I just know I'm connected to this somehow. Er no, you just don't have that kind of power!

When you experience problems, but are sidetracked with your own issues regarding how you feel about you or are clinging hard to beliefs that you’re stuck on, not only do you fail to compute the rather compelling topline data, but how you respond to the situation, emotionally and then physically through action, ends up being way off base.

Here’s the thing: If you don’t believe, for example, that you’re “good enough” and possibly have, for example, the other party on a pedestal, and then you experience a problem, what do you focus on?

The actual issue at hand viewed objectively and respecting each of you as individuals? Or, how the situation relates to your feelings of inadequacy? It might even be that it immediately triggers memories of another experience that left you feeling the same way, so you’ve already raced ahead and drawn a conclusion.

What are you actually responding to? The issue, or the bell tolling “Aha! See, I’m not good enough”?

How do you respond to the latter? Do you feel angry? Defensive? Rejected? Frustrated? Desperate? Scared? Vulnerable? Powerless? Helpless? Sad? Hurt? Ashamed? Rage? Victimised? Do you lose hope? Do you expect doom? Do you start objection handling?

But if you’re responding to how you feel about you or a distorted belief, what you’re not doing is responding to the situation at hand, which makes it very difficult to handle issues in reality or distinguish between your behaviour and theirs.

It’s not about you.

Your actions are about you as they’re what’s under your control. Their actions are about them. You make your choices and are influenced by various factors, just as they do. In a mutual relationship, you each tend to have more influencing factors in common because you have shared values.

Yet people love making Other People’s Behaviour about them, which is actually inverted ego issues, like some sort of whacked out reverse narcissism.

We can be very quick to spot behaviour like ego stroking, collecting attention, being self-serving or at the extreme end being a narcissist, for the ego issues that they are, but so is persisting in identifying with “I’m not good enough”. It is very simply having a way of life that makes ‘everything’ about you, when it’s not.

You view life through a low self-esteem lens that makes as much as possible into confirmation of your lack of value, plus you see an opportunity to think the worst of you, and ‘everything’ seems to point to the ‘fact’ that you’re not being and doing ‘enough’.

If I’d believed I was a worthwhile and valuable person, I wouldn’t have given most of my exes the time of day, never mind the steam off my pee, or at the very least, these ‘relationships’ would have been over within a few days to 3 months.

Whenever I finally left, it’s because I clawed back whatever self-respect I had left and suddenly, albeit temporarily, stopped making everything about me. I saw the situation clearly enough to recognise that there were issues in existence, that would exist whether I had The Highest Self-Esteem In The Universe™…or the lowest.

When you let this percolate, hear it, feel it, see it, and don’t silence it with a steam train of “but but but” objections about your inadequacy, this is incredibly empowering and freeing.

“So hold up a frickin’ second here: I’m who I am. They’re who they are. And whether I showed up with Gwyneth Paltrow levels of self-esteem or showed up as me, there would still be issues? OHHHHHH…so it really isn’t about me.”

Which then begs the question: If you remove the whole “I’m not good enough” argument out of the equation and tell the but’s that follow to shut up, how does the same situation look?

The answer: Very different. This is the same by the way, for any belief that you’re stuck on that you challenge.

They look real and so do any issues, because while your own personal issues can and will improve when you change how you feel about you, what won’t change are any issues that pertain to them – that’s characteristics and values that you’re essentially at conflict over. You changing you isn’t going to change another person – you’re not capable of Jedi mind tricks and just don’t have that kind of influence and control.

Many people genuinely believe that they ‘made’ someone treat them in a less-than manner or exhibit characteristics and behaviours that were less than attractive and were in fact counterproductive to forging a mutually fulfilling relationship. If you’re thinking along these lines, you’re forgetting something crucial here:

We have a choice. We have a choice in how we choose to conduct ourselves, just like we have a choice in how we choose to respond and we also have a choice in which beliefs we choose to hold onto.

Yes, they have chosen to be or do something, that you have in turn chosen to believe is down to some flaw in you, but fact is, they could have chosen to be or do something else, just like you could have chosen not to make it into a damning indictment of you.

You don’t have to choose to make something about you plus you don’t have to choose to treat every thought and belief as fact. If blaming yourself indiscriminately or believing something that works against you isn’t working for you (it’s not), you can challenge your default mode.

If you believe that a great partner that’s worthy of love, care, trust, and respect, would have the power to, for instance:

1) Change someone’s values

2) Have no conflict

3) Experience no disappointment

4) Make an unavailable person spontaneously become available

5) Make someone leave their partner

6) Upgrade a booty call to a relationship

7) Make someone who is abusive not be

8- Eradicate a personality disorder

9) Force them to get over their ex

10) Make someone fall in love with and commit to them without getting to know them

you need to evaluate and challenge your beliefs. You’re worthy even when you have incompatible values, when you experience conflict or disappointment (it’s unavoidable), when they’re unavailable, are already attached etc. The difference is that when you accept that you’re good enough, full stop, you would see the above situations for what they are.

You’re the one who is in charge of what you believe hence it’s you that can change the meaning that you attach to your experiences (“I’m not good enough”, “I’m a failure”, “I’m unlovable”) and your perception of them so you can see a situation in reality.

Because I can tell you right here:

When you realise that you don’t need to be a doormat in order to be great partner, you recognise that you’re good enough anyway, live authentically, and recognise the inappropriateness of someone expecting you to offload your boundaries.

When you realise that you don’t need to be _________ (insert whatever unhealthy belief such as change their values, make them leave someone, make them change their mind about committing, dialalay.com) in order to be a great partner or good enough, because you already are, you stop doing things that make you feel bad in an attempt to feel good.

Sit down with a pen and paper, and imagine (don’t try and tell me that you haven’t got a good imagination because most BR readers are very proficient at illusion making), that you are good enough or that whatever you believe isn’t the case. Put yourself in those shoes and re-look at your situation with each of you owning your behaviour. What do you see? Who are they? What are their actions? Who are you? Take the specific incident or situation that you’re stuck on – how does it look now?

Choose not to make everything about you and keep choosing so you can be responsible and be in the driving seat of your life instead of feeling powerless.

Your thoughts?

Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.

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161 Responses to You Just Don’t Have That Kind Of Power: You Haven’t ‘Made’ Someone Be Or Do Something

  1. happy beginning says:

    Hi, I would like some help on this. I’ve Definitely had an issue of internalising others’ behaviour and it is a huge learning experience to realise that I ‘just don’t have that kind of power’, I am thankful to BR for helping me with this. It’s clearly important to know this when it comes to EUs blowing hot and cold.

    The problem is, now I’m conscious of internalising, I don’t know where to draw the line. I am looking back on my relationships, as per Natalie’s guidance in Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl and had an ex way back when who was open, sweet, honest, didn’t bust my boundaries, and we were on an equal footing, then after a few intense months living together he left without explanation and went NC on me. He’d said earlier that he thought I wouldn’t want to be with him when I left for uni, but later he was with an old friend/flame and I didn’t know if that was why he left. All this time I’ve believed it was because I was was like a wet blanket and didn’t try hard enough to keep him, or he suddenly realised I was unattractive and unlovable. I was at the time taken (but didn’t cheat) with the EUM who was in and out of my life for years to come and thought it might have shown. If that’s true, I did have the power to drive the sweet ex away. If someone doesn’t return a call, should you assume it’s because they’re busy, or wonder whether it is any reflection on you? I’m not sure what is healthy here. My default is to take every unanswered email, distanced friend etc. as something I said or did wrong, but have learned quickly to relax and think it’s others’ responsibility to tell me if they’re unhappy with me. Can this be the bottom line – think nothing of others’ behaviour unless they spell out that there’s a problem, or is some reflection and attempt to read things natural and unavoidable?

    • Magnolia says:

      I have struggled with the same question, happy beginning: whether to adopt the “they are responsible for telling me if something is wrong” stance. Over time, I have come to realize that if you meet someone who can genuinely tell you when something is wrong, because they want to do something about it together, that is something to value. A great number of people are conscious or unconscious believers in ‘hints.’

      My roommate is the person with whom I’ve had my most recent thoughts about this. Yes, she is responsible for telling me if something is wrong, but she won’t do it. She doesn’t have the skills, nor the desire to have a more authentic relationship with me. When she wants something to change, she’s very passive-aggressive about it; I tried engaging her a few times but quickly learned that she’ll turn it around and talk to me like I am her biggest fan trying desperately to get her attention, when in fact, I have notice she has been snotty/dismissive/sneaky lately and I just want to know what’s up.

      In the end I learned that I have to make my own judgment calls about how mature and forthright the person I’m dealing with is. I do think the respectful and adult thing is to take people at their word, but if their words and actions don’t match (i.e. they’re behaving as if something is the matter or they don’t give a shit, but saying nothing is wrong and they do care) then it’s up to me to take the appropriate distance.

      This comment harkens back to one of our recent conversations here on BR about how much responsibility men have (or that we have) when we see that the other person is more invested than they admit. Just like the person who isn’t admitting they’re invested has a responsibility to speak up, the person who can see something’s up could easily say, “Hey, it’s their responsibility to tell me if something is wrong” and take advantage for as long as they can.

      I think one deals with people on a case by case basis. One doesn’t always have to confront someone with their behaviour in order to notice the behaviour and take action to protect ourselves.

      • happy beginning says:

        Hi Magnolia

        That sounds really frustrating with your roommate. I’ve had a similar experience and I think if you can clearly get the message across that you’re receptive to hearing what might make things easier, then job’s done – no more wondering what it is because it’s in her hands and nothing to do with you.i have little patience for passive aggression and it IS a form of aggression.

        This article speaks volumes to me because what got me into the EUM pattern is a family tragedy that left me marooned. I went from having it easy to having very little care and have internalised it since, thinking I’m unloveable, and that if i were a better person, I’d be better cared for. This doesn’t really make sense because family love and care is meant to be unconditional and the lack of it rests on bereavement and their inability to deal with it and with the child that I was, but it’s clear where it has left my self-esteem – no wonder I accepted crumbs and never felt good enough and have that ‘uncomfortable comfort zone’. I only recently made these connections between childhood and adult life. It has led to some anger rather than the pity/empathy I have generally felt, but I think this is valid and it’s a case of whether I could/should talk to them about the damage done?

        • happy beginning says:

          And Magnolia, when you talk about the responsibility for seeing that another person is more invested than they care to admit – I feel like I’ve got my answer to this from the ex-AC. He acted like and treated me like someone who wasn’t invested at all and was utterly casual. On this basis, he many times threw me together with his other women, until I asked him not to and admitted my feelings, but he carried on doing it. I do think he assumed all along that I was in love with him and he wilfully played with that.

          So what I mean is, I think there’s only so far you can go with the ‘you didn’t speak up’ line in relationships (not with friends or collegaues), and I think the typical EUM/AC’s MO carries an assumption that women are emotionally invested.

          • ChaisingRainbows says:

            @happybeginning. A lot of the things you’ve expressed are familiar to me. I want to particularly address the second part of your post.

            When I started to realize how genuinely effed up my childhood actually was and got off the “if no one is beating the living daylights out of you, there is nothing to complain about” crack, it was eye-opening to say the least. It’s only natural for these realizations to come with a lot of painful emotions. What I’m realizing is that if you stew on those emotions too long as I have, you miss the bigger picture. At some point, instead of grieving the loss of what you wished you had, you start seeing yourself as the victim. If you are a child, you are a victim. You don’t have the means of escaping your situation. But now we are adults. It’s really easy to swing from blindness to what was happening to the other extreme. And yet, what I am now realizing is that when I was blind to the reality of my situation, I thought I was the victim AND when I chose not to take positive steps to do something with the info I had received to enact change, I was STILL the victim. Whoever said knowledge = power should have said knowledge + action = power.

        • Laurie says:

          Happy endings,
          I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you experienced during childhood. Personally, I grew up in a pretty abusive home–from the age of 9 onwards, my mother would tell me that I was “pathetic”, “stupid” and a “piece of shit.” There was also plenty of physical abuse (at one point, my mother duct taped wire bristle brushes all over my body because I had “brushed my hair too much that day”). In early adulthood, tried to talk to my mother about what went on, but she didn’t want to hear it. I can’t talk to her to this day because she continues to demonstrate that she is mentally/emotionally unhealthy.
          Based on my own experience, I don’t think there’s necessarily any harm in letting your family members know about the neglect you felt as a child, but personally I just wouldn’t expect that much to come out of the conversation. I’m learning that you can’t force someone to take responsibility for their actions or even recognize that any wrong was perpetrated. My own mother’s response to me was that she was my mom, and therefore allowed to say and do whatever she wanted to me.
          By the same token, I’ve also realized that you don’t have to allow yourself to remain a victim because of something that happened to you in childhood. I’m sure a lot of the self-esteem issues I struggle with can be traced back to internalizing things that my mother said and did to me. HOWEVER, I know I am completely responsible for my behavior as an adult, and I can choose to move past what I experienced as a child.
          If you do decide to talk to your family, I would just make sure that you don’t go into it with any notions of them validating you or making up for lost time. We gotta validate ourselves : )


          • ChaisingRainbows says:

            @Laurie, this is so wise and so true. I’ve started to use this rule of thumb before entering any confrontation, but especially one involving gripes with my family: am I telling this person how I feel while holding out the secret hope that this revelation on my part is suddenly going to change everything for the better? Am I saying these things looking for validation? @happybeginning, you will know you are ready to say something to them and that it is for your own healing, when you can honestly say that you might be hurt or disappointed by their reaction, but that you know going into this that nothing you say has the power to change the situation, and that nothing they say in retaliation or in defense is going to change the reality of what I originally felt. I may choose to edit my perceptions of those feelings after the conversation or shift them in a more healthy light after I’ve heard from them, but I don’t playing the “maybe-I-don’t-have-a-right-to-be-hurt” game.

            • happy beginning says:

              These are wise words and an important warning. There is a lot that I know in my mind but my actions show I haven’t processed it properly or taken action.
              I think I’m getting past victimhood by recognising that life isn’t fair, but nor is it Unfair. It is impartial and what happens is cause and effect, mixed with the randomness of higher powers etc. So my adult problems have causes and consequences that I have painfully identified, but this knowledge and my actions can change these patterns as much as any person is capable of doing.

              @Laurie. One motivation for talking about it with family is the feeling that there’s always an elephant in the room, a herd of them, and I feel like a failure for being unable to send Nelly packing.

              To both, thank you, your comments about taking responsibility (and the power), and about validating ourselves, is something I will hold on to through these eye-opening times xx

              • ChaisingRainbows says:

                Good luck!! Just remember, hold on to those moments of clarity in the tough times. You will have ups and downs on this healing journey for certain, but eventually the downs last less and less time.

                Ah, the journey to self love…as the song goes, it really is the greatest of all. But sometimes it is also the hardest. :-/

  2. So much wiser says:

    Natalie you are so right about taking blame for an ex eum’s behavior they don’t like to tkae responsiblity for their actions. When you try to confront them they no longer want to have a conversation. My ex eum assclown tried to blame me for his reluctance about making a commitment. Basically because I wouldn’t put up with crap things never progressed. When I tried to opt out he would always try to come back and try to press the reset button. When I put up boundaries and showed him things would not be on his terms things fell apart for good. I am approaching three months of no contact the longest I have ever done was previously three months almost four months when he contacted for sex and money didn’t give him either. When these guys see they can’t use you anymore you are replaced with another fallback girl. Whoever the current person he is involved with he will use them until he no longer needs them. This assclown has been married 4 times and is 56 years and would probably marry again and use this person as a beard because of his age and worrying how he will look being single at that age. His behavior is narcissitic at best and I can never blame myself for that extreme behavior.

  3. Lumos says:

    Hmm very timely, I had just had a grump at my casual relationship (for 3 1/2 years – ridiculous!) who is a police sargeant who lives in another town and apparently takes advantage of the opportunities for sex and ego presented to him by cop groupies (yuk!). (We are both early 40s). I had suspected it for a while and although there is no commitment between us I am revolted to discover he behaves like an sexual opportunist with young women who havn’t learnt yet that a man wanting to get into your privates does not make you special – well I guess it temporarily makes you special to his privates and his ego! Anyway after telling him I had discovered this he did the predicted grovel, I was pathetically flattered that he avoided ending it with me when I said I would like to – and then I spent the day entertaining fantasies about him realising that I could be his dream of a marriage and kids etc etc and changing his values to match mine…and was wondering if I should talk to him about upgrading this to a relationship! Oh dear, I like to believe I have so much power over men! Why do I think he will change? The fact is he has a high sense of male entitlement and a big ego for respect and flattery – he would simply think it was his right to make himself available to eager young women prepared to service his sexual needs – and he loves to feel masculine and powerful. I find both him and the young women gross at this point. He complains of being lonely and depressed and wishing he was married with kids. However he deserves to be lonely, his life is like that by his choices, – and he doesn’t deserve to be rescued (not that anyone could) and he doesn’t deserve a loving committed relationship as he isn’t prepared to make the sacrifices required to be in one. Lets face it his choices show (even if his words don’t) that he is single because he is choosing to be available for sexual opportunities rather than choosing a committed relationship. He is welcome to his lifestyle choice, I think its gross, so I need to make choices regarding him based on my values. So frankly they can have him to satisfy their cop shagging fantasies!

  4. Broadsided says:

    This is very true, and something I learned only recently. Guys tend to run their own playbook irregardless of you (if they do not care about you, and are just looking for “fun” or to fake a relationship). Many of the dysfunctional ones seem to have longstanding MO’s around women; nothing personal to us, they’ll keep on doing it long after we are gone. I love talking to guy friends about the behavior of my two exes that I could not understand. They set me straight, and also say, it is not about me.

  5. anon says:

    Mind blowing! Thanks NML! I am totally coming to terms with this sort of thinking at the moment. I have been making things all about me for years! I am good at reading body language… so I can sense tiny indications of certain emotions or states of mind etc… what I didn’t really notice until recently was my ability to mind read and combine the genuine information I was gathering from reading body language, with my personal insecurities. In fact, whenever I was most insecure, I would scrutinise the body language of those around me, find something to back up my insecurity and gain some odd sense of relief from being right. Then I would attempt to control the situation or response. This has been giving me a lot of difficulty. I knew there was something going on with me. This is excellent advice!

  6. Magnolia says:

    The worry that “did I do something to cause this?” is so prevalent that I wonder if sometimes as women we don’t even know how to support each other to take action.

    There is a student in one of my classes, a young male, who has initiated a lot of after class contact with me that varies from inappropriate sucking up/trying to please me to getting angry, and recently belligerent and shouting, when he doesn’t get the glowing feedback he wants from me on his papers.

    I have never thought this was about me. My experience with student-host in Kansas last summer, if some of you remember, was an important lesson in trusting my gut about when a guy is crossing the line in a creepy way.

    The thing is, I have now mentioned this student’s behaviour to the prof I TA for, and to some women friends, and both cases they said, “Don’t worry, it’s not about you,” as if that is all I am worried about. Yes, when I was less experienced I would have asked more what I can do / what I can be to help this kid, but now all I want to do is draw as clear a boundary as possible and make some people the appropriate people aware that I won’t be meeting this person one-on-one.

    The responses of my friends / prof have made me wonder about how we as women react to being pushed around. Are we so used to asking what we did to get pushed around that we hardly ever ask ourselves how to prevent it, or particularly, how to re-establish boundaries safely and quickly once someone starts crossing the usual ones? I found myself saying, more than once, “I don’t think it’s about me. I’m telling you because I’m acting on my read of this situation right now, before it escalates.”

    But it’s entirely up to me to do so. No one else can make the call about the tensions/gut feelings of a situation when it’s just me and a male in the room. Whether it’s a student clenching his jaw at you and looking like he wants to punch you, or a boyfriend who seems to have just put you down but then acts like he didn’t, or someone withdrawing and protesting that they didn’t: YOU have to be able to know when something isn’t your “fault” so you can get yourself out of a situation that isn’t in your best interest.

    • sm says:

      Magnolia you are so right even in your posts above to Happy beginning. I think women are preconditioned to wonder what it is they can do to fix situations that seem to be going wrong. On my recent breakup where the excuse was that he didnt like me telling him about a few things he did that upset me, my sister tried to rework it like I was reading his busting of my boundaries wrong. I mean here’s a person who was doing something to ME, not the other way around. This was the first time I listened to my gut instincts and what they were trying to tell me. When I tried to talk to him about it, thinking that he would care enough to know, he dumped me. Then when I explain to my sister his busting of my boundaries, she goes ‘well maybe he didnt mean it that way’. I mean my mom made us shut the hell up and take so much crap from my dad growing up that she preconditioned us to get stepped on. Well because I’ve been single a long time and been stepped on by lots of men, I am tired of it and thanks to a lot of work on my part and BR, I now can see the signs. And even when the signs are muddy, I let my gut tell me what it is up. So Magnolia, this guy sounds like he’s got a screw lose and I dont give a darn what anyone else says if you think you shouldnt be alone with him, you shouldnt.

      And as for your roommate, yep same thing with the last guy I dated. I noticed something may have been awry a few times and ask him about it, and he just denied anything so what was I to do. Put him in a headlock and make him tell me what was wrong?

  7. It makes me a feel a lot better to have you lay it out like this. I’m happy that I, too, can now end a relationship that’s doing me no good after a few weeks rather than dragging it out for months or even a year in my own fantasy land of what might be. I’ve decided simply that actions speak louder than words. That helps me the most. Judge him on what he does or has done and not what he says he will do.

  8. Mary says:


  9. Laurie says:

    Wonderful, spot-on post. I just got back from counseling where I was ruminating that “if only” I hadn’t done x or y, my fiance would have never have left me blah, blah, blah. I used the analogy of the Titanic–there were so many little missteps, that if any one of them had been corrected, the ship would not have sunk.
    I thought I had really stumped my therapist here, but she responded by saying, “Sure, they may have avoided one iceberg, but what about all the others? My understanding is that the ship wasn’t safe to begin with–not enough lifeboats. People ultimately died not because they hit an iceberg, but because the ship wasn’t adequately equipped”
    The analogy really hit home with me, and I’m starting to recognize that my unhealthy, ill-equipped relation”ship” (I’m know, I’m cheesy) was doomed before we even left port. I didn’t ultimately *make* the ship sink; I didn’t *make* him abandon ship; the relationship was just flawed from the beginning. If I say it enough to myself, hopefully I will eventually start believing it… I’m getting ready to complete the exercise Natalie suggested, and then off to bed. One day at a time.

    • yoghurt says:

      That’s a REALLY good analogy.

      I tend to think this with relationships, but I do it with other things as well… like on a day when I oversleep, then I’m late, then the car’s nearly out of petrol and won’t start, then I hit every red light/slow-moving tractor on the way to work. I sit there and think “the world HATES me. The universe HATES me. Nothing EVER goes right for me” and so on and so forth.

      Whereas really, when I keep the car filled up, get enough sleep and prepare for the morning the night before then although things might go wrong (and might even occasionally mean that I am, indeed, unavoidably late for work), I don’t mind so much and I certainly don’t take it as indisputable proof that I’m cursed to have a hideous and awful existence. It’s just a bit of bad luck, I can’t help it and I’m not going to let it get me down.

  10. runnergirlno1 says:

    Eh gads Natalie, sit down with a pen and paper and imagine I’m “good enough”! I’ve got the imagination for a lot of things but THAT? I’ve taken a few steps backwards (or maybe forwards…it goes back and forth) in my grief work lately and this is a great exercise for me right now. As I look back and own my behavior because I know I made unhealthy choices, I need to think about what I see now. I’d chosen to be a doormat. But who am I now?
    I like this. I know I have to choose me, but who am I?
    I’m feeling a bit suspended in space. Letting go of the FBG, doormat, dailalay.com, kinda, but…then what? Thank you. You’ve helped me again see that I’m struggling to let go of old patterns, old uncomfortable comfort zones because I can’t see the next step.
    I’m going to have faith. In the US, we have Harrison Ford and “Raiders of the Lost Arc” movies. In one of the movies, Harrison is being chased by the bad guys, as usual, and he comes to the edge of a cliff, as usual. He just has to take the leap even though it is a deep ravine otherwise the bad guys will get him. He takes the leap even though he can’t see the other side.

    He always makes it.

    • sushi says:

      Runnergirlno1 : “sit down with a pen and paper and imagine I’m “good enough”! I’ve got the imagination for a lot of things but THAT?”
      That made me laugh, well it was a snort of bitter recognition that deep down I feel so bad about myself that good enough seems off the chart ridiculous. I have lived my whole life from that perspective, and it gets harder and harder the further you go, because this not good enough mud gets thicker and more constricting. It`s so good to realise whats and why`s, but I do agree that it`s looking a bit blank ahead and I feel overwhelmed. I`m going to keep repeating this excersise, replace one Pavlov`s response with another, I think that`s an excellent advice and something practical, I feel an overwhelming urge to get out of my head and start doing instead of thinking. Thanks Natalie, really needed that.

    • Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

      Runnergirl, Also love the pen and paper and imagining “good enough” and what that looks like! I am in a job that requires we take theory and put it into reality. We are all busy baselining “what is”, where the mistakes were made, lessons learned, because no one wants to make a mistake. Well, the CEO of the company, frustrated with everyone’s pace, said we are going the wrong way. We need to look at perfect end state, write it down, and then move backwards from there….otherwise we get caught in the weeds and never look at where we COULD be and what it takes to get there. Since then, the momentum has been amazing, because we are all looking forward at the possibilities and not backwards at what we have already done. Natalie, you should be the CEO in our heads!!!

      One other note, my bf and I are having some very significant problems with our relationship and of course, I made it all about me. In reality he is having some huge challenges outside of our relationship that have nothing to do with me (his career or lack of since he is in real estate, some family issues, etc). But here is the difference between an AC and a real man: he looked me in the eye and said “baby, this has nothing to do with you. I am in a fucked up situation right now, and I have got to figure it out, and it does not mean I don’t love and want you. Don’t make this about you, because you disappointed in me too is just one more straw on the camel’s back. I am accountable for this, not you.” So guess I am not as far along as I thought I was….a bump in the road and now it is all about me…again….so I am working at not thinking his gloomy outlook is because he doesn’t think I am sexy right this minute! Oh, these are hard, long lessons…..

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Hey Old enough,
        I loved your work related analogy to imagining what is good enough. I’ve done it at work and it works wonders for an organization. Folks still talk about the fact I was so focused on what we could do and we did it. I still haven’t had the gumption to sit down with a pen and paper as Natalie suggests and focus on me. Since it’s going to be a rainy weekend and I’m getting caught up on work, I may have no excuse but to sit down and list why I’m good enough.
        I can totally relate to how you made the bf’s problems about you. I would have had the same reaction and thank you for your post. These lessons are difficult. Yeah, it’s difficult to separate “his gloomy outlook” from yours. Don’t let him pin “your disappointment in him ” on you. You aren’t the straw that broke the camel’s back.
        Natalie always tells me to breathe. Breathe Oldenough. I’m trying too.

  11. Ethelreda the Unready (formerly PJM) says:

    Not only am I worth it (and not just because I use L’Oreal products), but I’ve made an interesting discovery.

    “Your actions are about you as they’re what’s under your control. Their actions are about them. You make your choices and are influenced by various factors, just as they do. ”

    Exactly. And I’ve found out something about my own actions and their influences: my tendency to develop short-term obsessive manias for particular men – what I call to myself the ‘Transient Chilean Hots’.

    I used to think this was just me being a weirdo, but these phases coincide with – guess what? – my phase mid-cycle. And being in my early 40s and not using any form of hormonal contraception, my body is going quite berserk in its last desperate surge to breed.

    I found this site: http://www.livescience.com/19238-ovulation-sexual-fantasies.html

    I can tick every box here: it’s always men I perceive as very masculine, regardless of whether they’re single or attached, and the more I get to know about the man in real life, the less interested I am! It’s short-term, it’s pure sex, and when I come to my senses, I’m always vaguely embarrassed.

    But it’s just amazing what the body/mind relationship can spring on you – you can find every reason in the world to have the hots for the guy, when really it’s just the ovaries ticking over. And when sweet reason is restored, it’s a huge relief! So now I can cut myself some slack and relax about it.

  12. Christina says:

    I’m glad it’s not just me. Maybe it’s the way a lot of women have been conditioned- to make sure that everyone around them is happy. I know that I was heavily influenced by a mother who has an obsessive need to have everyone in her vicinity be happy all the time. It doesn’t matter that they might be upset about some completely unrelated tragedy-she seems to feel that surely she can do SOMETHING to make it better.

    It actually makes her a bit saintly, but also a bit of a stress-case! I’m not nearly as extreme, but I know I definitely absorbed some that intense people-pleasing need. Over the years, I HAVE come to learn that it’s seldom, if ever, about me, but that still seems to be my default mode that I have to will myself away from.

  13. colororange says:

    What a great read this morning! It’s been about 4 or 5 months since I last heard from exMM. I’ve known him for several years and last year finally fessed up and told him I was in love with him (at least I thought I was). That pretty much sent him to Vanishland. He disappeared and it took me a few weeks to get over that sting because I’d always really really liked him. I left him alone. I did not call/text/email/nothing. I figured I told him how I felt and if he wanted to run away, then so be it. So time went by and it faded…..until a couple nights ago I get a text in the middle of the night.

    I was about halfway asleep when I hear my cell phone buzz. It was a text from exMM saying he was sorry it took so long but that I had thrown him off with me saying I was in love with him and he wanted to know if we could get together the following night to talk. I was like wtf!? I haven’t heard from this man in months then he texts me in the middle of the night apologizing and asking to see me the next night?! Like I’m just going to drop my whole life to run and see a man that can barely act decent with me? I actually figured he was drunk texting. I just put the cell phone back on my night stand and went to sleep.

    Initially when I told him how I felt and he disappeared last year, I thought surely I did something terribly wrong…I should have never said anything, bla bla bla. I blamed myself for his disappearing. The whole “not good enough” record roared through my head. I debated on ever texting him back and finally I did. Which is no big deal to me really, not now anyway. I don’t really care…I just wanted to see what, if anything, he had to say back. So, later that night I text him asking what he wanted to talk about. Never heard anything back. Oh well. No skin off my back. I just had it in my mind that 1) I’m not dropping my life to go see a married man the very next night of him texting and asking if I would see him ESPECIALLY since it’s the first I’d heard from him in 4 months! 2) he’s married 3)Is it too much to ask that a man CALL and ask to see me at a proper hour?! Do I have a sign hovering over my head that reads Open Late?
    Part of me wanted to just say “screw you” but even I have a conscience.

    I am not making his disappearing AGAIN about me. He’s got issues that have nothing to do with me or what I say or…

    • grace says:

      yeah, he’s married. i hope that if he DID call you at a decent hour to meet you somewhere nice your answer would still be no.

      • happy beginning says:

        Next time, delete the text immediately!

        • happy beginning says:

          colour orange, won’t let me edit previous but want to add that i am just saying it because it makes things so much easier to delete on sight, it’s like the problem vanishes :)

    • Kmac says:

      Seems like great progress in some respects, but if you text him back to see what he has to say, you do still care. We need to be brutally honest with ourselves. I think it’s really the only way to truly let go. Based on my own experience, sounds like he needed it to be O.K. that he pulled a disappearing act so he checked in to ease his guilt. A text back, any kind of text back, even if it’s “screw you” (and when did it become such a crime to tell someone to eff off, anyway, especially some dick who screws around on his wife?) does exactly that, because the translation to these guys is “I’ve still got control…which means she still cares…which means I might not be the dick I believe I am deep down or I wouldn’t treat women like shit to begin with.” If you truly don’t care about him, or are trying to care more about yourself, don’t respond at all. My guess is he’ll try again, if he hasn’t already. And if you have to ask yourself if it’s too much to ask for a man to make a proper call, especially this man, then perhaps you do have a sign over your head that reads “Not Quite There.” Stay on the path…I’m with you.

      • Stephanie says:

        Kmac, I agree. Any text back shows that you still care, I did that recently when AC decided to text me after 5 months of him goingNC. If I didn’t care i wouldn’t have texted him back, I tried to be clever by replying with short answers but it didn’t work, I think you were the one that pointed that out to me. I wish I had just deleted and left it at that, I must confess I went one step further and had another sneaky look at his Facebook only to see someone I recognised as one of his friends and his online dating profile, only to find out he was still on the look out for someone. My bad mistake! I felt like shit afterwards and I’m still beating myself up over it. What’s done is done, but I can’t help wishing I never done it.

      • colororange says:

        No, I didn’t mean if he called at a proper hour I would have went out to meet him. I just mean in general are there men that call at good hours? Either way I do not care how he perceived my text back to him. It was only one and whatever. It’s funny because he does not strike me as the type to even experience guilt. I’m sure he’ll text me somewhere down the line again……seems to be his pattern now. I’ll delete it next time. Swear it!I tell you it’s nice to go from being all googly eyed over him to seeing him with the blinders down. He’s a prick.

  14. Titanium says:

    Had a long long debriefing about my expired relationship with my best friend yesterday. I identified that my upbringing and my relationship with my parents led me to have low self-esteem and become a person that constantly strives to be a perfectionist. I said that if I wasn’t this or that maybe he would not have treated me better and our relationship would have worked. Her response was, “No, look at all the other factors you faced. His passive aggressiveness, running hot and cold, turning things around to blame me, etc.” — I regress sometimes even after reading BR.

    I spent so long internalizing what I interpreted as my flaws, overcompensating and believing that I led him to treat me like a shit that I completely overlooked his actions. He is responsible for his action. I’m not responsible for his actions.

    Since this is our first break up, I took the advice on BR and decided to make the call to end everything rather than instituting NC. BIG MISTAKE. I wanted to take the high road but instead all I got back from him was indignation and attitude. The entire conversation became how he was never interested me in the first place, how he was not invested in the relationship and he only stayed because it was available. Thanks. Thanks douchebag for taking the lowest possible road. I gained absolutely nothing. All I wanted was a civil “goodbye and good luck”. All I got was “it’s not me, it’s you.” and “if i was throwing jabs at you, they were unconscious.” Okkaaayyyyyy.

    • Tanzanite says:


      I could have wrote what you have wrote a few years ago apart from the last paragraph.

      I feel for you ,I really do, but you must be glad he has gone now ?

      A decent person would not end anything like that !

      He has basically admitted he is an insensitive selfish pr*ck !

      The only way is up for you .

      • Titanium says:

        Thanks Tanzanite!

        To be honest, I realized after attending one of Natalie’s seminars that I was completely done with this man. We didn’t speak for two weeks. And after two weeks I made the call. My friends have been telling me that it’s because I stood up for myself and that I left him he’s reacting in such a way. They say he’s hurt and is lashing out at me. I’ve learned to take comments like these from him at face value. I won’t make a mountain out of a mole hill and give him anymore of my emotions just because maybe he’s hurt. Even if that’s true, he’s still insensitive selfish prick for saying what he said.

        I find that by reading these articles and actually having it spelled out for me makes such a difference in the moving-on process. I came here initially in search of answers to fix my broken relationship. It turns out I’m the one that needs to have some sense knocked into me. :)

        • Tanzanite says:


          At least he admitted what his true intentions were-eventually !

          A lot of these men are secretive and leave you questioning your sanity.

          You are not alone.We all needed some sense knocked into us.

          Good luck x

          • Mymble says:

            Interesting about the secrecy. I finished with the MM face to face, and I thought that that way we might have some kind of “real” conversation. Nope. He asked if we could “talk” about it later, by email. I said no more emails etc. I suppose if he had been honest, he would probably have said something like that – I am not interested in you, I never cared, I was only there because you were available.
            I guess he would never have said it, because he would have been frightened I might have got angry and made trouble for him.
            Would it have been better to have heard that, instead of hanging on to illusions? I have maintained NC, but there have
            been times I’ve been tempted to break it. At the root of that is some lingering idea that he had some concern or affection, but
            when I think of it this way it looks uglier.
            In one way there’s not a lot of point in speculating what he thought, or might have said, but I still have a (lessening) wish to make sense of it, though I know I will never get it from him.

            • Tanzanite says:


              I would have loved the AC to have been that honest with me and then I would have told him to never darken my door again.It depends on the type of person you are.

              Perhaps your married MM was thinking of himself and his wife and was worried you might cause trouble,or perhaps he couldn’t stomach admitting exactly what kind of person he is , not even to himself ?

              Natalie writes great posts and every so often she will write a simple one liner that makes complete sense.

              ” These men bite off more than they can chew”

              He did have feelings for you or why would he have had an affair with you ? I bet he told you he loved you ? Perhaps he still does, but he is still with his wife. One of the many things I have learned is you wont get the truth from them because the truth will make them look bad.

              I found out the AC had had a baby with someone else which was probably conceived whilst he was with me.It was brutal, but just what I needed.I had no illusion to hang onto anymore.

              A lot has been said recently about love and if he doesn’t love you back it’s not love but I don’t agree with that.You know when you feel love.I also think that when you have really loved someone it’s a feeling that never goes away.When I see the AC I don’t desire to punch him or tell him all about himself.I think,”he is still beautiful, I know why I fell for him,I loved that boy”-boy being the operative word( a 32 year old boy ).I still wouldn’t pass the time of day with him or talk to him ever again.

              There are different types of love and they are valid and I think it’s the Greeks that spoke abou t’ eros’ and ‘agape ‘ .One should develope into the other.

              I experienced’ eros ‘ and wanted it to develope into agape.Is that what it was like for you?

              Just because it wasn’t reciprocted in the way you wanted doesn’t mean your feelings weren’t real.Don’t be so hard on yourself,it took me years to get where I am now.

              Take care x

            • grace says:

              There’s more to a relationship or love than affection or even concern. There’s stickability, consistency, shared values, commitment, boundaries, ,openness, emotional sharing, fidelity, sacrifice, compromise, just spending time together. All the affection in the world can’t make up for a lack in those areas. And you can’t love them fully because they won’t let you. You can’t share his life, or be there for him, or look after him when he’s sick, or support him in crises, or make plans together, or have children or visit his mother when she’s dying. He either doesn’t want it for whatever excuse he comes up with or he’s … married.
              Yes there can be affection, even care or concern. But it’s not enough. You know that already which is why you broke it off. There are worthier recipients for you love: if not a man – yourself, your friends, your family.
              The bible says that love is patient, love is kind, trusts, hopes, perseveres. I think most of us would score ourselves high in that area. But it also says “it rejoices in the truth”. That, not so much, because these situations demand so much hiding. You can’t bring yourself or your relationship fully into the light. If he’s married, it’s very obvious that you can’t, but you also can’t in the less obvious EU relationships. That’s what I mean when I say it’s not really love if it’s not mutual. It’s something, yes, but it’s not full.
              When I was having the textaffair with the returning childhood sweetheart/MM, the dog died. Without a shadow of a doubt I would have chosen and would still choose a day with the dog than I would with him. “I have given my love to what is worthy of love, is that not the kingdom and the unperishing spring”.
              He was a good dog. There’s a simple joy and rightness in being around goodness. Go for that. A MM can’t give it to you.
              I believe that one day you won’t give a rat’s ass about this anymore . Yes everyone heals in their own time. It took me years but – if you can move it along – do. It’s the last frontier, letting go of the “explanation” or the last dregs or the need to “fix it” (making it about you). It’s scuppered me a few times, and in that inability to let go, 20 years passed me by. If there is anyone who has flogged relationships and drawn out their endings beyond human endurance, it’s me. I’ve been there, it’s…

              • grace says:

                … (sorry for the long post) not that great! I even flogged a marriage out of someone.
                If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: If it’s at all in your power, dump the baggage. Preferably sooner than later.
                Moving on doesn’t make your experience less significant, or mean that you’re shallow or not a good person (yep that’s what I believed). Rather, it frees you to love again, fully this time.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      The entire conversation became how he was never interested me in the first place, how he was not invested in the relationship and he only stayed because it was available. Thanks. Thanks douchebag for taking the lowest possible road. I gained absolutely nothing.

      Why do people say and do this?

      • Tanzanite says:

        T O A

        Is it something to do with what Natalie calls the ‘ outragious principal ‘ ?

        I also think some of them enjoy it.They like the effect it has on the person who loves them.Makes them feel like the big man.

        I was there once, and it makes me sick just thinking about it.

        • Polly says:

          My ex did something similar to me and I’ve never quite come to terms with why he chose to do something so horrible. It is the one thing that I find difficult to accept. To me it felt like some sort of assault. BUT of the positive side it can be what you need to wake up to what they are and what the relationship is. So cruel though

        • Tanzanite says:

          I meant-

          ‘ The outrageous Principle ‘

          For all those people who have thought-

          ” I can’t believe he just said that ”

          You can search for the article on the site.It’s really good.It helped me a lot.

      • FlushMrEUM/AC says:

        I think some say that time of thing for a reaction and the rest do it b/c they’re hurt and lashing out (they actually did/do care but are pretending they didn’t/do). The ones who do it just for a reaction completely lack empathy and are sociopaths-such people use others without any qualms or remorse and lack tact. From reading some of your previous posts about a guy, guessing it’s the same one? I think he def fits in the first category. I’m sorry you had to endure that mess, what an a**hole. Is he the one you went into therapy over? At any rate, that which does not kill us makes us stronger, and you are stronger now, healing, and helping others by giving your good advice. True love will find you one day. Wishing you the best.

  15. Snowboard says:

    Well I broke things off for good last night with the new guy. He looked devastated, and kept saying that this proves that being nice to girls doesn’t work, and that now he just wants to go back to being a jerk player, because that’s the only way to get girls to care about you. I do feel terrible, because he has done so many generous things for me – cooking for me, taking care of me when I was sick, etc. It’s just not the right relationship for me. I can feel it very physically inside me. And I woke up the other night gasping for breath and I know it was because I was feeling trapped inside a situation that was wrong for me. :( He said that I am not willing to compromise more than 5%, and I can see why he feels like that – in fact, he was the far more generous one in our mini-relationship. There are many things I will miss about him. And yet, not all two people are compatible, and we’re not compatible. I could have acknowledged it then or a year down the road. I just hope he finds someone new soon, because I feel so terrible.

    • Tea Cozy says:

      Snow, it’s hard to break up with someone and see them in pain, but, look at his response! Being nice to girls doesn’t work?! WTF?

      Actually, he’s a textbook example of what Nat wrote: HE is choosing to make your decision allllllll about himself. He’s implying that if he’d been a jerk player, he could’ve gotten you to behave differently. In other words, he’s denying your fundamental agency to know what is best for yourself, and to act on it.

      You did just fine — you got out as soon as you knew it wasn’t going to work for you. You did nothing wrong. Rejection is just part of life — as you said, not everyone will be a good fit. You gave it a shot, realized it wasn’t for you , and opted out without dragging things out.

      He’ll be fine. His reaction may feel like it’s all about you right now, but it really isn’t. It reflects his values and views, which he had long before you two met up, I’d imagine.

    • Mymble says:

      You owe him nothing! How dare he make you feel guilty for not wanting a relationship! If he wants to go off and be an arse that’s entirely his decision. Even the thought of someone being such a passive aggressive bully makes me feel anxious on your behalf. No wonder you felt trapped.

      • Mymble says:

        Oh and by the way, he was Not being generous, he was doing things in order to get something. Being generous is doing something out of the goodness of your heart not with an expectation of payback.

    • grace says:

      when you dump someone they’re going to say some shite. I know I would. Hes hurt and angry. He doesn’t necessarily mean it. And if he does that’s his problem.
      It’s good that you ended it. I never could end anything, that’s how I got on the assclown merrygoround.

    • Snowboard says:

      Thanks so much for the support, everyone. Well – surprise! – we’re back together again. Our “break-up” lasted 36 hours but he called me at 6am and came over and pleaded his case and I agreed to take him back. Breaking up is hard to do, and breaking up with your neighbor even harder. :( I don’t know what is going to happen. I explained the whole situation to my sister today, and she is very worried, and wonders if he may be just be using me to become a citizen of my country or something. (I told her that he has already been hinting at marriage.) He also seems to love me very much, and all of his friends (whom I really like) keep telling me that they’ve never seen him act like this about a girl. This is very difficult!!!!!! I wasn’t supposed to find myself here again. :(

      • Snowboard, I don’t think that’s “surprise!” like how you’d roll it out for a birthday or something. I must admit – this is one of those situations where to read it, you might feel a bit mind effed, so I can only imagine how you feel. Your Mr Unavailable neighbour who ‘harangued’ you into being with him then harangued you into getting back together. What part of this even looks or sounds like love?

        I think you’re a bit drama orientated based on the comments and what has happened with this guy – be very, very careful. You don’t know this man and you seem to have no sense of identity and decisions. You must start owning your part for being involved with him and not be passive and swept away.

        Also breaking up is not hard to do with someone you’ve only been with for a wet week. Have you ever watched Big Brother and they go in the house on the Thursday and claim to be in love or best friends forever after a few days? This is you.

        This is not a good situation.

        • Snowboard says:

          Hi Natalie,

          I’m sorry if I sound like I am trying to stir drama. I just don’t know how to (or if I even should try to) extract myself from this situation. I also don’t know how much of my concerns are really just the OCD tapes playing in my head (in case it’s not obvious, my OCD is primarily focused on never being taken advantage of again by men).

          The definitive green flags here are that all of his circle of friends know about me and act really excited for us, that he talks about our future, that he always wants to be with me, that he is supportive of my struggle with OCD.

          The definitive red flags are his very-recent long-term past as a player which he freely acknowledges and which his friends attest to, the fact that he pressured me VERY INSISTENTLY to have sex with him way too early in the relationship in my view, the fact that he ALWAYS wants to have sex, and the fact that he sees TOO MUCH of a future with me (it’s one thing to talk about this summer, it’s another to talk about marriage).

          • grace says:

            forget his friends, you’re not in school anymore (or are you?). Mind you, it’s not just a youth thing, I got a boost when people at church were recognising there was something going on between the crush and me. I get it.
            There’s nothing wrong with his friends’ approval, but don’t factor it into your decision-making. They are HIS friends, not your friends. The playa’s friends all knew about me. They thought I was great. They were settling down and getting engaged/married and thought I would be the one to get playa to change his playing ways. I DON’T have that power and neither do you. Cheryl Cole didn’t have the power to get her man to settle down. Neither did Jerry Hall. Or Jackie Kennedy. It’s got nothing to do with the “quality” of the woman. Don’t go down that route of telling yourself “I can get him to change cos I’m special”. Yes you are special and the way to acknowledge that is not get yourself into DANGER situations. Don’t go chucking yourself into a disaster zone expecting to make it right.
            As for drama, none of us is saying “shut up about it”. We’re recognising what pushes your buttons cos we’ve been there – All this “we got together, he said this, we broke up, his friends said this, his friends said that, we’re back together” in the space of a few weeks if that hides the fact that you two are basically strangers. When you don’t know firsthand what a consistent, steady relationship feels like it’s easy to mistake all this “stuff” for something meaningful. It’s not.
            The talking about a future when you hardly know each other is not a green flag, it’s a red one.
            You have no idea if he is supportive of your OCD. You haven’t spent enough time together.
            I guess my point is – your green flags are not so green.
            The playa pursued me relentlessly too. He proposed marriage in three weeks. He said it was different with me. I felt that I was in a good position. I recognise everything you say here. For me, it ended very badly.

            • Snowboard says:

              Thanks so much, Grace, for this long response. I think things with “Tom” & me are kind of collapsing, just because it’s obvious I’m so unhappy, and I have told him I don’t want to sleep with him anymore. (Now he feels like I’m using sex as a weapon; I guess this kind of painful relationship is what occurs when the pair doesn’t break up when they need to.) He feels hurt because he says he never did anything wrong and believes he has treated me like a princess, but I think it is just something inside me. Ironically, his view is that I am EU, hung up on the way men have treated me from the past, and thus unwilling to give him a fair chance to prove himself to me. But isn’t that what EUMs always say and even believe when they get resistance from women? The weird thing is I actually do believe he loves me. But maybe that’s just not good enough for me. Even if he wants to be monogamous with me, I know that if we don’t work out, he plans to go right back to being a player, and it’s just a very sharp difference in sexual values, making it impossible for me to open up my heart., and admire/trust him in a deep deep way. You could argue that’s sheer prejudice on my part. It’s a strange situation.

        • Polly says:


          You seemed very clear that you don’t want a relationship with this man and you did the hard bit of breaking things off. The more you go back to him the more he won’t think you mean it if you do it again and it will become more and more difficult. Do you want to be in this situation in 6 months time? Don’t get talked into doing something you don’t want because you feel guilty. Good luck

  16. Diana says:

    I recognize myself not only in this, but in almost any article! After 6 years with a classic EU, for a year I am keeping myself busy with a person I don’t even talk to, we are not introduced, and what is hard for me to figure out is whether he is the unavailable one, or myself.

    I did some shady stuff to “put myself out there”, and to provoke a reaction which would eventually result in some closure, meaning us finally get introduced and speak to each other, instead of watching and sort of flirting. The thing is he started as a normal guy liking a girl, and in a while he backed off. I know it’s not only me, and it’s also him but I am really all puzzled what’s going on! Common, we met at least 10 times for a year on public events, including being with mutual friends and us being alone in the room, and nothing?! Me watching my shoes, he’s watching his. This is not normal, whoever the fault!

  17. brenda says:

    Nat!!!I finnialy Got it!!Albeit 6 months later!
    I am making boundaries,Not chasing the ex via facebook,and really cutting out every Eum I come on contact,I see the red flags,I OPT out and flush..
    I feel so liberated!!!!!!!IGOT IT!!!

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      YAY! Join the club!

      • Kmac says:

        The day i feel like I’ve got it? Please! Life is just not like that. There is so much I still have left to suck at. I feel a little safer leaving myself open, ’til I die really, to the idea that there is always something to learn, especially in relationships. Tell yourself you’ve got the world by the balls, boundaries, red flags, flush, whatever…and that is precisely when it knocks you silly. I’m a big f-ing sage on this site until I meet a guy who pushes all of my buttons…let’s see how wise I am then.

        P.S. Don’t let Paltrow fool you. She’s got her shit, too, or she wouldn’t be eating ferns for dinner and exercising herself to oblivion for three hours a day.

        • brenda says:

          Kmac…Im sorry if my words offended you,But to where I was before and where I am now,I do get it.And I am proud of that.
          Am I perfect,no,I still have issues,Will I make some bad choices?Probably,But The messgages and lessons from Nat,have opened my eyes alot..I always appreciate your feed back.

  18. Natasha says:

    “So hold up a frickin’ second here: I’m who I am. They’re who they are. And whether I showed up with Gwyneth Paltrow levels of self-esteem or showed up as me, there would still be issues? OHHHHHH…so it really isn’t about me.”

    True story! I used to do that – i.e. say, “Well, if I hadn’t done this/that/the other I wouldn’t have to earn his respect.” HELLO. Yes, I was accepting of my ex’s poor behavior, but that didn’t mean that I therefor had to “make up for it”. Hell, those who perpetrate the sh*tty behavior should be concerned with “making up for it”, am I right?! It’s actually pretty funny in retrospect, because my last go-around with this loser was after I’d told him to take the ol’ run and jump. I thought we’d have a good relationship because I’d “proven” I was worth respecting. Again, HELLO. I know none of my exes forced me into having bad self esteem, so I finally realized that I didn’t force them into being jackasses 😉

    • Titanium says:


      “I know none of my exes forced me into having bad self esteem, so I finally realized that I didn’t force them into being jackasses ;)”

  19. Tanzanite says:

    Hi Natalie/everyone

    Brilliant post !

    The first paragraph has it in a nutshell.

  20. ChaisingRainbows says:

    I had another watershed moment after reading this post, so thank you Natalie. I was ruminating over my situation and decided to write out some of my thoughts (sort of following your “get out of stuck” format), and it wasn’t until I saw it on paper that I realized most importantly there is A LOT going on that is bothering me but there were some other telling “ah-ha!” moments along the way. I have been kicking myself for the latest round of “feeding the beast” as it were with my EUM. I was so angry at myself for getting caught up in the cycle, among other things. One of the things that had bothered me more than anything was that in a weak moment of anxiety and sleep-deprivation, he said something VERY telling that has been nagging at me ever since. The comment was immensely egotistical, and despite how much time I’ve spent kicking myself for all of the poor decisions I made in this particular “round,” I forgot to give myself credit that I handled this rather shocking comment on his part with poise and tact. I set the record straight calmly, without judging him- I was assertive, and while his comment sent off alarm bells, while I was responding and from where I sit today, I KNEW it wasn’t true (I suspect if I had secretly worried otherwise, I wouldn’t have handled myself so well!). Fast forward a couple weeks and I am asking myself how stupid and pathetic I must be to get sucked in again, and I started wondering what I had said or done to trigger such an outrageously egocentric assertion on his part. He must have smelled how weak I was. What had I said or done to make him think this? In fact, I was practically talking myself into believing he could be on to something. Then I backed up. Hmm, maybe a comment that indicates that he believes he has godlike sway over my actions and decisions is actually a reflection of HIS issues, and not mine???

    • grace says:

      yes he has issues.
      and so do you/we.
      You/we value on what he says, why he says it, what it means, what you should do about it, how you should react, how you did react etc. Sometimes for a very long time.
      The ideal situation (which can take a while as we’re only human) is not giving a **** what some jackass says cos … he’s a jackass.
      And don’t forget – he doesn’t care that he has issues. It works for him very nicely wham bam thank you ma’am.
      If we’re the one who’s hurting it’s us who have to disengage, not expect him to bend to what we want/think. Or even to admit what he’s done. THEY. NEVER. DO.

      • ChaisingRainbows says:

        Thanks Grace. I am working on disengaging now…it is definitely a process. It was very empowering when I took myself out of this one moment that was plaguing me and started to see the bizarre transformation that had taken place between a rare instance of me actually behaving and communicating from a place of self esteem (and maturely! wow, not something I was capable of at one time- it was all about being “right” or having to keep a constant missile guard on red alert), and now. After all that rumination I had managed to get lost in the muddle and all of my uber obsessing had turned this moment of clarity-which was very likely the catalyst for me breaking this pattern and seeing the light-into another reflection of how messed up I am. Ruminating really does twist everything into being about you and your problems, to the point that after weeks are going by, you can no longer discern reality. I am thankful that for once, I am seeing the reality. I thought hard about what you said yesterday, and decided that there would be no point in saying anything to him at this point. Actually, I should be feeling awesome that I ended our in person interaction on such a high note. I feel great about how I handled that in retrospect, and in retrospect it was one the most “honest” things he has probably ever said! I felt empowered for all of 30 minutes before the rumination/frustration at the situation at large and how it had culminated in this “round” set in. I forgot to applaud myself and ride out this moment of clarity and what the internal sirens were telling me about him. I guess the difference this time is that I lost the clarity for a couple weeks and not months and years on end. Time to hold on tight.

      • Maz says:

        I’ve recently dissolved a relationship with a passive-aggressive, EUM, yes I dissolved it, because he just did a disappearing act, couldnt face the confrontation over an incident which happened with his son, probably saw it as an easy excuse to leave what I considered to be a relationship, however, what Grace says is true “he doesn’t care that he has issues. It works for him very nicely” I addressed the issue he was PA, he admitted he had similar traits and that was the last I heard from him. He went from someone who was saying to me “it takes a long time for me to move on” in other words he’d already made the decision (I wished, hoped, lived in denial that it was true) that it was over between us, to moving on into a dating site 2 weeks prior to saying that and dating/pursuing other women within 2 weeks of the last time I was with him. Classic rebounder PA. Again, “If we’re the one who’s hurting it’s us who have to disengage” I did that, I needed closure, so I emailed/text him closure. I knew he wouldnt respond, wouldnt pick up the phone if I’d called (screening) LDR so I closed it. It’s taking time for me to move on, this site has helped greatly, for I falter regularly at the moment and reading this, helps me keep my resolve in NC. It’s only been a week for me so far, sending no emails, but I havent heard from him in a month. Im hoping I dont in the future, because right now I cant say what I would do. I think, as women we are far better equipped with dealing with issues and seeking resolve, sometimes we just need direction and support in addressing and recognising them, doesnt excuse those men from being ACs or AWipes or EUMs or just plain jerks though.

  21. Stephanie says:

    I think I may have got it! My problem is that I over think and worry about details when it comes to matters of the heart, I always have, even as a child. When the AC dumped me, I automatically thought it was something I done, didn’t do, should have done or could have done. I think that was what nearly made me lose my frickin mind! I kept trying to think of ways to get him to see that I was a good person and the right person for him. I never stopped to think that he had already made up his mind (probably from day one).

    A guy friend of mine (who used to be a EUM) said to me, ” with EUMs its never about the girl, its just about what the man wants and if he has to talk shit (ie future fake or fast forward) to get what he wants, then he’ll do it”. Unfortunately, they meet women like me who are genuinely looking for someone and play with our heads!

    • sm says:

      You know what Stephanie, I’ve done the same thing. But what is really amazing is that an AC/EUM did that to me. When I broke it off with him I told him I did not think he was a good guy at all, apparently he was always under the delusion that he was. So he kept trying to think of ways to get me to see that he was a good guy. OMGosh, he was so totally not, his nickname at work was Lord Assholeo. I mean, I wasnt the only one who thought bad of him. After some months passed and my anger had subsided…well you guessed it, he finally talked me into to going out with him again to prove that he wasnt such an Azz now. He even told me how much that statement hurt his feelings. So after about a month of him trying to prove he wasnt such an azz, he finally couldnt take it anymore and told me he just wasnt ready for a relationship. Yeah, right, I chalked that up to a learning lesson. When he felt he had done enough to prove his ‘goodness’ he felt it was all on me then and if I didnt see it, then I was the azz.

      • brenda says:

        Because of this Site and Nats brilliance,I can not only see things more clearly,but can touch ,taste,smell,an Eum a mile away..
        I recently started talking to a Man on a dating site,After a few visits,it comes out this Guy has a gf but is long distance and has been for years….Anyway he starts protesting that she is not the right woman,he such an amazing person,he could get any woman he wants yadda yadda….Hes emailing me every day with info about thier latest phone convo and how bad it is and hes done…Than in the next breath hes telling me they are going to Jamaica in 2 weeks and if he doesent go hes out the money…rinse and repeat…!!
        All this while is all but begging me to meet him,and I keep saying nope,and putting what I have learned here,Out there to him…
        This guy would say and do anything to get what he wants..Luckily for me I am smarter and stronger because of all of you…So I have asked him NOT to contact me further and will not reply to any emails he sends..I feel sorry for his gf,and for the many women out there who will buy what this asshole is selling…I am equipped with Buyer beware……

        • Stephanie says:

          Thanks ladies. What is it with these guys online? The AC is back on the dating site, uploaded more photos, and is selling himself as “a gentleman looking for someone special and not into playing games” hello! Yes, he took me to fancy restaurants, spoke nicely and all the rest but he didn’t have the courtesy to tell me he wanted out, he told a pack of lies, then went NC! Gentleman! He just wants to shag around, unfortunately I’m another on his list. I’m getting back on my recovery track, hopefully he won’t affect me anymore, it’s a shame someone else will get dealt the same cards as me, maybe they will come to BR afterwards.

        • Kmac says:

          “I keep saying nope….” Translation: Yep.

          • brenda says:

            What do you mean Kmac?

            • FX says:

              brenda, I think Kmac means that “saying nope” is a one time thing. End of. If you “keep” saying it, it means you are continuing to engage so you are, in effect, saying “yep” that you are still open to his BS, his attention, whatever possibilities are on offer, etc.

              And, from what you wrote about him and his talk about a gf, he’s a total waste of your time and saying it once was more than enough.

            • Kmac says:

              Hi Brenda…I simply mean that if a guy wants to see if he has control over you, any kind of response from you will verify to him that he does. Even responses of “stop e-mailing me,” or “I’m not interested,” or “this is what I’ve learned about you on BR,” especially when you keep repeating them and not actually doing anything about it. If you really meant that, you simply wouldn’t respond. And never mind about his head, really…what about yours? I mean in the most gentle way that it just seems like you engage with these guys for way longer than you need to, and in my eyes ( always based on my own experiences) that means there is something you like about it – some kind of payoff. If we get off on some level with engaging these guys or having little written dramas telling them what we’ve learned about them on BR, I just can’t believe we’ve ‘finally got it.’ We’ve got it when we can see clearly, with brutal honesty the ways in which we get in our own way with nobody’s assistance, and resolve to take responsibility for it, forgive ourselves (the hard part!) and begin to act with integrity instead of on impulse, over and over again.
              I love that you are always searching and trying to learn, and the sage advice on this site can’t possibly hurt, but use your own mind to see clearly and honestly what you are doing.

  22. Heartache Amy says:

    I’m almost at the end of a long, traumatic divorce. I’m sad that my marriage has ended and I miss the husband that I used to have, but I don’t like the person that he is now. He’s narcissistic, a bully, self-centered and (I very much suspect) bipolar. I won’t be sorry when he’s gone, but I have to admit, even though I know this is for the best, I can’t help feeling some rejection. And I made the mistake last summer of briefly taking up with a MM who wooed and flattered me, only to end things by blaming me — for what, I’m not sure…so, I experienced a second rejection. Again, that was a blessing in disguise as the guy is a liar, suffers from major depression and , of course, is unavailable. Ugh. But, there’s that creeping feeling of rejection, like, “what did I do”? Probably nothing, but at times, I feel a little (not completely, but a little), in both situations, like it was something I did or didn’t do. It’s hard to have two back-to-back failed relationships — it doesn’t do so much for one’s self-esteem.

    • grace says:

      you didn’t really have two back to back failed relationships. you had one – your marriage.
      the MM was married. Saying that failed is like saying you failed to fly when you jumped off the roof. if you must continue to direct your energies at this, at least consider what led you to jump in the first place – not why you fell plummeting to the ground and making that about your inability to fight the inevitable.

      • yoghurt says:

        “the MM was married. Saying that failed is like saying you failed to fly when you jumped off the roof. if you must continue to direct your energies at this, at least consider what led you to jump in the first place – not why you fell plummeting to the ground and making that about your inability to fight the inevitable.”

        That’s an amazing analogy. Cheers :)

  23. runnergirlno1 says:

    Hi all,
    I just wanted to share the situation my 22 year old daughter is experiencing. She broke up with her live-in bf of 3 years, quit school, and moved back home. Within 90 days, she has a new bf. I tried to gently encourage her to give herself a bit of time to heal before she got involved again. She received that advice like I was telling her to clean her room. Today, she discovered that the exbf has taken up with her best friend who will be moving in the the exbf next month. Dear lord. It was like the world ended. Granted, the exbf got involved with one of her girlfriends but somehow he’s not allowed to move on and she is? I didn’t point that out.
    Consequently, she didn’t feel up to going to a job interview. Despite my frustration, I remained calm and gently suggested that it may be time to focus on her life. Exbf is focused on his life and getting his needs met (which is why she broke up with him) so maybe now would be a good time to focus on her, not him. I got to say, his actions are about him, not you. And I got to say that the only life she can control is hers. What is she going to do about her life? Skip the job interview because the ex has a new gf?
    Well, I’ll be dipped in shit. She actually heard me, dried her tears, stopped the hysteria/drama, took a shower, and went to her job interview.
    Natalie and ladies, thank you so much. I’ve learned so much from all of you. I don’t know how I would have handled today without you. I could see very clearly how my daughter was feeling angry, rejected, desperate, vulnerable, sad, hurt, and having trouble distinguishing between her behavior and his. It was so very striking to watch the drama play out precisely as Natalie has written about in so many posts. Of course, with all of your help, I could see what was happening because I was on the outside of the inner turmoil she was experiencing. I’m still reeling that she actually listened to me. When I got home from work, she seemed calmer and said that she didn’t realize she was so focused on him and the job interview went well. I about passed out. Who cares about her messy room. Maybe there is a reason she moved back home? Thank you all.

    • Magnolia says:

      That’s a great story, runnergirl. I love that you helped her react to the news by having her do something good for herself. She’ll always remember the job interview she almost didn’t go to and will always feel good about the decision to go. Sounds like you modeled how to keep the drama meter low and focus on number one. So heartening! Thanks for sharing that.

    • grace says:

      lovely story and well handled.
      I’ve quashed my own drama to a level of … manageability. In my clearer state of mind, I can see that my drama was a way to avoid personal challenges. “I can’t possibly do x,y,z, I’ve got a CRISIS!”

    • ChaisingRainbows says:

      Great story. That is what good parenting looks like in action! You’re letting your daughter have a safe place to go for emotional support, but gently trying to keep her accountable. Bravo.

    • Sugar and Spice says:

      “What is she going to do about her life? Skip the job interview because the ex has a new gf?”


      What a great story runnergirl…. Instead of getting stuck in the past by focusing on him and said past relationship, you helped her to work through her initial reaction, …self-correct, and then ACT by staying focused on herself in the PRESENT, and MOVE ON with her own life by going to her job interview, and the job interview.

      …the possible opportunity…the possibility that she may have been nervous about attending the interview; I think only she knows, but GREAT parenting indeed! :) :)

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Thank you for the reinforcement and assurance. Trust me, I was hanging by a thread. It was just so clear that my daughter thought that she had some power over him because they were together for three years. She could apparently “move on” after 90 days but he couldn’t? Granted, he moved on with a friend of hers and my daughter doesn’t want the new gf using the furniture I bought for them. She abandoned the relationship and the little kitchen table, bedside table, and the bed.
        Of course she was using the drama as an excuse to avoid the job interview. She’s got a crisis, as usual. She’s nervous because she’s 22 and never had to really work.
        I gotta say, setting boundaries with my daughter is about as tough as setting boundaries around males. Dialing back the drama meter was really critical.
        Setting boundaries is taking a lot of conscious effort which is exhausting. Sometimes it’s just easier to be a doormat for everybody. I can hardly wait until my boundaries become “natural” and I don’t have to work so hard.

  24. Elana Winfrey, MEd, LPC says:

    Love this post! It does seem hard to accept that we can’t MAKE someone “do something” or “be something.” Many times we women put so much emotional work into this, only to be left frustrated, or worse—depressed. But, what you have said here is true. The way I say it—“You can’t Change other people. You can only Change YOURSELF.” Focus on what YOU can do that does not require the other person to “do something” or “become something.” YOU “do something.”


  25. AngelFace says:

    Yes. It’s About RAISING the Bar Back Up.
    It really is better to be lonely (for awhile)
    Than to be with an AC.

  26. Nikki says:

    I found you just at the right time in that I was in a place to actually listen to you and do something about me and stop all the other non-sense. Thank you. It’s been shitty hard work, but I’m happier for it. I love checking in here. You’re awesome! Thank you for taking your life experiences to help people like me.

  27. Ethelreda Might Just Be Ready Now says:


    Ladies, I think it’s happened. I think I’m ready to go back in the dating water. I’m not quite sure what form this is going to take, but I have some ideas. And freshly armed with plenty of BR help and clear thinking, I think I will be able to handle the initial knockbacks and disappointments better than before.

    I will keep you posted. Will me to succeed, and if not, at least to learn useful things in the process.

  28. Chrysalis Gurl says:

    Its a very fundamental lesson. We can’t control other people. At best, we can control ourselves and how we respond to others.

  29. Faye1248 says:

    This is the post I needed to read!

    I recently was involved with a MM ( I know big mistake) and he “dumped” me for another woman ( not his wife). Of course he tried to blame me for his actions and at first ( about a few days) I was internalizing his crap. But I realized that his actions didn’t have anything to do with me, this is who he is and always was from day one. Natalie is spot on in regards to the illusions and self-esteem issues that are at the core of relationships with AC’s and this was the case with me. I totally agree that if my self-esteem was higher, I woudn’t have given this loser the time of day. What I struggle with is the fact that I was involved with this clown…it is hard to accept that I betrayed myself and the fact that he knows this too by being involved with him. I know this shouldn’t matter, but everytime I think about my involvement with him, I shudder!

  30. Loula says:

    Thank you Natalie! I can’t thank you enough for your website. I’ve recently been through a break-up and found much solace in reading you words. And “baggage reclaim” makes me smile every time I read it, ha!
    He stopped talking to me. We didn’t even fight. I felt blindsided and that fOR SURE it was those last text messages I sent. I was irritated with him and sent messages I wish I hadn’t. I’ve been in self-hatred mode for the past 5 weeks. I finally emailed him, asking if it would help him as much as I think it would help me if we spoke about how things ended. He responded, somewhere in the middle his surface-filled(telling me how the last month he’s had so much joy) email, he said he’d be happy to talk and that he has no idea to which texts I apologized for being insensitive and inappropriate. He just assumed we weren’t compatible. So, ALL this time I’ve been bashing myself over something, he says, he doesn’t even remember. But not only that … if he has no idea what I’m talking about then why did he stop communicating with me??????? Obviously, I’m still healing. I have a date tomorrow and I’m worried that I’m not quite over this last guy, even though he was a bit of an a-hole. I’m blogging about it at questforlove.net and it’s been helpful. I’m learning about myself, that I’ve had a victim mentality since the 3rd grade, and only now, at 42, realize it.
    Thank you so much for being and sharing.

  31. jenny says:

    I just wanted to toss out what I think is an awesome example, provided in script format by my very awesome counselor. Yes….my extensive history with assclowns and EUMs drove me to professional help. You see, I would completely fall to pieces and let life slip on by over each and very one. The depression was horrible and I needed help.

    Anyhoo, so I once dated an extreme Mama’s Boy (MB) who didn’t initially seem like a MB. He seemed like a good ol’ country boy with a respect for family, which I found appealing. As Natalie has written about before, I invented this caring individual in my head based on limited evidence, so when the real him came out, I was still stuck in my illusion. MB was extremely pouty, manipulative, hot/cold, and always managed to insinuate that if I could only be more, do more, whatever, our relationship would be perfect.

    So, in counseling, the situation was handed to me like this: what if MB had approached the relationship like a business deal? What if he sat down with me from jump street and said, “Hey, I’m unnaturally attached to my mom, I will not do anything that upsets her, ever, and you will always have to have her approval to get mine. If you don’t get the thumbs up from her, I will bolt. So, can you agree to always do what Mama wants, never get upset with me when I cater to her and put you on the back burner?” Had it been so blatantly put to me that these were his needs (it came to light later, anyway, just not by his admission….but through his actions), I would’ve said, “No, I can’t agree to that.” And we would have ended things on very clear terms, agreeing to disagree, so to speak. Instead, there were hot periods between us when Mama was happy, followed by punishment and coldness when Mama was upset, that left me wondering what I did wrong, and of course, thinking I wasn’t good enough for Mama or MB. If I was good enough, she would always like me, ergo, so would MB. I didn’t immediately make the split…..I didn’t see up front that those issues were there before I was and they would be there long after I was gone. When my counselor broke it down like that, oh, my……it was like a light went on. Just thought I’d share.

    • Polly says:

      I think we can all write out our ‘deal’- I’ve done this before and it makes pretty stark reading – mine was ‘I will demand your attention and affection all the time. I will identify your weak points and fully exploit them so that you never know where you are. I will blow hot and cold and grant you affection only occasionally and you will never know when it is coming so you will always have to wait patiently and hope. That affection will gradually be withdrawn but if you try to accept it without creating drama I will get bored and find someone else to play with.

      • RadioGirl says:

        “That affection will gradually be withdrawn but if you try to accept it without creating drama I will get bored and find someone else to play with”.

        Yes, Polly, that sounds all too painfully familiar. I experienced this scenario last year when I discovered that my increasingly distant ex was regularly contacting what he literally called his “playmate” on FB, e-mail and Skype – a woman who was not known to me at all and who was not even a long-standing /family friend of his. Very shady behaviour indeed. These days I feel well shot of him, though of course I didn’t feel like that at the time as I was still clinging onto the illusions from the very beginning of our relationship when he was blowing so hot, and blaming myself for maybe not being exciting enough that I drove him to such behaviour. So glad I’m able to look back on it all with such useful clarity now and see that it really wasn’t anything I did that made him behave that way – it was his own free choice to do so.

  32. FX says:

    I guess I thought I was that powerful! After overreacting to something because I made it about me.. and then calling him on actual crappy behavior on the phone 2 days later and then sending a long string of angry texts telling him all about himself and that I was done, I thought I had burned the last bridge. But, unlike in the past when I would panic and try to “fix” our long-broken relationshit, this time, I was relieved to think there was no going back and went NC. When I went NC once before, it was months before he communicated and wormed his way back in and I foolishly allowed several more months of being downgraded. This time, less than 2 weeks after I thought he would surely “punish” me by not making any attempts at contact after my telling him I was done in such a mature way (NOT!), yesterday he sent a few short texts that I think tick all the boxes… Reset button, need to know I’m still an option, chancing his arm, whatever. I haven’t responded. My first thought was WTF? followed by a little pleasure that his first text was an invite to meet for lunch and, then, the immediate reality check acknowledging that this was just same shit, different day and meant nothing. His last text was “What does a man hafta do?” Um, I’m pretty sure I just spent the last year or so wasting my breath and time answering that question six ways till Sunday! I let myself be devalused – that was a typo but I think it sums it up – I felt devalued and used and I’m done enabling that. What does a woman hafta do to communicate that?!! LOL

  33. yoghurt says:

    Urg, this post has given me pause for thought.

    Whilst I’m as guilty as anyone else for thinking “I can get from a to b by doing x and y, notwithstanding the fact that really I ought to be giving b a WIDE BERTH and instead aiming for c”, this article has also flagged up to me that I’ve a habit of being very very reactive and very very passive in all my interactions. I let stuff happen to me – good, bad and indifferent – and instead of trying to change it by addressing it directly I sneak around trying to activate some sort of Heath Robinson contraption that’ll cause a chain reaction that’ll land nice things in my lap.

    I can then write everything bad that happens to me off as the fact that the universe hates me/ I’m cursed/ I was born congenitally, and objectively-speaking, awful, which is depressing but it’s EASY.

    Now that I’m trying very very hard to be proactive and to take steps to pursue the good things and protect myself from the bad things I’m being somewhat dogged by thoughts of this nature at the minute, particularly the latter one. I sincerely hope that this is just the result of stepping outside my comfort zone (if only in very small ways) and not evidence that it’s true.

    Bah, though, I fear that it is true.

    (I set a BOUNDARY yesterday – Son’s dad ‘accidentally’ (?who knows? who cares?) sent me a lovey-dovey text meant for his girlfriend. I responded by telling him (face-to-face today) that if it happens again I will change my mobile number and keep it a secret, so that he will have the inconvenience of contacting me via the house-phone to arrange picking up Son. I was firm and I didn’t explain – except to say that it was inappropriate – but it’s feeding into the ‘cursed’ feeling).

    • sm says:

      Yoghurt, I dont like this guy. It sounds like he just likes to mess with peoples minds based on this and other things you’ve written in the past that he’s done. Unless your name and the gf’s name is the same, there is no way that was a mistake. I’m putting him in the azz category, I dont know what his intent was but good response from you. I’m happy to see that you are moving past his nonsense, I’d be glad the gf is stuck with him now.

      • Izzybell says:

        ugh- agreed! what a total tool-like thing for him to do… glad to hear you addressed it and set a boundary with him!

    • Tea Cozy says:

      Hey yoghurt, I bet the unease you described really is just a function of you stepping outside of your comfort zone. Setting that boundary with your son’s dad, face-to-face no less, was a job well done. And I think anyone would’ve felt twitchy having to do so; I mean, it’s just an icky feeling to be on the receiving end of that kind of misdirected text, and then to have to confront the issue head-on.

      I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance myself as I get in the habit of enforcing boundaries rather than just “going along to get along.” It stirs up all kinds of anxiety, because it’s still new and mostly unfamiliar behavior. And it requires really being willing to let go of all sorts of ingrained attitudes I’ve had about myself, and not buy into my own mythology. It can be daunting and dizzying.

    • yoghurt says:

      Yea, thanks everyone :) I’m in the middle of a big mood-dip (probably caused by being the start of a holiday after a tough time at work more than anything else) so it really helped!

      sm and izzybell – I don’t know whether he meant to or not (I got many long explanatory and apologetic texts afterwards) but in the end I decided that it was besides the point – it shouldn’t happen and even if it was an accident then he should be taking more care. He blamed his new phone but it’s happened before on his old phone and it’s not on.

      I’m very pleased with myself in that I got the whole puppy-dog-eyes “haven’t you ever sent off a text and then realised your huge mistake?” routine but instead of saying “oh yes, I do understand but…” I said “Nope. I’ve never sent a text to the wrong person and I’ve never received the wrong text from anyone else either”. Go me!

      tea cozy – thanks, that helps. In all honesty I’m finding it incredibly difficult just being me without any saint-like gimmicks to fall back on, and right now I don’t feel as though I like myself very much… no surprises there really, when I never did.

      Also feels like a lot of effort for not much progress and not many results but again, that’s probably more because I’m not in a great way physically just now, and therefore prone to misery-thinking. Right now I keep having to stop myself from saying: Well hey, this is why I didn’t bother in the first place – it might work for everyone else but it won’t work for ME…

      • Yoghurt…breathe. You’re not looking to create a new you from scratch. You are already a great person and you just need to reclaim you as you’ve buried you in playing Mother Theresa. Is it going to happen overnight? No. Is it going to be uncomfortable? Yes.

        Your ex is just being a tit and attention seeking. It’s not about you; he doesn’t have a hold on you anymore and he can sense change in you. It’ll feel hard before it feels easier but first step is to stop begrudging not being a doormat. It’s not like you got great results with it.

        • yoghurt says:

          Haha – yep. I’ve just read through the post again and it applies to more than relationships.

          Example: I went to the gym today – first time and I was nervous. Only it was unexpectedly shut, which I then went home and had a meltdown about, because I Am Cursed and I Am So Unlucky and Everything Happens To Me. Memememememe.

          Nothing to do with the fact that they had to replace the boiler? And yes, there were signs about it up on the walls, I just hadn’t read them properly.

          I’m not even sure that I begrudge not being a doormat, I think that I begrudge not being a VICTIM, because while I’m a victim I don’t have to do much more than feel sorry for myself and tell myself that things aren’t my fault.

  34. Late Bloomer says:

    I was supposed to meet someone for a drink tonight. Actually, the first guy I’ve been interested in for about 10 months, since being dumped last year by the “allegedly” decent, but emotionally unstable abusive lawyer.
    This new person works as a trainer at my gym (not the primary one I go to) and also at the local market. We have been mildly flirting and talking over the past few months when we see each other in person. After I was in the market on Monday, he texted me that it’s always nice to see me and we should get a drink sometime. I replied, that would be nice.

    This morning, he texted me to see if I was available today to meet for a drink. I had plans to see a Saturday afternoon play with a girl friend and dinner afterwards, but would be free to meet about 9:15 pm. He asked where, and I suggested a place (sports pub) and that we meet outside and go from there (as there are several places along that strip). 

    I got there at 9:10 and by 9:30, he’s still wasn’t there. It was cold, so rather than wait outside, I stayed just inside the doors to the place. So at 9:30 pm I text – “I’m here,” since he clearly wasn’t. About 4 min later, he texts – Oh  s*it, sorry, are you still there? I text back “yes, what’s up? ” I don’t hear anything back. So about 15 min. later, I text, I’m heading back home. By this time, I’ve been waiting 40 min, with no explanation of what’s going on (we missed each other; he’s on the way; not coming?) and that “bad” feeling is starting to feel really bad.

    Now, I’m really trying to change. At 52, it’s still hard. Part of me wanted to just call and ask, “are you coming?”  Part of me wanted to “wait” to see if he would show up (what and wait for an hour)? Part of me feels really guilty that maybe he was on the way and I left. 

    All I can say is — if the shoe was on the other foot, I would have just called and said “hey, I fell asleep, or something’s come up etc…or I’m on my way.  But I didn’t hear anything from him, so I left (but did want to extend the courtesy of letting him know I was leaving). Now I feel guilty, and as I write this, doubly guilty thinking maybe he sped out of the house, showed up (45 min late) and I was gone. 

    And here, I was just looking forward to meeting someone for a simple drink, enjoyable conversation, mild flirtation, and genuine interest in getting to know him.
    I’m also so hypersensitive about nipping bad behavior in the bud, that I’m not certain what cutting someone a decent amount of slack looks like anymore vs. tolerating boundary busting behavior or “chasing” someone to ask what happened.

    • Magnolia says:

      I think you behaved just fine. He invited you, right? Then doesn’t show? Doesn’t even apologize via text when it’s clear that you’re there waiting? That’s not cool. Totally uncool. None of the people I call friends behave that way.

      There was a guy I was dating a couple months ago who started by being 5 mins late, next date 10, etc until the fifth date when, after 20 mins with no text to say where he is, I texted to say “Meet you there” (he was supposed to pick me up, I figured I’d just go to the event by myself in my own car and if he showed up, whatever, he could apologize). He caught me just as I was getting in my car, and said sheepishly, “I’m a bad date,” but didn’t say sorry. I finished it with him after that evening. I didn’t feel guilty about it at all.

      Your feelings are totally valid, but from my perspective you did nothing wrong.

    • Izzybell says:

      You absolutely did the right thing! Paying attention to his actions doesn’t mean you’re hypersensitive, and leaving when you’ve been kept waiting in the cold, at night, with no explanation is what any self-respecting person would do. You have better things to do, and it sounds like this guy doesn’t deserve your time!

    • A says:

      Late Bloomer,

      This guy’s behaviour is incredibly rude. You did nothing wrong, and you should not feel any guilt whatsoever. In fact, I’m also bothered that this guy asked you about meeting up on Monday, but then didn’t specify Saturday until Saturday morning. It’s too lazy. Furthermore, even if he was running ten minutes late, he should have called you with a quick apology and explanation–it is a first date and you were standing there waiting for him, after all.

      So already we see that this guy is unwilling to plan anything in advance AND can’t even follow through on his own last minute plans. Ugh. Rude, inconsiderate, and probable commitment issues. Please don’t contact him again, and I would be very hesitant to agree to meet up with him again after this. As you said, if something really did come up, how hard would it have been for him to just call after your text to apologize and explain?

    • Happy Soul says:

      Late Bloomer, please ignore this guy, he is not worth even a minute of your attention. I had almost the same experience 5 years go, I supposed to meet a guy and had to travel from Paddington…so I was almost there, 15 min before our date, he sent me text: “Sorry something come up, cant make it” HELLO, I was almost there and he sending me this text??? Obviously it was upsetting, but I didn’t let him know that I was almost there, just said, maybe next time. and never even contacted him again. Your guy probably forgot about meeting, but still he could call you and apologise for his crappy behaviour…Gosh, sometimes, I think it is better to be alone… ((HUGS))

      • sm says:

        How could he forget about the meeting, he had just asked her that morning. He’d have to be on crack or something. The guys not very smart. He knows her from the gym and the market, he did this to her knowing he’d have to face her again. He doesnt care about anyone but himself. Bad Bad Character. really bad.

  35. Kmac says:

    Late Bloomer…I’ve resolved to never meet a guy, even for an informal drink, until he’s actually used the key pad, dialed my number, and asked me out out voice to voice. If he can’t put his Big Boy underpants on and make the call, trust me, you’ll be changing his diapers at every turn should you choose to accept that behavior. At 52…at any age (I’m 48) is that what you want? C’mon, Bloomer, he texted you that morning and then acted as though he forgot…and again…why do we feel we should bend over backwards to extend courtesy to a man who has behaved discourteously toward us? The key words there are bend and over. He’s 40 minutes late? Leave. Period. No phone call necessary. Change begins with a decision. The 4 R’s help me: Recognize the gut feeling, try to Relax into it and trust it won’t last, Refrain from reacting based on that feeling (the hardest part for me) and Resolve over and over and over again to see it for what it is and do the right thing for yourself, which usually means doing, saying, texting nothing. Situations always reveal themselves quite nicely when we do just that: Nothing. Text this guy and ask him where he was: Translation – she’ll put up with my shit…I might as well take her for a ride. Don’t text him: Translation – She’s no pushover, and he decides he likes that and works for your attention (ACTUALLY CALLS AND APOLOGIZES WITHOUT YOUR PROMPTING) or he’s not really interested so he never calls again. Decide what you are worth.

    • FX says:

      Kmac, Excellent insight, strategy and advice all the way around. Thank you!

      • happy beginning says:

        Hi Late Bloomer
        I hope you feel confident from these comments that you did just fine. You didn’t humiliate yourself for him, nor did you act like someone with an axe to grind. He wasted your time and disappointed you but in keeping with this post, it is no reflection on you.
        I just want to add that his text rings alarm bells to me (of the air raid type). He managed to reply to your text with nothing, not giving an excuse/reason, not saying what he would do NOW, extraordinary because it’s something that comes naturally whether replying to a partner, friend, colleague or anyone when you can’t do what you said you’d do.
        But it’s not extraordinary to me. I dealt with constant ambiguity from the ex-AC and I could never work out why he didn’t just tell me what was going on. He infuriated friends, not just me. I think it’s about managing down expectations, keeping options open, being arrogant enough to think you owe nothing, and being in control. It made me feel very powerless so it worked. I felt like asking ‘where were you?’, ‘why haven’t you answered?’, ‘when will I see you?’ etc. was demanding/needy. It is manipulative. He has to hold the cards of his everyday life close to his chest, even though there’s nothing to hide (and it’s actually pretty boring!), just to have power. I don’t know if this is your date, and maybe he has something to hide, but it does look to me like he was maybe testing your boundaries and I think you should beware of his next move.

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Thank you everyone for your comments regarding Late Bloomer’s non-date. And thank you Late Bloomer for posting, although I’m so sorry you went through that. On first blush, red flags appeared galore for me. This was a first meeting and he dogged it? Imagine a relationship with a guy who can’t “appear” within a respectable time frame. I gotta admit, being on time is an issue with me. I move heaven and earth to be on time for things. Late Bloomer, you didn’t do anything wrong and it’s not about you. You were there. You can’t force him to be there. As I’m saying this to you, I’m saying it to me. Maybe if I scream it, cos I’m sometime deaf in both ears, I’ll hear it too. If the guy can’t appear within a respectable time frame…FLUSH. Dear lord, I spent so many hours waiting for him to show.
          I’m 52 too. Some days it feels like its the Last Chance Saloon. It isn’t.
          Happy Beginnings hit the nail on the head. It’s a form of manipulation and control. Here’s what the exMM said to me: he never tells his staff when he’s going be in the office so that they are always caught off guard when he does appear and they are always anxious as to whether he will appear. As he explained how he “managed” his staff, I realized that’s precisely how he “managed” me. You dodged a bullet and good for you for leaving after the dude was 40 minutes late and didn’t show. God, I wished I’d hit the flush handle after 40 minutes. Don’t spend another minute with this AC or even another minute thinking about him. Total tosser.

  36. happy beginning says:

    Also possible that for one reason or another, he wasn’t ready when it came to the reality of a date, even a relaxed one, in which case again it is no reflection on you if you don’t hear from him again.

    • Late Bloomer says:

      Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments and insight. An enormous help – all of them.

      He called me about 10 a.m. this morning to apologize. The explanation – he’s going through a lot right now; something about needing to sort out some relationship issues and that he couldn’t get out of the house (my real hunch is the NCAA games were THE priority). He said “there wasn’t any excuse for standing me up.” I said, “to me it was just a friendly drink and I figured something came up on his end and that I know it had nothing to do with me.” I also said that “I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, until I see otherwise.” And although I didn’t say it, it was clear, this is otherwise. We didn’t talk much longer (except for the status of my running injury and that I would see him around if I was in the store or gym). It felt right to just leave it like that. I didn’t have the need to tell him what I thought about his behavior or how it made me feel.

      I tipped my toe back in the water. I was genuinely interested in getting to know him better and it appeared mutual. Now I know to back away. I don’t know him well enough to assess if he’s an AC. It’s just not meant to go any further. Plus, because of how he treated me, my interest is just plain flat. It stings and I’m certainly disappointed. Yet this really is about him and his behavior. Not me. I behaved just fine. I can hold my head high. With the lawyer, I just plain lost my self respect and dignity in reaction to his behavior.

      This is the tipping point for me. Where I usually slip. Chasing and wanting someone, when I have this bad feeling. And when I’ve let it go further with a man, it’s led to years of ruminating, obsessing, self blame. Basically staying interested in someone so that I don’t have to get out there and address my own unavailability or life.

      But somehow, I’m not slipping. Slipping up would have been waiting around longer at the bar (I’m fine with the waiting and texting I did), or calling him last night. Slipping up would have been NOT texting that I was heading home. Slipping up would be to NOT recognize this man is unavailable. Slipping up would be NOT seeing it’s weird for a grown man (47 yrs) to text like an adolescent and unacceptable to stand a woman up — whether for a casual get to know you drink, or an actual date (which in my mind this wasn’t). Slipping up…

      • Late Bloomer says:

        Slipping up would be to NOT recognize that it’s hard to “buy” forgetfulness when you’ve confirmed a meeting time 2 ½ hours prior.

        Thank you NML and all of the fabulous women that are part of this community. The BR network has made a huge difference for me.

        • happy beginning says:

          Late Bloomer, this man is a complete doofus. Not giving prior notice that he can’t be somewhere because he has ‘a lot going on’?!. Lame as! Sounds like maybe he’s not ready to dip his toe in the dating pool, but it’s just pathetic to keep you waiting and his text on that night shows he is shifty .
          There is no way you could have known about this beforehand by casual chats with him, so none of this is your fault. It’s unfortunate, but it also shows how far you have come and how you can handle appalling behaviour with dignity. I am so sorry for your disappointment and am sure there are plenty of supportive thoughts going to you. Beware if he starts flip-flapping.

        • Tea Cozy says:

          Atta girl, Late Bloomer. You put yourself out there, and handled a disappointing situation with a ton of strength and self-respect.

          I’ve just started dipping my toes in the dating waters, too, and what is UP with these middle-aged guys and their texting?! I’ve implemented a no-text policy — I tell guys I don’t “do” texts, and not to expect a response if they go that route. (I think texting is probably OK later in a relationship, for certain limited scenarios.) Already I’ve had one guy try to manage me by text, and he got an earful. 😉

          I had a first date over the weekend, and I really tried to keep Nat’s post in mind. It wasn’t all about me that there wasn’t a romantic connection; it wasn’t all about me that he and I turned out to be incompatible; it was just the dating discovery process going exactly as it should.

  37. Cherry says:

    Hey Guys,

    I haven’t posted on here for a long time. Natalie, I’m sure you have often wondered what happened to me. Unfortunately I have no good news. I split up with my ex last November as I got so sick of his crappy treatment over 3 years. Verbal abuse, put downs, confidence battering, push and pull, lies etc. You name it he did it. I did quite well with the no contact at first but I caved in AGAIN to his promises of change and declaration of love. Saying he would get help. AGAIN. That if I help him we would be the perfect couple. At first things were better than ever. We spent Christmas and New Year in Thailand with our friends and it was a wonderful holiday. On returning he asked me to move in with him. I wasn’t ready and told him to wait. My parents eventually came round to him and forgave him for everything he had done in the past (my dad doesn’t know the half of it). Which meant an awful lot to me. He said I was the one for him the love of his life that he’s learned from his past mistakes. SO I moved in. And for a while everything was bliss. This was in January. Ive never felt happier. Over the past few weeks things have slowly started to change. He has stopped being affectionate, taking my calls and started slowly criticising the little things I do. Gone is the lovely boyfriend, replaced is an abusive, cold hearted person that I recognise only too well from all the previous times he has broken my heart. He says I’m ‘f***ing useless’ that I have no crack. That he is bored of me. It all came to a head last Wednesday when he called me a ‘f***ing slag’, overturned the coffee table, threatened to burn all my clothes, told me he hated me and that I make him so unhappy. After all this he went and sulked and later tried to have sex with me telling me I need to chill out. A few weeks ago he stayed out till 6 in the morning, I had no idea where he had been and the next day he offered to pay me £200 for me to go sleep with someone else. Which he later apologised for and said he was only joking. (He wasn’t joking at the time). He says that if I didn’t annoy him with the stupid faces that I pull and act like a stupid person I wouldn’t behave in the way he does. He has now said that he wants to split up (AGAIN). That he doesn’t love me that he never has, that he will never be happy with me and that when he meets…

    • Cherry, of course he has done all of this. You really expected the happy ever after ending with a guy who has kicked, punched and bitten you before? We have been here so many times now. I’m sorry that you’re still stuck.

      • Leisha says:

        Nat, Unfortunately she may wake up only when she’d dead. I hope not. Some people tend to live as a warning of what NOT to do. I pray she’ll find self-love before it’s too late.

        • Kmac says:

          Ouch, Leisha. I’m not for enabling, but this sounds like gossip I might hear in the lunch room at work, especially when you direct your comment to Natalie instead of the one who expressed it. The only exception is this: The person you’re writing about can read it, loudly and clearly. Self-love isn’t found, it is our life’s work, and knowing people are here for us with compassionate truths, like “we’ve been here so many times now, I’m sorry you’re still stuck” is what helps the most. I’m wondering if self-love includes not needing to ingratiate one’s self to the site’s author with a comment about someone who struggles like the rest of us, but just happens to be stuck a bit longer or struggling more deeply.

          • Kmac, Leisha – both of your comments come from somewhat judgemental positions. It’s not lunchroom gossip – the comments and responses stretch quite a way back and I’d question how helpful it is to tell someone off, while also being judgemental yourself. People are allowed to express their opinion, respectfully.

            Leisha, I know it is difficult to see / hear about someone doing this – it’s even harder to be in it. There are a number of people here who are in very destructive relationships who disappear and come back with more of the same. I hope they, Cherry included won’t remain stuck – what I try to avoid is fulfilling a cog in the pattern wheel of being an enabling spot. While what you say is true, it’s not the most tactful response and the truth is, we all, you, me and Kmac, have been lessons in how not to lead ones life.

            May I remind everyone: I’ve noticed some friction in the comments over the weekend – this isn’t a forum. On topic, meeting guidelines, no bitchiness please. One word: boundaries. Respect them please.

    • Snowboard says:

      Hi Cherry,

      Take advantage of his decision to leave and let him go. And then cut him out of your life completely. And then tell your parents and any other close confidants in your life EVERYTHING so that they won’t let you get confused about him again in the future. ** wishing for the best for you **

    • FlushMrEUM/AC says:

      In the name of all things holy,

      FLUSH! He treats you bad…Picture it this way if it helps. If your (mother, sister, girl friend-any one of those) came to you and told you the things you’ve told us about her boyfriend, what would you tell her? Would you tell her to keep going back to him or tell her to cut her losses and run? Things are not going to get better with this man, he’s had more than enough time to get his shit together for you and grow up.”Verbal abuse, put downs, confidence battering, push and pull, lies etc. ” “He has now said that he wants to split up (AGAIN). That he doesn’t love me that he never has, that he will never be happy with me and that when he meets…” What a self centered loser. To say such things to you, and after all this time. He does not appreciate or respect you. My heart hurts for you b/c I too fell for a a**hole in the past, know what it’s like (actually more than one! ugh at diff times) (during the charm and sweet stuff they throw at the beginning and in intervals for awhile :p) , anyways you and I did NOT deserve to be treated the way we were treated, and I can tell you that it does NOT get better. Cut your losses and run. You’ve given him more than one chance and he’s blown them all. You deserve better. Give a good, respectful man a chance to love you. You will never find better unless you let go of something that is not working. Sending good thoughts your way. *HUGS*

    • sushi says:

      Cherry, this man is dangerous. Please, tell your parents and close friends the whole story, you need support of people close to you. By not telling these people all about him you are isolating yourself. They will give you a reality check. Take care and hugs

    • Infinite Corridor says:

      Ack, Cherry. I’m sorry. I think you know what you need to do already. You have the strength in you to do it for good! You’re just caught in a bad cycle and it’s become a habit. Focus on breaking the habit, get out of there ASAP, engage NC.

      Mostly I just wanted to thank you for sharing this. I have been getting lala pie in the sky messages from my ex and somehow I started floating to dream land again… after so much! But yes. This grounded me. What he’s saying isn’t real. If there was a happy ending for us we’d be knee deep in it already.

    • Natasha says:

      Cherry, let me say first that I’ve been where you are and I know how hard it is to get out of such a bad place. The most important thing I want you to know is that you CAN ditch this jackass. I know it feels like if you don’t “win” by changing him into a new person, it’s all hopeless, but the fact is that being with him is a hopeless situation. My grandmother used to love to give out life advice and one of her favorites was, “No man is worth it.” and by “it” she meant your self respect/your dignity/your safety/your self esteem. This man is in no way worth what you’ve gone through and what you’ll continue to go through if you stay with him. It’s going to take guts, but you can walk away from this. I believe in you and I hope you will start to do the same!

      • FX says:

        I think we fool ourselves into thinking there’s a 3rd option when in reality there are only 2. Number 1 is we accept unacceptable behavior or 2, we get out and cut contact. In our quest not to experience the pain of the 2nd (and really only option) of throwing out whatever good we believe there still is with the overwhelming bad and cutting contact, we fabricate a 3rd option in our minds that they are going to change. It is wholly of our own creation and only results in postponing the inevitable and subjecting ourselves to more pain.

  38. Little Star says:

    Thanks Natalie for post, as usual it is brilliant and useful! SO I did not meet my Ex AC and he left me alone after one week of chasing (blowing hot and cold), what I was expecting…OK, I do not care, I know him for 4 years now and I expected it and no surprise here:-) I arranged to meet two guys next week, one of them sound interesting…But I think he is future faker? HE already wants to go to holidays with me and offered shopping, even he never met me? WTF? Already? Red flags or what?

    • Little Star, let’s keep it real here – you do care which is why you’re still engaging in the drama and then quickly booking yourself some dates with some more jackasses. Are you shopping for a sugar daddy? There is no such thing as a free lunch. I’m surprised that you don’t see what’s wrong with these strangers…

      Unless you want to remain on the asshole hamster wheel forever more, I’d start treating yourself a lot better and get some help to break the cycle.

      • FlushMrEUM/AC says:

        Little Star,
        I agree with Natalie. And I will add there are many guys out there that expect things i.e. physical action (kisses and more!) for paying for things especially when stuff gets pricey like shopping. You still have the right to say no and not dole those things out, but don’t be surprised if you get some handsy weirdos who try and make you do things, get bent out of shape if you resist or refuse, if they are offering to take you shopping already and you’re not in a committed relationship or even known each other for months. Either that or they may have low self esteem and be trying to buy your affection.

        Bottom line is that there aren’t many gentlemen out there and you have to have your guard up at least for awhile and set, enforce boundaries to protect yourself. Case in point, once I had a guy at a bar start chatting me up, soon said “when we get married we will do such and such,” and later in the conversation mentioned he liked to see ladies in lingerie, and later asked me out. I politely declined, and he then went on to say he drove he was disappointed that I said no, and that I would have been a “trophy gf,” that he had a yacht and drove a bmw lol. If I went out with him it would have def been a sugar daddy situation, which some peep might like but I’m looking for true love. I recommend you pass on those guys you just described and give yourself some time to heal and move on from your ex Mr EUM/AC. Sending good thoughts your way.

        • Little Star says:

          @Thank you Natalie and Flush for your inputs. Yes, I can “see” clearly red flags about future fakers (shopping, endless promises etc) thanks to my beloved Baggage reclaim!!! I declined rich guy’s offer of shopping and explained to him that I am not into these kind of things, and looking for a Soul Mate, and not Sugar Daddy (I am only 10 years younger than him)…He said: “Sorry, for being so stupid”, at least he accepted that he was wrong!
          Regarding AC, I do not want him and even if he contacts me again, I am not going to “engage” with him, NC all the way!

  39. Confused2 says:

    I understand that I don’t have the power to change someone. The biggest thing with me in this last relationship is understanding the laziness of the person I was with. I have never in my life been with someone who it was all about what he could “take” rather than what he could give. Most of the time in my past relationships, I have had men reciprocate and show emotion but this time around he certainly showed a lot at the beginning almost as if to “hook me” and then his true colors started to come through. Everything on his terms. It was tiring because its like a no win situation. I would call try to be sweet and caring to see if he would engage and come around to being a B**ch to see if he would react but it almost seemed like I could never get a reaction from him either way. Or should I say, I never could get what “I” really wanted which was Fair reciprocation. He would send a crumb and at times I did return a loaf but after some time I would also return a crumb just to see if something would change. . At times I was just mirroring his behavior. He would text once, I would text back once. He would call, I would accept the call. He moved forward two steps, I moved forward 2 steps etc. It was this on and on and on game (or maybe to me it felt like a game). Or maybe it was more both of us fighting for “control” over the other? I felt I was always trying to get a reaction from him until it became tiring and I said to myself, I’m not looking for him unless he looks for me. I’m not giving more unless he gives me more. It seemed all very bizarre to me and im trying to understand “ME” and my dynamic and the reasons why I reacted the way I did. Something within me feels like I wanted the control (am I a bit narcissistic myself for wanting this?) I wouldn’t say it was so much about me wanting to change him or perhaps even wanting “him”. It was more about “ME” wanting things the way I wanted them to be as well which was having him pursue me and not the other way around. I at times worry that Im becoming an EUW. I felt it was a power struggle that we were in and I was adamant about me not allowing him to win. Things were going to bend my way one way or another and I just had to “win” by cracking his code and eventually outsmart him. Whats that all about?

    • happy beginning says:

      Confused2, whatever the aims, mirroring someone is passive and couldn’t possibly lead to you being in control. I see things in common with your situation and think you just can’t win if it’s not someone who will reciprocate. ‘Crumb for a crumb’ behaviour will not have the effect you’d want it to have because he doesn’t think like you. He’s not emotionally invested, or bothered. I tried it and spent most of my wasted years with an AC in this dynamic. When he made random decisions to give me an organic, fair trade, toasted seed-encrusted loaf on a gold platter, it wasn’t because I’d been passive aggressive. He was too manipulative to fall for that. It was just because of what was going on with HIM – maybe some other woman had brought him down, or he just needed some kind of ego stroke. He NEVER responded to any of my behaviour, now I come to think of it. He played by his own rules. You can’t win until you walk away to a more fulfilling life.

      • happy beginning says:

        ouch, something about making that comment gave me a sentimental twinge. I’m seeing this EUM with distance in a very 2D way, like an assclown comic villain, but when i think of those special loaves, how he was a rock through some very tough times, and put up with a lot of my angst and melancholy, I start to feel a loss and recognise how a lot of women on here find it hard to walk away. I look back and can’t believe I let myself go so much, but that couldn’t have happened without some positive times. But don’t worry BR, not having second thoughts!

      • allie says:

        “You can’t win until you walk away to a more fulfilling life”.

        Thanks, I think I needed to hear that too. It’s time for me to take the control of MY life on my OWN hands.

    • Thank God for That says:

      Confused – I’ve been in this “trying to outsmart them” situation too (too many times), and you never win, because you’re always trying to figure them out, and that never happens. It always ends up with you fooling yourself and getting hurt and shortchanged in the process.

      I think NML is right in saying that as women who are attracted to EUMs, we are EU too. In fact, when I find men who are obviously interested in me and who seem “too friendly”, I start to realise my behaviour very closely matches that of an EUM…I really am resistant to making myself available to people who are available – mainly because I feel uncomfortable with the process – I’m just not used to it!

      As for always trying to win – this is what always hooks me – I think I can “break” them, and get them to open up. It is narcissistic (not judgementally, I must stress), to expect that you will be “the one” to do this, to control another person’s progress (which they might not even be interested in). I think, honestly, it’s a 50/50 level of responsibility between EUMs and women who get involved with them – it’s just two different perspectives. The EUM is dishonest, yes, but also, we selectively pick things that fit in with our fantasy and conveniently forget the rest – being dishonest with ourself and the person we’re involved with. You wonder what it is about *you*, etc. etc., I believe that it is narcissistic behaviour. But that shouldn’t be something we’re ashamed of – it’s something we’ve subconsciously learned – and once recognised, steps can be taken to fix it.

      • Stephanie says:

        Confused & Thank God for that

        “I think NML is right in saying that as women who are attracted to EUMs, we are EU too. In fact, when I find men who are obviously interested in me and who seem “too friendly”, I start to realise my behaviour very closely matches that of an EUM…I really am resistant to making myself available to people who are available – mainly because I feel uncomfortable with the process – I’m just not used to it!”

        This is me too. To be honest whilst trying to get over the hurt and pain of being passive aggressively dumped, one of the things I have had to own up to is that I made myself available to this EUM, so I must be EU too. In my 20s and early 30s I dismissed “nice” guys because I just wasn’t used to be treated nice, so I wouldn’t make myself available to them. During my pain I had to accept this and notice that although this guy treated me like shit, I had issues as well. Having to take a good look at myself and stop chasing fantasises has been one of the hardest things I have had to do. But I’ve recognised it and taking steps to fix it.

  40. yankee belle says:

    Yikes! I am getting off the EUM train once again. I’ve had 5 dates with a new guy in the past few weeks, the last one we got physical. I am beating myself up over this, because I did not mean to get physically involved so early. Especially when all he does is text, sporadically at that. He is wishy washy about when to meet, and one night I had no idea when we were meeting for dinner until an hour before (although we decided to go out that night). He seems more devoted to his dogs and his XBox and his ego driven work than fostering any sort of relationship with me. Last date was Wednesday a week ago; I texted him the next morning (after physicality) and nothing back until Sunday (yesterday). Red flags are flying, IMHO. I’m tired of making excuses for these behaviors (i.e. he’s busy, he has other commitments). It’s early on, yes, but this is probably indicative of how the rest of the situation will proceed.

    • Late Bloomer says:

      Yankee – yes, best to get off the train before it’s too far from the station. For me, the physical always speeds up things and intensifies my feelings, often clouding the true reality. I know that I would feel bad if I was physical with someone that I liked and they waited that amount of time to get back to me or were wishy washy about wanting to be with me. In the past, I’ve experienced way to much of that.

      I don’t remember which NML entry it was, but someone commented that a real boundary for them was: continued mutual interest with steady communication (or something like that). I guess just “being on the same page.” Sounds like you know what to do and are on the right path. Date five is usually the magic number to cut off. Good luck.

  41. Stephanie says:


    I chuckled I read your comment. The guy I dated done exactly the same thing, on our second date he said “you need to let me know where to get your ring from, Cartier or Tiffany’s?” he drove a brand new fancy car and was allegedly thinking of buying a yacht, told me he wanted to take me on holiday, possibly the Maldives and said he liked a woman that walked around in lingerie and heels! When I look back now it sounds so pathetic but also so outrageous, but at the time I actually fell for it. It took a couple of weeks before I noticed his actions were not matching his words. He was one of these Phantoms guys that Natalie talks about in her book, travels for work, disappears, fast forwards, future fakes, communicates via text or email etc. He was a real text book case. I just can’t believe I allowed him to nearly drive me insane! Like you, I’m looking for something real not a flipping sugar daddy! :-)

  42. Cherry says:

    Thankyou all for the kind words and support. I really appreciate it and they have put a smile on my face. I feel stupid and humiliated for trusting his BS again. That I let him trick me and lead me on. That he has betrayed me, my family and my friends. I moved all my stuff out of his place today and posted the keys and I wanted to feel something and cry but I couldn’t. Maybe because deep down I know its the right thing that I’m ready. It’s not the end it’s the beginning. Of a new, happier life. I now just have to go through the hard part and prepare myself when for when he comes back, which he will as he’s so textbook. Good love will find me someday and he can go live his sad empty life and destroy someone else’s life. Once again thank you BR for giving me a much needed reality check.


    • Snowboard says:

      That’s so wonderful, Cherry!!!!!! There is no decent person on the planet who would not tell you that you did the absolute correct thing today. Make sure, like you said, to come up with contigency plans for different scenearios in which he might try to win you back. A lot of these guys literally NEVER go away; they are leeches, sucking away on both our fear of cutting all contact on the miniscule chance they might have changed as well and our more basic reluctance to behave ‘impolitely.’ My first AC, with whom I was involved from ages 17-23, still sends me an email almost every month (very short and lazy like “how’s it goin?,” “are you in town?,” or offers a link to some far rightwing borderline hateful website he is recommending to me), even though I haven’t responded in about two years! I changed my phone number so he can’t call me on that. I only get depressed when I remember that this is the same guy I spent YEARS in tears over, and morphed in countless ways to try to conform to his psycho extremist ideology of the month (when I met him, he was a psycho extremist on the leftist end of the spectrum). How depressing!! I’m so glad you’re finally out!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy the sunlight!

  43. malaise says:

    I can relate to Confused2…I’m an EUW currently involved with an EUM. For awhile I thought we were both on the same page in wanting a purely physical, casual relationship, but lately things have gotten really confusing and I’ve been losing sleep torturing myself thinking about this guy! It’s almost like we’re both starting to want to change eachother…it’s so hard to explain, but since we’re both very similar in the emotionally unavailable department I think in a way we’re both seeking to be the one to change the other’s ways. It’s become this back and forth dance of him reaching out and me being too scared and trying to reinforce the emotional distance, and vice versa.

    For example, I opened up to him once about my relationship with my father, who’s a complete deadbeat. During one of our last meetings, he asked to know more about my past and my father, which is a very painful subject for me, and I told him so, and cut the convo short. It just seemed weird to me that he would care enough to want to know, I thought we were just fuck buddies? I don’t like talking about my childhood, but lately he’s been trying to get me to open up and it’s scary. I can almost feel the fight or flight response calling but at the same time it intrigues me that this guy maybe? is starting to care for me??? Sometimes after sex and we’re lying in bed he can sense if there’s something on my mind, and asks me why I don’t want to open up to him, “Just tell me!” tell you what? “What you’re thinking!” TO be honest I don’t like talking about myself or even my day, all I want is the physical, but he seems to want to talk more and find about more about me which is weird!

    HOWEVER, at the same time he still hasn’t asked me to go on a real date, or to see me more often than our usual (once a week). And when he does text me they’re purely sexual. So there’s just a bunch of crazy mixed signals I’m starting to get from him that’s confusing me to no end. Also, I’m starting to get feelings for him which isn’t helping.

    Recently he asked me if I was dating anyone else, and I said no (but in my head thinking, why would it matter if I was?), to which he replied, “Good! Because I don’t want you to!” Now, I had been talking to a few guys online, but not dating anyone, but after he said this I decided to shut it down and not try and…

    • grace says:

      If all you are doing with this man is having sex, it’s a casual relationship no matter how much personal information he is getting out of you. It’s not the same as caring for you – some people (men and women) get a kick out of knocking down boundaries. Be careful that in giving him sensitive information you’re not overinvesting. After sex chitchat does not a relationship make and it does not mean he cares about you.
      If you want an upgrade to a proper relationship you’re must talk to him properly and not in bed. Not go trawling through conversations for signs that he cares or that you care. We’ve all been there, and that way lies madness.

    • blueberry girl says:

      Malaise, be careful. I may be cynical but I’ve known men to do this so you form an emotional attachment while they remain detached (except for his penis, of course). It’s a high for the male ego having a woman fall madly in love with you. As women often don’t want to be used *just* for sex, neither do men.

  44. malaise says:

    It’s insane, I’ve been reading all the articles on here and your guys’ posts, and the logical, rational part of my brain tells me I should end it before I get even more emotionally invested, but there’s still that nagging…”what if?” I feel this man has potential and we have potential together only we’re both quite damaged…can two damaged people heal eachother? Or is it just another recipe for heartache? I don’t know what to do….I run away from my emotions all the time, but I don’t want to open up and give myself to someone only to get hurt. You say we don’t have the power to change someone else, but is this always true?? Sometimes meeting someone can instigate a change in you…

    • yoghurt says:

      I’m not 100% sure about this, but could it be that the ‘potential’ you feel is really a connection BASED on the fact that you’re both damaged?

      When I met the EUM, I felt that we had an amazing connection and we fitted together perfectly… and we did. We fitted together perfectly because a) he was looking for something casual, he had a lot of issues, he didn’t care how he treated people and he needed someone to talk to and b) I was looking for something casual (at first), I had a lot of issues, I didn’t care how I was treated and I needed someone to need me for something. So much in common! So many complimentary characteristics! No care, honesty or respect but who cared about that?

      I felt like the BEST person in the world when I was with him. And the fact that he clearly didn’t think I was good enough for him and yet still spent time with me felt like a huge compliment (it wasn’t) – what a victory over my low self-esteem! (it wasn’t)

      Needless to say, it hurt me more than anything else in the world when it sort-of ended sort-of badly but really without any fanfare because, to his mind, I wasn’t even a serious romantic prospect. I am still not quite right about it all. It really wasn’t worth it.

      • yoghurt says:

        Oh yeah, I meant to add that in the end he did change, and I do take some of the credit for that… in that I had his baby and allowed him access to his son. The impetus to be a good father led him to make some life changes that led to him becoming a much healthier, better person…

        …something that his girlfriend no doubt appreciates massively. Now that he’s changed, I’m the very LAST person that he wants to see, he doesn’t particularly like being reminded of how fucked-up he used to be and he blames me, to some extent, for allowing him to behave in a fucked-up manner. It’s not been pretty.

      • Fearless says:

        And the fact that he clearly didn’t think I was good enough for him and yet still spent time with me felt like a huge compliment (it wasn’t) – what a victory over my low self-esteem! (it wasn’t).

        That was me too. Ugh.

    • Sunshine says:

      Speaking from experience, a relationship based on potential has NEVER EVER EVER EVER worked.
      I remember how flattered I was that an ex would tell me often how crazy he was about me because he could see so much potential.
      What I eventually learned was, he meant he thought he could change me to be who he thought he wanted. I did turn myself inside out to be more like he thought I should be and guess what? Everything that *I* liked about me was shredded by the end of the relationship and I had spent 5 painful years chasing that dangling carrot of “potential”.

      Instead of being flattered by the next guy who came along saying he was attracted to the “potential”, I noted it and put it in the “yellow flag” category.

      I have since learned that going into relationship to ‘heal’ each other only leads to PAIN, PAIN, PAIN. I know only too well the seductive pull…another damaged person CANNOT give you what you need to heal. You will have to learn for yourself what you need, but trying to get that in relationship is insanity. If you were in a car accident, traumatized, bleeding and wounded, how insane would it be to turn to another injured passenger and expect them to stitch you up and reset your broken bones while you do the same for him? But we think we can do this in our relationships with our emotional wounds? !!! Natalie has also written about “potential”:



  45. RANA says:

    my ex-fiance used to say i was the reason for his not nice words…
    this was not true.
    I do not possess the power to let him act in a certain way.
    thank u.


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


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