NO1 badgeMany BR readers struggle with learning to trust themselves and learning to trust again. It’s particularly tricky if it feels like you went out on a limb and got burnt. Badly.

You then struggle to wrap your head around the fact that you may have been with a Future Faker or that you may have even Future Faked yourself by having little or no boundaries and denying, rationalising, and minimising things that in retrospect, if they’d been acknowledged and acted upon could have saved you further pain.

I’ve found that often in unhealthy relationships, when people are dealing with something that they know is inappropriate or even dangerous for their relationship, they increase their level of trust. Yes, increase.

This is a bit like being robbed by someone who breaks and enters via the back door and then deciding to leave the front door wide open for them in the hope that next time they think “Ah. How nice. I’ll reward their ‘obvious’ trust in me by not robbing them.” If you’ve ever ramped up your efforts once major problems have been revealed, it’s exactly what you’re doing.

It’s like thinking “OK I know I’ve just found out that you’re only up for sex / physically menacing / are shagging someone else / have cheated on me / are married / claim you don’t want a relationship and yada yada yada, but you know what? Today is your lucky day! Someone else might think ‘Shag this for a game of soldiers! I’m cashing in my chips!’ But not me! I’m going to invest in you in spite of the fact that I should be slamming my finger on the eject button because I really want to be loved, especially if it’s against the odds. I reckon, if I show you how good, kind, generous and loving a person I am by trusting and having faith in you in spite of your problems, you’ll love me. Oh and change.”

Don’t believe me? If you’ve ever taken someone back after a breakup or stayed after a betrayal, there’s a distinct possibility that you still think that the other person is ‘earning’ your trust even though you’ve ‘given them another chance’. However in making the decision to take them back or to ‘work at things’, even though you may be saying you don’t trust them ‘yet’ or that they’ve ‘got a long way to go before they earn their way back into your good books’, in resolving to be together, you have trusted. Even if you think you haven’t trusted, particularly when you take them back after shady behaviour on their part that they 1) haven’t felt and expressed genuine remorse and apologised for, 2) are in denial about, 3) don’t fully understand what the issues were that broke your relationship, you continuing to be with them is an offer of trust. Blind trust.

There’s also an implicit understanding that’s often not understood by them – If you get involved and then, for example, discover that they’re addicted to drugs and not addressing it, or are married/attached, these two issues are a no-go for a relationship and should be sending alarm bells and have you backing away. When you stay, it’s because what appears to be the implicit understanding is that you’re taking a leap of faith on them so they must stop being addicted or leave their partner.

This is why we can be very angry with ourselves and struggle to trust because in over arching with our benevolence, we recognise that we’ve made a big mistake. When we keep plugging away, it’s because it would be ‘better’ for them to prove our trust investment right than for us to admit we’ve made a mistake.

The ability to trust yourself and trust others actually comes from having your eyes and ears open and processing feedback. When you’re honest with yourself, you’ll feel and acknowledge the impact and what it means in relation to you and your relationship. You’ll experience your feelings, acknowledge any discomfort or what new information you have learned as a result of the impact, and take a view on it, and ultimately do something whether that means proactively addressing any code amber concerns, or inflating your opt out parachute and jumping from a code red concern.

To work the feedback into your trust system and use it, you need to use the positive and negative ‘impacts’ to adjust your levels of trust. To make dating into a positive experience regardless of whether you go on one date, several, or progress into a relationship, you need to start out with a reasonable level of trust. As you don’t know them, trust starts with you which means you need to have confidence and faith in yourself and in others and ultimately be capable of acting in your best interests.

Using your basic level of trust that you walk around with (let’s call it 70%) and using your relationship smarts (boundaries, self-awareness, etc.), you increase or decrease (credit or debit) your level of trust based on actual feedback from your relationship – i.e. their actions, how you feel, etc. If you have less trust than when you started out, it means it’s time to take a parachute and jump. If you keep experiencing positive, healthy relationship behaviour, increase.

So for example, when they say “I’m married/attached”, you’ve been around you for longer than you’ve been around them so you have to trust you and failing that, at the very least trust the norms of healthy relationships instead of deciding you’ll play the long game and gamble where so many have already trodden the path of pain.

What all of this does, aside from helping you to completely avoid Betting On Potential in LaLa Land, is give you confidence in you and your ability to act in your own best interests and make judgements, plus you also act consciously and make decisions.

When you have too much illusions and BS in your life, you’ll flip flap between not trusting yourself, others, and the universe, which causes you to stagnate in indecision and choices that are working against you. What’s critical to realise, is that being indecisive or opting not to make a decision, is a decision in itself and a choice.

People who don’t trust themselves are worried that they’re going to sell themselves down the river because they’ve often mentally already talked themselves into having their underwear off in two seconds flat, or casting themselves in a grand romance with someone that they’ve known for a hot minute, or being back together in a happy ever after with someone they have a pain in the arse past with. The decision is already made in their mind because they’re helpless due to a lack of trust in themselves.

If you don’t learn how to trust yourself, you’re either never going to trust anyone else, or runaround offloading the responsibility for your wellbeing to others who are not appropriate ‘decision makers’ for you.

You learn how to trust yourself by exercising your judgement through experience. This is how you learn to have confidence in yourself because you can trust yourself to look, listen, and act in your own best interests. It also means that even in the face of ‘bad news’, you’re OK because at least you hear and see and know it’s bad news and are acting upon it so it doesn’t become something considerably bigger and unnecessary.

You only get to know what’s right and good for you, when you’re willing to know and act upon what’s wrong, or not so good for you. Any ‘bad’ experiences you have are not only your personal encyclopaedia of what doesn’t work for you and ‘things you know better for next time’, but they’re opportunities to go down a different, positive path.

Your thoughts?
The new edition of Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl is now available to buy both in print and in digital formats plus check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and and more in my bookshop.

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

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


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118 Responses to You’ll Learn To Trust Again When You Learn To Trust You

  1. Donna Lopez says:

    “I reckon, if I show you how good, kind, generous and loving a person I am by trusting and having faith in you in spite of your problems, you’ll love me. Oh and change.”

    This. Was. Me. It’s the reason I’ve been so angry at myself the past few weeks. Also why I feel like I don’t have the mental, emotional or physical energy to try to put myself out there for a good long while.

    The worst part is kidding myself into believing that all of the things I did for him would build up equity for me. Where in fact, the more generous I was, the nicer I was the less he seemed to think of me. The funny but sad part was that I was living in a mental space where this relationship was permanent already. Leaving wasn’t an option. Imagine how stunned I was to learn it wasn’t just an option but probably an intention for him all along.

    • Fearless says:

      Donna:

      “The funny but sad part was that I was living in a mental space where this relationship was permanent already.”

      Well put. Me too. Walking away did not seem like an option. It does now!! Not just an option but a necessity. Thanks to Natalie’s great blogs and advice.

    • AngelFace says:

      Hi Donna,
      Me too. I did similar and thought we were in a relationship. He works out of town, and when in town – everytime – I noticed that he did not spend much time with me. But, I’d cook the best meals for him, have my home beautiful and clean, wear the new cute loungerie, have happy positive conversation… But I was rewarding him for his non-commitment and getting not much in return. Then he’d go back to work and out-of-town, and kept me Loving him with our twice-daily phone calls. I even told him that I was in Love with his voice. so I’d miss him, and be faithful… then when he’d come back home it was REPEAT – he always had excuses (lies I discovered later) for not being with me. Repeat, Lather, Rinse and Wella, 14 months passes.

      Then I find out he has been giving another woman same phone calls, and same ‘conjugal’ visits when he is home. OUCH. Oh, I got soooooo played.

      I started preparing myself for No Contact during summer. I am actually in about week 1 and 1/2 of NO Contact. I’m not on the roller coaster which was my relationship with him. And I am grateful for days like today when it feels like he is ‘blocked’ in my brain – so I am not suffering today.

      Be strong! Best to Both, and All of Us! I will never allow another man to use me. I’m not going to rush the next relationship, but I do hope to have another one and even get married in future…..

    • Butterfly says:

      Donna, I was struck the same way by the same last paragraph. I too thought that all the nice things I was doing was building my ‘equity’… he could give two s*#(*s…. and the more I did for him, here I was feeling like I should be appreciated, that I was ‘investing’ into our relationship
      – and in retrospect…. I don’t know if he was even THROWING me crumbs… I wish I had had the brains to leave at month 5/6 when things got shady– instead, I stayed and went through HELL for an additional 10 months…. counselling, time off work, depression~~ and mine too, left when I thought we were in some sort of permanancy, leaving was the last thing I thought would happen. I must have been sick. Unfortunately, I haven’t broken the contact, deleted him off my FB page… but I can’t take the feeling of going crazy anymore.

      Donna, and others who are posting on here, we need to look at our own roles in these dramatic relationships, but we need to be kind and firm with ourselves… personally, I am petrified to get into another relationship like the one I just came out of… there were no warning signs at the beginning, I really thought I’d met ‘the one’. We talked about marriage, blending our families….I feel like it was all a lie, now :(

    • CoffeeCat says:

      Oh geez….this was me too…..I did everything, and thought I was “building equity”, too. WTF was I thinking? I still cringe when I think of what I did and spend half my time loathing myself for being such a big fat dumb idiot. WTF? I have a Masters Degree. Jaysus! I have no idea what spell this AC put on me and now I walk around with a chip on my shoulder thinking that every person I meet (whether male or female/potential friend/acquaintance/whatever), is out to SCREW me and I want nothing to do with anyone.

      I guess I’m saying you’re not alone in your feelings. I’ve been NC 3 months…the only reason I think about breaking NC is to HAVE THE LAST WORD, but it’s useless. I’m just so angry.

    • allie says:

      I have also done the “building equity” thing very stupid, i didn’t work. I think he thought that he deserved it and he owes me nothing.

      I am re-desingning myself now.

      • Donna L says:

        Yeah! They do think they deserve what we give them! I also feel extra guarded these days. Whenever I think about laughing with or enjoying the company of someone new my mind fast forwards to the part where we inevitably learn that we’re not right for each other and things get painful. It’s pessimistic and unhealthy but that’s where I am now and I’ll give myself a little while to be there because I’m enjoying my own company, but I don’t want to get stuck there.

        • Donna L says:

          Was reading Nat’s book today and one part of it said that we.sometimes give to people not what they need but what we want to receive. It makes a lot of sense. I worked really hard ” modeling” for my ex what I wanted him to do for me. I didn’t need to do all of that work if we had been able to talk about what we both wanted and more importantly, if he had any interest in putting in even 1/10 of the effort that I did, if he had any desire to compromise, or if he gave a darn about doing things on anyone elses’s terms but his own.

        • Allie says:

          No Donna,

          I don’t buy the idea of staying alone, but need to better myself in relationships matters.
          I know I was wrong and feel stupid, but won’t condemn myself to solitude.

          • Shiv says:

            I actually HAVE condemned myself to solitude. But in my case I think it’s not a bad thing. After being in and out of one unfulfilling/traumatic/bizarre relationship after the other since I was a teenager, it’s high time I take some time off to sort myself out. This blog was the inspiration to do so and I’m very grateful.

  2. Natasha says:

    Oh Nat, did I need to read this. I couldn’t figure out why the idea of dating kind of turns my stomach. Yes, I got burnt in my last “relationship”, but I’m almost totally over what happened. One of my friends said, “It’s obvious – you’re afraid of getting hurt again!” I didn’t think it was that, because Rational Natasha recognizes that not every guy is a user AC.

    After reading this, I realized the problem is that, yes, I trust myself enough to know that I would walk away if I encountered another AC, but I don’t entirely trust that I won’t end up blaming/shaming myself over giving them enough time of day to figure out that they suck in the first place. Why? Because I took my AC ex back so many times. I felt so much shame after what happened, even after I’d finished blaming myself.

    Part of it was I was ashamed of how awful I felt, if that makes any sense. My friends and family were all, for the most part, sitting there thinking, “What the hell is the matter with her that she’s a hot mess over a guy we all widely recognize to be an asshole?” Oh, the shame. I think in order for me to be ready to date, I have to get it through my thick head that I’m capable of getting over any misadventures and trust that I know better than to blame myself now. Also, it would help if I could stop becoming nauseous at the idea of meeting a dude for a cocktail. Baby steps, I guess :)

    • Karina says:

      Natasha…you and I must have dated the same guy!!! My family also said the same thing and I am going through a similar experience. I recently bumped into an old childhood friend (not a childhood sweetheart, we never dated) and we connected in a good way. He asked me out and I’ve been hesitating so much becaus of this underlying fear of getting hurt again. All I’ve been through this past year has made me more afraid and fearful. I even just found out my most recent ex boyfriend who wasn’t ready for a relationship and wanted to be single, five months after our break up is in a relationship with someone. I understand so much he fear you’re going through, but I feel that I need to trust my judgement the same way I did before when my heart told me to dump the losers I was with even if I felt like dying. So Natasha…yes…baby steps, but more baby steps with ourselves. An let’s give ourselves more credit for being the strong women we have been to surface amidst all the pain.

      • Sue says:

        If you are not expecting a relationship, then why do you fear getting hurt? You are setting yourself up for it – why not just say, a nice guy wants to have lunch/dinner/conversation with me, and leave it at that? Do you need to be in a relationship so much that you are already feeling afraid of spending two hours with someone, no strings attached?

        I’m divorced more than six months from an AC and Future Faker – I love your terminology, Natalie! – and have gone out with a few men since then. And you know what? I was thinking ‘potential friends’ however I don’t even want them as friends because I saw red flags.

      • Anari says:

        I agreee…I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the point where I can trust again, and be ready for a relationship. I feel like that part of me is gone. I feel like the ex took that away from me- I can’t even imagine what being in a relationship now would ever look like as I’ve been so burnt.

    • Elle says:

      Hey N, I can relate to this. I can only try to assure you that you will almost certainly not make the same sorts (or extreme levels) of misjudgments and projections again. You probably won’t even allow yourself to be attracted to a true asswipe. As for the less-easy-to-spot mismatches, it’s just part of it, being open to someone, to the discovery, as Nat would say. Think of me and new man: both good-hearted, decent people, naturally on best behaviour at the start (bolstered by the love chemicals), which meant that neither one of us was really able to see that we were not compatible until a little way in. That’s how it generally works. But I don’t feel ashamed about anything because I picked a good guy to pursue things with, but he just wasn’t right for me.

      In any case, try not to be so hard on yourself. You know better now. I know I didn’t go through the turmoil of AC-recovery only to toss my dignity to the air because some mug winked at me. You’ll look after yourself better than you think. Promise. Who knows, you may even meet someone who is right for you, who thinks your stubborn willingness to love is great, because, from this settled place (for both of you), he adores you, and it makes him equally inspired to give.

      Anyway, take your time. No rush. You might even just want a drink and a chat with someone.

    • Sushi says:

      Hi Natasha, I know what you mean about the shame. I feel I can`t admit to my family and friends just how much of a mess leaving my last Walking Wounded has left me in for the fear of what they would think of me. I have been internalising the shame over not trusting myself and leaving sooner, not reacting to BS, falling for his reset button pressing so many times.( and now, re previous post, I`m falling apart healthwise, to add insult to injury-or other way around really, they have not made that saying up for nothing) Then my 20 year old daughter`s words ” Mum, have you no self respect? ” and the look of disgust on her face… uh, I can`t tell you, biggest bucket of ice I ever had over my head.
      I feel that Natalie is so right, trusting yourself is THE ultimate fundation , because it will bring about acceptance of other people`s behaviour rather than rationalising, exusing it and denial and so action can follow instead of doubt. All my problems in my relationships lead to the same place, lack of trust in myself, my feelings and my opinions and observations. Now, afer my BR education I had a chance to practice. Agreed to meet man from a dating website I was on over a year previously ( Met the ex UM so cancelled the date with this one) Now he contacted me out of the blue. He was calling when said he would, didn`t make a mistery out of what he was doing with his time -absolute miracle after the ex AC. During the first date I found out or observed; he split up from his ex girlfriend 5 weeks previouslyconsidered the fact that my previous relationship lasted for 9 months ” very good really”, obviously kept my number for over a year while he was with this woman, was overdemanding to the waitress, when I offered to pay half the bill for dinner he insisted on me paying a bit less than half, cos I ate a bit lesstold me how he parties “heavily” with his buddies after skiing, got into car after having too many drinks. Over coffee I also remembered his dating site add which featured a lot of photos with his pals in pub, and said that he has a lot of friends but would like to meet a special lady for those one to one moments and more…. who ME? NOOOO….not into…pigs ears. Flush!!!!Thank you Natalie

    • Arlena says:

      I can relate to that awful feeling of shame, Natasha, sometimes it infuriates me and I felt like beating myself up. Yet we were taught wrong ways and given false information that got saved in our brains in autopilot mode which we used relying that the information and our assumptions were true. They weren’t. Yup, that caused a lot of embarrassment and chaos. Look, if our hands are oily we don’t need more oil but soap to clean them. Don’t let us heave shame and blame upon the already there embarrassments but let’s give ourselves the gift of comfort and forgiveness. In better judgement we trust.

      • Jane says:

        I agree Natasha – I have felt huge shame at having 2 ‘failed’ relationhsips behind me, at attracting ‘toxic’ men that my family apparently could see were complete AC’s (but never said anything to me, have never told me I was worth anything…) And the shame has fed into my feelings of worthlessness – but thats not helping me – what I need is to love and value and trust myself and then trust that I will not let anyone treat me badly again and nor will I treat anyone badly. And Elle – thank you for your kind reply – it is that sort of belief in ourselves we need to encourage

      • Fearless says:

        Arlena / Natasha

        I think if we’ve gone through a shit time with some EUM/AC the last thing we need is to give ourselves another emotional whipping! Enough punishment already; what are we masochists? As Nat would say (and it’s very wise) we are human, we love and we want to be loved. We were looking in the wrong place. That’s all. Now we see our mistakes we will know the way – at least we are now looking at the map the right way up!

    • Natasha says:

      @Karina – It never ceases to amaze me how much havoc one loser can wreak – I totally agree with you that we have to give ourselves more credit and stop letting them! Is this the same dude that’s dating your ex-friend? Those two are, for lack of a more eloquent term, morons. I’m in the same situation where a guy I was friendly with keeps asking me out and I can’t even find the motivation to meet him for dinner. OY. I’ll say this for us, at least we’re taking the time to deal with it instead of becoming Someone Else’s Flip-Flapper. I think the only place to go from here is up and thank you very much for reminding me of that :)

      @Sue – I don’t think it has anything to do with being a great need to be in a relationship. It’s not about placing expectations on anyone after a date, it’s more about the fear of what could happen if the date progressed into something more and the guy turns out to be an ass.

      @Elle – “I know I didn’t go through the turmoil of AC-recovery only to toss my dignity to the air because some mug winked at me. You’ll look after yourself better than you think. Promise.” Thank you so much for that, I SO needed to hear it. I like to think I won’t be attracted to another asswipe either haha! Are you feeling a little better today?

      @Sushi – Ugh, girl, well done flushing this guy! You know what I always think when I hear this kind of story? A woman who acted like that on a date would be labeled crazy, but somehow guys think it’s alluring. HELLO. Anyway, I so know what you mean about being embarassed in front of family and friends. I think it’s highly possible we were so busy judging ourselves that we were projecting it onto them! I can remember saying to my mom how embarrassed I was and she said, “You’re not the one who looks like an asshole!” That is most likely the truth haha!

      @Arlena – “Look, if our hands are oily we don’t need more oil but soap to clean them. Don’t let us heave shame and blame upon the already there embarrassments but let’s give ourselves the gift of comfort and forgiveness. In better judgement we trust.” LOVE. THIS. Thank you for those wise words :)

    • Natasha says:

      Ladies, thank you all so much for your replies. For real. It means a lot to know I’m not the only one! I am fully confident that we will get past it with time, patience, our good judgement and all of the excellent advice here :) You are all the best-est!

      On another note, since Halloween is just about upon us and we all agree that a good laugh does a lot of good, here is vintage Eddie Murphy on haunted houses! (This one’s for grown-ups only haha!) Hope you enjoy as much as I did!!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96s1M8IyrUQ

      • Karina says:

        Natasha…thanks for the Eddie Murphy clip…hilarious!!! And to answer your question, yes…it’s the same guy dating my ex friend. My own friends didn’t even like him. He even told one of my good friends she was foing to burn in hell for being an atheist and being at church with me one day because I asked her to. And he thought he was joking, while now he’s dating an agnostic who hates all christians and catholics! Get my drift! Anyway, on a lighter note, I agreed to go out with my friend and just be me, my therapist said something that I feel I should share. This underlying fear we have is not so much about the other person, but about us npt thinking we’re good enough to receive happiness since we’ve been so hurt before and don’t have anythibg good to compare an elated feeling to. So as she said, just enjoy the feeling now and see what it progresses to and know that you are beautiful and amazing and that any guy would be lucky to have you! :)

    • AngelFace says:

      Regarding being hesitant/cautious about dating again: A man on a dating website asked me for my photo a few days ago. I replied to him: Tell me about your virtues and characteristics, and I will send a picture. He replied to me and didn’t list a single VIRTUE or characteristic. Instead, he boasted about two college degrees – and did that in a kind-of negative tone. He will not get a photo or a chance at meeting me. Actually, I will most likely meet my next person of interest in person and have been withdrawing my on-line dating efforts. Seriously, I’ve only been doing this to distract myself from recent pain – Not to run away from it… but a slight diversion.

      Here is definition of Virtue on Wikipedia: “Virtue is a behavior showing a high moral standard and is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards. Virtues can be placed into a broader context of values. Each individual has a core of underlying values that contribute to his or her system of beliefs, ideas and/or opinions”.

      I’m sure he is computer savvy enough & could have looked it up, but instead gave me a lame answer. Any sociopath and narcissist can obtain a college degree. Flush. Next but on MY TERMS.

  3. Elle says:

    Yes, when you’re not used to responding decisively and appropriately to your emotional signals, and you allow yourself to remain in, even resign to, an increasingly threatening situation, it’s like your body slackens out completely. You’re then there with your stomach popping out of your dress and your grocery bags bursting, and you just slowly slide down the supermarket wall and fall to the ground and become smothered in food, while you still manage to say to harmful-man and other passers-by, ‘feel free to take an apple, please take it all’, as you eat from the salami that’s wedged in your armpit.

    • PJM says:

      Oh Elle – thank you for the biggest laugh I’ve had this morning – what a BRILLIANT IMAGE!

      I know you had a recent break up, but honey, you are way too good for that guy. You did the right thing: don’t let anyone use their commitment issues to make you feel anxious or bad.

      And enjoy your salami …

      • Elle says:

        Thank you PJM! I appreciate your kind words – it all helps. Heart and ego still a little sore, but I think I am going to be fine with this one. There is something awkward and disappointing about n0t being right for each other, but it’s no more than that since there was no (or very little) deception going on, of ourselves or the other, and I am far more confident and happy with other aspects of my life. But I still like to hear that I should enjoy my salami.

        • Natasha says:

          Elle, your last line cracked me up! So glad to hear you are feeling better :) I was in the grocery store today and was like, “Hmmmm, I really feel like buying some salami.” I already owe you one for your excellent words of wisdom, but now I double owe you on the salami remider – DELICIOUS!

  4. Janine says:

    “Shag this for a game of soldiers”!! Nat, I love this phrase! and Thank you:)

  5. Magnolia says:

    I am learning to do this; I am practicing this. I never thought I had “trust issues,” I thought it was normal to look at everyone and think they were, to varying degrees, full of shit. Certainly I grew up with all the adults around me saying “This will happen,” or “The world is like this,” and it never did and it never was. This has helped me in some ways (I never thought anyone, older or not, could tell me whether I was or wasn’t a good writer), and hurt in others. It never occurred to me that if I thought someone was full of crap, that meant I didn’t respect them, and we couldn’t have a full relationship. I was used to not really respecting anyone around me, even though I depended on them. I was used to people telling me they really wanted to do right by me, and then being really disappointing.

    I immediately thought, when I met the AC, that some of his opinions were wack. But I never thought I should write anyone off for this. I simply disagree, right? But there is a big difference between disagreeing with someone over whether Jay-Z is worth listening to and whether driving me home after four glasses of wine is a good idea.

    When things between me and the AC got too uncomfortable, and I tried to break it off, but then after a conversation with him, stayed in it, I decided to cut off the sexual intercourse. I had said I didn’t want to sleep with anyone I didn’t fully trust, so told him we couldn’t sleep together anymore until I felt I trusted him. We continued as if he was earning my trust (from my perspective) and as if I was just learning to calm down and trust (his perspective). Well. You can imagine how that worked.

    When I noticed that he kept condoms in his pocket, and that he left them out on his kitchen table, when we weren’t sleeping together, I finally clued into the fact that for him, my trust meant my believing whatever he told me. (“Just in case you changed your mind!!”) He thought we could get there. If I kept denying my own reality, we might have gotten to the point where I was so out of touch with what was right in front of my eyes, I would have accepted anything.

    Now I’m working on trusting myself. Not only in trusting what is in front of my eyes, but more importantly, becoming the kind of person who can rely on my own word. I want to know that if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it. If I…

    • runnergirl says:

      Oh dear god Magnolia: “When I noticed that he kept condoms in his pocket, and that he left them out on his kitchen table, when we weren’t sleeping together, I finally clued into the fact that for him, my trust meant my believing whatever he told me. (“Just in case you changed your mind!!”) You can trust yourself. Condoms aren’t cheerios. They aren’t for breakfast. We must ditch these dudes and leave them spining on their heads with their condoms on the kitchen table. DEAR LORD!

      • Magnolia says:

        Ugh, yes, I am so glad not to be confronted with those situations. Like, just because there is a condom there doesn’t MEAN anything and I can’t PROVE anything but holy shit does it feel like a punch in the gut and I know I don’t have a leg to stand on if I want to ask about why the eff you’re carrying condoms because I know you’ll just say they’re for me and then be all affronted that I’m so suspicious.

        God! I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that mind effery anymore.

  6. runnergirl says:

    N0. 1. I remember the day. last December, after hours on BR when I hit on the fact that I could be N0. 1, thus RunnergirlNo1. I bounded down the stairs with glee. Subsequently, after many, many more hours on BR, I realized the only way I could be No. 1 is if I placed MYSELF No. 1. This is such a great post Natalie because I have to trust myself to always have my best interest at heart. In the past, I sold myself down the river betting on the come. It’ll take months if not years to get my knickers down now. My former and any future AC/EUM/MM’s aren’t going to appreciate this. No more transforming Nutcrackers or frogs into princes. At 52, I’ve got an incredible encyclopaedia of what doesn’t work for me. At the first sign of bad news, I jump. I can’t believe a year ago I was heartbroken over a MM. Oh, the youth of 50!
    ” You only get to know what’s right and good for you, when you’re willing to know and act upon what’s wrong, or not so good for you.” This is so amazing Natalie. I didn’t get to make this judgment as a child but I can make this judgment as an adult. And I WILL. You have so transformed my life in so many ways. Thank you and I’m truly grateful. You are so talented. Thank you for sharing your talents and insights. (BTW, are you hearing how many folks are grateful…please respond?)

  7. Tanzanite says:

    I think my experience with the AC has helped me with trusting myself again. I could not accept I had lost nearly everything, so I kept giving him a chance to change back to the person he said he was. ( I was in love with a man that never really existed ) I didn’t know when to fold and I wanted to save face so I prolonged my own agony.

    I have had 2 experiences with men since we split up.I tried to fill the void too soon (relationship insanity ) and ended up with a man who was so annoyed I didn’t want to have sex one night and the fact I wanted to go home, that he hit me a burst my nose.Needless to say,it was instant dismissal for him with instructions from the police never to darken my door again.I was then asked out a few times by a colleague who I got on really well with, but it wasn’t long before he was testing the water to see if I would be up for being his f*ck buddy and nothing more.I said no to that obviously, and realized he wasn’t really a friend at all.Two red flags I think you will agree.I am not ready to be in a relationship even after a year and it still feels right being single. I am also certain I would rather be single for the rest of my life than to allow myself to be disrespected ever again.I think I have come a long way already

    • Spinster says:

      Tanzanite:

      He did WHAT THE FUCK???!?!? How absolutely disgusting that he had the nerve to put his hands on you. Scumbag. Do you have any male relatives to supplement the police’s advice? :-|

      Good for you for leaving immediately. Stay alone for a while. Take it easy & take care.

  8. You are so right! I have been celibate over a year now – no dating or other contact with men for the express purpose of grow my self-awareness and self-esteem. As I have improved my own character and level of confidence, what I am willing to put up with has totally changed…and it came from the inside out. Anyone can SAY they are not going to let themselves be treated poorly but unless you truly love yourself better than anyone else you will never get what you deserve.

  9. Princessdiamond123 says:

    Good info. as I’m guilty of the ‘blind trust’ don’t know why I gambled with dude but I remember at that time in my life had become indecisive, at a period where it became difficult to make (any) decisions in my personal/professional life etc. (I agree that not making imp.decisions for yourself is still making a decision either way it’s a decision made-good pt.) and I took on the attitude of “Oh, what the hell, I’ll just do what I want…it seemed to be working for everyone else who are doing what they want to do”?? Err- Duh*screeching halt*??, didn’t quite work4me, wasn’t listening to my inner voice or my spiritual voice or any voice (my best friends voice was like,”oh no, he is flaky as hell, I don’t want to meet him!!”-redflag) as a result I ‘effed up’. I’m taking responsibility for my part in the affair (Omg, can’t even believe I just admitted it by saying the word ‘affair’ see I’m really maturing into reality-past tense).

    My mom helped me to realize that experiences happen in life and that my life is not going to be ‘picture perfect’ because I’m going to go through things and LEARN, she wants me to learn from it and become a better person & to be thankful that it wasn’t any worse. I agree that now I can check my reference book of red flags from that bad situation to know when to close my EARS from the NOISE(anyMM or attached1) & BOUNCE asap if it was to cross me again. A bad experience can be used to learn from. I’ve learned it’s best for me to follow my path & what works for me and not go along with what flaky ppl/others want especially if it’s against my core values. Thanks so much, Natalie!!

    I will be purchasing your books :) & I also have that book by Louise L. Hay that you mentioned in the previous posting but I have to dust it off and review it again, but she pointed out how pains and aches the body experiences can be directly connected to emotions/hurts/stress/ills/negative energy etc… a good read.

  10. brenda says:

    These posts are like God sents to me..
    Today of all days I needed this one!I have been recently talking to a guy!Because BR,I have learnt to trust myself more and more everyday..I have learned that to trust the red flags,and to get the hell out of there..THis Guy is one of those Actions dont match the words,and brings up sex constantly.And then in 2 seconds,he says he is on this Journey to self awareness!!!!God Almighty!!Any way I have flushed him..and its all thanks you!!!

  11. AngelFace says:

    “You then struggle to wrap your head around the fact that you may have been with a Future Faker or that you may have even Future Faked yourself by having little or no boundaries and denying, rationalising, and minimising things that in retrospect, if they’d been acknowledged and acted upon could have saved you further pain”

    Natalie, this is so true in my case. However, I was so lonely, and so wanting to be with a man. When our eyes met it was like an explosion & we bonded on the spot. God made him a beautiful 6’6 gorgeous man, with a creamy voice. Sex was so good I was almost out of my mind.

    I assumed he had same values, and I gave him everything without any commitment from him. Now I know he is like a sexual predator with so many secret partners in our area, & at least one sexual partner in each city he works in. For some reason, he kept me in the rotation for 14 months and I was hoping he would make a big deal relationship with me – then I found out he’s been cheating on me for past five months with another woman in our hometown.

    I was lonely, I liked his attention, I wanted him. All those statements are in Past Tense. I am in NO Contact with him, I will never give him another chance to hurt me in any manner… Most of all, I gained some positive dating/relationship musts from whole ordeal, plus am back in gym and lookin’ good and much healthier than I was one year ago.

    I will trust again and most of all I will pay attention to what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with. I will not ever again ignore Yellow, Amber, or Red Flags. No time for anyone’s unacceptable behavior. I want to live my remaining years HAPPY. Peace All, Have a Good Weekend!

    • Jane says:

      I love this comment – thank you – it’s really encouraging that we can stop this pattern. I am encouraged by your post – it shows you value yourself truly and I hope I get there too

  12. Me says:

    When I was in 3rd grade we moved into a house where I found in my new room and old poster that said “Not To Decide Is To Decide.” I was mesmerized by this and pondered it to no end. It almost became a personal mantra for me. And how ironic…as I read your entry today…that this is me a few years ago:

    “When you have too much illusions and BS in your life, you’ll flip flap between not trusting yourself, others, and the universe, which causes you to stagnate in indecision and choices that are working against you. What’s critical to realise, is that being indecisive or opting not to make a decision, is a decision in itself and a choice.”

    Strange….I guess I always knew deep down inside this was me.

    Thanks for another great entry, Nat.

  13. Wizzy says:

    Learning to trust myself by processing feedback and drawing from my massive encyclopaedia of what doesn’t work. It took years to finally hear that and understand it. I used to think that I was cursed and men we painful creatures to interact with. it never had occurred to me that I could change it.

    And even having understood it, I still relapse and pick up the crappy thinking again. Like this guy I dated recently, lets call him Bob. Having done my homework and noted the kinks in my mental wiring, I approached Bob with conversation. I talked and talked to him to try and gauge his reactions and look for red flag behaviour. The amazing thing was, that Bob would squirm like a fish out of water whenever the conversation became personal. I noticed this but one of the kinks made me think I should calm him down and get to know him better. Instead of running. So I slept with him, and it was the worst selfish (let me borrow your body thanks Ma am) kind of sex. I noted it too, and the kink in my brain said try harder to calm him and stop him squirming. It took 3 months before I finally said no, and cut ties, but I think 3 moths is progress, considering I was in a modern-day harem of sorts for 2yrs before it hurt to much to get that male slut to love me against all odds….. I think I am at the point where I am noticing strange behaviours but still takes time to react because I am busy feeding myself with total b/s.

  14. jupiter23 says:

    This is so true.

    A couple months ago I ran into someone–walking home–that I had dated for a few weeks last year. Dated for a few weeks before I left a message telling him we shouldn’t see each other anymore and blocking him for a few months so he wouldn’t get in contact with me. I did this because he was so wishy washy and a classic EUM. When I blocked him, even though I had slept with him, I felt so relieved and had a great night’s sleep.

    When I ran into him, I talked to him for about for a few minutes. He told me how he had tried to call me and hoped, every time he walked around my neighborhood, that he would run into me. This kid truly thought I would swoon at that. He asked for my new number and I shook my head no very slowly. He was shocked.

    I continued to walk and was so proud of myself for trusting myself. It was very easy, though, because I couldn’t remember what I liked about this guy in the first place, other than his looks. Time and NC are great things.

  15. Lynda from L says:

    Trust? What was that in my last relationship….? I must have said to myself
    ‘ I do not trust him an inch’ a hundred times in the decline of our time together yet apart from a rant or two, a whinge,some snooping which made me feel dirty… I did nothing about it. I may as well of walked about with a sign around my neck saying ‘Treat me exactly How You Like because I ‘m still going to Stay in this Relationship’
    His treatment of me just got worse and worse.
    I remember reading a message he’d sent an ex girlfriend offering to come and be her sex toy…if she only said the word…then a few days later I accepted his excuse that it was just a bit of banter!!! I folded like a pack of cards?
    I only began to restore Trust in myself when I went No Contact. As the distance between us grew (and grows) I began to get real with myself again. I couldn’t avoid the fact that he hadn’t turned up full of remorse with a blueprint in hand of how we would turn it all around…instead he was saying’Next!’
    I do feel that daily I ‘m getting an intravenous dose of my own personality/vitality/Trust back and I ‘m starting to think’ How on earth did I get so out of touch with me? This has seriously scared me and I never want to repeat the experience again. Thanks for article Natalie..

    • RadioGirl says:

      My experience has been exactly the same as yours, Lynda, absolutely word for word. No Contact is without any shadow of a doubt the starting point and underpinning foundation of seeing things from a reality-based, BS-free perspective (including self-BS and, yes, self-Future Faking which I now realise I have indulged in over many years). As Natalie has often said, we literally couldn’t see the wood for the trees while we were still in contact with these people. From this new perspective and acknowledgement of the truth around our past relationships comes the self-trust, and from that self-trust will come the ability to trust more appropriately in others. The same is true, of course, with self-love, self-care and self-respect – we need to start the ball rolling with ourselves.

      I love reading everyone’s comments on BR as much as Natalie’s wonderful posts, and following everyone’s progress. There’s no doubt that it’s a painful stuggle for each and every one of us to break such ingrained habits and perspectives. Every day, I learn a bit more about myself and about human nature – it’s an amazing journey of discovery and despite some of the shocking stories shared here, ultimately heart-warming. Keep on being gentle and patient with yourselves, ladies, we’re all getting there little by little.

  16. louise says:

    This post really hit home for me
    After forgiving my cheating ex and taking him back years later i did think he had changed and when he started to display distrustful behaviour again he turned it around and said i had major trust issues… Errr yes a leopard never changes it spots and he hadn’t changed. He was worse the 2nd time around and i took all his crap thinking if i hung on in there he would realise what a great GF i was and change into the person i wanted him to be. Needless to say within the space of 7 months we broke up, he future faked her long distance, tried to shag me on numerous occasions and then when i had the strength to cut contact married her. I received so many congratulary texts from people who thought it was he and i that were getting married. This man lived off me, put me down, talked to me like i was a piece of dog poo and i took it. No apologies no remorse. Be careful what you wish for because this is what i got. I am left hurt, with massive trust issues and i don’t really know how to go back to the old trusting me.

  17. Karen says:

    A woman can fake an orgasm, but a man can fake a whole relationship

  18. M x says:

    This is the hardest post for me to read and write about. Despite developing some insight into my situation, and outwardly having appeared to have made some progress, underneath, I have absolutely no faith or trust in myself when it comes to sexual relationships with men. Somehow, introducing sex into the mix throws me completely off balance.

    I am now in the very silly position of trying to be friends with an ex EUM, who I do not trust (with good reason I might add). With the sex ‘thing’ only inches below the surface, and with everything I have ever read on here, rattling around in my head the whole time, I KNOW I should just go NC with this man.

    The thing is, we are really, deeply fond of each other. We both behaved badly,
    we are both EU and we are both pretty messed up… But when it comes to the friendship part, we seem to be doing really well… We went out last night and had a lovely time. I never felt disrespected or anxious or uncomfortable in any way… I just don’t trust myself to make the right choice. Is NC always the ONLY option when you don’t trust? Or can you rebuild something different out of the ashes of a hot mess, once it’s cooled down a bit, if you are very careful?
    Any advice?

    • jupiter23 says:

      The better question, why do you want to be friends with someone you don’t trust?

      When there are about 1 million better people do be friends with, why are you choosing this particular untrustworthy person?

      Why, when you can have a good time and connection with so many others, are you choosing this particular person to have in your life?There is an answer.

      • Anari says:

        Thanks Jupiter123…I needed to hear you say that…. hopefully one day it will sink in.

      • M x says:

        Thank you Jupiter – straight to the heart of the matter. I guess I already knew the answer. It’s just hard to walk away from somebody who has been an important (if somewhat unreliable) part of my life for the last five years. Especially as he is clearly willing to try his best to be my friend. However… until I trust myself to do the right things for me, and those closest to me, I can see how foolish it would be to stay in touch with this man. So sad, so true…

        • PJM says:

          Run Run Run.

          I have been in exactly this situation with my ex EUM and have after two years of ‘on and off’ and one year of ‘trying to be friends’, I have cut and run.

          You CAN’T be friends with these guys – quickly, re-read everything Natalie has ever written on ‘why you can’t be friends’. Here is one:

          http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/can%E2%80%99t-we-just-be-friends/

          But there are others, and they’re all good ones.

          But you can be friends with hordes of other people, and they are who you really need right now: go and out and get yourself some real friends, where there is no sexual component and where you have genuine interests in common.

        • grace says:

          M x
          One day you won’t even be sad about it.

          • M x says:

            PJM and Grace

            Thank you guys – I did go back and read that older post. Interestingly, it was ME who asked HIM to be friends after we had got together, broken up, got together, broken up, make up, had a fight, ‘rinse, lather, repeat’, over and over… because… well like it says… I am an EUW and I thought that if he would agree to be my friend (and he has), it would make me feel like “less of a prick”. See? It can work the other way around too! It’s not just the boys that behave badly! Actually, we were both pricks. Anyway… the message is clear. Flush. For my sake and his.

  19. JuliaT says:

    I was wavering in my NC this morning until I read this – another insightful and timely post from Nat. I now see I started out with virtually 100% trust with my MM/UA/AC in spite of all the evidence that should have had me down grading my trust level at light speed from the very start! He is very successful, works with several international charities and speaks all over the world and I of course translated this into he’ll be a decent and good person with me.
    Reality though screamed otherwise – trying to get me into bed after a business dinner – huge red flag that I ignored – failing to answer my “Are you married?” (he doesn’t wear a wedding ring – red flag in itself!) – and then all the Future Fakery, crumby communication and optioning me, my trust level stayed high – didn’t budge. Deep down I knew this was dodgy, but I didn’t trust my own judgement and let it carry on. At some level I must have thought this would be a good way of progressing the ‘relationship’ (thankfully I didn’t sleep with him) – it wasn’t and I ended up very hurt. Would I disregard warning signs in other areas or my life? Driving in bad weather? Walking home alone at night? I don’t think so – something caused my judgement to abscond and trust to go blind. I think the validation I was seeking from being with this man had instantly dissolved my judgement and put my trust on steroids!
    What scares me is this – though I understand all this on a rational level somewhere deep within the validation is still lurking like a water monster. How can I stop it getting me into danger again? Is it just a question of working on self esteem / boundaries?

    • Fearless says:

      It’s weird how so many on here report their EUMs as actively (working in) putting forward their great philanthropic and humanitarian concerns, their charitable contributions etc.

      My ex EUM is politically knowledgeable – always speaking up for the under-dog, social and economic equality, contributes to ‘worthy’ charities, was member of Amnesty International etc. all very genuine too, I had no reason to doubt.

      But they see it all from a big distant picture – from a global perspective – it’s all ‘academic’ to them. They never seem to connect and apply these supposedly admirable humanitarian values to and in their own real life relationships with real life people on the ground, so to speak. When they have to deliver some actual care, consideration, respect and and equality to a real human being that they purport to care about (or love, even!) suddenly their humanitarian values don’t count anymore! Weird. If the cap fits?

      • SM says:

        Fearless you summed it up right there. They can be generous and caring to the world but when it comes to the people closest to them, they cant seem to apply either. Since I’ve been purposely dateless for the last 4 mths and reading BR, I’ve really done a lot of soul searching. I have a large circle of friends and some have to be chased (by all of us not just me). They never return phone calls or if they do its like 2 weeks later, they ask you to do things but dont commit to them and they fall off the radar for long periods of time. I used to keep up with these people but not anymore. I now reserve my valuable phone calls, time and plans for people who keep up with me as much as I do them. And I’ve noticed that they really appreciate it. I’m tired of my friends who only find time for me when they are in between boyfriends which is about all of 4 weeks. I’ve also noticed that i myself need to purposely spend more of my valuable time, money and attention on the people who want to be close to me and who seek out my friendship as well. And hopefully when I feel like dating again, I will keep this at the forefront of my decisions.

        • Jane says:

          You are so right SM – it isn’t just partners it can be friends too – and saying enough says we are finding our own worth. Thank you for your entry

        • mirelle says:

          You’re right, SM! You did the right thing. I have just started doing this and it feels great. When I went NC with the ex, my biggest fear was loneliness. Because of that, I let my friends cross my boundaries, because I was afraid that I would lose them.

          I had a “friend” who didn’t return my calls but apologized after 1-2 months by saying that she was very unhappy, suggested to meet and, for hours kept complaining about her unhappy relationship or about her being single. Another “friend” kept teaching me lessons about the abnormality of the fact that I was single, in front of some people I barely knew. Another two kept teaching me lessons about the “immoral” relationship I was in with the MM, when I realized that they were just jealous.

          Thanks to Natalie and her insights about EUM’s/AC’s, they are not my friends anymore.
          Now I’m not afraid of loneliness. They were never my friends. I prefer to stay at home, watch TV, or go for as walk than meet one of these people. I don’t need friends to judge me, use me as their “free therapist” or , most often, as you said, a “between boyfriends” friendship. I hope in the future I will protect my boundaries more carefully.

          • jupiter23 says:

            I’ve had bad friendships before so applaud you for getting rid of them.

            Some of my friends have made the weirdest choicest. One situation involved my friend sleeping with her boyfriend’s best friend. I supported her because I loved her. But did I judge her? Yes because I loved her and didn’t want the whole situation to backfire on her. It did.

            You know your friend situation better than anyone. And there definitely is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Sometimes harsh words, given out of care, may be needed.

      • Tanzanite says:

        That is very true fearless,and it funny what we latch onto. I always thought that someone who goes to church or believes in God must be nice.The believers in God in my life were the AC and one that was violent.They were worst 2 experiences of my life. Lesson learned !

        No disrespect to good Christians intended.

        • Fearless says:

          Yes Tanzanite

          my ex EUM is/was always helpful and kind to me – from a distance, never up close, never if it meant having to emotionally engage – expect some emotional engagement or emotiinal support and he couldn’t give a shit if I was dying in a ditch.

          • Tanzanite says:

            I know what you mean fearless mine was exactly the same.

            I used to go to sleep holding my mobile phone just so I could check the single crumb text message when I woke up.

            I don’t know how it is for you now fearless but I now realize I didn’t lose a great man, I lost a great girl,and that was me.

            It’s the loss of self the hurts now.

  20. AdrienneBytheSea says:

    I love how all the postings this week (as they have in many weeks prior) synergistically work together. They’re all refractions of the same brilliant diamond known as self-worth (self-love).
    “The ability to trust yourself and trust others actually comes from having your eyes and ears open and processing feedback.” — yes! and this plays into the previous posting about listening to your body. My counselor this week was talking about the “repression cycle”–how a little bit of info may come into our awareness but then because we can perhaps only deal with a little at a time and we’re so tied into bad patterns, we repress the info. My counselor is constantly asking me to tune into my body–because those messages come from a place you can unequivocally trust.
    Last week I was looking at an online site for volunteer opportunities in my town. Just for fun, I also clicked onto the “strictly platonic” page to see if anyone was looking for an activity buddy–going to movies, etc. Lo and behold, the first ad I see could have been written by the ex-MM. His location, his age, even his bad spelling and what he was looking for (a FWB). The way the thing was phrased was so him—and I read it and my heart did a nosedive into the pit of my stomach and I started shaking uncontrollably and then I got the chills. “You are still working that toxic relationship out of your system,” my counselor said when I reported the incident.
    What feedback to process! Warning, warning — my inner Lost in Space robot was flailing his slinky-dink arms and flashing lights. I see now how much I still have to work through despite three months’ NC. But the good news is that I trust myself more than ever now to get through it–
    Because the only person I commit to continue to invest in is myself. The only person who I can expect to change is myself. The first steps were going on a hardcore BS diet, getting into counseling, and taking time for me. And acknowledging that the body doesn’t lie. Is it any coincidence that I have slept better and have more energy since dumping the MM? No it is not. He was a psychic vampire I let suck my energy and feed from my soul. All because I took a leap of faith on him that he clearly didn’t want (all he wanted was a shag on his terms and schedule)–and all because I wanted so desperately to be loved out of my loneliness. (The irony there, of course, is that you’re more lonely in a “relationship” with an MM–because you are even more disconnected from your SELF.)

  21. Fearless says:

    Nat, your “No.1″ pic. at the top of the article made me smile.

    When I was younger and heading out of the house to meet friends, go places etc. my dad would often shout after me:

    “Look after number 1!”

    Me back then: “Yes, I will dad!” (just being glad he gave me that tenner for the concert tickets, or whatever!)

    30 plus years later, your article has me hearing him shouting back at me again (from beyond the grave) – ‘look after number 1!’

    Me now: “Yes dad. Finally, I hear you. Loud and clear. I so definitely will look after number 1.”

    • Arlena says:

      Hilarious, that is reframing! That’s the spirit. Thanks for making me smile, it reminds me to stay playful. – My Dad pestered me with “Why can’t you be like X,Y,Z?” Today I would tell him “Sorry, Dad, I can’t be like THEM because I am already all ME.”

      • Fearless says:

        Arlena

        Or you could have told him ‘I’d love to be like all these people, dad, but I’m far too busy being wonderful – being me!’

        Hee-heee!!

        • Arlena says:

          “It’s never too late…” (we are told up and down in Self-help-County) okay then – It’s never too late for cheeky answers! I think much of the idea of using language as a healing tool. That’s what I wished for as posts the other day. Perhaps I should add it is not about “speaking positive” because often it includes a freeway to denial, but to speak authentically, honestly and in a realistic way. Only, there is the danger of “telling them all about them” misusing “honesty”. It can be a tightrope walk, but setting our language straight would be so rewarding i.e. “We are not compatible.” or “It didn’t work out.” Sometimes in a short sentence all is said, no excusing, explaining fluff around to water the main message down.

  22. Carrie says:

    Yesterday I suddenly got the urge to unhide my dating profile and shoot off a couple messages. Every other time I unhid my profile, I lasted a day and couldn’t even think of sending a message. I felt like this was progress. I’m ready to get out of limbo and get an idea of how far I’ve come in my quest to do what’s best for me. I thought if I connect with anyone then no harm in meeting up… plus I have the power to decide whether I go forward with anyone or not. I did have a surge of anxiety last night after getting a couple replies and almost hid my profile again but then I asked myself – is this because I’m not ready or am I just feeling anxiety about the idea of meeting up with people? And I’m pretty sure it came down to anxiety. Last time I was single I was all about meeting new people I had a decent BS monitor but was not acting with good self esteem and was seeking validation from attention. This time my self esteem is much higher, but I’m a little worried about the trust issue. Like I may have gone too far in the other direction and may not trust anyone at all! But it’s true.. as long as I can trust myself, all I have to do is keep my eyes and ears open and adjust as necessary. Who knows if I’ll even talk to anyone who really catches my interest, but who cares? I’m happy on my own and finding a guy is not my top priority like it used to be.. *I* am my top priority. And as long as I’m having fun and being smart, it’s all good. Like Natalie mentioned in a previous post, there’s no need to make dating a vocation. I’ll keep living my life and if someone date-y comes along, I’ll go into it with a good head on my shoulders – i.e. no fantasy and paying attention to what they tell me about who they are and no excuses for red or amber flags – but there’s no fire. If I find I don’t connect with anyone, that’s okay too. I like dating myself! :)

    • Fearless says:

      I’m with you on that comment Carrie – it sounds very sensible to me. A lot of comments are focused on the worry about trusting a man again. I think Natalie is spot on again in turning that on its head – that the person we need to be able to trust to stay safe in relationships – or getting out of them – is ourselves. When we think of it like that we don’t need to worry so much about who else to trust and feeling anxious about having to rely on the next guy being trustworthy is to give our own power away – again! He doesn’t need to be trustworthy – we do. If we can trust ourselves we can then rely on ourselves to flush the time-wasters, users and abusers, and fast.

      • Carrie says:

        One of the guys I messaged had a bit of a “too good to be true” profile.. My mom raised me right.. I send flowers.. yadda yadda yadda. I sent a message with a reference to a song by a wrestler I really like. There was nothing in his profile about wrestling but a comment he made reminded me of the song. In his response he mentioned he wouldn’t get to wear his Halloween costume because he’s sick and so I asked what it was.. he said “Luche Libre Wrestler”. And my BS meter went off the chart! Before I would’ve been like “OMG we already have stuff in common!” and been stoked. This time between his sugary sweet profile and thinking how easily he could be lying about his costume just to hook me, I took a step back and thought “Something doesn’t feel right here… I could be wrong, but I’m gonna trust my gut on this one” and I didn’t write him back. Could I be overreacting? Maybe.. but who cares.. he’s just a guy and I’d rather go with my gut on this one.

  23. Jane says:

    The postings this week have been spot on! As if looking deep inside….This post came today as yesterday the ex EUM asked if there was any trust between us. I found myself saying I don’t trust myself – how awful to not trust myself! Poor me. So many people share similar stories on here and its such support. I have thought on this subject all day and can echo some of the things said on here – Natasha I am with you! Rational Jane knows not all men are AC but the reason I don’t trust myself is the shame – I’m ashamed both of putting up with the crap but also for becoming an AC myself – knowing he was wrong and being so afraid of being alone that I messed him about. The posts this week have encouraged me to look at myself because if I don’t nothings going to change. I have been living in my own safe world, I have not been in the world so how can I know I’m ok? My body aches, I have had bad mouth, jaw and ear problems from teeth grinding and a somatic response to tension held in my shoulders for the last 3 years – I haven’t been processing my feelings but masking them, I’m not caring for myself – how can I care for others? And todays – coming just after the trust issue being raised in my life. I thought I was doing ok but going out on a date, seeing the exEUM have shown me I’m not.
    Today I realised I still have work to do in order to value myself – I am still holding a permeable boundary. I am way too quick to let others tell me who I am and whats ok and to tell myself I’m rubbish when I’m not. I’m NOT! My ex husband told me I was rubbish for 10 years, my parents said I would never amount to anything – everything I have been doing has been a’proving’ they were wrong but even so I have still not proved it to myself.
    And SM you are so right!! This is too what I came to realise to day. This morning I was upset at how ‘friends’ are not around, rarely call me….but I’ve been telling myself it must be me, I must be such an awful person that they don’t think of me or want to be friends with me. WHAT!!!??? Thats so not true and today the penny dropped that EU doesn’t have to apply to just partners – I see now that some of my friends are EU too. And I have been surrounding myself with these people because I have been EU too – or trying to make people available when they can’t be. Whatever – I don’t need to waste my energy on people who don’t…

  24. story says:

    Thanks, Natalie, for the best post yet! Am still working through anger issues, and will be writing the unsent letters. A couple of things I noticed in the comments helped me too: I was raised that being Number One was prideful and selfish, but now I realize it is neither if it is done in the right spirit of love and care for oneself. And the thing about the men who are into charity: my ex was a volunteer, but it furthered his career. Not saying that was a bad thing in itself, but when it came to me wanting to see more of him, I was selfish for intruding on his time! Yes, I have a lot to learn, but feel that I am finally growing up, a late bloomer, but better late than never!

  25. Breaking Free says:

    I too invested more and more into the relationship, giving myself away to him because I was madly in love and thought the more I invested the more he would understand how fantastic a life together we could have. I gave up everything for him, my life with my partner and father of my two kids, my financial security, and allowed him to cross every boundary I ever held, all in the hope that he would make good his promise to get out of his marriage to be with me properly.
    Five and a half years I stayed in that roller coaster of a relationship. Finally, when he started to treat me worse and worse, the more I tried to invest in the relationship – I saw the light and got out. But not after he had destroyed my trust in my own judgement and my ability to ever trust another person who says they love me again. That is his parting gift to me that I am now trying to overcome.

  26. Bee says:

    I think it’s very sad that many of the posts above are from people who have been so hurt in relationship situations that they can not trust their own judgement or trust other people in relationships. It’s natural to feel damaged from relationships that do you no good, and reasonable to loose trust in a person who has treated you badly, but we ALL make mistakes in judgement and if you feel you geninely can not regain your sense of trust it may be worth exploring why with a therapist. It’s not fair toyourself to extrapolate that because one person was not worth your trust everyone is the same way. Why let one asshole destroy your sense of confidence in others and yourself.

    The man I dated didn’t treat me that well. He is an expert in mind bending, however as time has passed by I see that it is just him. No one else treated me that way, he has his problems and actually with the perspective of time I actually feel sorry for him in the sense that he has to live with himself.

    There are lots of trustworthy men out there. However it’s taken me many years to get to this position and turn a negative life experience into a positive opportunity. I am retraining as a relationship therapist as a consequence of my experiences. It’s possible not only to hurt from damaging relationships but to grow stronger as a consequence and to rebuild your trust as your self esteem and confidence grows and as this happens opportunities in life appear and you can move forward once again. That’s just been my experience.

  27. Fedup says:

    Natalie- you are right I do want retribution for being screwed over. Who wouldn’t? why do people take the cheaters side for? Do they have no conscience? I was in a really bad place and not ONE person bothered to check on me. Why should I feel happy for my ex? He cheated on me with someone else. And yet everyone took his side. He didn’t have severe depression after the breakup. I’ll never forgive these people. I hope they get divorced/ breakup in a couple of years. I hope they reap what they sow. I hope it was worth taking my exes side. The guy is a user, liar and a cheater.

    • Bee says:

      Fedup,

      I’m not sure retribution will do you any good at all nor wishing for it or wishing for nasty events to fall on others. Bad stuff happens to everyone. You made some poor choices but you can get over it.

    • PJM says:

      FedUp, I completely hear where you’re coming from, and I praise your honesty for putting your feelings into words. I think many of us feel exactly the same way.

      You HAVE been treated badly. You HAVE been marginalised, left out, left sick and depressed and rejected by a lot of people who you trusted to back you up.

      One of the most important steps I took forward was when – after a huge amount of expressing, articulating and really owning that pain and anger – I was able finally to let go of some of it. I get relapses; I think a lot of people do, but I am a lot better at handling them now, and in saying out loud that I forgive certain people for certain things.

      You may not be at that place yet, and you may not get there for a long time. But this day WILL come for you, and you will feel really relieved, because you will know then that you really have won. You will have overcome a dark part of yourself, and sometimes all this takes is time – sometimes a heck of a lot of time, I’ll admit, but time really does heal many wounds.

      Hang in there. Your pain is real, but it will heal.

    • buddingEnergy says:

      FedUp
      I read your pain… yes PJM is spot on with many of us having had similar or the exact same reaction. It is useful sometimes to expect nothing from no-one, how painful it must feel for you to be decived not only by him but also by those who have taken his side.
      Unfortunately those people who have taken his side are also saying they accept cheating and could therefore themselves be untrustworthy. Getting revenge (something I have had a dabble in myself) does add time to your recovery -mainly because it adds more emotion and complication to it all as well as detracting from your self-esteem re-build. Any act of revenge is possibly damaging to your mental health. Someone with high self-esteem would perhaps not lower themselves to wasting efforts on these people, as much as it is completely tempting to do so.
      I do get angry with others still -however I just tell them straight what is wrong with their behaviour as breifly as possible -but the key is that I’m not really bothered what their response is -because their actions have already shown me that I dont want to know them or be like them.
      Time, baggage reclaim, keping busy, and concnetrating on my goals has helped to heal me now as I hope it will for you.
      I had a spell of counselling and she told me it’s healthy to fantasise and get angry and think about revenge sometimes. Sometimes we want revenge to sever ties so we wont be tempted to return to the pain source and expect it to change.
      I find it helps to always keep focused on the long term, not the short term :) Big hugs x

  28. Lavender says:

    Great post as usual Nat!

    “I’ve found that often in unhealthy relationships, when people are dealing with something that they know is inappropriate or even dangerous for their relationship, they increase their level of trust. Yes, increase.”

    So true. I’ve done this exact thing. I don’t know how you understand people so well! I thought that if I increased my trust, he would realise how great I was and that I didn’t deserve the bad behaviour. It only made him mistreat me even more.

    • Spinster says:

      Lavender:

      You know, people like your ex-asshat disgust me. Yes, you “thought that if I increased my trust, he would realise how great I was and that I didn’t deserve the bad behaviour.” And I assume that you take responsibility for & are working on that. But people who knowingly take advantage of vulnerable people disgust me. :-| I’m sure that your ass-wipe knew exactly what he was doing. >> ” It only made him mistreat me even more.”

      I use the example of a wounded dog. If one sees a wounded dog on the side of a road, does one kick it because one CAN? To me, the one who kicks the wounded dog (vulnerable person) = the ass-wipes that we discuss here. A more extreme example is the Haiti earthquake in 2010 – many sick & disgusting people went to Haiti for child- & sex-trafficking purposes… just because they could.

      In sum, just because someone is vulnerable – in your case, you sought out validation & love – doesn’t mean that people have the right to take advantage (which your ex-asshat did). The fact that so many people (and in the case of this blog, mostly men) exploit vulnerable others worldwide truly disgusts me.

      Wishing you the best in your journey.

  29. braveheart says:

    Life and relationships are about learning and growing. The pain that comes from these relationships is immense….but so is the opportunity to learn and grow from it. My 3 yr old at eyelevel with a hot grill, pretty colours…put his finger on the element whilst I wasnt looking. He didnt do that again! He remembered the pain and associated that with heat.
    Red flag behaviour….Associate it with the pain….DONTDO IT AGAIN…simple.
    In terms of feeling shame, When my very good friend forcibly took my phone off me during a night out,after seeing me avidly texting, took me outside and told me that all my friends loved me, have watched and helped me get through, but if I keep doing the headbanging, that I would be using up all their patience and sympathy. She also told me to have ‘the serentity to accept what I couldnt change’ I felt incredible shame. Not shame thatI had been stupid enough to get involved, shame for not valuing my friends and support, shame for continuing to allow this man have some affect on my life AND shame that for not making something positive out of the whole experience and to use that to move on and have a life.
    I now recognise that my bestest, bestest friend is me, she is with me where ever I go and whoever I am with. I now pay very close attention to her feelings and what she is saying. If she feels uncomfortable, but doesnt know why, I do not try and be polite; or explain to her that she may have got it wrong, I bail out fast and then try and work out what made her feel like that later.
    If she is talking to me and I dont like what she is saying, I no longer try to justify or make excuses, I bail out fast. Then talk it through with her later.
    If she is making me feel anxious, I have to have an honest conversation with her about her feelings; ie I need to text him to pick up his stuff-translation- I am texting him with a valid excuse for contact…when I just want contact again. She knows that, so I always check out my real reasons for any significant action, and she knows when I am lying…and tells me!
    Shes my airbag, and I know that I am absolutely safe in her hands if I listen. There are wonderful people in this world, I know because I have a lot of them in my life…and there are some un-wonderful people in this world, and I know because I have had a couple in my life also. I have had far more wonderful people…

  30. RuthT says:

    Acting in the face of bad news….is the sentence that sung with my soul. Well I got there eventually. I split from a widower 3 weeks ago after 9 months. It looked like a relationship it smelt like a relationship, it was on FB as a relationship (gold validation status! haha) but alas his feelings were not reciprocating recently. When questioned it became obvious how flakey it all was. So sadly and with a heavy heart I folded and flushed. Yes it hurts and BR becomes my learned relp bible again. Those fabulous survival sayings, it is what it is and it hurts but one day a time, concentrate on you, rebuild that self-esteem, book a holiday, etc. Get a life. Join a new group. Yes these are the positive actions I am taking. Its hard, there are bad days, but at least you know even the rough knife stabbing in the heart pain is only temporary. It passes and clarity appears in its place. Today is a good day.

    • PJM says:

      Ruth, I really felt for you. It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that schwing, but it still hurts because you get that feeling of ‘so close, and yet so far’.

      I’m really proud that you were able to walk away from something that would have made you even more unhappy, had you stayed. The temptation is always there to stay for the sake of being ‘normal’ and having a partner, but at what price?

      Walk tall – you did the right thing.

      • RuthT says:

        Thanks PJM so close and yet so far indeed…..if its not mutual there is no effort from the side of the cruiser. I can pin lots of complex theories on it to soften the blow….not moved on from LW (late wife), there were 2 transitionals before me, so I was not the first to experience the emotional void, and sometimes you have to put your feet in to know whether it works, then it becomes obvious when their feet aren’t quite in…..its true what Nat says you have to ‘choose you’ and on some deep level your soul, inner child etc knows you are looking after her. A small injection of strength comes from nowhere and you do move forward. You find yourself capable of missing that person but still knowing its the right thing. Whats overwhelming is how many millions of people are going through this all of the time…..:(

        • PJM says:

          I know that on a dating site I used to use, there was a widower who was completely up front about the fact that all he really wanted was a replacement for his dead wife. So the woman he was looking for was small, dark-haired, etc etc etc.

          This guy got practically no dates on the site, and a lot of criticism in its forum for being so limited, but that’s just the way some people are. He was in his 60s and he just didn’t really believe he could love a woman who didn’t look like his former wife.

          On the bright side, at least he was honest, and that’s rare, I think. Many people who lose a spouse try to ‘move on’, but can’t figure out why they remain stuck.

          I think this may have been a lucky escape for you, though, Ruth, because from what I have read, it’s very hard to be a second wife, especially of a widower. The person you marry has to have moved on enough to really be open to who YOU are, and not always be looking for the ghost of his former wife. After all, she’s dead, and she was therefore perfect (memory is such a deceptive thing, isn’t it, Baggage Reclaimers?), and you are very much alive and very human …

          The best thing of all, though, is that you were open to love, which shows that you’re capable of having a proper 100% relationship. I think you’ve done really well.

  31. Liska says:

    Great article, Natalie.

    “You learn how to trust yourself by exercising your judgment through experience. This is how you learn to have confidence in yourself because you can trust yourself to look, listen, and act in your own best interests.”

    NC and upholding my boundaries are the best way how I learned to trust myself. I can see clearly and I can pick up on other’s people agenda.
    Still recovering from my ex EUM, I recently turned down two guys. One of them wanted me to become his “buffer” or rebound. FLUSH!
    The other guy has been obsessed about me for months waiting for yet another opportunity to contact me. We had previously tried to date a year ago but his insecurity and jealousy was too much for me to take. Yet he decided to linger in the background, texting me, contacting me through fcb etc. I kind of felt sorry for him so every now and then I would graciously let him take me out only to realize that he was still crazily insecure.
    …but that’s not me anymore. I deleted both men out of my life because they are not good for me. My daily affirmation is: “I am trusting my gut and I am taking care of myself!”

  32. Bella says:

    Its been eight months of NC. Eight months I didn’t think I was capable of seeing through. Today morning, I woke up and remembered how he would go out of his way to let me know I was not his type like by him being with me he was doing me a favor……I remembered the horrible things he would say about me, mocking me behind my back and then some girl he was sleeping with would come and repeat it all to me, just to entertain herself with the pain in my eyes. He even called me to tell me that he got married and was having a baby on the way before he suggested an affair and tossed in an ‘I love you’ like a king bestowing some grand favor on a lowly subject. I remembered being broken and the instance that I stopped trusting myself so much that when I got a new job I couldn’t bring myself to establish a conversation that went beyond hello with a stranger. When a new guy started to show interest in me I couldn’t trust myself with him. At the back of my mind I couldn’t understand what he saw when he looked at me like that or why he was treating me with a level of respect that was so foreign to me. It was easier to carry on the act of Ice Queen that I had perfected than to open up, even a little bit. One day, I eventually garnered some courage and asked him to have lunch with me. He said he would let me know, and it felt like the rejection I had always expected. I felt like he was toying with me. Playing a game to see how he can break down the Ice Queen like the last guy did. He had asked me to have lunch three times before. I kept turning him down. I wondered if he wanted me to get a taste of my own medicine. Since then, I go out of my way to avoid him. I don’t know much about him so I know this presumption is unreasonable but its how I feel. How do I trust again?

    • mirelle says:

      “He even called me to tell me that he got married and was having a baby on the way before he suggested an affair and tossed in an ‘I love you’ like a king bestowing some grand favor on a lowly subject.”

      Bella, you’re so right! This is the way the EUMs think about us. This is the sad truth.

      I remember how humble I felt when I kept listening to HIS problems, which never were OUR problems. Or when after listening to his problems for hours , how I couldn’t say a word about my problems. If I had the courage to mention one of my problems, it was like disturbing Napoleon before an important battle just to say that one of the soldiers has hiccups.

      I remember how small I thought I was. I was too embarrassed to open my mouth and say something about relationships, when friends or colleagues discussed theirs. I felt so worthless that I didn’t have the right to have an opinion about relationships because I was in a degrading one.

      I miss my old “me”, a funny and cheerful girl, with lots of friends, full of life, joy and trust. I don’t know how to trust again, I think it’s a long way to self-trust. I just hope that one day I’ll trust myself again. But I know it’s not possible without being my own best friend and keeping my boundaries intact, as Nat advised us. So I guess we’re on the right way to it.

      • Bella says:

        ‘I miss my old “me”, a funny and cheerful girl, with lots of friends, full of life, joy and trust. ‘
        Very true, Mirelle. I miss the old me too. Did we date the same AC? He would always claim that he knew me when really what he knew were pitiful bits and pieces that anyone could pick in 5 minutes. All discussions were about him and how he felt and what he wanted. I gave so much and in the end I was a hollow shadow of what I once was. I have never described what we had as a relationship because deep down I was aware that this was definitely not how a relationship was meant to be. But I kept at it, giving and giving, wanting to prove how ‘different’ I was. What a laugh!

  33. Fedup says:

    How do you deal with the bitterness of it?

    • Sunshine says:

      FedUp, for me, my mindfulness practice has been invaluable. I feel the bitterness of it, welcome it, deeply…and then either exhale and let it go, or dive really deep into the depths of it. At the center of the terrible feeling is always peace.

      When I told an ex I didn’t want to see him when he was in town and I didn’t want to explain myself, I felt a HUGE surge of guilt when I got off the phone. I just sat there with it, rode it out, went deep into it, and then after about 10 minutes I felt an equally HUGE surge of energy and well-being.

      Sometimes if I want to hang on to a crappy feeling, then I ask myself if I can at least enjoy feeling it…which usually makes me laugh and then it’s gone. If it comes back, so what? The feelings and thoughts are like waves and I’m learning to surf !

    • CoffeeCat says:

      I wish I knew. This is where I am at, too, (along with wishing this AC to die in a horrible accident.) Not helpful nor productive, but here I am. *sigh*

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Fedup and CoffeeCat,
        I know the bitterness and how hard it is to let go, not that I fully have. I would agree with Sunshine. I had to break down and feel the bitterness, anger, and sadness and I still do. Sunshine was there when I was so bitter and angry I almost outed him (remember Sunshine?). Let all the emotions come up and feel them. Some days are going to suck but the world didn’t end when I let my bitterness, anger, and sadness come up. It was just a crappy day. My Unsent Letters to my father and the exMM are now too long to send as it would crash their computers (now that’s a delightful thought…only kidding). Oddly, some days don’t suck so much anymore as I’m learning to be with myself. Some days are actually okay, not great yet. Letting go of the fantasy is still a struggle and I’m still angry that I sold myself down the river. Lesson learned. Most important lesson for me: Trust me, not him! Fearless is right, Natalie turned this one perfectly. Hey Natalie, do you play short or second? This post is truly brilliant and helped me so much. Mixing metaphors, the ball is in our court, not theirs. Let’s turn two.

      • PJM says:

        CoffeeCat and FedUp:

        Totally been there. Totally go back there sometimes, too!

        You need TIME, that’s all. Do all the things you should be doing, like journalling, or going out and having honest fun with real friends, or just sitting at home slowly thinking the issue through and talking about it with a trusted confidant. But give them all TIME to work.

        I wish I could fast-forward things for you so that you were a month or six months down the track – I can’t , but my own experience tells me that things DO look better from further away.

        • CoffeeCat says:

          I know it will take some more time…I’ve been total NC for 3.5 months…he’s sent me a few lame ass emails which I’ve ignored, but I totally wanna scream back at him…but I know deep down it will be useless. His last email me to was HE, HE!!! *HE* needed to hear a friendly voice….no, what have you been doing for the last three months, or anything…it was all about him, and I guess that just brought all this anger back that WTF, I STILL gotta be here for you dumbass? I am trying to stop myself thinking about him, and when I do, focus on something else more positive, but still. I feel so damn used and burned and in the end, I think I am more pissed off at myself for falling for the BS this guy shoveled at me.

    • Allie says:

      I know it feels really bad when you know you had been wronged. But I assure you with time and logical thinking it will go away and you will be happy to be out of that situation and what the hell, sooner or later there will be pay back time, someone else will take care of that, not you.

    • Natasha says:

      FedUp, I think that part of feeling bitter about it is believing that there is nothing better to look forward to on the horizon. I know I’ve felt bitter about things when I’ve gotten into thinking, “Ah, well, I got totally screwed by this guy. Plus, there’s no one else to meet and, even if I did meet someone, they’d probably diss me or turn out to be an assclown.” This is so not true! There is much, much better out there for all of us.

      I saw your comment below about that awful “blindsided” feeling and, girl, I know exactly what you mean. I think the lesson to take from that is that these guys very often give themselves away if you’re paying attention. I know that it’s easy to to get swept up in the “hot phase” when they’ve decided that you’ll be the best thing that’s ever happened to for two weeks (believe me, I say this from experience!), but there’s usually SOMETHING that says, “Hmmmm, something’s off?” Then there are the (thankfully) rare guys that are really, really good liars. These are guys in particular are so not worth getting bitter over. No dude in general is worth getting bitter over – but the liars, cheaters and users? Oh hell no. Let’s say you get involved with a dude that lies/future fakes his arse off to get you into bed (again, I speak from experience). Yes, it’s rotten, but is someone like that really worth being bitter over? Noooo! Never give someone who lies/cheats/uses/sucks in general that kind of power. Keep in mind that you don’t need to wish anything bad on anyone who treats people like something they stepped in. Life has a way of teaching people lessons. Hope this helps! *Big Hugs*

    • grace says:

      FedUp
      Are you completely NC and have you ditched the mutual “friends”?Not all of them will be your genuine friends (that’s just statistics). If you do want to keep a select few as your friends I’m afraid that you can only maintain the friendship if you don’t use it as a sounding board for your grievances . It will only make them feel awkward. And you’ll have to see them separately from the ex and the toxic “friends”.
      You appear to be extremely stuck in the angry stage. No judgement here, but it’s not going to make you happy. As the Chinese proverb goes – when you seek revenge, dig one grave for your enemy and on for yourself. You’re only burying yourself in negativity. These people are unaffected by your emotions in the same way that your ex was unaffected by yours. You must try to separate yourself mentally from them – boundaries. They don’t have anything to do with you and vice versa. This level of negativity is a way to stay invested. A part of you is getting something out of it, however unpleasant, for it to be continuing. You need to examine what that is and either a) learn to do without it if it’s not worth having or b) get it from a more fruitful source if it’s something you genuinely want.
      All that said, if you have any contact with him, you’re simply not going to move on.

    • Mango says:

      I remember reading somewhere, that when we hold onto bitterness/anger/resentment, it’s as though we’re drinking the poison, expecting the other person to die. It really only harms ourselves.

      Mindfulness, as Sunshine mentioned, is one tool that can help. It keeps your thoughts focused and present. It takes time, you won’t wake up farting unicorns and rainbows, but it does help to alleviate the negative cyclical thoughts.

      And as others have suggested, to move past the bitterness, forge a new reality for yourself. What do you like to do? What brings you joy? Focus on things that build your esteem, stick with those that do support you.

      As the saying goes, ‘living well is the best revenge’.

      I wish you well on your journey. Baby steps….you can do this.

      • runnergirl says:

        Wow ladies, what truly amazing insights. You have so helped me see what happens to me when I revisit and get stuck in anger, bitterness, revenge, and negativity. That’s not me. Thank you so much for posting. It helped a lot today. I hope you are okay Fedup and CoffeeCat. Hugs. You can trust yourself, really!

  34. FedUp says:

    I am still struggling with this subject. How do you get over the fear of further rejection? The fear of being screwed over again? I fear the Prince Charming will turn into a AC and history will repeat itself. That I will get blindsided again and dumped with “I never cared about you, I never had any feelings for you this whole time”. That saying “a woman can fake an orgasm and a man can fake a relationship” is very apt!

    • Bee says:

      Fed up,
      It takes time to get over the feeling of rejection. I handled it by asking myself why I felt so rejected by someone who wasn’t that nice to me and now I have thanked the guy who mistreated me for the forsight and wisdom to close on the relationship because we were never ever on the same page. He did me a favour and my life has better people in it now. I wasn’t rejected because I was a poor choice but because I didn’t share his shitty values and modus operandi. That actually makes me feel good about myself funnily enough.

    • buddingEnergy says:

      FedUp
      Your fear is linked to your ability to trust yourself… i.e. do what’s right for yourself and only yourself. Put yourself first. This means that if your gut, your body or a funny feeling is saying something is not quite right -then stay away. If in doubt -leave it out. Protect yourself and listen to yourself. You may find that you’re angry as you invested emotions when there may have been a little instinct that said ‘really… are you sure you want to proceed?’ but you ignored your better self and went with the impulse or whatever it was.
      Sometimes completely accepting that it’s natural to feel shit and unhappy post such trauma is very natural. It may be that if you accept your anger more that it may pass quicker, so really accept it, and embrace it rather than think you have to move on quickly from the pain to be normal, better to fix properly than have to go back and re-mend yourself again later.
      Another tip, the more adept you get at avoiding the bad apples, the more often you will be able to see the good apples. It is a jungle out there, you have to use your judgement when choosing and recognise when to bail out. For every diamond there are 1000 pieces of cold stone.
      I know it sounds like a cliche but when you come through this and out the other side eventually… you may even be grateful for the experience -as from knowing what is wrong you can then only get to know what’s right.
      Take care and learn to look after yourself to a level we never anticipated would ever be necessary… but it is:)

  35. Arlena says:

    NML : “….when people are dealing with something that they know is inappropriate or even dangerous ( ….), they increase their level of trust. Yes, increase.”

    Amazing observation! That’s what I am grappling with.
    I know a lot of things, I gathered a whole book of insights, but still fail to apply the information in many aspects. Why? More like a donkey setting all legs against it – it’s a cringing, grinding, recoiling into reverse mode, closing eyes and ears like a child pretending to have vanished but a voice still whispers inside: “You should do….xyz. Why don’t you?” It is a huge dissonance, a huge gap.

    The other day I mentioned me procrastinating, the things itself are somehow ridiculous and would be done within minutes but I drag it out to the last possible moment creating a lot of unnecessary stress and inconvenience for me. Why?

    Now that so many obstacles have been cleared away, these wonderful BR-guidelines to refer to, a hard-earned encyclopaedia (love it!) of further no-goes spelled out and stashed into my handbag, no assclown around, hormones reduced to not further blocking my brain, the era of complains and pleas for justice is over – so why being so immobilized?

    Today I found this question:
    “How dull is it to make a pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use?”
    Now that gets me thinking…

  36. Spinster says:

    “If you’ve ever taken someone back after a breakup or stayed after a betrayal, there’s a distinct possibility that you still think that the other person is ‘earning’ your trust even though you’ve ‘given them another chance’. However in making the decision to take them back or to ‘work at things’, even though you may be saying you don’t trust them ‘yet’ or that they’ve ‘got a long way to go before they earn their way back into your good books’, in resolving to be together, you have trusted. Even if you think you haven’t trusted, particularly when you take them back after shady behaviour on their part that they 1) haven’t felt and expressed genuine remorse and apologised for, 2) are in denial about, 3) don’t fully understand what the issues were that broke your relationship, you continuing to be with them is an offer of trust. Blind trust.”

    “There’s also an implicit understanding that’s often not understood by them – If you get involved and then, for example, discover that they’re addicted to drugs and not addressing it, or are married/attached, these two issues are a no-go for a relationship and should be sending alarm bells and have you backing away. When you stay, it’s because what appears to be the implicit understanding is that you’re taking a leap of faith on them so they must stop being addicted or leave their partner.”

    “This is why we can be very angry with ourselves and struggle to trust because in over arching with our benevolence, we recognise that we’ve made a big mistake. When we keep plugging away, it’s because it would be ‘better’ for them to prove our trust investment right than for us to admit we’ve made a mistake.”
    _______________________

    Halfway through my longest relationship (college), I had suspicions that my ex was cheating on me with his “best friend”. We argued about it and he swore up & down that he wasn’t doing anything with her. I had a feeling that he was but I went against my better judgement and stayed with him. We broke up a year and a half later, and wouldn’t you know it… She immediately “became” his “new” girlfriend.

    Along with grieving about him being a passive-aggressive asshat, now looking back I also grieved about the fact that I didn’t trust myself and wasted time & energy (and money) on what became a LDR (I graduated and continued my education in our home city while he continued his education at our alma mater, so I’d visit him – money). I was young, but I still knew in the back of my mind that something strange was going on with those two.

    I still struggle with trusting myself sometimes, but I’ve gotten a little better with age & wisdom & counselling. I don’t know what will happen if someone actually likes me, but if that happens I hope that I’ve learned enough – on here and in real life – to go with my gut when it comes to staying or going.

  37. Leisha says:

    Natalie, I’ve been reading your new version of Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl…very nice…you are so awesome…it was a great re-write…I think, so many textbooks have updated revisions as new info comes along…the same with you and this book…makes perfect sense…I can see it becoming a classic and doing so because of it’s relevance. I found myself laughing at some of my words that I’d posted because I was reading them in your book AFTERWARDS…so, they’ve already appeared but honestly I didn’t know you’d already said them…so, I suppose it’s an honest exposure of what I have learned from you and others, and the information I have taken in and assimilated to become a part of me…it amazes me how the information is really coming out and cycling and reaching us as we need it…and it’s through efforts such as your own that it does. I especially love how you are reinforcing to people that all of the info that is around is such that it should be taken if it resonates and disregarded if it doesn’t. There is no “one size fits all” in ANYTHING. Love, Leisha

  38. Natalie, you continue to amaze me. It seems that most of your readers are women. Why is that? I think that the message is universal, and not gender specific. I find it interesting that more men don’t chime in. Anyway….I have been learning to trust myself, and I find that my field of available dating partners is shrinking. I think that the ‘trusting again’ side of this coin is the biggest obstacle. When I approach that point of being aware of what I am doing, thinking, feeling, experiencing, and sensing, then decisions are easier. I think that this has made me a EUM, and I am sensitive enough to not want to drag anyone into that. At 57 years, I am not sure how much time I have to get balanced and healthy, but I will continue to move that direction every day. To me, trust is the foundation that must be earned.
    PS – Thanks again. Sometimes your words make me feel very uncomfortable, but they are always right on.

  39. Janis says:

    I got about halfway through the comments when had one of those “aha!” moments.

    My ex-husband, who I’ve been divorced from for about 4 years now, was definitely unavailable. The thing that initially attracted me to him was when he told me that his first wife had cheated on him, and then his subsequent fiance had dumped him; he said that he had a wall up that “only a very special woman could get past”. I can’t even claim that this was unconscious on my part, because I remember almost this “click” in my brain when he said that. It was a challenge, I guess. I wanted to be the exception.

    Well, we’d met online, and after driving halfway across the country to meet him, I decided that I just HAD to be with him all the time. He never seemed all that interested in me, but I kept telling myself that it was because of how badly he’d been hurt, blah blah blah …

    I ultimately relocated to move in with him and we eventually got married. But things were never right with him sexually. He only wanted me to perform oral sex on him, he NEVER EVER, not even once, reciprocated. He also NEVER kissed me, beyond the type of peck on the cheek you’d give a distant relative. We probably had actual sex half a dozen times during the 5 years we were together. We did have anal sex pretty frequently, obviously for HIS benefit, not mine. Everything we ever did sexually was for his benefit, never for mine.

    As I was reading the comments here, I began to realize how angry I am about all of that. Initially I thought that I was angry at him, but then I realized that most (if not all) of my anger is actually at MYSELF for putting myself in that situation, and for staying in it for as long as I did.

    What’s even more humiliating is that I’d probably still be with him, except that he cheated on me and then left me for the other woman.

    I’m over him, have been for a long time. But I’m not over what he did to me, and what I ALLOWED him to do to me. I think that I knew all along that being with him was a mistake on my part. But I didn’t want to admit it to myself or anyone else. So I stayed and tried to “make things work”.

    After we finally divorced, I realized that I no longer trusted my own judgement, and I haven’t let myself get into an actual serious relationship since then. Just friends-with-benefits situations where I then get far too…

    • gotthetshirt says:

      Janis, your story is so like mine it is not real. When I met my eum ex it was on the web. He lied about himself but brushed it off when he confessed as he was feeling so bad about himself because of his ex who cheated on him he thought it was ok to boost his profile with a “little” exaggeration. I should have pushed the eject button then but did not and the rest is history. The worst part is that my DD got hurt by all of this. I will never forgive him or myself for allowing that to happen. I am still finding it hard to cut all ties as the house is still in joint names and I need to find a new job where he has no control over my life but it will happen soon and then I will not look back, unless to remember the lessons I have learned. Perhaps the day I feel I have really learned and absorbed all the lessons is the day I will get over the hurt. Will my DD be so lucky?

  40. 1st runner up says:

    Janis babe, I know how you feel. I too was with a man that was ever only interested in me giving him oral (for hours…licking like an ice cream cone) and talked of anal sex our first time together. He also never went down on me. It HURTS to know that this represents how little he thought of me…and here I was giving it my all.
    I got out quick but continued to pine for him mostly in secret…he has no idea the degree. I wanted validation from him b/c he was big and important in the world and I am not high status like that. His public image is the exact opposite of how he treated me. I still am amazed. At first he pursued me though…a lot of sweet talk that I thought was sincere. Honestly, I’ve never been treated this deceptively before.
    I am 6 months out and struggle with no contact…Now that we are estranged he is polite…he wants me to like him. He has another girlfriend now 17 years younger that I cannot compete with… He is 49, going through a mid-life crisis and trying to screw all he can. Yes I got out of it myself but I hate that I wasn’t good enough…even though I know better than to think this way…I wanted to be the exception. My Ego wanted validation. Ha! so right on.

  41. Stepahnie says:

    I must have read nearly every post and blog that NML has written to try and understand why I was treated the way I was and why I am struggling to shake off the hurt, pain, rejection an down right weird behaviour that I had to endure from the last person I dated. I met what I thought was the most gorgeous, amazing man on-line 3 months ago. He asked me out on a date almost immediately (red flag) and began to tell me how affluent he was and how well he had done despite his bad childhood (red flag). However, he quickly pushed me into the 2nd date where he took me to some really trendy bars and a nice meal. I had a few drinks that night and whilst I wasn’t drunk he persuaded me to go back to his place (red flag) which happened to be a stereo typical batchelor pad to call me a cab. I ended up spending the night there which is where he laid on the future faking with a trowel by telling me how beautiful I was and that he could see himself marrying me, and he wanted to take me on holiday and have kids. Now if this was any other guy maybe I might have thought, wait a minute this can’t be real, but because I got so caught up in the whirlwind I just sucked it all up and thought I’ve got a good one here! The 3rd date was better he invited me around again cooked me a lovely meal after work again spent the whole evening future faking and I went to work feeling on top of the world! However after our 4th and 5th date he started going quite, no more early morning calls, or late night texts to say “good night” I started initiating contact and we met up a couple more times but it just wasn’t the same. I knew something was wrong but by this time I had starting falling for him and just didn’t know how to ask the right questions. However, the major blow came when we arranged to go and meet some of his friends on a Saturday afternoon, 20 mins before I was due to leave he sent me a text to say he couldn’t make it as his sister was i’ll and he needed to take her to the hospital (which I later learnt was a lie). I felt so stupid! I had only been seeing this guy for 8 weeks and I had allowed him to string me along. I feel like the whole experience made me lose who I was for a hot minute and that’s not good. I have been NC for about 4 weeks but trust me its not been easy because whilst I know he is an EUM it hurts that he hasn’t contacted me once…

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!