back door

A male friend of ours has been going through a really difficult time. When we hung out last week, he emphasised to the boyf and I, how he’s steering clear of relationships and focusing on getting his life together. My ears pricked up though when he ‘casually’ mentioned a female friend who he was hanging out with. A bit of probing quickly revealed that she’d also recently experienced a breakup.

“So you’re just friends?” I asked and paused for a few seconds waiting for what I suspected was to come. He insisted yes and then said “OK, well actually she stayed over last weekend but seriously, it was strictly as friends.” He then admitted they’d slept in the same bed and that nothing had happened. I waited a few more seconds. He then admitted they’d had a kiss and a cuddle. Hi-la-ri-ous!

Now let’s be real – you know how this story goes, possibly because you’ve been in this very situation yourself.

He’s told her what’s been going on his life and has (so he claims) emphatically stated that he doesn’t want a relationship and absolutely can’t do one. She’s out of something pretty bad too and claims to be in full agreement. However proving yet again that there’s no such thing as a casual relationship (an oxymoron in itself), it was less than a week later before she was trying to make plans and angling to stay over at his. Like a girlfriend.

Even funnier – there’s another couple of women he’s ‘texting’ with. When I asked him why he can’t just be by himself, sort himself out, find things to do, see friends etc, he told me that he couldn’t ‘manage’ without female attention and these interactions break up the routine.

His rationale is that he’s told her everything that’s being going on his life and how he doesn’t want a relationship so he thinks that she understands the ‘terms’ and that he clearly isn’t in a position to be anything other than casual. What he hasn’t realised is that while he may have been upfront, at the same time his actions can be perceived as ‘mixed messages’. Many people still think that people who don’t want relationships either shag you and then shag off, or remain alone – this is completely untrue.

The ‘passenger’ in casual relationships participates to use it as ‘backdoor’ entry to a committed relationship at a later date. For many people, having needs, expectations, and even standards from the outset is something they’re scared to risk even though it’s pure lunacy because to try to be involved with someone without these, is like turning up dressed as a doormat.

Acting casually wards off the threat of rejection and stretching yourself. There’s now such a fear of the vulnerability that comes with dating that it’s been watered down to the nothingness of a casual relationship. The hidden agenda is that you’ll ‘embed’ yourself and upgrade later. It’s like “I’m going to be a willing ear, easy going, indispensable, a great lay etc that they’ll want me around all the time.”

The ‘driver’ in casual relationships is all out for themselves using ‘honesty’ to downgrade the other persons expectations and standards. Casual relationships are about having all of the fringe benefits of a relationship without the relationship. Some would argue why they wouldn’t just have one night stands instead of, in some instances treating people like unpaid hookers, armchair psychologists, on board entertainment, and beards, but getting so much for so little, feels so much better than what may feel like the soulless experience of being with someone who doesn’t care about you and has no interest.

This is ridiculous when you think about it: Some of us need people to give a sh*t about us even when we don’t about them.

9 out of 10 people when told they’re a user will deny it but when someone exploits others to get their needs met, ‘using’, even if they’ve been ‘honest’, is actually what it is.

What we all need to do is be responsible for our emotional health and standards because the fact is, there are people out there that are only too willing to hold you to a lower standard in the name of ‘fun’ and ‘keeping things light’. You have to hold yourself to a higher standard than what they have in mind for you because the hidden agenda of being casual about your needs and then upgrading later is a painful, deluded plan because if someone can get everything out of you for little or no emotional and relationship contribution from them, the tone has been set and they’re cruising on easy street.

Fact is, you have better things to be doing than breaking up the monotony of someone’s day or being the on demand entertainment.

It’s not about them meaning you any harm but they’re so focused on what they want that it doesn’t occur to them that some of their contradictory behaviour is misleading and the truth is that some people overestimate their capability to cope with a casual relationship.

My friend admitted that there are clear indicators that his ‘friend’ has more than casual feelings for him and is indeed trying the back door route to a relationship. He should be walking away instead of dropping more hints or giving reminders while getting an ego stroke and a ‘cuddle’. Yes she’d probably feel a bit miffed in the short-term but it’ll be far less painful than in a few months down the road when he starts dodging her calls and texts or saying shite like “You knew my situation when we met.”

That’s not to take away from her responsibility to take care of herself, but you know what? Part of the reason why I refer to there being a ‘driver’ and a ‘passenger’ is because there’s someone driving things on their terms that knows the score and even when they become aware that the ‘passenger’ is feeling and wants more, they’re too busy stuffing themselves at the all-you-can-eat-buffet to walk away.

If someone shows that they clearly have more feelings for you, then it’s obvious that you’ve not only failed to do as good a job of explaining, but that you’ve definitely overstayed your welcome and it’s time to move on.

It begs the question of: “If you know they want more and that you can’t give more, why haven’t you left?” The answer: “There’s plenty in it for you to enjoy in the meantime.”

Don’t allow someone to use you as a plaything because you’ve got your own agenda of selling them in on a lower price option now and upgrading them later. Dating is the route to a relationship – stop taking shortcuts that sell you short.

Your thoughts?

Great posts on this subject by others this week: So You Don’t Fall In Love: A Thesis For Emotionally Unavailable Men and Letting Go of Mr Nice

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in 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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265 Responses to Why Using Casual Relationships As a Back Door Route to a Relationship is a Deeply Flawed Plan

  1. Natasha says:

    Love this! Sometimes even if they claim it’s not casual, all that bitching and moaning about their multitude of problems is for a reason. My ex-AC claimed he wanted a relationship, but was constantly kvetching about his many, many problems – now, it’s not my job to say what people should and shouldn’t be upset by (doing so would be disrespectful), but…let’s just say most people wouldn’t find these things to be insurmountable life obstacles. So of course, when I called him out on his crappy behavior the excuse was…I HAVE TOO MANY PROBLEMS. Lesson learned!

  2. FLower White says:

    Yes!
    I dated a guy who wanted sex but not love, he didn’t even cry when his parents died! Dumped him but remained friends. 3 years later he’s trying for FWB. Hell no. I watch as he gives yet another chick the run around and they fall for it, trying to become his woman, trying to make them love him.

    But he tells them from the start, I’m not looking for anything serious. Women think that they’re the exception and not the rule.

    These are 40+ women! They claim to be looking for a life partner but why are they with him?

    • Allison says:

      Flower.

      Curious as to why you’re still his friend? The guys sounds like he lacks character and is very selfish.

  3. Bonnie says:

    Seriously Nat you need to get out of my head!! All of your posts give me such reassurance that I am not alone, that I am not the only poor sap that got myself into this kind of situation.

    “Don’t allow someone to use you as a plaything because you’ve got your own agenda of selling them in on a lower price option now and upgrading them later.”

    That is exactly what I did. I was so sure that he would change his mind one day and say “wow, you really are great and there will be no one like you ever, so yes, I am now ready to give you want YOU need now since you have been so good to me for years”. OMG how could I have not seen this? Because I trusted, because I loved, and I thought that was enough to get me what I needed.

    He absolutely told me from the beginning that he would never get married again, probably never have a real relationship again. But he called me every day, made me feel special (when he wanted something from me), gave me all the hallmarks that you look for in a relationship. But never gave me consistency, never let the relationship progress, never gave me security that he only wanted to be with me.

    I so appreciate you and all of the other fine people that read these posts, comment, pour out their lives and mistakes to help others. Thank you

    • RadioGirl says:

      Bonnie,

      Hear! Hear! Completely in agreement with you – and yes, I too have been that exact-same hopeful and self-deluding woman in a 5-year faux-relationship with one of these types that, surprise surprise, went abolutely nowhere. It screwed me up so badly that I didn’t venture into another relationship for 9 years, and then it was with a different (and for me, even more dangerous and devastating) type of EUM…. my Fast Forwarding, Future Faking, Fantasist airline pilot :-(

      Natalie, I’m still reeling from reading this post which has added yet another dimension to my understanding of what’s been going on in all my relationships. It also describes my closest male friend to a complete and utter tee (who fortunately I’m not physically attracted to, so luckily have escaped his casual-relationship clutches). I’m beginning to question a lot of the company I’ve been keeping and why I’ve been keeping it. Jeez, this is really scary and challenging stuff – I am squirming even more now! You are a genius, Natalie – thank you and bless you so much for all the fantastic work that you do on BR.

      • Natasha says:

        “I’m beginning to question a lot of the company I’ve been keeping and why I’ve been keeping it. ”

        Girl, I’m in the same boat! I always thought my issues were confined to romantic stuff, but I’m starting to see that it’s all got a much wider reach. I’m in a situation where I’m questioning whether I need to drop a girlfriend that I’ve known for ten years and it brings up all the same boundary issues. Loved your comment – what a smart lady :)

  4. This is why it’s so important to wait until you have a firm commitment from him before you get physical. It doesn’t have to be marriage but it should be spoken and clear that you are a monogamous couple and the relationship is going somewhere. Otherwise, of course you’re going to get used. There’s a great relationship counselor called Dr. Pat Allen who says the biggest mistake women make is engaging in sex before they get a commitment.

  5. So many jewels in this blog post I don’t know which ones I want to quote on my Facebook and Twitter page first, Nat. Nicely done!

    • Fearless says:

      Natalie,
      great blog – ouch!! – but great.

      I often wonder if your blogs are getting better and better or if I am just getting better and better (from NC and reading BR!). Maybe a bit of both.

      I like the advice that if he is “not looking for a relationship” we should opt right out and leave him to maybe look for an upgrade *from us* at later date. What a novel idea! :)

      I want to admit out loud that I did not walk away from my ex EUM because I was fully aware that he would *not* follow me. I had conscious thoughts about this every time I knew I should tell him to take a run and jump; I would think to myself,quite cleary: “I can’t end it completely with him – never hear from him again, I just can’t do that, I can’t” I’d then ask myself “why can’t you?’” and my answer was “because he wouldn’t come back”. And that was beyond all contemplation.

      I did ten years of thumping at the back door, hoping to be upgraded. He gorged himself on Fearless’s the all-you can-eat buffet. Funny, once I did actually run out of grub and got my nerve up to go NC he didn’t seem to be all that hungry anymore anyway.

      It still puzzles me that my EUM (who in all other ways is textbook!) does not follow the pattern of coming back to see if he can press reset (at first I hoped against all hope that he would follow that pattern, and for all the wrong reasons, but now I just want to focus on me and maintaining enough time and distance between us and the whole sorry debacle to really put it in my past where it belongs.) but he is doing what I *knew* he wouod do and what kept me in it: he is not following me. He doesn’t do begging – that’s my speciality! But not any more!

      I totally agree with Nat that if they don’t want to be in a relationship they should not continue to take advantage of the woman who is hoping for more from them; they should just move along instead of sucking her dry of everything she’s got – so long as it’s free! Well that’s what he’s done – ten years later! He gets no credit for it now though!

      There are so many pearls in this blog, Nat, it’s difficult to count them. I had many “ouch” moments… but my sense of hunour isn’t totally dead yet as I laughed out loud more than once.

      Thanks for your blogs; thanks for sharing your views with us! It really, really helps to maintain clarity and hope in the face of despair…

      • grace says:

        fearless
        I don’t want to encourage conjecture but you’ve mentioned it a couple of times – why doesn’t he come back and push the reset button? Do you feel less worthwhile because he hasn’t come back? It may be because he thinks you’ll back down (you have in the best), or that finally the gig is up, or he’s just lazy, or he’s so good at compartmentalising that he’s cut you out of his mind. Does anyone know? I doubt even he knows. Those of us who have been “reset” can tell you it’s not an “honour” at all, and the only thing it proves is that he thinks so much of himself and so little of us that he believes we’ll just open the door again.
        I confess I DO get a little kick when the ex of 20+ years comes back months or years later. It makes me feel like I’m irresistible BUT BUT BUT when he had me, he dumped me. So I push the feeling away and don’t respond anymore. It takes time to get there and you are getting there.
        You don’t need his validation. I’ve followed what you’ve said about him and he sounds like the biggest headf*ck ever. A TWENTY YEAR OLD girl once said to me “I get on really well with my boyfriend. My ex was more exciting but he was too much of a headf*ck”.
        A 2o year old can get it, we need to get it too!

        • runnergirl says:

          I’m with you Fearless, there are too many pearls in Nat’s post to begin to comment. Although I thumped and banged down the back door for the last two years at the ex MM’s back door, when he or I set the reset button, it was still that ugly, nasty back door. That’s all you’ll get should he or you hit the reset button. You and I and all of us here cannnot settle for the nasty back door. That’s all the reset button is. It still sucks.

        • Eternal Summer says:

          @fearless-just so you don’t feel alone & crazy, I felt the same as you; if I bailed, he wasn’t going to come after me. why? because he said to me three weeks ago that he was fine with (the casual relationship) and did not see it progressing. (this was just us talking about what was going on between us.) when he said that, my mind finally clicked on and the next day I sent him a text saying basically, thanks for everything, but i don’t want to be in a relationship where i have to compartmentalize my feelings. he has not responded. this is longest i have not heard from him. i may not be clear about what i want, but i know what i don’t want; someone who’s not that into me. i’m not desparate. he’s not that special.

          @grace-as always, love your support :)

          • Fearless says:

            Thanks Grace, Runner, Eternal,
            Grace, if I really don’t “get it” yet and am just kidding myself on that I do then only God can help me now!

            You asked: “Do you feel less worthwhile because he hasn’t come back?” I don’t know. Certainly I don’t feel anything remotely like the way I used to (worthless as shit!) when I was in the middle of the whole thing and he’d give me the silent treatment. Maybe I don’t really know the answer because “me feeling worthless” is my worst enemy; the one thing I focus on *not* feeling! I focus on making myself feel good about me and try not to allow “worthless” feelings to surface – I know now just how much I hate, hate, hate feeling like that. Some days I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of my foolishness; I am so embarrassed now by it. That is hard.

            But for me, if I feel worthless about me then it is as if he has “won”. When I was “with” him winning for me was to be admitted through the front door – not the back entrance – winning his love, winning the real relationship from him. Now the thing I want to win is *me*. That’s all I know.

            “Do I feel less worthwhile because he hasn’t come back?” Great question, Grace. If I do, well, all I can say is I am fighting back. When I read this my first reaction was: No, I feel *he* is less worthwhile because he didn’t come back. There’s no ambiguity, no mixed messages in that – just the plain horrid truth: that he is a using shit who was just dining at my all-you-can eat buffet while it was free. Everything that Natalie says here in this article, I feared was true: He didn’t some back. So I was right – and I didn’t want to be right.

            But I accept it. I don’t want “re-set”. I’m not going back to that. Ever. Never again will I treat myself like that. Maybe I’d just have liked the opportunity to let him know that about me now and to have him feel it.

            And yes, he was a total and utter headf*ck. I don’t think that headf**king me was his objective – it was just who he is; it wasn’t about me, I was just the collateral damage.

        • Minky says:

          Absolutely Grace! Them not contacting you means that they may actually be respecting your feelings. Them coming back around means they have absolutely no regard for you and are just out to please themselves. It’s weird how we get it the wrong way round isn’t it? Someone who truly cares for you wouldn’t risk hurting you!

          Also, us not being able to stay away from them doesn’t necessarily mean we have a deep affection for them either, we just don’t want to ‘lose’ or be rejected.

      • Wurzel says:

        Fearless

        This is what keeps me going back and trying again. I know in my heart if i dont contact him, he wont contact me! He doesnt do begging either. But i just cant seem to say ‘f**k you’ and walk away.

        This little part of me wants him to come back, even if its only one more time! Pathetic i know, because i know if he does, the high will be short term and once he’s seen me and got what he wants he’ll go cold again, and ignore my attempts to contact him.

        • Allison says:

          Wurzel,

          Have you sought counseling? I don’t understand what you could want from the man, as he has nothing to give???

          • Wurzel says:

            I dont understand it either! I just find the man so goddam attractive, and i love being with him (when he’s here) and touching him, kissing him, etc! I’ve never had that sexual chemistry with anyone before, and i dont want to lose it. even though i know its not happening anymore!

          • Fearless says:

            Wurzel,
            I appreciate what you say, but I am taking the getting over and past my “relationship” with my ex EUM and changing my relationship habits, particularly with myself, very seriously indeed. Dealing with my issues and finally dumping this guy and meaning it is one of the most difficult hurdles I have ever faced in my life (the most difficult, even). This is not a game to me – nor a drama seeking exercise. I am not interested in the ‘sexual chemistry’ or how good looking he is (he’s not actually) or the “excitement” (cos it’s not) and I am not waiting for him to come back. I would not now have any short term “high” from that – I am too f**king angry with him and with the whole bloody mess that it all was. The only thing I have to be pleased about is that I was the one who finally ended it. I did the walking away, eventually, so that I could stop despising myself.

            You sound like me, years ago, when I was doing the faux ‘not seeing him anymore’ – spying on him as much as I was able, knowing he wouldn’t be in touch with me, but that I would be with him eventually – once I figured out a good excuse. Be careful what you wish for, Wurzel; you do not want to be in the place I ended up, believe me; cos if you do, you’ll know all about it – and it’ll have nothing to do with thrill seeking then. Good luck.

      • Nevertoolate! says:

        You really don’t want him to follow you, then if you back down, they treat you more shabbily each time you see them eroding your self esteem each time. Honestly, I am hoping my EUM/MM doesn’t call me, remember by not contacting you they are doing you a favor, they are doing NC for you, freeing even more time for you to spend working on you!

        • Wurzel says:

          It really is helping hearing all of your wise words. i’ve never been in this situation before. At 39 i’ve only had 2 long term relationships with 2 one night stands in between them. i’ve never had a fling/short term romance/casual dated.

          I’m am a genuine person, and am always myself and i find it so hard to think people can treat others this way.

  6. Healing One says:

    Truly, it’s about taking the Rose Colored Glasses off. Any man who wants a Casual relationship is not going to wake up one day and realize that I am “the one”. For me, it’s about getting out when I really GET that he’s in it for he shag or the attention or whatever.
    We have to be strong with these men. We have to gather our dignity and leave. Yes, it means being alone. But… I would rather wake up in my solo bed than with a man that I know thinks I am a shag and a shoulder and nothing else. Casual can mean meet for a drink and a chat. But sex? We’ve got to value ourselves more.
    Thanks, as always, Natalie.

    • Miranda says:

      Amen Healing One!
      ” I would rather wake up in my solo bed than with a man that I know thinks I am a shag and a shoulder and nothing else.”
      That’s exactly how I felt last time I woke up in his bed, I never want to experience that feeling again.
      Thank-you once again Natalie. You have confirmed for me I have so done the right thing by walking away with my head held high.

  7. runnergirl says:

    Wow! I’ve spent the last hour reading and thinking about this post Natalie. I’m continually stunned as how you can capture this stuff. I so now know how this story goes. I have tried the backdoor entry to a committed relationship dressed to the nines as a doormat.

    As SNL commented on the previous article, I see my unavailability clearly in this post. I thought I was able to handle a casual relationship. He didn’t get in my way, I could do what I wanted, and I didn’t need him for anything. He was a plaything. I didn’t get in his way, he could do what he wanted, and he didn’t need me for anything. I was a plaything. At first, we were both in it to meet our individual needs without any consideration of anybody else, let alone ourselves.

    It turned for me when I wanted to be upgraded from plaything to “the priority”. “What we all need to do is be responsible for our emotional health and standards because the fact is, there are people out there that are only too willing to hold you to a lower standard in the name of ‘fun’ and ‘keeping things light’. You have to hold yourself to a higher standard than what they have in mind for you because the hidden agenda of being casual about your needs and then upgrading later is a painful, deluded plan because if someone can get everything out of you for little or no emotional and relationship contribution from them, the tone has been set and they’re cruising on easy street.” So absolutely spot on Natalie. I used to be about keeping things light and having fun, why not at 52? Because upgrading later simply doesn’t work if they eat at the all you can eat buffet. Does this harken back to my mother’s analogy about why buy the cow if you get the milk for free? Wish my mother were here.

    Here’s the hard part, I ate at the all you can eat buffet as well.

    • RadioGirl says:

      Me too, Runner. These latest posts of Natalie’s are really getting under my skin – which is a *good* thing, but also a massive struggle. I’ll be 52 in a few weeks’ time, and have been feeling really sad this past week even though I am well on the way to getting over my last (and most devastating) relationship. I feel as if I’ve wasted my whole adult life on various permutations of these types of men. But the thing that makes me saddest of all is that it was also me who made my life this way through accepting such behaviour from them in the hope I would get the golden commitment reward if I hung on in there and played the patient Good Girl for long enough. Even sadder than that is that I did always know all of this somewhere deep in my head, and also because concerned friends did try to warn me. I think it’s been seeing it in black & white on Baggage Reclaim in all Natalie’s posts, and in the comments from women who have gone through the same, that has begun to make a real difference at this stage in my life. At last, I’ve had enough and just don’t want to be that way any more.

      • Fearless says:

        Radio / runner,

        I concur! Enough already! (very American expression!). Runner, in the event of my absence I dearly hope that my daughter will love (and care for) herself as I love and care for her. When I am no longer here to step in and gently save her, to help her, to protect her, to love her, I want her to be able to do exactly all of that for herself, in my stead. That’s what your mother wants. Don’t let her down. You’ve done good and don’t forget it.

        We have been many of us banging at the wrong door, barking up the wrong tree for love from the least likely sources. The back door is for domestic servants and merchants (no disrespect!). Callers who are considered of equal status enter by the front door and are admitted to the parlour. If you are entering by the back door it’s cause he doesn’t consider you an equal – and neither do you: you are either selling your wares or stoking his fire; you are poorly paid for your hours of graft, get no time off and are easily replaced. Ta-ra then, me lawd!

        • runnergirl says:

          Fearless and Radio,

          So glad to hear this post got under your skin too. Last night was an “enough already” moment for me. Dear lord Fearless, I hope I have provided my daughter with some hope of self-esteem. She seems to have survived despite me. I seemed to have survived despite my mother. Thank you, I won’t let my mother down even though I’ve made major mistakes. I’ve done good, you have done good, and our daughters will do good too.

          “If you are entering by the back door it’s cause he doesn’t consider you an equal – and neither do you:” That’s been the thing that has sent me into self accountability. Neither do I.

          Ta-ra, me lawd. Please replace me.

          Happy happy 52 Radio. It’s all up from now on, right?

          • RadioGirl says:

            Runner,

            When you’ve been at rock-bottom, as we all have here on BR, there *is* only one way to go! :-)

            Thanks for the advance birthday wishes. It would be hard for my 52nd birthday to be any worse than my 51st, when my ex took me out for a meal but spent most of it looking miserable (which by now had become the norm a lot of the time – I just put it down to all his “problems” which he liked to moan about constantly in person and by text). Back to his place for some champagne, which we drank in near-silence. He had most of it, I stopped drinking after a glass and a half. Then he moved on to finish a bottle of red wine he’d started on his own earlier in the week. Then he cracked open some cans of beer. And finally he rounded it all off with a whisky chaser. Whilst enjoying his selection of alcohol, he flicked through a load of photos on the enormous flatscreen TV, mostly of his daughter when she was a toddler but interspersed with shots of him all loved-up on the sofa with his previous girlfriend. By the time we went to bed at the end of our “romantic” evening, he was so drunk he just turned over and went to sleep. A memorable birthday for all the wrong reasons. I guess I can count myself lucky he was not a violent drunk, just a very morose and maudlin one. I still can’t believe that after 8 months together I had somehow normalised such vile and childish behaviour, or that I continued clinging onto the “relationship” for a further 4 months. That’s how powerful the denial thing can be if you let yourself buy into the initial Future Faking/Fast Forwarding Fantasy and don’t have boundaries and self-worth.

            Yep – it’s definitely all up from now on!!

      • Fearless says:

        Radio,
        happy biffday when it comes!

        I came back to read your post as I liked it so much; it re-affirms a lot for me. If I know eff all about eff all, this I do know:

        “At last, I’ve had enough and just don’t want to be that way any more.”

        Amen x 100!

        • RadioGirl says:

          Fearless,

          “I’ve had enough and just don’t want to be that way any more.”

          It was one of the first things I said to my therapist when I started seeing her earlier this year. By the end of my last relationship in February I felt as if my whole personality had been utterly destroyed and I had lost all sight of who the hell I was anymore. I knew I had been there before and that every time had been worse than the time before. I had literally reached the end of my tether.

          I’m really glad you got something positive and re-affirming from my post – I get lots of great “light-bulb” moments from yours too, so a million thanks to you and our kindred spirits for sharing so freely on here and giving support to each other in our work towards healing ourselves. I can only say that it has made a massive difference to me already, and I can see from the many other comments that it makes a massive difference to everybody else too. More power to us!

  8. Charlotte says:

    This is so true. I got into this situation with a guy, and it lasted for years. Lesson learned the hard way.

  9. Miriam says:

    It’s been a while since I posted, yet I keep coming back and feeling in awe at your true words.
    I still love the EUM after more than a year of no contact. He is the classic EUM and description of your friend. I think about him, but so glad to have gathered the little dignity I had left and decide to go NC.
    Sure I felt lonely, still do. But now I’m dating a real man, taking it slow, and feeling it out properly. My new man calls, not texts me. He makes it a point to spend time with me and makes me feel good!
    Nothing is guaranteed but we can decide whether we will make ourselves feel respected or stepped all over.

  10. runnergirl says:

    I don’t want to blog hog here but ladies I just want to share another story about a prior ex-ex-ex MM who ate at the all you can eat at my emotionally unvailable buffet. He emailed today after two solid years of NC and “wanted to catch up” and “wanted to know how I was doing”. He is so long gone, I didn’t even know his current email address in order to block him. Jesus H. Christ, why do these married men keep playing the field?

    Ladies if he is married, send him home to his wife. “Don’t allow someone to use you as a plaything because you’ve got your own agenda of selling them in on a lower price option now and upgrading them later.” They use you and then they go home and play house with their spouse. We won’t be upgraded as long as we sell ourselves short.

    The next MM that comes my way better take more than a condom as protection.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Spit out my coffee all over my keyboard on this one: “The next MM that comes my way better take more than a condom as protection.” Love it! Going to my kick box class in an hour and I will be thinking of this quote as I visualize the ex MM and work out my anger. Love it! Thank you for making my day, Runnergirl!

      • runnergirl says:

        Glad to help Adrienne. I’ve got to get back to my kick boxing class. Additionally, it’s a relief to hear that you and others found Natalie’s post so moving. I was struck and stunned. I walked around in circles last night. I cannot get the visual of that back door out of my mind and how I sacrificed my self-esteem to be at his disposal because we were s***l mates, gawd that sounds so stupid now. I simply can’t believe that I kept banging on that ratty, ugly door.

        Slowly, I’m starting to feel a tad grateful that I didn’t get in. What would be on the other side?

        • AdrienneBytheSea says:

          Runnergirl, Yes, the whole “s**lmates” phrase is one big yuck for me when I contemplate how much I bought into that total BS to keep justifying my behavior, which of course kept eroding my self-esteem. Ugh, that MM situation is really just one big churning whirlpool of sludge–one just gets yuckier and yuckier the more one spins along (downward) in it. This posting of NML’s in particular just got under my skin and many of the comments here — all so true! I keep thinking of the image of myself as the unpaid prostitute at the back door — and as much as it is painful to acknowledge that image, I am thankful for it — because it is one image I plan to *never* see again in reality. It can stay in my mind’s eye as a reminder to only use the front door.
          And yes, what would we have found behind that ugly, ratty door? My therapist (whose practice specializes in relationship counseling, so she has worked with a lot of couples as well) told me last week, after I was discussing how the MM was emotionally unavailable, said that he was probably that way even with his wife (echoes of BR here).
          It’s a good thing we didn’t get in, I think. It would have just been more of the same sh*t, different day–different residence, but with the same crap door. (trap door?) :)

          • runnergirl says:

            Adrienne,

            How funny (not ha ha) you mention that your ex MM was probably unavailable to his wife. As Natalie and the others have said, unavailable = unavailable. Toward the end, I remember saying to him, “you can’t treat me like you treat your wife”. In retrospect, I see that I thought I was in a “better” position than his wife because I wasn’t married to him and could walk at any moment. Hee Hee, the joke was on me. I clearly had a stupid hidden agenda that blew up in my face. “… if someone can get everything out of you for little or no emotional and relationship contribution from them, the tone has been set and they’re cruising on easy street.” He cruised down easy street while I continued thumping my very thick head on the back door thinking I was entitled to the front door because I wasn’t the wife. Don’t know if anyone can follow that “logic” because I can’t even figure out what I could have been thinking. I thought I could handle it and then blamed him when I couldn’t handle it. Meanwhile, he fed off my confused buffet.

            I’m still coming to grips with what would have happened had I gotten in the back door. I’m still grieving the loss of what I imagined and trying to get real with reality. Thank you all. With you all there is no escaping reality.

  11. Mika says:

    YES!YESSS! This is so far my favorite post!

    “You have to hold yourself to a higher standard than what they have in mind for you… because if someone can get everything out of you for little or no emotional and relationship contribution from them, the tone has been set and they’re cruising on easy street….”

    If you are giving them the benefit of a relationship… WITHOUT the commitment of being IN a relationship… why would they ever want to be in a relationship with you?

    Men are better at compartmentalizing sex and their emotions than women.

    If you’re a woman in a casual relationship, your emotions will eventually get in the way. You’ll end up giving him FREEBIES without the commitment of a relationship. Who do you think is most likely to get hurt at the end?

  12. BRTrainee says:

    This blog precisely describes my last quasi “relationship”. I’ve never fallen so hard for a guy before; we had an amazing connection, talked several hours a day, never spent less than 10 hours together in person, and for the first time ever I had the thought, ‘I just met my husband’. But he was what you might call ‘honest’, always said he wasn’t ready to start a relationship, and then his actions were completely contradictory, so we remained stagnant.

    I walked away from the situation several times, respectfully and with my dignity in-tact, but he was very manipulative and always coherced me back into the cycle before long: He would say, “if you don’t be friends with me now, then that means you were just using me for sex, or using me for something you know I can’t give you.” (Hmm, are you familiar with the psychological term PROJECTION ?¿¿) Any reasonable person would understand that I had to walk away for the sake of my own emotional health, but he twisted it and used it as evidence that I’m a user. My response to that accusation was always, “I didn’t agree to meet you in the park that day because I was looking for a ‘friend’, so I’m not going to torture myself and pretend that’s all I want now”.

    I went two weeks NC the last time, before I caved to his begging me back again. Within a month of that, he met someone else and started ignoring me, and then had the gall to lie about it (the evidence was overwhelmingly obvious). When I asked him if he was seeing someone, he accused me of being a crazy, jealous girl. Amazing. One day I am quite literally walking away from him with my head held high, then a month later, suddenly I’m the ‘crazy, jealous girl’.

    It took me all summer to grieve and process the loss. He still wants to be friends, and maybe we could be one day. But him meeting another woman was a blessing in disguise, because it was the last straw that had me end the cycle for good. That’s where I drew the line, and I’ll never be in this situation again.

    • mirelle says:

      I know this “you are using me” line. Your comment reminded my of an ex AC. Our “relationship” ended five years ago, but after two years, we became “friends”. I was aware that he wanted more, but, at that time, I needed him around because I was not totally healed. The “friendship” helped me understand the way an AC thinks.
      Over these years,when we went out as friends, he continually tried to convince me to sleep with him. Almost every time we went to take a taxi after a night out, he used to invite me to his place or to ask me to come to my place. I repeatedly refused him, and then, we were playing “just friends” again. Anyway, I was delighted to see his frustration, it was my revenge on the way he had treated me during our relationship.
      One night, I told him I was into a relationship with a MM for about four years. We were friends, right? Friends confess to each other. Although I have not slept with him for years, my “friend” accused me that I was using him, that I humiliated him. He said that he still had feelings for me and I was a mean person, then got mad and said that the MM was using me.
      He was only jealous that another man was using me, not him. He was devastated to see that he no longer could control and manipulate me. After so many years, he felt betrayed. (!?) That made me understand how ego-centered, selfish, abusive these men are. I explained him that is not about him, but he took it very personally.
      He felt “used” when nobody was using him, but didn’t care about the ones he really used. On other occasion, when we were talking about a couple, he said ” When somebody treats you badly in a relationship, it’s your fault, not theirs.If you stay, that means you like it”. These ACs have no regret, no empathy,no feelings. It’s only about THEM, their universe reduces to their precious person. For those who hope to get their validation from these monsters- you’ll never get it because they think they had the RIGHT to do it, because you allowed it. They were allowed to use another person, that’s what the ACs think.

      • grace says:

        mirelle, and colororange below
        These situations are all kinds of wrong. When you recognise that someone has a shady character, get them out of your life. As RadioGirl says at the top, be careful of the company you keep. These aren’t colleagues, or neighbours, or friends of friends, or family. There’s no need for you to be in taxis with them, allowing them to make sexual advances (and yes, if they make one and then another, and then another, and you’re still there, you’re allowing it), emailing you etc. Nat uses the term “plaything” . He can’t play with you if you take your toys away.
        As I was reading your comments I wasn’t thinking “What is HE doing?” . I KNOW what HE’S doing. What are YOU doing?
        Think about what you want in your house and put the garbage out.

        • jennynic says:

          “Thunder only happens when it’s raining,
          Players only love you when they’re playing,
          Women, they will come and they will go,
          When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.” Fleetwood Mac. BR is like the rain washing me clean.

        • EllyB says:

          @Grace: Many years ago, I had a male platonic friend who was involved with an AC woman and who cried on my shoulder about this woman for years and years. I let it happen, because I had no romantic interest in him and because I was so lonely that I simply needed SOMEBODY in my life who didn’t directly abuse me (that was the time when I had just started to disentangle from my abusive family and school bullies).

          Anyway, at some point later in my life this guy made advances to me and acted really pissed when I rejected him (as if I had been “using” him or playing games with him during all those years!!!). I flushed him after that incident, and we have barely spoken since then (I didn’t miss him).

          However, during all those years I wondered what I had “done wrong”. Had I done anything to inflict any romantic interest in him? Had I (wrongly) signalled to him that I wanted a relationship “through the back door”, even if I just acted like a friend throughout all those years? Had my envy of this AC woman (and all the attention and “love” she got, while I felt utterly unlovable myself) anything to do with this (although, again, I wasn’t attracted to this guy!).

          Was I to blame for him being hurt (as a result of my rejection)?

          Nope. All those thoughts of mine were overly complicated BS. What he did had nothing to do with me.

  13. colororange says:

    A day ago I get an email from a guy I basically had an emotional affair with over two years ago. I mean if he said the word “go” I would probably have left my boyfriend for him. I was in a relationship and so was he. Eventually I called it quits, not that it really went anywhere but long drawn out emails and occasional texts. I had lied to my boyfriend and hid this from him until he found out. Obviously, it created some problems (on top of a couple other issues we already had). I told the guy I could not talk to him anymore and stopped cold turkey. Eventually the boyf and I did break up.

    So the guy I “cheated” on my boyfriend with sends me this email yesterday saying he was going through contacts and came across mine. He asked how I was doing. We exchanged a couple emails. I stayed pretty brief. (I think somewhere in one of your posts you mention how some of us worry how we say something if that has caused the other person to do or not do something). I knew something was wrong with me when he did not reply on the spot, I started thinking I said something wrong. He asked for my number in his latest email saying he wanted to text me. I replied that I’m not a big texter (I am really getting away from that) that I’d rather he phone. I’ve not heard anything…yet. Did I scare him off? He also gave me his number…..but I do not like initiating a conversation with a man because it feels like I am pursuing him. I have no idea if he is still with the girlfriend he had two years ago. I have no idea if he’ll respond after me saying that about me not wanting to text that much. My point is the way I am feeling. Anxious. Did I say something wrong? Was I too bossy? Too forceful? Whatever. I guess it was just a casual he found my email and wanted to say hi. Then he wants my number again and here I am trying to dictate whether he texts or calls. And my mind gets to churning. And I don’t need this right now. I get emotionally drunk. I feel crazy. So this is a red flag for me. I never expected to hear from this guy again. At the time I was “crazy about him”. Anyway, it’s crazy. If he happens to contact me again, I am going to ask if he does have a girlfriend. And if the answer is yes, my response will be goodbye. I know if I were his girlfriend and found out he was hitting up another woman he was attracted to and asking for…

    • Magnolia says:

      color, why would you entertain a guy who was cheating emotionally on his girlfriend with you? if he were a guy with healthy love habits he wouldn’t be contacting a woman he knows was willing to emotionally cheat on her bf, either.

    • Eve says:

      we may have our own issues but it seems to be common behaviour with these loonies. A guy I had met & got involved with online (amber alert) who I’d slept with a couple of times (red flag) get’s in touch after 6 months of silence – ignored me totally to ask how I was (roll eyes). At that time I was feeling good about myself & didn’t think I cared so I replied. 6 MONTHS of texting day/night/xmas day/new years..when I mention me dating someone else guess who vanishes?..nevermind the fact he was back with his ex-partner & kids whom he refused to talk about. At that time he thought it was perfectly ok to keep texting me & chatting about crap.

      He’s a lunatic, if she’s taken him back after the way he treated her then she’s a lunatic and I was stupid and enjoyed the attention. Never again.

      Ladies do not fall for it. Do not look back. Their problems are their problems and not yours. If they wanted to be with you they would without any of this ‘it’s complicated’ bullshit.

      • colororange says:

        Thank you. I needed the thud to hit the ground from my fantasy cloud. I think I am more mad at myself that I took the bait thinking oh maybe he’s different. He’s not made a peep. Ass. And I thought I had made progress.

        • snh says:

          @colororange – You have made progress. You’re here and you’re talking about it. This whole thing we’re doing takes courage. We’re all trying to change relationship habits we’ve clearly had all our lives. It’s not easy. Look at your life now, I guarantee there is at least one thing, I’m sure, you can look at and be proud of having done for yourself. :)

        • colororange says:

          So the guy finally texts me Monday night (3 days after asking for my phone number in an email). It was almost 10pm and I was asleep. I got it the next morning. He said he works nights that he is sorry for texting (I told him in an email to call instead of text) but wanted to know a good time to call. I text him back times that would work for me. He had said he did not like emailing because the keys on his phone were so small and that it did not auto-correct typo’s. But that he could text. That’s when I told him I’d rather he call than text.

          That was Tuesday morning. Here it is Wednesday and ever since he contacted me again after 2+ years last week, I have been out of my mind. I had planned on asking if he was even single in an email but he didn’t respond to the last email he sent to which I replied with my phone number he asked for. I’m an anxious wreck everyday now. Is he going to call? When? Why did he contact me again after 2 years, in which I initially told him to hit the road. I wanted to know if he’d changed. I thought maybe he had. Being that he’s back in school and different career. I’m in a different place than I was then and my tolerance level for BS has become real low. But I’m obsessing and not clear is this IS BS. A friend said he may have just been doing just that……seeing how I was after looking through contacts. I don’t know. I do know I liked him A LOT. And for him to come back has me screwed up. I don’t know if I should email him again or even call or what?! If this goes to pot, it’ll be the fourth time this year where I felt rejected by a man.

          • NML says:

            Colororange, this much drama and anxiety for something that hasn’t happened and is basically some texts and emails is a code red alert. Either calm down or step away from delving into your past with an unavailable man from your past. Choose an option and have some self control. Remember last week when you could breathe, go to work, sleep, go to the bathroom, think about the day, plans etc? This man is not the centre of the universe. You’re already putting crumbs in the magic oven and turning them into a loaf – get back to life!

          • Natasha says:

            Color, I have been there! I was at the point where I had an anxiety-ridden conniption when the guy popped up (the situation was such that any sort of ongoing dialogue with him is out of the question), so I bought the No Contact Rule E-Book. It’s awesome – really helps put things in perspective in these situations and helps get to the bottom of what you’re feeling and why. Hope this helps :)

          • Allison says:

            Color,

            This is not a good situation.

            You’re getting yourself all worked up, before anything has happened. This guy has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted , so why would you attempt to get involved once again? You have been moving to a healthier place, and this brief communication has already turned you inside out, and placed you in a mode of panic.

            Please take a break from men, so that you will get to a place where you would not even entertain this type of character.

          • colororange says:

            I hear you Nat. I’m not sure what to choose. Him contacting me sparked the idea that maybe there is a chance? And that may have been the last I hear from him. I want to know if I should contact him again or if I should accept his call IF he does call. I’ve responded to everything he’s sent. I have not initiated a thing. I did not want to come off as “chasing” again. That is a habit I am dropping. And this is why I can not have relationships. My gauge for how to operate in them is warped. My intention is not to be dramatic but these feelings are overpowering. I don’t want to sabotage anything or come off as disinterested. Do I say anything?

          • grace says:

            coloro
            if you decide to cut him off it’s no big deal. it’s like buses, it’s annoying when you miss one but there’ll be another. If you don’t get this guy/girl, you’ll get another. If you don’t get this job, there’ll be another. If you don’t buy this house, there’ll be another. Very few decisions are life and death. This man is not the last hope.
            If you want to take it further – ask him what he wants. Why are you contacting me? Are you single? What are your intentions? Do you want to meet up and talk? Forget about pretending you’re “cool”. You two have … questionable history and you both need to put your cards on the table.
            If he comes back with the EU manifesto: “Oh, just seeing how you are. I’ve got a lot going on. I don’t want this to be a big deal. It’s complicated ” you know that what he’s offering you is precisely … nothing.
            You’re not helpless. You can stop the whole thing in it’s tracks. Or take a chance, find out what he wants, and act accordingly. But no sex yet! You’re not a fish on a hook. You have choices.
            DISCLAIMER: Every time I’ve gone back to someone it’s been even worse than the first time round. Either they were a jerk or I was. Or we both were. Sometimes you just have to start afresh.

    • snh says:

      Nat has talked a few times about being prepared for when your EUM comes a’calling, because most likely he will. I am just over a month of no contact, and so I’m approaching a bit past the longest time we’ve been in no contact. I asked myself today, what would I do if he contacted me? Eventually it hit me: give him an inch, he’ll take a mile. So, that means I should do and say absolutely NOTHING. Silence. I know that no matter what I said he would LEECH (no, I don’t mean latch) onto any consonant or vowel I wrote and bait me with it. I could literally write: “Your contact is unwelcome” (one of the responses I intially thought of) and I know he wouldn’t hear it. He would hear some version of: “The door’s open” Because, like Nat says, it’s bait to see if the door’s still open. Or, more likely, he’s think something like: “let’s see if she’s still carrying around that flimsy beaded curtain thing she kept trying to explain and convince me was the “door” that was shut to me. Let’s see how long it will take for me to get through that flimsy thing this time.” Because with my ex, it’s not WHETHER he’ll get back in but HOW LONG will it take. (aka. the game) I realise I haven’t shared a lot about my ex, mostly because he’s really some version of all our stories but to give you an idea I’ll sum him up by sharing one of our last conversations/arguments. For the umpteenth time I had found some sext on his phone, or some nasty sexual email to a woman, or some really degrading womanizing messaging on Fbook. I said, “You’re a pathological liar and cheater!” To which he responded: “No, I’m not a cheater. I’ll admit, I betrayed you – but I’m not a cheater. *I DON’T LIKE BEING CALLED A CHEATER*” I would then return with something like: “You’re a bleep bleep bleep bleep cheater,” and he would say, and I quote now, “I thought we agreed to say I betrayed you and not that I cheated on you?” Yes, this is my knight in shining armor. (vomit) So when I think about what I would do if he contacted me, it becomes really clear: nothing. With these guys 1 inch = 1 mile. Actually, I should be doing EUM/AC math here: 1 inch = 1,000,000 miles ;)

  14. Claire says:

    I recently reconnected with an old friend in the Uk and I now live in Canada. Over the course of our writing our friendship when from platonic to romantic and all the while we were both in relationships. I ended my committed relationship as clearly I knew it was in serious trouble given I had feelings for someone 5000 miles away. He didn’t. And he attempted to continue this long distance love affair. I set my boundary with him several times telling him to go figure his life out, their relationship out and to man up. I then dropped him cold. He has now said that he has ended his relationship with her but yet his facebook pic is of him and her and it says he is “in a relationship”. Its actions not words so he is lieing to both of us. This guy is clearly ambivalent and messed up…..however he continues to write and when I tell him to bog off he states that his relationship is over and just “very amicable” with her. In other words they are friends with benefits. I have no idea whether she knows I exist or not. When he texts me he is always apologetic saying he is busy with his divorce, lawyers, raising his son (which I truly respect him for). He says he wants to move to Canada to be with me. But I have lost a lot of his respect at the way that he appears to be treating his casual g/f. He tells me he has no passion for her. He is clearly emotionally unavailable and very needy. And I believe she is the same as I feel that any woman that chooses this lifestyle has the same issues. If I can figure this out this far away surely she is not that blinkered. Or perhaps she is. Like attracts like. I know cos I have been there. And thankfully learned that sloppy seconds is a one way street to low self esteem. Run from a tool like this. He has poor self worth. He is a wounded animal that needs therapy not sex to fill the hole. Thankfully he is getting some. So there is hope for him. However my last text told him I am focussing my own healing from my last relationship. That means letting go with dignity. At least one of us is healing.

  15. Ellaanne says:

    I was recontacted by my college boyfriend(again) that I have know 24 years. He has keep in touch over the years and we even had a short affair after he was divorced form his FIRST wife.
    I always felt he was the love of my life…..he was my first real boyfried and we went out for five years…we never even broke up..I left the country for a year and he became involved with someone else.
    He called me two years ago shortly after my Father passed and his SECOND divorce. He wanted to see me but I had heard from a friend that he had JUST started to date a woman. I live in San diego Ca and he lives in Sonoma..I did not want to see him because I would be the other woman. He wanted me to meet him in Los Angelas, he would pay the bill(as he is very wealthy) and we could catch up. I resisted and said no.
    Fast forward to two months ago. He and the woman had broken up and he wanted to come visit me in San diego. I was lonely so I agreed. We had a wonderful time and he made plans to take me on a road trip from San Fran to San diego. I flew up there(first class!) and we had another great trip. He bought me presents and it was very romantic. At the END of the trip he ‘dropped’ that he was dating and he had met a ‘supermodel’ recently and blah, blah, blah. I was devastated…He wanted to continue seeing me(long distance). I told him no, I wanted to move on.. It’s been painful but I had NO choice. He would NOT change his mind about me…they never do. I have not heard from him and I am grateful(but very sad, I just wish I had never slept with him to begin with

    • grace says:

      Ella
      Aw, unfortunately – or fortunately depending on how you see it – your story is quite typical. How you see things is not how they see it. You see longterm friendship spanning decades. It’s survived break ups and divorce. It must mean something, right?
      He sees – I could be married, divorced, in another country, dating and Ella is always going to be there, and will even have sex with me.
      Careful of making assumptions.
      As for having sex with him, don’t beat yourself up about it. Seems like you weren’t the first and you won’t be the last to fall for his flashy routine. Choose better next time.

  16. Robin says:

    Just looking at the title: YES, it IS a bad idea! You’re taking a huge gamble on your relationship, hoping that the guy you’re sleeping with will one day come to his senses and love you and care about you! But the chances of that happening are really rare! And even when it does happen, you still have to deal with the reality – that in most cases, he’s not really the knight in shining armor you were dreaming of or that you are both incompatible. Finding a friends with benefit who ultimately becomes your life partner is much riskier than dating to see if you’re compatible, because you really don’t know what kind of person you’ll get in the end.

  17. Robin says:

    Natalie -

    You’ve also helped to clear up some of the confusion during my college years. I’d always assumed someone who wasn’t committed was looking more for a one night stand, and it looks like more often than not, this is not the case.

    Thanks. :)

    Robin

  18. Magnolia says:

    Just had a visual of some EUM holding up a tiny little plastic shield to try to protect himself from the wrath of runnergirl …. lol …

    An ex of mine that fell into the friend category years and years before BR and for whom I was not brokenhearted still tells me stories of his intimate relationships and this post totally reminded me of some of his tales. He pretends not to, but he knows these women will want more. He tends to go after women who are still openly angry about their mistreatment at the hands of men – I was one – and then he is able to sympathize. (He is really quite good at sympathizing over a coffee or a beer.) Eventually he and some woman who have commiserated in cynicism over the con that is romance will get together, with a sense of safety in that he has just said he knows the whole wine and dine, fast-forward, future-faking, thing is a con. He won’t screw her over, right, cause he’s not promising any of that. And he tells her upfront he’s not into the kids and family thing, or even the monogamy thing. (Remember, he has picked a woman who is sad that she hasn’t gotten kids/family/monogamy, but is fighting a brave angry fight.)

    So when her real feelings of wanting love and attention surface in the intimacy that their physicality and regular contact creates, there is “friction.” And he feels he is *educating* these women, building resilience in them, by *helping* them to get over their patriarchally-induced-longings to be a wifey. He subtly indicates that their longing for monogamy is patriarchal brainwashing, and if they were truly liberated, they would be *strong* enough not to be “possessive.”

    He can be in these things for long stretches, and when he and his non-gf go through “rough patches” and she eventually backs off wanting more from him for a while, he’ll say, “She’s struggling, but she’s doing really well with this new way of being. I’m seeing a lot of growth in her.”

    Thing is he genuinely believes his own spin. (As all the best con artists do.)

    Oh, and the thesis for unavailable men is so eye-opening. He’s not saying anything Natalie hasn’t already said, but it’s pretty harsh to have it coming right out of a dude’s mouth.

    • Spinster says:

      What the f***? What a sick f***ing scumbag.

    • dancingqueen says:

      OMG that is crazy and disturbing…okay I know that you should not do this…but how great would it be if you could forward that a## our responses to your dead-on description of his crazy self?!!! LOSER with such a huge, bold, underlined, italicized, 28 font L!!!lol!!!

    • Linden says:

      Wow! Sounds like you were dating my ex-husband. He got into the “polyamory” thing, by which he meant, “Stay at home and take care of my household and children, while I go out at night with my new girlfriends. Oh, and you can have boyfriends, so that makes it fair, even though that’s really not what you want.” I was the selfish one, in his thinking, for not giving him what he wanted. I’m the one who broke up the family, not him. Why, last week he even offered to move back in and live as my roommate. He would even meet his lovers elsewhere instead of bringing them back to “our” house. Such an offer!

      • runnergirl says:

        Let’s all hold up a little plastic shield against these AC/EUM/MM’s. Let’s all unite.
        No more back door for us.
        Let’s not be that woman.

  19. Gina says:

    Natalie! Natalie! Natalie!

    Another outstanding and right on target post :) I entered into a mutually exclusive and committed relationship with my ex. At some point during the course of the relationship, he realized that I wasn’t “the one,” but was willing to continue getting the fringe benefits of the relationship if I would have agreed to it. I opted out because I had wanted a future with this man and would not feel good about myself if I would have remained in the relationship on his terms. He admitted that he’d been giving me mixed signals which he said he’d felt in the moment. Realizing that it was better for me to get out sooner ( and feel hurt), rather than continuing on, and end up feeling devastated after he dumped me for someone whom he felt was better. My late mother used to say, “Gina, people will use you if you let them.”

    Don’t let them…

  20. jennynic says:

    A casual relationship is more like a business deal. When the agreement changes and you up the price, he finds a lower bidder. Just like that. You are like a free prostitute…..or a very cheap one to him. Now if that doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, I don’t know what will. If they are honest about the limited relationship they want with you, it’s up to you to have the self respect to say “no, that isn’t good enough for me.” Then care about ourself enough to walk away and mean it. Unless you are truly okay with being casual without a hidden agenda. If they continue to pressure you to have a casual relationship after you have expressed wanting more, then they have even less respect for you than a cheap hooker….at least they would pay her what she asks without trying to con her out of it. I have tried having a casual relationship with someone and personally, it just felt yucky. I no longer had feelings for him and it felt all wrong. If it was with someone I really liked, I would eventually want more from him. Either way, it doesn’t work for me.
    I am seeing someone new (one month now) and have made a promise to myself that I won’t have sex until I know we are in a mutual relationship. As of now, we haven’t talked about what we are looking for and what the expectations are….its just dating at this point and getting to know eachother. He has been a gentleman so far and has not been out of line or pushy. My body isn’t for rent.

    • Spinster says:

      “A casual relationship is more like a business deal. When the agreement changes and you up the price, he finds a lower bidder.”

      “If they continue to pressure you to have a casual relationship after you have expressed wanting more, then they have even less respect for you than a cheap hooker….at least they would pay her what she asks without trying to con her out of it.”

      Absolutely. Blunt, frank, to the point.

      • Tanya Z. says:

        “You are like a free, or very cheap prostitute to him. If that doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, I don’t know what will.”

        Funny that you should mention prostitutes. I told my ex, “You treated me like an unpaid prostitute!” We had been in a long-term relationship, talking about living together. I was in love; she’d fallen out of love with me…but remained in the relationship for awhile without telling me that. Then she broke up with me, and wanted to remain friends. It turned out that she meant “friends with benefits.”

        I agreed to this because I foolishly thought, “Oh, she really loves me, she’s just a little scared of commitment. I can show her what she’d be missing without me….make her realize that I’m really the one for her.” Dumb, dumb, dumb! It just hit me the last time we had sex. For me, it was making love….for her, it was just getting off, and as soon as she had, she got out of bed, got dressed, and walked out! Cared NOTHING about my pleasure, or my feelings. I could not believe that this woman that I’d loved so much could be so cold! I’d thought that only men acted like this. I felt devastated, humiliated, hurt, furious…and thought, “Damn, this must be exactly how a man treats a prostitute — except that he’d leave some money on the nightstand.” It was the worst feeling…shame, betrayal, feeling so used, and stupid.

        And after this, the fool still thought I’d be her friend! She couldn’t understand my anger and hurt…after all, “You knew we’re not in a relationship; you said we’d be friends, you agreed to have sex.”

        I said, “Friends don’t act like you do,” and went no-contact, which is what I should have done in the first place. She used me — but I let her. I was trying to manipulate her into loving me — using sex, affection, charm…bad idea. If they don’t love you….you cannot make them love you. End the relationship with some dignity and pride, and find someone who does love you.

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Yes, Jennynic’s comment was spot-on! and a hard to bear/hear truth — but it is the truth. I felt like that sometimes with the ex MM and it was a sickening feeling. So glad I am 38 days NC and counting. Doing well — “car[ing] enough about myself to walk away and mean it.” Amen!

  21. Jolie says:

    Thanks to Natalie’s No Contact Email support I made it thru the hard part and am now 9 months of no contact with the EUM. It’s not even difficult in the least anymore because my eyes have been opened to his assclownery. I ran into him for the first time today in a grocery store and I felt no anxiety or any sort of backsliding while chatting with him. I also know that we will NEVER be “just friends” because after just a few minutes he suggested that I drop by his house because he has a book he wants me to have (come on up and have a look at my etchings) and oh by the way we could throw in a quick shag too. What the eff?!? Of all the brass balls! One casual chat and he thinks he’s just hit the reset button. In the past I would have gotten all bent that he would think so little of me and maybe have beaten myself up over his treatment of me. Now I know he’s just a big ass clown jerk and I won’t let him into life, heart or mind ever again. I walked away from him in that store without a single backward glance. Thank you Natalie!

    • metsgirl says:

      You should feel absolutely proud of yourself…I hope i’m able to maintain the same level of dignity by simply walking away.

  22. yoghurt says:

    This is an absolutely fab post

    “That’s not to take away from her responsibility to take care of herself, but you know what? Part of the reason why I refer to there being a ‘driver’ and a ‘passenger’ is because there’s someone driving things on their terms that knows the score and even when they become aware that the ‘passenger’ is feeling and wants more, they’re too busy stuffing themselves at the all-you-can-eat-buffet to walk away.”

    This was the mistake that I made. I was quite clear-eyed about the fact that he was persistently trying to treat me fairly disrespectfully, but I thought that if *I* was also upfront about the way that I saw the situation and how I felt about it then he would take that into account and maybe accept that his behaviour was going to have an impact on me.

    So I said things like “there is no way that you are treating me like an unpaid prostitute” and “I’ve told you that I don’t want to have sex without us being in a relationship, so if you try to have sex with me I’ll assume that that’s what you want”. I figured that if it was me, I’d take into account the other person’s feelings, cos I’m basically a nice person and I do on occasion think about other people and their feelings.

    Big mistake. Huge.

    So in return I got a lot of sneaky machinations – periods of intense ‘friendship’, declarations of undying love followed by a retraction (once I’d slept with him, natch) and ‘but you knew I didn’t want a relationship’. And whenever I walked off I’d get hassled in such an impolite and embarrassing manner that I’d assume that there must be feelings there, or else why would he be so happy to make such a tit of himself?

    Anyway, long story short I ended up pregnant (from a one-off and despite taking precautions – I always feel obliged to add this because I didn’t used to think that that really happened) and now I get to see him twice a week and observe him in a situation where he HAS become emotionally available and DOES want a relationship, with someone else, who is 22 and has great hair. And everything that I’ve ever said, felt or done is written off as completely unimportant and moreorless nothing.

    It’s not a nice situation to be in, emotionally. It’s over a year since I finally walked away and I still feel like I’ve been through a mangle.

    • yoghurt says:

      Sorry, lost the thrust of that post while I was bewailing my woes.

      Which was that it doesn’t matter if you see it for what it is, your input isn’t important. They don’t care if they are blatantly lying, behaving in a frankly undignified or embarrassing manner or hurting your feelings excrutiatingly.

      In a casual relationship, the passenger can be quite clear-eyed but the fact remains that they don’t have the steering-wheel and no-one is listening to them.

      The only solution is to get the hell out of Dodge. And whilst my son is beautiful and totally worth it, I wouldn’t wish the beating that my self-esteem took on my worst enemy.

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        “Which was that it doesn’t matter if you see it for what it is, your input isn’t important. They don’t care if they are blatantly lying, behaving in a frankly undignified or embarrassing manner or hurting your feelings excruciatingly.” Exactly, thank you for articulating this. My ex MM had the balls to say, “You know what the situation is” (meaning that he would not get a divorce), yet no matter how many times I tried to end it in six years he kept coming around, knocking at the all you can eat buffet room door, and I was lonely, my self esteem at near zero, and stupidly opened the door. Bottom line: he didn’t care about the lies he told (“I love you” being the most Pinocchio of them all); his undignified behavior (showing up at my house or office unannounced or at the very last minute when it suited HIM); or hurting my feelings (calling me “stupid” for example, which I went ballistic on, but afterwards I thought, yeah, that’s what he really thinks–and of course I hated to hear it, because you know what, he was right: I WAS stupid for not slamming the door in his face). Anyway, no more self-blame. I wasn’t listening to ME, what I deep in my heart knew what I wanted, and so I projected and tried to get HIM to listen to ME instead. But these guys have their own agenda and they simply don’t care. The only people who would give a toss and listen are those who TRULY care — like a *real* boyfriend, for example, not a casual one or one who visits once a week for two hours for a free nosh at the buffet. Thanks for your post, yoghurt!

        • Fearless says:

          Adrienneneattheseaside:

          “I wasn’t listening to ME, what I deep in my heart knew what I wanted, and so I projected and tried to get HIM to listen to ME instead.”

          K-ching! A light just came on at my end. Yes, we grumble that he is not listening to us, when we are not listening to ourselves. That is so, so true. That is exactly it! Thanks for the words for what I couldn’t just put my finger on.

          We try to make him understand ‘what the problem is here’ (as if he doesn’t already know!). But if we already understand it enough to explain it to him, then what are we waiting for?
          1. Someone to come up with a different version?
          2. Him to explain how wrong we are?
          3. Him to listen, understand and fix it?
          4. To be proved wrong, in time? Lots of time!

          The reality is that I DID already uderstand so I needed to be the one who actually heard what I was saying, *listen* to myself and *act*. Passenger? Indeed.

          • AdrienneBytheSea says:

            Thanks, Fearless. This latest NML gem has been *the most difficult* one for me to read. NML totally articulated my MO in what I was doing with the MM. I wanted him to at least take me *seriously* as a person/girlfriend (which I now realize is absolutely ridiculous since he is married — duh) and I thought if only I hang in there, love him love him love him and we continue to have the best sex that was ever had by any two people on the planet, that he would legitimize/validate me by treating me with love, care, trust, and respect, which would include listening to me. I was the girl who talked too much, trying to get him to understand why I was so unhappy with crumbs, but he’d just nod, wait til I was done complaining, say, “I know, babe, but you know the situation” and then kiss me to shut me up. Exactly–what was I waiting for? (loved the four points you listed, Fearless). I am making the connections between not listening to myself/owning my own needs/wants and how I have not felt valuable enough to have someone simply love me–instead of me having to prove myself like a good servant, entering through the back door because I didn’t feel the front door was my right. More importantly, I am seeing that I need to be the one to control the door knob–and not to let trash into my house in the first place (re: Grace’s posting up above about taking out the trash).

          • Mango says:

            I signed up for option #3. Yup. I really thought he’d be open to hearing my thoughts and feelings, in the spirit of good communication, and what that could look like. I wanted to hear what he had to say as well; it wasn’t just one sided.

            I was blown away, when once when I thought for sure I had very eloquently stated my needs and what was important for me that he would ‘step up’, that he simply said, “well, it looks as though we can’t even be friends”. He didn’t hear an opportunity for growth, he heard how he was failing me, and how he was letting me down, by pointing out what wasn’t working for me.

            I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was telling me who he was, and I was trying to change him. Change him for the better, I thought, yet if someone isn’t open to change and doesn’t want to hear it, well, who am I to point it out?

            I feel silly now, and sad. So many ‘if only’s’, and this is one of them. Another nudge pushing us further apart, and it was MY OWN doing! Ugh.

        • yoghurt says:

          It’s a pleasure :)

          Tbh I’m coming to the conclusion that there are some people who really just don’t care about ANYONE.

          I mean, they might be nice to them because they want something from them (even a relationship or similar) but when it comes down to it they honestly couldn’t give a fig as to whether the other person is happy or sad or euphoric or suicidal.

          Just so long as they’re getting the end results that THEY want.

      • Lia says:

        Indeed that would be the indicator of what type of situation you have on your hands. If a man actually cares about you, your happiness, your needs in the relationship, when you express any concerns or issues that you’re having, he will actually do something about it. These other jokers, on the other hand, don’t give a damn about what you, me, or any other woman want. All they care about is getting what they want. And anytime all a woman does is talk about her concerns, instead of actually doing something about it, all we do is make life easier for them. Talk is cheap, and they know it. If a woman continues to stick around even when she claims to have a problem with what’s going on, that probably translates to them that she really doesn’t have that much of a problem. All talking does is give them clues into how to manipulate you in the off chance that you should decide to take a stand. And if you’re not truly committed to getting out, they’ll be able to reel you right back in with little to no effort. Thanks for that reminder.

    • Lioness says:

      Re Yoghurt

      Sorry that you have to still be in contact with your ex-EUM but what makes you think he has now got his act together and is emotionally available? Has he done any emotional work on himself? I only ask as having a 22 yr girlfriend with great hair does not make a healthy relationship! He’s probably flip flapping her around but you just don’t know about it.

      • metsgirl says:

        Or it could be on the off chance that she’s flip-flapping him around. LOL. It would serve the pri*k right!

      • yoghurt says:

        :D I have to admit that the thought occasionally gives rise to an evil snigger but (and it’s SO nice to be able to say this – for a while I didn’t think I’d ever get there) I don’t really care and don’t particularly see it as any of my business.

        Realising that he DIDN’T care about me or my feelings or my good opinion was actually really liberating. If he hadn’t met her then what? He still wouldn’t care about me but he’d be in my life, hassling, confusing and upsetting me while I’m trying to bring up our baby and work full-time. And I’d still be mess, just a very very tired one.

        At least his having a girlfriend means that he only very very occasionally rings me in the middle of the night, and I take great pleasure in ignoring the calls.

        And if he is cured and available and they’re happy – good, that’s nice, I’m taking the credit for it though because OBVIOUSLY that’s down to me handling the pregnancy in a way that didn’t scar him for life. Cool. It’s like Being God.

        If he isn’t cured or if it’s an unhealthy relationship then that’s also fine – means that I’ve dodged a bullet and, in Nat’s words, he’s not my problem anymore.

        Watch this space because I daresay I’ve got a fair few bad nights ahead where I feel sad/left out/useless/stupid etc, but right now I’m happy with myself. I did a killer job of handling a really difficult situation and I’ve got a beautiful baby son (feel like I should get a dentist’s sticker or similar – ‘I Was Very Brave’). If he can’t appreciate those qualities and instead values 22ness and great hair then that’s his lookout. It might work or it might not, but either way it was never going to work with me.

        • Kaya says:

          Thank you for reminding me that my feelings ARE valid Yoghurt. I’m going to make them a priority from now on, that’s the most valuable lesson I can learn from all of this.

          Good luck to you in your journey.. and congrats on all the great progress you’ve made so far, and for your baby son. You are very brave and I bet you’re a terrific mom!

          • yoghurt says:

            Thanks Kaya :)

            Good luck getting that EUM out of your head. I know that it often feels as though you never will – I was ready to despair a few months ago – but then all of a sudden everything comes together and you feel better about it. Keep the faith xx

  23. Kaya says:

    Thanks Nat. First time poster, but long time reader of your forum. And hello ladies – nice to know I’m not the only one going through this nonsense.

    Arg – this has been me in a nutshell for the past year. Him and I were intimate for the first 5 months, and then when I started “hinting” that I wanted to be a “proper girlfriend”, he told me he doesn’t foresee a long term relationship with me, and that we shouldn’t sleep together anymore. Okay fine. Problem was he said “but whenever I tell girls this, they don’t see value in me anymore and disappear out of my life”.

    So, I continued being his friend. Phone calls everyday, lots of hanging out, flirting and the occasional cuddle. Needless to say, I was fooling myself, still hoping in the back of my mind that things would develop. We got closer and closer and two weeks ago I decided to confess my feelings once again. Got the exact same speech, and he said he “had no idea how I felt” and that he thought “I was fine with just being mates” “He adores me” “We just gel and have so much in common, but there is something missing and I’m not the one”. We are now having some distance and I’m feeling the loss of not being in contact with him everyday. He is back on a dating site – to “meet new people and have interesting conversations”.

    I feel like a fool. He is rediculously charming, handsome and sweet and this is his pattern. Meets girl, gets intimate with girl, decides her expectations are too much. Stops sleeping with girl. Stays friends with girl. Girl hangs onto hope and thinks he will change his mind. (I’m not the only one, he has a harem, and one girl has been chasing him for over four years!) Why did I think I would be any different?!

    Dumb and painful.. it’s horrible when reality finally hits, I’ve been delusional and living in a fantasy world.

    • StraightandTall says:

      My experience is that these EUM guys prefer to live in a fantasy world of their own creation and if you get involved with them unawares, like I did, you learn to live in a fantasy world of your own. My fantasy world never felt right to me and brought me closer to madness than I have ever been. I did however, finally get to see that the fantasy was the source of my anxiety. I am not so sure the EUM knows what a snow job he is doing to himself and how uneasy it makes him.

      Reality is harder, way harder, and its not always happy either. But its the only way to live with integrity. I know I wont go to lala land again, but sometimes my head does fall back into some weird fantasy nostalgia of the EUM..ya know, wishin and hopin on the dude coming round.

      However, an alarm always goes off when that happens now and I make a quick visit to BR for a healthy dose of truth serum. Thanks Nat, as always.

      • Kaya says:

        Thanks S&T.

        Your words resonated with me – and these guys creating fantasy worlds of their own, so true. No more delusions, no more hiding my true feelings, and no more trying to “figure him out”. I can at least relax in the knowledge that soon I won’t be feeling anxious anymore.

        Yea, I know those moments of wishing and hoping he will come around all too well.. but I’m learning – and letting this go – minute by minute, day by day.

      • Namaste says:

        So true StraightandTall about their and our fantasy world. I have a hard enough time living in my fantasy world let alone trying his out for size. World’s in collision!! haha

      • Liska says:

        StraightandTall,
        I strongly resonate with your comment! I was sucked into my exEUM fantasy world too. He was pursuing me very hard and it felt great for awhile, partying, dining, long talks in hot tub, plans of travelling… I felt that “special connection”!
        The moment when reality set in for me was when I had to deal with health/financial problems. While I understand, that these are MY problems and are MINE to deal with, I was expecting a little integrity/support from him. NO!! He basically started to act like a jackass and dropped me like a hot potato. He moved on very quickly to a fresh gf/victim who will allow him to live in his fantasy world.
        It hurts sometimes and I miss that fantasy world. At the same time, I am starting to find out that this “Fantasy” is misleading and far more dangerous than finally facing the reality.

    • Allison says:

      Kaya,

      I don’t understand? Did he say he wanted a relationship in the beginning?

      • Kaya says:

        Hey Allison,
        No he didn’t – that’s the whole point – it was a “casual relationship” in the beginning, and I was being the typical “passenger” by hoping it would turn into more..hence me being delusional.

        I don’t blame you for not understanding. The whole situation has been so confusing to me too. There were mixed messages via actions, and me reading way too much into them.

    • Lia says:

      Oh my gosh he totally emotionally manipulated you with the whole “but whenever I tell girls this, they don’t see value in me anymore and disappear out of my life” thing, and you fell for it. You saw that statement as him being a person who needs other people and professing a fear of losing them. But what he was really doing was showing his ass, because what he was really saying was that once he tells a woman the truth he would no longer be able to get what he wanted out of them for free. No judgment here, I have fallen for stuff like that from time to time as well. And what happened was once he said that, you decided that you were gonna be the exception to the rule and prove your worth to him. It never works out though, because he had already demonstrated that your worth to him was only based on what he could get from you. If you look at it like that, you’ll know that he’s not even qualified to determine your worth or anything else about you for that matter. He’s not even worth the stress. Let those other women tire themselves out in that never ending chase for nothingness.

      • Kaya says:

        Thanks Lia – yip, I realise I was trying to prove my worth to him. I can’t wait for the day when my head feels clear of all of this. No more stress :)

        • yoghurt says:

          Grrr, the worst thing about this is that it all sounds so familiar!

          One thing that I wish I’d said in the way-back-when was ‘This is an inappropriately close relationship for ‘friends’ to have” before I backed off forever. He’s basically getting you to do all the graft of being a girlfriend without any acknowledgement.

          You can’t even grieve the end of the relationship properly because according to him there was no relationship and there’s also no end. Well screw him.

          Remember that your feelings in this are just as valid as his – if you hoped for more and felt as though there was more then don’t waste time and energy trying to justify that in your own head. Acknowledge it, let yourself feel sad about it and then you can move on.

          You weren’t stupid at all – you were a normal person with a normal level of trust and he is sadly a manipulative advantage-taker who doesn’t particularly care about the way that the people around him feel. That’s his tragedy, not yours.

  24. sarah says:

    Wow, this is my last relationship in a nutshell. He kept talking about how I “understood” him, when in fact that would have been the last word I would have used for what I was feeling. In all honesty, I knew I wanted more than I was pretending I did. He walked in the door saying he was a commitment phobe and petrified of rejection and so I thought if I kept it light and easy, he would fall in love and see how great I was. What an idiot I was!! All he got was a free ride and then acted like he hadn’t done anything wrong, which I guess is true on one level. He was the ultimate future faker and sure acted like he wanted more in the beginning but then ran cool, only coming back when I made it clear I was leaving.

    At first, I hated him and blamed him for all of it. Now I see my part in it all. He got away with it because I let him. He thought I was cool with it being casual, and was clearly confused when I began to speak up and make it clear that wasn’t what I was really thinking. What a mess, more so because we worked together and when it all fell apart, I had to quit. Neither of us was being truthful about what we really wanted or expected. He started hot then ran cold and then got mad when I just didn’t go along with it. I pretended to be cool with casual, he chased hard then bolted when it started to get real. Never again. If someone isn’t in it 100%, bounce.

    • Melinda says:

      Sarah, this is similar to my situation, only it was never sexual (thank goodness). Also: I can’t quit (not easy to find jobs now and I can’t afford not to have one!). It’s my worst nightmare: not wanting to run into him at work (we work in the same building on campus) but never knowing when or if I will. I go from thinking I should (1) look right at him and smile the you-don’t-have-any-influence-over-me-anymore smile as I walk by, or (2) stare straight ahead as if he doesn’t exist (why should I give him the respect of an acknowledgement?). To his credit(?), after he apparently he no longer needed my ear to bend and my shoulder to lean on, he distanced himself quickly by suddenly behaving exactly the opposite as he had consistently behaved for about 5 months. And he’s never looked back, so that’s how sincere he apparently ever was about wanting to be friends with me. In a perverse way, Sarah, your guy and mine did us both a favor by getting lost. And they can stay lost. I just wish I could quit. It would make it a little easier, I think.

  25. dawn says:

    Unhealthy relationship habits, that about sums it all up. Getting involved with someone that is still in a relationship with someone else=’s unhealthy relationship habits. And until we recognize that we have unhealthy relationship habits and start making changes in how we behave we are not going to stop suffering the consequences. It’s about us ladies, not them. If we are doing things like getting involved with men that are still in a relationship, or are in the process of breaking up (which often includes going back and forth with the “ex”), we are exercising unhealthy relationship habits. I think that is the biggest thing I learned here and the most valuable. You want a chance for a different outcome? Stop doing what you’ve done before and change what doesn’t get the results you want, which is you. You can’t fix or change anyone else’s relationship habits. If they are the kind of person who starts another relationship without ending the one they are in-run don’t walk. And if you do, you need to ask yourself why you are, and then listen to what your own actions are saying about yourself and your behaviors. Stop picking men that are not available in the first place. Biggest lesson I’ve learned.

    • grace says:

      dawn
      Love the clarity. Recently, because I’ve been coming out of my shell, there has been some EXTREMELY MILD flirting with colleagues and friends of friends. It’s probably just flirting in my own mind as I’d cut myself off so completely from men. Anyone else would just call it “talking”.
      In the past, I’d have entertained the idea of pursuing it. But now I don’t even go there. Colleagues are off limits in my workplace. Attached?Off limits. Takes drugs? Off limits. Drinks too much? Off limits. Whereas before I’d have thrown caution to the wind and just gone for it, figuring I was in some great romance that could overcome all obstacles (even a pesky wife).
      Actions start in your mind, as anyone who’s had an affair would attest . Long before the first kiss/shag/whatever, you entertained the idea. I don’t even do that anymore.
      No-one’s that fantastic/amazing that it’s worth throwing my standards for myself out of the window.

      • Melinda says:

        Dawn, I wholeheartedly agree with every word you wrote!

        @Grace: No-one’s that fantastic/amazing that it’s worth throwing my standards for myself out of the window.

        ** Absolutely true–something for everyone to keep in mind!

    • Allison says:

      Amen!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Spinster says:

    There really isn’t anything else, in my opinion, that can be added to this. It’s spot on.

  27. ICanDoBetter says:

    Another great post, Natalie!
    Before I found BR, I found some really bad advice about relationships.
    There was this one gem that listed ways you could tell your ex-boyfriend wanted you back. I was 2 days post-breakup, and looking for anythng to cling to. Now that I have been reading BR, I have a completely different perspective on these so-called signs. Here are a few:
    1) He remains in contact
    2) He shows off (this could be anything, even risky, self-destructive behavior).
    3) He drunk dials you.
    4) He keeps tabs on you through mutual friends.
    5) He asks if you can remain friends.
    I honestly bought into these behaviors and more from my ex, and stupidly chose to remain friends, in the hope that all these “signs” meant we would eventually get back together, if only I kept myself available and on his radar. I even let him do most of the pursuing after we broke up, since he was the one who ended it.
    This “friendship” period lasted 4 months. And towards the end, I started to clearly see that he was content with the status quo, while I was not. Needless to say, I only ended up with way more heartbreak than after the breakup, and my self-esteem took a serious beating.

  28. Getting Wiser says:

    Natalie,

    I love your articles and wish I had this website when I was 12. It would have saved me a lot of heartache over the next 30 years. You say it like NO ONE ELSE does!!

    This article is so spot-on to what my bestie used to do (and I admit I have done in the past). She would sleep with a guy right away and then try to backfill a real relationship.

    I want all of you ladies to know there is more danger here than a broken heart. My friend was nearly 40 years old, educated, beautiful and had a good job and lots of friends. But she was tortured by how the way she handled men affected her emotionally. On August 6, she took her own life. While she had some issues, this kind of self-loathing and self-abuse I am sure played a role in her demise. Ladies, please treat yourselves well by insisting others treat you well, or walking away.

    I know it feels great to be in love but please be sure not to delude yourself into thinking that being used is being loved and remember that there is a lovely peace and contentment in being alone.

    Hugs to all,

    • Kaya says:

      “..there is a lovely peace and contentment in being alone.”
      Amen GW.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, may she rest in peace xx

    • Blaise Parker says:

      I once came close to suicide after falling, again, to get a man to love me. I understand and seriously, love addiction/self-abandonment is no joke.

      No f”ing joke.

      I also wish desperately that I had known these things when I was 12. My mother could not have taught me, she was worse off than I was. She made my men choices look smart! I’ve tried to get her to read Baggage Reclaim, but she is not ready. *sigh*

      • Rawan says:

        Exactly! It’s no joke it can really effect ones mental health, there really must be more education & knowledge about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships out there, if I had known back then what I know now it would’ve saved me alot of heartache and emotional pain, I would’ve been more focused on more productive things. we NEED more woman and young girls to know how to treat themselves in relationships, alot of girls don’t and they end up in emotionally devastating relationships, student counselor at our university told me that alot of girls get suicide thoughts due to the relationship they’re in, it’s damn scary!

        I’m glad I found this website because I’m finally “getting it” I know that I’m responsible for myself, I must treat myself with care ALL the time and not let a day go by without me doing that, I’m responsible for my emotional and mental as well as physical health. I let myself go in my relationship with my ex, I was completley lost, shattered, with low self-esteem, it’s not a good place, no one should go through that, NO ONE. No one deserves it if just a little more knowledge could save it.

    • NML says:

      Thanks for sharing Getting Wiser and I’m sorry for your loss. I know of women in the same situation – one acquaintance is in and out of hospital. The despair that can arise from these situation and the way that we can torment ourselves has very dire consequences. I’ve had some dark moments but there was a shred of *something* left – I realised it was something I couldn’t do. To be honest, I never wanted to give any of them an inadvertent credit of feeling they were worth my *life*.

      May your friend rest in peace. We must value ourselves so that we value life.

    • jennynic says:

      GW, I’m so sorry about your friend. It’s very sad. You’re right, this is not to be taken lightly. A broken heart is an injury to your soul. Repeated injuries to your soul can be devastating, but can be silent and hidden. My heart goes out to your friend’s soul.

    • Magnolia says:

      I too am sorry for your loss. This thread compelled me to respond, as sometimes it can feel like one is a real drama seeker when one falls into depression or self-harm after dealing with one of these guys.

      I was so depressed most of my early life that the early-post-break-up traumas, which someone could have told me were way beyond normal, seemed normal to me. I just thought that breakups always hurt that much. But after the second to last AC, whose sadistic pleasure in being mean to me suddenly became clear, and a breakdown, I realized I was playing with my life not to get some perspective on my choices with men.

      My last AC, when I think about it, had a suicidal recent ex-secretary, a suicidal ex he’d mentioned, and another ex/harem friend went on suicide alert (and called him for help) while we were together. In fact, he told me, within days of us being together, about his ex/harem friend’s history of molestation and abuse. I thought it was weird then, now I know it was downright creepy and I should have bolted. I only got fully out after a series of very realistic nightmares and day terrors about the possibility of him killing me. Who knows how real the possibility was, it might have been all in my head – it’s just amazing to me that I could get to that point in my mental health, within a relationship, and still be thinking that it was just me doing something wrong.

      Seriously, our minds are such valuable resources, and trying to get these guys to value us just f*cks with our minds. Some of these so-called casual relationships are in fact deeply motivated power trips from their end.

      Anyway, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of NC with the above. Yay! Two friends and I are going to hike up a mountain in the Coquihalla.

    • Mango says:

      Getting Wiser, just wanted to say I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing her story with us. This is a painful road we travel. Your last sentiment is lovely and will stay with me.

      May she rest in peace.

  29. Allison says:

    Nat,

    I’m curious? Did you explain this to him? If so, what was his response?

    • NML says:

      Of course I told him and he certainly recognised all of the signs I pointed out. He sees things very differently as a result but like most conflict avoidant unavailable people, I’m sure he’s waiting for the next thing she does to provide the conversation and exit opportunity.

      • grace says:

        Nat
        Conflict avoidant is exactly it. He IS NOT going to say to her “Look, it seems like you want more than I do. So let’s not see each other any more”. Because she might disagree, or try to change his mind, or cry, or try to shag him, or go postal. It’s unpredictable. The player ex flat out told me “I don’t like conflict”.
        And, to be fair, we’re conflict avoidant too. How often have we let things slide because a) we’re not sure of his response or b) we ARE sure and can’t deal with it.

        • Allison says:

          Yup! My ex said, he would always wait for the woman to end things.

        • dawn says:

          grace said: “And, to be fair, we’re conflict avoidant too. How often have we let things slide because a) we’re not sure of his response or b) we ARE sure and can’t deal with it.” So true.
          When I was younger a live in boyfriend cheated on me and I stayed with him because I still loved him. And I didn’t want to give up on the idea the relationship would work out the way I had wanted it to. So i hung in there, stayed with him, hoping that I could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. As time went by and I continued not getting what I needed or wanted from him and after many attempts to get him to work on it with me, I continued to suffer and became very depressed. He wouldn’t go to couples therapy with me so I went for myself. Therapy helped me deal with all the emotions and thoughts I was experiencing, I never broke up with anyone that I was in love with before. I learned that staying and hoping for things to get better was a pipe dream. I came face to face with the reality that the relationship was over. That it was destructive to me to stay, and that I needed to face my fears of the unknown, and that the best thing and truly the only thing for me to do was let go and move on with life without him in it. That process took years to go through because I was in denial for so long and would go back and forth during the process and didn’t want to have to admit that there really was not future with him. And I didn’t want to suffer the pain of walking away from a man that I lived with and shared a life with for many years. That was alot to process. Grief, disappointment, rejection, failure. Fear of being alone, of not ever finding someone to be in love with again, to share a relationship and a life with, would I be able to trust another man that he wouldn’t cheat on me? In the end I came to grips with it all and moved on with my life and I had the hope that something better was waiting for me out there and I did deserve a healthy, genuine relationship with someone who was capable of giving in the first place. I didn’t deserve to be cheated on or lied to. Don’t think if you tolerate that behavior it’s going to make them think you’re wonderful and so loving for forgiving them that they will suddenly turn into the loving partner you need-doesn’t work that way. Someone cheats on you=’s they don’t respect you or love you. Game…

  30. Carrie says:

    Ugh my douche alarm rang loudly when I clicked that link! It’s a good thing I’m not attracted to big muscley guys.. I’m guessing many guys who spend most of their time in the gym are like this!

    • Minky says:

      You can never tell. A male friend of mine is a trained cage fighter, big and muscley – and covered in tattoos, but he’s also a total softie (outside the ring) and utterly devoted to his girlfriend. The only assumptions we should make are after we’ve seen someone’s behaviour. I am learning this myself :)

  31. Lia says:

    “9 out of 10 people when told they’re a user will deny it but when someone exploits others to get their needs met, ‘using’, even if they’ve been ‘honest’, is actually what it is.”

    Ah, I was on the receiving end of this message early in my dating life. I loved my freedom and shuddered at the thought of surrendering it to another human being, so I didn’t want a relationship in the true sense. So imagine how happy I was when I found a man with distorted and negative views on relationships to have a casual relationship with. And while he professed to be happy to finally find a woman who actually gave him what he wanted without secretly wanting a relationship, it was also revealed that he wondered why I didn’t. I can admit that due to my own ego, some of the same rolled through my head from time to time as well, but not enough to really care. But one day he told me that I was using him, and it totally caught me off guard as I thought we were both enjoying ourselves. All I could do was deny deny deny, because I felt totally insulted. Me, a user? No way. I was a compassionate woman who cared about him and his well being. I treated him with love and respect. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. Looking back I know he was right. I was totally the driver of the “relationship” and everything was pretty much on my terms. And while true that I did care about him, I cared a hell of a lot more about myself and what I wanted. The fact that he was even able to get any of his needs met at all was only because it somehow happened by default, like a byproduct of sorts, and truthfully I only really cared about my own. But boy does karma have a way of coming back around, because getting a taste of your own bitter medicine is the worst!

    Another timely article, as usual…..

    • Bonnie says:

      Lia – do you think he couldn’t handle it that you were never falling for him because that is part of their MO? They say they want casual stuff like sex and no strings, but is the ego stroke and fawning that important that they can’t handle if it isn’t there?? So they really do have feelings, but they are all selfish?

      Very interesting.

      • Lia says:

        Oh absolutely. He had a huge ego, and that was his game. Once a woman would fall for him he would peace out. I think that’s why he chased so hard, because it never happened with me…

  32. Sarah T says:

    This was me and my ex in a nutshell!!! Actually, my last 4 exes (I’m a slow learner and they all hooked me in with various offerings).
    I’m fully aware that I should have taken more care but at the time I always thought ‘what the hell?’. The hell is the fallout that follows and it’s a mind-scramble. I’ve done some serious damage to my perceptions of relationships and of me and others in general. I still see myself to an extent as a commodity and judge myself on what I have to offer as leverage for my place in someone’s affections.
    Casual relationships can do real harm. Even if you don’t want more than ‘fun’, the realization that you are being used as a plaything hits home at some point and there’s no cushion for your ego or self-esteem…especially as you chose to participate with this train wreck!
    They work only when both parties are on the sane page but still be warned that this can change or you could still feel rejected if the other party finds someone more suitable/convenient/sexy/accomodating/submissive and so on. Not cool.

  33. Ivy says:

    As always, you have perfect timing. I just went through this. I was dating a guy that I was crazy about but the feeling apparently wasn’t mutual. We broke up. Another “friend” of mine was waiting in the wings and hoping I’d break up with the first guy so he could swoop in and have a relationship with me. He even told me that while I was in the first relationship. I had no interest in this guy other then as friends and I even told him so. He kept acting like I was his gf even though I kept telling him I wasn’t. Well little by little over time, he was treating me so nicely and I was getting all the kindness I’d been missing in the first relationship that little by little I allowed him to overstep my boundaries, starting with some cuddling etc and you know where it led. The whole time my brain was screaming “You’re on the rebound, this isn’t the relationship for you, this isn’t what you want” yet I allowed it. Turns out I listened to my head (and Natalie’s voice in it) and finally told him that there’s to be no more cuddling, kissing or anything else and that we’re really just friends and that my boundaries are firm now. I’m sticking to that. I realized that I was afraid to be alone but now I’m fine with it and am using this time to do things for myself, like make a budget and other things that I’ve been pushing aside. Natalie, as always, thank you so much for your relationship advice. You’re brilliant!

  34. Bonnie says:

    LOL I agree that guy screams DOUCHE BAG, I wish they were all that easy to spot :((

  35. Carrie says:

    Does anyone else just find themselves all of a sudden thinking “Well duh! I should do what’s best for me. Period. How was that not obvious before?”? It’s the same message that gets reiterated over and over again here on BR. And I’ve been sitting with the thought that “Healthy self esteem means being my own #1 priority” for the past month and a half, which doesn’t sound like much time. But when I think back to how I saw things just a few months ago, I am almost shocked by what a different person I feel like on my inside.

    And this site has so much to do with it. Therapy is great, but I learn something every single day here instead of once a week. I just can’t even imagine going back to doing things based on what other people wanted and completely negating my own needs. That idea just feels so foreign to me, like I can’t put the blinders back on. It’s impossible to unsee and because I really truly see the necessity of loving and believing in myself, it’s actually working.

    I read this post today and I was just amazed at my sudden knowledge that of course we shouldn’t treat ourselves in these self detrimental ways. Like it was fact. Like it’s all finally starting to sink in soul deep. Pretty freakin cool. So thank you Natalie and all the incredible women who share their stories here. You have all had a profound effect on me and I’m forever grateful!

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      “Does anyone else just find themselves all of a sudden thinking “Well duh! I should do what’s best for me. Period. How was that not obvious before?”? It’s the same message that gets reiterated over and over again here on BR. And I’ve been sitting with the thought that “Healthy self esteem means being my own #1 priority” for the past month and a half, which doesn’t sound like much time. But when I think back to how I saw things just a few months ago, I am almost shocked by what a different person I feel like on my inside.”
      Carrie, yes and yes!!! It’s only been the last six weeks for me, too, that the blinders have come full off (I was peeking out the corners before). One thing that I keep reminding myself is that there is a difference between being selfish and being self-concerned. (I think I read that on BR–I’ve been reading so much lately I may get the exact sources mixed up).
      And what’s interesting, too, as NML has written in the past — that this self-concern does end up permeating other aspects of our lives (all of life is a relationship with others, really — the most important being with ourself). Just this last week I had two situations (one work, one family) in which the persons in question pushed boundaries and I spoke up for myself. In the first case, I told the person that she could not have a copy of an entire course that I made up from scratch (long hours, lots of work) and in the second case I told a family member not to project her anger at me when she called me to ask for help about a problem. Both people backed off and I thought — wow, isn’t that cool. It works! Best of all, afterwards I had only a smidge of feeling selfish for even saying anything (this is an old pattern/tape); the newfound sense of self-concern was stronger. And that made me so happy–it was confirmation in action that I am taking care of myself and getting it. And action really is the key, I have learned from BR.
      I have learned SO MUCH from NML and all the BR women. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories and wisdom. I have felt less alone since reading and especially commenting here and I also feel a stronger sense of hope than I ever have that I will never again be *that woman at the back door* in *any* aspect of my life. :)

  36. Rawan says:

    I’m friends with this guy that confessed more than once that he loves me, and to be honest I’m not the least bit attracted because he has very low self esteem, he wouldn’t let me cut him off my life even though I told him it’s for his own good, I do feel guilty every time I talk to him, is it my fault? Am I expected to do something about it? I’d do anything not to hurt someone else like I’ve been hurt. But every time I talk about how we’ll never end up together and we shouldn’t be friends he tells me he cannot cut contact and that he’s alright he’s okay with this “friendship” we have. I don’t use him for anything, we don’t have sex or anything close to that, we only catch up and chat share a few laughs every now and then.
    He claims that he’s alright & all, and I guess he is why not? But I know it’s hard to fall inlove with someone else when you’re inlove with someone, and isn’t he supposed to get over me to be with someone else? Doesn’t/shouldn’t he want that?

    • grace says:

      rawan
      you may have to be cruel to be kind and tell him you can’t be his friend anymore. I know it’s really hard but that shouldn’t (even though I know it does, I do it myself) stop us from doing the right thing. Everything you say is correct.
      Dozens and dozens of women here are friends (or worse) with men when they really want more. We criticise the men for not having the balls to end it. So I guess it must apply when the situations are reversed too.
      And you DO get something out of it, even if it’s only a bit of company, or avoiding being the “bad guy”.

      • Tanya Z. says:

        http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/can’t-we-just-be-friends/

        Casual relationships can set a person up for a world of hurt…but so can being friends with an ex — even if you both swear on a stack of Bibles that it’s just friendship and you’re not having sex.

        I dated this guy toward the end of college, and broke up with him our senior year. He was in love with me, and I did not feel that way about him. He asked if we could be friends. I agreed. He was a nice person, what was the harm?

        After graduation, I took a job in another state. We talked on the phone, when he called me, and we wrote occasional letters. He himself had just said that we were friends, nothing more, and I’d agreed, “Yup, we’re just friends.”

        Then he came down to visit me and asked me to marry him! I was stunned! Again, I said, “You said we were just friends! I told you back in college that I didn’t love you!” He insisted that he loved me, and what we had was special, how could I not feel our connection?

        It just felt creepy and I cut off all contact with him. He eventually married someone else, and I was happy to hear that.

        Last year, I went to our college reunion, and ran into him. He’s divorced, and he said to me, “You know what ruined our relationship — it was that job you took in another state, and us trying to have a long-distance relationship.”

        WTF!!!!???? Did he completely forget breaking up senior year in college — my saying “I don’t love you”? Did he forget saying, “Oh sure, we’re just good friends.”? Apparently he did. We did not HAVE a long-distance relationship when I was in that other state after college!

        We both stated “Yes, we’re just friends.” Apparently, he did not mean it, or believe it. He was in denial about my not loving him. He was living in a fantasy world. I think his request for friendship was a ploy to stay in my life, and maybe get me to fall in love with him. (Which I also tried to do with another ex of mine, so who am I to judge?)

        It can be really dangerous to be “just friends” with an ex — even if you both state “This is just friendship.” — and you don’t have sex. This “friendship” can really keep the person who did not want the breakup from moving on in their life.

      • Rawan says:

        Thanks grace, it’s hard to be the bad guy, specially when you’re being the bad guy for their own good, not alot of people would step up to do that for someone, I’ll cut him off I just hope I can do it properly without being a B about it.

  37. Lessie says:

    Getting Wiser, Dawn, and all the lovely ladies here (and Nat too!),

    As always, such great wisdom and insight, thank you for your words.

    Getting Wiser, I am so very sorry to hear about your friend. It is true, love can and does hurt and one can die from a broken heart, I do very much believe that to be true. My heartfelt thoughts go out to you for your loss.

    Dawn: as others have noted, your post is right on the money! I am amazed now at myself, in retrospect, that I ever (a) allowed myself to be placed in a situation where I was waiting for someone to “choose” between me and another. Talk about a soul destroying and denigrating position to be in! It’s the absolute worst; and (b) to actually let myself believe any of what he was saying to me, but he was so very good at making me feel the center of his universe (at least while it suited him to do so). He was an EU separated but MM and I wanted as Natalie so rightly said, “To be the exception to his shady behavior”…

    It seems so basic: for a relationship to BE a relationship, BOTH people have to be fully ready, able and willing to participate. Simple. Easy. Only it’s not because we make it more difficult then it really needs to be. I have been guilty of this but hope never to be so again.

    Thank you for sharing!

  38. Fedup says:

    I admit I been stupid and have done what Natalie’s friend did too. I was just so relieved that someone else finally understood what I was going through. All my friends and family told me “just to get over it”. No empathy from them, considering my heart got ripped out. Easy for them to say, most of them are married and have been for years. I utterly loathe that line “just get over it”, makes me mad especially when married people say it too you!
    Problem is the guy wants me to move interstate now. Needless to say I won’t be rebounding next time! I think I might be attracted to EUM’s because what’s the alternative? It means being vunerable to heartache yet again. It means that I could fall in love again and still get betrayed and screwed over by someone. Then having no breakup conversation at all. Yet being called the “pyscho” ex girlfriend, even though I’m far from it and have never even contacted my ex.

  39. Julie says:

    Thank You Nat.
    This was me only a few months back. I was with a Mr Unavailable for 4 years until i got sick of waiting around for him to put me first. I took the whole “casual thing” as something that would eventually lead to more, but as time progressed i realised it was just his way of getting what he wants, and i didnt really matter to him. We broke up and now he wants to be FWB’s, but im not going to play that game!! Ive tried to be his friend but he always wants more and im not giving him anymore of my time so he can screw me around. Enough is enough!

  40. Sarah T says:

    @Magnolia…Ha ha!! I wonder if that was a subconscious ‘non-error’ on my part!!! I hope the meaning translated though!

  41. Enlightened says:

    ‘there’s someone driving things on their terms that knows the score and even when they become aware that the ‘passenger’ is feeling and wants more, they’re too busy stuffing themselves at the all-you-can-eat-buffet to walk away.’

    That is a classic quote there Natalie! As usual the subject and examples are spot on, real life scenarios… Absolutely great, great insight and advice.

    I think it is important for us women to learn from our experiences and mistakes and learn QUICKLY how to take care and be responsible for our ourselves and the direction our ‘relationships’ with people go.

    Without us deluding ourselves and continuing to entertain such people, for long drawn out periods of time, these tragic situations would exist less and less. Without ‘US’ the scenario ceases to exist. I use the word ‘tragic’ because it is such a waste of time, energy and drawn out pain…… when one could have lifted the blind sheet of denial, accepted reality and therefore moved on and fully embraced a better and more wholesome future elsewhere, with someone else.

    It is hard….. because mixed and unclear messages causes confusion and lack of clarity on the part of the other….. which by their nature don’t necessarily bode well for clear decision making.

    That’s why I said earlier that learning from one’s experience is paramount because you’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt! Not taking care of ourselves by going on to a new ‘friendship’ that one’s trying again to upgrade from casual to serious isn’t about the user/cowardly guy before or the one in-front of me now. It’s about us, how little we care about ourselves, how undeserving we are that we feel we have to ‘chose’ the route of starting very low with a pseudo ‘friendship’ and then slowly and by stealth, trying hard to make ourselves indispensable in order to integrate ourselves into someone’s life! No-matter what subtle hints they are giving us about ‘friendship’ only….. we refuse to listen.

    Although they are definitely responsible for how they treat others, there is an even greater responsibility for us in how we treat ourselves and ALLOW ourselves to be treated. If someone is in the first flushes of treating us poorly, we can always stop it dead in it’s tracks by cutting it lose and walking away (maybe with tears in our eyes and a heavy heart – but with our…

  42. Enlightened says:

    ‘there’s someone driving things on their terms that knows the score and even when they become aware that the ‘passenger’ is feeling and wants more, they’re too busy stuffing themselves at the all-you-can-eat-buffet to walk away.’

    That is a classic quote there Natalie! As usual the subject and examples are spot on, real life scenarios… Absolutely great, great insight and advice.

    It’s important for us women to learn from our experiences and mistakes and learn QUICKLY how to take care and be responsible for our ourselves and the direction our ‘relationships’ with people go.

    If we didn’t delude ourselves and stopped continuing to entertain such people, for long drawn out periods of time, these tragic situations would exist less and less. Without ‘US’ the scenario ceases to exist. I use the word ‘tragic’ because it is such a waste of time, energy and drawn out unfulfilment…… when one could have lifted the blind sheet of denial, accepted reality and moved on and fully embraced a better and more wholesome future elsewhere.

    It is hard….. because mixed and unclear messages causes confusion and lack of clarity on the part of the other….. which by their nature don’t necessarily bode well for clear decision making.

    As I said earlier that learning from one’s experience is paramount because once you’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt you don’t have to go there again! Not taking care of ourselves by going on to a new ‘friendship’ that one is trying again to upgrade from casual to serious isn’t about the user/cowardly guy before or the one in-front of us now. It’s about us, how little we care about ourselves, how undeserving we are that we feel we have to ‘chose’ the route of starting very low with a pseudo ‘friendship’ and then slowly and by stealth, trying hard to make ourselves indispensable in order to integrate ourselves into someone’s life! No-matter what subtle hints they are giving us about ‘friendship only’….. we refuse to listen.

    Although they are definitely responsible for how they treat others, there is an even greater responsibility for us in how we treat ourselves and ALLOW ourselves to be treated. If someone is in the first flushes of treating us poorly, we can always stop it dead in it’s tracks by cutting it loose and walking away (maybe with tears in our eyes and a heavy heart – but with…

  43. Jordan says:

    Excellent piece, Nat!

    I have had so many men like this is my life. Love getting my e-mails, chatting me up, my company, find me funny, interesting, bla, bla,bla….but tell me they are too “f-up for a relationship, not over their wife, act…..” I have one guy 16 years later still calling me! I say hello and then get off the phone ASAP!

    After a four year break from dating, I starting dating two years ago, mainly through the personals. As I found, there are countless lonely men who want e-mail buddies. They’ll let it go on forever, or until I cut it off. Having this “e-mail friend” makes them feel that someone in the world loves them. Well, no more!

    • SM says:

      Jordan you are soo right…there are loads of men out (and some women too) that are more than willing to use you as an ‘email’ or
      ‘text’ friend just so they can have the illusion that someone wants them. It is so rampant that some people are starting to consider this normal and it is anything but. We have to really be careful not to get caught up in it. Even this is just as Nat says in the above post, its using the ‘back door to a relationship’, hoping he will ask you out if you let him text or email you long enough. This is definitely something I’ve had to put a boundary on.

      • allie says:

        Sooo true,

        Right now I am experiencing this. The emails, texts, sms, etc. and it doesn’t seem to progress.

        I don’t want to be a person that flushes guys right and left, I really want a relationship, but right now I don’t know when to put a stop or a dead line for this to progress to the next level or bye bye.

        • sm says:

          Allie, the only reason I have a firm boundary on this is because I get bored if the emails dont progress to a phone call after about 3 rounds, then if a phone conversation doesnt progress to a meeting after about 2 or 3 phone calls. I have lots of friends that I speak with all the time on the phone, I dont need some man I have never even laid eyes on using me as a phone buddy. Move it to a date or bother someone else. Also, texting an entire conversation is nuts, especially when you are sitting on your couch doing nothing. I do feel though, that I’m flushing people left and right. Now if I can just put those boundaries into action when actually in a relationship with the unavailables, I’ll have it all figured out lol.

          • allie says:

            SM

            Thanks for your response. So I decided to be the driver and since he had said in a text that we should go for lunch soon, I propused next satuday and he said yes.

            I though to myself I needed to know if this was going to progress or not, so I just “grap the bull by the horns” so to speak and throwed an specific date and we will see how it goes. I am glad he said yes, I was really concern or afraid that he would say no but he didn’t.

          • grace says:

            allie
            ooooh, i hope it goes well! i think it’s a good call, pin them down to a date, a place and a time. I’ve done that before, I even took a week off work. And then be bailed. HAHAHAHAHAHA. But what’s even funnier (kind of) is that I ended up living with him, oh vey (is that the right saying, Natasha?). He turned out to be an abusive AC. But of course.
            I’m not saying this guy will bail on you but, if he does, be careful of how many “second” chances you give him. For me, it was limitless. Doh.
            It’s basic respect – he wouldn’t do it to his friends, his boss, his kids, (I hope), so why us?

          • Natasha says:

            Grace, you have me cracking up over here!! “Oy vey” is so apt for those of us who have doled out a million and one chances, as it’s a Yiddish phrase that basically translates to “Oh, what a hot mess.” Ladies, I’ve been flushing dudes like a plumber on a mission and I’ve definitely had moments where I think, “Maybe I’m not ready to date if I’m so reactive?!” The fact is, if you’ve given rational thought to why you’re flushing and there is external evidence that it’s a good idea, you’re not being reactive. Try not to think of it as a roadblock to getting into a relationship – it’s the road TO a relationship, because not only will you not have your head messed up by jacked-up “casual” involvements, you won’t be wasting precious time on stuff that’s not going anywhere.

            SM, I agree completely re: the texting thing. I’ve had convos where 900 texts could have been neatly condensed into a 5 minute phone call. Too funny!

          • SM says:

            allie- good for you! I love it, he proposed lunch you suggested a day and he took it. Yep I think thats good.

  44. Tasha says:

    I love this blog!! :)

    Because of it and the people who participate and share, I have learned sooo much these last few months. The current topic (casual backdoor relationships) is something that I recently experienced! I was too afraid to put myself out there sooo….I suggested to this cutie pie that we continue to have regular sex while we sorted a relationship out! LOL It was the only thing he STRONGLY agreed to while we were seeing another! Imagine that! Ha! ;-)

    But I was devastated…just devastated…when he admitted that he could not see “us” as long term. Silly me!

    What I did do right (thanks to this blog) is say, “I appreciate your honesty. Goodbye!” Despite his pleas for continued friendship and an invitation to his birthday bash (several weeks later), I stood firm and politely declined.

    I realize the impact of my unavailability (or, rather, my closeted availability) in my life. I have begun to say how I feel and what I want/need. A miraculous little thing is occuring in my life: For the first time, I really feel like I have the ability to do for myself what I so desparately wanted others to do for me!! I am feeling stable and secure. I let other people own their own shortcomings and misgivings. I am actively “seeing” people for who they really are and not how I wish them to be. My boundaries are in tact and I have no problems letting others know when they have crossed the line. I move myself away from the offenders.

    Never again will I short change myself, my time, or my feelings for fear of another human being. Thank you, Natalie!!!!! XOXO

  45. Hi Jenny here,

    “Don’t allow someone to use you as a plaything because you’ve got your own agenda of selling them in on a lower price option now and upgrading them later. Dating is the route to a relationship – stop taking shortcuts that sell you short.”

    This paragraph has struck me the most, not because I felt touchy about the subject but because of what I have been telling my friend over and over about the man she used to date. She knew she was just being ‘used’ even if the guy did told her what to expect about the setup they have. He says it would just be FWB and she consented. Inside somehow she expected to be upgraded but no. It didn’t end that way, despite the limit they put in that so-called ‘relationship’, she ended up hurt and devastated with the turn of things.

    This post will go with my bookmarks and I will definitely keep tabs on what you are going to say next. And definitely, definitely this will be shared to her.

  46. ElleJaeP says:

    The thing is alot of girls (including me) doesn’t REALLY know what dating as friends REALLY means. I started out dating a guy saying lets date as “friends” & stating that I don’t ever want to get married again (since I just got divorced a year earlier). We continued to date I fell head on heels, for him (I thought it was mutual). I changed my mind (& fell in love) & we girls THINK that it’s possible that this will happen to these guy ALSO. We just don’t realize that guys & especially EUM’s, don’t have to have emotions play a part in Dating someone. I didn’t have a CLUE that this could be the case. Thanks NAT for opening my eyes!!!!
    He went so far as to give me a key to his Apt, called me his g/f, brought me to family gatherings, 2 mths in told me he loved me, 1 yr gave me a ring — ALL the things that a Relationship is made of. 5 yrs pass & he broke up telling me he was never “in love” with me. I argued my points of why say you love me & why give me a ring????
    His response was I thought you would like the ring & I do love & care for you JUST not “in love”….
    I seriously don’t think these EUM guys are capable of “real love” – they just following all the Motions of a relationship to get what they can get to serve their OWN PURPOSE!!!

    • Mango says:

      Ugh. I too got the “I love you/I’m crazy about you/I can’t imagine you not in my life but I’m not in love with you” spin. Twice. By the same man. FOURTEEN YEARS APART!!

      *head desk*

      *head desk*

      *head desk*

      Just to clarify, I wasn’t knocking on the back door those 14 years. No! He got married, and I NC’d back then, even though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I just knew I couldn’t be in touch with him once he got married. Not a birthday card, a Christmas card, nothing. Nada. For 14 years.

      Then 14 years later…he’s divorced… and here I am, reclaiming my sanity, re-gluing what’s left of my self-esteem, re-weaving my soul back together, struggling to maintain NC, when before it was so natural and not nearly as painful. This time got me good, because I really really believed we were finally going to happen. That it was destiny, or maybe it was just dumb luck, that we found each other again and were still crazy about each other. This is a man who wrote love letters for 4 years before I ever even responded. I was clearly the EU one then. So much regret. He was the ‘one that got away’.

      If only. If I only knew then what I know now, I think we could have at least had a wonderful friendship, and I am most sad that, at least the way it looks now, I think it’s best I not entertain that thought for a long while, if ever. It’s just unbelievable, and at times unbearable to me, that someone who has been in my heart in one way or another for 24 years (total time) is now…poof…gone. Gone my from life. My choice. And my heart breaks while it is also being healed to a place where it should have been all along.

      Oh! The price we pay to love, to be loved, when it is ourselves we could be loving and taking care of all along. Take good care of your hearts. I’m f i n a l l y getting it.

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Mango, wise words indeed: “Oh! The price we pay to love, to be loved, when it is ourselves we could be loving and taking care of all along. Take good care of your hearts. I’m f i n a l l y getting it.”

        I’m sorry you lost such a friendship. As we get older (I am 48) and a relationship of such long-standing (despite the 14 year gap in contact–he was still in your consciousness/heart) ends, it’s hard when it does–no matter the circumstances–it’s a huge part of our lives that needs to be reconciled.

        Hopefully, we can be gentle with our hearts as we come to terms with the loss and take care of ourselves always no matter what.
        Hugs to you.

        • Mango says:

          Thank you for the kind words & support, AdrienneBytheSea. It means a lot, especially during this challenging time. I’m 6 months away from 50 (eeep!), so, this man has been part of half my life. Many layers to grieve. I so appreciate the reminder to be gentle with my heart and take care of myself (finally!), as I cope with this loss. Thank you. All the best to you on your journey as well. {{hugs back}}

      • Natasha says:

        Mango, your *head desk* is cracking me up!! I think we’ve ALL had those moments. Don’t beat yourself up, because it’s very easy to do “coulda woulda shoulda”, but none of us are psychic (or bootleg psychic a la Miss Cleo), so there is no way of knowing for sure whether the relationship would have worked out. Maybe you held back for a reason other than feeling like you were EU? At the end of the day, like Nat says, we all do the best we can with the info that we have available to us. If there’s one platitude I kind of disagree with it’s that “hindsight is always 20/20″, because it’s very easy to romanticize people, especially if they are people that have been in our lives for a LONG time. Change, even the positive kind, can be so scary. Whatever might or might not have happened in the past, you are making the right decisions NOW and that’s really all that matters. It took me a very, very long time to accept that myself and, when you do, goddamn is it liberating :) *Hugs*

        • Mango says:

          Natasha, ah, glad to provide a giggle! You’re right. I have woulda/coulda/shoulda’d myself into a deep depression. I’m clear that we may not have worked as a couple. It’s all the near misses and bad timing and the not knowing that sometimes haunts me that I need to let go of. Yet, our friendship was real and true, and the loss of that, even if temporary, is much more difficult to accept.

          Thank you for what you say here: “…because it’s very easy to romanticize people, especially if they are people that have been in our lives for a LONG time.” True that! I think I may have pedastalized him. Time to take him off the pedestal, maybe dust myself off & put me on! I’m looking more closely at what ‘IS”, and not what I thought/hoped/dreamed.

          And an amen to this: “..making the right decisions NOW and that’s really all that matters.” Yes yes yes!

          Thank you for your insight and support! {{hugs back}}

  47. GettingBetter says:

    Ive got a sad & pitiful for you. I started “dating” a guy that I knew for 4 years, so I knew how he was. The sad part: I knew he had a roster of women, always had & always will. The pitiful part: as long as i was near the top, I didnt think about the other women. I was his friend, right? His backbone, Bonnie to his Clyde? I quickly found that despite the friendship, money, & other gifts, I was still getting treated like the club h*e. I take it back:they were getting treated better!It took 2 years, numerous fights, & one final “I never promised you nuttin!” before I walked away. Looking back, Im still shaking my head: he had no money, no future, & nothing about him was “big”. We never had dinner or took in a movie. He would text & I would come over. Thats it. I consider myself smart & even now I still dont know what i was thinking. Im left with nothing but a bitter taste in my mouth. Saddest of all: he couldnt care less. I hear from a mutual friend that he has a whole new roster now. Im done.

  48. Fearless says:

    When I read your blogs Natalie I often wish I’d made that point , exactly that point, to the ex EUM rather than my poorer version of it or just avoiding the confrontation. Here is one of them:

    “If you know [I] they want more and that you can’t give more, why haven’t
    you left?”

    So here’s my brain working when I read that:

    1. That is such a good question!
    2. That is exactly the point that I should have made to him: ‘if you don’t want a real relationship with me, why are you still here?’
    3. I wish I’d said that, made that point, rather than the rubbish version I would give him, like: ‘you need to decide if you want to be with me or not, cos this isn’t fair on me’ blah, blah, blah..
    4. If I’d said Nat’s version to him he would just have answered with ‘well, why are you still here?’ (or words to that very effect)
    5. Yea, game over. (me mortified). He’d have won that argument as well.
    6. Yea, Fearless, it’s pointless to go over any of this.
    7. It was all your own fault.
    8. He had the upper hand and you gave it to him. There’s no sense to be made of any of this; it ony makes you feel bad. It was just one big horrible mess and there’s no easy way out of it except to pick up your bag of crap, die the death of it all, try not to think about it and never, ever get yourself into that mess again.

    This is all probably stupid, I know, but that was my brain working! (be glad everyone that you are not in my head!) Sometimes the enormity of my folly is hard to bear, sometimes I can be more philosophical about it. Overall, though, am doing okay and getting better, thanks to you.

    • runnergirl says:

      Fearless, hey it’s not stupid and you are in my head. We may be in all one another’s head. I wish I could have taught him a lesson in integrity too. I had the opportunity to do so and it was to no avail. As you know these EU’s simply aren’t amenable to hearing about how they are shit heads.
      Worse, I need to heed a lesson in integrity.

      Fearless, I don’t know you other than our cyberspace exchanges but I gotta say you are so way beyond your ex EUM. I will sign up to smack you upside the head if you ever thump your head at the back door again as long as you sign up to thump me. It is totally absurd how I thought I could get to the front door by going through the back door. Worse, why would I ever settle for the back door? Dear lord. This is the best post ever Natalie.

      • Fearless says:

        Runner, thanks; it’s a deal. But like you I think the absurdity of it all has finally penetrated my brain – no more looking for love through the back door for me. But, you know – I just would not give him the satisfaction of a reset; I won’t ever bang on his back door again – ever. I am not up for any more humiliation. I am better than that and I have had enough now.

        And this point you make is also part of who I now believe I am:

        “I gotta say you are so way beyond your ex EUM.”

        Yes, I am. Why it took me so long to discover I was way “better” than him and worth way more than his flip-flapping, hot then cold nonsense I will never know. Yes one of us has lost out on something that was actually worth fighting for – but not me.

    • Minky says:

      Fearless – it’s always better to look forward with hope than backward with regret. Everyone here has made mistakes. Be careful that being embarrassed about your behaviour is not another way to stay stuck. It’s easier to focus on the negatives than face the scary prospect of an unknown future. I went through that myself. I would agonise about him, myself, what i’d done, what he did, anything other than ‘what am i going to do now?’. Scary question, which we avoid by thinking about them, or the past, but once you focus on that and push everything else back, you will feel better, stronger, on your way to being healed. Avoidance is like quicksand – think about you (positively).

      Don’t give yourself a hard time – you’re supposed to be looking out for you, remember? You wouldn’t berate a friend who was going through a difficult time, so why do it to yourself? BIG HUGS!!

      • RadioGirl says:

        Excellent point, Minky, and well made. Every time I look backwards at my past mistakes and his negative points is when I feel sad and take a step backwards. Every time I make the effort to move beyond feeling scared and think ‘what am I going to do now? what is the best thing for me?’ is when I take two steps forwards. I was wondering why I felt so down this week, and now feel sure it’s because I’ve slipped again and started looking back into the past too much and also got a bit overwhelmed by the blank canvas that is my future. You’re right, it’s definitely a distraction and an avoidance technique – and Lord knows, I’m the world champion at procrastination! I’m now trying to get ino the permanent mindset that being able to have that blank canvas ahead to fill with whatever I want is a fortunate and exciting prospect. Action!!

      • Fearless says:

        Cheers Minky. The only way is up! I have only minor dips now – general trend is up and onwards. I am happy with my progress; considering that when I was with him I believed I could never let him go; I’d tried and failed so many times; I had pretty much decided to settle with what it was.

        Maybe been a little maudlin this past week; but nothing that’ll set me back – and it’s all about working through things too for me too – I don’t want to either ignore my pain or dwell on it; but to recognise it, acnowledge it and push my way through it with some notion that this is how I will be able to leave it behind. I have buried too many old bones for too long.

        And ten years “with” someone is a long time; I don’t want to feel it was all shit – cos it wasn’t; I had good times and have some great memories, didn’t I? Or am I fooling nyself about that too; I had (at least at the time thought so) some of the happiest days of my life with this man (even if I left by the back door!); I am trying to know it for what it was but at the same time not feel that I have to see ten years of trying to love him as just “a wasted heap of crap”; that is too hard for me to stomach right now, if ever (you get less for murder – and I did nothing so wrong or so bad as that).

        I guess I am testimony to how trying to take the short cut to a relationship can turn out to be a very, very long road indeed if you never make the u-turn fast enough. It’s a long way to never arrive; the long walk to the unattainable, to the door you never reach. He once he asked me what my favourite Beatles song was, I told him “The Long and Winding Road” cos it always was my favourite… I didn’t realise then that it would later became for me the song that spoke my heart while living that “relationship”. I don’t listen to it anymore. A shame cos it is a lovely song (tho I did google it up to post for you here); if you don’t want this to become your search for love anthem – move away from the back door!
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC9Vt1xQ5Kw&feature=related

        • Minky says:

          “I had good times and have some great memories, didn’t I? Or am I fooling nyself about that too” – no absolutely not! I have learned a lot from all my exes, even the ACs. I wouldn’t be the person i am today if it weren’t for all of them – and i love me! I remember having some very happy times, even with the most manipulative and abusive of my ACs. Nothing is black and white. No one is all bad or all good. My ex EUM, who gave me my ephiphany, is not a bad person, he was just bad for me. He was supremely selfish and for a while i saw him as this big villain with a cape and twirly black moustache :), but that was more anger at myself for letting him walk all over me.

          Most breaking up advice that i’ve read says that it’s good to keep the happy memories, but not to dwell on them until you have moved on from the relationship. They say you should put away any momentos until you are in a stronger place in yourself before you look at them again.

          Some of the happiest times of your life WERE spent with this man – you’re not deluded. That’s why, when we break up with someone, even friends, it is very sad because we remember how happy and close we seemed to be once. I have just had to cut a friend out of my life for being really inconsiderate and two-faced and it really saddens me that it has come to this.

          I used to go through really bad days and weeks too, when moving on from the EUM. Once you feel like you have more of a direction for the future, the less the past will haunt you. I think you’re doing amazingly! :)

        • Minky says:

          Also, there is a really good quote that helped me a lot:
          “Hanging on to resentment is letting someone you despise live rent free in your head”.

          Let’s evict these mofos!

        • grace says:

          fearless
          This reminds me of a German saying I learned yesterday
          “Better the horrible ending than the endless horror”.
          It should be the fallback girl’s motto!
          When you’re over it (it takes time), you’re over it. You’re even done with the regrets over the “wasted” time. It’s not all wasted. I’m sure you did other things that had nothing to do with him.

        • Carrie says:

          “I don’t want to feel it was all shit – cos it wasn’t; I had good times and have some great memories, didn’t I? Or am I fooling nyself about that too”

          Fearless I don’t think you’re fooling yourself. I think the same thing about my 6 years with my ex. Even though he wasn’t able to give me what I needed, we still had *plenty* of good, fun times. It only just occurred to me that this could only happen when he was happy. Everything revolved around him being satisfied, but that doesn’t lessen the happiness I felt in those times. Nothing is black and white – and certainly not the relationships we’ve been through. There’s the good and the bad and whatever it was doesn’t negate the times we were happy. It just wasn’t enough.

          • Fearless says:

            Thanks Grace, Carrie and Minky. I like the quotes. Yes Grace, better the horrid ending that the alternative – the never ending hike to nowhere!

            One day I just woke up and knew that ‘the alternative’ was not an option for me anymore – that I did not want “this” anymore. I still don’t. And yes, I guess I’ll be over it when I’m over it. Yes, I did lots of things other than “him”. He was never any real part of anything I did for me and for mine; I went to university, I did a post grad., I got a job, I bought a house, I got a promotion, I sold a house; I bought a better one; I raised my fabulous daughter (my very best and favourite thing!!). Thanks everyone. I’ll be okay (sorry am wandering off the topic – that’s me done now.)

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Fearless,

            I would like to join the chorus here. You woke up one day and the back door was no longer an option. Good for you, I get it. I did too. I’m with the others regarding the good times and the bad times and the quotes are perfect. It’s really amazing what you have accomplished, particularly raising your fabulous daughter. You should be so proud and have a ton to be grateful for.

            Re: “…a wasted heap of crap”…after my 3rd divorce at 41, I started counseling (yeah I know, it was about time), my counselor had me repeat “I am grateful” over and over. At first, I grumbled it reluctantly and added the prefix “I am so effing-grateful”. At some point, I could say it sans prefix and mean it. Like Minky said, each marriage contributed to opportunities, growth, and who I am. I really am grateful for each marriage.

            However, fast forward to the present, like you I am wondering if the last several years have been a wasted heap of crap, while I’ve been wandering down the long winding road to nowhere banging my head on the back door. I’m not there yet but I know one day I’ll be grateful. Presently, the prefix “effing-grateful” has returned and he’s living rent free in my head.

            I’m sorry you can’t listen to your favorite Beatles song right now. Maybe that long and winding road will lead to you?

            BTW, our favorite Beatles songs were “Listen do you want to know a secret…” and “If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be true.” I can laugh a little now.

            We’ll be grateful again.

  49. Mango says:

    Such a great post, Natalie. Thank you. LOTS to chew on and hopefully digest. I resonate with so many comments here; too many to comment on! Thank you, ladies, for sharing your stories, and your wisdom and strength. It’s helping me put things in perspective, and regain a sense of self that I had lost. Take good care of you! xx

  50. kitty says:

    I’ve been reeading BR for about six months, since the guy I was dating showed red flag behaviour. This is the post that has hit home and finally made the scales fall ferom my eyes, because it sums up my behaviour, psychology, delusions and manipulativeness (because that’s what it is when you’re pretending to be OK with crumbs and all the time salivating for cake).
    It also helped me see what my EUM got out of it. I thought because he didn’t sleep with me, always promised me a proper, official and committed future when things were easier, that he was sincere. Now I see that the affectionate texts, attention and caring were reward enough for him to continue a ‘friendship’ that he never had any attention of upgrading.
    Somehow none of the earlier posts have hit home with me quite like this one. As NML says, you assume people will either shag you and eff off, or be in a relationship. The mixed messages give you false hope even when he is verbalising the ‘I’m not in the position / situation to have a relationship’ line, which gives him the moral high-ground of ‘honesty’.
    He’s texted again this evening, pointlessly, as always, as he’s still ‘committed’ though ‘not in love with, living with or sleeping with’ (right!) his ex. For the first time in six months I haven’t replied. I’m not even tempted to. I have nothing to say. I am done with the delusion that the right combination of words on a stupid keypad can help him see my worth. I see my worth. That’s the point. And it’s above engaging in this silliness.

    • Fearless says:

      Kitty:
      “I am done with the delusion that the right combination of words on a stupid keypad can help him see my worth.”

      Eeeeewww. Ouch!
      :)
      All my life I’ve heard the whole gambit of sayings all meaning essentially: ‘ a man’ll not value a woman unless she values herself’.

      Yes, I always agreed but I didn’t really get what it meant. I thought it was about playing a bit (faux) hard to get, about “pretending” not to be that interested so that he would think you were “really worth it”! And I didn’t want a man game playing with me so I didn’t do game playing – I was up right front with my interest (so I thought!), so I’d wait patiently at the back door doing juggling acts in all kinds of weather day and night until sooner or later he’d realise what a great girl I was, yes? No, actually, I was right up front with my lack of self worth.

      I’ve been reading BR for a while. I get the connection now!

      They will know exactly what you’re worth – when you do! And there’s no short-cuts and no access to love, care and respect through the back door; if we’re chapping at the back door for a chance to persuade him of how fabulous we are then we needn’t bother cos he already knows. He knows if we were all that fabulous we’d be using the front door – or none. Am ashamed to say I think now that on more than one occasion I gave up on the back door and tried to jammy open the window with a crow bar.

      It’s so obvious. Now. Pfft.

  51. Leigh says:

    It’s really odd, after an absence of a little while I came back here to have a read of your posts Nat.

    I finally admitted to myself that at the time of being involved with the ex MM I did want more but I gave off the air that I didn’t.

    I’ve been in the position where I have left the door open for him to come back. Easy pickings for him I admit. I didn’t have the balls to say goodbye until the absolute death of it – and even then it was a prolonged process. I was always the one to open the doors to communication. Not anymore, not after the last time I saw him and he tried to press reset.

    On the 30th of September it will be a whole complete year of NC. I can’t even begin to describe how happy that makes me. I knew he wouldn’t be in touch. I knew I wouldn’t contact him. I’ve been receiving a kind of spam type email from one of his email accounts. It’s addressed to his other emails and me. They have been coming since August and I haven’t done a thing about it except *flush*

    I’m happy. I’m running, I’m doing yoga, I’m going to a zumba class I’m living life for the first time in over twenty years without a man in it and I’m loving it. So bring it on another year of NC. I’d rather have this life than the pain of knowing him.

  52. ElleJaeP says:

    WHY IS THIS SO?????? ….
    EUM’s who are un-capable of sharing &/or showing emotions —
    LEAVE OUR emotions wounded, bruised & sometimes scared for life???!!!

    * Do they not know what & how they are affecting someone else’s life?
    * Don’t believe in consequences?
    * Obviously don’t believe in Karma? – what comes around goes around!
    * Are they not capable of caring beyond the surface?
    * Do they know what Love is all about?

  53. Chloe says:

    You’re bang on – So many of my girlfriends find themselves in that trap; oh it’s just casual but why won’t he return my texts or meet my friends?

    Any way you put it; it’s an agreement, not a relationship.

  54. Nevertoolate! says:

    This is your best post ever! I believe it is the crux of all of my problems in a nutshell; probably for most of us who read this blog. These EUM’s are the masters of mixed messages then renege under the pretense of “but I told you the deal”. They flip flap when it is to their benefit, so much so that your head is spinning and you doubt yourself. These idiots do make you feel used and they are so blinded by their own selfishness and egos they don’t even realize it, they rationalize it! I will never let anyone make me feel like that again, thanks to Natalie and all the wonderful support of everyone on this blog. Hang in there everyone!

  55. Mango says:

    “Don’t allow someone to use you as a plaything because you’ve got your own agenda of selling them in on a lower price option now and upgrading them later. Dating is the route to a relationship – stop taking shortcuts that sell you short.”

    “….you’ve got your own agenda…”

    Many phrases in this post have jumped out & resonated with me, yet this seems to be the one that has stuck with me and given me pause the most. I’ve just not thought of it this way before. It really didn’t occur to me I had my own ‘agenda’. That sounds so manipulative. And hey, I was just the sweet innocent gal along for the ride, hoping for good things.

    You’re absolutely right, and I feel almost a sense of relief being called out on it. I’m tired of internally blaming him, when he was just as confused and lost and not communicating well as I was.

    It IS manipulative, to hope and want someone to want to be other than who they are telling you they are, and wanting them to change, and though I loathe to admit it, he did tell/show me, in a myriad of ways. I simply chose not to pay attention. I listened to his loving words, his hopeful thoughts, not his detached actions when he switched gears. I was writing magical emails (we’re 3000 miles apart, but how magical can an email be, really), and saying soothing things, and being witty, kind and loving, all in the hopes it would transform him from a broken, divorced EUM into Mr. I am so committed to you when can you get here Man. Right.

    I gave him the wrong idea too. My actions said, “sure, crumbs are fine.” Nomnomnom. When I really really really hungered for a double layer chocolate cake. With rasberries. That I was content with a friendship arrangement, when all along I was wishing-hoping-thinking-praying he would aaaah, see the light.

    Well, now I have. Seen the light, that is. A bit, anyway. Whew!

    I feel I should have know better, taken care of myself better, so, that’s the hard part. That I didn’t do right by me. I gave all the power to him, and am now reeling from the aftermath. Better late, than never, I suppose. Must keep trudging forward….

    Grateful for more understanding and self-awareness. Thanks for another sobering wake up call, and another piece to the puzzle to make sense of this mess I’ve gotten myself into.

    • runnergirl says:

      “It really didn’t occur to me I had my own ‘agenda’. That sounds so manipulative. And hey, I was just the sweet innocent gal along for the ride, hoping for good things. You’re absolutely right, and I feel almost a sense of relief being called out on it.”

      Me too Mango. I’m still coming to grips with the fact that I had my own agenda. I was going to hammer the square peg in the round hole till death do me part. Death did do me part. The square peg will never fit in the round hole, no matter how sweet, innocent (and sexy) I could try to be. Hoping for an upgrade after being a doormat is humiliating. Thank you Natalie and everyone. It hurts and makes me angry but I’m looking forward to getting beyond this. In the meantime, may I scream into the night?

  56. madam butterfly says:

    Well i know the man i dated for 3 years will never come back. He turned out to be a total scumbag by, cheating, lying etc, and he was dumped!

    How do i know he will not come back? Because i cast aspersions on the size of his w***y when i dumped him – oh dear lol. It’s been over 12 months NC now so it worked! There are days though when i sometimes think……….actually it was’nt all that small……

    • Allison says:

      Madam,

      LOL!!!! :)

      He will never get over that!

    • EllyB says:

      @Madam Butterfly: Insults like that aren’t meant to be impartial opionins (lol)! I don’t think it mattered at all what the true size was!

      I generally don’t like that kind of fighting. It’s like they tell us we are too fat, which is not fair either (no matter whether we are size XS or XXL).

      In that case, however, it helped you to get rid of him, and I’m quite sure he deserved no better! You don’t need to have any regrets.

  57. Umi says:

    I never allowed my ex to take the easy route and pretend to be my “friend”. I made it hard for him to meet up and enjoy a relationship without the hassle! I was told many times “You want more than I can give” and told him clearly “I don’t want friendship”. He is engaged, I was told never to call him after 5pm. I ignored that because if you are meeting someone and sleeping with someone, then in my book its okay to call after 5pm if you are being honest and straightforward and of course if you are a genuine friend lol! This caused him many problems. In the end he just said “its not worth the risk!” and by that he meant that his life may be ruptured by his fiancee finding out. I think that’s the point really, if you make it easy for someone to think they can manage your expectations down, making you believe that crumbs are enough, they will continue to do so whilst the pickings are easy. However as soon as they think they may have to face up to their actions and dishonesty they just vanish. There is no real need to do no contact because they will just cease contact with you. I am laughing about it now because I wouldn’t want someone who can show such blatent disregard for his fiancee whilst telling me “he wouldn’t want to lead me down the garden path” He was spot on when he said he couldn’t give me what I wanted…but he didn’t figure that was actually honesty, transparency, integrity and genuine caring. Keep that back door closed and make it very very difficult for anyone to make you live on crumbs of affection whilst kidding you its a real good meal!

    • Allison says:

      Umi,

      What did you want from this relationship, if he was engaged to another?

      • grace says:

        Umi
        It’s clutching at straws to get into these dodgy situations and then try to get them to treat you with respect. As far as he’s concerned, a woman who gets involved with an attached man does not have a very high regard for herself, for other women, or “traditional” values (honesty, integrity, fidelity etc), and must be happy to be casual or she wouldn’t be there. What time you call, whether or not you make your protests etc is chickenfeed compared to the fact that he is promised to someone else. You’re right to drop him but you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
        When I got myself into these messes, I just followed my feelings, I threw my values out of the window. Then, later on, I didn’t have a leg to stand on because I’d compromised myself. It’s not just about demanding to be treated well, it’s about how you treat others too, including the fiance/wife that you’ve never met. It’s the circle of life!

        • Allison says:

          Spot on!

          Ladies, we have to watch out for one another, not sabotage!

          • Umi says:

            Allison I don’t feel obliged to look out for other women. If I did I would have to call this women and point out to her that her fiance not only had a relationship with me but also with other women and is on dating websites. I am not sure if looking out for other women is just rather a large responsibility, I mean I could call her and disabuse her of the trust she has in this man or I could just keep my mouth shut and let them and me get on with life. Would you be open and honest and blow a hole in this women’s life whilst looking out for her? I think its would simply make me appear vindictive. She’s done me no harm.

      • Umi says:

        Allison, he wasn’t engaged when I first started seeing him but a very good question.

        • grace says:

          Aw Umi
          He is/was playing you both. If there was any justice in the world he wouldn’t have two women demanding his respect (and not getting it). He’d be dumped. Twice.

    • Melinda says:

      @Umi: .”…if you are meeting someone and sleeping with someone, then in my book its okay to call after 5pm if you are being honest and straightforward….He was spot on when he said he couldn’t give me what I wanted…but he didn’t figure that was actually honesty, transparency, integrity and genuine caring.”
      **********
      Umi, you mention honesty more than once–that, and integrity, genuine caring, transparency. But it sounds like you knew you were shagging an engaged man. If so, then the relationship, such as it was, WAS transparent–but built on deception and dishonesty. How could he give you what you wanted when the situation you were both in was dishonest from the start? It sounds like he was fairly honest with you (but dishonest with the woman he loved enough to become engaged to), and that both you and this guy were not honest with you about what you “really” wanted. Anyway, it sounds like you have gained quite a bit of insight from all of this!

    • Sunshine says:

      If what you really wanted was ” honesty, transparency, integrity and genuine caring.” you never would have given an engaged man the time of day. It sounds like what you wanted was a fight.

      • Umi says:

        Sunshine actually a fight was not what I wanted, as I said I just wanted things to be transparent. If I wanted a fight I would have took my ass off down there and told his fiancee. I was happy to be simply “friends” if it was open and on a level and she knew about it. a fight was definately NOT what I was looking for.

        • NML says:

          Umi, it’s rare I’ll say this but I’m very confused about your comments. I know you say what you claim to want but you’re carrying on like a disgruntled girlfriend. Friendships are organic, not forced and just like a relationship, if you have to try to force your boundaries, it’s a sign that you need to *step*.

          He’s not answerable to you. You don’t own him and you don’t have a ring on your finger. If I was him and I used to shag you behind someones back and cruise on dating sites, I wouldn’t tell her *either*. Asking him to be honest and transparent is like asking someone that’s deaf to listen to you.

          Transparency cuts both ways by the way – it’s all very well preaching about honesty to him but fact is, you’re actually seeking to continue to abuse this womans trust by now trying to legitimise a faux friendship which would require some rather convenient omission. Don’t patronise the woman any further. You don’t need to look out for the entire universe of women but you could start by not disrespecting yourself, which would stop you from disrespecting her as a by-product.

          • Umi says:

            Natalie,

            I do not seek to abuse this woman’s trust. I am all for an upfrount friendship with anyone as long as it is on a level, mutual and honest. I am not interested in a faux friendship and I am certainly not into leaving out anything or omitting anything either. I certainly don’t see it as disrespecting myself, if I am happy to allow a relationship to become a friendship that is genuine over time. I agree with you friendships are indeed organic. I have many good friends that I would not want a relationship with and he is one such person now, but a genuine friendship as we had in the past would be great so long as his fiancee is happy with that. I am not patronising this woman either. Its their choice and his.

            I certainly don’t own this man and even if I had a ring I certainly wouldn’t think I owned anyone then either. One never owns another person. What I can be choosy about is this, when you are honest and upfrount about what you want in your life and actually I am okay with a genuine friendship with him, its over to the other party to be upfrount as well and not try to get other benefits.

            And as I said before as soon as you are honest and they know they can’t be equally so and may have to face up to their dishonesty they simply vanish.

      • Frenchie says:

        Sunshine,
        I love what you said “If what you really wanted was ” honesty, transparency, integrity and genuine caring.” you never would have given an engaged man the time of day.
        In my case, the guy I was involved with was extremely caring. I guess he lacked the integrity.

    • Fearless says:

      Umi
      I agree with this:
      “as soon as they think they may have to face up to their actions and dishonesty they just vanish. There is no real need to do no contact because they will just cease contact with you.”

      That is my experience too.

      Grace:
      if there was any justice in the world…
      “He’d be dumped. Twice.”
      Spot on, as usual.

      • Umi says:

        Fearless, the truth is though that if I had been honest and had integrity in this circumstance, I would have ceased all contact with him knowing that he has a serious committent elsewhere and was nit in fact available. However since its real life and sometimes it takes a while for your feelings for someone to catch up, I realise allowed my feelings of love to overwhelm by moral code. This has caused me no end of mind dissonance and confusion. One thing I have learned though it that anyone who is prepared to cheat on someone he has promised to marry several times with differenr women is not a great catch and if someone has done it once if you dig hard enough they may likley have done it before. In fact this man cheated also on his ex wife with several women as well. However, it took me many years to find this out. People are not always truthful, if they were you probably wouldn’t get involved with them at all. They don’t come along saying, “I’m a serial adulterer who likes to play women”. However this situation has made me think much more clearly about who I get involved with in the future.

  58. WakeupCall says:

    Wow this article really hit home. I just got out of a situation like this 3 months ago. It went on for approx 7 months or so. I think at first I was ok with it because I really didn’t have time nor the desire to give to something serious anyways. But as I wanted more, and showed I wanted more the whole thing of “casual relationship” just seemed meaningless.

    The guy wanted someone who didn’t care about anything serious and when I became a real person, with needs and feelings he started to bail. He actually told me “friendship” was all he could offer and then proceeded to do what seemed like nice things but they were all manipulative to just gain more time to try to get a shag in return, etc. The feeling of being used has just been so awful the last few months and I feel foolish for participating in something that being on the outside of it now seemed so obviously unhealthy.

    I’ve been reading some of the articles on here for a little while now and this has just really opened my eyes to pay attention to red flags and to really ask questions. Nobody wants to ask the uncomfortable questions about what’s going on between two people, but sometimes its necessary. If you don’t you wind up with confusion and one-sided “fake-lationships”

    Thanks for this article, I really needed to see some of this in print.

  59. Lessie says:

    Hello Runner Girl and Carrie,

    Wow, Runner Girl, what you wrote here about how “I thought I could handle it and then realized I couldn’t and blamed him for me not being able to handle it” that really resonated with me because I felt (still feel, to a degree) the same way: even my friends expressed concern over this, “Are you sure you can handle this” and I would say (in total denial) “Oh yes, I’m sure”…

    And then, of course, it was anything BUT! And I remember saying to my EUM separated but MM, “I don’t know if I’m more angry with you for putting me thru this or if I’m more angry at myself for allowing it to happen in the first place”…I really thought I would be the exception.

    And Carrie, yes, me too! I feel as if I am having almost daily epiphanies and “a ha” light bulb moments with regards to this. Two of my male friends made comments to me that were helpful in this way: one of them said, “You know, how is your job? You used to talk a lot more about your work before ( ) and now you don’t” and I thought, “Oh yes, duh! That’s right, I have a job, I have a life! I forgot about that for a while”…

    And my other friend said to me, “Darling, you must take care of yourself first and foremost, before anything or anyone else, take care of you” and he was right and I have been amazed (and even ashamed) to admit how much I have NOT been doing this…and yet again, I find so many others here who are having similar experiences to mine, so very true!

    My best thoughts to you both.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey there Lessie,

      Oh yes siree, when I realized I wanted an upgrade and couldn’t handle the situation, I said (sometimes screamed) the same thing about being angry with him and being angry with me but I continued to hang in there thinking that one day he’ll realize how great I am. I think I even painted the back door and polished the door handle waiting for him to see how great I was. I still experience this anger and I’m trying to work through it. Also, I’m trying to get out of stuck with regards to blame/shame and move toward accountability and responsibility. I did know his situation when I opted in. I did know I wanted an upgrade and continued banging, painting, and polishing the back door instead of opting out. Those were my decisions.

      It is surprising, once the miserable situation ended, how I allowed my life and self-care to slip. You sound like you have some wonder friends. Because he was the driver and I was the passenger, everything was on his terms and my life went on the back burner, slowly and insidiously. I understand completely. I remember wandering around my house the first week of NC trying to figure out what to do other than read BR!

      Lots of Natalie’s posts and comments on this blog give me “ah ha” moments. This article and the comments really smacked me upside the head in the best possible way. To use Mango’s words, “Head Desk, Head Desk, Head Desk”. Take care of me first, duh.

      • Lessie says:

        Hey Runner Girl,

        Wow, yes, so very true! “Head desk, head desk head desk”…this is how I often feel, and being able to even have that objectivity NOW is something that I “if only if only” wish I had had THEN, you know?

        What you wrote here too, about not knowing what to do the first week after, yes, me too! In fact, I don’t think I could even get up off the couch the first week, I was in a complete mental and emotional overload with regards to it all. I remember having vivid flashbacks of him sitting with me, looking into my eyes and saying, “I don’t love you enough” and “I don’t love you to the exclusion of others” (meaning his wife, I can only assume)…Sigh.

        Perhaps the most painful part was hearing him say, “There are so many things that are right about you and I should feel that way, but I just don’t”. That hurt A LOT, but I realize now that, just as Nat has said, this really wasn’t about me, but more about HIM. And, “duh” yes, ding ding! And I think now, in retrospect, it always was about him, his wants, his needs, his self involvement.

        I find so much daily support here from BR and lovely people such as yourself, trying to cope with the emotional fallout from these entanglements we allowed ourselves to be pulled into. This has been the most painful 3 months for me, but I gain strength and courage a little bit more, each day, and I hope you do as well.

        Sending good thoughts to you.

        • Cinnamon says:

          @Lessie
          rightly or wrongly, these guys are just so cold and cruel with what they say and do.

          They think they can treat us like sh*te and still expect us to schmooze up to them, ugh! My ex-N ‘dumped’ me then complained I acted weird by not hanging out with him the next time we bumped into each other WTF! Head spin.

          It does get better, some good days some not so, then finally indifference and relief.

          • Lessie says:

            Hi Cinnamon,

            Yes, you are right, I think…some days are better than others.

            I have not quite reached “indifference” yet. I still think about him, obviously, because I am still writing about it (him) but I do find myself becoming more at peace and accepting of it.

            It “does” take time, but time itself is a great healer too.

            I am sorry for your own experience with this, you’re not alone and we’ve all been there in one way or another.

            My best thoughts to you.

  60. Michelle L. says:

    “What we all need to do is be responsible for our emotional health and standards because the fact is, there are people out there that are only too willing to hold you to a lower standard in the name of ‘fun’ and ‘keeping things light’.”

    And people WILL hold you to a lower standard if you let them. I realize now that with exMM I experienced a type of “downgrade” (as much as it could be for a relationship with an MM) without being told so upfront. I have been 17 days NC (since the email exchange when I opted out of being a friend). I am still hurting because it is not easy, I think especially when one is alone and imagining that the other person is happily getting on with life and is not alone. I feel the pain in others’ posts too and I wanted to share something that my counselor talked about. She said that I start hurting because I want so badly to have a mutually committed relationship just happen somehow. Instead, I must try to live moment-to-moment, connecting with people and making each interaction a positive one from my side, whether it is the clerk at a grocery store or a man where there might be potential for something more. Each moment-to-moment interaction is a chance to gather information about a person, to determine if they are worthy of your time and attention, if they are worthy of the emotional investment. If you are relegated to someone’s back door they are not worthy of your time, attention, and love.

    She gave me another visual image to think about when I am hurting: that the connections we build with people are like bridges. We must spend the time to get to know a person to determine if the bridge is rickety or safe. This applies with friends and at work, as well as in possible romantic relationships. I see now that with the exMM, the bridge was and is a rickety and unsafe one (by the way, if you look up “rickety,” the definition is “poorly made and likely to collapse”!) I won’t lower my standard and cross that bridge and risk my SELF. I am learning through BR how to build a safe bridge from my side, and I will give my time to people who can build a safe bridge from theirs.

    • SM says:

      That was beautiful Michelle thanks for posting it. I’m going to cut paste and stick on my mirror.

    • Fearless says:

      Well said, Michelle. Thanks for sharing; that was very interesting. I love the bridge analogy, it is very visual. we need to test the bridge before taking the walk.. and we need to make sure our bridge to others is also safe so that two safe bridges can meet in the middle. I like that. Thanks.

    • Mango says:

      Beautiful analogy and lovely visual with the bridge. Thank you.

    • Lessie says:

      Hey Michelle,

      I also really like the bridge metaphor, so very very true!

      A male friend of mine said to me, a while back, “Maybe what you need to do is figure out who is truly worthy and valuable of your time and that’s a damn difficult thing to do, but once you start to think that way, it makes certain parts of life a helluva lot more easier”…and I think he is right about that too.

      My best thoughts to you.

  61. themodernfemme says:

    I think as long as both parties are aware of what kind of relationship they are partaking in, it is fine but when I guy misleads or lies just to get sex. Douche bag!

    • EllyB says:

      I think it’s not that simple because of the many different shapes a lie can take (Nat is referring to this, too). Maybe the guys says “I’m not in love”, but acts as if he is. Or he says “I’m deeply in love with you” (talk about fast forwarding) but treats you like total sh…t. Both kinds of mixed messages can be very misleading and confusing and are therefore HUGE red flags.

  62. chloe says:

    I just got out of that relationship!!! It took a lot of my trying to find out his feelings. He is going through a messy divorce, finacial problems etc. has too many things on his plate, has nothing to offer me…..but had no problems sleeping with me and I allowed myself to fall fro him, even though, I saw all the red flags and I’m not even attracted to him! Ok, so goes the heart. I tried this casual thing and after a year my heart said, I want more. I broke up, he didn;t like it at first, but wanted to stay friends, my heart couldn’t do the switching of gears so quickly and I wondered why he could. Finally, after much probing, he told me he is not in love with me. That’s what I needed to hear to be able to do NC. I feel a lot clearer and realized how I kept talking about my boundaries and needs, yet took no real action when I wasn’t getting what I needed. My heart needed to hear ‘ I don;t love you’ I thought he did and was scared. Now, I have the truth, took over a year of my time trying to be Ms. Fix it. What a waste…..yet I know I have this nasty habit and am not trusting my judgement in picking men. Any thoughts would be great. I just read the boundaries articel and realize I’m the talker, not doer, just talk talk talk hoping they will listen and change, because I’m worth it to them. Instead I got the ‘not in love with you’ speech. ouch!

  63. SM says:

    I love this post it is so spot on. I’ve done it, I’ve seen my friends do it and I’ve ‘heard’ of other people doing. But the one that hurts me the most is that I see my 19 year old nephew doing it. I may be prejudiced but he is a wonderful and awesome young man, he’s got a great personality, a kind heart and not only has potential but is taking the necessary steps to rise to it. But when it comes to girls he has a bit of a self esteem issue, it is now the second time that he is using the back door by being friends with a girl he’s interested in hoping that she will return the interest. The last time this happened, the girl (even though she knew he had a crush on her) took advantage of his friendship and when he felt he was finally winning her over, she rejected him. It crushed him. She used him, but instead of him coming out and stating his wishes at the beginning and getting the let down early on, he continued on being there for her hoping she would return the affection. Since they have a big group of mutual friends, now she’s labeled as a user and he is labeled as a sad sap.
    Its starts so early….

    • EllyB says:

      @SM: I’m sorry to hear this, but I think 19 is a great age to learn a lesson and maybe find new friends! Maybe he could move away (for education or job) or spend some time abroad? Of course, he needs some initial insight to succeed, because otherwise he’ll probably repeat this kind of experience elsewhere.

      If I were in your place, I wouldn’t worry too much (yet). In any case, he’s lucky to have an aunt like you!

      • sm says:

        @Ellyb, thank you. I do try to give him some pointers and the good thing is, he listens to me. His parents have been together since they were 18 and have no clue as to the ‘new’ dating world. And it is completely different than it used to be, unfortunately I know because I am still in it due to a divorce and a steady stream of unavailables. But I am learning new ways of doing things and am passing tidbits onto him.

  64. Ellaanne says:

    ElleJaeP:

    They do not know what true love feels like–nor do they care.

    They are dense, selfish, and shallow. Most EUM’s don’t know how to love on a real level…or you may not be the right one or it could boil down to timing. Does any of this really matter? No.

    Karma? Ha!

    You have to be the one who cares.

    No bitterness, take responsibility for your choices(no victimhood)

    Open up to love and real intimacy…through better choices.

    I know these are the things I am really saying to myself..

  65. Happy Girl says:

    These kinds of relationships worked great with my now former MO of always having to work AGAINST something. Meet a guy I’m interested in, feign indifference or play passive games, then wonder why he’s not seeing me as real relationship material and work extra hard to make sure he will now see me in “that” way.

    I’ll never forget the answer from a guy about 7 years back when I finally demanded to know why it would never work. “We hung out and then we hooked up. It’s not like there was a spark or anything.”

    Guys who are looking for a real relationship want women who are, too. The happy, healthy me is finally ready to get out there and meet THEM.

    • grace says:

      Happy
      That’s so right – if there wasn’t something to “fight” against, I wasn’t interested. And that something can be as subtle as his indifference or as major as a wife.
      As soon as you accept less, you might as well stamp CASUAL on your forehead. And many men, even though they’ll happily have a casual in their lives, certainly won’t commit to her or marry her. Would you? And, no, it’s not about hanging around trying to upgrade yourself from casual, it’s about walking away and finding someone who DOES want a proper relationship. Should such time come as the current guy DOES want to settle down (don’t hold your breath), it won’t be with a casual, it will be with someone who demands serious from the start.
      And it’s not about being “good enough”, if all he wants at that time (or ever) is a casual relationship that’s all you’re going to get.

  66. Arlena says:

    I was told the back door is for maintenance and delivery people only!

  67. Natasha says:

    “This is ridiculous when you think about it: Some of us need people to give a sh*t about us even when we don’t about them.”

    That statement has stuck with me for a few days now! I ended up in a boomerang situation based on projection/assumptions like, “Well, I would be highly uncomfortable if I didn’t want a relationship with someone and they were sitting there thinking I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Therefor, the moron that’s dipping out of my life isn’t using me for an ego stroke and must have genuine feelings for me!” Oy-frickin’-vey. I think this is at the root of A LOT of boomerang situations – i.e. them turning up to make sure you haven’t forgotten about them/are still invested, etc. The guy I was involved with once informed me that he liked chatting with me during the day because it made him “feel needed”. That’s all great and fine, but if you want to be needed to go around being, on a functional level, largely useless in the relationship sense is laughable. There’s a very important life lesson here: If someone doesn’t give a sh*t about you, your time will be better spent doing ANYTHING (aside from another jackass) other than giving a sh*t about them.

    For serious, for all the time and mental energy I spent on my boomerang disaster, I could have learned a new language, spent more time volunteering, figured out why my souflees tend to deflate, heard 100 funny jokes, started a blog and finally cultivated an herb garden. In short, I could have turned myself into the poor man’s Gwenyth Paltrow. For now, I’m going to focus on enjoying life and improving my golf handicap :)

    P.s. Nat, the lovely email you sent me a few weeks back re: the lingering upset I had over an object left at my ex’s house went into my spam folder and I finally saw it yesterday. Thank you, thank you – I really feel at peace with what happened now and I owe every bit of it to you. *Big Hugs*

  68. Kim says:

    “I was told the back door is for maintenance and delivery people only!”

    bwahahaaaaa

  69. Blaise Parker says:

    Just say this on the BR Facebook wall, too funny:

    To all the girls who are in a hurry to have a boyfriend or get married, a piece of Biblical advice: ” Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz.” While you are waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for any of his relatives; Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheating-az, Dumb-az, Drunk-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, , Goodfornothing-az, Lazy-az, and especially his third cousin Beatinyo-az. Wait on your Boaz and make sure he respects Yoaz.

    source: http://www.facebook.com/baggagereclaim/posts/10150310768473950

  70. Peter says:

    Natalie,
    So, what happened with this ‘male friend of ours’ ? Since he did not comply
    with your relationship standards he is not your friend anymore ? Rather dubious reasoning, don’t you think ?
    While I do agree with you that the ‘casual relationship’ as you define it – which seems to be a very common experience, seen the overwhelming amount of comments on your post – is nothing to strive for, the reality between men and women is far more complicated than meets the eye.
    And so, people will meet and will hook-up and will relate in all possible conceivable and inconceivable combinations – bar none. And you would be amazed at the relations that come from this, whether or not the parties involved keep to (high) relationship standards, or not. Genuine relations, perhaps not crafted to the ideal one once had, but genuine, and, on the whole, satisfying and in a reasonable equilibrium.
    Not that this is a given from the onset. Not that such status is reached without a lot of giving and taking, and sometimes, agony and fights.
    I read a lot of misery in the reactions from your readers to this post.
    I have been reading your blog for more than a year now, and some of
    the most avid writers seem to have this recurring theme at hand: this
    f***, this no-good EUM, this no-good MM, this no-good AC.
    I guess these readers are still far away from making a balanced judgment
    on their own involvement – they hurt too much, still.
    However, feeding such hurt with one-sided blogs, like is happening for
    some time now, will probably not really help them. Unfortunately, real
    life is complicated – and sometimes even much more than we can or
    want to handle – sometimes even much to our shame.
    So, how was your interaction with this male friend ? He clearly did
    not fit-in into your standards – what happened then ?
    Best regards,
    Peter.

    • NML says:

      What the frick are you talking about Peter? Why would I call someone a ‘friend’ if he wasn’t? He’s coming to our *wedding*. Now I’m bothered-o-clock that you disagree with the post/site because that’s your prerogative but don’t make personal statements about me that you can’t back up. This isn’t about *you* so rather than projecting whatever insecurity this has brought up as a result of whatever personal choice that you feel I’m invalidating and then fabricating a set of events and characteristics about me, get behind your own choices.

      Only someone who is a ‘driver’ could say what you have. Do you have any idea how many emails I receive from people talking about suicide as a result of casual relationships?

      My *friend* has been and is going through a very difficult time. If you’d read the post, you’d noticed I said that. Him getting into a casual thing where she has a different agenda and he tries to have his cake is ill judged because bad as it is that she’ll get hurt, this could derail him.

      Also if you have read as closely as you say you have, you’ve missed the most obvious piece of information: I have absolutely nothing against mutual casual relationships. It’s being in a casual, ambiguous relationship when you want a relationship.

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Peter,
      I think I’m what you’d call an “avid writer” on here. Personally, I’ve written quite a few comments on how I contributed to the dynamic of the relationship that I was involved in, as have the vast majority of the other commenters. I’ve found it to be a great healer to take responsibility and, though sometimes difficult, ultimately empowering. However, making a “balanced judgement” involves looking at the other person’s actions as well. In my case, I had a ton of hurt because the guy made nasty comments about my religion. Sharing that hurt isn’t about shirking accountability or sharing a one sided perspective. When I talk about it now, I talk about it in the hopes that someone else in a similar position will not feel as alone as I felt at the time.

      Natalie goes to great lengths to ensure the integrity of this blog, so please don’t disrespect her or it.

      • NML says:

        Thank you Natasha – the irony is that Peter hasn’t read the site and comments in any depth and his comment is one-sided or should I say Peter-sided, accusing me and readers of being one-sided on a two-sided post!

        There’s nothing wrong with the comments – no naval gazers can continue for too long because there is a spirit of discovery and accountability here, hence why his comments about the tone are a non issue – reading the comments for two minutes would blow his criticism out of the water. I mean what’s he going to do next? Go around the Internet and shut down every forum…?

    • Magnolia says:

      This exchange has given me lots to think about. I’ll grant that in a story I sometimes find myself tarring an EUM with an AC brush. The lines we draw (ie. our boundaries) defining what kind of people should be in our lives in what capacities is what we are here to learn. If for a while I am cutting all ACs and EUMs and havers-of-cake out of my life completely, so be it, given my previous propensity to let them right in and offer to give them blowjobs.

      I actually fleetingly wondered something similar to Peter – along the lines of hmm … Natalie clearly likes this person, but in this brief glimpse, he shows a bunch of signs of being the kind of guy that we contributors often show a lot of antipathy for here in our writing – so am I missing something? Aren’t we supposed to steer clear of EUMs in general?

      So now I have been thinking about myself as an EUW … which we all know I must have been to have participated in the relationships I have. Just because I’m making poor relationship choices doesn’t mean I’d want to lose my friends over it. And just because I’m hurting someone with my EUW behaviour also doesn’t make me a total AC. And so it must be for EUMs; their behaviour is just really bad for relationships, if what we’re looking for is a solid, progressing relationship. “It’s not about them meaning you any harm,” Natalie wrote.

      ACs, on the other hand, do mean us harm – even if they deny it. And – to conjecture – I don’t think Natalie endorses keeping anyone we’d consider an AC in our lives in any form, and if she’d thought this guy was one of those, she wouldn’t have said “friend.”

      As someone who has often resorted to characterizing an EUM as an AC in order to deal emotionally with their rejection or incapabilities, I appreciated this chance to think through the differences. It’s also an opportunity to think through how if we’re really looking out for ourselves and have self-esteem, we wouldn’t necessarily need to characterize a man (or woman) as a total douche, but can still say – hey, that’s douchy behaviour, it doesn’t work for me, and walk before things turn into a massive, potentially suicidal-thought-inducing train wreck.

      Nat, please do let me know if I’ve overstepped any bounds here.

      • NML says:

        You haven’t crossed the line at all.

        Short of disowning my brother, father, mother, a load of other family members, and friends of both sexes, nevermind most readers of this site, it’s completely unrealistic and unnecessary for me to not have them in my life.

        I took exception to Peter’s comment because he has actually stated that I’ve done something that I haven’t.

        At no point have I so much as intimated that someone shouldn’t be friends with people who have relationship problems or are unavailable. That would actually be outrageous. What I do have an issue with is pseudo friendships – calling it friendship to legitimise shagging or hanging around waiting for an upgrade, or being abused under the guise of friendship.

        My friend only considered this situation from one angle and assumed that she was doing the same – in light of subsequent things that happened, he had no choice but to admit that how he sees things or would like them to be is not how they are. This is exactly the case for *her* also.

        Over this past year alone I’ve referenced a friend who it turned out that the guy was married, another who is being abused, someone else who didn’t understand why my friend finished it with him etc – it *does* sadden me that somewhere in all of this, it’s now assumed that I’m judging my ‘circle’ even though in six years of writing BR, never once has this been the case. My focus has always been on being my best me not playing the preacher and demanding that my friends etc change and judging them. I may have had shite taste in men but I have friendships that stretch back 24 years and none of them are abusers. They’ve all had their mistakes just like I have.

        I’m also not into villainising – the overwhelming majority of readers are not ‘victims’ and the healing tends to accelerate at a far greater speed when we take the focus off them and bring it back to ourselves because controlling the uncontrollable or playing the same record gets us nowhere.

        I’m glad that you, I think, understand where I’m coming from although I hope that this now clarifies me.

        Off to have my breakfast.

        • Natasha says:

          “At no point have I so much as intimated that someone shouldn’t be friends with people who have relationship problems or are unavailable. That would actually be outrageous.”

          A-men! I have a wonderful, loyal friend who got out of a looooong, very painful relationship with an AC. There is another guy that is crazy about her, but she doesn’t see him as having long term potential ( I don’t think she’s in a place to see anyone as having long term potential!). They have one of these pseud-friendships and she’s told me straight-up that she doesn’t want to lose this guy as an option, but doesn’t see herself getting into a relationship with him. One of our other friends asked me how I was able to be an objective listener and not judge her, having been in a similar position as this guy. The fact of the matter is, like Nat, I don’t want any fallout from this to derail her. I can tell her honestly that I think the whole thing needs to be cut off, for both of their sakes, but would I say, “You’re acting EU! I can’t be your friend on principle!”? Nope. She has her issues at the moment, but being her friend isn’t going to reawaken any unhealthy habits in me.

          p.s. Nat, congrats on setting a date and finding your venue!! :)

      • grace says:

        Mag
        I’m in agreement. To me there is a definite distinction between EU and AC. If someone posts that their ex/boyf/girlfriend whatever is AC, I take that to mean an abuser – sometimes physical, usually emotional, or a conman, or a criminal. My reaction to that is always -get him/her out of your life (as far as possible, sometimes we’re related). And it’s not about “revenge” or teaching them a lesson. They’re a threat . It’s the reason why the police aren’t supposed to go undercover for too long, these people mess with your head.
        I used to be EU myself, so I wouldn’t write EU people off as friends though it can be tiresome listening to all their relationship drama. Would I want one as a boyfriend? Absolutely not!
        At the heart of this is “What is friendship?” For me, it should be easygoing, relaxed, supportive, kind, respectful … and no sex! Otherwise it’s tipping into a casual relationship which, I know some can handle, but I cannot. And that’s our call.

        • Magnolia says:

          This does clarify! As I wrote my first comment on this post about a friend who I think is TRES misguided in how he treats women, I thought, will the BR community hope that I am not friends with this person? Also, you may remember when I was seriously considering cutting off my father. Gosh, if I had to cut out everyone who showed signs of emotional unavailability, I’d have little contact with family and a lot fewer casual friends, and would need to try to move and find another roommate. I can’t imagine the # of people who would ditch me!

          What is sometimes hard is seeing that an AC – I count my ex as one – can still have friends: some people will see the AC only occasionally and never deal with the full weight of their abusive tendencies, or the AC has clout/power and people overlook behaviour because it’s somehow advantageous to be with the guy.

          I have wondered if I am friends with some people who read as EU to me and are someone else’s AC. I don’t think so … mean-spirited people just suck in general. But it’s all our own call. Even with the person I mentioned earlier, and some of my other EU friends, I do limit the time I spend – I can only imagine what it would be like to try to have a relationship with them.

          Alright, back to the actual topic. I’ve never really tried the get-him-to-upgrade thing, but that’s only cause I get ones that promise lots but that I don’t actually want until I’ve rehabilitated them! I guess I try to get them to upgrade themselves, which is just a backward way of picking the same fight: let’s take a hopeless, sow’s ear situation and prove my worth by turning it into a silk purse.

    • Spinster says:

      There’s some trolls in this house.

  71. Minky says:

    I always wondered what the difference between ‘casual relationship’ and ‘dating’ really was. I thought all relationships started out ‘casually’ and got more serious over time. Thanks Nat for making it clear that it’s the intention of one or both of the people that defines it.

    I guess casual would be ‘i don’t want a relationship’ whereas dating would be ‘i’d like to take it slow and see where this goes’. Then comes most people’s dilemma of not wanting to scare the other person off, by saying they want a relationship. I think this is where 99% of modern pseudo-relationships come from, because people are scared to state their ture intentions at the start and say ‘i’d like to see where this goes’. You’re not making any promises and if the person is ‘scared off’, then that’s a very quick and painless process of elimination. Then again there are the future fakers and out and out con artists, but that’s what the discovery phase is for i guess.

    • Confused says:

      Future fakers make things SO confusing. I had mine tell me “let’s see where this goes.” He also asked if I wanted to “put a label,” on what was occurring between us before I left for vacation. I’ll tell you where it went, he started spending time with this other girl that I believe he had/continues to have a casual relationship with. Unfortunately I didn’t know about any of this before I got involved with him.

      We’re connected by similar acquaintances and he brought this girl around (some of my best friends being present while he did so) as if it was no big deal while I was gone. He even willing told one of my best friend that I would be thinking of him while I was away but that I wouldn’t know what he was doing etc. Let me tell you going on vacation was one of the best things that could have happened haha. I already had my suspicions prior to but this was the icing on the cake.

  72. Tiffany says:

    This is the best post ever….let me tell you! I have been with a Mr. Unavailable for over a year. Told me he had bad relationships and no longer wants one but we can be “friends”. Yes I take my part in going forward thinking I could control myself from falling in love. But he started doing relationship things. Taking me to the movies, bringing his kids around, buying me roses…all saying I was a good woman and deserved it. So then I figured I could convince him not all women were the same and if I gave enough love and attention, he will come around. Lol ha! A year later and there is someone else in the passager seat and he texts me now and then. Last week I denied him coming over. Very proud of myself. Thank you for this site…it helped me a lot!!!

  73. Wurzel says:

    Found this song on album the other day. How fitting are the words to all the ladies on here!

    Fall for Anything – The Script

    Girl they bring you down, down, down

    Don’t give yourself away
    Don’t live your life that way
    Of course he’s gonna say, anything you want
    Then leave quicker than he came
    Now you’ve got yourself to blame
    Don’t put yourself back in the fire again

    It’s the same damn things you’re so quick to believe
    You do it over and over again
    And it’s the same mistakes that I’m watching you make
    You do it over and over again
    So before they bring you down

    You gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything

    Girl they bring you down, down, down

    Please don’t be so naïve, don’t wait till your heart bleeds
    Love wasn’t built for speed, listen to me girl
    He keeps fukin with your head, try’na get you into bed
    And in the morning you’ll just hate yourself
    It’s the same damn things you’re so quick to believe
    You do it over and over again
    And it’s the same mistakes that I’m watching you make
    You do it over and over and over again
    So before they bring you down

    And you give until there’s nothing left to give
    Until there’s nothing left to give until there’s nothing left to give
    Before they break you down…

  74. Sarah T says:

    Lots of angst on the page tonight. I cam understand why Peter intimated that ‘we’ don’t seem to be in a rational/calm place when ‘we’ post on here…it’s because we’re not!!! That’s part of the process and we dream about the day the drama will end. However, depending on what point of ‘recovery’ ‘we’re’ at, we are sometimes pretty hooked on the drama and can only see it stopping when the ‘great’ guy we’re hooked on chooses us.
    The drama kind of validates our feelings, feels important, feels like an investment. It’s all crap! The fog will lift, you do get off the rollercoaster and, I’ll tell you what, things feel easy. I’ve met someone now and it’s the first non-casual, non-drama laden relationship I’ve had in years and it feels sooooooo easy. All the drama? Don’t be fooled in thinking it’s passion. That’ll keep you hooked.
    In terms of feeling anxious about him emailing/texting/whatever…that’s not feeling good. Anything that makes you feel that way can’t be healthy, same as the coulda/woulda/shoulda syndrome. Bin it! Do stuff that makes you feel fab. Staying invested in someone who makes you doubt your awesomeness or views you as a commodity is never going to enrich your life.
    I’ll shut up now! :-)

  75. grace says:

    Peter
    You can hurt someone without meaning to. And, in my experience, those hurts are the deepest. You know they didn’t mean it, and yet … yep, still hurts. We don’t even get the satisfaction of calling them an AC! I think Natalie’s example is perfect. I would love it if the “driver” was just like Lord Flash Heart, guns blazing. “Come and get it girls/boys. I’m gonna love you and leave ya.” Easily spotted. But, no, quite often he or she is nice enough, a bit mixed up, but certainly not a villain. Though, I have to say any “fairness” tends to deteriorate over time, not improve.
    As for complexity, I think that’s to be avoided, certainly not to be sought out or embraced. When we write a report, teach our children, give a speech, do our jobs, parent, attend church, support our families, it shouldn’t be “complicated” or “ambiguous”. So why tolerate it in relationships? When it comes to relationships, complication is a glaring amber/red light. That’s my code red – when I’m giving it more analysis than I do Einstein’s theory of relativity. I used to love complication (like the song “I’m only happy when it rains; I’m only happy when it’s complicated) but I grew up. Two people loving each other should not be complicated. If there are complications, let them be external – a war God forbid, or redundancy, or the collapse of the Eurozone. There’s enough in the world to deal with – we don’t need an enemy from within, whether it’s in our own heart or the heart of someone we share our bed with.
    As an old Hebrew poem goes “I am my beloved’s and he is mine”. Simples. Not “I am kind of seeing someone, but it’s complicated and he’s not quite over his ex but to be honest, I’m too busy for a proper relationship anyway and there’s this other guy that I like, what does it all mean? am I FWB, single, in a relationship, I don’t know, but that’s how it is these days; I’ll just see what happens, blah blah blah”.
    Maybe other people aren’t looking for love and fidelity, a straighforward relationship with one person. We know that. But this blog isn’t aimed at them. It’s for those of us who want love, care and respect, and – finally – aren’t afraid to say so, least of all to ourselves.

    • Natasha says:

      Awwww Grace your reference to that Hebrew passage made me smile even sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight :) I have my grandmother’s wedding band and that’s the inscription on the inside – so simple, so profound, so what we all should be aiming for.

    • runnergirl says:

      Such a nicely stated and spot on response Grace. Thank you. I could probably finance my daughter’s out of state tuition if I had a dollar for everytime he said he didn’t mean to hurt me and everytime I believed him. That “unintended” hurt was the deepest. It is so wonderful to hear that healthy relationships do not have to be complicated and create angst, anxiety, and panic which I’ve mistaken for “passion”. There is hope.

      When I originally read Natalie’s post regarding the back door it brought up so much stuff, I was overwhelmed. However, this statement jumped out and stuck with me: “It’s not about them meaning you any harm but they’re so focused on what they want that it doesn’t occur to them that some of their contradictory behaviour is misleading and the truth is that some people overestimate their capability to cope with a casual relationship.” I think I got it when I read Peter’s original comment. The ex MM wasn’t thinking the same thing I was thinking, which is a point Natalie has made in prior posts and I’m just getting now. The ex MM was focused on what he wanted and I was focused on what I wanted. We, apparently, wanted different things and our behavior was misleading. We both exhibited contradictory behavior and we both overestimated our ability to cope with an affair. My behavior was probably totally misleading to him as I kept coming back, cooking, being there, and shagging him and he reciprocated. I’m starting to see it from his perspective and owning my misleading behavior.

      One more piece of my puzzle went together with a statement from Magnolia. Until the ex MM, I’d never experienced the back door-upgrade phenomenon either. The first cut is the deepest.

      Thank you Natalie for hosting this blog, sharing your insights, and for everyone who comments. And btw, in addition to teaching anthro, I’m also an attorney specializing in the First Amendment should anything ever arise. I’d take it pro bono because I owe you so much. I’ve won 5 First Amendment cases, including 2 against the ex MM which is how I’m paying for my daughter’s education. Irony is a wonderful thing, doncha think?

      • Magnolia says:

        What? You’re involved in cases against the exMM? Brief explanation needed.

      • NML says:

        Great comment Runnergirl and that last paragraph made me laugh especially the last line. Who you gonna call? Runnergirl! *sung to the tune of Ghostbusters* You’re a very impressive woman Runnergirl. I owe you an email and as I said to you a couple of months back, you accidentally did me a huge favour earlier this summer ;)

        • runnergirl says:

          @Natalie, thank you. You and all the folks who post here are so amazing. I’d love to hear about the accidental favor. I hope I can get the ghostbusters song out of my head though!

          @Magnolia, the ex MM and I worked together and were the ring leaders of our respective enemy camps for over a decade. He was admin (and a attorney) and they kept enacting regulations that infringed on the rights of students and faculty. At one notorious meeting, the admin did something really stupid and when we tried to reason with them, his response was “So sue me”. So I did, several times. This is why I never, ever thought I’d end up in an affair with him relegated to the back door. We hooked up when admin and faculty finally had to work together on a big project for the district. (He admitted later that he fixed it so we would have to work together.) He was smart with a great sense of humor. I was blinded by intelligence and he made me laugh. We had a lot of common interersts, not shared values. I didn’t know the difference then. I had a lot of self-confidence but no self-esteem, didn’t know that difference either. In retrospect, I must have been walking around with a sign on the front of my shirt, “Will paint and polish your back door for free” and on the back “The all you can eat buffet is open and it’s free too”. Thanks for asking Magnolia. Writing that helped me see that the time bomb was in the offing, if I may mix metaphors here. Congratulations on your first year of NC with the ex.

  76. Fearless says:

    Peter,
    I think your first post has possibly been misunderstood, but I don’t think you are yet explaining yourself as well as you would like, but I too struggle on here somethimes to bring complete clarity to what it is I really want to communicate; our emotions about “bad” relationships are complex and are in a constant state of flux, so I kinda know what you mean about the ‘abstract’, the complexities and pinning the issues down to something solid, tangible and stable. Nothing in the mind of a recently rejected and pained ‘lover’ is solid or stable because these wanting relationship are far from any of those things. The relationship was all mixed up – so will be the aftermath for the hurt party. Complicated is not a good sign in a relationship; it’s just another word for ‘confusing’.

    Natalie cannot bring the complexities of our emotions to ground but what she does do is pin down ‘the cause and effect’ principles, the dynamics, the behaviours, the (unrealistic) expectations etc. thereby explaining in black and white terms why some relationships simply do not bode well from the outset (which is not to say that they will prove hopeless in all cases, simply that they will inevitably prove to be problematic to some extent or another – and in some cases nigh on impossible).

    I do believe that although our emotions about these relationships are complex and prone to fluctuations (evolving, if not revolving!) the strategies Natalie offers for avoiding painful relationships are clear, unambiguous, consistent, stable and solid, and it is this that BR readers come to recognise and appreciate: that amidst the maelstrom of emotions and hurt we may be trying to navigate ourselves around and out of, there is here a steady ship, a port in the storm; one single clear and consitent voice; there is a compass, which unlike our inner turmoil will be ever pointing North. The ensuing emotional problems from ‘casual relationships’ (and other types) may be complex but the cause of the problem and therefore the strategy for avoiding it (we are here often shocked to discover) is more often than not fairly straightforward (so long as you check your compass!)

    Natalie has already said that ‘casual relationship’ is an oxymoron. I can see why a one or two night stand may not cause problems (though it’s not my bag) but I cannot see how an on-going ‘casual sexual relationship’ is not going to feel bad and end badly for one party – usually the woman. I would warn against it – you start of thinking you’ll do casual; you may not feel the same after fifty ‘casual’ shags (pardon the language – for effect!)

    • sm says:

      Fearless what an awesome explanation. I’m new to this site but I can tell you that is exactly what I’ve gotten out of Natalie’s blogs. There is clear and concise behavior on the part of the eu’s, ac’s and the fwb. And if a person is sick and tired of being on that merry-go-round, then this is the place to learn how to exit. I went through therapy, group sessions and ‘in action’ training to learn what I was doing wrong and only on this site can I come and get a steady dose of support from people who ‘get’ it, because most people dont. I also did not realize that these type of people all operate in the same manor and us fall back people do too. Kudos to Natalie for figuring it out and sharing it with the world. People are complicated, but behaviors are not and that is what she is talking about here.

  77. NML says:

    Thanks Peter for the follow up comment. When I have some more time later I shall read it properly.

  78. Rainbow says:

    Thank God for the internet and more specially, this BR website and Nat’s incredible wisdom! I have been reading the posts about EUMs and just stumbled across this new post about Casual Dating/Back Door Syndrome. I have gasped and cringed as I recognised so much of myself and my EUM. Reading all the stories posted by you beautiful ladies has saved me from a disastrous relationship and I feel it is only fair for me to share my story.

    I am 43 and a mother of two young sons. I was married for 18 years until my beautiful husband died tragically over 3 years ago. Even if I say so myself, I have done a great job of getting my life back on track and getting myself to a happy place. To think now that I almost jeopardised it all for an EUM! Although I have to say that I did not know there was such a thing as an EUM until recently (yes, I have led a very sheltered life, LOL).

    I knew of this guy from years back but really only got to know him through work shortly after my husband died although we only ever saw each other socially (occasional drinks with colleagues) as we don’t work in the same building. I knew he had a girlfriend although I did find myself attracted to him, enjoying his company because we are the same age, similar hobbies/interests. Fast forward 3 years: at exactly the same time as I decided that I was open to the idea of meeting/dating someone, his relationship. Bad coincidence probably but at the time I have to say I took this as a sign from the universe! So, four months later while at a work party (at which he confided in me the whole saga of his messy break-up), I decided to take action. Bear in mind, my knowledge at that time is that here is a guy getting over a broken heart, I’ve been through some hard times too, I’m attracted to him, we have so much in common, we have fun together so why not give it a try? So, I suggested we might go out for a drink sometime. He said yes and the following day, he texted me and suggested dinner at the weekend. We had a great first date, I was on a high afterwards and couldn’t wait to see him again.

    HOWEVER, I had some niggling doubts. These are the early red flags which I ignored:

    - He talked all the time about himself, his stories, occasionally his woes and never once asked about me
    - In his stories, he referred to himself as a “boy” (he’s 43!).
    - He mentioned his party-piece song which happens to…

  79. Lisa says:

    Glad this post was recent and around to read because the universe just sent me my first test and it was a hard one. As the weeks were passing of NC from the ex AC I was becoming more and more preoccupied by the story and the why’s because I just don’t want to let it go and really grieve and face my life. So, I go on this date with a new guy. He is attractive, smart, funny and not looking for a relationship!!! I convinced myself that I could just sleep with him because lord knows, I couldn’t feel any lower and maybe it will give me a hit of the drug I am always chasing. So, I sleep with him and he is in contact every day after, we’re going jeans shopping, seeing a movie so I thought maybe he’s changed his mind…just couldn’t resist our magnetic connection…I decide I need to ask, understanding from this blog that just because he is in a different package doesn’t mean he is offering anything more/changed his mind. I ask him because he wasn’t behaving in a way I thought was ‘casual’ and he confirms that he does only want a lover and someone to hang out with (he separated in December) so I ended it. It was hard, it is hard because saying no to a gorgeous guy who was great in bed and fun to be around was not what I wanted to do but to stay would be soul destroying. I can’t amass anymore damage, it’s life or death for me. I am still obsessing about whether it was because he didn’t see me as dating material and that’s why he played it that way but regardless, he’s not available and I don’t want to add another page to that harrowing story. Thank you Nat and the women here for elevating my consciousness and being role models of courage and strength. Page one in my new story of self-respect.

    • right on says:

      Well done Lisa!! Its not easy doing what you did, it shows strength of character and maturity. I for one admire you!

    • grace says:

      Lisa
      I don’t think they ever change their minds. I know there are lots of women “out there” who say they slept with their male friend/ a random bloke and then got blissfully married BUT I’m sure there are many MORE women who’ve done the same and regret it – they’re just not bragging about it. Also, a friend/random bloke MAY be up for a serious relationship, it’s statistically possible. But we KNOW this man isn’t – he told you. Twice
      On the one hand we think too much of ourselves by assuming that our awesomeness can make a married/separated/unavailable/man or player commit to us. On the other, we think entirely too little by putting ourselves into situations with very little/zero chance of success and every chance of getting hurt. It just doesn’t make logical sense. If you want a proper relationship, set the goal and act accordingly. You don’t get a job at a gourmet restaurant by constantly dropping off your CV at macdonalds.
      It’s not about you. You could be a jetsetting supermodel, if he’snot available, he’s not available. He’ll enjoy the attention/sex/company for as long as it suits him. Then he’ll start acting like a jerk. You did well to finish it.

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks right on and Grace. It does feel nice to leave with some dignity and before he started acting like a jerk. Now I just have to stay away and build my self-esteem so that I feel like I can drop my resume off at a ‘gourmet restaurant’.

  80. Lessie says:

    Grace,

    What you wrote here very much resonated with me about how, on the one hand we think too much of our “awesomeness” that it will somehow “inspire” the EUM/MM to make a commitment and “choose” us, while on the other hand, the very real fact that we are even involved in a situation which will more than likely only end up causing us heartache in the end, also shows how little we do really think of ourselves in the first place.

    *Ding ding, light bulb going off*

    Wow, this is so very true. And it helps me to make sense of something he said to me about how, he had experienced “the most intense orgasm of his life” with me and then, he broke up with me anyway! I remember thinking at the time, “But but, what, how, why, but you said this, did that”…and I never realized that even with that statement, it wouldn’t have mattered, either way, in the end, he was going to do what he was going to do.

    Sigh. Yet another difficult epiphany for me. Thank you for sharing.

  81. McBane says:

    I AM AN EUM.

    Just got out of a rebound relationship. Wife left me a year ago after 8 years together, followed by some very sketchy behaviour which I didn’t expect and it hurt like hell. Five months later I am in the pits and then I meet a lovely girl who is very beautiful, much younger, and seems to like me a lot. Told myself to stay away, but then we got drunk….and that was it.

    Told myself to just have fun, told her I don’t want anything serious, she agreed. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Except, it took me 8 long months of bliss (when with her) and anxiety, obsessions and rationalizations (when not with her) to finally recognize and admit to myself the depth of pain and fears I still carry within me. That I was hiding behind her, and that as much as like her I won’t be able to move forward until I am alone (as fear of loneliness is a major part of it).

    As soon as I realized it I broke up, although a large part of me was screaming in distress. It wasn’t right to continue. She was hurt, but said she understands, as I told her the truth. Now all the fears and pain that have been on hold for the past 8 months have caught up with me, and to say that it sucks is a major understatement.

    Since then, when I am at my weakest, when the obsessions and “regrets” (ie. masked pain and loneliness) start, I come to this site and read this article and the article on rebound relationships (and many others). Interestingly, reading the truth of what I have done without excuses or embellishments, “calling a spade a spade”, makes me feel a lot better. I am not very proud at what I have done, even though I did not know it, but the articles here give me the strength to stay away and avoid repeating my mistake with her or anyone else. I need to go through this alone. And, as Natalie put it, someone is really sorry about what they have done only if they learn from their mistakes.

    So there it is. We are not all d*cks, you know. Just human beings in pain. However, it is up to us to admit to our pain and take responsibility for our behaviours, especially as it pertains to others. That is the hardest part, as it would be much simpler to continue to ignore it.

    I made one mistake. I learned a lot from it. I will do my best not to make the same mistake again.

    All the best to all of you.

    • NML says:

      Hi McBane, I just wanted to say thank you. I’m sorry to hear of what you’ve been through – I’ve had emails from other guys in similar circumstances – it can be a jolt to see it in black and white or how it looks from another’s perspective. You’re certainly not all dicks! In the short-term, she won’t exactly be ecstatic but if more people did what you have done, we’d have less unavailable relationships. The key is that you’re no longer avoiding your feelings and even though it can feel hellish at first, this too shall pass. Take care of yourself and stay strong.

    • Natasha says:

      McBane, you may not be proud of your rebound relationship, but you have a lot that you SHOULD be proud of! We’re all here to learn from our mistakes, grow as people and make better choices. That’s exactly what you’re doing.

      • Fearless says:

        Ditto Natasha. Good luck McBane. No, not all pr**ks, not at all!

      • runnergirl says:

        McBane, welcome to BR. I am a (recovering) EUW. I hope you will continue reading and posting here. Thank you for your honesty. I am sorry for the end of your marriage and the end your most recent relationship. Your ability to recognize what you were doing is tremendous. It was a jolt for me to see it from your perspective as I’ve been her. What you are going through had nothing to do with her. Natalie has said this a thousand times, and no disrespect Natalie, but when I hear it from a EUM, it is a jolt. “We are not all d*cks, you know. Just human beings in pain.” Thank you for walking away and not causing her anymore pain while you deal with yours. That’s courage.

        I’m reading Natalie’s new edition of Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. I would highly recommend it when it is available. You mentioned “fear”. I’m not done reading it yet because I’m still processing the section on fear. “…finally recognize and admit to myself the depth of pain and fears I still carry within me. That I was hiding behind her, and that as much as like her I won’t be able to move forward until I am alone (as fear of loneliness is a major part of it).” In the new edition, Natalie talks about the concept of fear and hiding our fear behind her/him. I’m still processing and may not be making much sense but your comment is spot on with that section in Natalie’s book.

        “I am not very proud at what I have done, even though I did not know it, but the articles here give me the strength to stay away and avoid repeating my mistake with her or anyone else. I need to go through this alone.” You aren’t alone McBane. I am not one drop proud with what I have done, even though I knew it was wrong. That’s the greatest thing about BR, Natalie has created a safe and healing harbor. You aren’t alone. Please come back!

  82. Oriana says:

    Well here’s my take if anyone is interested. Casual is casual and nothing more. If someone basically makes it clear up front, then I take full responsibility for my participation, which includes not making it more than it is. I guess I don’t understand why anyone would think otherwise. If I found myself getting attached, then I would bail. It’s just that simple. But I’ve had many casual affairs that were completely 100% mutual, some going on for as long as a year. I did not get attached, nor did I want more. Personally I respect a man who is honest up front and as I said, I take it from there. I know what I’m doing, I’m in charge, there are two drivers in the situation. I call, they call, whatever it doesn’t matter. So basically I don’t judge casual as something terrible in and of itself, it’s all about the attitude that one goes into those situations with. You have to be completely honest with yourself – if I decide to sleep with someone they owe me nothing. Very different if the other party is pretending it’s something more…

  83. MagicPotion says:

    Gonna keep this lil ditty short:
    The Ex-Husband went on a tangent of “FWB” and “keeping it casual” with others when I left him…and that’s pretty much where it all stayed with those poor souls- once they wanted more or started to treat the idiot like they had a relationship with him, it all ended abruptly. Yet these unsuspecting women are still part of his harem. Maybe, they too, are “hoping they will be the exception to his rule”. Little do they know, he demands PERFECTION, so there’ll NEVER be an exception to his rule. He wants an instant, perfect relationship where she is everything, does everything so that he can sit back and do absolutely nothing at all. He thinks that indicates a “true match”!!!

    Taking things slow is one thing, but starting a “relationship” with your legs spread open, then going backwards is sorta, umm, not gonna work!

    (and don’t get me started on all the times he cheated on me (and them) and convinced them they were going to have a “real relationship”- ugh!)

  84. J says:

    I love validation. lol. My ex lived his life, just as mentioned in the post, prior to and after me… He’s just a selfish assclown. But, although he & I were different in that he was in a relationship with me, he tried to morph me into a casual status within time- a whole other story… Anyway, I had this general conversation with him about using people and when they have more feelings, etc., exactly as noted in the post. He’d just say, “Well, I tell them up front…” like that makes it all ok and his hands are clean and it’s their problem. People like him make me ill.

  85. jennyana says:

    Hi everyone!

    I’ve been reading BR for a long time (more than a year). It has helped me a lot. At the beginning of this year, I started dating a friend. The first six months were great. We did all the normal things a couple does in a relationship. I asked him if we were bf/gf. That’s when he told me he never wanted to get married or have a LTR. That the last one he had was in his early 20′s (we’re both in our early 30′s). He said that although he didn’t want a relationship, he wanted to keep me dating. I went along for the ride for a month and a half. Finally I broke up with him. I couldn’t do it anymore. Right now I don’t regret the times we spent together (the good times). Although I cried a lot the first few days, I have no doubt in my heart and mind that I did the right thing. I have an inner peace that I didn’t feel before. The only thing that made me angry in all of this is that he never told me that he wanted something casual. Funny thing is that with me he did a lot of stuff he never did with other people (vacation, outdoor activities, listening to him, etc). Oh well, lesson learned.

  86. HF says:

    This blog has meant so much to me. I was recently in a very complicated, hurtful situation and had been trying to figure out exactly what happened. I made this good friend who just got out of a relationship. She was supportive of me when I was getting out of mine (a LTR). I initially didn’t see her as anything more than a friend, but then, all of a sudden, someone who I didn’t find attractive became gorgeous! We e-mailed and texted multiple times every day. We’d spend our weekends together. She told me she wasn’t interested in anything other than being friends, but she would flirt all the time with me, deliberately say things to make me touch her (tickle her), we held hands, we cuddled (on the couch and in her bed), we came close to kissing a couple of times and then did kiss and fool around. Even the emotional support was beyond what a good friend would provide. It had the hallmarks of a relationship. Then, just weeks later, there was this incredible awkwardness and horrible feeling I was left with everytime we hung out. It was beginning to affect me at work, I was distracted, my stomach would be in knots. I finally said that I needed space. I was clumsy about it, and it was the hardest thing to do. I guess I was fooled into believing she cared about me and that I was giving that up. I e-mailed her (I now realize what a bad idea that was) and told her I felt that, whether she meant to or not, she kinda led me on. I kind of expected “sorry you feel that way, I didn’t mean to lead you on, take the time you need.” Instead, her response was full of anger and frustration – no empathy or regard for me or my feelings. She said I saw what I wanted to see and that if her actions contradicted what she said, I should have called her on it. I even went back and said I could be friends with her, but she’s decided to walk away. It hurt so much. I thought, how could someone who I thought cared about me so much, be so hurtful and abandon me. There’s, of course, a lot more detail, but this blog and the comments have helped me see things more clearly. I allowed myself to fall into this situation due to a lack of self-esteem. Her walking away, though I don’t really understand her motivation, I choose to look at as her doing the right thing. I think she knew she hurt my feelings, but her self-esteem and insecurities wouldn’t let her admit it. I know I have more work to do on myself, bc I’m stuck in the “well, maybe the timing was off, and maybe she could be the woman I thought she was and who I wanted her to be” train of thought. She was so sweet and caring initially.

  87. Selah23 says:

    Wow thank you NML for your encouraging words.

    I definetly was the type that tried to use sex as a backdoot to the relationship. We were together for a year and a half. His decision to break up was very sudden and I still find it hard to understand after two years. His excuse was that he was trying to get his life/ career together and I was a distraction. I stuck around in hopes that we could still be friends and that friendship would turn into a relationship. I did have standards and boundaries at first and I told myself that u would not have sex with him because we were no longer together. But with very little effort on his part he had me in bed. The problem is it became the center of our “friendship” and I turned out to be the one offering up my goods in exchange for a moment of what I thought was love an affection. I’d be the one phoning him! And when I would get mad at him when he didn’t want to hang out and acuse him of using me for sex he would tell me that I was being a hypocrite and I need to move on. I would apologize and feel terrible about myself. He is not speaking to me we had sex two weeks ago and I feel horrible because I know that I taught him to treat me this way by showing him I had no boundaries or standards. I’m only on day 1 of no contact. Do you think that I am to blame for all this since I have been the one initiating the sex?

  88. Frenchie says:

    This is what just happened to me; “His rationale is that he’s told her everything that’s being going on his life and how he doesn’t want a relationship so he thinks that she understands the ‘terms’ and that he clearly isn’t in a position to be anything other than casual. What he hasn’t realised is that while he may have been upfront, at the same time his actions can be perceived as ‘mixed messages’.” He was completely honest about his “terms” which was casual dating. I did not realize that a month after he meet me, he meet someone else. I guess when you have a full time job it is hard to date 2 different persons (I asked him how many more he was seeing?). The crazy part of the story was; I was on the way out the door of a 14 years marriage (I was completely honest with him, I told him on our 1st date), and when I finally became single (2 months later), he dropped the bomb that he was dating someone else. All during that time, I thought he was being supportive and caring and telling me to go and meet other people, to take care of myself instead of me taking care of my husband and his children. I guess he was dropping hints all over the place. To answer the last comment “his action can be perceived as mixed messages”, he called when he said he would, he answered phone calls and text, he was extremely affectionate (always holding hands, kissing, rubbing my shoulders or putting his hands on my leg while driving or at the movie, and cuddling in bed).

    • grace says:

      Frenchie
      I was living with someone when I met the abusive ex. I get that people DO meet other people and it can work out but I think it’s more likely to crash and burn. You just don’t hear those stories very often because people are too embarrassed to share them. If someone is willing to date/have sex with an attached man/woman, then their values are probably already out of whack. They know that the chances of it being serious or even being perceived as serious are minimised.
      Also, “open casuals” are OFTEN very affectionate. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve put you on notice, so they can kick back and play the good guy. It works for them because human nature means that YOU’LL be more affectionate back. Whereas the “hidden casual” will try to manage down your expectations by doing the hot/cold/being a jerk . It’s just a variation of the same beast.
      Yes it’s mixed messages but after one or two such encounters, it becomes A LOT clearer.

  89. bright eyes says:

    This is an amazing post.

    Quite literally in my case this situation Natalie describes above with such cutting insight ate away at me until I developed cancer , in the left breast over my heart.

    With unerring exactitude Natalie describes me, my insecurities , naievities , dashed hopes and secret agendas and back door plans .What a naieve idiot I was . Mea Culpa . He saw me coming. She describes precisely his hints and suggestions of more and how he was only too willing to “hold me to a lower standard” , down manage me with crumbs , and manipulate me (and later a “girlfriend”and me and possibly 2 others at the same time ) with lies and half truths.

    I feel so much better to read this in black and white. He wasn t so special , just another user for 5 years . He got so much from me , love, support , care , unquestioning loyalty , friendship , nursing when ill, sex (of course) and gave back what ? A few dinners and an offer to spend Christmas with his family one year (no one else in his bed that year ) .He called me his dearest friend.
    Pain , pain, pain. Then cancer.

    I lived in serious depression for years over that situation and I struggled to break away from him. Unerringly the minute I would break free he would give chase and worm his way back with his promises and his dinners and his sheer persistence. Not that he had to try hard .He knew how I loved him and he used that bond to play me emotionally. He certainly got a great deal from me and didnt want to let me go .I would fight with him in a weak and vain attempt to create distance and it would all just cycle around..for 5 sorry years .

    In the end after a blatant revelation that he was using me for sex and comfort , while i was recovering from cancer treatment , while actually he was seeing someone else on a regular basis and telling her they were in a relationship , I did what i knew would work .
    I sent her a pleasant to the point letter (hes screwing us both and lying through his teeth kind of thing).

    To him this was the ultimate disloyalty ..me ratting on him to his GF ! (NOT him actually lying and screwing all over town nor taking advantage of my illness and vulnerability.. he didnt seem to notice that )

    I got my last crumby text ever a few days after i sent that letter ..”Nice one babe.” I guess I took away his shoulder to lean on , his Florence…

    • Fearless says:

      Bright eyes,

      sorry to hear your tale. You are so right about this post of Nat’s – it really is a cracker, so insightful. I think it’s my very favourite post. I have come back to read it a number of times – and I cringe and wince every time – but what a lesson! And boy do I need to learn it. I hope your doing better now. Best wishes to you!

  90. CurvyGirl33 says:

    Whoa Nelly…I mean Nat-y. This is my first time reading your blog. Second post tonight.
    And like the first one, this completely hurt my feelings!
    As in I literally just wiped away a couple teardrops. Which is sad, but not too sad. It’s a mirror reflecting what I already have an inkling of and do anyway because of all of the reasons mentioned above.
    Damn girl…you tell it like it t’-i-s as we say in the southern states :). And that’s just how some of us need to hear it! Thanks! Keep up the great work!

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