you're always going to be vulnerable on areas where you already judge you. when you stop, nobody can use it against you because you're not using it against you.

There’s a lot of people that I could compare myself to, but I don’t, or at least I try to keep it to a minimum and I’m very conscious of where it’s likely to happen. It’s my inner critic, the surprising perfectionist in me that can rear its ugly head and put me back on the “I’m not good enough” path. There’s a multitude of reasons why engaging in the regular self-hacking that is comparison is a must-kick habit. There’s healthy comparison that’s used to positively learn from the insights and grow – like when you compare your skills not your worth to a peer – and then there’s the unhealthy comparison that is a hatchet job that leaves you wounded.

When I first started writing Baggage Reclaim back in September 2005, I would look around at other sites and be tweaking and chopping and changing. I very quickly realised that this would defeat the purpose of what I was doing and kill what makes it original in its own right before it had a chance to blossom. I don’t want it to be an identikit version of something else.

Throughout my entire career I’ve seen great people and great things crushed by unhealthy comparison because neither knew how to exist in their own right. They had short-lived periods of contentment but at the back of the person or the company’s mind, was this pervasive urge to keep comparing so they kept making more and more changes and in the end, they were unrecognisable… and not in a good way. We don’t question what we believe based on that comparison and end up going off on an illogical tangent.

Healthy comparison doesn’t detract; it adds and it might even motivate you.

Fact is, there will always be people to compare to who you will deem as “better” as long as you fundamentally find you unacceptable.

I’m not perfect and try as I might, I’m never going to be. Fact. I could spend the rest of my life attempting to get as close to perfection as possible and no doubt beating myself up for my ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ while I’m at it, plus I could keep estimating and measuring myself against others in areas where I’m already my harshest critic.

You’re always going to be vulnerable in the areas where you already judge you which means if you want to reduce the vulnerability, stop judging you. Nobody can use it against you when you’re not using it against you.

You’re not perfect and you’re not supposed to be. While you’re busy decimating and censoring who you are to try and replace it with who you ‘should’ be (you know that annoying voice that keeps piping up and trying to drown out your true identity), you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You’re human and flawed like every other person on the planet so why keep busting your tail about something that really isn’t that special by focusing on your flaws?

Everybody has flaws and you can try and compare and go “Oh but they have less flaws than I do” but that’s bullshit borne out of you putting them on a pedestal and admiring them while putting you beneath them. Everybody has flaws it’s just that not all of us focus on them, not all of us see them in others (some of us do a mighty fine job of essentially sticking a pump up people’s bottoms and inflating them), and we’re not always in a position to be around someone when character is put to the test – we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

I don’t know why we continue to pedal this myth to ourselves that we’re not good enough and everybody is living the hunkydory lifestyle when we all know of people who have been and done things that surprise us, and it’s not in a good way. And yet we continue to compare.

What makes a person is character. Sadly it’s not what we always look for in others, nor is it always what we appreciate in ourselves.

Let’s be real, some of us believe that superficial stuff like appearance and status is character and along with these, we can be guilty of assuming that wealth, intelligence, and even accomplishments being present in a person are automatic precursors to them having character. That’s why I hear from so many people who have been with beautiful/attractive/highly intelligent/popular… assclowns. If you’ve been in this position, you’ve taken a detour and forgotten that character is what shows how someone will treat you.

What we tend to overvalue in others or ourselves is what we tend to compare ourselves on, while attributing nil or a miniscule value to our character and what really matters. We may have literally no sense of our qualities and characteristics because we’ve spent our entire life comparing, for example, our appearance.

Oddly though, we can admire and even love people for what essentially boils down to superficial stuff that doesn’t rely on character and then feel wounded when we feel that they’ve not valued our character, which doesn’t make sense. How can you ignore code red issues and focus on the stuff that isn’t making a difference to how you’re treated or feel, but then feel bad about you not being valued by them beyond anything superficial?

We compare our appearance, accomplishments and even what we perceive to be our skills to others but these are the moving goalposts of life. We age, accomplishments can decrease in relevance and value, and skills evolve and in some cases, get replaced and automated in our modern world. Some of this stuff can be linked to your character but if it is, and for instance, your skills change, it doesn’t mean that your character has which is all the more reason why we shouldn’t see ourselves as a ‘failure’ (failed person).

All of these things change and can even be taken away, but what you cannot take away is character and it can and does exist while you’re being human, which means that you’re going to err in this life but it doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy.

It’s a hell of a lot easier to reduce comparison and it’s impact on you (which can literally be tormenting) when you are somebody you respect and you ultimately possess or are working on evolving into the characteristics and values that matter to you in others. When you respect your character and can appreciate you for the small, medium, and large-sized things that you do and are in your life, the changes you’ve made, the adversities you’ve overcome etc., you prioritise character and these aspects in others.

It doesn’t matter what other people are doing with their lives because it’s their lives and you focusing on their lives and hacking at you isn’t going to change the fact that you have your own life to put your stamp on and that you’re a unique person on a journey that you and only you will make. You can keep measuring you against others but it’s illogical and irrelevant, not least because you’re not the same and we each have different thinking and behavioural habits as well as experiences.

Does appearance, status etc open doors? Absolutely, but an open door doesn’t mean contentment beyond the door frame. There are a lot of people who have the things that you want but are unhappy or whose character undermines the very thing that you overvalue while devaluing you.

Why keep diminishing you with comparison? The more you do it, the less there is of you.

Instead of comparing, respect and appreciate what you do have, no matter how small you think that is because it paves the way to growth. There will always be something and someone you can compare to which is all the more reason why you’re on this journey to discover, reclaim, and appreciate you.

Your thoughts?

You can listen to this post on SoundCloud.

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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155 Responses to Why You’ve Got To Minimise Comparison To Improve Your Self-Esteem

  1. amanda says:

    This is great to read. I’ve been working with a younger programmer at my work this week, and its taking all kinds of good self-esteem skills to remind myself that his impressive talents do not render mine obsolete. At the same time, I want to learn from him, so it pays to be humble and open-minded. There is a fine line between these two attitudes, and I thank the community here for helping figure out how to walk it. Also, I’m an ex-OW who has just learned that the ex-MM is finally separating from his wife. He’s spared me the temptation to rekindle my fantasies for him, because he’s moving in with the Chief Sympathizer of his harem (not me). In older days, I would have beat myself up mercilessly. The other shoe finally dropped, but into her lap, not mine! I would have compared myself to her needlessly. While it admittedly stings, somewhere in the back of my brain, where I’ve kept a tiny candle lit in hopes that when this day came, he would run to me, I am overall relieved to not be the one on the front line, Florence Nightingaling away at him. Let the Chief Sympathizer wipe the mud and the tears off his face!

  2. Robin says:

    This is why I was very frustrated in my last (honestly, also my only) relationship! My ex was always comparing our relationship to other people’s, because he felt they had something better than we did. He even compared me to other people, and I had to insist, quite often, that I’m not other people. It got to a point where I literally asked, “Who are you dating? Me or these other couples/people?” I think that comparing yourself to others in an unhealthy way often diverts the focus from your needs and what you need to do to improve yourself and/or the relationship.

    • John Hasting says:

      Oh my… that’s wacky. Glad you’re out of that and clearly you have a level head and should find someone worthy of you!

  3. almond milk says:

    This really hits home. I have been agonizing over publishing when I am not even sure I want a tenure track research career. I did receive a revise and resubmit request from a good journal but I don’t feel very motivated to do it when I lost one of my jobs to an injury and r&r would essentially be an unpaid several month long effort with an uncertain result – and I might not even get a job on a basis of it since it would be my first publication. I am a single mom, my ex is behind on payments by 3k dollars and instead of feeling elated thay I got the PhD in my middle age in a quantitative field (magnolia I think I am about 10 years older than you) and that I am an awesome example to my children I am tearing myself down BC of my passive aggressive advisor’s disdain for teaching and nonacademic careers. I, however, need his letters for any kind of job. What should I do? How to change my attitude at a time when I am sick and short on money at the same time?

    • Cher says:

      Almond Milk follow your passion rather than your adviser. I too faced a similar situation with my “anti-advisor”. I obtained my doctorate and work in an area that I enjoy, despite his unadvice.

  4. Healing One says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this because, quite frankly, it’s deadly. It keeps us feeling insecure and it does not honor our own experiences! As a 51 year-old woman, I finally stopped comparing myself to to others. I had to, in order to stay sane and with some semblance of peace. But what’s very interesting is that I have been comparing myself to my younger self, body-wise. Wow. There is nothing more startling than seeing my flat belly expand, no matter how many crunches I do! The key is simple self-acceptance–full-on, no-holds-barred acceptance. But it’s not easy. Comparison (even to one’s younger self) negates who we are, where we are, and our unique experiences.
    Blessings!

    • Lilia says:

      Healing One,
      My older relatives always tell me not to look at photo´s of myself when I was younger (I´m 41 now) – there´s nothing more depressing!

      • Jennifer Tiffany says:

        41! My aunt is near fifty and just striking. Beauty can grow with age, really. And you are young Lilia. Enjoy it and enjoy life!

  5. Theresa says:

    Wow! Pretty powerful stuff…and boy did I need that! But the problem for me is that I am woefully inadequate in so many areas in my life. I’m socially inept, can’t seem to take a hint until it is too late. This happens repeatedly, therefore, I’m the problem. Can’t seem to know where people’s personal boundaries are and often cross the line. Hopefully, your posts will help me with that. Feel terribly alone…and just very sad.

    • Revolution says:

      Therese,

      Please don’t get overly down on yourself. I actually find “social ineptitude” in people quite endearing at times, so long as it’s matched with a kind and honest heart. The opposite–people who know how to play others like a fiddle in social circles–are the people who scare me and who I avoid like the Spanish Flu.

      Plus, I doubt you’re as inept as you feel. And trust me, I’m an extrovert and I STILL put my foot in my mouth several times a day and/or rub people the wrong way sometimes without even knowing it. But I find that expression to be so true: “Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind.” Those who see the great things in you (things you might not see in yourself) will be forgiving of our rough edges. Because we all have them.

      I bet you can think of at least one person who loves you just the way you are. Even if it’s just one person you can think of who laughs at your jokes and who’s eyes sparkle with understanding when you look at them…..even if only one person, well then you’re doing pretty damn good. :)

    • Following my instinct says:

      the fact that you are self aware makes me think it is not as bad as you might perceive it to be. Furthermore, what can be classified as social ineptitude can just be reserved and (as theresa said) can be endearing.

      I am an extrovert in social settings and almost always comes across as the life (or one the life) of parties. However my it is my default reaction when I am in social settings, I find silence to be uncomfortable in social groups so in my bid to avoid said silence end up making a spectacle of myself….sometimes I regret said spectacle…most times I don’t.

  6. MaryC says:

    You can’t really know what goes on behind closed doors as we all see in the news everyday. “He/She seemed like such a good person I can’t believe they did X, Y or whatever Z is”. Given that why try to hold yourself up to an impossible standard when you don’t really know what the standard is.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life its most be people “talk” a good game but they’re far from what they say. I have enough to worry about with myself to worry about someone else’s “wonderful” life. If their’s is wonderful good for them now let me get on making mine so.

  7. Tired says:

    Thankyou nat
    Its what i needed to read today . Im okay as i am , id been tormenting myself .

  8. Flori says:

    Natalie, I just have to say that your words are so encouraging. Unlike so many other blogs on dating, yours manages to empower rather than make one feel inadequate. You address core issues rather than superficial strategies. This post is so inspiring! I do struggle with relationship difficulties and your blog has helped me much this past year. I feel so less alone when reading one of your posts.

  9. K says:

    Natalie,

    This post BLOWS me away! This is partly why I got caught up into my last psychopath, APPEARANCE. Good looking, successful,nice house, projected Mr. Christian man. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

    CHARACTER MATTERS!!!

    I had to question my own character in choosing an idiot like this. WTF? Not only was he without character or empathy, I was focusing on superficial shit! This is from my family or origin who placed a MONUMENTAL value on image, money and success. Well, I have NONE of that, so guess what’s left?

    And in all of that ‘success’ came copious amounts of abuse. I learned to OVER VALUE superficial appearances. To this DAY it is still difficult NOT to compare. I was MISERABLE in my marriage of 20 years with another psychopath and there WAS financial success. Buying a whole bunch of pretty things for my home, a new car or clothes did NOTHING to make me happy. All it did was allow us the monetary ability to take misery wherever we went, including on vacation!

    I’m happy to be single and free of all of that crap, but I still have work to do in one of the BIGGEST issues which is comparing myself to others and APPEARANCES OF SUCCESS. I’m learning to focus on my own abilities and not the monetary privileges of others, and many of them miserable and without character!

    • Ms Determined says:

      K,

      I think I share the same biggest problem. My childhood do-everything-together-until we-get-old-and-die BEST FRIEND 4 EVAH!!!! grew up to be an internationally famous movie star. I can’t tell you how stabby this makes me. Now when I see her everywhere (every fucking women’s mag, face cream advert blah blah blah) all I can think (adopt whiny, pathetic tone) is ‘WHAT HAPPENED TO MEEEEEEEEEE?????’ This comes with a side helping of rejection because of course the more famous she became, the less I heard from her. Now we rarely, if ever communicate. I just feel like some kind of shitty famewhore when I try to get through her gatekeepers, so I just gave up trying. She knows where I am if she wants to find me (mostly at home; drinking wine out of a cardboard box, reading BR and being non-specifically outraged and shit. Can’t think why she wouldn’t want to attend that A-list party).

      Fucking success stories. They can get fucked.

      • Chrysalis says:

        Ms Determined. I bet uber famous face cream gal couldn’t in a lifetime put together the brilliant, acerbic, insightful sometimes hilarious comments that you post on this site. If I had the choice to drink wine out of a cardboard box with an intelligent extremely witty lady or smooze at A listers party Id pick the former any day!

        • Lilly says:

          Me too!

        • Lilia says:

          Ms Determined
          I´m certain each and every one of us is wondering now who your ex-bff is.

        • natashya says:

          well said, chrysalis, me too. we’d need another cardboard box of wine, though!

          • Ms Determined says:

            Chrysalis et al. Let me make it a little harder for you to choose between my party, and her party. At my party, you might be reduced to going through the ashtray for any butts that might be good for another couple of drags. OR At her party, you might get the opportunity to swap tongues with Brad Pitt (I mean the Brad Pitt before those fucking douche-making Chanel ads. Given the choice after those ads were made, well, the ashtray’s hiding over there, under the box-o-wine cartons).

            See also: Daniel Craig and George Clooney.

            BUT LET’S NOT COMPARE, SHALL WE?
            Fuckitty fuck fuck etc.

            • Confused123 says:

              I think we’d all till choose you. Brad pitt is with Ms.Whack-job I-want-a-bazzilion-kids. (makes me question his sanity)
              and George is the Grand Poobha of Emotionally Unavailable Men and AC’s.
              As for Mr. Craig..hmm..Married and I’ sure no one wants to the OW to Rachel Weiss..
              BR reader’s have learnt fame-does-not-a-relationip make. :P
              Do who is your BFF??? Hint?

              • dancingqueen says:

                “Married and I’m sure no one wants to the OW to Rachel Weiss”

                I love him. He was on my Zig Zag card this year, dancing with me and Obama and my cat for Xmas…*sigh*

                • Ms Determined says:

                  Daniel Craig. Swoooooooon. If my ‘friend’ gets to swap tongues with him in the movie that’s coming out soon, I will cut myself.

                  • natashya says:

                    i did some sherlocking… i won’t mention names but i have a feeling i know who it is… i need a box of wine!

                    • Mymble says:

                      Initials?

                    • Ladies; much as I can’t help being curious myself, it’s against the terms of use to post identifiable information about others (I can be sued and I don’t want to bring my site into disrepute or encourage further identification) so this curiosity will have to be restrained.

  10. Kit-Kat says:

    This post reminded me of a quote I read shortly after the ending of my relationship with the AC.. He was always worried about how he was viewed by others. Wouldnt want anyone to think bad of him.
    I use to wonder what he told his family or friends about what happened between us but with time it doesnt really matter. I know & he knows the truth and thats really all that matters. I use to wish I haunted his dreams & sometimes I still do. He deserves that much & more :)

    “Reputation is about who u are when people are watching, Character is about who u are when u are alone in the rooom.”

    • Robin says:

      It’s like we both dated the same person, lol. I also knew someone else who would literally pretend to have the same viewpoints as his peers, even though later, when they weren’t around, he’d express what he really thought about the same topics.

    • Espoir says:

      Mine was /is/and will always be the same – what the hell is up with that ? He was concerned that one of his colleagues broke up with his GF because of him…he sent him away for work to often…or about the work spending budget when his personal budget was beyond hell…how about YOUR relationship and YOUR budget who is responsible for those ????
      Ok…. serenity now, serenity now :)

  11. Revolution says:

    Natalie,

    As one of the writers who visits (and comments on) your blog, I first have to say that I am noticing a maturation in your writing (which is already so beautifully to-the-point and living with that beautiful “voice” of your–and yours alone). That said, this was yet another thought-provoking post. They seem to get meatier and meatier, and this one is like a fine top sirloin. Served bloody with truth, the way I like it. :)

    I approach this subject from a slightly different perspective than some, as I’ve never looked for the superficial in men. I never wanted the typical Ken doll, two kids, the Barbie Dream House (TM), etc. I always liked men who had personality and substance, men I could talk deeply with, men with whom I had chemistry. But guess what I found out? This is just as bad as looking for men who are in a certain tax bracket or drive a Mercedes (yuck). Because guess what? Whether he’s Donald Effin’ Trump or the Beat poet on the corner or the musician that’s looking to write his most raw album and carry you along with him on the journey….well. Any which way you slice it, it doesn’t equal looking for a man’s “character.”

    I find myself at a loss sometimes, because the last AC acted like a gentlemen, didn’t try anything untoward with me, etc. We had deep conversations, he didn’t hit me up for cash (Ugh, yes, exes in the past–read:musicians–did that. *shrinks away in embarassment*)and was generally a nice guy. I knew him for about a year and a half before developing feelings for him, and guess what? After all of that (and thankfully not sleeping with him!), he still ended up lacking in character. Significantly.

    But you know what? I acted like a lady at the end. I returned the shirt he lent me (washed and folded), told him exactly what he did wrong and that I didn’t deserve and wouldn’t allow that type of disrespectful treatment in my life for a hot minute, and then said that I wished him well, always had and would continue to, always. And then I WALKED.

    And THAT, my friends, is CHARACTER.

    • John Hasting says:

      What is “AC” please?

      • natashya says:

        @john hasting: AC = assclown:

        - one, who, through the fault of his parents conception, is a skid mark in society’s collective underwear.
        - an unmitigated fool or jerk; a sad sack; a tool or goof
        - A form of the more common Failure combined with an Ass Hole. Basically a combination of the worst traits of both: the mental, social, and physical shortcomings of a Failure, with all the obnoxious douchebaggery of an Ass Hole.
        etc. etc.
        (source: urbandictionary)

        • Following my instinct says:

          “is a skidmark in society’s collective underwear” LMAO I have to use this someday.

        • Kit-Kat says:

          Thanks Selkie… I’m sure I read it B4 but the refresher was a reminder of what I am “NOT” looking for in mate :)

          • runnergirl says:

            John Hastings, plug AC/Assclown in the search engine…You’ll find some amazing stuff. Hope to hear back from you.

    • Sunshine says:

      Rev, I literally wanted to click on the “Like” button, but realized this isn’t Facebook:) Well put!

  12. Wise ol owl says:

    It’s horrible when you meet someone, feel attraction to them and put them on these pedestals. When I’ve done it, they not only fall off of it eventually, they bring the whole chair down crashing to the ground. It’s then I realize that hiding all your flaws and projecting this “perfect” image IS a flaw. Everyone struggles, and everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, no matter how beautiful they appear to be. I’ve always had more fun with the guys that can laugh over both our flaws. It’s more human. I’m working on not acting like an idiot when in the company of someone i find outwardly beautiful–there’s a whole inside to discover., and that may or may not be so beautiful.

  13. Gina says:

    And let the curvh say AMEN!! Just what I needed to hear exactly when I need to hear it! Thanks again Nat.

  14. Gina says:

    “church”

  15. SheGeeks says:

    Loved this post! Out of all the things I have had to work on within myself, Self Esteem has been HUGE. When I divorced AC #1, I went through months of therapy. Along came AC #2. I knew as I sat there and told my therapist that I no longer needed him, that I was propping my self esteem up on the elated sense of self from the new man (you know the phase where they make you feel like a goddess). I knew I still needed work on my self esteem, but doubted my therapist’s claim of being able to help me in that area.

    I guess it was a mixture of not believing he could help me if no one else ever had/and taking the easy way out (in reality, not really). Between myself and AC #2 there was a constant comparison of myself against other women. He loved to tell me his old relationship stories, and even about his reoccurring dreams of his ex’s. I was always trying to shift/tweak myself to be “better” then all the rest. I became rather depressed. When I found out of the painful event on our wedding day, I remember sitting there with him and stating that I was just another effing girl in his long line of women (and here I thought I was special because he had married me when falling through on so many others).

    I went back to therapy, and she helped me sort some things out, but I still won’t give her credit for something in me “shifting”. I give that credit to the man upstairs. All the sudden I just started thinking with a different perspective. I started to make myself a priority. I started to respect myself, and focus on what things would make me happy and like myself better. That helped speed along divorce #2. Whew…

    I am still on my journey and each day gets better with learning to truly appreciate myself. This article just further enforces so many things I needed to hear. Thank you!

  16. Theresa says:

    Hey Natalie, Should have said ‘Thank you’ in my comments. See, social misfit I am (smiling sheepishly).

  17. Amy says:

    YES!!! This is crazy making at it’s finest. It’s particularly bad when you’re a bit overweight, don’t have a perfect face, or are over 40. We’re our own worst enemy!!
    This is something I’ve been struggling with for a while – why should I have to contort myself into being something that I’m not just to meet the requirements of the legions of shallow men out there looking for their “perfect” woman?
    Self-acceptance and self love is tough when you’re bombarded with external messages that say you’re not “attractive”, but it’s an absolute MUST if we’re going to go through life with any shred of dignity.
    We starve ourselves, work ourselves into sickness, for what? To meet someone else’s expectations of what we should be? F that!! I’ve spent too many years of my life hating myself for what I wasn’t, comparing myself to women who were beautiful on the outside, but deeply troubled and toxic on the inside.
    Trying to contort myself into some psycho pretzel that should qualify me for one of those acrobatic circuses.
    Why? for what reward?
    Life can be really bloody empty and sad if we go through it trying to become something that isn’t true to who we are.

    • MSA says:

      Amy,

      Let me just add… your confidence and self-esteems shows on the outside regardless of your looks. It’s where we should all start. I have seen countless numbers of not-so-beautiful overweight women as per the world’s definition and extremely happy in their relationships, adored by their partners. I took it as a study. For one, they don’t compromise thinking “I have to sacrifice some of my values because I’m not so good on the outside”. No! You are worthwhile, now it’s time to act like it. It’s like when they say, “feel sexy and you’ll look sexy”. You need to start from the inside first. If you want to exercise or diet or whatever, do it.. just not desperately. It’s good to stay healthy and fit either way, but don’t let it eat you up.
      I know someone who was overweight, she did everything she could to lose those pounds and couldn’t. Then she was with an AC for 2 years, he made her feel like sh**, she exercised and lost all of her extra weight, and he still told her things like, “This outfit brings out your extra pounds” and stuff that put her down. Eventually, he even dumped her for another less attractive girl and did all the AC stuff (acknowledged her on FB, introduced her to his family, etc). Now, my friend had lines of previous crushes who started to notice her after she got slim. She despised all of them. She gained some of her weight again after the breakup, but she’s emotionally healthier, it was a slap on the face that made her realize how some a’holes can make you feel like garbage even when you’re in your best shape. She’s more confident now, even after regaining some weight and with her attitude, she gets the deserved attention. She’s one of those happily single ladies out there that won’t bend for an AC.

      • Robin says:

        @MSA: I agree. I think confidence comes first, way before exercising to lose weight or whatever. You have to be ok with where you are first. THEN you can see if there are any changes that YOU want to make to your life that you know you would definitely benefit from. No one else can give you that confidence (or, like in your comment, they can in fact beat it down!). I remember worrying about a family member who I knew would try to beat my confidence down no matter what I achieved. I was told, “You have to do this for you, and no one else. Only you know what you can do.” To me, that pretty much sums up self-confidence right there.

  18. Confused123 says:

    “I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have it all. My money, my time, my body, my dog, my dog’s money. I will assume your debts and project upon you all sorts of nifty qualities you’ve never actually cultivated in yourself. I will give you all this and until I am so exhausted and depleted the only way I can recover is by being infatuated with someone else.”

    I heard this line in movie Eat Pray Love and I almost burst into tears tonight. This was me with my ex-AC.

    I was at a conference with the ex-AC today. I was polite and cordial with him and it’s was very very easy. I had my 100 watt smile on. It was shocking how I felt absolutely nothing for him. It was a serene calm. The indifference was refreshing. I felt I no longer cared either way anymore. My self esteem is so much better.

    But when I think about them together, my heart crashes. Let me be clear, I DON’T want him back. EVER! It’s the idea that he changed for her after cheating and dumping me, that hurts more than anything. It’s like I meant nothing, I was time pass. That kills my self-esteem. It’s like I fixed him so that he can be with her…I know that it’s not true (I doubt anyone can fix him) but why does my head tell me this crap?

    I had to hear about their last summer trip to BC and Portland and the fact that she’s been introduced to his family after being together less than a year. (Mutual friends issue) that made me physically nauseas tonight . All this hurts even though I don’t want him. Why? I think it’s the loss of what we could have had.. “The potential “ as Nat put it that sucks my self esteem …..and I do compare myself to her and wonder why her? Any advice on how to deal with this?

    • MSA says:

      Confused123,

      I hear your pain and know where you’re at. There’s a whole post, or chain of posts by Nat on this issue, you can start here: http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/i-cant-believe-theyve-changed-whats-wrong-with-me/
      I don’t claim to have a key to resolve your pain, but I’ve been there and I think the best remedy is try not to hear anything about him. Another post by Nat is “he’s just not that special” and its revisited post. You never know if they’re happy, even if they are, he’s just not good enough for you. Maybe she puts up with BS, something you wouldn’t. I told my ex he needed someone with no brains, someone whose character is a blank page for him to write, draw and scribble on all he wanted. I am sure some ladies would be thrilled by that, I’m not! Period! Again, this isn’t about your ineptness, it’s about his. Yeah, so what, he’s happy in a new relationship. Let him be, he found what he’s looking for… worst case scenario for you, right? Not really, if he’s looking for a piece of sh**, would you want to be that? I understand he might be all polished and seemingly a catch, but your experience with him says otherwise. You’re better off, and I know you already feel it, you said it. So, all what is left now is for you to stop pondering on HIS life. Let it be.. he’s now just another stranger AC that you don’t want to know anything about. Hang in there and know you’re not alone. It’s a repeated scenario with ACs, especially the narcissists, which I think he could be one.

    • natashya says:

      confused123, what you describe about him now being god’s gift to the new GF, i totally get. from time to time i torture my self with the same thoughts. and of course, when i think back of all the things he did for his ex while i had to practically beg for a hug or a kiss, i feel enraged!

      it does not matter how they treated an ex, the current gf, the mailman, the beggar in the street, their dog. all that matters is how they treated us: LIKE AN ASSCLOWN! that’s all we need to know. we deserve so much better.

      • jewells says:

        Confused – my story is that my exMM AC, when I freaked and told him to tell his wife or I would with HIS text messages in hand (there were alot since, like every other AC, conducted most of the relationshit by text), then of course on par with all MM AC’s threw me under the bus and declared ‘Mistake!’. I did grill him on why he would do this considering all he told me – how much he loved me, that we would be spending a looooong time together, blah blah insert more AC B.S….. that their marriage was secretly over – agreed upon by both a year ago…blah blah insert more b.s….. I was confused for a long time over what was said during the relationshit, in comparison to the end. Nothing added up, couldn’t make heads or tails of any of it. Then I began to read BR, and it all started to fall into place – I was trying to make sense out of nonsense, which was driving me mad. I have been diligently reading BR since I found it shortly after the breakup, in here I have found the pieces that made sense out of it all and in return I have begun to find my self esteem again. The piece that you and MSA and Natashya have given me just now relates to an article that I had found that was about his wife (she works occasionally as a stunt woman), well, it was more of a fantasy photo shoot for GQ of her in nothing but panties, pronounced emphasis on the fake boobs and in the Q&A it asked “what is your burning desire?” her response was “I once had to jump from a burning building wearing nothing but a short skirt, and the firemen below had huge smiles on their faces…” That statement now pretty much tells me all I need to know about their relationship and why she is still with him despite his glaringly AC behaviours, and serial cheating…

        • jewells says:

          Oh, that and he also told me in our final conversation that how they wound up together was that they had been ‘couple’ friends when she was with her ex husband and he had a girlfriend. When she left her AC 1st hubby, she had nothing but her minivan and 10 year old son, and he was single at that point. So he invited her to move into his place, and they were married within the year. Catching her at her most vulnerable and on rebound much???

          • jewells says:

            And to add, tho at a point I was going down the road of comparison to her and her looks, body and job… those thoughts ate my self esteem, then I realized that despite everything she has superficially, she’s on her 2nd AC hubby… and I’m free and now armed with BR knowledge to get out there and find a non AC partner, without hinderance…

    • Amy says:

      Confused123 – I went through this a few times. Dated guys who were “just not that into me”, living on crumbs and fantasy, and then when they dumped me I bought into the masochistic habit of remaining “friends” with these guys post-breakup. The only reason I did this was because we had mutual friends and were in the same social circle. However, in my experience this can be really painful and lead to situations like what you’re experiencing.
      Tell your mutual friends that you no longer want to hear about this ex. Be cordial and polite to him if you have to mix in a professional setting but otherwise – no contact, no info, no random photos popping up on your Facebook feed. You need a news blackout!. This is just another boundary you have to establish.

      I agree what MSA stated, Nat has some great posts about this on BR.

      It has taken me years to figure this out, but there is no written rule that says you have to remain “friends” with an ex who broke your heart, messed with your head, couldn’t accept you for who you are.
      In some cases, I went out and found new friends and/or broke ties with those mutual friends who couldn’t respect that boundary. I think social media just makes this whole thing worse – it’s harder to get away from.

      The bottom line is there is no magic wand or magic potion to transform us into what this or that man wants. Some of them have no idea WHAT they want. Even if we COULD do this, why would we want to? My new mantra is “He’s not that special” and even if we think he is.. he’s not.

      The answer to “why her and not me?” has an infinite number of possible answers but none of them will give you peace of mind.

      • jewells says:

        I think the only peace of mind about that is getting to the point of realizing ‘thank goodness he chose her and not me, now I can find someone who deserves and appreciates what I have to give, because obviously he didn’t, so he’s not for me’.
        I also suffer from the ‘potential’ trap. The ‘my love will conquer all’ trap. The ‘what if’s’ trap. I am over this with him for the most part, however I still get the occasional pang and start down one of those roads in my mind, then thankfully, Nathalie’s voice of reason in the form of the applicable blog post puts up the roadblock that says ‘don’t go there he wasn’t who you thought he was, stop kidding/torturing yourself it was a fantasy, remember who he turned out to be…’ He was a reactionist, a liar, a manipulator, a con artist, a cheater, disloyal, no staying power, dishonorable, a fraud, a conniver… oh the list could go on! All that underneath an incredible charm and magnetsm. It’s all in remembering ‘what lies beneath’ is what counts. Forget the feelings he invoked within you, no, strike that, REMEMBER the feelings – they are yours, and need to create those for yourself in yourself so that you are not at the mercy of these scoundrels who would use this otherwise lack to their own benefit. This is just me talking to me, writing it and seeing this sometimes just solidifies the thoughts…

        • jewells says:

          Oh, I forgot ‘cowardly-ass’ in the list – that was first and foremost really…
          Then there’s ‘man-child’….
          bwahaahahahahahaha

          Bottom line: He’s not ‘man’ enough for me! Now that he’s cleared out good and proper, I can go find myself a REAL man – Yeeehaaaa!

    • Ms Determined says:

      Ahh Confused,

      I know, right? Weird how we can be totally OK with seeing the back of their shitty, shitty asses, but somehow the idea of them being different with someone else absolutely tears us UP. But your assclown is undoubtedly no different to any other. Rest assured he’ll continue to be a dick, because he can’t ‘do’ anything else, but be a dick. (But he can go eat one, that’s for goddamn sure.)

      When my supposedly repentant ex went into ‘rescuer’ mode and ran off with the single mother he’d been shagging behind my back, leaving me AGAIN, ironically, a single mother to his own child (asshole), I just couldn’t let it be that easy for him. I wrote her an email spelling out exactly what level of deception he’d had to pull off to make the both of us think we had a full time, committed bloke. She said she agreed, was suitably outraged and was going to dump his shitty ass. But somehow during the the dumping, she carelessly allowed his penis to enter her person. Once again dickmatised, she imagined the inimitable power of her love, (or her magical vagina, whatever) would transform him from cretinous cheater to committed cherub, and it would be babies, marriage and love til death do us…barf.

      I told both of them they deserved each other and that they could both totally fuck the fuck off. Full NC was not an option (see: shared 11 month old child) but at child pick up times, everything I needed to say about the baby I wrote in an exercise book, and I asked him to do the same. There was almost no communication whatsoever at drop off (unless you count the pants-shitting Ms Determined Spitting Molten Acid from Eyeballs Stare of Death©).

      I spent the next three months gnashing my teeth, watching the nauseating slideshow as the carousel of my mind went round and around, and around. I pictured them hand in hand, traversing the land of bluebirds, stopping to sniff the rainbows. Him and her reclined on a bed of silky-soft unicorns, her much younger and tauter and slimmer thighs wrapped around his…er…I have a text message. What’s this? It’s from HER! Ugh. Wait. What? You had a termination today, and you can’t find him anywhere? And it’s midnight? Really? Well, I’ll be damned!

      I had to hand it to him, he was scaling new and as yet untested heights. My god, he was the undisputed SIR EDMUND HILARY OF ASSHOLES.

      But of course I ignored it the text and turned off my phone. I mean, WTF was I supposed to do??? I woke up to 14 increasingly frenzied and insane voicemails, culminating in her drunkenly screaming down the phone “I KNOW HE’S THERE, PUT HIM ON!!!” I mean I felt sorry for her but, yunno, decorum and shit.

      The next time I saw him at pick up, I opened the door to an assclown with a face that had clearly been on the receiving end of a few fists sometime in the preceding days. I looked that fucker up and down and told him that under the circumstances I thought it best if the baby stayed with me until the circus left town. And I closed the door. They stayed together for another 7 MONTHS. Possibly out of embarrassment. Can you imagine? Having decided it was probably ‘a little bit soon’ for a baby, apparently it was just dandy timing to enter into a joint housing purchase (but then, it was mostly her money. Surprise). Which was also fine until she found out he’d been shagging her boss; who he’d met ONCE when he’d accompanied her to one of her work functions. Well, DUH lady. I did warn you. The guy has a cock made of lady kryptonite or something.

      And that same shitty, shitty assclown still has the audacity to test the waters with me now and then. He *almost* had me again once, he’s that fucking good (and by good, I mean fucking DIABOLICAL). But I remembered before I plunged into that abyss again, that he will never, ever, ever, change, and of course Confused, neither will yours. Assclowns. Always with the being a dick. Re the new lady of your ex, sit back, grab the popcorn, DIS GONNA BE GUD.

      (Actually, don’t bother. As with all melodramas, the ending is predictable and the acting is fucking shit.)

      • Victorious says:

        Sooo funny Ms D. You really brighten up my day. Of course you are right and then never change. An AC who I worked with (never intimate with) shagged anything that moved behind his girlfriends back. Had kids with her and somehow he kept getting away with it. Loads of complants filed against him but nothing until about 6 years later he shagged the wrong person and she made sure he got the sack by telling all about what they got up to on company premises/company time/company money etc. You would think that would be that, but this week I get a complaint from yet another employee who he has been sexting, even after he left. He just CANNOT STOP HIMSELF. It’s a compulsion, they are attention whores. It actually disgusts me.

      • Mymble says:

        Wow. You got yourself a right one there. He deserves a lifetime award for assholery.
        It’s funny too, I have never yet heard of a woman who either heeded the warnings of previous victims (I mean partners) or took note of what had happened, and bailed.
        It’s always rationalised and dismissed with one or both of the following;
        1.she’s mean/jealous/crazy/a liar/troublemaker/didn’t understand him/psycho
        2. It’s different now because I am special and he really loves me.
        All OW thinking comes down to one or both of the above, and also anyone who ignores AC behaviour in a previous relationship.

        Both

      • Confused123 says:

        LOL! Determined…Classic LOL!. I am sorry you had to go through that. They really do think they are god-gift-to-women-kind. :)
        Have you thought of writing a book? We can team up on the project. Between your writing skills and my imagination (think: projecting quality these AC that they never learnt or even know about), we’d have a best seller. We could retire to an AC free island and sip Mia-tai while getting lotion rubbed on us by the pool boy.
        I was tempted to warn her but after I learnt more about her character from our mutual buddies I let it be. She is a big self centered little princess (again, likes to get her way) as he is a narcissist.
        Mymble is absolutely correct. She justify it as me being jealous and crazy.
        The thought did occur to me but I realized that I could not care less how it goes with them. None of my business anyway. Plus, she’ll get it soon enough on her very own. :)

      • dancingqueen says:

        “I had to hand it to him, he was scaling new and as yet untested heights. My god, he was the undisputed SIR EDMUND HILARY OF ASSHOLES.”

        *snort:)*

  19. rsj says:

    Yes. Contrast effect. Evil. And pervasive. Practically everything perpetuates/reinforces the contrast effect in some way. As do many PEOPLE (consciously or otherwise).

    The endless reminders, re-enforcers and proponents of these things make it difficult to realise/ignore without a concerted effort to educate self and not think in those terms.

    Not thinking in those terms is often in itself an alienating experience, in an increasingly emotionally immature world that places value/emphasis on minimising the contrast and fitting in; where being the same is valued and celebrated (or in some cases, less cause for worry/concern).

  20. Tired says:

    Confused , i do that alot just lately . I dont like him very much anymore . But i think its all part of the healing process . It is as nat says that you . What he did after you were gone is about him . I somtimes wish i had slapped him hard round the face when he offered it to be punched . That would have shook him . But i was what i have always been toooooo niceee. All i can say is she is new and unaware of the character to unfold . We never see what goes on behind closed doors . Tell your friends you dont want to know protect yourself look through him like he never registerd on your rictor scale . He overlapped ,never learning who is , but filling the non contentedness with someone who instead of looking at him k owing what he is as ypu do looks at him as the be all and end all . The ex mm knew what i thought of him i had a tint of sadness bout me that he had bought .his new gf has yet to be tainted . But it will unfold , shell catch the little half truths , little lies , he allready has so it shows what his respect of her shows , that its his arse and always his arse that he cares for . Concentrate on all the things you are gonna do this yr , a holiday and meeting the folks does not a relationship make :) xx

  21. Harriet says:

    “All of these things change and can even be taken away, but what you cannot take away is character and it can and does exist while you’re being human, which means that you’re going to err in this life but it doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy ….

    Does appearance, status etc open doors? Absolutely, but an open door doesn’t mean contentment beyond the door frame.”

    Great words to live by!

    One of the toughest things I’m learning, and am interested to see others learn, is how to get things somewhat wrong in the course of life, sort them out (somewhat rightly) and keep going without conspicuously forcefeeding myself radioactive asbestos ash humiliation pie so others can see how seriously I’m taking my mistake “for their benefit.”

    The equally bad flip-side of all-or-nothing thinking has been to try to justify what was said, done, etc at all costs.

    The green and peaceful other path that BR is helping me explore is to be able to get it somewhat wrong, acknowledge it could be better, pick up pieces as necessary, try to do it better next time, and still be prepared not to be superhumanly right.

    It seems there is a real art to being able to be ordinary and fallible and comfortable with that :-) and that’s a big part of feeling good about myself and my life from day to day.

    Wishing you all happy times ahead!

  22. MSA says:

    Not only do we erode our self-esteem through comparisons, but other people can greatly contribute, handing us that pump to inflate others while deflating our own selves, esteems, and self images. God, is this post right on time!

    I am taking my boys (8&11) on a 6-hour away trip (by bus) in about 2 weeks. My elder son has a moderate knee injury. I asked his doctor and he advised us to choose seats with enough space for my son to not bend his knees and if possible to keep it straight on another seat. I did that and hoping it turns out fine. I can’t afford plane tickets. Here I am enjoying a nice Saturday morning with my boys, they are very happy when I spend mornings with them since I work full time… when my mom calls me with a brilliant idea, “Why don’t their dad pay for you to go on your trip by plane?” FFS, he’s an effing narc/AC. I know he CAN afford, but what kind of pump I’d be sticking up his own bottom when I play a damsel in distress and offer him the sword and shining armour to save me and my children (his too, but oh well, when he’s a saviour, he’s one for us all!!), that is, IF he agrees in the first place, which I am almost sure he wouldn’t. Guess what gave her the idea!! “Your aunt just called me, and your cousin is going on the same trip this weekend by plane” So, now, I’m not only aggravated at my own inability to offer my kids an easy trip (though we’ll be staying at a 4* star hotel, yet, something has to be wrong with what I’m doing), but I’m also stuck in comparison with who else can afford it and why I had to choose such an a’hole for a husband in the first place. My day is spoilt and I’m sitting here fuming after the phone call.

    I’m trying to calm myself down, and tell myself it won’t be long until I’m away and on a better job and all that, but then again, who knows! I can only hope.

    On another note, after reading Nat’s post, as brilliant and well-timed as it always is, I had a couple of questions, or I was rather wondering. If I have good self-esteem in general, like I am satisfied with my character, skills and potential, but then I see other inept people with better “circumstances”. I die a little inside when I see how life can be so easy for them, and why I’m being rewarded with such a difficult one. It’s not that I just want better stance or status, but I am really struggling with a lot, and I see others who just have it easy and smooth. Sometimes, I think, Does life see me as a strong person, so testing me with more obstacles? If I were weaker and I’d easily break down and give up, would it stop fighting me? Will my fights and struggles be rewarded any time soon? I am stuck in a job I am over qualified for, can’t find another.. trying to file a divorce in a society that looks down on females, let alone divorced/separated ones.. and doing my best not to let my boys feel any distress as a result and to make them live a life as nearest to normal as possible.

    I also believe social networks are a MAJOR self-esteem cancer. What you see daily is photos of happy people doing amazing stuff and having a blast daily with their perfect happy families. Oh, What a beautiful life they’re having! Really? C’mon, they wouldn’t capture their bad days on cam or videotape their arguments, disputes or breakdowns… We only see the pink ribbon of a box that holds so much rust and rubbish inside. Look at me saying this, when I’m already a victim of social media comparisons. Lord, help us!

    • Amy says:

      MSA – “I also believe social networks are a MAJOR self-esteem cancer. What you see daily is photos of happy people doing amazing stuff and having a blast daily with their perfect happy families. Oh, What a beautiful life they’re having! Really?”

      RIGHT ON!!! *pumps fist* YES!!!

      I’m on a social media “diet” right now. My closest friends know what’s up, and they all know if they want to keep up with my life they can read my blog/journal.

      3 weeks ago I decided that I’d had enough of what you described above, and elected to join some real-life social networking groups.

      Going to wine tastings, pub trivia night, brunch, etc. with a group of “strangers” has proven more rewarding than sitting on my bum scrolling through pages of bunk on my computer screen that left me feeling empty and frustrated.

      • jewells says:

        I second that! I’ve never been keen on social media sites, in fact I only started a FB page a year ago, put a few things on it initially, then nada. For a few months I’d look at the homepage of what everyone was posting when I was bored and ran out threads while surfing online. The novelty wore off, looking at a bunch of pictures of smiley people that I don’t spend any ‘real’time with doing lovely things, looking super happy, thinking to myself, WHY am I looking at this? It means nothing, tells me little, has no consequence on my life and gives me no pleasure. I realized, it’s a time waster, that’s it. I’d rather join a sewing class :)

  23. Grizelda says:

    I’ve always believed making comparisons is healthy behaviour, provided the comparison is all in the context of ‘doing’, not ‘being’.

    Making comparisons about who you ARE versus who someone else IS is a losers’ game — they’re pointless and unfair comparisons that are totally overinflated in a way that’s not in your favour. If you spot a characteristic that you believe puts someone else at an advantage over you, what the point of conflating that to become ‘what I am’ versus ‘what he/she is’? For example, a 22 year old comparing her lack of experience, wisdom and good judgement against her 55 year old aunt who always seems to know exactly the right thing to say or do — as much as she might like to have those capabilities, they won’t be hers for another couple decades of life experience – that’s life. Until then, she’ll always feel a bit dumb, a bit of a fumbling amateur, and as though proper adults don’t take her or her opinions as seriously as they ‘should’. But she’s totally conflating things into being some kind of referendum on ‘who she is’. Likewise, the 55 year old anguishing over her new wrinkles and change of body shape compared to when she was 22 like her niece – again, that’s life. She feels a bit deflated and devalued because of something as ridiculously superficial as appearance details and wishes she could still turn all the heads as she did 30 years earlier. Again, she’s totally conflating a few physical details into having been stamped by some kind of evil ‘reject’ stamp.

    And what about either of these women comparing themselves to the random individual characteristics of the woman their exes are now being seen around with? That too – pointless, stupid, unfair and ultimately harmful comparisons are being made because they’re trying to invent reasons to pin the blame on the things they think they lack. These are the comparisons that are losers’ games. Particularly when you’re talking about the comings and goings of typical EUs/ACs/pathologicals — men who are NOT known for making excellent relationship choices and being superb judges of character and aesthetics!

    Ladies, please. If you’re going to engage in comparison-making, at least have some kind of standards!

    Comparing not ‘who you are’ but ‘what you do’ to the skills of others is I think a brilliant way of directing yourself, of wanting to improve, of putting a bit of fire in your belly. Finding people who do something better than you do it isn’t gutting! It’s inspiring! That’s how we build higher standards. That’s why we have masterpieces by artistic geniuses, why we have incredible authors, why we have people who exhibit the most amazing capabilities in sport, music, cooking, orating, promoting civil liberties, gardening, knitting, whatever. That’s why it’s good to encounter people who’ve done better than yourself. Because without witnessing high standards in all areas of life, we’d be stuck in a rut of low standards. Human beings have a tendency towards inertia – they won’t budge until they push themselves or someone pushes them. They tend to think in terms of ‘Bleah, good enough. That’ll do. I can’t be bothered’. People largely do whatever is easiest. They sit around waiting for life to fall into their laps. And then they wonder, years on, why they’re unhappy and haven’t got anything going on in their lives about which they’re intensely proud.

    I suppose you could also say these assclowns — who are paradoxically overavailable to spend months and years messing you around and ruining your life but are unavailable in any ways that are valuable or important like emotionally and mentally — landed in our laps. They were easy to get involved with in the first place, right? They didn’t exactly put up a fight, did they? They pursued you with aplomb, remember? You hardly had to do anything, yet there they were throwing themselves into your life and into your lap. Must’ve been ‘meant to be’, right? Or so they said, and they soon got you believing and saying it too. Seemed like such a prize… no matter how they ended up behaving… when you lack standards.

    • jewells says:

      OMG Griz, bang on, yes, throw themselves into your life, told you what you wanted to hear, gawd I didn’t have to DO anything, didn’t have to WORK at anything, THINK about anything – presto, there it was, all neatly wrapped up in a pretty bow = so ‘it was meant to be’! Emotional laziness, yup, check the box, that was me :)

      • Espoir says:

        Me too – I was just thinking about that. Even closed my eyes not to see the red flags so it would be story that I hope/dream.

  24. BriA says:

    Love this post. Comparing myself to others is one of my main issues and a cause for a lot of my own unhappiness. I’m at an age (27) where my peers & everyone I went to high school with are getting married (or at the least in serious relationships), starting families, and buying houses. I was a little late to the game and I just graduated college last May, got a job, and started getting my adult life on track. Despite that, I have only been in a series of short-term, sexual relationships & I keep wondering why I’m not good/pretty/worthy enough as all these other people that found someone to love them. I always look at couples & think, Wow! They are so lucky & thats when I start putting my own self down.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      BriA… Let me say its not because your not good enough, pretty enough or worthy enough. Stop that thinking right now !!! I am 52 and oh how I wish I had blogs available like this when I was 27. Looking back I was clueless about dating & relationships. I knew I always wanted children of my own. My parents divorced when I was 12.My father was never home & drank alot. I really had no idea what a intact family felt like.I married someone who liked to drink just like my father but even worse he would become verbally abusive towards our children & myself. YUCK. So glad I eventually grew some & left him.
      But a fews years later I met the AC that brought me here. I am on a men/relationship diet until further notice :)…I can only give you advice like I do my daughter. I would tell you to broaden your social circle. Get involved in meet up groups with people your same age, join a gym, join a church. And continue to read BR & really decide what you want & what you dont want in a relationship & don’t ever settle for less than you deserve. I love my children & grandchildren more than life itself but I have made some really bad choices with the men I allowed into my life and what I put up with. I see it now. You can have what those other couples have and maybe even better than that :)

      • dancingqueen says:

        I second the meetup group thing; I have a lovely group of friends from my French meetup.

        Ladies! I had a magnificent idea a few weeks ago; why should I not start a single meetup for Fit 40s and 50′s…I am sick of being at functions where everyone is out of shape and eating grease. Well I posted it and came back a few days later….178 people had joined and 56 want to come to the first event! I felt so empowered. I really encourage you all to at least try to start a meet-up, who knows if it will be successful, but just seeing all those fit and sporty single people who seemed nice and normal made me feel better about my state:) Internet dating is really the opposite of that…weirdos, creeps and narcs.

        So back to character; I am feeling pretty low today. My coworker flipped out on me the other day and was really rude to me in public ( no surprise). I am so sick of dealing with toxic coworker stuff; I am sick of mean girl behavior and lack of remorse.

        I confronted her in an email that I feel totally okay surfacing. I told her that her behavior violated our work ethic code and that I her raised voice and unfair accusations made me feel attacked and I also calmly outlined how some of the things she said flew in the face of truth.I told her that if she ever spoke to me that way again, in public, that I would go to HR and that I was not willing to speak with her, unless an administrator was there. I re-read it multiple times before I hit send but it was so hard to send; I hate having to write those kind of emails. I hate having work drama and feeling like, in defending myself, I am being unreasonable ( I know that I am not but I was raised by someone who was a narc and any resistance was met with rage). It brings up so much dealing with this woman, it is like being around my crazy making family.

        But I did confront her and I also did something else today: I flushed two different internet swains who wrote me long emails for about a week each and who both disappeared only to reappear a week later. One was someone I had blown off a year ago, due to that. He resurfaced when I got back on this last month, as if nothing had happened “Long time no see….” and I just deleted. Another was a guy who had seemed promising; he wrote me some really great emails and after about a week I was sure he was going to suggest meeting….but he just never responded. Then a week later he pops up with a long email “Crazy week.” Uh, I know he was online because one day I looked at his old messages and it said “on line now”

        It was tempting to make a snarky remark but I didn’t I just deleted.

        Having character is hard sometimes though. But not having character, in these types of circumstances, is harder…;(

        That said, they will never fire her. She flips out all the time, she has offended and alienated half my team but she is a good worker for what she does. I am so over having to

        • dancingqueen says:

          oops I meant to have included this-

          “That said, they will never fire her. She flips out all the time, she has offended and alienated half my team but she is a good worker for what she does. I am so over having to deal with unreasonable work behavior”
          -earlier in the part about my coworker

          • Little Star says:

            Well done Dancingqueen, you flushed two potential ACs:) and also organised one of the Meet Ups groups, wow! I am proud of you!
            I do enjoy Meet Up groups in London, it is such a fun but I am too shy to organise something myself:) I wish we had Natalie’s BR Meet Up group…Regarding your colleague, good you stand up for yourself and did not allow her to walk over you! She needed to know how you felt, at least next time she will be more careful what she says and how she behaves…Keep us posting!

            • dancingqueen says:

              Thanks Little Star I will: we all are going to be okay here. My coworker did email back and rather humble ( for her) email not apologizing but also offering to speak and “clear up misconceptions”. I told her that that would be fine but that it would be best to have a neutral party there. It is amazing how, once you assert yourself, people back off. Why they can’t back off before I do not know but at least she seems to be getting it that I am not a doormat.

              Onwards and upwards:)

    • SmarterNow says:

      BriA, I was EXACTLY where you are when I was 27 (I’m 36 now). My feeling that it was “getting late” led me to date and then get engaged to an old friend. Long story short, this guy took up with his co-worker, pulled away from me, lied repeatedly, told our family and friends that it was ME who was losing interest in wedding planning, made me feel paranoid and crazy for my gut feelings (which turned out to be right!), and basically destroyed my self-esteem and ability to trust myself. Meanwhile, I didn’t want to see or believe that any of it was happening, since it seemed that it would be even MORE “too late” if I left him. Thank goodness I finally found the self-respect to walk. I continued to be worried about the “timeline” and dated a few more AC’s before I finally started to acknowledge that I was part of the problem. Of course it always comes back to loving yourself and believing that you are worthy of love and respect. Reading BR was a huge part of my self-therapy, and at age 33 I met the love of my life. We both had gone through similar experiences, and were “ready” for each other. I never would have appreciated him if I had met him earlier in life — before I had those experiences that helped shape me into a person I’m proud to be. So don’t ever worry that it is too late! The best decision I ever made was to throw away my idea of what I was “supposed” to be doing at a certain age. I truly believe that we all go through the same experiences eventually. Many people who get married in their 20′s end up divorced in their 30′s, thinking that they “missed out” on things by settling down early. I feel lucky that I had the chance to see what those “things” were, and get it all out of my system! I am happier now than I ever was, and I’m glad that I took the long way around :) 27 is SO young — you have plenty of time, believe me!!!

      • BriA says:

        SmarterNow- Thanks for telling me your story & for the encouraging words. And I am so happy you found the one! I love happy endings & It seriously gives me hope. I just have to remind myself that I’m not on the same time line as everyone else. And whats meant to happen in my life, WILL in due time!

        • SmarterNow says:

          It absolutely will BriA! I went through so many years of doubting whether any of it would happen to me. Not just the relationship timeline – the job timeline, house timeline, you name it. And ironically, my boyfriend/soul mate is a fellow musician, and we are STILL not on the “real life” timeline of a lot of our friends! Check out the song “The Long Way Around” by the Dixie Chicks. It kept me smiling all those years — and still does :)

    • Robin says:

      I’m in a similar situation! I’m around your age (hehe, I don’t want to go into more details), graduated college a few years back, but after working for a few years, I’m thinking about getting my masters and getting as far away from my hometown as possible. As for the dating life, I actually thought the opposite of you: before I actually made the decision to leave my relationship, I started becoming envious of single people! Turns out, I was not getting my needs met, no matter how much I asked. So I left, even though I was emotionally invested in the relationship. I feel a lot better and more myself now without the negative vibes. Comparing ourselves to others is a sign that we need to take action to make our lives more fulfilling, so in your case, definitely listen to Kit-Kat and get involved! You never know who you’ll meet ;)

  25. kookie says:

    i always feel stuck wishing i could either learn to love and be completely vulnerable and open to true intimacy (or maybe giant heartbreak) or wishing i could be absolutely detached just enjoy sex and crumb companionship,keep my heart safe and make great memories that make me smile when i’m 90.

    frustratingly, i can never be any of those absolutes; i am in the miserable in between. i compare myself constantly to women who are happily attached/detached. why can’t i just take a leap of faith like the attached women? why can’t i just enjoy life and accept that most humans are f-ed up and go with the flow like the detached ones?

    i hear that accepting yourself is the key but who is my authentic self? the half that wants to be committed or the half that wants to be “completely detached and live for me with mutually respectful brief contacts with humans who teach us lots even when we don’t love”?

    it’s like wishing you could be one of those super fit people or one of those women who is so comfortable with their fat fabulous selves but finding you are just in the annoying middle. either (fabulous fat acceptance/losing weight) is an equally valid way to live so which way? i so desperately wish i could just get to one side or the other.

  26. miskwa says:

    Like you Revs, I really yearn for a mate I can have deep conversation with. My ex husband and I used to talk about social justice issues for hours, discuss books, put ourselves on the front lines at protests. I also am strongly attracted to looks to the point that I cannot even force myself to be with someone I am not attracted to. Odd sentiment for a very unusual looking (very long black hair, dark skin, and bright blue eyes), pop culture and middle class values rejecting ecochick, but there it is. A few times I did meet someone I was attracted to but the minute they revealed their true character (racists, playas, unethical )and they git dumped pronto. Sometimes I worry that I get rejected due to my color etc. but there’s not a damn thing I can do about that. A combination of BR and the horrid continuing saga of the at work AC which taught me that there are those that are able to hide their true character for a very long time, have made Miskwa a very hard hearted and unlikely to take anyone at face value ever again. Now, I am focussed on living my values, living in a way I am not ashamed of, and seeing what happens next as at this point, I do not have a clue what is gonna happen over the next year. We may start construction on the sustainability center, it may fold, I may be able to take a sabbatical a year from now, I may be turned down, my dad may still be alive, he may pass away. I don’t know the answer to any of this. A good thing; found out that AC is gonna be gone for a month, then there will be Spring Break, then another month and the semester is over so after next weeks skirmish over my running of our faculty meeting, I may not have to see this dude till next fall!

  27. lo j says:

    Confused123 … another way to look at it … why not you? Because you have something much grander in store for you. Keep preparing, moving forward. You’ve got an exciting journey ahead.

  28. natashya says:

    “comparison is the thief of joy” – roosevelt

    it’s so true. i do it all the time. i look around me and see people at least a decade younger buying houses, driving flashy cars, having children, careers, fancy clothes and here i am, pretty much living out of a backpack with a patchy all-over-the-place resume scrambling to find work, single, bla bla bla.

    i often need to remind myself to stop comparing myself to others. i am not in a happy place right now and when people tell me it’s so cool i’ve worked and lived all over the world and went on so many backpacking trips by myself i don’t believe them. i think they’re just telling me this so i don’t feel even more like a loser. self esteem issues, much? :)

    despite all this… i just started taking the self esteem course and it’s awesome. i think i’m on the right track.

  29. Kylie says:

    I’m struggling with the same. Most of my friends and peers are dating, in relationships, or married. I often compare myself to them thinking, “What am I missing that no one wants to love me, let alone spend time with me?”

    I was in a relationship about 2 years ago. It ended because I was not good enough for his family and him. I’m a good catch and have improved since. But I still have a hard time with loneliness. I try to find what I’m missing but cannot find it.

  30. Spinster says:

    “Everybody has flaws and you can try and compare and go “Oh but they have less flaws than I do” but that’s bullshit borne out of you putting them on a pedestal and admiring them while putting you beneath them. Everybody has flaws it’s just that not all of us focus on them, not all of us see them in others (some of us do a mighty fine job of essentially sticking a pump up people’s bottoms and inflating them), and we’re not always in a position to be around someone when character is put to the test – we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”

    MAJOR bad habit of mine… not as bad as it used to be, though it still gets me from time to time. Usually able to nip it in the bud quicker and get back to reality.

    Upward, onward, forward.

  31. Kim says:

    I love this:

    It’s a hell of a lot easier to reduce comparison and it’s impact on you (which can literally be tormenting) when you are somebody you respect and you ultimately possess or are working on evolving into the characteristics and values that matter to you in others. When you respect your character and can appreciate you for the small, medium, and large-sized things that you do and are in your life, the changes you’ve made, the adversities you’ve overcome etc., you prioritise character and these aspects in others.

    Thanks, Nat, for such a great post and as usual, spot on for where I am at right now. I keep going back to the “WHY her and NOT me” article, and yes, I know that it really should not matter one iota, but I just can’t help comparing, when it is clear that his assclown self is having the time of his life with his new gf/fiance. And then I have to say to myself, “He’s just not that special” and I won’t waste another minute worrying about why he is marrying her, when he strung me along for 2 years knowing that he didn’t want a long-term relationship with me; why he plastered pictures and videos of the two of them together all over his Facebook and Picasa pages, when he never took a picture of us together once; why his stuck-up self-centered daughter friended her on Facebook and wrote to her that she is so glad that she is part of her dad’s life, when she openly disliked me and would refuse to talk to me at family gatherings, or thank me for gifts I had given her; why he told me that he drinks alcohol now with her because she doesn’t have a drinking problem, and posts pictures of the two of them enjoying wine together, when he knows that I am a recovering alcoholic; why he demanded his ex-wife, who struggled with addictions of her own and walked away from him after 22 years of marriage, pay to euthanize her own cat when he simply didn’t want to be responsible for the poor creature; why he “borrowed” my furniture, including an armoire that my grandfather had built for my grandmother as a wedding present, and when I asked for it back after our breakup proceeded to hand me a ledger for all of the money he had given me over the two years of our relationship when I was a struggling graduate student … I could go on and on, but the point is, and Nat hit it on the head when she said it, is that character is what counts. Would a person of character ever even do 1 of these things I listed above? I think not.

    Now I will admit, I have looked at both of their profiles and have looked at the pictures, so really, it is my own fault for doing the comparisons. But somehow, it seems kind of contrived. If people really are feeling happy and content with their lives, would they need to broadcast it to the world that they are? Would they need the adoration of all of their friends and family who coo and ahhh over the happy couple? At some point, after all of the parties, and celebrations, and well-wishing is done, the two of them will have to get down to the business of living together, and that is when character really matters. I don’t believe that people can change that much in 2-3 years, or that being with one person is so much different than being with another. If you treated one or two people badly for a long time in the past, chances are, you will continue to treat others badly in the future. Past behaviors tend to predict future behaviors.

    I have to remember that I am a grateful recovering alcoholic, who values character in others and would never dream of treating another human being shabbily or with disrespect, who values honesty in relationships, and when it’s not working makes a decision to let the other person go, so he can find the right one for him (which is what I did with this AC), and who is always working to improve my professional and personal life through meditation, prayer, education, living authentically, and being at one with nature. I will also need to go on a social media diet, just go cold turkey, like Amy said. I did it with alcohol, and I can do it with this. One day at a time, as always.

    • Teddie says:

      Kim, you are well rid of this “chopper” (Nat has a brilliant post on the topic.) And guess what, a chopper used to putting people down will simply chop at whoever is around, not you anymore!
      You have so much to be proud of, and you’ve overcome these adversities thanks to your character strengths, take pride in all this and double-flush!

  32. Tired says:

    Yep i tortured myself why her not me . But im so angry today that i couldnt see it earlier , i cant talky the manin the last year . Every time i think of him i feel sick as it all becomes clear . I feel sorry for her hes fake all the way through . A user of the things around him . A coward . No i dont want him hes not who i thought he was , i feel sick to the pit of my stomach . I wish others vould see him for what he is . But its behind and this is all part of coughing up and out the tainted lump he was out of me . I am begining to feel happy again so i know im on my way . Just processing the anger up and out .xx

  33. Confused123 says:

    Thank you so much ladies. You all rock! :)
    It amazing how a good night of sleep and a dose of perspective in the morning changes things. My first thought this morning about the matter was, “Fuck him”. My demon and self-esteem drop in the wee hours of the night. I over think and over feel then. I was not at all putting things in perspective. The clear beautiful light of the morning has changed everything.

    They can have the perfect life for all I care. I am not better than her. If anything I am way way better than her. From what I’ve heard she is desperate for marriage/kids (she’s 38, never married and her past has all been about flings not relationships. She wants a relationship now). She’s also very much about “if you want to keep me, it’s my way or the high way”. He’s a puppet on a string with her as he was with his ex-wife (The fact that his ex-wife is his ex-wife shows how that worked out, LOL). He is seeing her as his “last chance saloon” The consensus last night about their relationship was “they are trying way way too hard to make it work”. Not sure what that means but who gives a fuck?

    The mutual acquaintance were not been cruel by tell me about their relationship. It was just part of the overall conversation but I sent them mail today and asked them to never bring him up again. The reason I did not stop them last night was because I thought I could handle it after the way I handled him at the conference. Honestly the only reason I talked him and was polite was because being bitter and ignoring him is exhausting and tiring. It’s easier to treat him as a general associate. Note: general acquaintance not even a friend. BTW, his facebook has all his ex-GF except me as friends. I always found that strange when we were together. Classic Harem behavior. Quite the catch of a man….NOT!

    He has NOT changed. For someone who profess that this girl is “the one” for him, he definitely was flirting and checking me out inappropriately yesterday. The fact that he started the relationship with her by cheating on me shows that he’s disrespects BOTH of us.
    If she DID NOT know about me its shows his classic disrespect for me and her (what a way to start a relationship on a negative note). If she DID know about me then they deserve each other (again, what a way to start a relationship)
    Douche bag much…
    .
    MSA: Thank you for the link. I needed that so badly. He is very much a “narcishit”. Everything about him screams Narcishit. I de-friended him immediately from FB upon finding out about the cheating but WOW, his FB page is a classic case of “it all about me”. This realionshit is apparently being played out on social media. I’d love to explain all his trait that make him a narcishit but it would be copying Nat’s post on it verbatim. HAHAHA…

    Natashya: Thank you. You are right. It’s all about how they treat us. Nuff said.

    Jewell: Thank you. You are right. They never change. Once an AC always an AC.

    Amy: I’m in NC. I have been since day 1. We are definitely not friends. I only talk to him politely in either a) mutual social gathering or b) situation where it’s inappropriate to be difficult like work, conferences etc.

    Tired: I love Nat’s post on “meeting the folk does not a relationship make”. HAHA…

    Lo j: In his break up e-mail (EUM much…Yeah he did not even have the decency to break up in person. First part of the break-up was via phone and then e-mail and finally by text over 2 days) he Said the following “you deserve a relationship with someone who fully returns the love, attraction, and TRUST you give them, and I wasn’t doing it”. HELL yes, I deserve so much better.

    Cheers ladies… I going out to a black tie event and plan on having a lot of fun with some girlfriends tonight. No alcohol, no men..Just me and my growing self-esteem. Screw him (and her)..Hugs to you all………

  34. colororange says:

    I was thinking of this very thing in the last few days. How I feel like a flop. How I know I am stagnating and need to change. How I need answers to questions that I can’t seem to figure out. Comparing myself? Oh god don’t get me started. I should have a home, a family, a husband by now right? Right? I should have all this crap especially AT MY AGE. But. I. Don’t. I only have me and dogged determination to do something, go somewhere. If only I knew where and how. If only I had realised this when I was younger. It feels too late now. I don’t have the opportunities I had back then.

    • Fifi says:

      colororange

      I’m feeling the same too – I wonder if it’s just january? Like my life has been a waste with nothing to show for it – like you, no assets or family.
      And I spend a lot of time wondering why this came to be – not to blame, but to understand so I don’t keep doing it. And scanning interviews with women my age who have done things to see if they have kids etc – I guess I am looking for hope that I can still do something of value.
      But thinking doesn’t help, understanding doesn’t help, it’s so complex.
      Maybe some of us are just taking a very different, but necessary, path. I’m lucky to have a couple of other friends who feel just like me.
      I’m now telling myself to keep just trying to find joy in the present and to try to live well – that’s all there is, in reality.

  35. Jennifer Tiffany says:

    I’ve always been a tiny little peanut. I envied tall models. I never grew to be much more than 5 ft tall. And my natural weight isn’t much over 100 pounds, so this has all just added to my feeling invisible, and like a forever child.

    Much of the time I was ignored by my family. I chose to shrink back in the shadows so that I wouldn’t be abused as much.

    Growing up I never felt pretty enough. My father bases a woman’s value on what she looks like. He has said cruel things to me about my appearance. And has just been plain cruel. My grandmother constantly criticized my appearance. Even one time telling me I looked as though I belonged on the boulevard. I was twelve.

    I am a very curvy petite brunette with lilly white skin, large blue eyes and soft, wavy hair.

    Because I learned this was unacceptable, by adolescence I was starving myself, putting myself through grueling work outs, torturing my skin with sun and tanning beds, bleaching my hair, while wearing an ungodly amount of makeup.

    A few years ago, I started to recognize and embrace my natural beauty but I started to attack myself in areas that I had not accomplished things that I thought I ought to have. I hated myself for not being an artist, musician, and intellectual. So I dated one.

    I idolized him. He was incredibly tall. This added to my feeling like a child around him, as when I looked at him, I seriously had to strain my neck looking up.

    He was a charmer, well endowed, a fantastic musician, handsome, stylish and insanely intellectual.

    But the truth is on top of all that, character wise, he is a haughty, vile, conniving, spiteful, nasty tempered, abusive, highly critical, and negative addict.

    The ladder characteristics trump the aforementioned superficialities.

    At the moment I don’t really want a man. I just want to love me properly and consistently. But when I’m ready, I want a warm, loving and caring man.

    I don’t care what he does for a living. I don’t care what his hobbies are. I just want him to treat me damn good, and be emotionally intelligent.

    After the ex and I broke up, I started taking lessons from a local musician to fulfill my music skills.

    Within months of beginning, I had to cut all contact with my only living parent: my lunatic, alcoholic father. Soon after, my eating disorders started flaring up again. I also suffered a concussion that I am still having a very difficult time getting over.

    I had to quit the lessons. I had to face the fact that I am not a famous musician in my twenties or even remotely close.

    I had to delve into why this was important for me in the first place. I guess on some level I just thought it’d be easier to get millions of people to love me from afar than for me to actually learn to love myself, and let people in up close. And in a way I was right.

    I love music. I have been obsessed since I was a kid. I was losing all joy in it because I thought having some sort of skill would get me recognition and love I’ve always so craved. But loving from afar or being loved from afar is a lie, an illusion. It’s loving an illusion, and that isn’t real love.

    The ex had been in a band that recorded an album and toured. I was insanely envious of this, as well as it very much adding to my idolizing him. But, when I met him, he was alone and drunk at a bar.

    What we do does not, nor should not, define our worth. Our works are our works. It just a part of how we have chosen to fill our time on this earth. We all have different things that make us tick.

    I do think most of us just want to be loved. We must learn to love ourselves minus the illusions before we can go on to love others or be loved by them.

    Thank you Natalie for all you do. I feel I could say it a million time and it wouldn’t be enough. The messages you give so many lost and hopeless women like me are priceless. Many of us are sorely misguided when we come here to BR, wandering in from the cold, misinformed dating world. You give us answers and the truth in a world of bullshit.

    • Mymble says:

      Jennifer tiffany
      I agree with this. In some ways I didn’t want to “have” the xMM as to BE him. I wanted his life, his achievements. Truth to tell I was very very envious. And while I think there are lessons to learned from how he got where he did, fact is I simply cannot live his life. Perhaps his life doesn’t feel quite so wonderful from the inside as it looks from the outside. Either way he is nothing to do with me. I have to live my life with grace, humour and kindness to others and if I can do that it will be an achievement.

      • yoghurt says:

        “I have to live my life with grace, humour and kindness to others and if I can do that it will be an achievement.”

        What a fab aspiration :)

        I also wanted to BE the ex-EUM, I wanted to be good-looking and charming and I was SO MOMENTOUSLY FLATTERED that he even talked to me at all, even if it was a 4am whinge.

        Ironically, the period during which I felt like that was the one that led to him taking an overdose because he felt like he couldn’t bear to be alive anymore. He thought that *I* was the happy, coping, together one. Ho ho ho.

        • Jennifer Tiffany says:

          yoghurt,

          The first time I saw my ex was when he was playing with a band at a coffee shop. One of my friend’s pointed him out, as they had hooked up some time before and it amazes me to look back at my first thoughts of seeing him: I thought, “He’s balding a lot for someone in their twenties and wearing a grandpa sweater. He’s alright I guess. But a guy like that NEVER would be interested in me.” I had such low self esteem that I thought someone whom I saw very little interest in, and felt was not much more if at all better than mediocre would be gifting me with their presence and interest if they ever so dared to talk to such a mess as I.

          We did end up dating and I idolized him the whole way through. I guess he was a step up from the men I had been talking to before. They were gross, dirty (literally), and very addicted. He seemed a bit more put together and smelled nice so I went bananas.

          It’s been 9 months since I initiated no contact and I wouldn’t go back to that bastard for the world.

          Ah, and my ex had been suicidal and institutionalized three months prior to us meeting. He thought I had it all together too. But at the first sign that I had needs, was a fallible human being, had serious health issues of my own (he was sick a lot due to lack of self care and binge drinking)he was out. I wasn’t allowed to be human or have expectations. He mocked them, just as my father had. Oh the webs we weave :)

      • Jennifer Tiffany says:

        Mymble,

        Yes! I wanted to BE my ex I think possibly even more than I wanted to be with him too. I even wanted to dress like him. He wore a lot of plaid.

        But, truth is my traumatic childhood left me with such a fractured sense of self, not only was I daddy hunting in the dating world, I was identity hunting. I had no sense of values when I was dating. I took on the opinions and values of the men I became involved with no matter how shoddy they were (the men and the values). If you only knew the creepies I dated just to avoid being alone!!! Being alone is WAY better than dating duds now.

        I now have more sense of self than I ever had. I look back at goals I had a year ago and think, “Why in the hell would I want to do that????” Now that I’m getting real with my values, I’m shedding so much extra baggage and it’s freeing me from goals I had that were not genuine, they were just me wanting to prove my worth and be good enough, which has led to so much free time that I am taking the time to really enjoy. Take care! Onwards and upwards!

    • runnergirl says:

      Ah Jennifer, I’ll bet you are a darling tiny peanut, inside and out, and not one drop invisible. I’ve had the height tapes running in my head until recently. I’m short and slender. Not.A.Thing. I can do about the height thing. As I’ve entered my 50′s, I’ve found an upside to being small, folks underestimate my age (as though being small has anything to do with it) and I can wear my daughter’s expensive hand-me-downs!
      I did the same thing with the exMM, idolized him and his life. A wife, a “happy” family, successful kids, successful career. But and a very big but, he was hitting on me and cheating on his wife/family while being a happy, successful, married family man. It’s like you say, when you met him, he was alone and drunk at a bar. The reality and the fantasy don’t match.
      I’m sorry to hear about your father and your health issues. It is wonderful that you are allowing yourself the time to focus on you. You are certainly correct about Natalie and the wonderful BR community. I wandered in lost and terribly misguided, not to mention pissed off, 2 years ago. I’ve never left. The truth is much more comfy than lies and BS. Thank you Natalie.

      • Jennifer Tiffany says:

        Awhhh runnergirl, your comment “I’ll bet you are a darling tiny peanut, inside and out, and not one drop invisible.” made me smile. Thanks :) You are right the fantasy and reality don’t match up with EUM. If my ex had such a fantastic life, why the need to binge drink to much and so terribly. My life is much better without him. Without him and my father in my life, I get healthier every day.

  36. Ayr says:

    Right on time and I wasn’t going to read this now. I was going to keep feeling how I’ve been feeling. This put everything back into perspective.
    Thanks again Natalie.

  37. runnergirl says:

    “Oddly though, we can admire and even love people for what essentially boils down to superficial stuff that doesn’t rely on character and then feel wounded when we feel that they’ve not valued our character, which doesn’t make sense. How can you ignore code red issues and focus on the stuff that isn’t making a difference to how you’re treated or feel, but then feel bad about you not being valued by them beyond anything superficial?” Natalie, you are incredible at identifying the root of the problem. No matter how I try to turn the focus on what a rat bastard he was, you help me to return to me. Then, when I try to compare myself to others, I simply can’t or I’d be thumped upside the head. Thank you…and spot on again.

    • selkie says:

      Runnergirl,

      “No matter how I try to turn the focus on what a rat bastard he was, you help me to return to me.”

      I agree! Interesting isn’t it. We can’t hide from ourselves for long when we keep reading here.

  38. Tired says:

    I cant get the anger out . I think its because i just walked away . I really wish id let him know what i thought of him . I thought but never will do the email thing IT wont change nothing . i dont want him to think that its bothered me . I feel such a king size pratt . Its like i finally woke up to him . But i still wish id given hom a real right hard hook to the face .its that feeling knowing hes got away with it .telling everyone he met new gf after his wife walked . Its all bout his character . Wish others could see him for what he is .

    • Mymble says:

      Tired
      I did in the end send a nasty email and it did give me a small amount of satisfaction. (also it meant no going back, there’s no way he’d be able to kid himself he was doing me a big favour by remaining in my life, which was his fantasy). But I am fully aware that his massive ego will easily shrug it off. It won’t make any difference. I still have to do the work of getting on with my life and making it a good one, for myself and the people who do love me and need me. I have found a lot of comfort in getting more involved with my children, relearning a musical instrument with one of them, teaching them to cook etc. There’s a lot that you will have let slide whilst in the turmoil and devastation of this crap. You will have neglected yourself and others. It really will help to take the focus off the AC and back to where it belongs- you and yours. Writing a nasty email won’t help with any of that.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Tired, I’d like to give mine a hard hook to the face too! And I wish I’d told him what I thought of him as well. I was driven crazy thinking that he had gotten away scot free and was smugly congratulating himself as he sailed off into the sunset with the new woman. But lately I found out some things that have shown me that he DIDN’T get away with anything. Karma has come home to roost in his case. And you know what? It doesn’t make me feel any better at all to know he’s suffering. I’m ashamed of myself for wanting that. I have tried hard to forgive him and wish him well, and when I do that I feel MUCH happier.

  39. Gina says:

    Revs,

    “But you know what? I acted like a lady at the end. I returned the shirt he lent me (washed and folded), told him exactly what he did wrong and that I didn’t deserve and wouldn’t allow that type of disrespectful treatment in my life for a hot minute, and then said that I wished him well, always had and would continue to, always. And then I WALKED.”

    I said the EAXACT same thing and behaved in the same manner when I broke up with the knucklehead that I had been in a relationship as well! I meticulously packed up his mother’s fine China that he’d left at my house (after he switched from being Mr. Nice to acting like an ass) and drove it to his house, which was 45 minutes away and gave it to him personally! I was SO sick and tired of him I could not get rid of his stuff fast enough.

    “…And THAT, my friends, is CHARACTER.”

    HELLO!!!

  40. Gina says:

    I really have been uplifted by Nat’s blog, as well
    as from reading the comments of the BR posters, and was thinking that it might be fun to do a Baggage Reclaim cruise…not to vent or have a pity party…but to celebrate one another and share how inspirational and uplifting Nat’s blog has been in our lives while we party our asses off out to sea like rock stars. :-)

  41. Sheela Nandini says:

    I needed to read this today,Nat.Thanks a ton!

  42. oc says:

    Thank you.

  43. Tired says:

    I know its just a different set of emotions as the weeks pass . The further i get away from him the clearer it gets . I just have to let it go . I ob felt more for him than he ever did for me (fantasy ) i am more pre pared for the future . Theres no point in saying this or that , i feel i just ran out of steam keeping my chin up just lately . I doing what i do head held high when really i dream of flattening his face in the pub in front of all his cronies .lol

  44. Miranda says:

    I recently found out my ex of 6 years is dating someone 21 years younger than him. He is 38 and she is 17. We broke up 8 months ago and also found out that he started dating her right after. He has never dated anyone as young as that I am 33 and I am sick to my stomach to think that I was with someone who can not only date someone that young let alone sleep with them. My friends say that he uses people and just like he used me he is probably using her and can’t get someone his own age that would put up with him. Someone please give me advice as I feel disqusted that he found it to be better to be with someone so much younger

    • Mymble says:

      Miranda
      I think in this society we are encouraged to believe that a woman grows steadily less attractive with age, so if a man goes off with a much younger woman it’s easy to feel that it didn’t work with you because there was something wrong with you – you were “too old” ergo unattractive. There are some men who think like that but not many. Most would find it it a pain in the neck to be with someone so young. Goodness knows why he is with her – it is weird! But it’s not about you! I had a boyfriend who dumped me for a girl who had suffered a spinal injury and was paralysed from the waist down. Did he leave me because I wasn’t in a wheelchair? Nope. Would it have made any difference to what happened between us if she had been 18, or 50, or black? No. What happened between us was that he was a cheater, a liar and an AC. and furthermore the girl he went off with dumped him 6 months later.
      If it is any consolation for you I don’t think it will last with this young girl. She is still growing up and likely she will outgrow him. She will get tired of having a daddy figure breathing down her neck and embarrassing her in front of her friends with his olde worlde ways, taste in music and clothing, and receding hairline. He will cut a ridiculous figure. Stuff like that really matters
      when you’re 17.

    • grace says:

      Miranda
      It,s not great but in the uk the age of consent is 17 so it is legal. Would you feel better if she was older, the same age, prettier , uglier, thinner, whatever? Probably not.
      Whether he dates Heidi Klum or someone less stellar, it says nothing about you. No-thing. Exes have their separate lives and I,m afraid they can do as they wish without concerning themselves with how you feel. Bonus is, you can do the same.
      He is using her but she,s just a kid really, in over her head. I would try not to think about it, it doesn’t help. Eight months is good going. Before the summer comes you will be feeling much better.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Miranda,
      In the US, if he has had sex with the the 17 yro, it would be regarded as statutory rape. I certainly understand why you are disgusted, however you don’t really know he found it “better to be with someone so much younger”. Of course, it is his life, his character, and his judgment, not yours, right? His activities do not reflect on you as you are separate folks with separate lives. As Natalie suggests, keep the focus on your life. What he decides to do with his life would be his business. Keep moving forward and I’d say you are fortunate to be done with that relationship.

      • XFBwoman says:

        Only in some states in the U.S. In Michigan, 17 is legal age, and I think it’s even younger in other states.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Ew, that is gross and creepy. Can you imagine the conversations they must have? Then again, he’s probably half her mental age right? And she must have stonking daddy issues to entertain that age gap. I am with Mymble though, this obsession with youth is getting a little bit tedious. If you take it to its logical conclusion, soon enough, all of these guys will be dating foetuses as some kind of status symbol.

    • Grizelda says:

      Miranda,

      And I apologise to any ladies here who once found themselves in an intergenerational thing –

      But when I see a man who’s parading around a girlfriend or wife who is 20 years younger than him, two words enter my brain about that man: “emotionally retarded”. Followed by a third word: “deluded”.

      “Oh!” I think caustically, my head almost crushed under the weight of the sarcasm coming out, “But GOSH that 45 year old man dating a 20 year old girl makes him look… SO YOUNG! Wow it’s like magic! I said to myself, who’s that young stud over there with that young girl? And then whoops, I thought, haha, silly me, he, haha, might actually be a couple years older than her! Hard to believe though, eh? Oh he must be SO SUCCESSFUL with women! He must be amazing. And I LOVE what he’s done with the spray-on hair that came out of a can this morning, wow, you can hardly even see how bald he is. And that thick thatch of white chesthair peeping out from the neck of his Skrillex t-shirt is just so incredibly sexy. Next payday, it’ll be a new better-fitting set of upper dentures to compensate for that gum-shrinkage, so his teeth don’t clack so much, won’t that be great. She must be really fulfilled by him — romantic walks along the beach (but no more than 10 minutes at a time, it’s the sound of the waves and his prostate problems, he can’t stray too far from the loo), sensual hot baths in epsom salts, contented Sunday mornings sorting his tablets out and refilling his weekly pillbox, shopping for trusses and attending old-timers canasta nights…”

      I digress. My point is, what he’s hoping to gain from that relationship ain’t gonna happen. He wants to pass as a younger man. Forget it. He wants to pass as someone admired for his success in capturing women who are out of his league. He won’t (she’ll walk out, trust me, when she realises she could have a nice fit strong and handsome 20 year old guy and who wouldn’t want that!). He wants someone unchallenging, someone dull-witted, someone he can direct around without any back-talk. Clearly, that’s not going to happen when the 17 year old becomes 18, 19, or 20 and starts realising just what she’s been railroaded into.

      There’s no fool like an old fool.

  45. Australia says:

    Help me!

    I just had a huge blow-out fight with my ex in a public place. It was dramatic and I initiated the fight and now I feel stupid. He is EUM and has been stringing me along for 4 years. I have LOTS to be angry about with him, and clearly it showed in the fight. But this fight has now made me look like the “bad, dramatic person”. I wish I never blew up – if I could go back in time I would just walk away from this situation.

    How do you move past such an incident without feeling stupid and regretful?

    • Grizelda says:

      Australia,

      You were meant to have that blow-up. That’s your inner self trying desperately to get some protection from you against a hopeless relationship that’s hurting you. So before you discount it and try to sweep it under the carpet and pretend like it never happened and (grimace!) make it up to him for (ehem!) your bad behaviour (cough!)… hold on a minute.

      What did he do to trigger you off like that? And how much stress has this relationshit been putting on you?

      And so your objective in apologising and taking it all back and asking for a do-over is what? So that things can go back to ‘normal’? So that you can carry on for another four years of what? So that he doesn’t start to think you might have a backbone, and a heart, and real genuine feelings like a human being should?

      Please do tell!

    • Mymble says:

      Australia
      Don’t regret it. Regret the 4 years of squashing down your feelings about being strung along if you must. I also had a blow out of sorts (albeit not public) and I do not regret it. I honestly don’t care anymore if he had a low opinion of me. He obviously already did, judging by the things he did and said. If you made him uncomfortable for a little while, then good. You never know, you might have him a little favour by letting him know how you really felt about it all, and make hin think twice before he does the same thing to someone else. But honestly these guys get over it really, really, fast, so do yourself a favour and do the same. His opinion of you does not matter a jot.

    • Robin says:

      It’s a sign that you had lots to be angry about with the ex that didn’t go acknowledged by him (yep, I’ve been there too, although not in public). It’s also a sign to completely stay away from the ex while you process these feelings and start moving on; interacting with him is only going to create negative energy, not positive ones.

    • Ms Determined says:

      You know Australia, I read every word after the ‘Help me!’ intro and I just couldn’t see anything that you needed help with. In fact, PROPS TO YOU. You did a great job on removing any lingering perception that you might be a bullshit accepter, and now others (even if they’re random strangers) know it too. Hell, if I’d have been there, I would have recruited all the onlookers and we’d have started a mexican wave.

      There is however, one thing to consider for next time that could possibly remove some of the feeling stupid and regret (but there isn’t going to be a next time, right? Cos you’ll never be in the same general vicinity as his stupid ass again). Make sure in these moments when you totally lose your shit that you are carrying some kind of very hurty weapon. Just be careful with your timing, you know, witnesses. Although if they witnessed you airing some of his dirty laundry at the top of your lungs, they’d probably offer to at least help you bury the body.

  46. C L Smith says:

    I love your blog! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on so many things that I too have struggled with.

  47. Cole says:

    I read this quote once “The reason you feel you are not good enough is because you compare your behind the scenes with everybody elses highlight reel” which I have to remind myself of as I’m such a perfectionist. Why waste your time trying to live up to others when you could spend that time making you even more amazing. Especially if the reason you’re comparing yourself to someone else is because someone not worthy of your time has made you feel like you have to. If someone is bringing you down, it only means you are above them :) x

  48. Tinkerbell says:

    Gina, fab idea! We, would get to meet each other and see if our imaginations match what we unconciously opined just from her/his comments. Of course, there are those who are not crazy about being on the water. Most times it is not true “sea sickness” but boredom and feeling confined. A BR cruise would hardly be boring. Like you said, JUST FUN. No complaining and rehashing allowed. I, frankly, am overdue for my next cruise. Sign me up!

  49. Tinkerbell says:

    Colororange.
    It is not too late. Many of us assess what we have accomplished in our lives and feel like you do, especially at the beginning of a new year. But, it is so unproductive. So what if you did not do this or that BEFORE NOW. You still have the chance. It is up to you. This morning my pastor spoke about the very subject of this post: minimizing comparison and working on YOU. It was a wonderful service. He does not give traditional sermons, but TEACHES using the scriptures and applying it to our world today, our relationships with others, and how to effectively manage our lives with self satisfaction. He said that we should seriously plan and write down where each of us wants to be in 5 yrs, put it away and look at it then. In the meantime you’re working toward the goal you’ve set up for yourself. Looking back with regret that you’ve wasted valuable time and a large portion of our lives is very sad. We all
    need to PLAN our work, and WORK our PLAN. Doing good works for ourselves and for others, elevates our self esteem at the very least.

  50. miskwa says:

    Dancingqueen
    A great idea! Can you up the age range to the 60′s and can you pleeeze meet in my state (allegedly the thinnest in the nation). The meetups here involve a 35 mile drive one way, stuff like bowling, downhill skiing, snowboarding, then excessive eating. After this last weeks latest health care crisis with my “let himself get seriously outta shape ” dad, I will never so much as look at an overweight guy ever again. Unfortunately all three uber fit men here in my age group have a history of violence against women. Then there is the AC, whose violence against women is of a more subtle sort. The problem you’ll have is what and who decides what’s fit. Be prepared for many in the jelly belly set thinking they qualify. I have three obese male colleagues who see themselves as veritable pictures of health. Btw we must be getting the same dudes on line.

    • dancingqueen says:

      Hey Miskwa!

      I would love to ship the meetup to you…I hear you; I am sure that there will be a few “imposters”:). That said, I am really heartened to see all the decent seeming people who signed up. I like meetups; they are pretty safe and wholesome. I really enjoy my French one and we have all gotten kind of close and we do fun activities like movie going and we even are planning a crepe potluck.
      Yes, for me fitness is key; I like a jog and a healthy meal and I want to share that with someone. Plus at least if I run the group and meet no one I will have a ton of new friends to jog with:)!

  51. miskwa says:

    Australia
    If you routinely blow up in public, you have an issue; if this a rare and completely uncharacteristic behavior, it was him bringing out the worst in you. You need to avoid him like a case of intestinal flu. I am not the venting, voice raising sort, but I found myself constantly acting this way towards an ex relationship now toxic friend. I’d feel guilty for hurting the poor bastard and simultaneously mad as hell for his constant criticism and disrespect. He had to go. This dude needs to be deleted from your life.

  52. Tired says:

    Thats the thing i cant shake that five years meant nothing . How fast they toss you from their lives like you never exsisted . That they never give a moments thought and we struggle for months processing it all . All i felt this week is anger . That he never gave me the choice to decide on the truth why play someone like that ? He had someone eles why not pack in why string me along for months and months . I feel a huge monumental idiot .

    • Mymble says:

      But tired
      You did know he was married, you well knew you weren’t in a bona fide relationship. You knew he was lying and cheating. In fact – be honest – you were in on the lying and cheating. (and yup so was I!) please try to consciously direct your thoughts away from this. Think to yourself “stop”, breathe, relax your shoulders, and make yourself think of something else when you get stuck in the roundy roundy thought patterns. Repeat as often as necessary. Please try it, I have found it very helpful in reducing the headspace he occupies. It has decreased a lot recently, and I can’t tell you how much better it feels.

  53. Tinkerbell says:

    Tired. I am glad other people are beginning to see that you remain stuck even though you are supposedly NC. It’s not just a physical removing of yourself from him but it mental. Sorry to say it but mentally you fail miserably. Why must you keep coming on here with the same old song. Keep it to yourself. We are all trying to do better. We are all trying to get free of unhealthy relationships. Many of us are making progress. But, here you come with the sour milk. Every time I see you have made a comment I AUTOMATICALLY KNOW what the tone of it is going to be. That man, his wife, his OW, and on and on. BooHoo. I’ve made so many suggestions to you and it doesn’t help one bit. If it did you would be talking about how YOU have changed, and how YOU finding self esteem and a bit of happiness. You play the guitar. When you feel blue, why don’t you do that instead of posting on BR. DO OTHER THINGS. You are not the only one who had to get out of a ‘sick’ relationship. We all have had to do it, or we are still trying. But, you are the only one who is still singing the same sad song, wallowing in self pity with very signs of having made progress. Would you be happier going back to him? I’m beginning to think that you would because you certainly are not happy without him and you are making us all TIRED.

  54. Tinkerbell says:

    Tired. Why do I keep reading your comments? Because I keep hoping you are in a different place. I’m hoping if you cannot say anything positive about yourself, notice what others on here are doing. Take it in apply it to your life and then post about your transition. But that never happens. I’ve been responding to your pain a very long time, now. Other posters have definitely attempted to extend helpful advice. Some of those who did are not bothering about it anymore because they see what I see. Whether you’re handled gently or given tough love it doesn’t matter. NOTHING seems to work. And, that’s because YOU are not doing the work. This is not a “let’s all cry for Tired” blog. We are here to support each other through a horrible event, in changing unhealthy patterns of behavior, to learn how to love and trust ourselves, and give ourselves, care and respect. Ask yourself. Where are you? Do you fit in with that picture? It doesn’t appear so and you seem to be content about it. I have nothing more to say when you post. I will try to skip past them because I’m interested in reading about PROGRESS or about a new poster’s troubles and try to offer words of encouragement.

  55. Sarah says:

    I’m a new poster Tinkerbell and I need help from you or anyone else who will give up their time to post to me.

    I’m in my late 30′s and have always had it together until now.

    I fell in love with my husbands best friend who is married with two young children. My husband went through a horrible 3 years where he put me down and told me nobody would ever find me attractive despite being a wonderful partner for 20 years before his depression.

    My husbands best friend is ten years younger than me and honestly the best looking man I’ve ever seen. When he heard the way my husband spoke to me, he comforted me which led to more and more intimacy.

    While I know I need to stay away from him, it’s difficult because he visits us daily and my husband is only slowly emerging from his depression. I’m still feeling very lonely and sad and at my age with two children, I dont feel I have much luck finding a wonderful family man. I really dont want to ruin the chances of mending my own family but the best friend is exciting, gorgeous and I’m honestly addicted.

    Help me put into place something to stop the addiction to him. PLEASE. I know it’s because I’ve never had attention before and I know the best friend wont end up wanting a relationship with me but it doesn’t seem to be enough to stop me. I feel like I’m under a spell.

    How do I get out of here? Every time I try to pull away, the best friend calls and turns up and insists we talk which always leads to more kissing and affection (on two occasions for six hours each time). The way he looks at me blows my mind, my husband has never cuddled me more than a few seconds despite years of begging for more.

    I’d like to say that the reason I haven’t slept with this man in the last three years that he has been chasing me and declaring his love for me was because I’m highly moral but unfortunately it’s because I’m self conscious about my stretch marks at the very bottom of my stomach as a result of my two pregnancies.

    Some days I feel sick and horrible and other days the excitement over-rides the promises I make to myself not to be with him one-on-one. My mind thinks about him ALL the time where I can’t focus on my work. I used to be a star performer and now I just make constant errors. Every time the phone rings, I hope it’s him. How can someone so smart be so dumb. He talks about leaving his wife all the time and how he finds her repulsive. He says the reason he doesn’t end it with his wife now is because he doesn’t want to look like the bad guy leaving her. He just wishes she would end it with him. He gets jealous (in an angry not affectionate way) when my husband, children and I go out of if I show my husband any affection while he is around.

    Give me strategies and I promise I will put 101% effort in desolving this addiction. Someone help me. I don’t want to be here.

    • grace says:

      Sarah
      Get nat,s dreamer and the fantasy relationship. It may feel like a real relationship because he is a real person who you have known for a long time. but you still get only edited highlights, you are both married to other people and you are using this dangerous flirtation to feel better about yourself. Fantasy relationship alert!
      They all say they will leave their wives and that she is repulsive, a bitch, frigid, whatever. The only thing that proves is how disloyal they are.

  56. Lilly says:

    Sarah, I’m not really sure how useful this will be, but if I share some of my experience maybe it will help. Two years ago I had just come out of a long-term relationship and was feeling vulnerable, lonely, and my self-esteem had taken a big tumble. In what I now think was a desperate bid to combat these feelings I had an affair with a MM and it was the single most disastrous thing I’ve ever done to myself. The anxiety and fear I was feeling before was nothing compared to what was to come. I spent months and months in a state similar to what you’ve described, excited at times, but mostly anxious and fearful. My work suffered and my life literally came to a standstill. It is only very recently that I’ve managed to stop the madness. Like you I felt helplessly “addicted” to him, but what helped me was the realisation that I wasn’t really addicted to him, rather I was addicted to not facing up to my myriad other problems. I was too scared to face them and so kept him in my life in the hope that he would somehow magically turn into Mr Wonderful and make all the pain go away. It was only when I began owning and facing up to my problems that I had the courage to stop it all. He wasn’t going to be the answer, he never was and I gradually absorbed this. It seems to me that you already know this which is good and you really have a head start. I really can only pass on the wise advice that was given to me, as difficult as it is you need to cut off the MM. It took me a while before I could see this, but you need the space and time to work your life out. It really is the only way to stop all the anxiety and if I can do it Sarah anyone can! Sending lots of support your way.

  57. Gina says:

    @Tinkerbell: Yep! A cruise would be just what the doctor ordered :-) There are too many fun activities on board to get bored. It would be fun to meet the BR ladies in person….I can be a bit wacky myself, and have been told that I am like Betty White’s character, Rose, on the old “Golden Girls” t.v. show :-P

  58. Tinkerbell says:

    Hello, Sarah. I was looking back over older posts and came across yours. Let me first say that I am really not as mean as I may have seemed as I addressed Tired. On the contrary, I care deeply and have much compassion for others who need help. I’m sure my 35 yr nursing career has a lot to do with my nurturing personality. But anyway getting to you: I know what kind of dilemna you have gotten into, as I was involved with an MM. Like Lilly, it was the most soul-destroying thing I have ever done to myself. HORRID!!! I was at a very low point in y life recovering from long term illness and the demise of my husband after 23 years of a marriage that “worked”. Along came this MM and I fell hard. I lost my mind. I only was in it for 7 months, but that was some of the worst months of my entire life. I hated myself and felt like sh*t. I was able to get out because my feelings gradually changed when I finally realized that it was a hopeless endeavor that would never come to any good. Sarah, I REALLY WANTED to be free of him. I was brought up in a family with high principles, but I was experiences such a void in my life that I was ready to grasp at anything to avoid the “emptiness”. You have been in the same shoes because of your husband’s depression. You feel unloved and unappreciated and you miss the loving attention that he used to give. Mr. MM is not the answer. You know this already or you would not be desperately seeking help to get out. The MM looks good to you but right now while you are experiences this loss romance and consequently your own sense of sexual attractiveness, you cannot rely on your emotions. Your gut is telling you “No! Leave him alone”. Listen to that inner voice, Sarah. What I did was after initiating strict NC, I found BR. I know the NC is tricky for you because he comes over to your house and you probably don’t know when he is coming. But, You absolutely must not spend any more time with him alone. Give him the cold shoulder. Don’t worry if your husband notices a change in your reaction. Be honest. You may not want to tell your husband what is going on because that is his friend and you have been encouraging the attention. But, just give your husband a reason that you no longer want to be around him and get lost when he comes over. AVOID him like the plague. You’ve already said no good can come of this. You have children, the MM has children and a wife. DO NOT get any deeper into this. Bale out now!!! Get professional help if you can because you need someone that you can tell all of this to and unload. You cannot tell friends. If you can, leave the house when he comes or get busy with the kids. Go to the library or purchase self-help reading materials. I have a collection which I started when I was on my journey to increase my self-esteem and love myself. I will give you 4 books for starters: Living Beyond Your Feelings by Joyce Meyer, Safe People by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, In Sheep’s Clothing by George Simon, Phd., What Women Don’t Know and Men Don’t Tell You). Also read Natalie’s book. Hers, was actually the first one I read. Stay with us, read and read. You will become stronger when you committ yourself to getting away. I tell you Sarah, when you beging to make some progress he won’t be so utterly appealing as he is now. Furthermore, he is willing to cheat on his wife so what does that tell you? Try hard. I will warn you, getting that MM out of my system was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. I, too, felt under a spell and totally helpless. But, believe me, you can get back on firm ground again. It’s very tough I won’t kid you, But YOU CAN DO IT. Please keep me posted, and I will be happy to stay in touch. All the best, Tink. (Hugs and a smooch).

  59. Tinkerbell says:

    Sarah. Right now, get rid of the MM any way you can. After that, you need to work on your marriage, because it is obviously not fulfilling for you.

    • jewells says:

      I second, wait, third? that … my MM was the reason I wound up here myself. It was indeed the most soul destroying of any EUM AC relationshit I’ve ever experienced. It’s true that it’s like a spell, once you’ve gained distance and time, you will begin to see what was truly going on, this is why NC is so important, it is the spell breaker to give reality some space to sink in without the spellbinder keeping you mesmerized. We’re here for you if you get the urge to contact him, write here first…

      • jewells says:

        lol, there’s another similarity in the MM experience – I also told someone that ‘I lost my head’….it still amazes me how similar the experiences are of these clowns, utterly utterly stereotypical, laughable now that I have gained time, space, distance and perspective…oh and don’t forget insight :)

        • runnergirl says:

          Sarah, I’m another former OW.
          Lilly, Tinkerbell, and Jewells have said everything I experienced for two years as an OW. Natalie has written extensively on this blog and in her books about the OW situation. Like the others, I suggest reading everything Nat has written on cheating and all of the comments. There are so many of us in the same situation and we think we are unique. Natalie and BR were the only way I found the wherewithal to get out. You have come to the exact right place. There is such incredible support here, Natalie and the BR community is brilliant, and it is safe here. I’m really sorry about your situation and your husband’s health. You asked for strategies to get out of the situation with the MM. First, sign up for Natalie’s e-course on No Contact. Second, read everything about No Contact. Many BR readers work with the exMM daily and have gone NC. Other BR readers are NC with ex husbands and are raising children. NC is possible even if you have to see him.
          Lilly and Tinkerbell, you knocked it out of the ballpark with your responses. Getting rid of the exMM was one of the most difficult things I have done. Worse than 36 hours of labor and worse than law school and the bar and worse than 3 divorces! You can do it Sarah because you don’t want to continue what you are doing. Keep coming back!

  60. Tinkerbell says:

    Oh, yes. Jewells. Isn’t your life so much better, now? We can be proud of ourselves for being strong and maintaining NC. That is the key.

    • jewells says:

      I’ll tell you tink, I didn’t do NC…he had to on demand from his wife and counsellor – when I had my flash of sobriety and insight into what was going on while he was trying to ‘manage’ me, I kinda freaked and told him to tell her or I would with all his text messages in hand; and that if he had any chance of saving his marriage it’d better be him. So he did, went NC and did me the biggest favour I could imagine, it propelled me into BR, given me the time space and peace to come to terms with what happened. I don’t know that if left to my own devices I would have been able to do it. If I hadn’t freaked on my brief clarity, I would probably still now be accepting his crumbs and soppy whiney BS soothing me into submission of the ‘situation’ and add another year or two until I’d completely gone round the bend thinking I was crazy. So, my NC happened a little different from most here, and not in the recommended manner, but it happened all the same and it was for the best. I see much clearer now, I feel much better now, I have no doubt that the situation with the AC would have only eroded my shaky self esteem to the point of non existence which would have threatened EVERYTHING I’ve worked so hard for in my life. I don’t have ‘going and maintaining NC’ to be proud of, but I do have that angel that let my anger speak for me in a moment of clarity that set the events in motion that created the NC regardless and ultimately saved my sanity and self.

  61. Tinkerbell says:

    Jewells, honey. It doesn’t matter that you were not the one to start the NC. What matters is that you have learned some very valuable lessons in how to make better choices in the future. With strong resolve, you will not be repeating the same mistakes. The end result is more important than how it came about. I applaud the fact that you realize it had to be and that it never would have worked regardless of your wanting it. And, thank God, you are NOT rehashing in your mind the bs he put you through, nor are you pining away over someone who doesn’t want you in his life. You are moving into a much healthier, even a spiritually uplifting space. Keep going. I support you fully. Hugs, Tink.

    • jewells says:

      Hey Tink, greatly appreciated :) I have my good days and bad, thank goodness for this site as it keeps me straight. I have the occasional pang, and things of what he said and did come up. However, as I’ve been diligently reading BR since the break, I’ve gained enough information and insight to fairly quickly quash the BS and have learned to see things for what they are. I’m still processing, a lot happened in the short time, and the mind fu**ery is the hardest to unravel. There is little left to decipher, and the moments of grief and pain are infrequent and brief, so it is all coming to it’s natural conclusion and yes indeed I have learnt a huge amount from it thanks to Natalie and yourself and everyone on here sharing their stories and insights that I have drawn from to take me through it all. (I am 99.9% certain if I hadn’t made NC happen, however it came, he would still be ‘checking in’ as my ‘friend’ keeping the mindf**kery alive and kicking and my sanity would have suffered greatly)

  62. Tinkerbell says:

    Jewells. My experience with the MM nearly destroyed me in every way possible. It was the absolute worst. When you’ve reached the bottom of the pit, there’s no place to go but up. We’re both out of that hell. No self-hatred, guilty conscience, sneaking around, etc. It is so liberating. We will both be fine. Take good care of yourself.

  63. jewells says:

    Thanks Tink, I’m learning to take good care of myself :) I wish the best for you

  64. teachable says:

    I’ve honestly never had to worry too much about this throughout my life; apart from in a very superficial way. There was no need to compare, as starting out so far behind the eightball, I just knew, I’d always be WAY behind others in terms of my development in all areas. Then a strange thing happened. At 22 I started what has become life long academic research into the life circumstances of people from my background (i.e different projects, my own & others etc). At first, there was hardly any data, so I had only qualititative stuff to go on. It was GRIM but enough for me to recognise, I had somehow, already become an anomoly, in say for example, the area of tertiary edctn. As the yrs rolled on, we got various research projects happening which were big enough to analyse statistically (& drew on other research with sufficient data on related topics with variables helpful to our projects). Now it got REALLY interesting. Suddenly, when I compared my life circumstances across all major areas to people from my background (ie comparing an apple with apples instead of to oranges) I was WAY AHEAD. This is when I realised the comparison game was truely a croc. It confused me. On one hand I had society in my ear & years of abuse in orphanages & childrens homes telling me I was ‘no good’; a no-hoper who would never amount to anything (& worse). On the other, I now had the facts, I was an outlier amoung my own people, & in some areas, didn’t too too badly compared to the oranges (ie the general population not from my background) either (say for example buying a home as a single female, as only 1 in 10 mortgages here are for sole females, or my academic results, which I’ve now become too embarressed to ever admit to anyone, for all the right reasons)!

    So what does all of this mean? Really not a lot. Currently I’m really struggling, for a range of reasons. Comparing myself to others will not help, be they from my background, or not. All I can do is hold on tight & not quit before the miracle comes. I am now more vulnerable than I have ever been in my life (& that’s saying something)! So now I must choose. Whose voice do I listen to; the old tapes that are so loud they almost deafen my every waking moment or the voice of reason? My educated voice. The voice that knows exactly what is going on here.

    Along with refusing to compare ourselves comes a committment not to abandon ourselves in our times of need. I have been presented this lesson over & over in my life & mostly, although not always, I get it right. This is merely another test for me. A test of my resolve. Will I love myself even when I am utterly unlovable? The answer must be yes, for anything other response, would be truely insane (even if, born of despair).

    Thankyou for this post Nat. I needed it. I’m hanging on by a thread &.there’s no much fight left in me. I was told today, sometimes, the first step to healing, is allowing ourselves to no longer have to be strong all the time & allowing others to help us, when have fought our best to no real avail. I was also told, by three different ppl now, that until I’ve dedicated my life to helping others & that now, the time has come to let others help me. A time to stop giving & just receive. I don’t know what that looks like however suspect I’m about to find out.

    Love to all. Apologies I’m not around so much. I’m very ill. x

  65. [...] drawn a lot of inspiration from Natalie Lue’s blog, and I like this post about comparisons: Why You’ve Got to Minimize Comparison to Improve Your Self-Esteem. Great ideas for the artistic journey [...]

  66. RebeccadeWinter says:

    I don’t think many people truly appreciate how life threatening a simple issue can be, for example the habit of comparisons.

    I grew up in a family/society (as most of us did) that over valued looks, money, popularity and achievements. I was “plain”, my own family was humble and I was not bright at school or talented etc. I used to compare myself to my cousin’s and feel deep shame for my “failings”, things I tried to “change” when I was a bit older and in my teens.

    It was the worst mistake of my life. It snowballed into me longing for recognition and validation from people who reminded me of the childhood critereon, and one of the people who fit this was/is my current assclown. I literally compared myself to him and put him on a pedestal and myself in the gutter.

    I want to share with the people here that firstly, it is important in life to feel the pain of resentment, to recognize what you don’t have. That is a part of being a real and normal human being. The flipside of this is understanding that when you are at equilibrium and moving at your natural rythm even if that is as an overweight housewife and mother to five, you are walking the path that you were meant to be on, and even if it’s contemptible to the eyes of society or this clique or that (believe me, my family would consider such a woman to be diseased and to be pitied), you are at peace. It suits you.

    My friend told me once, something that has stayed with me. If you are eating moldy dry bread and the whole world approves and thinks you are extrenely fortunate and envies you..well you may have the approval of the world but ultimately you are just eating disgusting and unsatisfying moldy old bread. But if you are eating the most delectable cheesecake with the most amazing ingredients and the whole world is laughing at you and pities you and is convinced you must be starving..so what..you’re eating cheesecake :)

    Don’t look at magazines and TV shows with women who look a certain way and have certain lifestyles. That was another huge undoing of mine. I bought into ALL that hype, and it made me more miserable than anything as I already hated my poor body and mind.

    I am 5’7, I have large breasts which are not perky by nature, I have a spreading rear area, I have ingrown pores on my legs, I have unsymetrical facial features and thick wild wavy hair, and my front teeth stick out when I laugh. My complexion is sallow. I have very thick eyebrows. My family and society thinks the real me is ugly. Thats okay by me (now), I’m too busy with my cheesecake.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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