chances. Equally it’s not all you plus if you focus entirely on others problems you miss a golden opportunity and necessity to focus your energies (positively) much closer to home.

If by blaming yourself you manage to avoid any and all information pertaining to the other person and their part, it’s just denial by another name.

Always be extremely cautious of anyone that experiences problems but doesn’t see themselves as a part of it. That said, it’s quite extreme to see yourself as the only source of problem and blame.

It’s time to look beyond you to the bigger picture so that you can quit being dishonest and dodging responsibility. If 4 people rob a store and get caught and 1 decides to take the blame, it’s not responsibility because it removes it from the other 3 people. You might argue that the other 3 ‘might’ not have done it otherwise, but it’s like assuming you’re in control of what goes on in other people’s minds.

Taking a more emotionally mature, less child like position means that you can see where you end & another person begins and recognise your own responsibility. I’ll never forget the realisation that at 28, I still emotionally responded to certain situations as if I were 5 or 6 years old. That sobered me right up and forced me to grow myself up fast.

You also have to stop being a perfectionist – it’s a bit like going “It’s either all my fault or not at all!” You’re not an island. Where’s the middle ground?

You’re the common denominator in every situation in your life. That doesn’t make you responsible for everything that goes down – it makes you responsible for your part. The other person is the common denominator in every situation in their life, which makes them responsible for their part.

It’s also critical to recognise the difference between influence and responsibility because having little or no boundaries influences someone with the disposition to take advantage or abuse to do just that, but you’re not responsible for their actions. What you’re responsible for is not having boundaries. A respectful person wouldn’t bust them in the first place.

Also consider another perspective. Get off the blaming horse and look at this situation through the other person’s eyes and be 100% honest with yourself. What do you see? What are they doing? You might not like what you see but at least it’s the truth – one with more logic.

What are more realistic reasons as to why things have happened?

While it’s not the easy thing to hear, it’s actually the lazy option to say “Such and such happened – oh it’s my fault” There’s a whole lot of stuff missing in between that. Be logical. If you’re going to make yourself accountable for something, ensure that it can be pinned to you with a logical reason that if you said it out loud to another human being, they wouldn’t wonder if you’d been at the crack pipe. If it sounds disproportionate to what you’re pinning it to, it’s because it is.

If when you ‘blame’ yourself for something and there’s someone else in there with their behaviour, I’m sorry but you can’t blame yourself. OWN.YOUR.PART.ONLY.

The truth is that anything that truly is your fault is something you’re in control of and able to address.

If someone’s upset tomorrow and I know that the reason for them being upset is because I called them an assclown, I can apologise for my actions and resolve to be more thoughtful in what I say when I experience conflict. If I have nothing to do with it, while I can attempt to help improve their mood, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions that due to me living and breathing and not being ‘good enough’ that I must have something to do with it.  

If you’ve got something to do with whatever you’re ‘blaming’ yourself for, address it and move on. If the situation has moved beyond the point of having anything that you can truly do to resolve it, address the issue within you and resolve to live your lessons now and in future relationships.

Blaming yourself is highly destructive. The flipside – blaming others and avoiding responsibility and accountability is destructive to your relationship with them. Blaming solves nothing.

Unless you’re planning to never do anything, get off the blame pot and take action. Don’t play victim with yourself.

Anything you truly do believe you’re doing that doesn’t benefit you and is a factor in ‘your part’ – what can you DO to improve it?

Over the past few years I’ve improved my ‘part’. I’ve learned to experience conflict and discovered that the sky doesn’t fall down and criticism or perceived criticism doesn’t derail me. I don’t immediately emotionally teleport back to being 5 again. I’m no longer a fearful person, I don’t self-reject and I don’t get switchy and twitchy about the possibility of being rejected or abandoned. It’s more important that I like me than I try to impress ‘everyone’. I also don’t bust my proverbial balls about disappointments nor do I blame everyone else.

There are two things that I find are an attraction in blame:

1) It keeps you invested in a situation effectively helping you avoid dealing and doing.

2) It’s a refusal to either let yourself off the hook or let others off the hook.

In the past I’ve made it my vocation to tell someone all about himself because it was important to me that he knew where he’d failed in the relationship. Equally I’ve suffered at my own hands by punishing myself with blame.

Be careful of becoming obsessed with being proven ‘right’ – by sticking with blame it’s like resolving to continue on a quest from now till the end of time to leave no blame stone unturned and prove that you’re right to take the blame (or blame them).

Behind every blame is what you’re truly avoiding dealing with – face that and get uncomfortable. Write it down, be angry, cry, whatever and then look forward. I actually found it very useful to ask myself how much longer I intended to blame myself for, especially after a friend asked me that very question.

I also find it very useful to say it out loud – voice your thoughts. One day I said out loud for the first time “I’m blaming myself for how be treated me because he couldn’t cope with me being black.” I laughed till tears rolled down my cheeks.

When are you going to let it go? Say when because holding on forever isn’t an option.

Drowning in detail distances you from objectivity. Ending the blame paves the way for you to actually learn from the experience and grow out of it.

Letting go means accepting that it wasn’t all you and it wasn’t all them.

Blame is another form of rejection so if you want to stop feeling bad and suffering unnecessarily, the key is to stop rejecting yourself and LET IT GO. This is often synonymous with accepting that it’s done but the truth is, the relationship (or situation) is ‘done’ anyway. It’s in the past – it’s you that needs to catch up to your present.

Your thoughts?

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

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190 Responses to Why It’s Important For You To Stop Blaming Yourself…Even When You Want To Make It ALL About You

  1. CC says:

    Nat, thanks for these past few articles. It really hits the nail on the head that really the true answer is that we HAVE to look at, but not blame, ourselves. Looking at and changing ourselves is THE answer to getting out of toxic, EU, and MM relationships. I’ve ran the gamut for years and it wasn’t until I took responsibility for my stuff, decided that the only way to improve my self esteem was to eschew all things that were bringing it down. I told myself everyday, even if I didn’t believe it at first, that I deserved better than some guy that wasn’t sure whether he wanted me or not. Miraculously (or really not so miraculously) a year and half later my life has completely changed. Completely happy being single, dating is abundant, job has completely taken off with new passion, lots of friends and activities to spend my time socially. I couldn’t be happier and I don’t feel less than anyone else, especially not any other woman because I am not married. I have actually completely embraced not being in a committed relationship and enjoy all that being single has to offer and look forward to all that life will be bringing in the future. So thank you Nat, I love these latest posts!

    • Gina says:

      Amen CC! Amen! Like you, I am embracing the single life completely and enjoying all that it has to offer! Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to find happiness and contentment with our lives as single women and not feel pressured, worried, or concerned about being married or in a committed relationship!? Hallelujah! Hallelujah!!

      Thanks again Nat for a great article!

  2. Natasha says:

    ‘One day I said out loud for the first time “I’m blaming myself for how be treated me because he couldn’t cope with me being black.” I laughed till tears rolled down my cheeks.’

    That made me burst out laughing, because I can remember some of my comments when I first found this blog and (the shame, ohmygod, the shame) most of them were like, “What if it was me?! What if he just wasn’t ready?! Oh sweet lemon drops, I think he was nicer to all his exes, therefor…it was meeeeee!” This was conveniently ignoring the fact that…Sweet Mother of MERCY…the guy was a possible anti-Semite and I’m a half-Jew. Mind you, a lot of perfectly decent people feel that they can’t get serious with someone who has different religious beliefs, but a decent person isn’t dipping out of someone’s life for sex/ego stroking while full on knowing that this is the case. This is why it was patently ridiculous that, in the early days of NC, I sat there thinking, “Well, I shouldn’t have talked about my religion and I shouldn’t have asked him to Define The Relationship after 5 years of BBS (Boomerang Bullsh*t).” HELLO.

    As much as it all sucked, I’m actually very grateful that it happened. I learned A LOT about myself and what I need to work on in my next relationship. Nat, you’re amazing.

    p.s. Love the new picture! Gorgeous :)

    • Fearless says:

      It’s not as if the guy suddenly realised Nat was black or you were half Jewish Natasha… it’s typical EU nonsense – just an excuse to get out of the relationship. The fact is they do NOT have a reason – other than being an assh8le and the black and Jewish thing is the only thing they can come up with – that they know you can’t change, so you are, inherently, a non-negotiable!

      I have read that the EUM will typically choose someone who does not fit in with his idea of his ideal partner so that he somehow knows he won’t get too close to that person. The excuse provides an “out” for him – and the “out” has to be something that you are unable to change.

      After my ex EUM did his first disappearing act years ago, bewildered and confused by his sudden, out of the blue retreat, I asked him what was going on and his answer was ‘Well…you see… I really always saw myself marrying a young, Catholic virgin’.
      I mean – who comes away with this crap at any time never mind after four months of hot pursuit! My chin hit the floor – it was like suddenly I was talking to total twit, yet this was an adult intelligent and accomplished male! I was speechless. Of course I failed on two counts. Right religion, wrong age, wrong virginal status. I had failed on those two counts from the moment I met him, he just didn’t bother to let me know! I knew his stupid statement was a daft excuse; I paid it no heed as it was just too silly to be really meant, I thought, and a year later I was seeing him again. I still think it was daft. It was an excuse to create the disance he needed to get. That’s all. And I’m sure it’s the same for you Natasha (and Nat and whomever else has had same rubbish)

      • Fearless says:

        BTW – his two previous g/friends (though he NEVER used that word for a woman he was seeing) were 1. Jewish and 2. Muslim So they didn’t stand a chance in hell either! Pathetic.

      • wicked74 says:

        @Fearless – “I have read that the EUM will typically choose someone who does not fit in with his idea of his ideal partner so that he somehow knows he won’t get too close to that person. The excuse provides an “out” for him – and the “out” has to be something that you are unable to change.”

        How many times I caught the Ex checking out some woman? On the street, online, on a porn site….She was NEVER 1) white, 2) overweight or 3) over 25. I am a 37 year old, white, big & curvy woman. Not to mention NOT AFRICAN. He “picked” me on purpose and FOR a purpose. I remember having fights with him screaming that I would never be younger, thinner, BLACKER – there was no way for me to compete with the ideal in his head and he KNEW it.

        • Natasha says:

          Wicked, good for you for not changing who you are for him. Years ago, a very good friend of mine was dating a jackass that was obsessed with Brazilian models (not in the normal way that men find them gorgeous, he was constantly yammering on about it to her). Being very insecure at the time, she went on a starvation diet and hit the tanning bed. Guess what? He just went ahead and found other things to needle her about. A man can find many women attractive that aren’t anything like the woman he’s dating and still think his girlfriend is absolutely beautiful. However, if it’s getting to the point where he’s comparing whoever he’s dating to these other women in a negative light…RED FLAG.

          I have a story that’s probably TMI, but it’s just too funny! My ex-AC once informed me that I was “like his own personal porn”. Mind you, my style is very preppy, I don’t wear a whole lot of make-up…and…I don’t look anything like a porn star! I was so insulted, because I decided he was saying I looked tacky and cheap/thought I was a total skank. As it turned out, he was most likely saying it because the only thing he liked about me was the, er, intimate times I suppose! My point is that some men are morons and it’s best not to worry what they think of us/why they “chose” us and send them on their merry moronic way.

    • Elle says:

      haha Natasha! Mine were along the lines of: ‘If I had been more assertive earlier on, do you think it would have lasted? Maybe I asked too much of [a guy in his mid-thirties who has never had a stable, happy relationship and always leaves, and thinks his exes are all crazy]?’ Behind all this was: Am I not both all-powerful, and therefore to blame for everything that goes wrong? Too funny. (And I have to laugh now – and can laugh – when I think of me being sad and blaming myself that someone who said he didn’t like my whole personality ended up being cruel and leaving me.)

    • Bri says:

      I’m where you were all those months ago, but what you said is so true: I expected things out of him that were impossible for him to give – I was trying to pick apples from an orange tree. I’ve blamed myself for asking for too much or pressuring my exMM to be with me and kept wondering what was so wrong with me that he didn’t choose me.

      Just like your ex who didn’t accept your religion and was wrong to get into it with you knowing that, my ex was married – a “decent” person doesn’t get serious with someone else when they know they won’t make the commitment and instead, used me for sex, an ego boost, emotional support, etc. Like you, I sat around thinking “Well he’s got a lot going on, I shouldn’t ask for so much” but he got into it with me knowing he had a wife and kids and other responsibilities. I’m not trying to diminish my role because I was aware of all this, but he led me to believe he could give me something he knew he couldn’t, and I hope I get to a place where I realize that’s not due to me being less than, it’s because of his issues and his decisions.

      Congrats on your NC, by the way!

      • Fearless says:

        “I’m not trying to diminish my role because I was aware of all this, but he led me to believe he could give me something he knew he couldn’t”

        Bri, I totally get what you’re saying. I thought the very same about my MM and my more recent EUM. What you may come to understand is that the reason you wanted this man is not *despite* the fact that he is married; you wanted him *because* he is married. The perosn who really, subconsciously, knew he *couldn’t* give you what you wanted was you; that is the attraction for the EUW.

        I came to understand my part in my choices as part of my own emotional unavailablity by reading BR and also through the insightful book “He’s Scared, She’s Scared” by Carter and Sokol. I would recommnend that book as a good supplement to BR – especially the sections explaining the relationship choices we make and why we make them: the passive emotionally unavailable person is usually the woman while the active EU is usually the man; there is a not so subtle and important difference which, if you read about it, will help you understand why I say that it was you who knew he *couldn’t*. (my view about “him” is that he doesn’t give much conscious thought to whether he could or couldn’t leave his wife and be with you – he is just living for the here and now and will worry about the consequences when they happen)
        All the best, Bri. Keep going forward – I think the MM denial bubble has been pierced.

    • PJM says:

      Natasha, that’s brilliant – and what a good tool for learning!

      I find that saying stuff out loud (in privacy, of course) – hard stuff, confronting stuff – is a really, really good way of seeing it in perspective. It can make you laugh or make you cry, but either way you’ve heard a human voice saying it, and it can move you forward on your path a lot faster than ‘thinking’ something a thousand times.

      It’s also good for when you are struggling with old wounds and a lack of forgiveness: I find if I say out loud, ‘I forgive you, [blank] for [blank]’, it can relieve the built-up pressures really well.

      Puts a whole new slant on ‘giving yourself a good talking-to’!

    • Natasha says:

      @Fearless – “Wrong virginal status” hahaha! If that’s his dating dealbreaker, in this day and age….homeboy is in for a WAIT. He sounds like the type that if he got his Catholic virgin he’d break that off too on the grounds of her not being sexually experienced enough. You are so right, it’s always somethin’ with these guys. Notice it’s always something that they knew about from the get-go and we’re unable to change!

      @Elle – Girl, I did the same thing too! I thought, “Maybe when I asked him all those questions about what his intentions were when he came back, it was a turnoff?!” No, it would have been much more logical to tear my clothes off and yell, “DO WITH ME WHAT YOU WILL!” I mean, really. Your ex is such an ass – I’m so glad you got away from him, you’re too funny, kind and generally awesome for someone like that!

      @Bri – If there’s one thing you can hear loud and clear from our comments, it’s that it DOES get better :) We’ve all been devastated over these guys at some point and now we’re all, “Sit DOWN son.” I have no doubt that you’ll get there with Cheater McGee, who doesn’t even know the meaning of the word decency. This is most likely because he’s too busy trying to get his trousers off to find a dictionary. Congrats on your NC as well!!

      @PJM – Well said lady! I found that it totally does get right to the logical heart of the matter and IS much more productive than rumination. I’m going to try your forgiveness exercise – he’s been trying to get in touch and it has pissed me off all over again. Thank you for the excellent tip :)

  3. TeaTime says:

    “If you’ve got something to do with whatever you’re ‘blaming’ yourself for, address it and move on. If the situation has moved beyond the point of having anything that you can truly do to resolve it, address the issue within you and resolve to live your lessons now and in future relationships.”

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It took me 5 months last year to realize that I had a role in the blame I kept laying on the xEUM, and as a result I took matters into my own hands and cut him off. NC for nearly 9 months now, and I barely think of him these days.

    What’s happening in my life now is forcing me to take this rule and apply it to my entire life. I seem to play victim with some major recurring themes: I am unlucky in love, I never have the social life I want to, I didn’t get the education I wanted. When I came across the quote above I realized I do have a role to play in all of this. I’m sitting here on my butt blaming others or my situation. Yes, there might be a role in that, but I have to realize I have my part to address as well.

    I was slowly starting to realize this over the weekend, and now this article has reaffirmed my thoughts. Thank you once again Nat!

  4. Need2MoveFwd>> says:

    Thank you Natalie, timely as ever. :) That was very pertinent to my day today and a good note upon which to say goodnight. All the best to you & your readers and I look fwd to the next mail from you; you always hit the nail waaaay too accurately on the head. :)

    N2MF x

  5. Excellent! As always; can’t wait to Tweet and update my Facebook status with some of the jewels!

  6. jennynic says:

    I like what you say about not drowning in the details. I am currently doing that with a new dating situation I’m in. I am over analyzing things then taking it on as me having messed up somehow, not being good enough or that my emotional flaws are blaring in his face and he has become disinterested (when he doesn’t call for a few days). Okay, so maybe I can switch gears a little. Maybe he hasn’t called because I’m so damn hot he can’t handle it. Who could blame him and it’s not my fault I’m so smoking hot. (kidding) No, seriously, off to yoga to soothe my mind and work on the smokin bod part. Breathe…..relax……smile for the good things I have.

  7. Liska says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I can especially relate to the part of becoming obsessed with being proven right! I always thought that the only way to get over MY hurt of being dumped or rejected is to tell my EXs what a**holes they were and how much they disappointed ME. I played victim so well!!!! The most recent drama was with my recent exEUM. I told him off in front of his new gf feeling like Judge Judy yelling “You, sir, are a low-life, amoral piece of crap!”
    In the end however, my drama was making me feel angry, embarrassed and eventually depressed.

    Anyway, …While being on NC, I realized one very important thing – I MUST LET GO. I wrote each of my ex a personal letter. I wrote about the memories we shared, how I felt, about how much they hurt me and how I felt I was not good enough for them and how much I blamed them for hurting me (leaving me, shady behavior, lying etc). Then, I read those letters aloud and burnt them… I felt a great relief. I don’t think I am miraculously healed but I really think it pushed me to acknowledge that the past is over and I truly should leave that entire blame BS behind.
    I became less obsessed, less angry and more focused on the present!

  8. Mika says:

    I think practicing acceptance is a great way to help you move on and let go. And when you’re in a better frame of accepting “what is,” the better chance you have of overcoming adversity.

    When you’re blaming yourself for something, you tend to resist what happened… and when you resist the reality of a situation, you’re essentially adding more pain and suffering to your reality.

  9. runnergirl says:

    PERFECT! I’ve been struggling again lately and couldn’t put my finger on it. I knew that sliding off the faux NC wagon after 7 months and doing the suck it and see weekend last month set me back. Even though it was only 7 months of faux NC with the help of this site and all of you, I was starting to get some clarity. Doing the suck it and see weekend set me back into the blame game, blaming him again for being a lying, cheating MM and blaming me for having no boundaries and falling for his lies, among other things.

    “There are two things that I find are an attraction in blame:
    1) It keeps you invested in a situation effectively helping you avoid dealing and doing.
    2) It’s a refusal to either let yourself off the hook or let others off the hook.”

    I’m still doing both of the above. By blaming him, I’m staying invested and avoid dealing and doing. It is just denial by another name.

    Okay, I’ll try to say it out loud: “I’m blaming myself for becoming involved with a MM who is a reincarnation of my EUM/AC father.” “I’m blaming the MM for being a reincarnation of my EUM/AC father.” I’m blaming us for lying and decieving his wife and children like my father decieved my mother and me.” Doesn’t quite elict laughter but certainly draws a line where me, my father, and ex MM begin and end.

    Thank you Natalie. It’s time to let it all go and puck myself in the head, and own my role only as an adult. Every single sentence in this post set off a ton of emotion and thought. “Taking a more emotionally mature, less child like position means that you can see where you end & another person begins and recognise your own responsibility.” More thought needed here. I’ll probably have to be a blog hog to work through all the stuff this post conjured up.

    In any event, if you can avoid the suck it and see experience, I would highly recommend it. If you haven’t read Natalie’s “Suck and See” post, it’s amazingly spot on.

    • oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

      Runnergirl, I just had to make a comment about your post!

      “I’m blaming myself for becoming involved with a MM who is a reincarnation of my EUM/AC father.” “I’m blaming the MM for being a reincarnation of my EUM/AC father.”

      There is so much truth to this. One day my therapist asked me several questions about my MM (and college sweetheart I always had this weird “connection” with in my heart with even after 26 years!). Things like what he looks like, what his build is like, what he does for a living, etc. Then immediately after she started asking me questions about my father. I kid you not, down to what he does for a living, every one of my answers was exactly the same. I looked at my therapist and said “OMG I am f*cking my father!!” It was a huge ah ha moment, but at least I finally named that elephant! I was able then, when I felt rejected OR strongly attracted, to tell myself it was not HIM so much as it was repeating my relationship with good old dad and looking for the validation from MM I never got (and still don’t have) from my dad.

      Somehow when I identified it, I was able to somewhat quit blaming myself for being a weak woman who had no boundaries with this man. I even stopped blaming him (sort of, ha ha) as he was really just an opportunistic serial cheater who had a woman who is usually out of his league practically throwing herself at him. What bored husband with no integrity is going to say no to that? Afterall, I was the one who found him in FB, he just took the bait.

      Is anyone on here surprised to learn daddy was a cheat too, and left my mom when he got another woman pregnant? At least I didn’t get pregnant…Good Lord!!

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Oldenough,

        Thank you for your comment. No surprise daddy was a cheat, mine certainly was. I’m glad you didn’t get pregnant!

        Here’s why I get stuck blaming myself: I had the exact same aha moment with my therapist BEFORE I got involved with the ex daddy reincarnate. I had identified the elephant and recognized that I had been daddy hunting (Nat’s descriptive term) all of my life. A few years later, I did it AGAIN, this time with a MM. The ex MM and my father are so similar it is terrifying. This is how conscious I was of the elephant, when the ex MM would talk about how it felt as though we had known one another all our lives, in the bubble above my head I was thinking we have, someone just like you raised me. Thus, I’m particulary hard on myself for the misery I caused myself and the misery I caused his wife because I knew better and still had to play in traffic.

        I’m working hard on moving out of blame/shame into accountability and responsibility, acceptance, and self forgiveness. Natalie is so right. Blaming myself, him, and my father is destructive, keeps me vested in my rotten childhood and the worst two years of my life. Good for you Oldenough that you learned the lesson, heeded it, and didn’t repeat it. You are an inspiration. I guess I’ve still got some more to address like being teleported to the angry 10 year old who had to take care of 4 siblings while daddy was out with his OW’s and mommy was too depressed to deal with 5 kids.

        Thanks, I had a better day today recognizing that I got stuck back in the blame/shame game again. Gotta address it and move on and LET IT GO!

        • Blaise Parker says:


          What I’ve learned in my years of observing others and myself is that what you’ve done, learn from your therapist about your father relationship and then still go with the married man is normal.

          It is very, very normal part of healing to learn, forget, relearn deeper, forget sort of, relearn AGAIN, etc. Because what creates change in our lives is not what we KNOW but what we have chosen to accept and live in peace with.

          So even though you understood intellectually your relationship dynamic, you were still not willing to accept the consequences of that knowing – no more chasing men for fulfillment, accepting your “aloneness” and being at peace with it.

          Acceptance is a process – make it a gentle one.

          Also, know this. You may meet another man, who feels SO GOOD… and about two dates in, you’ll say uh-oh. And you’ll see the signs, and exit stage right with a sigh of relief.

          Because the universe tends to make SURE you are done by sending you one last ass…

          if you forget and painfully engage with him for a moment or two before you wake up and remember this is still an ass, then…

          it’s all part of the process. Trust me, you will be REALLY done, one day, sooner than you realize.

          There’s lots of hope.

          • grace says:

            Absolutely, my one last ass was the Returning Childhood Sweetheart and MM rolled into one. Sent me scurrying to the counsellor because I couldn’t bear the thought of having an affair with a MM. As I left the counsellor’s office after our first meeting he said to me “If you want to follow your heart, you CAN do that”, giving me permission to have an affair. And I said “No, I can’t, it goes against everything I believe in”. I actually believe something and I’m going to stick to it! Epiphany! Always, in my life, I would just “go with the flow” and not stand up for myself.
            I won’t bore you with the deta ils but the result is that over a year or so I laid everything to rest: regrets over my previous poor relationship behaviour, rage over the AC s, the grieving that went on for years over the playa who I did genuinely love. I’m even coming to the end of my anger at my parents’ abuse (which I thought was not possible).
            I’ve shed the depression, the hypersensitivity, the “woe is me I’m doomed”, everything I do is wrong, the endless analysis, the people pleasing, the blame game … and feel so much more myself. We cling to all of that because it SEEMS to define us. It doesn’t. It’s …. baggage, the real you is underneath it all, like a shiny little gem.

          • runnergirl says:

            Oh Blaise thank you so much. The self blame and blaming him just lifted when I read your response. You are right, my therapist said the same thing about relearning until you get it. It is a normal part of the healing process. Thank you, I did “forget” that part.

            “Because what creates change in our lives is not what we KNOW but what we have chosen to accept and live in peace with.” Thank you for the reminder that KNOWING doesn’t automatically translate into DOING. I guess I really had not truly accepted and made peace with my “aloneness”. I remember your post where you talked about this. I also didn’t realize that I was protecting myself from becoming involved with an available man by being unavailable myself, thus ensuring my aloneness.

            I know precisely what you mean about feeling oh soooo GOOD. I’ll be laughing all day (probably forever) thinking about the universe sending me one las ass just to be sure I’ve got it this time. I wish the universe would put him in a t-shirt labeled “One Last Ass” but I’ll recognize him.

            There’s hope! It’s going to be a good day. Thank you.

          • Magnolia says:

            @runner: The “One Last Ass” T-shirt!! ROFL. Too bad it’s not the last time for them. Or maybe if just one guy wore the shirt, we could all go up and interact, say uh-oh and walk away and be done with our last ones. If only one last ass fit all!

            @blaise: thanks for the (hugs)! Your words to runner are also very encouraging.

          • Blaise Parker says:

            Grace, that’s amazing – forgiving your parents. Wow. That gave ME hope.

            Runnergirl, do something gentle and fun and kind for yourself today. Have you ever read SARK books?

            They are so colorful and fun and give you lots of permission to love yourself and be playful and have fun. Maybe a trip to the local bookstore is in order? And then perhaps a nice little dinner for yourself? Self-date night!

          • Michelle L says:

            I love it–“one last ass” I think my MM was really my one last ass. I’ve walked away from it, even when he wanted to be friends, and even though it hurts, I am not looking back and will not go back. I do have a question–when I told him I did not want to be friends (via email) his last email to me was “I hope, like me, you have some good, happy memories.” Why would he say that? Is it an ass-like thing to say? It didn’t make me feel good, if that’s what he meant to do.

          • Mango says:

            Blaise, thank you for this post. Especially, “Because what creates change in our lives is not what we KNOW but what we have chosen to accept and live in peace with.” I, too, have been beating on myself just a bit too much lately, and your words help cut through to add some levity and hope.

            “One last ass”…..ahahahahaha!

          • Magnolia says:


            “his last email to me was ‘I hope, like me, you have some good, happy memories.’”

            Certainly sounds like an ass or two that have condescended to me after a breakup. It felt to me like they were trying to guilt me into saying, or guilt me or for not saying, the nice, polite exit line – ie. that I had good memories of them – that would let them off the hook.

            Or as if they too could list all kinds of ‘mean’ things about me (like I was saying about them by describing them as hurtful) but that because they were the better person, they would only leave with the words: ‘thanks for the memories…’. Ack. Reminds me so much of the ex. Puky puke and flush that.

          • EllyB says:

            @Michelle: “I hope, like me, you have some good, happy memories.”

            My narcissistic mother used very similar lines whenever we discussed my horrible childhood (that was before I went NC with her and long before I started to grasp how severe her abuse really was).

            I’m afraid this line doesn’t mean anything. It’s just part of the classic AC repertoire.

          • PhoenixRising says:

            Blaise Parker – What you wrote to Runner is amazing. Thanks for giving us hope. I too have thought I’d learned only to fall again. But I keep getting up. One day at a time.

        • Tulipa says:

          I can relate to what you are saying, Runnergirl, I have been giving myself a hard time lately that I got so involved with him the first place when I had a lot of knowledge to already know this would not end well. Then I add to the hard time I give myself because even when he split with me the first time round I got back with him knowing that it would end again.
          I understand how it all conncets with my dad and my issues there and maybe I had understood things on an intellectual level but emotionally I was (still am)the abandoned child trying to get someone not to leave me.
          Thank you, Blaise Parker, for showing me there is still work to do on coming to the conclusion I am not yet at peace with what happened when I was a child. I hope he is my last ass clown and somehow I grow up and find peace with my issues.
          I have always admired your honesty, Runnergirl, and even though I wasn’t with a married man so much of what you have to say I can relate too.

          • runnergirl says:

            Blaise, I’m not familar with SARK books. Any additional info would be greatly appreciated. You are right. I can think of 100 fun, gentle, kind, and playful things to do with him, don’t have much of clue about what to do with me. A nice little dinner with me sound like a great place to start. You are such an inspiration.

            Magnolia, the one last ass still has me laughing too. I’m going to have a tough time maintaining a straight face if I have to encounter him again. Regarding one last ass fits all, it sounds as though we’ve all been with the same ass, married or single. Maybe the one last ass t-shirt does fit all?

            Tulipa, thank you and thank you for not judging me in getting involved with a MM. I did the yo-yo thing with the MM for two solid years and kept going back. MM’s are by definition EU’s (and probably AC’s) so we all have a lot in common. Blaise’s comments really helped me see that I could understand something intellectually but not quite connect that understanding emotionally. My best to you in getting some peace around being the abandoned child. I’ll be working on the same issue, AGAIN!

            If Grace and Blaise and the others can let it go, we can too.

            You all are so wonderful. I wish we could all go out for dinner and a nice glass of bubbly to toast the one last ass. Clink!

          • RadioGirl says:


            “his last email to me was ‘I hope, like me, you have some good, happy memories.’”

            My ex used the *exact* same phrase at the end of our relationship! He used it to his previous ex-girlfriend too, and probably all his other exes before. It’s obviously a standard line from the AC repertoire they all seem to use, and I agree with Magnolia that it’s part of their attempt to feel like less of a heel at the end knowing that in reality they’ve actually treated you pretty badly a lot of the time. It’s like they’re still pressing a Reset Button even in their own mind of how the relationship really was, perhaps also in preparation for now viewing you as a fallback option in the future.

          • Minky says:

            I think it’s partly them not wanting to feel like an arsehole, but in the case of EUMs etc who come right out and say ‘i can’t give you a relationship’, like mine did, i think it’s a bit of ‘well i did warn you! we had some good times – why are you angry with me??’. In a way this is true. They show us through their words and actions who they are, so when it’s time to part (which the classic EUM has done many, many, many times), there comes this awkward ‘don’t be angry with me just because i acted the way i told you/ showed you i would’.

          • Natasha says:

            RadioGirl, I swear they have a little book called The Pocket Assclown Dictionary (like one of those books for translating common phrases into a foreign language – Berlitz for Douches, if you will). I’d like to add:

            “You’re a great girl.”

            “I have to find myself.”

            “Just wanted to say hi.” (The Classic Boomerang Assclown Text, used so often it should be stitched on a sampler and hung in a museum)

            “I feel bad about what happened.” (This is supposed to be accepted without question as a show of remorse so that the Reset Button may be pressed. Generally used as a precursor to them slinking back into your life. Should you bring up the details of “what happened”, you will be met with either silence or “I didn’t reach out to you to talk about that. I just wanted to say hi.”)

            “I hope we can still be friends.” (Translates to, “I hope you’ll still screw me and listen to my problems. Also, please don’t meet anyone else, because that would be very inconvenient for me.”)

            “Hi [insert nickname that they had for you].” (Translates to, “I know we haven’t spoken in months and you told me never to call you/text you again, but I figured I’d give popping up and acting like nothing happened a shot.”)

          • Natasha says:

            I almost forgot the two most important ones:

            “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” (Translates to: “I wasn’t actually thinking about any impact I might have on you.”, “I don’t actually give a fig about you, but I might want to tap that again, so I’d better make it look like I care.”, “I don’t like talking about my douchey behavior, so let me just throw that out there and hope you’ll quiet down.”, or “I know deep down I’ve acted like an ass and it really doesn’t fit in with my vision of myself as The Greatest Man That’s Ever Lived. I didn’t mean to do it, therefor, it’s not my fault.”)

            “SILENCE.” (This sound will be heard emanating from your phone/email/Facebook account once he’s gotten what he wanted, it occurs to him that you might actually think the two of you are in a relationship or something “better” has come along.)

          • Mango says:

            Tulipa, I don’t know how I missed this post last night; reading too quickly to catch up, I presume. Regardless, I could have written this post. Thank you for so succinctly putting into words what has only been a pile of mush in my head.

          • runnergirl says:

            Natasha, your Pocket Assclown Dictionary is too funny. Radiogirl, I fell for every single text and phone message from the ex MM after 3mos of NC which were precisely what Natasha has posted and he kept me hooked. “I didn’t mean to hurt you” is the best ever. It is all about alleviating their sense of guilt and restoring their sense of “I’m still a great guy, really. Will you still be there when I need a shag, please?”

            May I please add another to the Pocket Assclown Dictionary: “I’m breaking this off for you. It is in your best interest if we do not continue.” I listened, I heard, and we haven’t spoken since.

          • Mango says:

            Natasha, ‘Berlitz for Douches’…..LOL! Ah, and your translations; too funny, and spot on! I remember thinking, how can he not know how glib and patronizing he sounds? Thank you for the much needed laugh :-)

            Ooooh, I’d like to add a couple:

            “I was emotional” – (I had my head stuck up my butt and couldn’t think straight, so I said what I thought you wanted to hear, even though I didn’t really mean it. Thanks for the ego strokes.)

            “You’re on my mind” – (Maybe if you think I’m still thinking about you, you’ll stop this NC nonsense. Come on babe, I need an ego stroke.)

          • Natasha says:

            Ahhhhh ladies, it really is all from the same damn playbook. I think sometimes we forget that a lot of them have done this with approximately 900 women before us and they have some signature moves haha!

            Runner, sweet Jesus, that man is an epic toolshed. How selfless of him! 😉

            Mango, the “You’re on my mind.” (my ex-AC’s is “I just thought of you.” Uh-huh. aka, “After 8 months of NC I just recalled that you exist.”) description you gave cracked me up!! We’re having tres crappy weather where I live, I so needed that :)

          • PhoenixRising says:

            Oh man – you ladies have me in stitches with the Berlitz Douche Bag translations.

            My last A/C’s repertoire:

            1. “I’m damaged goods and you are not going to be able to save me” – translation – Run for the hills! Wish I’d listened instead of going into Florence Nightingale mode

            2. “Of course I have the utmost respect for you” – translation – Let me patronize you so I can get a shag later if I need it.

            3. “I’m not going to say that you have to let me go, but YOU have to go. I’m holding you back” translation – I wanna break up but I’m too much of a tool/douche bag to do it directly, so I’ll passive-aggressive BS you into doing the dirty work for me

            4. “These things happen” translation – I have no responsibility for this happening.

  10. MaryC says:

    I think its easier to blame oneself than take a hard look at anyone else or the real situation. That might mean what you thought might not be right or all that pretty. After all you can’t fight with yourself and I know for a long time I wanted it to be all about me. Right or Wrong – Good or Bad, Me Me Me. No wonder I fell into the Fall Back Girl routine so easily for so long.

  11. colororange says:

    “2) It’s a refusal to either let yourself off the hook or let others off the hook.”

    This brings up something I’ve been thinking about. If someone does something that hurts me, crosses a boundary, shows they’re not trustworthy or whatever, then I tend to be stumped on how to proceed afterward if I am to be around the person. I usually quit talking to them or avoid them depending on who it is and the situation. I feel like if I am “nice” to someone after they’ve crossed a boundary or whatever, it feels like I am saying it is ok what they did. I can wall-off from people if I didn’t have the backbone to speak up sooner and they’ve done/said so much that I have had enough. Is being nice or friendly to someone you feel wronged by, an unavailable, abusive, etc saying it is ok, that I approve of what happened?

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Color,

      I can totally relate to not wanting to say even one word, even remotely friendly-toned, to someone who has been disrespectful, for exactly the reason you describe.

      At the same time, I never wanted to give the impression that they had gotten to me, so I didn’t feel I could blatantly ignore people.

      Realizing that you can be polite, and upbeat, without giving any more of yourself, has helped me to understand that my good mood needs not be dampened by some AC. I will act in my own best interest, and if saying a polite ‘hello’ to someone in a group will save me from drama and unwanted negative attention, I’ll do what the situation calls for.

      I also find that for people like myself, and maybe you might relate, that early life experiences where abuse was the norm left me a little off in my reading of social cues. I misread people who were simply being polite or civil as being “nice” or more invested than they were. (Got me into lots of man trouble, that! But also a hindrance in work situations.)

      Now that I see you can be “nice” without being invested, I don’t feel like I’m betraying myself if I exchange a pleasantry with someone simply to keep the day moving forward without incident.

      • grace says:

        When I was in France, the kitchen staff got their knickers in a twist because I don’t say good morning. It’s very French that everyone greets each other and kisses. I gave into it in the end. Back in the UK, if I can get to my desk without saying good morning, I prefer it. Yes, I know it’s rude but it’s also emphatically not about the other person. I’m just not in a sociable mood in the mornings. You could be Mother Theresa, I’d rather just stomp past you.
        On the commute to work, a couple of times I got into rows with other commuters, now I don’t … bother. It’s not about me. Maybe their dog died, they got made redundant or they’re just fed up with the trains/planes/automobiles.
        If someone annoys me, I just blank them. It comes naturally to me though. I don’t care what they think, I can’t be … bothered to be interested. At work, though, I’ve learned it’s best to keep everyone on side. You just never know when you have to approach someone for a favour. In my last job, the IT person was so rude, it actually became hilarious. I would call him, he would yell at me, I’d put the phone down and laugh about it.
        I don’t know how big these slights are against you, but can they just be … ignored? I don’t think we always need to take a stand. If you feel okay about yourself, let other people be rude, moody, whatever. Let them be who they are. The one time I tried to tackle a notorious control freak she flipped out and didn’t speak to me for two months – kinda hilarious given that she was my supervisor. I don’t know if there’s much to be gained from telling people about themselves.
        Though I did once tell a social worker on the phone “You’re being very rude to me” and she backed down somewhat. I was too angry to think about it, I just reacted. I think it was quite a good thing to say – short, to the point with no explanation/justification. You could try that but good luck with it!
        On the flipside, you probably annoy people too at times. It’s not a big deal.

        • EllyB says:

          @Grace: Oh yeah, I had a coworker like your IT guy. Whenever you asked a simple, neutral question (over the phone or in person), he yelled at you. It was incredible. Otherwise he was fairly competent.

          Just like you, I coped by walking out of the room or ending the phone call. Five minutes later, he usually called and answered my question in a completely calm voice. Lol. I daresay I feared him much less than my coworkers who tried to argue with him or called him out on his behavior.

          If anybody needs help in such situations, I would recommend Albert Bernstein’s books: “Emotional Vampires” and “Am I the only sane one working here?”. Plenty of good advice in there (and btw., the people described above are “Antisocial bullies” according to his classification).

  12. Paul says:

    I was in a relationship with someone that is a covert con artist. A form of sociopath . In the end I realized it was all a con. She is not capable of love to anyone and I was to her, just a object to be used, as, are her own children . Evil does exist and I never throught it did until the realization of what she is.

    I went to counseling and it was concluded the thing I did wrong, ” Was I stayed too long ” I stayed too long to help my children because she would have taken them and stopped me from seeing them all the while emotionally abusing and controlling them. The real evil parasitic leach was hidden from me for many years. It was all an act until she/the parasitic emotional vampire had what it wanted. A free ride through life, living off other people.

    I suppose my part is, I didn’t see the con but most people never do until it’s too late with this form of sociopath. So how can I not blame a person that set out to use, abuse, control and destroy thoughs people closest to them????

    How can I not put 95 % of the blame on such an animal because it is not human. Humans have feelings. She just wants power and to win at all cost and she will do anything to acheive it. And i do mean anything because it is totally ruthless and has no empathy for others,

    • grace says:

      You can put the blame on her; she deserves it but she’s not going to change. We don’t “blame” criminals, we try them under a justice system and act accordingly. Blaming isn’t the same as holding someone accountable. To me, it’s more fraught than that – you’re invested in them seeing the error of their ways, you want revenge (all that is understandable) but, ultimately, you’re just burning up your time and energy because they either can’t or won’t get it. Extricate yourself from the situation with as much dignity as possible, cut them off if you can, enforce boundaries if you can’t and realise their craziness has nothing to do with you. Then it stops being so personal and you get the ultimate revenge. They become … nothing to you.

      • Cinn says:

        @Paul I understand how you’re feeling, as I was sucked in by a similar ex-N. We know what these types are and they DON’T change. We have to take the courage to protect ourselves and move on (easier said than done sometimes).

        I found what Nat wrote in this blog to really help (I was blaming myself for getting involved/invested before I realised what he IS):

        “They become … nothing to you.”
        So true what you wrote, especially about the revenge.

        I was at the same festival as the ex-N recently (not seen him for 2 years). It was good to feel he meant nothing to me. I was free, having my own fun. Staying NC has kept me safe.
        He’s not changed, and didn’t look as happy as he claims to be. LOL.

    • NML says:

      Paul, I think you’re getting yourself muddled between blame, responsibility, and accountability. You owning your part doesn’t change who and what she is and has done and continues to do. It’s also very difficult to divide things up into percentages. To claim you’re only 5% responsible for who you are, what you do and have done, and how you feel really removes any and all responsibility. It’s like making a token gesture of being accountable for a little part – you see yourself as a victim. You might as well say she’s 100% responsible if you’re going to go to the trouble of saying 95%. That’s not to say you weren’t a victim of things that she did but maintaining victim status on an ongoing basis is of no use to you. I know someone scarily similar to her – they do and always have shown signs of who they are. You had to be listening and watching. When they turn, they turn bad, but they have always been doing things to serve their own agenda at the expense of others. Someone doesn’t ‘suddenly’ have no empathy. They’ve always had no empathy it’s just that cloaked in niceties and charm, you may not have paid attention to the hollowness of their actions or the fact that when they do appear to have any concern for others, it’s because it’s got something to do with how they need to look and feel. You did stay too long, but you left. I’d focus on the latter part.

      • j d says:

        You are right about the lack of empathy; they never have it. They are so cut off from their own feelings that they can’t connect their actions to effects so they will smash you down without knowing, or caring. It’s not personal because in their world they are the only person.

        The only clear emotion I saw in my EU ex was when her cat got sick. Other than that she only displayed self-interest and emotional confusion and kept a group of ‘friends’ to use as a sounding board for how she should react to things. She definitely did want to have relationships (at some level) and was frustrated that they never worked out, without seeing that it was because she gave nothing.

      • Paul says:

        @ NML
        I will give you a link to what I was dealing with for 16 years. They are able to hide their real self.

        I am responsible for who I am. I am not responsible for mental, emotional abuse of another. I was very young and nieve when I was targeted. I was then isolated out totally. I can not blame myself for not knowing about these types of people. No one and I mean no one seems to see the truth of who she is because abuse happens behind closed dooors. To outsiders, she plays the perfect person and uses mirroring to hook people. The overt Narcissist is much easier to spot. The stealth and most dangerous Narracissist is imposible to spot until it’s too late. I hope the link shows people the evil that is out there. Trust is not a thing I have any more, how can I trust when it can be hidden so well for years.

        • grace says:

          No one is suggesting that you are responsible for her behaviour, nor do we diminish the evil out there. I don’t doubt you were young and naive, you had to be not to see it coming. That’s not your fault, there’s nothing wrong with having no experience of narcissists. I wish none of us had to learn that lesson!
          My mother has a personality disorder and for a long time I didn’t realise it, then it started to dawn on me, then I got very angry, then I was very hurt, and I went through a stage – which you may be going through – of realising exactly what I had been dealing with and trying to figure it out. I’m fortunate that I’ve brothers and a sister who I can talk to about it – they understand and don’t judge me at all. Never once, so much of a whisper that I’m somehow reponsible. I expect that you feel quite alone in the experience.
          Paul, I get it. You’re not to blame for her behaviour. It’s a confusing, long slog to acceptance and can’t be rushed. It doesn’t mean you excuse her, it doesn’t make her any less responsible but it does mean you can be free of her pernicious influence. For the longest time I couldn’t even envisage forgiving my mother. To do so seemed a betrayal of my sufferering and that of my siblings. I still haven’t forgiven her but it seems … possible. This has taken over forty years, my lifetime to date, I can’t keep turning this around in my head and heart. Time soon, I think, to let it go.
          What’s really helped is watching my siblings carve out lovely family lives for themselves. I haven’t been able to achieve that but I have a nice life and there’s less and less room for the anger/guilt/resentment/revenge. Fill your world with good things. Best wishes to you.

        • NML says:

          Hi Paul, like Grace has already added, you’re not responsible for another person’s behaviour. That’s already long established. I don’t need to read your link – I’ve been dealing with someone like this for most of my life. So I’m not in need of an education from you. I just happen to see myself, my life, and my future differently. You have to do what works for you. I’m not trying to take anything away from your experience – it’s just another perspective and the fact is, if you’re going to comment on a blog, you need to able to recognise that there’s a potential to receive feedback. Please stop saying that people are blaming you for who she is or her abuse. No-one said that, only you. Which is you blaming yourself. Again.

          • Paul says:

            Thanks NML and Grace for your responses.

            I have such a hard time accepting that some people exist only to leach off others and hurt others without a care in the world.

            There is no blame for the victim at all.
            I have a huge amount of resentment. I was used, abused and had a very large amount of funds stolen. My youngest daughter has brainwashed into not seeing me for 3 years now.
            She set out to killl me.
            Because it is within a marriage, it is legal.
            Why shouldn’t I not be angry at her and place the blame of the slow covert abuse to her family at her feet.
            I know it does not help in any way and I am now abusing myself by holding onto the anger. I just don’t know how to let it go while my daughters are still being so affected by her. Conned by her.

          • EllyB says:

            @Paul: As others have stated already, many of us have dealt with narcissists. Overt or covert, they all cause more damage than a force 5 hurricane. No one blames you for that.

            Narcissists cause severe emotional trauma, which makes you feel powerless. I think this is one of the points Nat is referring to. You have no power over your ex, but you have more power over your own life than you believe. A counselor might help you understand what that means.

            One more thing: Narcissists are horrible partners and spouses, but they are even worse parents. I think you are already aware of this. I know it from my own experience, because my mother was a full-blown malignant narcissist.

            Unfortunately, my father made the worst choice possible. He allowed her to completely destroy him, all the while directing all his anger at me. He even molested me sexually. She watched and enjoyed it! I’m in my thirties right now, never had a healthy relationship so far and I’m still dealing with the severe trauma caused by my parents.

            Therefore, I urge you to NOT abandon your kids no matter what happens. Let them know you are there for them (while trying to maintain NC with your ex), no matter how difficult it seems. If you can’t get custody, fight for access at the very least. Treat yourself well, but don’t forget your kids. They need you right now!

            Don’t be like my father.

        • Lily says:

          Hi Paul,

          Please read: In Sheep’s Clothing by George K Simon. It is an excellent book for breaking down Covert Narcissist. He is a therapist that has worked with CNs for 25 years….After I read his book I was able to put words to what I was experiencing.

          The charming exterior and almost child like innocence they portray to people is chilling…but if you look closely, they usually have a trail of broken, short term relationships behind them, or if you speak to people around them, they all have similiar feelings of something being off, but they just can’t put their finger on it….like your gut is screaming, but then you think of how “nice” they are and you think…”oh I’m just overreacting….please read this book….the author gives concrete steps and actions on how to extricate yourself….the answer is to disengage…you can’t win with these types…you are just an object…when they realize they can no longer affect you, they move on to another.

          My ex, who would profess to love me daily and wanted to marry me, wouldn’t talk through the simpliest issues that all couples have. It was always in my head, or I was being too sensitive. When I finally figured him out (Covert Narcissist) and told him that “my feelings have changed and I don’t feel the same way”, we broke up and he had a new girlfriend/lover in a week! It is about them having a Narcissist Suppy…they are nothing if they don’t have someone to manipulate…they get off on it…
          Good luck

        • jennynic says:

          Paul, you are not responsible for the abuse handed out by someone else, but you are responsible for staying in a situation where you are being abused. It’s hard to leave and let go, you still harbor hope about the abuser for a while and you feel alone, but staying a victim only serves her even further. It’s hard to imagine that you could feel happy again and free from the emotional jail you are in right now, but better days wait you, it is up to you to want better days. This means action on your part and learning to let go of the anger. It takes time but don’t let anymore of your life be shadowed by her personality disorder…’s HER personality disorder, and although it has affected your life, you can walk away and heal from it. She will remain who she is, but it doesn’t have to define you.

          • Paul says:

            Thank you all for your replies.

            @ EllyB
            I have been single now for 4 years. Divorces 2 and a half years.
            My eldest daughter lifes with me and she is doing really well. In some cases better than her peers who have both parents. I don’t control who she sees or what she does but I am still there it advise her to have a better life than I have so far. I have taught her, her mother’s abuse and manipulation because she sees her mother quite often. So she sees the manipulation and is no longer controlled by her.
            My youngest daughter is now 17 and I can not force a teenager to see me. I let her know I still love her and I am here for her but her replies are always nasty, full of anger with some incorrect statements. She is being torn down and held back by her mother and it is heartbreaking. There isn’t anything else I can do until she sees it for herself and that may never happen. I have tried to show her but all I get in return is anger and abuse.

            @ Lily
            I feel sad for the hell you have been through and I do understand your father to an extent as well. But nothing can excuse what he did to you. I will look into the book. I think my mother is disordered as well as we, her children were all treated as objects to be used. We were ignored most of the time which I now know is a form of abuse. My mothers boyfreinds would also phyically abuse us.

            @ Jennynic
            I have been free of the ex now for three years and NC for over 2 years. I am out of her jail and now in a self inflected one of anger. It is the letting go that is so hard. I have read a lot on it but the mind seems to want to stay attached. Maybe I have never been allowed to be really happy and feel I can’t have it or deserve to have it. Or maybe I am getting something out the story of having been a victim of an abusive life. It is hard to feel and be something that I have never seen or felt fully. I know it is out there but I don’t seem to want to allow myself to experience a better way of being.

            Thank you all :-)

  13. Elle says:

    Tremendous posts lately, Nat. The blame-shame spirals are insidious, aren’t they?!! Guilt is a trigger that our actions and morals are not aligned, but it’s supposed to be a call to action, not a resting stop! I really like when you describe your jouney. I can’t say I am quite there yet – still a bit ‘abort early to avoid possible rejection’, but I am getting much, much better, as I remind myself of (and see) how many good things are in my life, much of which is a result of the period of being single after the AC, and that no guy is special enough for me to trade in self-love and equanimity. I submitted a comment a few posts ago about some of my doubts about the new guy. We finally had a proper, honest chat last night because he admitted that he was feeling tense too. I was very careful not to blame or make global statements, and I also noticed (and, fortunately, let go of) a childish impulse to call it quits, just because he was saying something about me and what I am bringing to the relationship that he finds challenging. Through this conversation, I realised I have never been as good at this type of communication as I had believed. In the past, with other men, I have presented what I thought was a fair summary of my faults and then his faults, but without really letting the guy tell me his view – well, he could tell me, but I would not take it on….until, of course, we broke-up, then it became gospel. Also, it was often a negative and painful process, rather than a light one. Sitting with the fear of being criticised and the real possibility of discovering genuine incompatibility (and the need, then, to act on that – ie leave the relationship) was hard, but much less hard for me than it ever has been. It allowed us to keep the conversation essentially practical and positive. It feels really good! Progress!!!! xx

    • Elle says:

      Oh, and just in case not clear – a lot of this progress because of this site, and because I had read the comments from those who responded to my ‘please help’ before the conversation. Thank you, once again!

  14. Karina says:

    Nat…as I sat crying in my bed while talking to my sister about how miserable I’ve been feeling lately and having a person I thought I could trust insult me and say that the only thing I have going for me are my looks because I have a cracked out personality (all this to defend my ex’s new gf, my old ex friend who proceeded to write trash about me on her blog), i’ve been feeling like the worst person in the world thinking she is sooo much better than me for having all of the things I have been working on life to have including the ex. Yet I realize I’ve been taking all the blame for them AND me, and it’s tome to let go. I indeed feel stuck and will try EMDR to resolve all the trauma I’ve gone through, but this article is a welcomed push into MY happiness. I’m going to go for what I want and move on for good. That is my promise to myself! Thanks Nat once again!

    • NML says:

      Karina, let me tell you something with 100% certainty – if their relationship was so wonderful and she was so happy, she wouldn’t be sitting around talking shit about you. Men and women who are confident in their relationship, personally happy, and actually have a life, don’t sit around running their mouths off about their partner’s ex. All her talk – That’s feeling threatened, knowing she’s done a shitty thing, and bravado on her part. The more she runs you down, the better she thinks she looks. Stop letting this foolish woman steal your wind. You’re not friends! You don’t want her friendship! You don’t want him either! Grab back your power and fart in her direction because that’s about as much of your wind as she needs!

      • oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

        “fart in her direction because that’s about as much of your wind as she needs!”

        I am so stealing that line, I can’t wait to use it!!

        • Lois Lane says:

          “fart in her direction because that’s about as much of your wind as she needs!”

          I love this and the timing is perfect! The ex EUM’s newest ex (lol) posted me a nasty gram on facebook. I’ve never even spoken to her and I’ve been completely NC for over 4 months. (Since the day after their first date.) I have no idea what has been going on. I’ve been trying to process my experience realistically and get on with my life. (Thank you BR, Nat, and well…everyone!) And out of the blue, Wham! First I was dumbfounded then lauged hysterically. Who does this? Nat, you are so right! People who have a life and are personally secure don’t do things like this. I don’t particularly like that someone is trashing me publicly, but it only showed me who she is. Oh well. I’m not responsible for her actions! Of course I didn’t respond. But I will fart in her honor! ROFLMBO! Hang in there, Karina.

  15. I went through a period of about 4 months of blaming myself post bad break up.
    I blamed myself for him blaming me for his issues, I blamed myself for him walking away when I needed him the most, I blamed myself for him cheating on me, I blamed myself for him trying to use me for a pseudo friendhsip (I was hopeful even though by then I had found your blog and read what you had to say on friends with the ex – I thought I could go in eyes wide open), I blamed myself for being stupid and not listening to your cautionary blog posts on the subject, I blamed myself for letting him hug me and kiss me on the forehead one evening during our two weeks of “friendship” when everything inside me was yelling to run out of that house, I blamed myself for a lot of things till one day at lunch my friend glared at me over her plate of chicken wings and with a lot of restraint asked me if I loved myself more than I loved him.

    She rightfully pointed out that if I did, I wouldn’t be sitting there prattling off all the reason’s why everything was my fault. That was my wake up call and it stopped me in my tracks and made me start seriously asking myself why I was wasting valuable time and energy on this person who didn’t respect or love me enough not to treat me like yesterday’s toilet paper, and cheat on me some girl he met at the office party. The truth was, over those 3 years I somehow stopped loving myself more than I loved him and I let him define me. I had to hit the stop button, rewind and begin looking at the situation clearly and recognize my part in the whole mascare. I was walking around with blood on my clothes and instead of dressing my wounds and allowing them to heal, I kept walking around bleeding all over the place blaming myself for my injuries.
    So I slowly stopped blaming myself. I stopped asking if this all happened because we went to Montreal and I didn’t pack the lingerie set I bought and put on a strip show for him in the hotel, I stopped blaming myself for him going to the office party, meeting her and building a “connection” with her while simultaneously disconnecting from me, I just stopped. I thought it was all my fault, that I wasn’t a good enough girlfriend, lover, friend, connection. I stopped replaying the tape of him sitting in the theatre before the movie started and telling me how he built a connection with her and how now they…

    • Blaise Parker says:

      I am very sorry for your pain, Bronze Goddess, but know this – in sharing it, you’ve helped others. In this case, me.

      Thanks and hugs to you for your bravery.

      • Thank you. Believe it or not I am normally a fiercely private person. I shared details of this (I havent even shared some of those details on my own blog) part of my journey so that I can help someone else who may have thought the same crazy, wacked out things I thought during the height of the blame game I waged on myself. My poor friends who put up with my crazy notions and listened quietly on the other end of the phone while I cried till my face hurt. But I really want to help someone else especially since all of my friends would tell me they never went through what I went through and dont know how to completely relate. I’m glad I could help you by sharing my pain.

  16. Bri says:

    I’m slowly trying to ween myself off of blaming myself for the demise of my relationship with the exMM. There was a time about a year ago where my exMM ended things with me (the first time) and it destroyed me. When I started to move on, he freaked and came back with a fury; soon after he decided he wanted to “take the next step” in our relationship by telling his mother about us. I was still so hurt from the break-up and not sure I could trust him again, so I told him I wanted to wait until we could repair a little further.

    Ever since then, any time I’d bring up him leaving his wife he’d say “there was a time when I was ready but you rebuffed me and I don’t know if I can get back to that place.” I thought it was all my fault, that I’d ruined my one chance where he really did want to start a life with me. I’ve beaten myself up over that decision for months now, and have gone blue in the face wishing for a time machine to take it back.

    But I’m trying to step back and tell myself that I did the rational thing – I didn’t trust him, and I relied on my gut. Not to mention, it’s odd that he was miraculously ready as soon as he thought he was losing me; I’m starting to think it was his desperate attempt to win me back when his plan backfired on him and it wasn’t genuine anyway.

    There’s a lot of self-pity going on in my head over this latest, and I assume final, breakup but Nat is obviously right – I can’t control what he thinks/does and I can’t go back in time. If we were in an equally committed relationship this never would have happened anyway, but it was all on HIS timetable. I did everything I could to be there for him and love him and “prove myself” to him, but he has his own issues aside from me (many of them). It’s easy to find fault in myself, and feel like I was too needy or jealous or wanted too much, but given the fact that he was in a relationship with someone else and gave me crumbs, I was as supportive/loving/patient/accommodating with him as I could have been.

    It’s hard carrying the weight of the breakdown of a relationship solely on my shoulders and accepting all the blame is tearing down my self-esteem. I’m going to read this post more than once, starting now.

    • Ria says:

      Bri, l would like to say that, what you described here, how he actually wanted to “take it to next level,” and “tell his mum,” please please please please, dont beat yourself as it was your fault. It was (is) his manipulation by saying “there was a time when I was ready but you rebuffed me and I don’t know if I can get back to that place,” because that way he could have more room for having you in your life (in his terms) at the same time avoiding to actually giving you relationship or any sort of commitment.
      Dont be fooled.
      How do l know? l was in EXACT same situation as you. I dont want to give him a minute of my time talking about him in this blog, but what you described, sounds extremely familiar. Also, he was probably never giving you a concrete answers about things, and please pay attention, that he KNEW that you were the kind of person who was (is) supportive/loving/patient/accommodating with him as you could have been.
      You didn’t trust him, and relied on your gut. You did absolutely right, please don´t regret this desicion and beat yourself up by “if ld only said yes in that time,” because l tell you. If you´d say yes, he would probably come back after couple of days, telling “he did some thinking,” and its not gonna “work, afterall,” because his “mum does not approve,” “wife gets ill,” “child gets ill,” you name it.

      • NML says:

        Totally agree with Ria. And btw – someone who was serious about leaving his wife, would leave his wife. He wouldn’t say “well I’m not leaving my wife but I’ll raise you my mother.” I hope he wasn’t trying to suggest that him introducing you to his mother was an indication of his seriousness *note my sarcasm*. No decent man will introduce the woman he’s cheating on his wife with to his mother, unless the mother is an enabler that’s very shady herself. “Hello mother (God I wrote that in a Norman Bates voice). This is Bri, the woman I’m knocking off and spinning a line behind my wife and kids back”. That’s just exceedingly creepy behaviour!

        • Fearless says:

          “He wouldn’t say “well I’m not leaving my wife but I’ll raise you my mother.” So funny. LoL!

          Any bets he was not going to introduce you to his mother and certainly not as his “mistress”! The thing to get Bri is that these men talk a whole lot of bullshit. Seriously, they do. It’s all pretend bartering to keep you jumping through the hoops – and the hoops are not actually there; they don’t exist; he is making up hoops or you are making them up for yourself, imagining if you managed to accomplish x, y or z thing then everything woulda coulda, shoulda worked out. I remember during my own MM thing wondering if I had a shower fitted in the bathroom instead of (or as well as the) bath (I only had a bath at that time) if he would then decide to move in with me!! (he much preferred taking a shower than a bath) I quickly realised what I was thinking and how competely dumb it was! So if it’s not him making up hoops for you to jump through, it’s you doing it.

          All hoops are imaginary! And even if they were not we still should not be busting a gut to jump through them. He was not leaving her at any point. EVER. So, no you did not miss your one and only opportunity. If he wanted to leave – as Nat says – he would leave. It’s really is not complicated – we just like to think it is cos ‘complicated’, makes it ‘special’, gives us (false) hope and keeps us invested.

          I had a so called relationship with the recent ex EUM for ten years and am yet to meet his mother (despite all his promises) and I never wil meet her as she died about 2 years ago… at which point he took me over to her house as he wanted to pick something up and made a big deal of showing me round her house (what had been his family home) like I’d finally “arrived”. I was a fool to go. I felt angry at the time not pleased, but I didn’t want to be the selfish git who made the death of his mother all about me! Anyway… that is all beside the point…

          None of us should blame ourselves for him not following through with some bullshit he talked about doing. It would be like blaming ourselves because he said he’d paint the moon tartan for us and never even bought the tartan paint. We might tho’ blame ourselves for not spotting bullshit when we hear it.

          • Minky says:

            “It would be like blaming ourselves because he said he’d paint the moon tartan for us and never even bought the tartan paint.” LOL! :)

            My friend was involved with an AC who promised her the moon in the sky (he’s Italian). Three months and many, many, many disappointments later, she was literally still going ‘where is my moon? he promised me the moon!!’.

            Sometimes we have to accept that it’s all complete bullshit, write of the moon (where would you put it anyway?!) and move on.

    • EllyB says:

      @Bri: This guy was an AC who played ugly games with you. He manipulated you. Your story about him reminding you how you “had your chance and wasted it” is a perfect example of this. It sounds horrible to me. No healthy guy would threat you like this (but such a guy wouldn’t cheat on his wife anyway).

      You might not want to hear it right now, but I feel for his wife and kids. You are far better off than they are. Believe me.

      • grace says:

        “I’m married and I dumped you but if you trust me 100% I will tell my mommy about you! That’s how great a guy I am, I am that special. You’re not ready for that? I’m so hurt and angry! I retract my offer and am going to jerk you around for another year so I can break up with you again. I feel so sorry for myself, sob. My wife is distracted by the children and my girlfriend/mistress/lover (not sure what to call her) won’t commit to me (even though she can’t because I’m married). Somebody, please meet me in the carpark to sympathise with me. Maybe we can have sex. Like friends do.”
        By the way, Bri, you’ve been diverted “If we were in an equally committed relationship this never would have happened anyway” . IF he met you when he was single, he would have married you, had kids with you, then met a nice girl in the office (and there are nice girls in every office) and had an affair with her. We know how he behaves. The IFs will kill you if you’re not careful. Best just deal with the reality, that’s bad enough. You assume it’s the final breakup? I think you should MAKE IT the final breakup! The rational thing to do when he first broke up with you was to tell him to take a running jump, not take your time learning to trust him. A desperate attempt to win you back? I should think so. It’s not like he can offer you anything concrete like a wedding ring.

        • Fearless says:

          “Somebody, please meet me in the carpark to sympathise with me. Maybe we can have sex. Like friends do.”
          LMAO! :) You just brightened up my day Grace!

      • bella says:

        yup, he’s a mean guy. passive-aggressive and mean, like so many cheating mm. i too feel sorry for his wife/kids and have far more sympathy for them than for you, Bri. perhaps you need to examine whether you’re in some way turned on by the dynamic and drama of him being mean, you being the victim, and both of you being utterly self-absorbed and selfish as you play this pointless game (cheaters – and that would be both of you – are always supremely selfish, sorry). maybe it’s this toxic dynamic and the game-playing-drama that’s the main attraction for you, more of an attraction than the cheating mm.

    • oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

      I am a blog hog today!

      Bri, my MM’s line was “I love you so much I am going to tell my business partner about you, then he can help cover for me so I can see you more”

      But somehow he never got around to telling his partner, he said “the words just don’t come out”…..Hmmm, let’s try this out:

      “partner, this is the woman I am screwing around with behind my wife’s back. I would appreciate if you would help me do this by also lying to my wife while she is cooking you dinner, entertaining you at my Christmas party, having a beer with you at our business get togethers. Oh, and don’t feel guilty when you are looking her in the eye, cause I don’t. And please don’t judge me, I don’t think you could resist this fine piece of ass I am getting on the side either. Oh, and one last thing, if we ever have a business falling out, please don’t use this as blackmail against me”

      I guess those words would be really, really hard to actually say, no matter what a jerk you are!

      Bri, your relationship was not special! Mother, partner, whatever…same story, different players.

  17. Julie says:

    Thanks Nat. In the beginning of my relationship with my ex i would always blame myself for his behaviour if something went wrong, then i went into blame it all on him mode. Thankfully now im looking at things more realistically and i know that we “both” contributed to the relationship not working. Neither of us are perfect.

  18. agirliknow says:

    You know how people with cats spray them with water bottles when they act up (using the couch as a scratching post, etc.)…I’m not even sure what the hell I’m talking about either, but the past few posts have been really powerful for me and I’m trying to learn how to process the range of perception changes I’m experiencing without over analyzing. I say perception because my situation hasn’t changed. I on the other hand have been all over the place. But every time I settle into any one of the emotions I’ve resolved to stay in, I come here and get a cool shot between the eyes that maybe uncomfortable, but more so redirects my energy when I start settling into an unhealthy mind set. I feel like those old American Express commercials…..”Hi, you don’t know me, but you may recognize me from my picture from the dictionary under the term ‘insanity’ (see relationship)” In fact, I could be the poster child for most of the BR cliché’s. Why just last weekend I broke 22 days of NC by answering his call. After that, and even as my head, heart and soul screamed NOOOOOO, up I hopped on my three legged one trick pony and found myself at his front door (which I used to have a key to) to play a quick game of Quick-draw-McGaw for the reset button before heading off the hand bag factory to make a silk purse out of a pigs ear. The point is I don’t feel better for it. On one hand, I’m not crying at work anymore. On the other hand….forget it. I don’t have enough hands. One of those cool looking Indian Godesses don’t have enough hands. I took the easy way out of my pain. And now I’m blaming myself. I’m blaming him…..I need to shut up already and admit I made (another) mistake and move on. Ugh, there is so much more to this, but it’s really much, much less. Sorry for venting. Thanks though.

    • Magnolia says:

      Thanks for the laugh of the day!! I love cats … and have funny memories of chasing a particularly willful one around for *years* with a spray bottle that never REALLY worked … just those cute little eyes and ears going “who me?” and then scratch scratch! Thanks goodness BR is far more effective than the spray bottle!

    • Fearless says:

      yes, thanks for the laugh; I loved your post.

      “I took the easy way out of my pain. And now I’m blaming myself. I’m blaming him…”

      I too trod the path of least resistance as a way out of my pain only to find it was the way in to my pain – and it was much harder work!… I blamed me, I blamed him…

      Well, girliknow, join the club. If you can find a seat.

  19. Car says:

    thanks to your articles, i have stopped feeling sorry for all the past relationships that have gone bad…those which had made me feel very guilty. I used to blame myself for everything and said plenty of ‘sorrys’ to my men in the past..NOT ANYMORE NOW!!! nowadays I tell my exes that everything happens for a reason and that we are not together anymore because we were just not meant to be together and not because one of us did something wrong. These articles made me the strong woman I am today. Thank you very much!

  20. PJM says:

    Thank you Natalie – for everything (and I love the new photo, too, by the way – how rude of me not to comment earlier)

    I think I am finally making progress. I feel more free than I have a long time, and have cut right back on blaming either myself or the silly old ex.

    And I have met someone who I have spoken to a couple of times so far and I like what I see/hear. He is painfully shy (an IT guy, and I know it’s a cliche, but there you have it), but thank God this one DOESN’T seem to have Aspergers … yet …

    I only see him around once a week, so I have to go slowly and be patient, and that is SO GOOD FOR ME. One step at a time. Not over-investing, not putting all the eggs in one bastard, looking at the man and the personality, rather than the profession and the pay packet.

    Practice, practice, practice!

  21. PJM says:

    Ladies, I don’t know if this will appeal to anyone here, but I heard this song recently and absolutely cracked up laughing. It seemed to sum up exactly HOW we should be relating to our ex’s, especially when we think they may have ‘moved on’ to ‘something better’ or worse, are ‘talking about us’.

    It’s one of those pre-WWI type music hall songs, full of brio and confidence. So [mentally at least] put on your striped blazer and straw boater, pick up your cane and give ’em the old razzle-dazzle … a-one, a-two, a-three …

    Mention my name in Sheboygan
    It’s the greatest little town in the world
    Just tell them you’re an old friend of mine
    And every door in town will have a big welcome sign
    So mention my name in Sheboygan
    And if you ever get in a jam
    Just mention my name, I said mention my name –
    But please don’t them where I am!

    Mention my name in Paducha
    It’s the greatest little town in the world
    I know a gal there you’ll simply adore
    She was Miss Patoka back in 1904
    So mention my name in Paducha
    And if you ever get in a mess
    Just mention my name, I said mention my name –
    But please don’t give them my address!

    Mention my name in Tacoma
    It’s the greatest little town in the world
    I know the big shots in the City Hall
    They even got my picture on the post office wall
    So mention my name in Tacoma
    And if you ever get in a spat
    Just mention my name, I said mention my name –
    But please don’t tell them where I’m at
    Please don’t tell them where I’m at!

  22. Magnolia says:

    “I’ll never forget the realisation that at 28, I still emotionally responded to certain situations as if I were 5 or 6 years old.”

    I really got it this summer that feeling like I was a kid who wasn’t being listened to is NOT just a feature of being in a dating/romantic relationship. When my aunt treated me with the same disregard, as if it were natural, and I felt all the same feelings, I was able to respond as an adult and to also separate the behaviour (which men and women can both perpetrate) from the gender.

    Today a reporter interviewed me about being mixed race. She asked if it was an important part of my identity. I started by saying “not really” when once we started talking it became clear to me that the identity conundrum of not wanting to identify racially at all, but feeling forced to, is indeed a central feature of “me.”

    I was glib throughout the interview but came home and found myself exhausted. I had found myself saying, “Well, I’ve been thinking about this since I was two.” And having read this post earlier, I realized that I had never asked myself what emotional age I am around the whole question of race; of having one white parent one not-white parent and yet not getting to be white, like all my classmates; around boys telling me their moms didn’t want them hanging around me, etc.

    So today I asked myself: “What ‘certain situations’ pull me into this psychological mess, that has me feeling like I’m two again, six again, nine years old again”?

    I let myself go to that terrifying, groundless place. I did not want to speak for a long time. And when I did, I started to cry, and said: “I’m sorry I’m so complicated.”

    I’ve also been reading Mr. U and the FBG and reread Natalie’s story about finally getting it, that dude who blamed her for not preparing him for dating a black woman, was not about her. It was about him not being able to cope.

    The interview today, and the thinking through that went with it, showed me that I expect no one, really, to be able to ‘cope’ with the reality of “me.” The reporter today, as if I were some expert on the condition, asked me all kinds of questions that I responded to as if they were professional, not deeply personal. They were the kinds of questions that showed real interest, and a respect for the fact that she didn’t know my experience nor the complexity behind…

  23. Magnolia says:

    Sorry to go long.

    They were the kinds of questions that showed real interest, and a respect for the fact that she didn’t know my experience nor the complexity behind even her own questions.

    I have always felt embarrassed – and then defensive – about this “complexity” at the heart of my way of being in the world. I have blamed my inability to relate to others, and/or their inability to relate to me, on my abnormalcy. Sometimes I’d flip it around and make it my “specialness.” But now twice in the past week (strangely, just as I had personally decided that my way of seeing the world is simply a unique gift, and perhaps a source of richness in my writing, not a handicap) I have been approached by people who wanted to hear more.

    Maybe people not being able to cope is not about me. Maybe I can be this complex and it isn’t a form of psychosis to have to apologize for.

  24. Jasmine says:

    I have tried to own my part of my last relationship, neither painting he nor I as some kind of a monster. If you recall, he broke up with me for very flimsy reasons (cycling and energy levels, not enough friends to introduce him to). I realized I ignored signs that he was EU, dishonest, and undependable. I owned that I was as well, and that by being with him I was somehow actually avoiding being in a healthy relationship. I took over a year off from dating, went to therapy, read a lot.
    I just got back from a 6 month trip and a well meaning girlfriend told me he got engaged last month. This is with the woman he started seeing a couple of months after he broke up with me. She says they are very happy and that he was far more attentive with her than he had been with me ( I asked). She believes that he was so devestated after our breakup that he did a lot of soul searching and is now a better person. This news cuts like a knife. Was it important to me that he remain immature? I know I don’t own who he is now… I thought this couldnt hurt me, we broke up 18 months ago, and I don’t want to marry him, or anything. What gives? What am I not owning? I thought I was all cried out.

    • NML says:

      Jasmine, look – you’re human. Most people feel some level of weirdness when they hear an ex has got married/engaged/settled down etc, not because they feel anything for them or want them back but because they’re human and it brings up old and sometimes uncomfortable emotions. I think it’s a leap to say it ‘hurt’ you because you have to ask how someone you haven’t been with for 18 months and you don’t want to marry and who was unavailable when you were with him, could ‘hurt’ you by getting on with his life, whether it’s by making a shambles of it or growing out of the consequences? You don’t own him or his progression or regression.

      His subsequent actions and him getting engaged doesn’t ‘mean’ anything about you other than like every person that experiences excessive consequences beyond their comfort zone, he may have been forced to address himself. Let’s be fair as well – if there was any hurt going on it was what you were doing to yourself. You wanted to feel bad because why on earth would you dig around for detail like that? Two of my exes have got married in the past couple of years including the cheater who has also become a father. The latter felt weird for about 10 seconds – the difference as to why that feeling will continue is if you use new information about an ex to give yourself a hard time.

      Get on with your own life Jasmine. You’ve just been travelling for 6 months, you have umpteen reasons that validate your decision to finish it and I can tell you with 150% certainty that staying in unavailable relationship isn’t an option because they experience no consequences. Faux leaving isn’t an option either because they quickly snap back to old habits. You have to walk away and mean it. What he’s done with his time has no bearing on what you’ve done with your time. It doesn’t take anything away from it. You also actually know nothing about his relationship other than that he got engaged. Everything else is hearsay. Get a grip, shake yourself out of it and remind yourself that life goes on and you were doing more than fine before you got your ‘well meaning’ information. Cry if you want to and then get up. No wallowing, no blaming.

      • Jasmine says:

        You are right of course. I was feeling amazing when I got back from the trip. I have made loads of progress over the last year. And all the reasons that I am out of the relationship still apply.
        My friend told me becuase she was worried I’d find out about it in public, somehwrw awkward, and she wanted me to be prepared. As for the digging for painful details, it was becuase I was torturing myself and went into the whole, why her, not me? Do they have a special connection, blah blah blah. She was as kind as she could be, telling me that no matter what she would never want to see me with him again, no matter how much he’s changed.
        I still believe that as well. It just a part of the belief system I’d been operating on for the last year was that he was an EUM, and theerefore everything made sense and I had not missed out on that fantasy future with him, becuase it wasn’t possible. That he’d be a life long bachelor. To hear otherwise breaks the belief and it made me want to look for a way to find fault with myself. This episode hows me I still care too much about his actions, and that I still believe they somehow relflect on me (not good enough). It’s shit I know. I cried tonight becuase I only found out a couple of hours ago. Tomorrow will be a better day. I have moved on, in a very real way, this was just a small bump in the road.
        Thanks for the honesty Nat! Good to hear some truth.

    • grace says:

      I’m going to break it to you and to all the other women here. He’s going to move on and marry someone else. If not the next woman, then the one after that or the one after that. Maybe he’s in love, or maybe, like a lot of men, he doesn’t cope well with being single. And let’s hope he DOES treat her better. It’s not about you, it’s not your fault, you’re not to blame, it doesn’t reflect on you.
      That’s the whole point of breaking up – it’s so both parties can get on with their lives as separate people. It’s implicit. It’s not so one or both of you lives a half life of misery and pays for the mistakes they made in the relationship.
      Thankfully, this is one fallback girl symptom I haven’t suffered. I’ve never been bothered by the woman before me or the woman after me. I’ve never felt the need to compete with other women re looks, men, etc. But I see it a lot and it must be very disheartening. There will always be someone younger/taller/smaller/blonder / darker/ smarter/funnier/ sweeter/feistier/ prettier/ more striking/ thinner/ curvier/ more married/ more popular than you. If you’re determined to feel bad about yourself, you’ll always find a reason.
      But Jasmine, it’s all right and normal to feel sad, say for a day. there’s no need to see it as something wrong with you.
      I had a dream the other night that I bumped into an ex and he showed me his baby and I was … really happy for him. I hope we all learn our lessons and move on. Even the idiots. I guess five years of singledom brings perspective.

      • Elle says:

        I agree, Grace. My first boyfriend went on to marry a fair-bit-younger billionaire heiress and model. He introduced me to her before they got married and she also happens to be warm and generous. They now have a few kids. You know, I never had any hurt about this – it didn’t really occur to me to be sad about not being someone else. Besides, she is good for him. He is still the same. His less-than-healthy impulses and habits are still there, but they don’t bother her in the way they bothered me, and she can, in fact, stem a lot of them, just by being who she is. It’s good. She likes him. He feels good about himself with her. I never felt entirely safe or valued with him. His cheating and partying ways didn’t help, but it was more than that. He learnt from me, and has said as much, but not so much that he is a new person. I think some of us – me included – have to be a little more honest with ourselves about whether we really did, in a relaxed, truthful, non-possessive way, like and want to be with the guys that have caused us so much anguish. I am convinced now that most of the pain comes from the fantasy shattering, being wrong, and not having control.

        • Fearless says:


          “I am convinced now that most of the pain comes from the fantasy shattering, being wrong, and not having control.”

          I concur! In the midst of my “relationship” with the EUM my fantasy was shattered a thousand times! I was pained a thousand times. Yet somehow I managed to reconstruct the fantasy a thousand times: I became an expert in DIY fantasy repair jobs, so that I could avoid being wrong and gain (the illusion of) control.

          I think once you stop trying to reconstruct the shattered fantasy, quit doing the DIY repair job (NC) and just sit down and take a good look at the debris (the reality), feel the pain and not run from it into more pain then you start to see what the real getting in control job looks like!

        • Used says:


          Your last line, and paragraph, applies also to many other people in many other areas of life, too.

          You have to get used to the fact that people are who they are. And a lot of who they are is a result of how they grew up. Sadly, those with bad values, morals, etc. grew up in homes that did not value having morals, etc.

          Sae the ex-AC this past Sunday, late (5:00 – ish) in the afternoon. He was shopping with his 2 daughters in the best part of the city. Where was his wife on this gorgeous day, when all of the other families were enjoying themselves together? (Who cares! I know. But this is the 2nd time I have seen him alone on “family day” Sunday afternoon!) Things are never so peachy as they seem. And a friend once commented that his wife’s life is not that easy being married to him.

          Oh, and once a cheater, always a cheater. Or at least someone who checks out other women behind wifey’s back!

  25. Minky says:

    Still trying very hard not to make everything about me. I have been doing what this article says and having a logical conversation with myself every time i start wondering if people (friends, family etc) are upset with me. I used to panic if i text someone and they didn’t get back to me for a while (friends and partners alike). I would start wondering if i had inadvertently said or done something and then suffered amnesia! Thankfully i don’t do this anymore.

    I also tried the saying out loud thing. Why am i really worried that my boyfriend will reject me? Because deep down there is a part of me that still believes i am not good enough and will be abandoned. Why do i get all panicky when he is preoccupied with something and not as attentive as usual? Because i am used to giving up control to those i care about, in order to keep the peace and make them happy (from childhood), so i when i get attached to someone, i sometimes forget to think about myself and what i want and get consumed by them and their agenda, thus getting swept away and losing my strongest anchor: myself. Wow. Brilliant stuff.

    Also had a bit of a breakthrough moment with my current relationship (on a plus note). Nearly picked an almighty fight last night, over something that annoyed me. My reaction was about to be monumentally out of proportion to what had happened. I stopped in time and asked myself what this was really about. Turns out i was worried over a big challenge/adventure that is coming up in my life that will be exciting and fun and also take me way out of my comfort zone and the stress of that was making me freak out. I talked to him about that instead and had a calm and positive discussion about how it would affect our relationship. Thank you Nat, for all you do. Massive hugs to you! :)

    • Tasha says:

      Brilliant stuff, indeed! I am struggling with the very same feelings and behaviour as you. Thank you for putting into words EXACTLY what is going on in my head.

      Coming from an extremely physically abusive family…and then right into the arms of an emotionally and psychologically abusive N for 17 years, I am just learning to say how I feel…because I am not used to verbalizing my own feelings. A lot of times, thoughts swim around and around in circles in my head…and I really never reach the point of clarity to where I can say “This is how I feel about ____.” Thank you for so poignantly putting the pieces together. XOXO

      • Elle says:

        Thinking of you, Minks! I am going through some very similar challenges and coming up with similar realisations.

      • Minky says:

        Glad i could help! I have been feeling a lot better about things since verbalising them. I feel that i have come back to myself again, after feeling very unbalanced and wavering for a few days, because i was consumed with figuring out why other people were acting as they were and not thinking about my own stuff.

        As an aside, verbalising your feelings can be a very good thing. When i stopped being silly and actually verbally told my bloke what i wanted, he said it was a very attractive quality. Decent guys don’t want women who give up control, only EUMs and ACs do. Another lesson learned in practice. :)

  26. Spinster says:

    Good one. Another one to re-read.

  27. I love this quote “Get off the blaming horse and look at this situation through the other person’s eyes and be 100% honest with yourself. What do you see? What are they doing? You might not like what you see but at least it’s the truth – one with more logic.” I think that this is often the most overlooked part of the process, and the most difficult thing to do.
    Once again, Natalie, a brilliant piece. Thank You!

  28. Gina says:

    I realize that my tendency to blame myself when things go wrong in a relationship stems back to my childhood. My parents, who were extremely dysfunctional, blamed me for their shortcomings and mistakes.

    Truth be told, my ex never belittled me, criticized me, or blamed me for anything when we were together. He said that I was a wonderful and amazing woman, but he just could not love me the way in which I deserved to be loved. That hurt, but where I became confused and wondered if he was walking the line into future faking territory was when he would give me “mixed” signals. He would admit that he’d changed his mind and wasn’t sure if I was the “one,” or if he wanted to marry me, but would then turn around and say things that would indicate that he had changed his mind again, and that there was a possibility of a future. When I got tired of the mixed signals, I confronted him. He stated – to my surprise – that he was feeling those feelings in the moment, but they did not last. He also stated that he was comparing how he felt for his ex (whom he still has feelings for) with how it felt for me, and that he did not feel the level of intensity for me as he did for her. I was shocked and went NC so that I could get over him and move forward with my life.

    He respected my wishes and I began to grieve the loss of the relationship. I’ve been living my post breakup life in a very positive and uplifting manner (I have my bad days, but they are infrequent). Interestingly, I’ve noticed a pattern (it’s been 7 months of NC): about every three months the ex emails me to ask me how I’m doing and to let me know that he still has some items that I left at his house. I know that he does this as an excuse to check in and to see how my life is going since we’ve broken up. I wrote a brief message back stating that I’m doing well and to mail me the items. Recently bought a cute little house in a quaint little waterside town (I did not mention this when I wrote to my ex though, as I don’t feel the need to brag about it) that we’d both looked at houses in and talked about living in together when things were good between us. So I would not be surprised if he googled my new address to see what the house looks like.

    The best way to move on from a broken relationship is to lead a life well lived :)

    • PJM says:

      Hi Gina –

      Yup – this sounds awfully familiar – he’s very respectful, very more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger, but the guts of it is that:

      -he’s not over his ex yet, and may never be
      -he IS emotionally unavailable
      -but he simply wants to keep tabs on you.

      It’s sad, but can I ask – why are you allowing him into your life still?And how attached are you to the ‘stuff’ he’s still got at his house? If you really wanted to cut contact, you might have to let him keep it or chuck it out as he saw fit.

      I wouldn’t have given the guy my postal address, because that’s like leaving the door open – you’re running the risk that he’ll Google your house, and then every few months find excuses for popping by. Especially as you’ve bought a house in a place that has some history between the two of you?

      Is this really No Contact?

      • Gina says:


        Thanks for taking the time to write, and for your thoughtful questions. I’ve asked myself the same thing and the truth is that part of me wants to keep him at a distance and show him that I am doing good in spite of the fact that we are not together. I have often seen posts on this board stating that it’s always the man who lands on his feet and moves forward in a positive way. I want to show that the woman can land on her feet and move forward as well. The other part of me is still trying to decide if I want to gradually allow him back into my life as a friend.

        I definitely don’t want him back in a romantic way, as I am the type of person who does not revisit previous romantic relationships. Many people find this quite strange, but after some time has passed, some of my exes have re-entered my life and turned out to be better friends than lovers. There are no hard feelings, and I don’t long for or miss what we once had.

        As far as this ex is concerned, he keeps popping up every few months because he wants to reconnect as friends at some point in the future. I’m not quite there yet, but when the time is right for me, I will have no problem with that.

  29. Lessie says:

    Hello Bri,

    I am a recent “newbie” here to this site and your postings in particular have resonated with me greatly and were the impetus for my two recent postings since yesterday. Like yourself, I was also involved with a “married but separated” man with three children and also like yourself he broke things off with me as well and I have been struggling to recover ever since and I can relate SO much to all you are saying here.

    The one question I kept asking myself and him, was “Why”…I just could not fathom that this man who had, up till that time, represented himself to me as kind, decent and caring, would then behave in such a brutally harsh and emotionally cold manner towards me. I kept thinking, “Was it my fault, what did I do, not do, say, not say”…and one of the conclusions I arrived at was this: I truly believe that most of these unemotionally unavailable can not admit the truth to themselves, much less to us.

    Because…it takes courage to be able to say, “I was wrong and this is not about you, it is about ME being too afraid to leave my wife/marriage”…I think my particular EUM was very much into being in control in all ways and so for him to admit that, in terms of his emotions, he was OUT of control, was just unthinkable for him. It was much easier for him to lay the blame on me, instead of where it truly belonged: on himself and his own emotional weaknesses and lack of honesty with himself.

    I once asked him, “Have you told your wife (who did know about me, as he had said that when they separated, they agreed to tell the other if they had met someone else) that we have had phone sex” and he hesitated and said, “No, I practice honesty tempered with love” and its amazing to me now, but at the time I think that HE truly believed what he was saying.

    And being caught up in the middle of the emotional drama, I also allowed myself to think, “Yes, I understand that”…its absolute craziness! I think it is only when you allow yourself to have that emotional distance can you then begin to have some clarity and perspective that you were unable to have before because your emotional investment was so intense then.

    You were right to go with your gut instinct. Trust yourself :)

    • bella says:

      did he tell his wife he had phone sex with you?!!! huh?! my head hurts. these mm situations are so bizarre. btw, you were with a married guy, so perhaps just a tiny bit of responsibility could be attributed to you as well for the resulting mess . . . ? just a thought. you seem pretty convinced that you had clean hands throughout.

      • NML says:

        Lessie and Bri, you’re not victims and if you are, it’s of yourselves. And I say this as an ex OW myself. You cannot flirt with both sides of the fence – one minute you’re in love and when things don’t go your way you’re a victim. I’ve been there and there’s only one word for it – bullshit or denial by another name.

        You both knew the situation when you went in. You were both offered something that the giver was not actually in a position to give. Like when my sister agreed to rent a flat and the landlord hadn’t actually told or agreed with the previous tenant that the lease was over. In the end she had to find a new place.

        You are like two people who went on bank jobs. After the fraud had been committed, your accomplices took off with the money instead of you sharing it and running off into the sunset together. Now instead of being his lover and accomplice you then say you’re the victim, but then you still try to get him to come back, which would actually make you an accomplice again.

        A close friend is a victim of rape but she doesn’t live her life as a victim. Because she is a victim, she knows what he did is wrong and she isn’t looking for him to come back and make good on being a decent guy with her.

        Likewise I know of people that have been conned. My friends mother – £70k taken by her ex and his OW. He then left the OW and ran off with another. She’s not saying she’s a victim and then trying to get back with him and wondering why he didn’t do all the things he said he would. No, she’s saying “Where the eff is my money?” and “Good riddance to the lying, thieving bastard!”

        Neither of you have been conned – you were just hopeful that you could be with an honest cheat that would make you the exception to his rule of shady behaviour.

        • ICanDoBetter says:

          Excellent point, Natalie.
          Some may not agree with me on this, but even if someone is separated, they are still not done with the relationship. I have been divorced twice, and I can say from first-hand experience that being separated is like being in limbo land. I may have begun to emotionally distance myself, but on the day my divorce was final, there was a whole other set of emotions in dealing with the finality of it.
          Someone told me, after my first divorce, to not date for at least a year. I laughed and ignored their advice, and found out first-hand how wise those words were.
          Second divorce, I promised myself I would wait that year out. Mainly because I wanted to learn to be OK being alone, and I also did not want to hurt someone else because I was not emotionally healed.
          One of my friends started to date a man who was separated, and I asked her to please not take it personally if he flaked out on the relationship, because I knew from experience how emotionally unavailable being separated can make someone. A week later he stopped returning her calls, and she was twisting herself into knots trying to rationalize his behavior.
          There are plenty of people out there who will emphatically tell you they are ready for a relationship when they are not.

          • EllyB says:

            @ICanDoBetter: You caused an unexpected “light bulb moment” for me. My first boyfriend had just came out of a relationship that had lasted 6 years. He was 10 years older than I. I had had a crush on him for several years before, and when we were finally together, I believed I won the lottery… until he left me after only two months. Without any explanation!

            During all those years (that was 15 years ago), I’ve been wondering what was wrong with me, especially since I was still a teenager back then, and my abusive mother had told me for decades how “insane” and “selfish” I was and how I was “completely lacking empathy”.

            I think this experience overshadowed all my later relationships.

            So unnessessary, because all this was not about me. Afterwards, he told other people I was “immature”. He (as I was told) said this was the main reason why he broke up with me. I believed this for 15 years. But maybe he was just trying to shift the blame!

            Maybe I was immature, but first and foremost, he clearly had big issues on his own, and I was not responsible for that at all. That was the main reason why it all failed. I guess a healthy guy of almost 30 wouldn’t have started a relationship with a teenager anyway. I was clearly vulnerable back then (I told him about my issues with my mother), and he used me as an emotional airbag anyway. Maybe he was quite immature too?

            Far too immature for a guy his age!!!

            It wasn’t my fault that he left me. IT WASN’T ME!

            And again, the main culprits are my parents. If my momster hadn’t told me I was the worst sh*t in the world since I was a baby, I would have gotten that point much, much earlier. To hell with that bitch!

        • grace says:

          Your comment on rape reminded me of something my counsellor shared with me. He’s counselled rape victims and told me that, one day and on their own, they came to the conclusion that they don’t need their day in court. They don’t need to confront their abuser. They will move on. That put my MM incident into perspective, if these genuine victims could move on, then so could I. Ultimately, we have the power to say NO. It’s a privilege. Use it.
          I never did see the MM again. I guess it was made easier because we didn’t have sex. But we didn’t have sex because I said NO. I think a lot of the angst over MMs is because we need to justify the fact that we had sex with them. The logic is flawed. The solution is NOT to sex him up some more in an attempt to get him away from his wife. The solution is to stop.
          I agree with ICan, separated is still not divorced. At any time, wifey has the legal right to reclaim what’s hers (should she want it) and he can change his mind. It’s hard for me, now I’m older and wiser, to discount the wife as a non-entity but by focusing so much on the affair and our feelings and our “right” to the MM, that is exactly what we do. She’s a real, living, breathing person. He married her. What he’s doing with you is having sex and having some time out.

        • Fearless says:

          Natalie, you talk such a shed-load of sense and I am so glad to have access to it! Your comments (and blogs) help me to stay grounded.

          “one minute you’re in love and when things don’t go your way you’re a victim.”

          I used to feel like that sometimes with the ex EUM but I was aware at the time that these feelings were contradictory and very warped, and I concluded that I couldn’t trust either of these feelings – I may have had them, but I knew I couldn’t trust them. I knew I couldn’t love someone I hated nor hate someone I loved. It’s hard to know what is real in these relationships, even about what you feel; you swing about all over the place. You learn somehow to trust nothing – not him, not his feelings, not you, not your feelings. It’s a gawdawful mess. And until you get some solid NC under your belt, you hardly know what you feel or what you even want anymore, if you ever did.
          It’s like you want him so badly to come up good for you even just so that you can get your feelings straightened out and know what the eff they are! I often thought with the ex that I’d wouldn’t know what I really felt until he came good for me – so he simply *had* to do that! I had a feeling if he had done, I’d have turned him down, cos then I’d settle on the one feeling – and I worried that somewhere in myself I knew – though was loath to admit it- that I couldn’t live with myself if I took a man who had treated me so badly for so long. Maybe like you said, I should have repeated my deepest worries to myself out loud.

          You are so right , of course. If we are victims of anyone it’s of ourselves.

          • wicked74 says:

            “You learn somehow to trust nothing – not him, not his feelings, not you, not your feelings. It’s a gawdawful mess. And until you get some solid NC under your belt, you hardly know what you feel or what you even want anymore, if you ever did.”

            @Fearless, speak it, sister! The funny thing is that I’ve done what you’re not supposed to do. I’ve ended the relationship while I was still in it. Also, this:

            “I had a feeling if he had done, I’d have turned him down, cos then I’d settle on the one feeling – and I worried that somewhere in myself I knew – though was loath to admit it- that I couldn’t live with myself if I took a man who had treated me so badly for so long.”

            is EXACTLY what ended up happening. He started trying really hard to be and do all the “right” things and the insincerity of it just repulsed me. He disgusted me MORE giving me all the attention I wanted for so long that I finally made the decision and took ACTION! Thanks so much for the lightbulb! I see it now!

  30. Hi Nat.
    I once wore a hair shirt of guilt and self-blame for years over something.
    I didn’t learn my lesson, but when I finally decided to let go of it, it felt like sucha relief!

    Now I am more consciously aware of my choices than I used to be, and can and do take repsonsibility for them, which is different than blaming myself.
    That combined with not making the same mistakes really makes life so much better. Being willing to change and then changing, works miracles in the long run.

    Healthy balance is ESSENTIAL:)

  31. Bri says:

    I don’t think the allure is the game-playing and I don’t derive pleasure out of hurting someone else. This isn’t my M.O. and if I knew this is how it would end, I wouldn’t have let myself get into it; but I was naive and hopeful and my judgement was clouded by my emotions.

    I think that for one I genuinely fell for this man – he wasnt all bad and we did have good times. I think that I played out some childhood tragedies in this relationship (subconsciously) and felt connected to another “wounded soul”. It’s more complicated than it looks on the surface.

    I’m not saying what I did was morally right but it happened and I’m dealing with the aftermath. It takes two to tango and we both started and perpetuated the relationship. Did he lie to me? Absolutely. Am I hurt? Extremely. But I’m trying to examine myself and I’m working in therapy on how to make my next relationship a healthy and happy one. I don’t think it’s fair that a lot of times, mistresses get labeled as homewreckers; everyone got hurt by this affair, even him.

    Unfortunately, I can’t change what happened and I can’t control how I feel now – all I can do is try to move on and learn from it and I appreciate all of the support AND pucks in the head from this blog.

    • Natasha says:

      Bri, I would caution you against thinking of him as a “wonded party”. It sounds like he got to have his fun and still keep his marriage. Yes, he may miss you, but he knew he wasn’t leaving his marriage and knew it wasn’t going anywhere with you. I think everyone has a tendency to assume that because they are feeling a lot of hurt, the other party must be too. You’re both in very different positions, so I wouldn’t assume that they way you feel is the way he feels. He risked devastating his wife/children by having an affair, don’t feel sorry for him!

      I have to admit that I’m biased on this one, because both of my parents had parents that divorced because of infidelity on the part of the husband and the children were well aware of it. To hear them talk about it, on the rare occasion that they do, is heartbreaking. Disengage from all that negativity girl!

    • grace says:

      Bri (and all the FB girls)
      “if I knew how this would end”. How did you expect it to end? If you wanted him to leave his wife and children for you, you need to own that. Not so you can blame yourself into infinity, but so you can see what your motivation is. Many fallback girls (of which the OW is the ultimate one) are fatally attracted to the dynamic of “winning” love. You don’t want an honest, reliable, single, available man who is consistently attentive, the steady progression of a relationship, growing intimacy, commitment, certainty, years together. You prefer jumping through hoops, drama, tears, fighting, make up sex, overcoming rejection, overcoming rejection again, and again, getting back together, constant analysis of him, yourself and the relationship, to win a prize for your efforts. If you didn’t prefer it, you wouldn’t choose it. The world is full of single men but you made the absolutely worst choice for a partner.
      It’s not about how much you love him. It’s about what motivated you to pick him . I’ve danced this dance with many variations of EUMs including married. When you see the same pattern over and over at some point you have to ask yourself. “Is it me?”. That may seem to contradict Nat’s post but it’s the other side of the coin – stop blaming yourself for everything but DO own what yours. And it IS your MO because you are doing it.
      There are many, many women who DON’T pick married men, they DON’T go back to men who dump them, and they DON’T wait for a man to “choose” them. So why do we?
      I’m not saying this to give you a hard time, you’re still young, there’s still time for you! But whatever age you are, it’s not too late to turn it around and live a good life. You’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope, you need to look at it differently.

    • bella says:

      bri, i don’t see anyone here labeling you a “homewrecker.” these mm situations are variations on the same tedious theme, and in fact, not all that complicated: same old song and dance, nothing unique, nothing special, same fantasy of true love and profound connectedness, 2 wounded souls that found each other (must be fate). and generally characterized by supreme selfishness from both players and a good dose of drama-seeking and hysteria – the agony and the ecstasy! i recall this is mm #2 for you. how did round #1 go? same story? how could you be “naive and hopeful” if this is your second go? as for mm not being “all bad,” i don’t know anyone who is 100% bad, but, he is a cheat and a liar and you are colluding with him, colluding in devaluing and mistreating you. you feel awful because you’re doing something awful to yourself, something that would make anyone unwell – selling yourself short, demeaning yourself, not cherishing you. the damage is done, and as you say, there’s a lot you may not be able to control, but what you can definitely control: how this plays out from here on out so “the next relationship a healthy and happy one” which is what you say you want. good luck.

  32. Bri says:


    Thank you all so much, the way you said that his wife and kids are worse off than I am hadn’t hit me that way. I feel utterly heartbroken since the breakup but I have a chance to move on and start over; they are his family and will be forever fractured. I failed to consider how hard it would have been for me/us to try to build a life if he had left – I just assumed that we were in love so it would all be okay.

    Also, when you said that him using my “rejection” of him when he wanted to tell his mother is manipulative, it hit home. For so long I tortured myself over that decision and regretted that day entirely. I’m still hurting over it bc I’m still in love with him and miss him, but you’ve helped me step back and look at it through a different angle. In my head, I assumed that IF I had said “yes, tell your mom!” that would mean we’d be together right now and that’s not necessarily the case. I’m still betting on his potential and making assumptions with my rosy glasses on. I’m still putting all my stock into his words.

    Thank you for your enlightening and supportive comments. I need to get out of my own head and stop fantasizing about this fairytale life I envisioned because all of my assumptions aren’t necessariy realistic.

    • bella says:

      bri, let’s hope mm’s family will not be “forever fractured” as you assert. let’s hope whatever hurt they have sustained heals – it’s certainly possible. who knows how things will play out for mm and family, but it’s none of our business, and we should simply wish them the best.

    • Fearless says:

      “I need to get out of my own head and stop fantasizing about this fairytale life I envisioned because all of my assumptions aren’t necessariy realistic.”

      There is no such thing as a “realistic fantasy fairytale” – it’s got to be one or the other, so maybe dump the “not necessarily” realistic – it’s not realistic.

      I don’t think Cinderella or Snow White had to prise her Prince from his wife and children. Can you imagine? “Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a handsome prince, his wife and their three children until one day the handsome (but devious) prince fancied a beautiful (but foolhardy) girl at the office…. all hell was let loose…. and they all lived unhappily ever after’. The end.

      You language is in a real fankle Bri: “not necessarily realistic assumptions causing me to fantasise about a fairytale” (??), which reveals a lot about what’s going on in your head and unfortunately you can’t get our of your own head, so you better just keep working on getting it on the right way up :)

    • Fearless says:

      “In my head, I assumed that IF I had said “yes, tell your mom!” that would mean we’d be together right now and that’s not necessarily the case.”

      There’s that “not necessarily” the case again Bri… you need to dump that. Here’s the real sentence:

      “In my head, I assumed that IF I had said “yes, tell your mom!” that would mean we’d be together right now and that’s not the case.”

      Also you (like many of us) made far to many “assumptions” – in your head! You can assume nothing with an MM. Nothing.

  33. Anita says:

    This post on blame is one which spoke to me above all the other great posts on this site. After being almost 1 year NC it still plagues me that I am to blame for causing him to become the person he turned into after our breakup. I know that he had no obligation to be decent to me after we stopped dating but he turned into someone whom I couldn’t even recognize as the man I fell in love with.
    His behaviour and character just completely changed and I’m sitting here wondering, did I do that to him? I put my hands up here and acknowledge that our 6 month relationship broke down because I chose my family over him (he broke it off though). As much as I loved him I just couldn’t say goodbye to everything I have ever known to be with him. In my culture, family is all important and despite many screaming rows my parents could not accept him. I also had my reservations, he went through a bitter divorce which caused him to “hate women” for years after. He had a 5 year old son he stopped seeing because he didn’t like the way he was behaving despite the fact that his ex wife was finally being flexible about access. He was financially reckless and blamed me for making him broke because we used to eat out all the time. After we broke up, he sent me (and copied in some of my friends) a very abusive email with intimate details of our life, intimate pictures of me and lots of horrible and false accusations such as I made him go broke and made him give up his son. He attached a spreadsheet of all the texts I sent him and set up a website with pictures of us together. I was weak emotionally so I forgave him for doing this and we started sleeping together again. Unknown to me, he had started dating another woman a few days after we broke up and moved in with her 2 months after he lost his job. So he was cheating on her, sleeping with both us for months and gave me an STD in the process. She was totally aware of what was going on yet she stayed with him. He had told her he didn’t love her and said this in front of me but she kept forgiving him. This behaviour from a guy who said he could never sleep with a women he didn’t love because it would be like giving her a part of his soul!
    So did I turn this sweet loving man who told me he loved me after 2 weeks, was talking true love and marriage after 2 months into a cheat who sleeps with two women simultaneously and lies…

    • Magnolia says:

      He emailed pics of you and sent what you call an abusive email? He set up a website!!?? He out and out told you he hates women? He stopped seeing his son?

      You do not have the power to turn a good guy into someone like this! You just don’t have that kind of power!

      It was only six months. Six months is time to just start getting to know someone, and if a man wants to turn on the charm, some can act charming for two months.

      But who believes a man when he says he loves her after only 2 weeks? That is called fast forwarding. Anita, please read some of the other articles on the site. This guy was a jerk; you didn’t turn him into one.

      But you are responsible for not worrying more about why you let such a cad into your life.

    • grace says:

      Abuse by spreadsheet! Did it have formulas?
      Of course you didn’t make this man into a monster. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Anita, you don’t have that power.

      • Fearless says:

        “Abuse by spreadsheet! Did it have formulas?”
        :) :) :) So good! Sorry Anita.
        btw, the guy was a already a dobber before you met him, obviously.

    • ICanDoBetter says:

      I agree with Magnolia and Grace on this one. You didn’t turn him into anything. Sounds like he lied to you in the relationship, and he’s honest with new woman. You stayed because you didn’t know the truth of who he was, she stays even though he flat out tells her the harsh truth of who he is. These guys seem to have a radar for how much honesty they can dole out before a woman will leave them.

      • wicked74 says:

        I would like to offer some more insight into the Amazing Changed Man Syndrome. Many, many people are not at their best when thwarted. Many of us turn into crying babies with wet pants when we don’t get our way. A man who is an AC and EU already has control issues and effed up relationship values. He is not at his best on a GOOD day. So now you have taken away his favorite toy (YOU), of course he’s gonna pitch a fit! This is not to say his behavior is excused, far from it, just that it is EXPECTED. When my Ex and I would drive to a certain place together, he would POUT if I took a different route than the one he thought was best. You can imagine his reaction to me throwing him out! He’s actually been so fakey fake nice I am scared of him. For real. I am doing modified NC with him due to NML not recommending NC for ending marriages. It’s working for me but he HATES that I am not available to him and don’t want to be friends.

        You should be very careful, Anita. He sounds unhinged and stalker-ish. Protect yourself and take care. It gets easier.

  34. jennynic says:

    I am having a down moment. I am looking back at my life and feeling sick. I am alone, divorced, 42 years old, hardly any friends, have a career I feel no passion for, end up with shitty men, shitty friends, estranged from my narc dad, estranged from my brother, lonely and just don’t know how to get the hell out of this place. Who’s to blame? ME. I have to blame myself because it’s my life. I pick EUMs, I push people away, am socially awkward, have low self esteem, and feel like I just sit and spin my wheels. I have a life on paper… a good job, a degree, able to support myself, am attractive, have a grown son, blah blah blah…..but my heart is empty. I understand now that my pattern of relationships has been very unhealthy and I get wrapped up in men to fill the void in my life then rely on them heavily to give my life meaning. I tend to lose myself in relationships. Although I am very active and go out and do things, at the end of the day feel hollow like I am just going through the motions. The void is sucking me down like a vacuum right now. I want to be close to someone and to be understood, I want to be loved warts and all but just keep stumbling over myself. I have been trying so hard to change things around in my life but I feel stuck. really stuck. I want change in my life, but I feel like when I take steps to change things, I still end up in the same situations, same men, same crappy friends, same void. I can see the dots but just seem unable to connect them. Part of the problem is that I don’t know what makes me happy. Blame? I’m responsible for my own happiness and worth. I don’t want to wallow but this feeling in me today feels like a wet cold blanket.

    • grace says:

      I was in the same position at your age.
      When I first moved here (to be closer to the ex), I knew no-one except him. I still had to break up with though cos he was such a playa. Cue three years of anxiety, obsession and depression.
      What you’re feeling isn’t fixable by getting a man. In fact, a man is likely to make things worse. We don’t choose good men when we are unhappy. Maybe shelve relationships until, say, next spring?
      Im 46 now and have bought a flat, got a fish tank (love my fish), a job that I like, made some friends in the area and found a church I like. Still no man but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
      I’m not saying you should give up men, but shore up your self-esteem first.
      I think you’re on the way up. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to make us want to change.

      • runnergirl says:

        Jennynic, I hear you and I’m ten years older than you. 42 seems so incredibly young!

        I feel stuck too. I’ve started peeling back the wet cold blanket a little at a time and doing tiny little things like making overdo doctor appts and going to the grocery store. You may have to fill your void with some self love. Baby steps of self care, self love at first. My baby self care steps are dealing with my maintaining my health.

        I’ve tried to fill my void with men and they all seemed to make the void even larger. There’s a difference between blame and accountability. Think about maybe moving from blame into being accountable, acceptance, and possibly forgiveness. I’m still struggling too.

        “I want to be close to someone and to be understood, I want to be loved warts and all but just keep stumbling over myself.” First, maybe we have to be close to ourselves, understand ourselves, and love ourselves warts and all? As Grace said, sometimes we have to hit rock bottom. I’m thinking it may be easier to change myself rather than get involved with another man and try to change him so I don’t have to and then blame him (and myself) when I can’t change him. I’m exhausted just writing that let alone doing it again.

        • Fearless says:

          “I’m thinking it may be easier to change myself rather than get involved with another man and try to change him so I don’t have to and then blame him (and myself) when I can’t change him. I’m exhausted just writing that let alone doing it again.”

          I think you’ve made a very important point there runner… all that searching and blaming and flogging! All we do is wander further into the void by looking for the answers in the all the wrong places and all to avoid ‘oursleves’ and avoid being responsible for *our own* happiness – we’d rather dump that on some EUM/MM/AC as if he will help us find oursleves!

          I used to think the term “finding myself” was namby-pamby. Now I see it is pretty important to know yourself well and take responsibility for *your own* choices and the consequences of your choices – and not think it’s good enough just to blame ‘the choice’. The choices we make are down to us. The choice might be rubbish – but we picked it.

          • runnergirl says:

            I agree Fearless, our choices may be rubbish but I picked the three legged donkey, continued flogging it, and then blamed it for not standing up, and then blamed myself for not making it stand up.

            I thought I “found myself”. However, is all I did was try to stuff a three legged donkey into the void. It’s a fine line between blame/shame and accountability/responsibility. I think I may be crossing over.

            Still laughing over Blaise’s comment regarding “one last ass…” That one carried me over the line and got me out of my pity party.

    • PJM says:

      Jennynic –

      Howdy sister! Have you considered that part of your problem may be the wonderful world of perimenopause?

      A few months ago I had a whole weekend of nausea, inability to leave the house, migraine and deepest, darkest depression – all pure hormones! I was saying things and acting in a way that was totally unlike me; my poor sister had to come over and try to talk me out of it, but I just snarled and screamed and made absolutely no sense.

      When I came out of it I felt rather embarrassed, but also relieved, because I really had thought I was going nutso. I have been having ‘mood swings’ for years associated with perimenopause; they are NOT FUN and you have my full sympathy.

      This is the time of life we have been given to deal with unfinished business, and you’re currently dealing with it, and it hurts. But you don’t have to deal with it alone.

      I know exactly that feeling of ‘the heart being empty’. My cure for it is to find SOMETHING TO DO: you can have as many of these as you like, and they’re amazingly fulfilling.

      I like to find a volunteer role that usually involves the homeless or second-hand/charity shops: things like cooking or sorting clothes or helping to set up a recreation room. Anything that involves physical work and having to use the bits of my brain that AREN’T obsessively focused on me and my romantic failures. It turns out that actually I have quite a lot of ‘spare’ brain which can be used to help others, without thinking of ‘what I get for this’.

      You come home at the end of the day, and you’re GLAD the house is empty, because you’ve been with other people all day who have been stimulating, different, weird, chaotic … It puts singleness in a whole new light. You will also meet a lot of other people in your situation in these sorts of volunteer roles, which is also why I like them – I realise I’m not the only one out there.

      What I don’t do, is anything that might involve dealing with ‘parents’ or ‘couples’, such as volunteering at children’s sports events, etc, because this can make the pain worse for me as a childless woman. You’ve got a son, so perhaps you won’t be limited in this way?

      Anyway, hang in there – maybe go see the doctor about this and get some blood tests, while you’re at it?

      • Phoebe says:

        Jennynic – the other women posting here are so wise. I went through the exact same thing at the same age a few years back. Have you had a full check up with blood work? Vitamin B12 deficiency which is quite common causes depression, perimenopause is utterly insane as PJM has noted – and can also magnify emotional issues. Cognitive therapy can be really helpful in managing this process, diet, exercise, yoga/meditation and anti-depressants if you still cannot still a racing mind long enough to focus. This is an awful way to feel, but there is help out there. Look at all of the responses to you – others who have been where you are now and come out of it much happier. ((hug))

      • jennynic says:

        @Grace, you’re right, I probably need more time off from dating all together. I took 6 months off after my break p with the ex AC (of 4 years), then I met an EUM with a load of baggage. I was feeling good about life and myself when I met the EUM, but the fact that I engaged with him for 5 months and ended up feeling bad again shows my inability to handle relationships at this point. I recognized my need to opt out, and I did, but ignored the red flags and engaged too long with the dysfunction. My cats are very entertaining and always very happy to see me, they lift my mood, much like your fish.

        @Runner Girl, the thought of trying to deal with the ups and downs of a dysfunctional relationship right now does sound tiring. I take baby steps, feel a little better, then for whatever reason fall backwards and have a bad few days but it comes over me like a plague when it happens. I have been trying to go to yoga regularly which helps. Sitting in my house bummed out the past few days only made me feel worse (the bag of Oreos didn’t help either).

        @PJM, It didn’t occur to me that it could be peri-menopause contributing to my mood. I have been getting night sweats off and on for the past 2 years. I know peri-meno manifests differently in different women, I should do a little research on it. I had a blow up at my son the other day, kind of like you described you had around your sister. He was asking to much of me so I attempted to be firm with my boundary, (I have always been the giver in my family, people pleaser , door mat), but I way over reacted and became very emotional and guilt ridden. ( he’s 25 )
        Thank you ladies, for your support. It helps to hear from all of you, especially since you’ve been down this very road or are still on the road like me. : )

        • PJM says:

          Bag of Oreos? Then it’s official – girl, you got midlife a-comin’, in spades! I think the bag of Oreos actually features in DSM-IV as one of the symptoms …

          I tend to start singing ‘Bad Moon Rising’ when I feel it coming on. I think everyone else around me does as well!

          Mind you, recently the trace element magnesium and I have become best friends forever, along with the mega-B complex I’ve been taking for about three years. Fish oil capsules and Vitamin E capsules have all helped me as well. They really can make a difference, but get the blood work done first (especially reproductive hormones and thyroid).

    • Fearless says:


      I feel for you.I have often felt similar through manystages of my life The advice I’ve read (below) from others is very good (yes, worth checking with the doc re the hormones). But I notice this particularly about what you say:

      “I want to be close to someone and to be understood, I want to be loved warts and all but just keep stumbling over myself.”

      Perhaps the person you need to be closer to, who needs to understand you and who must love you warts and all is, first and foremost, *you*.

      Perhaps the reason you keep “stumbling over yourself” (I like that expression; it’s very apt for many of us here) is because you are feeling a terrible need for someone else to provide for you what you are not providing for yourself (and yes, I know how that feels)

      Think of it like this:
      1. Imgine you met a man who feels just the same as you. What you’d have is two people who are (as yet) unable to love and appreciate themselves, so two people who are (as yet) unable to love themselves or to make themselves happy, and yet both are hoping the other person will provide that for them. How are they each going to make the other happy and have self-love when they don’t know how to do it even for themselves? So, that arrangement spells disaster – neither one can fill the void for the other – they can’t even fill their own void.

      2. You meet a man who is happy and who loves himself in a healthy way. Is it fair to expect him to take on your happiness and self-love as well as his own, which he has dealt with. Is a happy, self-loving man even going to want that job? Would he not be more attracted to a woman who has self-love and takes responsibility for her own personal happiness.

      On my BR journey I have learned this:
      Of all the people in the world that I need to be close to, of all the people in the world who needs to understand me and to love me – *I* am at the top of that list. If *I* am not on the list, or am way way down on the list, I’ll just keep stumbling over myself and I will never be happy – man or no man!

      Your happiness is not something that’s going to “happen” to you one day – so don’t wait around for it. Your chance for happiness is right now. I recently read Nat’s three posts on “happiness”. They are fab – give them a try. Love yourself. Sounds simple and glib, but I now firmly believe that is the answer.

  35. Bri says:


    You’re right. What I meant by saying it wasn’t my MO was that I don’t go around looking for attached men and set out to destroy a family. I guess I was just trying to make an excuse as to why I fell for him. I’m still trying to figure myself out and determine all the reasons he appealed to me, and why I allow myself to receive less than I want/deserve.

    I’m certainly not the well-adjusted, naive victim that he captured and tricked; I have issues of my own I need to work out and they played a huge role in my relationship with my exMM.

    And to be honest Grace, I’m not really sure how I wanted it to end. I didn’t want to be in this much pain but I never considered the downfalls – I was so swept away by my feelings I really thought everything would be butterflies and rainbows if only he “chose” me! If I step back and try to be realistic…I’m not so sure anymore.

    • Lessie says:

      Hi Bri,

      Reading your posts the last couple of days have inspired me to make my own postings here about my situation of being involved with a married but separated man. So much of what you say resonates greatly with me and I just wanted you to know how much I can relate and empathize with all you say, it reminds me of myself and my own romanticism and being caught up in the drama and the illusion that I was so desperate to be made “real”…

      I also have many issues from my childhood relating to being adopted as an infant (abandonment issues) as well as being molested by my adoptive father; my adoptive parents later divorced when I was 16 and I think at last, finally, I am beginning to not just “see” the pattern but connect all the dots and its a very scary and frightening thing and…for the first time in my life, thanks to Natalie’s postings I have been devouring the last couple of months, I now realize how very important having boundaries are

      I wish so much I had realized this years ago but at least I am realizing it now and I am doing my utmost best to allow myself to FEEL the pain of all these years spent being in denial and wanting and needing to validate myself through other men who would love me unconditionally in all the ways my family did not. And now I realize that I have to love me, I have to “let go” of all the blame, anger, and grieve for all that I have lost…my past has influenced me greatly but yet…I am not my past. I am ME, here and now.

      Or at least, I am trying to learn how to be “me”…

      Natalie, you are the best therapist a girl could ever hope to have! Reading your invaluable words and insights has helped me far more than some of my “real world” therapists ever have. You have a true gift and I am personally so grateful that you share with all of us as you do here. You are an inspiration and guiding light.

      Just being able to write all this down, get it out, release it, even onto a computer screen as I am doing right now, is helping me to heal. I am far from being completely okay but at least now I feel a bit more hopeful and right now, that’s an awful lot compared to how I felt two months ago. Thank you for that.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Hi Bri, I get what you’re saying. I didn’t *set out* to go be with an MM. The meeting happened by accident. But my CHOICE was not an accident–I chose that relationship, although I was not fully conscious of what was motivating my choice at the time. I love what Grace wrote earlier in response to you: “There are many, many women who DON’T pick married men, they DON’T go back to men who dump them, and they DON’T wait for a man to “choose” them. So why do we?” If we get honest with ourselves and dig deep to find the answers to those questions, we will *absolutely* make a better choice next time(s) an MM crosses our path who represents our *former,* habitual MO/way of being with ourselves. Everything is a choice; it’s coming to terms *consciously* with why we are making those choices that is key, and owning it.

  36. Lessie says:

    Hi Bella and Natalie,

    You are both absolutely right and on the money and I utterly concur!

    I apologize if I implied that I ever thought my hands were “clean” in any of this with the MM. I was equally complicit as he was and it is this more than anything that I am struggling to deal with. I read what Bri wrote about working out childhood issues and I am right there in that place too.

    With my own situation, I had previously been involved with another MM and I can see now, that, this latest “drama rama” was almost in a sense, like a Greek tragedy playing itself out; and I think in some strange surreal way I felt compelled to do just that. I NEEDED to do this, I NEEDED him to look me in the eyes and say, “I do not love you enough” and it hurt. Like hell. I think we keep repeating the same mistakes until we are ready to SEE and LEARN. Sometimes the epiphany comes from great pain.

    I am ashamed of myself. And to be really honest too, I’ll say this: I don’t think “love” is an either/or situation, there are A LOT of grey areas in love AND life…married people who cheat be they man or woman, are NOT always “bad people”…we all make mistakes, and mess up.

    It is what we DO with what we learn that matters, in the end. No one can make me a victim but me. Is it easier sometimes to blame the other person? Absolutely! Does it help ME, to do so, ultimately? NO, it does not. I share the blame, I take my portion of responsibility, that is being an adult. Recognizing that pain can be a gift, if you let it, is one of my biggest “a ha” moments yet. It is a gift because it is an opportunity for growth and for positive change and betterment in one’s own life.

    I vent my frustrations here because so many of us have experienced this and that in itself is quite humbling. All of us want to think our experiences are unique, and to each of us, they certainly are, but in the grander scheme of things “This story is old, I know, but it goes on” (The Smiths)

    Yes, I wanted to be the exception. In our heart of hearts, don’t we all? My MM wasn’t being honest with himself (he said he and his wife would be friends for the children’s sake and that his heart was with me; later he revealed that no, he still loved his wife) so how could he then be honest with me? I wasn’t being honest with myself, so how could I hope to be honest with him? The reality is this, as Nat has said: in order for a relationship to BE a relationship, both people have to be fully invested. If that basic essential ingredient is not there, then it is an uphill battle.

    How I wish I had realized that before. But now, I do. And as they say, knowledge is power. And owning that power is part of the process :)

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Lessie, The Smiths/Morrissey could be a soundtrack to my relationship life. I am thinking I need to choose a new playlist! :)

  37. Lessie says:

    Jennie nic,

    Just saw what you wrote here…my heart goes out to you. It really does.

    I won’t try and tell you things will get better immediately but what I can promise you is this: just when you think that things are hopeless, in the blink of an eye, it can change for the better, usually when you least expect it…I know this, because it has happened for me and if it can happen for me, it can happen for you too. I believe this to be true.

    Sometimes, you just have to hold on. Don’t give up. There IS something good for you coming soon. You have my very best thoughts :)

  38. anoosh says:

    besides the balancing blame topic, I relate to SO many posts on this thread. especially today. if reminders were needed on sticking to NC, over the last couple weeks I got ’em by the barrel. it turned my head around reading what’s written here about getting involved with MM/separated/divorcingM’s. after 6+ months of near-perfect NC, I’m experiencing frustration and anxiety, even though it’s the exEUM who is contacting me, and I’m not picking up the phone.

    bear w/me if you already read: a couple weeks ago, I thought I’d literally turned the corner after having some of what NML referred to as final throes right before it gets a whole lot better, thought that’s what happened! then he called from an unfamiliar #, lied about being in town (we were LDR), which I figured out in 1 minute. I asked him please not to call. on the previous BR post, I got amazing feedback, I included a lame-o email he sent last week, asking me “Pleez” to call on Tuesday (yesterday), to which I didn’t respond. lo and behold, he did call yesterday. I didn’t pick up, yay! he left a happy-peppy msg asking how I fared w/Hurricane, saying he’d call me “tomorrow”. well, guess what? Bzzztt! of course he didn’t call today! what a shocker.

    the point of this redundant rant is I shouldn’t give a damn either way, my only concern after being broken up for over 1 year should be *MOI* & *staying committed to the present*. and yet, it really hurts. though I have no intention of getting sucked in, just hearing another voicemail & broken promise upsets my peace of mind, knocks me off balance. yes, I know I’m human. I’ll try hard not to wallow. I’m just sad, it was even in my dream last night.

    all this time, I never considered myself an OW, b/c we waited until he was separated & moved out to pursue it (an old crush from college 20+ yrs ago, yeah, another Facebook story). when he first bailed, I blamed myself 100%, then when he did a Vanishing Act I blamed him 100% for a while, then I blamed myself 100% for failing to win him back, then I blamed him for being a cruel EUM/AC. I’ve stuck w/that during the NC process. now my emotions are getting messy from teensy-weensy-contact-crumbs, I’m back to self-blame, for not being stronger, or having the will to change from a FBG. for keeping myself emotionally stuck. it’s painful to realize how I sabotage myself, even while making…

  39. AdrienneBytheSea says:

    This has been a tough one for me. I’ve alternated between feeling like a victim because the exMM gave me an STD to blaming myself for being so naive/dumb/idiotic in believing that a cheater could be monogamous. This part of the posting really hit home: “Blame is another form of rejection so if you want to stop feeling bad and suffering unnecessarily, the key is to stop rejecting yourself and LET IT GO. This is often synonymous with accepting that it’s done but the truth is, the relationship (or situation) is ‘done’ anyway. It’s in the past – it’s you that needs to catch up to your present.”

    I am on Day 28 of NC — slowly I am accepting that it’s really, truly done this time, because *I* want it to be. I am slowly catching up to the present of putting together all the pieces that have been revealed in the last month–seeing how I emotionally react like an 8 year old; how I hit the the karmic jackpot with the MM as he represented “the greatest hits” of my mother & father; how I was distracting myself from my own life; how much there is an incongruity between my head and heart. I can rationalize, intellectualize, fantasize, romanticize, idealize, analyze etc. but that’s all head stuff. And I am feeling that values come from the heart. We know in our hearts what is right for us, that a relationship based on values would resonate in our hearts; we wouldn’t need to play “head games” to justify it. I am seeing that I need to catch up to my present by not living out of the wounds of my past (my childhood).

    My counsellor recommended that I read “Women Who Run With the Wolves.” I’ve only done one chapter, the one on rage. I thought this line was really key: “There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision–possibly the most important psychic decision of her future life — and that is, whether to be bitter or not.” This ties in with the idea of blame. Shall we own what’s ours, process it, and let it go, or do we want to stew in the juices of wanting revenge? I am still stewing, still processing, would like to blow up his car or his b*lls, preferably both. I am hopeful that I will get to this point: “Letting go means accepting that it wasn’t all you and it wasn’t all them.” But I’m not there yet.

    • jennynic says:

      I have ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’. I have almost every other sentence highlight or marked. It has been a while since I looked at it, maybe its time for another look. A Native American Shaman recommended it to me when she met me and intuitively saw my internal struggle, but she also saw potential. This was the reminder I needed today.

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Jenny, since you read the book, you probably know this, but — a few sentences after the “bitter” quote in the book Clarissa says, “The woman who returns to the instinctual and creative nature will come back to life (this is what keeps me from becoming bitter). She will want to play. She will still want to grow, both wide and deep. But first, there needs to be a cleansing.” (parenthetical comment is mine). I read your posting earlier–I recognize that empty feeling you describe. What saves me from going all the way down are my creative activities–cooking, writing, music appreciation, weightlifting (my body is a work of art in progress!), reading, spiritual work/studies. Maybe there is a creative passion you can begin exploring that will help you focus on you? You said you go out and do things–but are those things just “things” to keep you distracted or are they nurturing to your “wild woman”? Hugs to you. I can’t wait to read more of Estes’ book!

  40. dancingqueen says:

    I really related to this post! Thank you!!!!I have been lurking here on and off for a while but I just did not feel qualified to say anything prior. I tend to blame myself for everything!!!! I think this is partially because I have had two narcissistic step-mothers who blamed everyone but themselves for everything and as a result I really grew up kind of believing that all kinds of crazy things were somehow my fault. Living with them and my dad was kind of like Gaslight; all these crazy things and no one admitting them….But to that end…I guess I am wondering what can you do when you are like that?
    What I want to know specifically is how do you stop feeling literally sick when people start to make things that are their problems, yours? Does anyone else get like this? I am getting better at knowing when people do this….but because of my background, I literally get a bit sick when I am around people like that now. For example I have this new friend that I am starting to realize is kind of boundary-less…..she gets upset at her husband ( who is a weirdo and kind of emotionally abusive) and then gets mad at me when I don’t call for a day or such…she just takes out her problems at home on me thinking that I am somehow owing her constant attention. I like her as a person and at times I feel that I would like to be freinds with her but I can’t seem to accept her relationship issues that I know way too much about and frankly they freak me out…one small but perfect example…last week her husband started parading around the house in his underware in front of me…I barely know him! She made some “joking” comment about it, we left for dinner, we came back and he was still walking around in his underware! He made a point of coming over joke “flashing” me with his robe in his underware; like somehow that was appropriate? I am 44 and a normal woman. This is a 60 year old man who is a millionaire and very functional in the work world. Instead of respecting her and me he was just flaunting himself around like some weirdo who needed attention; it was really frankly a bit creepy. As a result I feel uncomfortable going to her house and yet she acts as if this is normal. Although I know this is her issue, I find myself getting kind of physically sick around her lately; she is so convinced that she is owed my constant time and attention that I think I have…

    • grace says:

      I think they’re trying to line you up for a threesome.
      If someone makes you feel sick it may be time to end the friendship. I’m extremely wary of people who are up in my face within ten minutes, telling me about their sex lives, their diseases, whatever. I prefer to get to know people more slowly.
      And some stuff is private. Such as underpants.
      If you really like her, and want to stay friends, put some boundaries in place. Such as – not going to her house, sticking to the occasional public outings, or whatever works for you. I’ve a friend who is highly sociabel and if I agreed to it, we would be tearing up the town every week. As it is, I constantly turn her down and we go out about once a month (I’m boring). It is okay to say no and if they can’t respect the fact that you have other stuff to do you’re not their friend, you’re more like … their servant.

    • Fearless says:

      dancingqueen (did you pinch the pseudonym from your friend’s husband! His behaviour IS inappropriate – don’t put up with it just because your friend is)

      To cut a long story short: I’d give this “friend” and her husband a wider berth. If you feel sick – listen to that – it’s telling you something important – maybe something about your own boundaries. Time identify what these should be for you and be firmer about them?

    • Elle says:

      Seems to be two things here – her husband being at worst anti-social and at best an attention-seeking flirt (I know many guys who like to flirt with their girlfriends’/wives’ friends – seeing it, rightly or wrongly, as harmless and the only legitimate non-relationship outlet) is not, I don’t think, something she should own as her problem, and address with you. That’s between them. It’s up to you to say something if you feel it busted a boundary for you. The other stuff, her inability to handle her anxiety and frustration with her own life is more serious. A few of my family members and close friends are like this. The truth is, I am not always emotionally-contained either, though I tend to be super aware of any sh*t I offload unfairly on people, and limit it, on the whole. A person’s sense of peace and cheerfulness are so valuable. No one has a right to steal them without adequate compo! So I guess it’s up to you – whether you can engage with her without feeling sick/put-upon/unsafe. Those feelings suggest – however grabby she is – that you’re not super skilled at not taking on the toxic-mildly anxious crap people give out. Don’t get me wrong, I am not super at it either. But if you can actually see that it’s not about you, if you’re OK with being clear to her/others about how much you can and will invest in the friendship (some of your response suggests that you can’t quite do this), then, if you want to (and actually like her), you should still hang-out. This is all pretty specific advice…Hmm…For what it’s worth, the overall advice is that if you’re feeling bad you should, at least, scale it back a little to see what boundaries are being busted, what you can and want do about it (often doesn’t have to be dramatic or formal or anything), and the extent to which is about your own lack of confidence/ fear of blame here.

  41. Fedup says:

    Natalie I wish you wrote this article a year ago!

  42. Anita says:

    Glad you all found the spreadsheet remark so funny. Strangely enough I didn’t find it all that hilarious when it happened.

    • grace says:

      I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.
      Humour is two-edged. On the one hand it gives enough distance for you to see what’s actually going on;on the other hand – maybe too much distance so you lose sight of the hurt. That said, I think you would benefit from stepping back and looking at this again. His frankly despicable behaviour cannot possibly have been caused by you. It all started long before he met you, it continued while he was with you and I don’t WANT to know what he’s doing now.

    • Fearless says:

      Of course you didn’t, Anita. It’s a horrible thing for anyone to do – and you did not make him do it and nor did you deserve that treatment – in any way at all! He did this horrid thing – all by himself, cos that’s the kind of man he is. You have dodged a bullet with this guy, seriously. You will know this in time. Take care.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Anita, your story gave me chills–the kind as in “she had a lucky escape” (sorry about the STD–I understand *that* feeling of betrayal). You wrote that you had your reservations about him/the relationship. Maybe in questioning why/how you may have turned him into a total dobber-wad, it might be helpful to question yourself. Why did you ignore your reservations? Why did you not listen to your intuition about this guy? You said you were “weak emotionally” and took him back. How are you doing now, after one year NC? You say it still “plagues you” that you are somehow to blame. I understand that everyone’s rate of progress in processing/healing is different, but I am wondering why, after a year, it still “plagues you” –that is a heavy way to describe it. Personally, I would feel more “plagued” by what HE did–which, in my opinion, is egregious harassment (not to mention that he put you in *physical* danger with the STD), and more “plagued” by coming to terms with my own part in creating the situation. The spreadsheet scenario was horrific–for me, personally, it would take me a while to be able to see the humor in it. But again, it’s a reflection of what a potential psycho he is, not a reflection of you or how you *made* “This sweet loving man” into a whack job.

    • EllyB says:

      @Anita: If I understand your post correctly, he sent a spreadsheet including all your texts not only to you, but also to other people? And all those pics too?

      This is horrible. Maybe even criminal. In my own book, this IS criminal. It’s a severe breach of trust and might do serious damage to someone’s life.

      I’m very sorry you went through this. I hope you are stronger now and able to get rid of that jerk entirely!

      I don’t think any of the other commenters in here were referring to this. I think they were relating to other parts of your story.

    • EllyB says:

      @Anita: If I understand your post correctly, he sent a spreadsheet including all your texts not only to you, but also to other people? And all those pics too?

      This is horrible. Maybe even criminal. In my own book, this IS criminal. It’s a severe breach of trust and might do serious damage to someone’s life.

      I’m very sorry you went through this. I hope you are stronger now and able to get rid of that jerk entirely! Please don’t expect anything from him anymore. He is just what he is.

      I don’t think any of the other commenters in here were referring to this. I think they were relating to other parts of your story.

  43. Fedup says:

    Both my exes blamed me for THE WHOLE breakup/ relationship not working. Where was their 50% of the blame?

  44. Carrie says:

    Alright my very smart BR ladies.. I need your help with something. I had a sudden thought come over me last night while I was reading in bed and it was that I don’t feel like being angry at my ex anymore. I think I’m ready to start letting it go. I’ve never been one to hold on to anger for a very long time and this is definitely the longest I’ve felt angry at someone. And I’m tired of wasting my energy on it. I feel like the anger is holding me back from being able to move forward with my own life and though I’m disappointed in how everything turned out, it is what it is. My relationship is over and continuing to feel angry at my ex just doesn’t feel right anymore.

    That doesn’t mean I want to be friends with him – hell no. But he is who he is and it’s his life. I could never feel platonic about him. I only hope to feel indifferent someday. We had 6 years together. And some of it was really great. He has his problems with anger and negativity and especially in the last couple years every day he came home from work I’d expect a tirade of negativity about his day. He never abused me, he just wasn’t there for me the way he should’ve been. He was very critical at times and the tone he would use would upset me. He took things like my clumsiness and made it like it was something to be ashamed of. I never want to be in a relationship of any kind with someone like that again. No doubt about it – I deserve better. But I don’t want to say that I regret our entire relationship. I stayed because I chose to. I knew who he was and I made the decision to continue giving him my love.

    So here’s the question. My ex is extremely obsessive. He obsessed about the ex he went out with for 4 months the year before he met me, for an entire year. He has severe ADHD and he’s definitely narcissistic, but he’s also very unhappy and tortured by his childhood. I ignored his text last month apologizing for hurting me (for immediately going on to someone new right after we broke up, a month before I even left the house) and being unable to not do it. That’s the narcissism. He never cheated on me, he told me he loved me all the time and was very affectionate up until the day we split. I was very angry over how he handled our break up, but I’ve come to realize that people are going to do what they’re going to do and I just don’t want to be angry anymore. That’s great for my healing process. But part of me wants to send him an email and, I guess, “release” him from his obsessing over what happened with us. I know he’s talking about it every day and I’m sure people are sick of hearing about it. I don’t need or want a response from him, but I feel a need to send him a note just letting him know I’m not angry at him anymore. That I have no desire for a friendship. And that I just hope that someday he can find happiness, because this life is hard enough as it is. Am I tripping thinking I should do that? I’m going to wait until I talk to my therapist next week, but I wanted to get your guys opinions too because you’re all so fabulous!

    • grace says:

      I think no email. If he’s obsessive he’ll see it as a sign that you should be together.

    • Natasha says:

      Carrie, I think you should leave it be. I know exactly how you feel in that you don’t want to be angry about it and just make it a part of the past. If he’s upset about the way he treated you, that’s not your problem. If he has issues with obsessing over exes, that’s not your problem either. If you think about all the ladies who we’ve heard from that are obsessed with thinking about their exes, have we ever advised them to go get closure from the EUM/AC/generally useless dude? Nope! This is a different situation, but it’s not up to you to make him okay with the break-up.

      I totally get where you are coming from, because you empathize with him – like anyone who’s in touch with their emotions does when thinking about someone who’s been in their life and is in some sort of pain. The thing of it is, you never know how he’s going to take you getting in touch. He might think, “Aha! She’s forgiven me! We’re friends!” and all of a sudden you’re fielding a gazillion texts from him. If you then rebuff him and he’s the “extremely obsessive” type…how is that going to go down? At the end of the day, dealing with someone who has narcissistic tendencies is never going to go according to plan. They don’t think how we think or do what we do. If he’s upset about how his relationships end, he might want to concern himself with how he conducts/ends them. It’s not your responsibility to absolve him of whatever feelings he has/thinks he has. Hope this helps! *Hugs*

      • Carrie says:

        I really appreciate your feedback! After doing some thinking and talking to some people on a forum I’m a long time part of, I’ve realized this desire to let him know I’m not angry anymore, is just my same ol’ wanting to make him feel better. My anger worked very well to hold that part of myself back, but now that I don’t want the anger anymore it immediately opened up the codependency in me. Thankfully I recognize good advice when I get it and realized it’s not my job to make him anything. I was falling back into what I did our entire 6 years and concerning myself with his feelings and his behaviors. But it’s not about him anymore, it’s about me and my healing process and moving on.

        I’m 6 weeks NC, other than getting the money he owes, and it’s obviously starting to work for me. I decided to write another unsent letter, this time about letting my anger go and recognizing our paths are our own. Letting my anger go frees me to finally move on and cut the final cord to our relationship. It was like as long as I was angry, I was still connected to him. So I think by realizing it’s time to cut it, I panicked and looked for another way to reconnect. Thank goodness I don’t do anything in haste! I feel confident in saying goodbye to my anger and not needing to boost him up in anyway. He has his demons to deal with and he either will or he won’t. But what he does is no longer a concern of mine. This has been a huge turning point for me I think!

        • Natasha says:

          Good for you lady :) It is very true about anger being the final cord to be cut (I recently had my ex-AC trying to get in touch and I was livid – and then I was livid that I was livid…if that makes sense haha!). A lot of these guys are very good at doing “Oh, woe is me!” and will use it as the “hook” to get you to give them the time of day. When my ex-AC called me up, the first thing out of his mouth was, “I’ve had a ton on my mind lately.” in this morose voice. The funny thing is, when your self esteem is where you want it to be and you’ve replaced the negative in your life with the positive – that hook doesn’t work. You sound like you are well on the road to where you want to be. Well done!!

        • Namaste says:

          To Carrie,
          I was the same way in my marriage relationship. When I got in touch with my anger over the many years of controlling, hurtful, behaviour ,I used that to step away from my co-dependent inclination to take care of his feelings. He was depressed and hurt when I told him to leave,(after trying many times to get help for him and us) because I couldn’t continue to live that way anymore. The year we were separated while I hoped that he would be able to make the changes I asked of him was the hardest one because I saw him struggle and panic & look so helpless that my empathetic side wanted to go back and help him to do for him the things he could only do for himself. :( That was my pattern throughout our marriage. It was heartbreaking the way it all went down and i went through one more year of grieving the year I filed for divorce. I went to two support groups, Divorce care and another one for women coming out of relationships where the partner is abusive, and each one was a big step forward in my healing. I still pick up my blanket of denial sometimes and put my rose coloured glasses back on, long enough to remind myself that being sentimental, doesn’t mean I want to repeat a relationship pattern that was based on my illusion of what constitutes good intimate relationship.

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Carrie,

        I’m not the wisest one here to be offering advice so just hit delete if it doesn’t fit. I hear you about being tired of being angry at the ex. It’s exhausting, particularly when stuck in the blame/shame cycle Natalie and the others talk about in this post. I’m about at the same point. It’s time to make peace, accept, forgive, and move on (thank you Blaise). What was, was. I’ll be doing some reading this weekend regarding the acceptance phase of the grief process.

        Here’s the thing though, I’m wondering what is underlying your desire to contact someone who you describe as obsessive and a narcissist? Have you written the Unsent Letter? Natalie’s guide is wonderful. I think folks can be “released” without having to tell them they’ve been released. Isn’t the release supposed to be for you, not him? At least in my case when I finally get to the point of acceptance, I don’t think I will need to tell him. I’m with Natasha…”At the end of the day, dealing with someone who has narcissistic tendencies is never going to go according to plan. They don’t think how we think or do what we do.” Where does he end and you begin?

        • Natasha says:

          True story runner! The only thing I really know about narcissism is it’s the “ME ME ME” disorder, but if you’re trying to engage with someone who’s like that, it’s nearly impossible to suss out what they are thinking/feeling/how you should handle it because they are only thinking about themselves and, since we’re not them, how the heck do we know what goes on in their minds?! Oy. It’s really funny, because one of my girlfriends said to me a few months ago, “Do you think your ex is a narcissist?” and I said, “How the hell should I know?! I’m not Dr. Natasha. What I do know is…he’s an asshole.”

    • Magnolia says:

      Yep, I agree. Your comment is an interesting twist to this post because it speaks to the power we also think we have to make things *better* for the other person, as opposed to a power to make them treat us poorly. A healthy person would understand your right to your anger, anyway, and you wouldn’t have to let them know when you got over it.

      • Carrie says:

        “A healthy person would understand your right to your anger, anyway, and you wouldn’t have to let them know when you got over it.”

        That is SUCH a good point… you nailed it. I don’t know why I felt that need all of a sudden to reassure him in some way. Well I do.. it’s because it’s what I did for 6 years. It’s a bit of a habit. But at least I’m seeing it and working on all these things. Heh if I can quit smoking cigarettes (5 1/2 years now), I can break this habit too! It was an almost-slip, but thankfully not. It’s been exactly 2 months since I moved out and I feel a real shift in my feelings today. Completely separate from my insane thought to email him, the noticing of the lack of anger is a very tangible feeling. It’s just not there anymore. It’s weird. But good weird!

    • Magdalena says:

      Hey Carrie,

      I got to a point in my life some time this year when I just didn’t want to live with so much anger at the ex-EUM any more, either. I have absolutely zero interest in reconciling with him or ever speaking to him again, but I wanted to do something to show myself that I was, in fact, ready to let it go.

      Forgiveness is an important concept in my life, because I believe that it is a process of transformation that makes transgressors into people deserving of mercy and compassion, and turns the forgiver into someone capable of transcending anger and resentment. I genuinely believe that is the highest expression of our best spiritual natures as human beings.

      In the end, I decided to write a very long final letter to him, in which I explained that I was tired of living in anger and I had decided to invoke my higher sense of self and forgive him, despite the fact that he in no way deserved to be forgiven. I took the letter to a place that I consider as quite sacred and spiritual, where I read it and then burned it. I also lit a candle for him and left it burning as a sign of my intention to let it all go.

      It was a pretty powerful moment for me. The best part is that he didn’t have to know a thing about it.

      Hope you find peace in your own ways.


      P.S. The book entitled Forgiveness is a Choice by Robert Enright helped enormously through the whole process.

  45. Rawan says:

    Help, I have been broken up with an EU ex for 3 months now, I seem to be doing well with thanks to this site and the comments here, which helped ALOT! However I have a hard time dealing with anxiety, anxiety that concerns him coming back for round 4 and me falling for it or not dealing with it well, right now I have no desire to go back, I don’t know how to trust myself and assure myself that I will not allow him to hurt me again, is this normal? I cut all means of contact and it was his bday a few days back I didn’t send him anything (I also know he picks up signs very well he must know that I want him to stay away) however I agreed to going back the 1st 2nd and third time, I had no boundaries then actually I had no idea about boundaries I had so little self esteem and I was completely different, I changed alot but I don’t know if it’s enough for me to learn and say NO
    Am I over exaggerating?

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Rawan,

      You asked: “Am I over exaggerating?”

      Maybe. What you might be exaggerating in your own mind are 1) the possibility of his getting in touch again 2) the effect it will have on you.

      Sounds like you’ve done a good job this time of cutting contact and getting past the urge to make contact on his bday. First, you might be scared of visualizing him NOT calling you. But that is what we want here, right, so try as much as possible to remind yourself that he won’t. If you end up visualizing him getting in touch, you can always practice excusing yourself quickly and without drama.

      After months of NC, and wondering what would happen if I ran into my exAC, and visualizing several scenarios, he tracked me down at one of the coffee shops he knew I often frequented. After all that imagined drama, I said three words to him: “You should go.” And he left. And I haven’t heard from him since.

      If your ex gets in touch, the reality of it will probably have you turn him down – even if it’s not because you feel you want to, but because you know you have to.

      Does that mean he has left my mind? Not completely, not yet, and it will soon be a year since the breakup. But that is because it is me being scared of visualizing life without all the things I thought he brought. Worrying about what I will do if I run into him again, which I still indulge in now and then, is only a way to keep “him,” or the fantasy he represented, in my life. I’d venture it’s the same for you.

      • Rawan says:

        Hey Magnolia

        Thanks for your supportive reply, knowing that someone like you was ABLE to turn them down after months of NC gives me hope, yeah I do feel paranoid whenever I think of running into him but I think the fact that in the past I always welcomed him with open arms is what I’m afraid of I have to keep reminding myself that history WON’T repeat itself and I’m not compelled to act like I did before, I do have the choice to act differently, it’s a hard cycle to break specially when I thought of him as an addiction, the fear sometimes paralyzes me
        I blocked his number, he can’t send me any messages I feel so much safer but we go to the same college and college is starting in a couple of weeks, I’m dreading it so much I don’t want to go to the place where two years of my life I spent up and down in that toxic relationship, knowing that he’s around and might pop any second is what I’m scared of the most
        How ironic, the one that you were supposedly inlove with is the one who you’re dead scared of right now like a ghost, guess that alone should say enough about the relationship and our compatibility

        • Magnolia says:

          In the end you realize that what you’re scared of is yourself. You’re scared of your own inability to say no, not of his supermystical powers (he doesn’t have them). And you can always build your ability to say no.

          I am in school too and have written elsewhere about the guy before this one, who lived at my residence, literally two doors away from me. It used to be like a punch in the gut to see him (he had been psychologically very bad for me). I didn’t know anything about BR then, but I can tell you that once you decide you don’t want to talk to someone, you can practically be on the same Twister team and still keep it to the bare minimum.

          But you do have to decide that within yourself. Before the residence guy did something that made me want to get away from him like he was murderous or something, I would always allow myself to get into conversations that drew me back into relation with him.

        • Minky says:

          Like Magnolia said, you just keep it very simple. Just say ‘i don’t want to talk to you’, or something like that. I did that with the ex EUM after he followed me around a club most of the night trying to talk to me. After i said that, he looked annoyed and probably thought of me as a bitch, but i would MUCH rather be thought of as a ‘bitch’ than a doormat/ muppet/ assclown counselling service. If you don’t give two hoots about how your actions will affect him, most of the anxiety will disappear right there. Best of luck! :)

  46. Lessie says:


    Oh yes, me too! I often think “If only Morrissey would have married me years ago, none of this other stuff would have happened” :) Of course, I also think that about my other dream man too, Daniel Day Lewis :)

  47. Lessie says:

    Hello Carrie and Everyone,

    I read with great interest your recent post about, now that you are over the anger stage, should you then let your ex know you have moved on?

    I am in this place right now too and also wondering what to do (though it sounds as if you have worked things out for yourself with regards this).

    And, if I am to be honest, I will say that I think part of my desire to do this is really about me, as in: it bothers me a lot that, when he left, because of my own anger and confusion I probably left a very bad image of myself in his mind and…wow, okay, this is hard to admit but: it’s my ego, it’s my sense of “But that’s not really who I am”…when I think back now on it, I realize that, yikes, *gulp* I probably acted a bit like Courtney Love on a bender or something!

    When I sent his gifts back, I also included a heartfelt (tho also a quite harsh letter, saying just what Nat has said is NOT our job, ie., what is “wrong” with him, etc)…I regret some of what I said in that letter because it was written in the heat of the moment, and I wasn’t censoring myself in any way. So, I guess that is my dilemma: if I DO write and say “I’m sorry, I am also equally complicit in what happened and I hope you and your wife can put your marriage back together”…does this then mean I have somehow “backslid” in the recovery process?

    I would be writing the letter for ME, and I think that ultimately what I am wanting is some type of resolution to things, which I feel this would give me. A dear friend of mine said, “You may not ever get the resolution you need so you may have to give it to yourself”…and I think she is right.

    I’m in a bit of a struggle here and any advice would be most appreciated.

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Lessie,

      As you can read I completely understand your desire to share your forgiveness with the person you forgave, but if as you said it’s really about you, you might want to try the unsent letter first. I got over my desire to email him pretty quickly, but it was mostly because I realized it was the exact problem I’m working on overcoming – codepedency. Maybe in addition to your unsent letter, you could write a letter to yourself from your ex saying the things that you would like him to say to you. I can pretty much guarantee he’s not going to give you the resolution you’re looking for.. life never works that way does it? But you might be able to quiet that desire by seeing everything you need to give yourself in black and white. It could also help you to figure out where you need to go next in terms of your own issues you’re working to overcome. In fact, I might do that myself and write a letter to me from my ex.

  48. Anita says:

    Maybe “plagued” is the wrong word. He just became so cold and callous overnight that I was convinced I triggered this personality change.
    I know I hurt him but still, when I got that email it was devastating particularly when 2 of my friends rang me to tell me they got it too. The pictures were very revealing and I was utterly humiliated and betrayed. In my culture things like that can and do destroy lives and I was terrified of how many people he had sent it to. He knows my background and must have known how serious the consequences were for me.
    For 2 weeks after, all was quiet but then I got a call from a guy who my parents had been trying to set me up with when I was with my ex. I wasnt interested in him at all and told my ex all about him but the guy was now calling me to tell me he had not only received the same email from 2 weeks back but also hard copies of the pictures in the post….and he lives abroad!! Had he not done the decent thing and agreed not to tell his family to preserve my honour, I would not be sitting here today.
    When we started dating, my intuition was telling me that my ex had too much baggage and his intense hatred for his ex wife (who he married to stay in the UK) and indifference towards his son bothered me. But he swept me off my feet so completely and it had been a LONG time since I had felt that intense passionate connection so I saw what I wanted to see. A sweet loving man who bent over backwards to please me with no hint of the psycho underneath.
    After we broke up, as I said he continued to see me. I mentioned that I was “weak emotionally” but looking back I think I was scared. Scared that he would send the pictures to my parents, destroying them and my entire family. Bizarrely he also kept hacking into my Facebook and email accounts, 7 times to be exact each time changing the passwords and even deleting my account when he knew I would be on holiday! I confronted him and initially he swore blind it wasnt him but eventually confessed. The last straw was when he hacked into my email at work and accessed an email I sent to my friend about the situation. Not sure how he did it but he is an IT whizz and I trusted him with a lot of my computer stuff. That totally freaked me out.

  49. Lessie says:

    Hi Carrie,

    Thank you so much for your kind words to me here.

    Perhaps you are right and I need to think more carefully about doing this as an “unsent” letter type thing, I just don’t know. There was so much happening with us in such a short space of time and it really is so very difficult to know what the “right” thing is to do. Very confusing.

    I have had so many epiphanies about all of this and I think: I want/need him to know that I have a better understanding of myself, and thus, as a result, him too. You are very right when you say that I will probably not get the resolution from him that I am looking for but if I can somehow give that resolution to myself, knowing that, for ME, I said all the things I wanted to say, then perhaps it will be finally closing the door on this.

    I shall have to give this a long hard think before doing anything either way but thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.

    Please let me know what you end up doing as well (writing the letter to yourself from him, etc…I would be interested to know how that turns out and what your experience is with that).

  50. Sad but done! says:

    I love your website, Natalie!
    I too have hoped and wished , worked so hard and tried to get an UAM to have a relationship with me. I’ve known him since I was 7, and I am now 53! And he still feeds me crumbs and I fall for it every time. But, I’m done. I have to stop the insanity! For years, I thought that it was something that I did do or didn’t do. He could be cruel like when I said I would be traveling 5,000 miles to go to our HS reunion, and he lives where I’m going to, he said ” don’t expect me to jump up and down with joy, just because you are contemplating coming over here.” My heart dropped 50 feet into the ground! And then, he would try to send sexy things to me through email. I blame myself for tolerating his incredibly awful behavior. Throughout the 45 years I’ve known him, he pulls me in and emails me 10 times a day, then he stops. And when he stops, I try harder to get him back. Then the cycle begins again! After reading Natalie’s article, I see that you can’t change them, but you can distance yourself from the madness!! The truth is that he’s like a drug,.. when he communicates, I feel wonderful, and when he withhold communication I feel like sh*t!
    Now, I dread going back to my HS reunion, because he will be there. My friends tell me I should just ignore him. He’ll be probably trying to seduce some other girl, which will tear me up inside, but I will ignore him. Any suggestions?

    • grace says:

      Just say hello and move on. And don’t have sex with him.

    • Minky says:

      Wow – if it weren’t for the age difference, i would think he was my ex!

      Be polite and civil if you see him, but try to move on quickly. Tell him you’re not interested and, if he gets pushy, threaten to report him to security. Don’t worry about seeming rude – he hasn’t given a damn about your feelings for over 40 years! And you’re not that woman anymore. Best of luck.

  51. I recently said out loud a few things that I was blaming myself for and had my own moment of laughter as well. Its so funny the dumb things we tell ourselves. But its freeing to actually face it, laugh at how ridiculous it is, than move on. Being free from blame is a wonderful thing!
    Thanks Natalie :)

  52. Perry says:

    I would love to say that i have never been in the situation of blaming myself for everything that had happened in the relationship, but i can’t. I have been there on a couple of occasions but now i can sit back and see the light that it takes two to make things work, not just one person. I just want to say what a great article and looking forward to reading more.

  53. Telulah Pendragon says:

    Hello all,

    Today the man I have been seeing says he wants a break. I met him at the start of the year & it’s been fantastic. I have a child with a disability, am widowed & have no family in this country so v. little support. All other men I’ve dated have baulked at this, but he hasn’t. To top it all, I had a severe flood in December so since then have been living in a shithole & then a hotel & the pressure on both of us has been intense. My dog is dying & he’s looked after her & took her into his home whilst I was living in the hotel. Our opportunities to go out have been limited so it’s been hard. Then a few weeks ago he lost his job! I was fearful that under such pressure for both me & him it might fold but it didn’t & he reassured me that it wouldn’t.

    Last Friday we finally moved back home & I was so relieved as it is so good to be back. I’ve felt so insecure not having a base to be in. I saw him at the weekend & told him that it would be nice if he told me he loved me a bit more (I’ve noticed he used to say it all the time but not now although I thought it was ‘cos of all the stress). He replied I didn’t need him to say that ‘cos I knew how much he loved me, but he’d try. It was fine & we continued having a good time.

    But then he didn’t ring me all week which I didn’t like so wrote him a poem (he loves my poetry) & txted him saying I felt he was backing off & knew work was hard so wanted him to talk to me instead & I’d listen. At the same time he had sent me a txt saying he wanted me to meet his mum this morning (first time!) Anyway, we had a txt discussion about the lack of contact, which I thought was amicable and this morning he emailed me & said he couldn’t be the man I wanted, was weak & can’t express himself, isn’t going to change, so it’s bye, basically. I’m in pieces & wrote him an email asking him to reconsider (which I don’t regret, although it probably wasn’t v. smart). I’m just finding it so v. difficult. I want answers & I want to know what’s happened. I know nobody on here can give me answers, but I do feel that it’s partly my fault – that I should have given him more space, understood more about work, the stresses. I kept asking him to talk to me about it, he wouldn’t, just kept saying he was happy giving to me (which he did), breakfast in bed whenver I was there, babysitting my child, cooking for us… Ta for reading, everyone.

  54. plumies says:

    there was a time i blame myself for everything because i just wanted a closer so bad . it didn’t help me at all. it been a year and im still dealing with the matter. i still remember all his lies like it was yesterday coming to this site had really help me to see the matter different and with the help of God i know im going be heal.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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