seeking validation is like saying tell me who I am and tell me what I'm worth. Tell yourself!

Whenever I ask people why they persist in seeking validation, whether it’s about who they are, their behaviour, or a situation, they tell me that they don’t feel that they could be objective about things. The argument is that they might be prejudiced by their own beliefs or too ‘in’ something to see it clearly and due to not valuing their own judgement or even themselves enough, it also means that even when they don’t trust themselves.

In feeling that they might be influenced by personal feelings (which of course you’re going to be to a degree when you’re thinking about you), seeking validation from others seems like the answer and creates this blind and rather dangerous assumption that others are ‘correct’, ‘factual’ and are uninfluenced.

If you find it difficult to trust your opinion on you or a situation and seek ‘balance’ by gaining objectivity from external sources, you’re also making the assumption that these people are objective in the first place because they’re not you, as if we’re all objective just as long as it’s not ourselves.

You may assume that they don’t have the same prejudices as you or the same things at ‘stake’, plus when you have a tendency to discount your own feelings, perception and opinion, you love making ‘experts’ out of those around you, even if they aren’t qualified to do so.

You assign value to their so-called objectivity because you love them or because you want them to like / love you. Maybe you think they’re very intelligent, beautiful, popular, respected by the community, or whatever it is that ‘hooks’ you and places them on a pedestal. If they have what you’d like, it can make sense to you that their opinion is valid and that if you listen, you could be just like them or at the very least find it easier to gain approval.

If you’re inclined to engage in a lot of self-blame and wonder what’s wrong with you when something goes wrong, you put so much of you into every situation that not only can you not be objective about yourself, but you can’t even be remotely objective about a situation or another person’s behaviour, or even their opinion. You’ll receive ‘feedback’ and even if you know that it’s not entirely true or very influenced by what that person gains by ‘positioning’ and portraying you in a certain light, that unwillingness to listen to yourself, to make judgements, to process feedback and to work out what can be kept and discarded, means that you’ll go ahead and agree with them while privately grumbling or feeling aggrieved at the injustice of their assessment.

A very common example of this is when you already believe that you have flaws that ‘scare’ people away and then you become interested in someone. Maybe they don’t reciprocate, or maybe they do, but you go on a few dates and it doesn’t work out for whatever reason and it’s “It’s because there’s something wrong with me”.

When you believe this and that you’re ‘not good enough’, you draw an incorrect conclusion that a stranger who doesn’t know you very well agrees with your judgement of you, hence you are correct to feel how you do about yourself.

Is this true though? What if this person you dated was influenced in their actions by the fact that they weren’t as ready to date as they thought, or they just wanted a few dates, or they recognised that they liked you but didn’t share the same values or whatever – how does this equate to you having flaws that scare people away? Let’s just say that it’s plain and simple not interested – the only way that this equates to something being wrong with you is if you’ve already determined this meaning anyway. To think this way, is to assume that your lack of interest in people is based on you recognising their worth, when really, you’re not interested.

What you of course forget, is that the very nature of seeking validation (which is confirmation that something is true as opposed to feedback which is generally two-way and information that you can take on board but may not choose or want to), does suggest to those whom you give license to, that you overvalue their opinion far too much, which communicates the wrong things.

It’s one thing if you ask someone you trust (and they’ve earned it and it’s mutual) to give you their objective opinion on something and follow it up with your own internal compass, but assuming that everyone else has more objectivity than you by default, is forgetting the fact that as humans we have a natural tendency to be influenced by our own experiences, perception, feelings, fears, beliefs, motivations etc.

You’re also devaluing you by default.

You live in your skin, think your own thoughts, move your own limbs, have your own values, and make your own choices. This isn’t to say that you should ignore everyone and never listen to anything, but what it does mean is that your feelings, thoughts, and actions have validity and ultimately need to be directed by you. Genuine feedback is two-way whereas seeking validation is one-way as you’ve already made up your mind but are just seeking confirmation.

When someone appears to agree with a negative assessment and conclusion you’ve drawn about yourself, it becomes “Oh… so they agree with me. Woah! What? They AGREE with me! But I wanted them to DISAGREE with me!” even though you didn’t really because you wouldn’t have been satisfied that what they saw you as was correct because you believe it.

This is why it becomes critical to address your unhealthy beliefs because when you believe something, the only thing that will really change you believing that is you.

Until you’re willing to budge from that position, all you’ll do is bumble through life creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that confirms your beliefs, not because they’re ‘true true’, but because you’re in some sort of Groundhog Day gravitating to people and situations that help you believe.

You’ve also got to stop believing that everyone else is right…as long as they agree with your unhealthy beliefs.

When you don’t know who you are or think you do, but it’s based on being your harshest critic, it can seem foreign to evaluate you, to judge a situation, or even judge another person’s actions. Until you’re willing to listen with love to yourself, to not judge yourself so harshly, to trust you, to be compassionate, to give yourself a break, how can you really listen to ‘feedback’ from others, and know who has your best interests at heart or at least isn’t influenced by their own shadiness or warped perspective? It’ll be a painful existence where everything looks and sounds like a reflection of you not being ‘good enough’.

It’s one thing to seek feedback but feedback becomes seeking validation when you won’t listen to yourself and use your own eyes and ears.

Ultimately, seeking validation is like saying “Tell me who I am! Tell me what I’m worth!” You tell you who you are and you tell you what you’re worth.

Your thoughts?

My books The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl are available from my bookshop.

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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92 Responses to Why It’s Time To Stop Seeking Validation – People Just Aren’t That Objective!

  1. sara says:

    Let It Roll off Our Back
    Dodging and Deflecting
    by Madisyn Taylor

    When we are criticized or attacked it is important to not take it into our heart space.

    One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning not to take things to heart and hold on to it. Especially when we’re younger, or if we’re very sensitive, we take so much of what comes our way to heart. This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized or attacked from all directions, it becomes very difficult for us to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. This is when we would do well to remember the old saying about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck’s back.

    Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us. If we get caught up in trying to adjust ourselves to other people’s negative energy, we lose touch with our core. In fact, in a positive light, these slings and arrows offer us the opportunity to strengthen our core sense of self, and to learn to dodge and deflect other people’s misdirected negativity. The more we do this, the more we are able to discern what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. With practice, we become masters of our energetic integrity, refusing to serve as targets for the disowned anger and frustration of the people around us.

    Eventually, we will be able to hear the feedback that others have to offer, taking in anything that might actually be constructive, and releasing that which has nothing to do with us. First, though, we tend ourselves compassionately by recognizing when we can’t take something in from the outside without hurting ourselves. This is when we make like a duck, shaking it off and letting it roll off our back as we continue our way in the world.

    • RadioGirl says:

      Very comforting words, particularly this thought – “Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us”. Thank you for sharing, Sara.

      • RANA says:

        RADIO GIRL
        u r right, it has to do with their past experiences, with their own beliefs, their emotional n physical state, etc….

      • Broadsided says:

        It took me so long to learn this, Sara. It is true.

  2. “What other people think of me is none of my business” – A phrase I repeat in my head constantly.

    It’s very hard to re-wire my brain, as I grew up being told I was “worthless” and “nothing”, by my step-father, not to mention being witness to his cheating – and worst of all – witness to my mom staying.

    I’m not five any longer, but there are so many instances with men when I feel like I am.

    It takes a very conscious effort to remind myself – what other people think of me is really not my business. It’s what I think of me that matters.

    Thank you for sheddling light on this, as we all have a story. And chnces are, if we are readers here, some self-esteem could use a little (in my case a lot!) boosting.

    I don’t speak for anyone but me, but want you to know, your posts provide such a service, and an education for anyone open to emotionally evolving.

    At 43, I’m still a little girl in so many ways, when it comes to my personal journey . But thanks to people like you, I’m turning the corner sooner than later.

    • MaryC says:

      “What other people think of me is none of my business”, I try too to remember that Christine. Its all to easy to get caught up in what everyone else thinks and not to take the time to find out what we think and feel. I learned a long time ago that when I do listen to myself I usually know what’s best for me.

    • Little Star says:

      Christina, you are right, I think all our insecurities came from our childhood experiences. My father abandoned us when I was three years old, I never had a brother or uncle who can be a role model, we had a family friend who molested me when I was 12, that all my childhood experience with men…

      I just do not know how to build relationships with men. It all starts wonderfully, but later all goes down the hill…I have issues with trust and provoke men and wait when they start to behave like ACs and prove myself yet again: “they all the same like my father, abandoning me”…I do not know how to get out of this mind set:-( it is ruining my life…

      Thank you Natalie for great post, it is so painful to read, but I must start to apply all your very useful theories into practice!

      • LoopyLou says:

        Little Star and other people… I’m sorry to hear about your bad childhood =( really sucks…. I actually had a really good childhood, my parents are still together and I had a good upbringing BUT i still feel the same as you… starts wonderfully and all goes downhill, So It’s not just the “oh their all the same as my dad” thing, although i completely appreciate that what happened to you definitely doesnt help and Im certainly not trying to belittle that fact!
        I feel like I suck at relationships and I havent even got any good reasons to, which sometimes makes me more of a failure (i feel really bad typing this now i feel like i have no right to be here when terrible things have happened to other people)

        I really need to get my shit together, and we all need to stop pinning all our hopes of happiness on one man,. theyre just one person NOT THAT SPECIAL!

        <3 <3 <3

        • Fearless says:

          “… and we all need to stop pinning all our hopes of happiness on one man”

          A conversation at work today was about why so many relationships/marriages fail. One of my colleagues, a friend, a woman in her mid-fifties who has been married – a good marriage by all my observations – since she was 20 years old, suggested that people focus too much on what they can get our of a relationship/marriage – a what’s in it for me attitude – rather than thinking on what they will put into a relationship/marriage.

          On thinking on this I had to admit to myself that I my main focus in my relationshits has always been about what I am getting out of it (a lot of crappy behaviour usually!); what’s in it for me? And even when nothing was in it for me I still hung in there waiting to get ‘my due’ and complaining about never getting what I thought I was due – validation and an effing relationship!

          The men I have been with always seemed to be getting their needs met; they never needed my validation, and for that reason they didn’t seem to need me! So I felt they were getting everything they needed from me while I was getting shag all in return – not even getting validated!

          We absolutely do need to stop pinning all our hopes of happiness on a man. Is the happiness we are pinning on him really just the seeking of his validation? I think that momentary ‘happiness high’ I got fro the EUM was actually just the crumbs of his validation (always short-lived), which should really have come from myself and not from him. We are responsible for our own happiness perhaps could be better seen as being responsible for our own validation.

          When we validate ourselves we must then have more to bring to the relationship rather than being driven by the fruitless search for a permanent state of validation happiness high from an EU man who is actually least able to provide it – and even if he could provide it and was willing, it’s not his job in the relationship to be the happiness provider and co-dependency facilitator. Perhaps we’d actually find more happiness from relationships if we consider more what we are bringing into it – our own happiness – our own validation, rather than wanting or needing to get that out of it.

        • Little Star says:

          LoopyLou, thank you for your comment. You are right we all have different experiences in our childhood, but at least you had a proper father, and you have your standards right.

          I am lucky, I have very supportive and loving Mum, to whom I am very very grateful. I cant keep blaming my father all the time, he is 75 now. We talked last November and he apologised for my childhood, that he never was there for me, but still I cant forgive him somehow:-( I have to work on my issues, but it is hard when you cant trust men…I have very low self-esteem, that why some men take advantage of me and my vulnerability…I have to be strong for my own sanity.

    • Anupa R says:

      Hi Christine:
      Love it. That is an excellent phrase to remember. I, too have a very similar background and did not grow up with a strong male role model. I was in a loveless marriage for 14 years which I should have ended years ago but did not due to self-esteem and adbandonment issue. To top it all off, after my eventual divorce, my first relationship (after 14 years) was with MR. unavailable who treated me like crap and ultimately dumped for the girl he cheated on me with.
      Through all this I kept silent and seeked validation from others. I want to stop but don’t know how and your phrase is a good start. So, thank you.

  3. Fearless says:

    Good reminder for me Natalie. The whole validation seeking thing was the greatest hurdle for me to get over with the ex EUM I didn’t know that’s what I was doing when I was in it but reading your blog really helped see, for the first time, what was going on; why I had failed at every one of the hundreds (kid you not) attempts at ending it. Post BR when I wanted to break my NC I had far greater understanding of what was motivating me and so I could control it and to control it I had to believe I was worth more than this – me, all by myself. It took a bit of determination to keep having self affirming conversations with myself in the face of my anguish over the whole thing, but eventually it seemed to sink in… and I got it: My worth is independent of him! Eureka! What joy. Freedom! For years, I wanted, needed, desperately, for him to tell me, to show me that I was worth more than this. He never did. You did Natalie. And I believed you. ‘Thank you’ could never cover it.

    To all those out there who still do not believe in their own inherent value, those who are wanting and waiting and dreaming, for a “him” to tell you, to show you, that you are worth ore than this, think on this, as I now do: It’s not in his interests for you to believe you are worth more because when you do, he knows he is history.

    • runnergirl says:

      Wonderful Fearless. “It’s not in his interests for you to believe you are worth more because when you do, he knows he is history.” After 2 years of hearing “You deserve better” from the exMM, the beginning of the turning point for me was finding BR! and gradually knowing I deserved better. Thank you doesn’t come close to covering it. I’m not sure I can clearly articulate my muddled thinking at the time but it was something like, if he is telling me I deserve better, he thinks I’m worthy, therefore I’ll stay in this effed up miserable situation because he thinks I deserve better. WTF??? Talk about validation seeking. I let him tell me who I was and what I was worth and then treat me like shit? You’ve stated it so perfectly. The minute I started believing in my own inherent value, believing in myself, and that I did deserve better, he was history. One thing for certain, any guy that tells me I deserve better won’t have to tell me twice. I’ll jump without a parachute. My chances are better to simply free fall.

      Slowly I have come to know I deserve better. I believed Natalie even when I didn’t really believe it myself. So how can I say thank you for that? How can I say thank you for helping me to treat myself with respect?

      You have truly changed my life Natalie. Thank you.

      • Fearless says:

        runner

        ditto. When I complained the ex EUM would often say ‘you deserve better’. I recall one time replying ‘but just not from you?’ He was rather startled and left speechless by that; I recognise now that when I said something which had him looking startled and momentarily speechless that I had hit the nail on the head. They know more than they let on! But I ignored the obvious (which as written all over his face) and went for the more implausible “if he is telling me I deserve better, he thinks I’m worthy, therefore I’ll stay in this effed up miserable situation because he thinks I deserve better?” Yep, WTF is that all about. Talk about upside down, back to front logic. Of course if he tells us ‘you deserve better’ we then use the effed up fantasy logic to convince ourselves that we will GET better from him, eventually, cos he knows we deserve it! Pah.

        You are right, the minute a man feels the need to say to you “you deserve better” run for the hills!

    • Learner says:

      Fearless – I have had a big “aha” moment for me with this part of Natalie’s post – “the very nature of seeking validation (which is confirmation that something is true as opposed to feedback which is generally two-way and information that you can take on board but may not choose or want to”
      Now I understand what you were trying to tell me that I will want to seek validation from my exMM as I strive to maintain NC. How true this is – as I look back, I have been seeking validation from him all along, and he knew *exactly* how to play into that. If I asked for an opinion (usually about “us”), he would answer, and then, based on my reaction, he would change his answer until it seemed to be “what I wanted to hear”. Oh. My. Goodness. How did I not see that before? If I had truly sought the more useful *feedback*, I would have listened most to his original answer, and made judgements based on those, in conjunction with my own beliefs. Wow. I must look into why I do this. I think it may have something to do with my relationship with my father – always trying to seek validation from him, too. Thank you Natalie, and thanks Fearless, for opening my eyes to this self-defeating strategy. The exMM did NOT show me what I am worth, and…he is now history because I am slowly coming to realize I don’t need him to tell me any of that. I am learning sooo much, and feeling even better prepared for day 2 of NC.

      • Fearless says:

        Learner,
        Yes, you were missing the real information (it’s too uncomfortable) and focusing on getting him to tell you what you wanted to hear. He’s happy to oblige. He is fundamentally dishonest. Not only lying to his wife and the OOW but (the thing we miss as our egos get in the way) he is lying to us too. None of the women in his life are the exception – all are being treated equally shoddily. That’s how he runs his relationships. Despite the low self esteem and emotional unavailability that has us engaging with such men, oddly there is also an arrogance or self ego stroking or fantasy seeking about us in that we imagine we are the exception to his usual crappy behaviour (pure fantasy). It comes as quite a shock to realise we are but one of many who have/are being treated exactly the same way – we’re not an exception – we’re not that special (and neither is he! That’s the good part!). Yep, when we miss the top line information, we are really just fishing for what we want to hear – and they tell us, because, as the man said in the movie, ‘you can’t handle the truth!’. I think your denial bubble is starting to burst. Brace yourself.

        • Learner says:

          Fearless – “Despite the low self esteem and emotional unavailability… there is also an arrogance or self ego stroking or fantasy seeking about us in that we imagine we are the exception to his usual crappy behaviour (pure fantasy).”Oh yes I was deep into that fantasy. Don’t you know that before the exMM met me, he didn’t know what love was? He has confirmed and validated that many times don’t-ya-know? I used my special powers to help him realize what love and happiness were. No one else had been able to do that for him in his 40+ years. I was going to rescue him from that cold, cruel, disrespectful, lazy wife and layabout son that inhabited his basement. I was just about to teleport him to our perfect life and our perfect partnership and travel to all the places we planned to visit, and live in the house in the area we had already chosen, and end up years later gazing into each others’ eyes on that porch swing, not needing to say a word, just knowing what each other was thinking. And his sister auto-validated me without being prompted, and added a fur hat to my fur coat of denial! Oh yes, she said now that he had met me, she finally had hope for a happy future for him. Their other siblings would welcome me with open arms, and she wanted me to meet them as soon as he was ready. I am soooo special, right? Enter OOW, enter reality, enter BR, enter dinner cancellation and first 48 hours of NC. I feel like vomiting, crying, running and laughing hysterically all at the same time. Is that what you mean I am bracing myself for??? Oy!

          • Fearless says:

            Learner,

            yes, I meant brace yourself for reality – for the hard climb out of the fantasy, out of the uncomfortable comfort zone. Yes, this sister was gifting you a fur hat to go with the coat! It’s very irresponsible of her to expect you to stick around ad infinitum for an MM who three years later has done nothing to show he is serious (or genuine) about anything he has said about his wife or said to you (and who has another woman on the go to boot) What is cowardly about him is not that he won’t leave his wife – but that he won’t leave anyone! People who want out of their marriages (or out of anything) get out – they don’t look for barriers; they look for solutions, they are not full of excuses for years on end about why they can’t do, they take action to do! His not making any firm decision about anything or anyone is in itself a decision – he’s decided to do nothing and have his needs met by women who are up for option status. When we agree to option status we send a clear message to him that we will be there for him anyway,whatever he does; he gets what he wants without having to extend himself or put his money where his mouth is. As many a BR reader will attest, once we show we are tolerant of option status (or FBG status), we don’t get an upgrade – we have already communicated our value to him – and he believes us. Ironically, although we look for him validate us by affirming our value it is really us who are affirming our value to him. He now has us down as the woman who’ll lap up his crumbs and put up with any old shite (like being the OW, or whatever); so hey ho… he doesn’t think we’re worth much more than that (he gets his information about us from us – not the other way around). Your MMs other other woman is a perfect example of how that plays out in the long term – once an option, always an option. it’s up to us to know/believe we are worth more and communicate a different message about ourselves.

            • Learner says:

              Thank you Fearless. I am changing the message I send to this non-deciding, woman-using, self-declared “slug” with the irresponsible hat-bestowing sister (who is also an OW to her own MM with whom she claims she has found happiness). I am no longer an option for you, exMM! I am worth more than to try to piece together any blanket of happiness from the shredded threads you threw me. Thank you for your insight Fearless! Much appreciated!

              • Fearless says:

                learner,

                “the irresponsible hat-bestowing sister (who is also an OW to her own MM with whom she claims she has found happiness).”

                Pfft. Well, that that says it all! Tells you everything you need to know about her and her ‘impartial’ advice!

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Learner,
            Congratulations. For me, the first few days of NC, even though it was only faux NC, were the most difficult thing ever. Stay with it. You don’t have a choice now, right? The fur coat of denial with the matching hat is gone. In response to your post below about being “self-focused”, please know how much your comments are helping me. The description of your fantasy above and your special powers to show him what love and happiness were, described me to a “T”. I was going to rescue him from his disinterested, cold wife too and teach him how wonderful life could be. He, of course, validated my little fantasy in order to keep the affair going. What’s not to like from their perspective? Is all they’ve got to do is throw a crumb of validation and we are sitting on the porch staring into each other’s eyes. Loved the “teleport”…I’m embarrassed to admit my fantasy. I had him, his ‘ex-wife’ and kids teleported around the X-mas dinner table with me and my daughter. Okay, this is totally stupid. I even planned the menu! Of course, his ‘ex-wife’ and children would welcome me with open arms and my daughter and his kids would become best friends! These shopper guys smell us dreamers a mile a way and no just how to trigger our dreams. It’s subtle. I didn’t realize, at the time, I was seeking validation either.
            Sounds like you are in the whirlwind of landing back on earth. Take extra-special care of yourself. Do anything and everything you want to validate yourself. Just don’t call, text, email him, or check his social media sites. I can’t speak for Fearless, but yeah that’s what I felt like too. My emotions were simultaneously good, bad, up, down, calm, happy, sad, and a ton of anger. It does even out. Stay focused on you. Meet what you need.
            PS. I posted on BR more than five times in one day.

            • Learner says:

              Runnergirl. I am relieved to know I am not the only one who had developed such detailed fantasies around these MM’s. I must say you were very organized, having the menu planned ;) The porch swing idea was something my exMM said he was striving to find in a happy partnership, so when I found out about OOW, I said he could eye-gaze on a porch swing with HER!! He said I had shown him that she was not “the one” for him. That I had spoiled him. Whatever. I am so glad you are finding some of my comments helpful – thanks for telling me that. And I appreciate you sharing how your emotions were at first during NC. Not sure what “faux NC” is, but thinking maybe not ALL communication or media-site checking had stopped? I will do as you say and stay focused on what I need while striving to stay “straight-up NC” :)

              • Fearless says:

                Runner, learner

                There’s nothing more “cold and disinterested” than cheating on and lying to your spouse for years on end!

                And… “striving to find a seat on a porch to gaze at each other in a happy partnership” is NOT achieved by “dating” whilst cheating and lying to your spouse for years on end. Neither is it found by “dating” cheating, lying married men for years on end.

                These guys don’t half talk one power of pish!

  4. Sheila S. says:

    I agree with Christine, both about being sensitive from childhood experience, and being grateful for these insightful, enlightening posts.

    One of the things I’ve learned on my “journey” is the need to have mentors, or “tough love drill sergeants” (whatever you want to call it) that keep you grounded with their sage words of advice. Sometimes they say painful truths about why you make mistakes, but we need to hear them.

    I’m a work in progress, but I love to read these articles. Thanks so much, and keep them coming. :)
    - Sheila

    • Learner says:

      Yes, Sheila – thank goodness for those “tough love drill sergeants”. I have developed a new appreciation for these over the last little while. Bring on the painful truth so the growth and progress can continue!

  5. Kylie says:

    I have been struggling with this ever since my breakup, which was Oct of last year. There are times when I feel if I was worth it, the relationship wouldn’t have ended. This has prevented me from dating again because I feel not worthy enough yet to expect anyone to want to be with me.

    I know I am a hard working, generous, kind person who on paper is a good catch. But it seems these qualities do not matter. It’s hard to not let that affect how you feel about yourself. When does self-esteem turn into delusion?

    • RANA says:

      Kylie
      return back to the dating scene caz eventually u r going to find the right person for u,
      i broke up from my fiance last month n my marriage was to be on sep but i did not feel worthless, i accepted the matter, i moved on, caz i believed that my decision to break up was the safe n right step to take, do not let ur break up break u down, stay strong confident n move on n open to many options, caz what u r witnessing in life r ur experiences from which we learn to make better moves in the future.

      wish u l find the right person for u

  6. Kerry says:

    I was also told I was worthless and shameful growing up. My alcoholic mother made me the family scapegoat. I could do nothing right. And everything I did do was disgraceful. I thought I could flee from her abuse when I was in my 20s, but here I am, still haunted by it, in the form of mean, emotionally unavailable men. This is the first time in my life I’m working to build my self-esteem, and this post totally applies to me. I’ve lived my life seeking validation from others, to prove that I’m not really worthless.
    My shameful thinking is so hard-wired in my brain that whenever someone put me down, I’d immediately think they had a point. I didn’t even realize it. Now that I know I’m not worthless, I see more clearly now, I have awareness, and blaming myself is not my instant “go to.” In fact, if someone is cruel, I instantly know it’s about them. Having boundaries and self-esteem takes work when nobody taught you such tools as a child. Having to self-parent is exhausting, but man, when you finally get down to it, it’s eye opening!
    If anyone wants to read a whole book on shame, and the damage it does to our entire lives, check out Brené Brown. She’s amazing. She has an excellent TED talk on vulnerability too. I have watched it five times.
    And Nat, if you ever feel like writing a blog on regret, I’d be so grateful for some perspective. Now that I’m more aware, I’m beginning to have serious regret about the time I wasted on EUMs. That’s a hard one to accept.
    Thanks for another great post!

    • runnergirl says:

      Kerry,
      Although your question regarding regret was addressed to Natalie, I have some thoughts. I’ve been divorced three times and then got involved with a full-fledged narcissist, emotional abusive bf who forced me into therapy because, according to him, I was a loser and needed help to tolerate his abuse. I went into therapy thinking that I would be able to prove to him I wasn’t worthless and given my track record with men, maybe he was right.
      What an experience. We started working through a heap of shame, blame, and regret. The therapist helped me to see that from every marriage, I learned and developed. I could go on and on about what I did after the break-up of each marriage. It’s amazing and I am so grateful. I cannot imagine what my life would be like now if I had stayed married to exH #1. Just one quick example: I would not have my wonderful daughter if I stayed married to the first exH as he was 11 years older, two kids, and didn’t want any more. I was 20. I regretted that divorce for a while until I realized I have a daughter via exH #2. I’m so grateful.
      From my perspective now, I haven’t wasted any time on AC/EU/MM’s. I was given the opportunity to grow. Your comment took me back to my first sessions with my therapist where he had me keep repeating “I’m grateful”. So I’d say it, reluctantly with clenched teeth, I’m so f**king grateful. One day, I omitted the f**king and I was truly grateful.

      • runnergirl says:

        I am the most grateful for the experience with the full-fledged abusive narcissist. He forced me into therapy and started my journey.
        Just to make sure I’ve learned my lessons, the universe sent me my one last ass (to borrow the phrase of a brilliant BR member), in the form of a MM. My true soul mate, truly. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m about at a 7 of letting go of the regret of that huge mistake. Some days, I can say I am grateful. To be honest, there are also days, when I clench my teeth and add I’m so f**king grateful and want to take a frying pan upside his married head. I know that one day, he’ll be someone I used to know and I’ll be grateful for the opportunity to learn about me.
        My point: I’m thinking you didn’t waste your time with EU’s. What did you learn about you? That’s not something to regret, right?

        • Kerry says:

          Runnergirl,
          Thank you for sharing this with me. And thank you for making me laugh. I think I can be “f***** grateful” as well, especially for my last boyfriend, who was my first AC, and who turned out to be the rogue wave that knocked me so senseless I had no choice but to get my act together.
          I guess I can be truly grateful for the AC. I just wish I’d learned this lesson a long time ago. Now that I’m in my 40s, I can’t help but have these thoughts: “Gee, that doctor is super cute and a wonderful guy, but I’m guessing he’s married because the good guys got snapped up in university when they were young. You missed that boat.”
          When I’m in this negative self-talk mode, I think about all the years I wasted happily accepting crumbs (no questions asked. Needs? I had no needs!) while smarter girls were busy working on building relationships with good men. So it’s the time it took to get me here that I’m regretting… and there’s no changing that, so what I need to change is my perspective.
          I try to focus on the fact that I’m a healthier, more confident person now. I’m the best I’ve ever been. And as for the good men? Well, there’s a bunch who are exiting relationships like I did, and they are newly single. I might have missed that first wave, but there’s the second wave coming along. Right?

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Kerry, I identify with your negative self-talk completely. We must be playing the same tape, although I’m a decade ahead of you. I spent my 40″s accepting crumbs and seeking validation from total losers. I just turned 53. Natalie is so right. I thought these losers were being objective when I signed my life over to them. Smack. Have you read Natalie’s post on “The Last Chance Saloon”? I’m thinking we didn’t “waste” those years, we may have had lessons to learn. For me, it took longer than what I would have liked and I’m NOT done learning but I’m better than where I was a year ago thanks to BR. You sound healthy, confident, and on your game. There’s probably a second wave as well as a third or fourth! I think I just got to the point where it would be nice to share my life with someone, but if not, that’s okay too. I’m not settling for crumbs and no longer need an AC for validation, particularly the lying cheating married type. Time to change the tape! You are here now and that is what counts.
            Hugs.

          • Learner says:

            Runnergirl and Kerry. Thank you for putting a positive perspective on the time “wasted” with an AC, by reframing it as opportunity to grow. One of the factors that kept me “with” the exMM was the thought of how much time I had invested. Three years later, I have returned to earth, and I am chastising myself for that HUGE waste of time and energy. I have let the rest of my life suffer. I have neglected family and friends, most of whom don’t know about the MM, but think I have not been around much because I am an admitted workaholic. I have not yet done my taxes for this year. I have piles of files – no, mountains of files – in my home office that need to be tended to. What do I have to show for that “wasted” time? You have helped me to realize that with your posts: A huge dose of budding self-awareness, and a new appreciation for those people in my life who are STILL delighted to hear from me despite my (almost) absence over the last few years. These are the people in whom I should be investing my time and energy. Even in the 2 days I have been NC with the exMM, I have reconnected with a few people and made plans to get together. Like you, I am in my 40′s, but I still have the feeling that it’s never too late to cultivate these meaningful relationships. So much to be truly grateful for!

        • Sunshine says:

          This cracks me up, thinking of the epic mindeffing relationship that I believed was so good for me yet depleted my very soul…I turned it round and round and round in my head for 2 years, looking for what to be grateful for.
          One day, I finally realized, I’m just grateful it’s OVER.

          Slightly related to the topic, I realized today, after taking a prescription-strength ibuprofen, I feel so much less inclined to seek validation when I am not in pain. Seemingly the pain activates an anxiety which drives me to seek attention and validation and comfort – from someone more likely to cause me pain! No pain = calm, relaxed, focused. Interesting, yes?

    • Anupa R says:

      “Having boundaries and self-esteem takes work when nobody taught you such tools as a child.”

      I so so wish I had this as well.

  7. Magnolia says:

    I have yet to settle on what “measures” I want to use to determine how I feel about myself. I know that I’m supposed to feel that I am of infinite value, and each individual is of infinite value, and on one spiritual level I get that, but on the level of being “a good person” I do want to know that I am valuable, and good, in contrast to people, like ACs, who, while they are “children of God,” are not good to be around, and take more than they contribute.

    I come from a home where one parent is a user, and has no real friends, except the other parent, who is an enabler. My mother has a couple real friends, and is the rock of our family, though it seems she has gained most of her self-worth from being giving, and has no time for pursuing anything that is about her own dreams. I feel like I’m not sure what an authentic life, with good friends *and* space for self-actualization, looks like.

    I often feel like I don’t have enough friends – or I don’t have that close-knit, group-of-girls thing that I notice other women in my program forming. I felt excluded the other day seeing a bunch of girls from my program all together at a wedding of one of them (on fb); I wasn’t invited, didn’t know about it, we’re not friends. Then I think, but I didn’t want to be friends with her, nor her, anyway – but that other girl, I liked her, but she must not want to hang out with me … how high school, I know.

    I mentioned this before, but someone like my father doesn’t have friends because he often crosses boundaries, uses people and is a general energy suck. How does someone like this tell themselves they are okay without it being self-delusion? I feel I cannot “validate” myself as being worth a relationship; I feel like my relationships or lack of them tell the story of where I am at.

    What’s the difference between self-validation and self-delusion?

    For the record, at my last visit home I realized the source of feeling always vaguely unlikeable. That man really doesn’t like a lot of things about me, and the way to soothe that feeling has been to suck up and talk to him about him (or I’d get angry and tell him he should treat me better). I find it very hard to believe that people actually like me, and have a history of having relationships where I actually don’t like the person much – I must have learned this is what closeness is, just hiding…

    • yoghurt says:

      Magnolia

      This might be a bit random and scrambled because although I feel a lot better about these things myself, I haven’t got to the point of vocalising them yet or actually pinning them down in words, so please bear with me and take what you can from it…

      “I mentioned this before, but someone like my father doesn’t have friends because he often crosses boundaries, uses people and is a general energy suck. How does someone like this tell themselves they are okay without it being self-delusion?”

      My first encounter with self-esteem-building advice was to ‘behave in a way that YOU respect’. I think that’s true, as well, and I think that people like your father don’t, in that he treats other people in a way that he wouldn’t accept for himself. He behaves in a way that he wouldn’t admire or respect in other people.

      This puts him in a difficult position, because anyone who likes him is, by default, not worthy of his liking and respect. (I should add that I don’t know the dude, so this is all conjecture!)

      I’ve a suspicion that fbgs, because we pour so much energy into other people at the expense of ourselves, tend to forget that it’s just as damaging to your s/e to pull in lots of energy at the expense of other people. Which is why I think that a lot of ACs have s/e issues, for all that they believe they’re so amazingly wonderful.

      Don’t know if that helps? Stay tuned for Part II…

    • yoghurt says:

      Friendship and relationship-wise, though, I think that one factor of low s/e is failing to appreciate the qualities that you do have and hankering after the ones that you (feel you) don’t. I’ve spent a LOT of time beating myself up for not being absolutely beautiful/totally charming compared the amount of time that I’ve spent liking myself for being intelligent, thoughtful and kind.

      This has led me to devalue the relationships that are built around my good qualities with people who appreciate them, and to crave relationships that would make me feel as though I had more superficial qualities. The bother is that superficial qualities tend to lead to superficial relationships which aren’t particularly helpful or pleasant, and are unsatisfying when, actually, your expectations are higher than that on account of having a capacity for better.

      (I had a bit of a crappy time at school and I seem to recall that you did too? I do wonder if that skews your viewpoint away from ‘adult’ qualities that grow as you mature and towards the ones that would impress teenagers?)

      Also, I also know from my own experience that low s/e has really prevented me from being as open and as forthcoming with friendships as I should be – turns into a vicious cycle because you withdraw in anticipation of people rejecting you, then feel rejected when the friendship withers.

      Again, I don’t know if any of that helps, hope it does but ignore it if it doesn’t – sorry for the length as well.

      I also have to say though, mags, that you’re obviously super-intelligent, sensitive and wise. The number of times that I’ve read what you’ve written and thought ‘oh, I wish I could articulate it like that’… you have some FABULOUS gifts and if people can’t see them then it says more about their sluggish numptyness, imo.

  8. Magnolia says:

    (oops, misjudged the length) … dislike.

    Hard to feel like people are your real friends with that belief. I’m working on that.

    • cc says:

      mags-
      having recently advertized myself here as going through a hard time, i am reluctant to comment, but i have some thoughts –

      i grew up in a household in which i was either some perfect angel or lower than whale sh!t – there was never any in-between and never any accurate assessment of my “value” based on who i really was. and, as you say, this is SO hard to construct on one’s own. it has taken a very long time to build an accurate sense of self-esteem based on facts about me, or the closest thing to facts that we can ever get.

      take it from a recovering auto-self-invalidator who no longer truly believes that she is diseased to the core: you are truly likable. you are truly lovable. if i can get there, so can you.

      so try this – and really DO it:
      - clear your mind, ease your soul, relax. then
      - make a list of 15 things you like about yourself, big or small, physical or not, but don’t make too many of them physical. come up with all 15 and make them all different. be honest. sit there for as long as it takes to come up with 15.
      - make a list of 15 things you, objectively, do well or are genuinely good at. again, find 15 different things and be honest.
      - make a list of 15 different things you are proud of. all 15. big or small. be honest.
      - wait a few days. do it again. all of the lists.
      - wait a few days. do it AGAIN.
      - repeat. again.

      you will eventually find that it takes you less and less time to make any of the lists. you will become more defined, more 3D, more differentiated to yourself. you will SEE yourself. it will become easier to genuinely like yourself, to be proud of yourself, to stick up for you against your own inner critic. and you will come to accept that the people who like you DO value you for you, all the specific, individual qualities and blessings that make you you. why? because you will see that you are likable because you will see how you CAN like you, why you should, you will have amassed EVIDENCE. you will naturally start to think ‘shit, i’m ok, i have faults, but i’m also wonderful because of this and this and this and this and….”

      and then, with a justifiably healthier ego, you’ll be able to better admit the things you want to work on and be able to do it less defensively. cuz we all have our shit to work on.

      the problem you may be having, and completely understandably so, is that you can’t…

      • cc says:

        …see yourself as being truly separate from others (no you do NOT have to identify with your father any longer) and you don’t realize how self-critical you are. you don’t have a sufficient membrane between you and the world so you assume everyone is as judgmental of you as you are of yourself. so you can’t trust anything. which *sucks*.

        out here in BR-land we like you for you. truly: you can too.

        • Jenny says:

          I find doing these sorts of things really useful. Writing things down really helps with getting clear on what I’m thinking and seeing things in a more logical way. I’m an engineer so it’s like a presentation of data to myself. :-)

          I kept a diary for a month or so of things each day that made me feel good, and things each day that made me feel bad. It started off that everything revolved around something someone had said to me or how someone had acted towards me. As time went on it was more to do with self-validation, or even feeling good about doing things for other people, or acts of kindness. It was a really good start and I’ve gained a lot confidence for when I’m with groups of people, or meeting people for the first time and most days are good days. But it’s still regarding the opposite sex and relationships that I don’t feel a full sense of worth.

          I mostly hold my previous AC accountable for this, he professed to worship me but in the end he treated me like something he stepped in. It’s been hard to fix the ‘If someone who liked me so much can treat me like that then what about everyone else?’ train of thought.

          • cc says:

            jenny-
            i think his treatment of you doesn’t have anything to do with how much he liked you, it has to do with who he is … and who he isn’t.

            people who have good hearts and who are at least somewhat evolved aren’t cruel to each other. yes, everybody behaves badly, and every couple can get into a bicker-fest. but how he behaves is a reflection of HIM. that is exactly what a LOT of natalie’s posts confront: we must not interpret someone’s behavior to us as evidence of our value or who we are, it is evidence of how they value themselves and others and who they are.

            remember – and i am a CLASSIC one for forgetting this – we do not have to accept other people’s judgments. if someone doesn’t want to be with us anymore, ok, that hurts, and that is their right. but for them to be cruel to us, to double or triple the hurt of their leaving by being mean or insulting or vicious – that is their poor character showing through. a good person leaves with grace and gentleness. a good person doesn’t hurt us intentionally.

            so, give yourself your own self-worth. and…sorry about that AC. if you think about it, though, i bet you’ll see that his good opinion wasn’t worth having.

  9. Elle says:

    Mags and others,

    One of the hardest things about being embroiled in an AC scramble, and, worse, in one with a parent is that, on some level, you think they must be right, at least about some of the things, like being unlikeable or irritating or a nag or crazy or careless or unattractive or whatever it is. That’s part of why you want validation – in some ways to get them to say you’re OK, and driven often by a sense that you might have done things the wrong way too (ie not jus that you ARE wrong things, but you DO wrong things) – like being ‘too needy’, ‘too sensitive’, ‘too intense’, ‘too demanding’, ‘too trusting’ etc. It’s a bloody mess!

    The more I get on with things (I say, as if smoking a pipe and looking to the sunset), the more I think these things: parents (should) know better than kids, and part of their duties is making you feel emotionally safe, not just physcally. So bugger crappy parents!; parents are just people – at some point, you don’t have to feel bad about not having this fantasy relationship with them, when you’re an adult and don’t actually need certain things from them anymore; wanting the big filler (ie the parental love) from someone who is not your parent – whether your significant other or friend – is unfair and dangerous; most people’s perceptions of you are pretty gentle and straightforward, and if they are persistently not, they’re probably in conflict and maybe not the right friend for you, at least not right now; if you’re being paranoid about friendships, it might be worth looking after yourself a little more – eg your stress-levels and self-talk; it’s not about validating yourself in a bubble – it happens socially and with practice (something that can get harder without the ready-made social contexts of school and uni etc.); sometimes people bond over weird sh*t like beauty, gossip and property, and some people are just good at being charming and following up on social cues and leads. That’s OK. Just continue being you, and make other chances for friendship too.

    Also, to bring it back to the post, we do make mistakes in life, all the time, in a good proprtions of all interactions. It’s hard to relate to people while managing your own ego and fears and desires without sometimes being a bit of a tool. That’s OK. As I see it (now) it’s a matter of trying not to be a tool, and, when we are, pulling ourselves up, saying sorry if necessary, gettiing over it ourselves, and getting back to the non-tool path. A lot of this is just natural, social, context-specific stuff, it doesn’t have to be about parental love and worth.

  10. Jenny says:

    This post is so relavent for me. It’s something I’m trying to get to the bottom of with my therapist. I find myself to be socially awkward, I’m quiet and a struggle in large groups of new people, especially when there are a lot of other females. The thing is, I don’t think badly of myself and I don’t want to change but I assume that other people think there is something bad about me. In relationships my head in constantly spinning with thoughts of how one sentence I said 3 weeks ago might be causing them not to respond right away, or some other nonsense. The worst thing is I know it’s nonsense, but I just can’t get my entire brain to think that way.

    Sometimes I think I’m getting over it and getting more towards thinking like a self-assured person, but sometimes it goes back to ‘when I’m in a good relationship then I’ll feel like I’m a good person’. And I can’t get rid of it. I attribute my singleness to there being something wrong with me, even though I know I always go after EUMs and it’s really no fault of my own.

    I feel exactly like Magnolia described, like I don’t have really close-friends, or that I feel excluded a lot. There’s been occasions where people have forgotten to invite me to things, and once I got left behind in a bar after I’d gone to the toilet when I was with a big group of people! You can imagine how that made me feel, despite the fact that everyone was completely drunk and I know I wouldn’t have been taking a register either, it could have happened to anyone.

    I feel like I had a ‘normal’ upbringing, I was left to my own devices quite a lot. My parents realised from a young age that I was content to sit by myself and read and draw and I didn’t demand attention and I didn’t need playing with or anything. I thought this would mean that I WOULDN’T need external validation but it didn’t work out like that.

    • Not Anymore says:

      Had to pop onto comments for the first time to respond to this, Jenny, because what you wrote broke my heart, and I can really relate. I have a decent self-conception, but as soon as I’m slighted, I obsess that other party has made a “correct” judgment, and that I’d only been deluding myself. I was left behind at a party once, too, by a guy friend and his harem, and it was horrible. I felt dejected and sure that if I were more attractive, more fun, less introverted, I wouldn’t have been forgotten. I’m so glad to be finally ditching those thought patterns, thanks to BR.

      I find it helps to be “on watch” with myself and keep focused on the facts on the ground. Anytime I find myself filling in details, or interpreting someone’s behavior as being about ME–about my self worth or about something I said or did–I pull back and fact-check. It helps to realize everyone has their own agenda that has nothing to do with me.

      Like today, for example, I went back and read over some emails because I was concerned about a delayed response and wanted to see what I’d “said wrong.” Beforehand, I’d pinpointed this one moment as me pushing too hard, and inflated that in my mind, but when I went back and reread the emails and tried to just look at the black and white facts, it read as a very normal conversation. I wasn’t pushy at all.

      Best of luck to you Jenny!

    • Magnolia says:

      Hmm, Jenny and notanymore, thanks for this – I’m quick to relate everything back to family upbringing and I appreciate hearing when the same very normal feelings occur to people with different backgrounds. The trick must be building enough s/e to take these things in stride: I don’t know you at all, Jenny, and so when you tell your story, it seems like others were just rude, and that it’s a shame you take things to heart because in all likelihood others behaviour has little to do with you, as NML insists. So much pain comes from figuring others’ behaviour reflects poorly on us. Now I just need to apply that clarity to myself!

      • Jenny says:

        The quote from Alice in Wonderland that says ‘I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it’, pretty much sums up my life!

  11. DD says:

    I hate hate hate I need his validation, but I do. I’ve been NC for 10 days now. Not through choice but because hid GF found text between us and he’s dropped me like a hot brick. I haven’t attempted to contact him as as much as im desperate to speak to him, I couldn’t take the rejection and don’t want to humiliate myself. How do I get passed this? I’ve read all the posts, read NML’s Mr Unavialable book, have identified he is a EU and a massive AC but I still want him. I knew about his ‘situation’ from the outset and struggled with the guilt but my feeling for him literally just took over and he had me convinced he loved me and wanted me. Some days i’m okish but the prospect of him not being in my life makes my world seem bleek.
    Feel pathetic even talking this way but it’s so overwhelming. I flip from anger to sadness.

    How do I stop needing his validation????

    • Lilia says:

      DD:
      Think of it like a drug. When you´re addicted, you need larger and larger doses to feel ok, and then when the effect passes the crash is worse each time.
      This guy´s validation is your drug. He isn´t giving you anything nutritious, he´s making you sick.
      Try to take care of yourself, see his attention for what it is – something damaging to you.
      You know, when we become involved with EUMs we need to adress our own unavailability – if this guy was really there for you, would you still want him as much? Isn´t this longing you feel coupled to the fact that you can´t really have him?

      • Broadsided says:

        Interesting, Lilia. My older brother commented – when I was dating an EUM – that EUM’ness is a form of “bad boy excitement” because they keep you on your toes, you never really have them, it’s not something you can settle into. (I’m so done with that type of “excitement.”)

  12. Kerry says:

    I think we all use relationships as validation. If we can’t be who we want to be, then we can see ourselves as desirable through someone else’s eyes, however fleeting. And when you had lousy parenting, you look for someone to love who represents the parent, and try to get the validation you never got as a child, and … we all know how that turns out. Elle is right. It’s a big mess.
    There are no short cuts. We have to love ourselves the way a (healthy) parent would love a child. It’s gruelling work in the adult years, but hey, at least we’re doing it. Some people live a lifetime without learning the lessons (my mother).
    As for Mag’s and Jenny’s comments about not having enough friends, or a close circle of friends, I have a feeling that a lot of people feel that way . I think the “BFF” thing is about as mythical as the Prince Charming thing. It happens, but it’s not a fact of life. And I hate to say it, but women are not always supportive of each other. We complain about the boys club, but I think guys just have each others’ backs more than women do. Women too often treat female companionship like it’s just filler until the man comes along. A guy can get into a relationship and still emphasize the importance of his friendships, whereas a girl often sidelines her friends once she’s snagged her man. It shows a lack of self-esteem too, because by putting her friends second to the relationship, she’s basically putting her own life, and herself, second to the relationship.
    I think I did that, which is why, now that I’m single for the first time in 20 years, the phone doesn’t always ring on a Saturday night. Ironically, I now appreciate my friendships more than ever.
    That’s why I like this blog. We’ve all got each others’ backs… and we don’t even know each other!

    • Elle says:

      That’s a lovely thing to say – that’s what I think about female friendships – they can be thorny and sometimes brutal, but the worthy ones are incredibly solid and caring in ways that you don’t see, on the whole, in male friendships. At the risk of essentialising unfairly, women really will go in to drag you out of scrapes if you need them too (including the BR regulars!).

      I stopped scaling back on my friendships after my first teenage relationship, when at the end of it most of my new pals sided with the guy, their older friend. Lesson taken! Having said that, I still think some healthy space and a mixture of intensity levels are so important with friendships – sometimes nicer to do stuff together than sit and talk about our traumas.

      I agree about BFFs being a bit of a myth, esp after Uni. I am lucky to have a lot of close friends and a lot of less-close friends (bonded over new hobbies, work and at parties etc), but most of my friends are too busy and focused on their work, kids and significant others to have BFFs. Those of my friends who still carry on like that are still in a high school mindset. Most of us have moved on and are kinder, gentler people for it!

  13. FLUSHMr.Eum/AC says:

    I agree with Natalie that we should not seek validation from others. Ok, I need to vent. I finally felt like I turned corners, am almost completely over Mr. Eum #1 (I rarely think of him am no longer tempted to contact him) “I think I’m so cool big muscled former co-worker guy,” met another guy online and we emailed for over a month (I know, too long), he disappeared for a month, “his computer crashed,” yeah, uh huh. Chatted for another two weeks, still didn’t ask me out…finally got fed up and told him he sounded nice but I am not looking for a pen pal or text buddy and did not want to email for a long time before meeting up. That just emailing was boring & not working for me & that I needed some time to sort some things out & he could contact me a month or later & ask me out & maybe we could meet somewhere like a mall or something. No reply months later. No biggie, don’t really know the guy so whatever.

    Ok, next guy. Months later. Cute I think he’s single, unmarried guy. I know what you’re thinking, you shouldn’t crush on neighbor. It happened. We’d been flirty every time we saw each other for months but always running different directions. Recently been chatting more, really getting to know each other. One day he stops by and we chat for over an hour. He asks me what I had planned for the evening. I said nothing really (which was the truth, I was organizing when he stopped by). Got all excited thinking he would ask me out. He end up asking me if I want to go pick out another pet with him (my last pet had recently died). We had to drive around a bit to the store. He helped me pick out my pet. Our “hang out” time in total was over two hrs. No moves made but he smiled, flirted and seemed to have a good time. Days before this he told me he’s been thinking about going to Europe or go to visit some relatives who live states away days before this.

    After our “hang out” (I call it that since he never asked me out on what is traditionally a date or gave me his number or asked for mine) he told me I would be seeing him & he would keep in touch. Two days after our “date” he went off somewhere w/out a word. It’s been almost a month now & I haven’t seen or heard from him. I think he may have moved without so much as saying goodbye. And that sucks. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions what do you think?

    Ok I need some sympathy. I’m over…

    • FLUSHMr.Eum/Ac says:

      sorry my post above got cut off. Anyways I’m over 30 and still attracting Peter Pans that I think are mature men at the time.Awful. Guys who treat me like I have no feelings but come off all sweet and genuine at first. Maybe I should go for the ones that act nasty from the get go, mix things up. Tired of bs. Maybe I will start my cat collection now. Forget about dating or trying to date. And I say trying b/c too many weirdos out there who refuse to put any labels on things.

      • Little Star says:

        Flush, I feel exactly the same, feeling like giving up on men and get a pet!!! You made me smile about cat collection, haha, I was thinking as I am childless, maybe I need unconditional love from kitten or puppy? They are faithful, honest and love you no matter what so unlike men…Stay strong, we are here for you!

    • grace says:

      Flush
      I recommend Nat’s Dreamer book. You’re getting carried away by very little.
      I don’t know the man of whom you speak but you seem to be jumping off the deep end by giving up dating and saying that all men are bastuds. A man flirts with you, helps you buy a pet, and doesn’t follow up. It’s disappointing. It’s not the end of the world. We have to toughen up and not let these things invalidate us. Have you been waiting for him for nearly a month? Don’t do that.
      Carry on with life as normal and do not think about this anymore. I know it’s easier said than done but that’s what you aim for. Do not turn around and around in your mind what a man (who is not your friend or boyfriend and little more than a stranger) may or may not be doing and/or thinking.

      • FLUSHMr.Eum/AC says:

        Good points Grace, thanks. I was bugging out a bit b/c I think he most likely moved at this point and without saying goodbye. I am a bit sensitive to the possibility b/c that happened years ago. It involved a diff guy, except this one I had known for months. One day he decides to pick and move to another city without so much as a good luck. I had to learn about it second hand from my Mother. My Mother who seemed surprised that I did not know and gave me a pitying look. I was embarrassed and sad.

        I understand things do not always click with people what burned the most is that I felt he must of thought nothing of me to not have mentioned it in passing at least.

        I do not think “all men are bustards” but I do think most single men are insensitive, conceited and have a harem. This has been my experience. A harem is usually present you just don’t find out til afterwards.

        Also after a while when you’ve taken the time to reflect & see that time after time you’ve being drawn to “wounded” aka damaged men, who seem to get better over time & wake up one day and disappear without a word in many cases, you begin to question your own sanity. Why can’t you seem to ignore or brush them off from the get go? Am I really the more damaged party and are they running from me or simply to something else? This is what I’ve mainly been struggling with.

        I’ve been carrying on with things but have been too embarrassed to really mention any of it to anyone except you all. Because you all understand what it is like to go out on unofficial dates and have unofficial messed up relationships. I’m know I’ve built things up in my head but that doesn’t make it not real to me. Yes it was a non relationship, things weren’t official or regular. But it happened. In person. I will be okay. I was exhausted and it was late at night when I wrote my first post, I’m not sure if I will give up on dating. I do know that myself and many on this site have either taken themselves out of the game (stepped away from dating)and/or are trying to recover from yet another bad round of things. I think the odds are slim but while there’s life there’s the possibility things might work out with someone. I just don’t know that I want to keep trying to go down that path. It’s exhausting. That being said I wish you all blessings and am sending good thoughts your way.

        • yoghurt says:

          Flush

          I don’t know if this’ll help, but I recently had a (v minor) disappointment with a bloke that I met on a night out and texted for a little while. It fizzled. I beat myself up a little and analysed all the texts to see what I might’ve said/not said/ etc etc and went crazy for a few hours (“it’s happening again! I can’t cope with this ambiguity! Why do I always meet men who can only communicate by text?!”).

          Then I stepped back and thought about it – what was the ACTUAL situation? A drunken snog, a few texts, he’s recently broken up from his gf = no obligation from him, lots of reasons why he might not be interested (none of which are to do with The Inner Me), and an ill-fated situation ANYWAY. Really he’s done me a favour by not asking me out if for any reason he doesn’t feel up to it.

          I remember Natalie saying once – and it cheered me right up – you only need to meet ONE good man. It might take a while (time is the price that you pay for actually waiting for someone lovely enough) and you might have disappointments first. But they’re not a reflection on you. Some men are just disappointing.

          Realistically, your best bet is to go out and get to know as many people as possible. Some of them won’t stick. Of those that DO stick, some might be fantastic friends or turn into mates or be people that you’re happy to see around when you bump into them. Eventually, one of them will be someone that you can build a committed relationship with, but in the meantime don’t tie yourself up in knots.

          I think it’s easy to get drawn into the scarcity myth and you’re especially sensitive to and vigilant of this sort of behaviour, but I think that to meet two potentially interesting men in a few months is pretty good going. And neither of them HAS treated you badly… you haven’t let them. That’s real progress!

          Don’t lose heart but don’t make this the focus of your existence either – concentrate on having a nice time instead.

          • FlushMrEum/AC says:

            Thanks Yoghurt!

          • HS says:

            WOW Yoghurt, I loved the way you described situation with a “drunken snog guy” ! think sometimes we are over analyse things, but in reality they are so simple!

            • yoghurt says:

              Cheers HS

              I’m still a little bit cheesed off because he seemed really nice but… that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Besides, I don’t know him AT ALL, so I’m aware that a lot of what I think I know about him is just my imagination going into overdrive.

              When you’ve made an effort to really change your behaviour patterns, I think it’s tempting to expect other people to react to you differently as well – they don’t, they just keep trucking on as they were – the difference is the way that you react to them and the ones that you choose to pay attention to.

      • Allison says:

        Totally agree!

        I think you are putting too much energy into strangers, and setting yourself up for a big letdown.

        Relax! Don’t anticipate that the men you have brief communication with are a potential boyfriend. Get to know these people better before getting yourself into relationship mode. People will pick up on the eagerness and be scared off!

        • FLUSHMr.Eum/Ac says:

          Allison, thanks for your input but I have to say I think there’s nothing wrong with thinking of someone as a potential bf. It doesn’t mean that they are or that you will necessarily decide to go that route if they ask at some point and it can’t be helped sometimes. The guy and I had had random conversations for months before we had our hangout time out on the town which was kind of like an unofficial date. While I admit I wished things had gone farther I never tried to pressure him into anything or a commitment of any sort. I never even gave him my number. It was a getting to know you more thing and if he was scared that was his problem.

          I don’t think it’s too much to wish that he would have mentioned in passing that he was planning on moving or going overseas or whatever he’s done. We talked nearly everyday about family, jobs, shows and other stuff. I think that qualifies as something you would tell a casual friend esp if that person lived close to you.

  14. Learner says:

    I am sorry to post for a ? 5th time today, but just felt I had to say WOW to the discussion in these comments above. I am overwhelmed with the sharing of experience, the common sense, the mutual support and caring, the depth of discussion, and the way Natalie allows everything to unfold here on her blog. I also realize that many of my own posts have been quite self-focused, and I am feeling a bit weird about that. I hope that as I go through the withdrawal from the exMM mess, and read and learn more, that I will be able to share the same support and insight that others have shared with me. In the mean time, please bear with me. OK, I am done now, and going to bed!

  15. Magnolia says:

    Elle, yoghurt, cc: Thanks for making BR such a great place to reach out. Elle, I will continue being me. I think the last five weeks have helped scrape down beneath my anger and contempt to where I just feel “unliked” and it’s good to get in touch with it, because then I can stop reacting out of a place that I hadn’t realized was so there and so raw. One of the “unlikeables” about me in the old context is my sensitivity, but you know, sensitivity is the tool that allows me to do the work I do. I wouldn’t be able to be a poet or critic without my fine radar, and I’ve decided to imagine someone *liking* my sensitivity rather than treating it like emotional x-ray vision they wish to hide from. Practicing liking my sensitivity is a true act of self-validation. The practice also fits into our discussion about values: if I don’t value my sensitivity, how the heck will I fit with anyone who does? I’d say my “sensitivity” is one of the main features of me that had me calling myself a tool. I am a sensitive non-tool, right?

    Yoghurt, your thoughts made me think through whether there is a disjoint btw my dad’s behaviour to others and what he expects from them. I don’t think so; he expects apathy mainly, and takes all feedback as criticism (because he doesn’t quite know how to give feedback that isn’t criticism). Though he’s more subdued now, he used to attribute all the friction in his life to other people being “morons.” I think I used to do something similar – I behaved in a way I respected, by talking about my achievements, because I thought that’s what people do. It’s what insecure people do; I was lucky to eventually meet some accomplished people who you’d never know were accomplished from them. I think I put people off with my bragging – that’s where my anxiety about delusion comes from; I was self-validating, I thought, by focusing on my “good points” – but I ended up coming off smug and alienating people, then was like, wtf? But you make a good point about which “good points” to focus on: the things cliquish teenagers pride themselves on do not have to be my selling points.

    CC, I’m going to try your method. I like what you say about being able to “see” myself, that I’ll gain evidence and dimension. One of the best things about me is the way I move to a funky James Brown beat *wigglewigglewigglewigglewiggle*! I just need…

    • yoghurt says:

      Hmmm, I was thinking some more about this after I posted…

      Perhaps self-esteem is also learning to distinguish between yourself and your behaviour? – after all, we are who we are underneath, and then our behaviour might show that or it might be a result of habit, or poor schooling in expressing ourselves, or crippling anxiety or whatever. When you’ve high self-esteem, you can maybe validate yourself without having to always validate your behaviour – after all, everyone messes up sometimes.

      So, instead of thinking “Oh, I whinged about myself to that person and probably annoyed them greatly… that’s because I’m an awful whingy person. Oh woe.”

      …you’d think “Right, well I know that whinging at people about myself probably isn’t very pleasant for them and I should stop doing it because I don’t much like being on the receiving end of it. BUT I’m human, I’m having a bad day and I know that I struggle with my feelings about myself. Underneath, though, I know that I’m a kind person and I could show that better by…”

      I think I’ve said this before, but the behaviours attached to low self-esteem seem to be pretty generic and I believe that they hide – rather than accentuate – whatever marvellous personality you happen to have.

      • lo j says:

        Yes!!! Self worth/esteem … We all have intrinsic value, we all are “good” and worthy! We make mistakes. We are not our mistakes. There are consequences for our actions. We are NOT our actions. IE, I am not worthy because I am a mother, or a pet owner, or a good employee, or creative, or beautiful, etc. etc. etc. I am worthy because I JUST AM!!! Period. WE ALL ARE. PERIOD. We are NOT our actions. Does that make sense?? Our parents failed to teach us that. (And as children, we can’t grasp that concept. our adult brains can.) And probably our parents don’t believe that either. That’s why THEY look for outside sources to validate themselves. I believe doing the best we can can improve self esteem, but we have to separate our worth from our actions.

    • Learner says:

      Magnolia and others.
      I can so relate to many of the thoughts and behaviours you are describing here, including being sensitive. I have withdrawn from newly developing friendships quickly, to avoid the chance people could reject me first. I also have that “sensitivity” trait that I have tried to decrease in myself over the years, as I thought that it didn’t get me anywhere. Like you, though, I need that side of me for my career. It is difficult to care for ill people when you don’t have a certain level of sensitivity and empathy. Having said that, I have been criticized by more than one person (including the exMM) for being “too sensitive”. I happened to see a book title a few months ago – “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron (I think). I flipped through some of the pages and it seemed to describe me to a tee! Apparently, there is a genetic component. Highly sensitive people are not only emotionally sensitive but physically sensitive to0 (sensitive to noise, smells, etc more than a “regular” person). There is a website as well, hsperson dot com I think. Anyway, I plan to explore this author’s work further over the summer, in the hopes of increasing my understanding of how I behave and react. Perhaps you would find it interesting, too?

  16. Magnolia says:

    (crap, too long again!) more opportunity to show my good side! (Okay, maybe that is a bit teenager.)

  17. Magnolia says:

    Things must be getting a little better for me, because of how this recent little interaction made me feel:

    My roomie comes home last night and says, “Oh, I went to the such-and-such event to celebrate the review. It was a big deal. I don’t know why you weren’t invited.”

    I smirked internally, because really, who says that? I said, “Oh, I didn’t participate in the review.” She says, “Oh no, they didn’t do the invitations based on participation.” I said well, good for her that she got to go and have a nice wine and champagne and dinner.

    I thought she would drop it, and she left the topic for a few minutes, but then sat on the stairs, paused dramatically and contemplatively, and totally started up again with: “I really wonder why I was invited and you weren’t.”

    I don’t know – is it me? I just think that is the rudest thing; why would I want to participate in such a line of speculation? So I said, “I don’t know. I guess they think you’re more important than me. More esteemed.”

    That shut her up.

    It’s funny, when it comes from someone else, it just seems ludicrous to torture myself over why she got invited to this thing and I didn’t. And downright rude to bring it up – twice. But of course it’s the kind of thing I would torture myself with if I had had the thought on my own. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe the self-love is working, because it just seemed kind of funny to me. I think before I would have sought a lot more feedback – “was she a jerk? she seemed like a jerk … can you tell me if YOU think she was a jerk?”

    I’m going to call it as I see it: that was a jerky move. I can validate myself around not totally liking this woman, which I was feeling guilty about. (I suppose if I really were validating myself about it, I wouldn’t come and write all it out here to you ladies, but … baby steps!)

    • Jenny says:

      Oh wow. Sometimes it makes me feel better that I’m aware of my issues and I’m trying to do something to address them. I see others actions and feel like it screams out ‘I have self-esteem issues too!!’, and some people are of the unfortunate mindset that making other people worse makes them feel better and that is most definitely their problem.

      I used to live with a girl, I introduced her to some of my close male friends and she started hanging out with them and not inviting me, and when I was there she would constantly make remarks to try and make me look bad infront of them. This really upset me for a while. She then cheated on her boyfriend with one of them, and expected me to cover for her when he boyfriend was around. In the end I realised she was just a bad person. As did my friends.

      • cc says:

        jenny-
        got what a slore-bitch*. thank god your friends took your side.

        *slore = slut + whore. a fun little portmanteau i discovered.

        • Lo J says:

          Slore. That’s awesome. Magnolia, whatever it took to make her feel better about herself. It had nothing to do with you. You’re fine.

          • Lo J says:

            In other words, doesn’t change your worth one bit. Just made her look silly. And spoke volumes on her own insecurities. Bless her heart.

    • cc says:

      mags-
      woah! hang on! jerky move???

      she’s a WITCH! ok, if she had said “look, i’m sorry they didn’t invite you, that feels wrong to me, and i wished you were there,” it would have been different. or if SHE had brought you along. but, no, she keeps pulling off the bandaid and rubbing salt in the wound! no! get a new roommate – ok, not really, but you see what i mean? feel free to revile her!

      i was going to write this above, in reply to your comment about sensitivity, but it fits here too and shows what happens when we put our value in someone else’s hands:

      when i was breaking up with the ex-EUM, one of the things he said to me was “you attach such importance to things, and it drives me crazy.” in a moment of weakness, which i was later grateful i had, i reported this, among other things to my ex-12-year-boyfriend, as if there were something wrong with me that the EUM said that. what did the 12-year-ex say? “but that’s one of the things i LOVE about you!” talk about validation! i was stunned! thank god i told him.

      (the 12-year-ex ALSO said: “i see how he (the ex-EUM) made you work too hard in the relationship. i know i also did that to you early on. and i’m indignant on your behalf that he did that to you and i feel bad that maybe you were more vulnerable to it with him because i did that to you first. and i’m so very sorry. i’m really sorry. please forgive me.” – yes, i totally bawled.)

      the point is that someone who really cares about us will love us for who we are. will see our side. will be empathetic to us and want us to love ourselves. will soothe us when we hurt. will try to put the smile back on our faces.

      simple rule: if you don’t feel good about how someone treats you: you’re right!

    • Sunshine says:

      It’s hard to tell because I don’t know her, but I interpreted it as her feeling guilty and genuinely being confused and not knowing why she was invited and not you.

      • Magnolia says:

        Sunshine – I don’t know if she knows what she’s doing when she does it, but my roomie has a strong habit of wondering aloud (to me, I assume with others, too, but usually it’s just us at home) why people give her so much credit, why she gets scholarships, why such and such big cheese emailed her, etc. The first couple times I wondered if it was genuine; after the twentieth time, I just think, ok, she wants to talk about her successes and accomplishments, but as if she’s not really talking about them, i.e. with faux modesty. I’d be more into it if she just wanted to celebrate without the falseness.

        This time it crossed a line, when she made it about me. There are 92 other people that didn’t get invited; she could have just wondered why she got picked amongst everyone. There’s a history here.

        Anyway, I think I’ve mentioned the competitive aura around my place with this lady, since I moved in. I could be imagining it, but I think it’s been a bit passive aggressive around here since I got my new job and have given her notice.

        I do want to have compassion: it’s hard and stressful being a PhD student, and very competitive. I think I’ve put a lot of work into understanding this person and trying to put myself in her shoes. But I can’t lie: I’m looking forward to moving out.

        What always gives me pause is that they say whatever irritates you in another person is what you have to look at in yourself! Snap!

        • cc says:

          yeah, but, magnolia-
          sometimes other people are just friggin’ irritating. sometimes our irritation reaction is wishing the other person were being kinder. its ok to think she’s being shitty. maybe she is.

  18. natslayer says:

    Mags, I totally tip my hat to you – I think you handled the bitchy housemate beautifully. She was trying to get you to ruminate, and you didn’t take the bait. I wonder if this works with my narc mother…..?

  19. Reality says:

    What if we are the EUM? All this time I kept thinking the men I chose were EUM but I see the signs in myself and it’s freaking me out.

    I am the one who changes my mind fifteen times, says goodbye and then tests the waters. I am not ok with staying and then later not ok with leaving. It’s like I don’t even know what the F I want.

    I notice a lot where I will make really great logical points and then go back on them which then I later regret. So with the current guy I was dating (who now wants space to figure things out)… I think he saw all this about me. Whereas I thought I was clear on who I was and what I wanted in a relationship. Come to find out the AC might have been ME the entire time!!

    Not to say I haven’t met and dated some real pieces of work but I might have to put my own hat in the ring as well.

    I find I seek validation for my own thoughts and feelings a lot! How do you stop the madness?!

    • cc says:

      reality-
      yep, been there. its actually kind of a nasty place, to have thought one’s self so clear, so figured-out, and then have to admit to being EU. being EA is actually far more truly terrifying – because now you’re fully aware and available to get really hurt – than all the drama we had when we were EU and dealing with other EUs.

      to stop the madness… i think it all comes down to awareness, self-compassion, and acceptance of your wants and needs. you’ve become aware of how you have trouble committing, to anything. which i think a LOT of us go through. that’s the first step.

      for compassion and acceptance – what a lot of people here have said to me recently, and which i have appreciated, is to not deny yourself any of your emotions. be aware of your need to get validation, and don’t judge it, love yourself, say to yourself, “i see you are needing validation right now. well, i love you, and i’m here and i understand.” and then see how you feel. you don’t have to get rigid, just try to flow.

      to become more self-validating, what has worked for me –
      - therapy and lots of it, including BR
      - lots of mindful awareness
      - DECIDING to validate myself – to offer myself love and compassion and honor what i’m feeling, not in an indulgent way, but as you would your best friend…or a child
      - going to friends and family members who i truly trust, with whom i have very stable, loving relationships, who know my history, have good judgment, for reality checks
      - then going into situations as fully aware of who i am and what i want as i can be at that moment, seeing how the interaction goes, going away and processing/sifting, having more interaction, then more processing, then maybe getting myself into a pickle and seeing if i can get myself out of it without going EU or placing my worth in the other person’s hands. then going away and sifting through THAT experience.

      the more you do this, the better you get, and the less you need to seek validation outside yourself. it takes PRACTICE.

      and don’t be hard on yourself for having been EU. there’s a reason for it, you weren’t born that way.

      its funny – now that i’m barely truly EA with a still short track record, i have no desire, none whatsoever, to rush into relationships. no more 100 miles an hour. i’d so much rather go slowly and more carefully and avoid hurt than hurtle along,…

    • Froglegs says:

      Reality – I completely relate regarding the wishy washy decision making. Many of us are indeed EU as well. I’ve come to realize this about myself recently with the aid of therapy and BR articles/comments. It’s a hard pill to swallow for sure, but try not to freak out. Knowing there’s an issue is a great step in the right direction.

      I’ve been in 3 serious relationships in my life. All three fit the same pattern. Take a wild guess at the common factor. Ding! Ding! Ding! It’s ME! Yay! :D

      Now I’m not dismissing the EUMs and AC, but I have to accept my role in all of this no matter how embarrassing and scary. That is how ending the madness begins. Acceptance. Owning up to our own actions. When we finally realize we have our own issues we can stop playing the blame game and get to working on fixing ourselves, not obsessing over EUMs and ACs. Cause hey, they sure as heck aren’t obsessing over us!

  20. Confused says:

    I can relate to the previous posts about seeking validation from relationships, which is why I try to be a good friend. What I have noticed is that A LOT of these women put me down in subtle ways and some are downright rude. I know they do this because they struggle with their own issues, but it REALLY bothers me and puts me on the defensive sometimes, It feels as if they are in some type of competition so that they can feel that they are better than me. I am not confrontational so most times I blow it off or withdraw for a bit until the anger subsides. I don’t get it. I always try to treat people with respect as I truly believe in karma.Sometimes I wonder if they do it because they can. Still, why would you want to hurt your friend or act superior to her. I’m a college grad and a few talk to me as if I am not as smart as they are or put down my appearance ( even though I get checked out by men), style choices (I like to dress trendy), the list goes on. I have one friend who is supportive and non-judgmental, but I wish I had more. Even my sister is too busy to give me time. It makes me feel alone. This subject has been weighing on my mind for a loong time. I’m going to try to meet new people this summer.

  21. cc says:

    (ack, word count)
    … blindly ignoring the banner-sized red flags.

    can you believe i actually do try for brevity? fail!

  22. Broadsided says:

    This is such a timely reminder as I contemplate dating again one day. I spent too many years trying to get mens’ approval, and over-caring what THEY thought, that “I” got lost in the mix. I am finally ready to get back in the driver’s seat. I can validate myself by knowing, loving and respecting myself, and what I have, and set firmer intentions as to what I want and boundaries I want to set. No pedestals for anyone but God.

    And I’ve learned for the last and final time, with my Future Faker guy, that their weird criticisms and shittiness just come from what they are carrying inside…..to which I say, good riddance. It is not about us. It IS hard to remember….for after a couple or a gazillion misfires with men, it can make you question yourself. All I need to remember is that IT wasn’t right, not that something was wrong with me.

  23. sadrainbow says:

    I am the worst 1 4 this, going to the same people who r inconsistent with the responses, negative and have there own agender, then i do therapy and realise ohhhhh i have an opinion on me :):):) i dont have to blame myself 4 there shady behaviour, this is more then with eum this is with family and people i meet.

    I just got away from another eum, so peaceful, this 1 got me good and proper because he came round wanted to spend TO MUCH time with me and had elements of being available , but spoke about his ex did not respect MY boundaries, after a date i dont want to spend 3 more days with him constantly, so after 2 week im drained but ive said no and now its no contact, i need to work on my boundaries and my perception of myself first and date with my self esteem in tow, so im 32 and all my friends hv families, this is my life my love and my choice :)

  24. FedUp says:

    Confused I can relate to what you’re saying. Whenever I hear the word sisterhood I feel cynical. Like what sisterhood? I’ve tried making friends with the females through mutual friends, but they always make excuses. Then my ex friends cut me off because being friends with a charming sociopath ex AC was more important. So much for “sisterhood”. I felt depressed last couple of weeks even my guy friend who’s bi is engaged before me (to another guy). I felt green with envy. And my cousin a few months younger than me is having is second kid. I can’t help but feel depressed and jealous while I don’t even have a relationship or even one kid yet.

    • cc says:

      fedup-
      its very hard to feel stuck and at the same time watch your friends’ lives move on. its happened to me, recently, and i’m much older than you.

      i’m not sure this will be easy to take in, and i mean this gently, but i would suggest that you work more on loving yourself and, like this post says, getting better at validating yourself before you launch into anything else. the way you describe approaching friend making and the fact that your ex-friends sided with the ex-AC are dead giveaways that these people are the wrong people for you. and so no sisterhood results. we all have to learn to make better choices in those in whom we place our trust and i want you to love you, value you, so you can form friendships with people who will be on your side.

      BR isn’t just for women, but it has a sisterhood in it. keep coming back here. but please also seek your own process. you need a good guide (read: therapist) to help you find your way back to yourself. in the meantime, please do not rush into ANYthing: relationships, kids, etc. if i remember correctly, you’re young and you have plenty of time. NOW is the time to work on you.

  25. Anon73 says:

    Thanks for this post. This one, like so many of your others, really speaks to me. I am 34 yrs old now. But for many years – essentially my entire 20s – I never trusted my own perceptions and was constantly asking others for their “take” on a situation. Mostly romantic situations or work situations.

    It was horrible. I became very dependent on about 3 people for their views. I felt like I could not trust anything I felt / believed on my own without their help. I often felt “crazy” and doubted my ability to perceive things accurately without their help. This fear was based by poor judgements and choices I had made previously. My own life felt so out of control, that is felt safer to “give” the responsiblity of my feelings / perceptions to others who seemed to be doing
    well in their own lives.

    But the heavy dependency on others really stunted me. I’d wait hours for a phone call from to get my “fix” to share every minutae of a situation so they could help me decide how I should feel / think about it etc. Or hours writing emails. Looking back, this seem like such a waste of time. And so pathetic.

    Most importantly though, it denied me the “practice” of testing my own judgement and perceptions.

    Later, it became clear that some of my confidants enjoyed the power they had over me. Tellingly, I am no longer in communicado with most of them. From my end, I feel so much resentful of the manipulations on their part. And also angry at myself for placing them on such high pedestals in the first place. Like you say about dating partners, my confidants were “not THAT special” either.

    For one confidant, I do speak with her and value her opinion. But… it’s no longer “my truth”. It’s just another angle to consider.

    Thank you again Natalie for this wonderful post. It validates something I have felt, experienced and ultimately grown from.

    • Sophia says:

      Anon73 thank you for your comments I have been reflecting on this using my own judgement and whilst I have decided to stick with my perception I am exercised by it. Nonetheless I feel more at peace with my self validation. In the past friends appeared more worldy so I would court there view. Later I discovered that what was offered were perspectives that linked to their own lived experience much of which was related to a sense of lack, fear and low self esteem. The fact that they argued their points so passionately had me doubting myself. No more, I shall appy to myself the good judgement I am often sought out for.

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