When you're willing to learn and grow positively from the insights gained, each dating and relationship experience is actually taking you closer to a mutually fulfilling relationship where your needs are met within it and also independently by you.

If you want to get a good sense of what your needs are, take a good look at the company you keep in your relationships. While you can do this with all of your relationships romantic and otherwise, you will find that it’s in the interactions where you feel most vulnerable and where you’re most concerned with your ‘worth’ that you get a true sense of not only what your needs (and values) are, but how you truly feel about you.

I frequently hear from BR readers who have great solid friendships and possibly even a loving family… and a rap sheet of shady relationships that makes you wonder if they’re leading a double life. This inconsistency with ‘identities’ happens because people have a funny habit making exceptions and busting their own boundaries when there’s love, sex, validation and a projected future at stake.

I used to be like this. I have long, enduring friendships stretching back to when I was ten, yet I couldn’t choose a decent guy to save my life. I thought that ‘love’ was basically having no boundaries and feeling tormented by my feelings as well as the drama and anxiety.

When you don’t understand who you are, which includes your needs, values, expectations and desires, and you’re possibly reactive and seeking a ‘type’ that stimulates you in the fireworks department, you tend to find yourself waking up in a relationship that leaves you hungry.

As you didn’t necessarily go through the discovery phase of dating and basically have an awareness of looking out for consistent actions, interactions and experiences that would indicate being able to satisfy your needs, you may assume that what drew you initially to them as well as the content of the honeymoon period means that you ‘should’ be able to rustle up the missing parts and fill what may be a growing void. It will feel confusing because you’ll have built up these feelings and expectations and yet you no longer have a relationship that’s able to satisfy your needs and that you feel confident about moving forward with plus you may begin to question whether it ever had it in the first place, but feel confused about what was real and what was fake.

When we recognise that our needs aren’t being met by someone with whom we feel emotionally, sexually, spiritually, and physically bonded with (or even just one of these) plus we may have ties such as living together or hopes built on proposed plans, we expect, rightly or wrongly, that they can be met and that the other party will be willing because they’re bonded too. Then we feel incredibly hurt and rejected when they don’t because we think, But we’re already together. If they say these things and if they do this and that, why don’t they want to at least attempt to meet my needs? Maybe if I do X,Y,Z or am more A,B,C they’ll do it. What’s wrong with me?

The frustrations we feel about a relationship and the things that we feel or felt were missing, provide a window into understanding ourselves further as well as showing us what we need to give attention to in our own lives whether we’re in a relationship or not.

When we practice being and doing the things that we expect others to be and do for us, we have a far greater level of self-knowledge that makes us hugely aware of who we bring into our lives. We need people that add to what we already do, not subtracting from where we’re already malnourished.

If you tend to neglect you by not treating you with love, care, trust, and respect, any ‘ole person can come along and they can make a fanfare with some hot air and crumbs and it will look like a golden loaf because it is more than what you’re doing for you.

Self-neglect magnifies the contribution and ‘good points’ of those we deem to have power.

We’re easily impressed and tend to be drawn by impressive, often all shirt, no trousers type people who are chat rich, action poor. Everything looks out of context and these people can end up being idolised, when really, they’re just not that special and you’re worth a lot more than you’re giving you credit for.

I used to be terrified of abandonment, which in my mind was being left, not taken care of, not wanted and basically anything that felt like aspects of my childhood. I’ve walked away from people who I’ve known that it was the right thing to do because the whole partnering was toxic and then felt agonised about being away from the very person I’d left! The self-doubt, the guilt, the fear, the pain, the need. Two two’s, I was on the phone, pushing to get back together, or lying in bed feeling tormented by lacerations of ‘abandonment’.

Whether I was bored, lonely, tired, stressed, worried, insecure, needed to make a decision and the list goes on, my ‘solution’ to all of these things was variations of validation seeking. ‘Soothing’ on men had to stop.

All of my previous relationships showed me time and again that I needed to develop an identity and personal security and address the source of my original abandonment. The better I treated me, the more I represented who I was instead of abandoning my identity every time I felt an attraction, the more secure I felt, simply because I knew that I had my back. Being the other woman was like an exorcism (a topic for another day) because it dragged up and out every ugly thought and feeling and by facing all of the pain, something that was oh-so-bad ended up showing me what I needed to be and do.

I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be a priority. I’ve learned that continuing to participate in relationships where you’re deprioritised is a sign that you need to prioritise you in your own life which could include cutting down the people pleasing, not invalidating you, not being with people who carry on like they’re busier than a world leader or who are already in a relationship with someone else, and certainly not going around needing to be needed and playing Florence Nightingale.

If you look at the person you claim to love and what’s looking back at you is someone who doesn’t truly value you, who treats you without love, care, trust and respect and even takes advantage of and even abuses you, it’s time to address how you feel about and treat you because if you did, putting up with someone who treats you in a less-than manner would be unacceptable.  You’d know what love, care, trust, respect and security felt like and you wouldn’t trade it for the hollow cake with stale icing that is a pain filled relationship.

When you’re willing to positively learn from the insights gained, each dating and relationship experience is actually taking you closer and closer to a mutually fulfilling relationship where your needs are met within it and also independently by you. That’s why I always say that you shouldn’t fear so-called ‘mistakes’ – they’re often feedback that if you listen without judging your worth, they pave the way to a relationship that’s more befitting of you.

Your thoughts?


FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

193 Responses to Your Relationships Provide a Window Into Understanding What You *Need*

  1. Erin says:

    That’s me, to a tee, everything, do you know me lol! Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been trying to get clear in my head

  2. Billtx says:

    I would Really like to read an article about a significant other that can not express their feelings for you.

    • Mymble says:

      If they cannot express their feelings, what makes you think they have feelings at all? I know I “projected” a lot and assumed that because he was doing things which I would only have done if I loved and valued someone, that must mean he loved and valued me. Such as paying ££££ in plane fares to visit me. I still don’t really know why he did that, maybe he was just not right in the head, (it doesn’t really matter to me anyway) but I am now certain that he did not love or
      value me at all.

    • Victorious says:

      I am with MM on this. My ex narc would travel for hours to see me, with no chance of sex, just my plain old companionship. I put huge value on this. In fact he just liked having me as an adoring witness to his universal greatness. Like a personal cheerleader. He never loved anyone but himself.
      All this BS about how someone is so emotionally stunted that they cannot quite stammer out the words they genuinely feel is laughable. Sorry.

      • Mymble says:

        Yeah, I was the personal cheerleader too, not that he really needed one as he did a great job complimenting himself. But he did like to remind me how lucky I was to breathe same oxygen. After the last time I saw him he said “You were transformed by our lovemaking!” How yucky is that? Transformed into what, I wonder? And the funny thing was it was definitely “fifty shades of meh” as someone else said, didn’t even *cough* happen for me.
        I will never again let anyone tell me how I feel.

        • ixnay says:

          “You were transformed by our lovemaking”??!!!


          Unbelievably patronizing! It’s like American Psycho done as a comedy! Eliza Dolittle as porn!

        • Alibi says:

          Ha ha I had a similar comment that I was ‘truly in another world!’Pompous ass. And this is the man who shagged me, then ten minutes later asked me to move out! Now I really am in another world now without him. Twelve weeks NC. This is hard, though. I find these articles and posts so helpful in stopping me trying to contact him. Particularly this one!

    • Grizelda says:

      Billtx, I agree with Mymble and Victorious here. Just garnering information that Natalie has shared with us through analagous posts on EU behaviour, miscommunications, refusal to own bad behaviour and so many assclown tricks of the trade, there’s something about someone who ‘can’t’ express their feelings for you (in words OR actions) that very probably means they don’t actually have the feelings that you’re presuming they have.

      Filling in the blanks yourself can lead to all sorts of future misery. Those blanks are being left blank by him/her for a reason — because there’s nothing there in that space.

      • Ms Determined says:

        Even if there were feelings to be expressed, what prize have you won? You’ll still be stuck with an emotional retard whose feelings you have to second guess. That’s just not good enough for you. There should be feelings shouted from rooftops. FLUSH, like, yesterday.

      • sushi says:

        I agree with above posters. From experience, I think the way to go is look at what they present you with and think, is this for me? does it make me happy? I know how you feel, you want an explanation for their behaviour so that you can find something to hold on to to continue the relationship. I did “gain” a Phd in alcoholism, porn addiction, wolves in sheeps clothing ect and it didn`t change a thing. They were still what they were and I wasted my time and internalised their problems. The only education that was worthwile is BR. Because it`s truly for me.

      • malaise says:

        That last part Grizelda- SO TRUE. We want to attribute some greater depth to these men, when ultimately they do not have any. like NONE. Once I realized this I just stopped giving a rats ass trying to pick his brain.

    • PhoenixRises says:


      Not sure if I’d go as extreme as the other folks here, but I would agree that it’s generally a bad sign. I’d be curious as to the circumstances surrounding this S.O.; are you dating seriously, or is this new? Have you tried to have a conversation about your concerns? Have you expressed your needs and they are aware, but they are not doing anything to address them?

      Some people do have trust issues, and take longer than others to talk about feelings. However if your relationship is worth it (to you and to them!) they will work at showing them. Something to note is that there are different communication styles and ways of showing affection, and it may be that this person is an incompatible style to yourself. Then again, they could just be a total jerk. We don’t know the story, but trust yourself and don’t be afraid to stand up for your values and your needs!

    • Lia says:

      There are people like this, but it can be hard to tell whether or not they’re keeping things bottled up or simply not feeling anything at all. Reading about it probably isn’t going to do you any bit of good. The only way you can know for sure is to have a conversation about it with this person. If they’re having difficulties with having a simple conversation about it, a mutually loving relationship is going to be difficult, if not impossible.

    • Robin says:

      I feel like it depends on what you can deal with, so it really comes down to knowing how you feel at a point in time. To one guy this person you describe might not be able to express his feelings, yet to another person (believe it or not!), they hear him or her perfectly without them having to say anything coherently. Ultimately it bogs down to, is this something you want to deal with for the rest of your life, guessing at what your s.o. wants?

  3. Lady Lisa says:

    And the congregation says, “AMEN!”

  4. Shane says:

    OMG! That was exactly what I needed to hear. NL: you are awesome. Thanks for all of this!

  5. miskwa says:

    I have spent a lot of time figuring out what my needs are and for most of my life, have stuck by them and have avoided /learned from those that did not/ could not value who I am. It was when I had to go west and my marriage subsequently failed that the wheels fell off. I don’t know if it was extreme loss, trauma, suddenly being very impoverished although I am a highly educated person but it truly is as though the west was a very bad luck place. During my Montana years, I was disappeared on, stalked, a victim of attempted rape (I knocked him down ; howz that for boundary setting ), my dog was hit by a car, and I dealt with breast cancer all alone. No wonder I gravitated towards the at work AC who at one time actually seemed to care about me. Now my BR spidey senses are on high alert always and NO. DAMNED. ONE. who does not meet my criteria gets past them. Hate to be such a hard a$$ but I am tired of being hurt.
    Miskwas needs:
    Functional Community
    Sustainable lifestyle including a close relationship to the land
    Good critters and lotsa living plants to come home to
    Freedom from television, noxious music, and motor vehicles; this lady needs her z’s
    Good books, tunes, and coffee
    What Miskwa would like to see in a partner:
    No racism
    Healthy (if he doesn’t care enuf to take care of himself, why should I?)
    Has a work ethic
    someone I can be attracted to
    educated (I really miss good conversation )
    These were all needs and wants that used to be met back home; the real challenge has been getting them met here.

  6. Monica says:

    I just ended a relationship with a married man that was not fullfilling my needs. I was in this relationship for a little more than 5 years. I finally mustard teh courage and face my fears of emotional abandonment that I kept setting myself up.

    At first, I was scared, I cried but I kept telling myself I am tired of all these bad relationships.I want to live my best life now!!!It has been less than 3 months and I can honestly tell you I am so much happier now that I lost all that dead weight.I am FREE to enjoy my life with out the constant self doubt and fear of “what if”.

    I do miss the affection and the cuddling but my I KNOW I will have that again. This time it will be the real thing…

  7. Nicole says:

    How do I start loving myself when the things I seek from my relationship are mostly more communication/attention/thoughtfulness and appreciation? I FEEL like a treat myself pretty well apart from staying in relationships where my needs aren’t really being met . .. but since I’m not ready to end it — how can I start loving myself??

    Thanks for writing such an amazing blog!!

    • Allison says:


      You start loving yourself by not accepting what is not acceptable. You know your needs are not being met, but you want to continue down the same path. HUH????
      I’m sorry, I don’t understand!

      By ending the unsatisfying relationship would be a good start. Isn’t it time to value you!

    • Fearless says:

      you start loving yourself by ending it.

  8. Crazybaby says:

    “We need people that add to what we already do, not subtracting from where we’re already malnourished.” That really hit home with me. I thought I was meeting guys who were adding new experiences and perspectives to my life – enriching it, which they *were* doing in an external sense, but on an emotional internal level I was giving all the love and care while they were just taking. I believed they truly cared about me – and I’m sure they did to a degree, but they were still fundamentally selfish and lacking in their own self love, and therefore not willing or able to give love in return. It’s hard to identify this early on when they are making the effort to impress. They know how they’re meant to treat you, but for whatever reason it doesn’t last. Maybe because I give so much they choose to sit back and take?

    • 30Love says:

      Crazybaby, I can SO identify with this comment. This very pattern is so ingrained for me. I am in what I believe is a healthy relationship now, yet I am continually on alert for the inevitable ‘drop off’ in affection, ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop,’ so to speak. I guess that is the danger in engaging in these sorts of relationships, the behavior can affect your ability to relax and enjoy a healthy relationship in the future.

  9. Getting there slowly says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read this morning! I keep making “mistakes”. Though each mistake is less painful than the last – so I guess I must be learning something along the way!

    • Tracy says:

      I totally get this. My relationships are getting shorter because I’m seeing the red flags sooner and sooner. And like you, the ‘end’ gets less painful each time as I see that I’m working in my own best interest.

  10. Lisa says:

    i will never find anyone. The person i thought that loved me, lied to me for more than 5 years and still does. I don’t know if i can ever recover from that. we were both unhappily married which led us to our relationship. I guess it’s karma for being unfaithful. I’m so sad :(

    • Astrid says:

      I am sure your sadness is a healthy and necessary phase – you will get through it and out the other side you may have learned something about yourself and life that will help you to create a happier you – this is certainly the right website to be reading to achieve that! I have felt sad at times and like I would never find anyone. Right now I am happier single then I ever thought I could be! Its great! When I am ready for a relationship I am sure it will happen. Good luck

    • Ms Determined says:

      This is going to sound harsh, Lisa, but BULLSHIT. First of all, you must have known you were dating a liar if your guy was lying to his wife to be with you. Secondly, there is no such thing as karma. I see unspeakable assclowns getting to pass GO and blithely collecting their $200 without EVER going to jail, so I’m sure you get a free pass too for choosing in good faith (but with bad foresight) to be involved with the wrong/married guy. Thirdly, you can find ‘anyone’ really REALLY easily. In fact, without even knowing what age you are or where you live I am 100% positive my ex AC would be up for it if you want his number. But the point is that you DON’T want just anyone. That’s how you got into this mess. You want to be in a healthy relationship with a functional bloke who isn’t exaggerating the ‘unhappiness’ of his marriage so that he’ll have you on a string for 5 years. Sad? Rejoice woman! You’re FREE TO FIND HIM*.

      *After you work on the issues that lead you to be with such an assclown in the first place.

      • c says:

        Now now… I get trying to light a fire under our asses but this shit’s real. No need to knock another woman’s reality. We literally CANNOT SEE THE LIES while they’re going on. I can’t even explain the midnfuck it was – my intuition was like “um hello!” and my so-called ‘rational’ brain chimed in “he’s right, you’re too neurotic” and my desire to be loved fed the ‘rational’ brain and ignored the intuition. Voila, blindness. The little narcisist turned everything around to be my fault and self esteem? What self esteem? You dismiss the power of shame.

        Random one for the record – some people who survive trauma cannot see the lies, and their lies to themselves, so much so that their personality literally splits. The case of multiple personality disorder is real, and shame is at the root. The mind is a tricky thing and will go to great lengths to not feel shame, because it knows it’s worthless. All sorts of twisting going on.

        I give mad props to all the women who read and post here, who are rubbing the webs out of their eyes for the first time EVER after having seen the cycle repeat and repeat, and be daring enough to take the hard look in the mirror and admit they are the cause. That’s a hard thing to do and for me personally, coming from a belief of no worth, I was devastated. There is some healing that needs to happen, and _then_ we can look at the completely foreign concept of loving ourselves first and foremost.

        Don’t even bother w/ dating until then.

    • Grizelda says:

      Lisa, all I can say is please keep reading Natalie’s myriad posts and they will help you process what you need to process.

      You’re already coming to terms with the worst one: how he lied to you over and over again. That’s a hard one even to wake yourself up to. But you HAVE woken up to it, at least. Now you’re feeling ‘cognitive dissonance’ — asking ‘but how could he…? but why…? when he said he loved me didn’t he mean it…? what the hell happened…? why did he do the things he did…?’ and so on. You’re processing, and it’s painful, but it will get better when the pieces start to snap into place.

      None of it means you will never find anyone! You assign HIS behaviour to HIM, and that’s where it will rightly stay. Don’t you dare carry his load for him and find ways of taking the blame for the things HE DID.

      Instead, take care of you. Improve things for yourself so that you never fall into that losers’ game ever again. When you’re feeling happier in yourself, an offer from a MM won’t sound like the irresistable sexy purrings he thinks it does, but it will sound like the grossly negative bucket-of-cold-water insult that it is.

      It gets better from where you are, it really does. Keep reading!

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Lisa. So what if you never find anyone. You cant rely on anyone else to make you happy or your life better. Sometimes we need to spend time alone to find that inner peace & happiness.I realize I was not a victim. I must have been just as unhealthy in the relationship as he was seeing as I stuck with it for so long with all the red flags a waving. I need time alone and it may be forever. It doesnt matter to me either way as long as I am happy & living my life my way. Would I love to find a great man to spend the rest of my life with. ABSOLUTLY , but if it doesnt happan my world will not fall apart.
      Being involved with a married man is such a no win situation to everyone invovled. Please walk away with whatever dignity you have left & never look back. When I catch myself looking in my rearview mirror it brings me down. I have learned I must let it go. Its over, done, finished. He cheated,lied & future faked me long enough. I made myself a promise to never let him close enough to hurt me again.NC is my best friend to accomplish that and much more. Walk away with whatever dignity you have left & spend time with you…Take a break from relationships or you will repeat it all over again. Come here often & educate yourself on NAT’S spot on post. Be good to you !! Life is too short to waste on a BS diet :)

    • Robin says:

      I agree with Ms Determined. Whatever your situation, you need to work on your issues, whatever they are. I don’t know how long it will take, and I took awhile to really believe it myself, but you already found someone: YOURSELF. If there really is no one else, not even family, YOU are still here. YOUR well-being is first priority.

  11. Ssmith says:

    Why I made the choice in the bad relationship I’m recovering from? Too many red flags ignored – the signs were there but “let my guard down” foolishly. I hadn’t been in a relationship in a while and had a lot of personal stressors. I have better insight now realizing I wasn’t treating myself well during this time. Learning not to blame myself and heal from the disappointment is hard. Initially was still trying to make it work but now stronger realizing I should let him go for good! “If you’re not done, why not?

  12. Tracy says:

    Today is my 49th birthday. Overall, it’s been a shitty day. But this article spoke to me 100%. I recently dropped a future faker and yesterday a guy who disappeared on me a few years ago emailed me asking for my phone number. What the…? He claimed to want to ask me a question about Facebook and when I asked him what his question was (via return email) he replied, only, You won’t give me your phone number?

    It’s bugged me all day…why the mystery? Why not ask your question via email? What does he want from me? But more important…WHY DO I CARE?

    I have wonderful long-term friends, a great extended/blended family, wonderful kids. But I don’t understand why I only seem to attract damaged men. A nearly 20 year marriage to an emotional abuser, followed by one EUM after another. The ‘relationships’ get shorter and shorter as I see the red flags sooner and sooner. These men are in their 50’s…why the childish games, the fear of commitment, the constant search for something ‘better’. Sometimes I want to give up, but sometimes I think it would be really nice to know what it felt like to have a partner who truely loved me.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Tracy, I totally get it. You know how women say that you gotta be careful because there are *some* total dicks out there? This gives the impression that there’s only a few rotten apples in the barrel for you to avoid. Your chances of coming across them are slim. Actually I think the truth is closer to what’s out there being an entire barrel of rotten apples, with maybe two or three goodies in there. Maybe I’m just ‘seeing the glass as half full’ or other bullshit clichés that get spouted at realists, but it kind of explains the fact that I have about a trillion single girlfriends AND NONE OF US KNOW ANY DECENT SINGLE GUYS. LIKE, NOT EVEN ONE. I’m mid forties but I work with the most amazing, GORGEOUS, smart, nubile young women and all of them have to resort to dating sites to even breathe the same air as a human with a penis. Something is just not right there.

      I laughed about the late contact thing, seriously a technical question after a two year silence? Reminds me of a guy who hassled me for my number and texted me SIX MONTHS LATER to see if I’d be interested in a date. WTF?? I texted back “Dude! It’s been so long I’ve changed my number. You can now reach me on 1-800-BLOW-ME.”

      • Ms Determined says:

        Ha ha, “Assclown Helpdesk, Tracy speaking.” Ah ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.

      • Anon says:

        Ms Determined- you absolutely nailed it. This topic is what future social scientists will articulate about this era of dating, the legions of men who are substandard husband material and the women who need partners working like maniacs trying to bridge that gap. Meanwhile, men sit back doing nothing. I, too, work with all young twenty- something women who are gorgeous, great educations, in a major city, and they are all on match.com, meeting and flushing jerks (the out of shape, not too- smart or accomplished variety- who despite being marginal men, are confident enough to cheat; read this link provided by Susan Walsh- Wharton MBA and researcher

        http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2013/01/04/relationshipstrategies/online-dating-sites-find-selling-serial-monogamy-more-profitable-than-marriage/ )

        Once you do all the BR work and are in a great place, it is depressing to realize there is a shortage of great guys available for your improved, emotionally available, sane and stable self. Lonely.

        • Robin says:

          @anon: I’m not sure that it was JUST this era of dating that’s caused problems, lol. Judging from all the unhealthy family dynamics many of us BR readers came from, I’d say this is an issue that could have spanned many, many generations…

        • Lau_ra says:

          So so true, sad, but true:( the same in here – I live in the capital of my country, still all of my single girlfriends who are 25 and up are in this “I’ll never find a decent guy” mood after dating a great series of EUMs and ACs.Sometimes I wonder if I should just have multiple lovers with no intentions for relationship, instead of expecting to meet some decent guy someday – I’m 30 soon, which is already considered *the crossing line to the old side* in here, and I simply just don’t ever meet men of suitable age who would be willing to have a proper relationship – single men of proper age usually prefer casual relationships with way younger women, cause those young girls aren’t that conscious as women of my age and not so *demanding* in that sense.

          • Allison says:


            Where do you usually meet people?

            • Lau_ra says:

              Everywhere-at my friends, in bars, online, at volunteering activities, etc. I’m not sitting home, waiting for the prince charming to come:) And yet…nothing…

      • truth=freedom says:

        Ms Determined,
        love your comments to start my day…love the phone number 1800-blow me. made me laugh all morning.

      • Jeanne says:

        OMG I needed that laugh! Can I quote you on this one Ms Determined? Too funny!

      • Silhouette says:

        Brilliant! 1-800-BLOW-ME…This is exactly how i feel too. I struggle on a daily basis to ‘fool’ myself into believing there are decent, normal men out there who are my age and want a relationship. I’m 38. But, in reality, it’s completely different. What is happening to society? What is happening to the good old fashioned relationship that i was lucky enough to have 3 of up until age 35? ( Bloody lucky in hindsight) I’m now coming around to the idea of giving up too because i’ve met one douchebag after the next since 2009. Yeah, i’ve been on many, many internet dates and isn’t that a wonderful way to meet healthy esteemed, baggage free gents. There are so many weirdos out there, it’s mind boggling. It’s been a massive eye opener into the way people conduct relationships now. Assclownery is becoming more accepted and frankly, i can’t be bothered. Some of the stories i hear from this blog as well as from friends makes my blood boil. How can people treat others in this way? It’s filling me with so many mixed emotions…terror, anger, amusement etc. Sometimes i think my morals are too high and i need to adjust them to the current day and age. Is that what i have to do? I don’t know who to listen to or believe any more when i seek advice but i’m tending to go with the women who choose to be alone, living AC free. There’s a lot to be said for being alone and semi-happy rather then being some AC’s lapdog just for the sake of having a man. I’m about to head back to the country of my birth for a year or two. I am filled with dread at what i anticipate to be the ‘happy families’ of most of my old friends. I am also filled with dread at having to explain why i’m not a) married b) in a relationship and c) a mother. I can see the writing on the wall now. I know i’m not but these judgemental people will mostly be thinking ‘failure’. Luckily i have Nat’s course which is really helping to put the focus on me. And, i’ve been NC from the last future faking douchebag since he called it off 3 days prior to Christmas. Why would i want to go there? What a dick…..

        • Silhouette says:

          Oh, and another thing….i love how these AC’s online say ” What’s the catch? There’s got to be something, being single at your age!” Ultimately, the men who say this, in my view, need to be flushed. That is now a red flag for me and has proven itself time and time again.

    • Amy says:

      Oh dear Tracy.. I hear you lady!! I’m in my mid 40s and have had my fill of MUAs and ACs. It’s almost as if I kept dating the same man(child) except they had interchangeable heads. I think this is particularly problematic in our age range because we want to believe that a guy in his late 40s / early 50s has worked through most of his baggage and has some shred of integrity. Not the case. The freshly divorced and/or hung-up on an ex types are the worst.
      I have been thanking my lucky stars for Nat’s blog (and books) because I realized that my problem was my internal Assclown “filtering” program.
      I would focus on common interests, whether the guy was my “type” (and my type has always been a bit dodgy) and whether he seemed interested in me (read “for sex”).
      I used to ignore stuff like under-employed, lives like a college student, blows hot and cold, talks about ex-lovers on the first date…. BIG MISTAKE. I should have flushed those guys right away but instead I chased after them like some giddy rock star groupie.
      I love this blog entry because it says exactly something I’ve been thinking about for a while. So often we let our “hunger pangs” get in the way of what we really need. We take the empty cake (instead of waiting for the buffet to be restocked) and then wonder why we feel nauseous and are still hungry.
      I think we all need to put on our big girl pants and stand firm against the legion of MUAs and ACs and not give them one second of our time. If we all rebel against this crappy childish behavior from them they’re going to have to change their ways, or go hungry too!

      • Nancy says:

        Your post could be me. I have chased the “wrong men” my entire life. My friends always say if I meet someone nice, I instantly run away…I go for the “bad boys.” And I’m a fixer…but we all know how that works out!

      • Tracy says:

        Oh, Amy, will you be my new best friend? I think we have a lot in common (choosing crap men)! And I promise I won’t mess with your mind!

        What’s with the ones hung up on the ex? To listen to the men say it, WE’RE the ones who hold onto baggage, but, damn, that last future faker I was with was hung up on his ex…FOUR YEARS after the divorce, and she’s getting remarried and moved on!

    • getsmartyr says:

      I spent my 50th birthday with my future-faking boyfriend, whom I recently dumped. I remember sitting there, as he was puffed up with pride at having booked a reservation for dinner, thinking that I was not with the right person. I have been looking really, really hard at why I have attracted people like this for a long time. The only answer that makes sense to me is twofold. 1) I grew up in a home with an alcoholic dad, so closeness was dangerous and therefore off the agenda. 2) I am emotionally unavailable for more than a superficial relationship, because I have always “given away the store” and put everyone else’s needs before my own. When I am alone, I am fine, but when I get into unhealthy relationship patterns, I start to lose my focus on myself. Now, I am committed to changing ME. I realize that I am attracting what I put out into the world. Lately, I have done some emotional housecleaning, and the repercussions have resounded through my whole life, not just my romantic relationships. I am dating ME, being super-nice to me, and treating me the way I want others to treat me. I am on a hiatus from dating anyone else. I am determined to spend my 51st birthday with someone I really care about, someone who loves me, takes care of me and always treats me with respect. Myself.

      • Alibi says:

        @getsmartyr. Hugely moved by Nat’s post and your response. Had I had access to this site when the post first went up, I would have written what you did! I said exactly the same thing to my friends the other day! My future faker (who fast forwarded me to move in before dismantling my self confidence quite cruelly) booked a trip away to a remote location for my 50th. Don’t get me wrong, he booked a lovely hotel, but to tell the truth he was more excited than I because it had a luxury bathroom with walk in shower and roll top bath. When we got there, he said he booked it because he wanted to have sex in that bath and shower! On my actual birthday, I phoned my family and my friends (lovely friends, some of whom have been around for forty years of friendship!) and he kept scrunching his face up, then we just drove around for the rest of the day while he didn’t interact with me, other than to tell me he had been asked to be a judge in a music competition. Quite honestly, I had the same thought that the day was not what I had expected. I totally lost myself in this relationship, and I also can’t understand why, when I can make and maintain the most loving and caring friendships, it all goes wrong with men. Like you, although I still feel gutted at the number of red flags I missed (criticism, controlling, selfishness, lying) or ignored, I think if I sit in my apartment alone this year on my birthday, I could not feel more lonely than I did last year, wondering what crime I had committed to be ignored! Aaah the heady days of second guessing …..

    • maya says:

      Happy 49th, Tracy :)

      I realized that for a lot of people age does not equate emotional maturity or any type of maturity at all. My ex was in his 60s, and my students who are in their 20s make more sense than him.

  13. maya says:

    My last ex told me he knew the kind of person I was looking for. When I asked him what kind was that, he said someone who can take care of me, and who can take care of himself.

    In a way, he was right – I’ve been taking care of other people, making things right for them forever. And I so want someone to take care of me. Like you said, Nat, make me a priority.

    It was fine for a little while, except that for him, taking care of me equates controlling all facets of my life. Including who I was friends with. That’s not caring, that’s controlling. He had to go. Or I would lose me.

  14. kim says:


  15. the last three posts have been perfectly timed and spoke right to my heart.
    i have been NC 40 days. it has been empowering at times and at other times i feel shaken to the core. i keep trying to re-evaluate because as todays post said it is all an opportunity to learn about where i am not giving myself enough love, trust, respect etc. i put myself on dating sites. ( i read NML’s blogs first) and tried to prepare myself for filtering through the masses, some rejection and trying to keep myself going.
    the low points come from realizing the ex isn’t suddenly appearing with love and respect me and acceptance of who i am. i remind myself of his insults and crumbs and how much i allowed.
    the low points feel really low. i feel out of control and the brain chatter starts up. a good cry helped.
    i think the hurt is passing. i am still holding on to the illusion. is there a formula? i read the posts and responses looking for when and how i am supposed to heal and when i’ll be ready and open to new love. gotta start living for today instead of tomorrow.

    • Victorious says:

      You may not want to hear this but if you are only 40 days NC and still feel like this I am not convinced you should be dating, online or otherwise. I know sometimes it feels like we have learned all this stuff, from the relationship itself, and from the site/elsewhere, and we are just dying to get out there and *practice* on some poor unsuspecting male. However, I feel it is better to practice all I have learnt on myself first, and on my relationships with friends and family. I am nearly 11 weeks NC and I promise you it does get easier. Trust the process.

      • Lilia says:

        I´ve been NC for many months now and while I find myself longing for someone new and even a bit attracted to some guys out there, I´m now dreaming EVERY NIGHT about the EUM that brought me here. Which is really weird because I don´t think much at all about him in the daytime and I´ve accepted intellectually that he isn´t the one for me. I´m wondering if this is me processing this bad experience? I truly hope so, because I don´t want to think I´m going insane.
        Anyway, it´s clear that I´m not at all ready to look for a romantic relationship. When I just initiated NC I put myself on a dating site too and while it was a welcome distraction, it ultimately didn´t help at all. It even made me break my NC.
        So yes, ride it out. As someone told me, the only way out is through.

    • getsmartyr says:

      I am so glad I am taking a much-needed break after ending my relationship 2 months ago. I always rushed right out to dating after something ended. And I ended up right back where I started. I was dating out of a fear of being alone. I was still grieving the loss of the relationship and yet, I ran lemming-like onto the dating sites. Suddenly, there I was sitting in a bar with someone new, feeling shell-shocked.

      I know now I need to nurture the hell out of myself before I am feeling good enough to consider dating again. I believe one thing that’s gotten me through to this place is that my baseline level of happiness with myself was higher the last time I started to date. I think overall, my life is pretty much how I want it to be. I don’t mind being alone, I like doing nice things for myself. I am spending time with friends, letting the feelings come when they do, but I feel them less and less the more I just cooperate with the grieving part of a breakup. I know that I was sending out really ambivalent vibes when I started dating my last BF. And guess what? That’s exactly what he was looking for.

      You will feel better in time, but why not take some time to really, really take care of you? When you’re putting out a happier vibe, and you’re happier in your own life, with or without a man, you will be better equipped to start off a relationship on the right foot, doncha think?

      • Tracy says:

        I would do the same thing…jump right back into the ‘pool’. But I have to think back to where that got me: First, my ex husband (I was on the rebound from an overseas romance…which, had I been a little patient would have worked out in the end…sigh) then the AC I was with for a year and a half. My feeling vulnerable post-breakup lead me to horrible men who took advantage (mostly unknowingly) of my insecurity. They just seem to have a sixth sense on how to prey on vulnerable people. Ugh.

  16. Dana says:

    Nail. Head. Contact!

  17. Marilyn says:

    Natalie, this is ME! Exactly what I needed to hear. Now, will I ever get over the AC? IDK – doesn’t seem like it. Will we ever be together. Not likely, if not impossible. I just want the hurt to go away. I honestly do not believe I will ever have a relationship again. I hate that feeling, but am trying to deal with it.

  18. Laila says:


  19. Sara says:

    This is AMAZING, so true, and came at the perfect time. Thank you soooo much :-)

  20. Lilly says:

    I’m gaining more and more insight and I am willing to positively learn from my mistakes. I’m not quite there yet, but I am moving in the right direction.

    Natalie mentions feeling terrified of abandonment and I believe the whole situation with the married AC reflects my own deeply rooted fear. My father left when I was very young and I was devastated. My poor mother was blind-sided, one day he just upped and left. I never saw him again and he died a few years later. The situation with the exMM brings up all those painful feelings of rejection, the self-doubt, guilt, fear, pain and, the worst one, that awful nagging need, but it wasn’t only me this time it was also my baby. I know I should walk away from this toxic man, but the thought of being completely away from him is agonising. The best I can do at the moment is keep my physical distance which is easy because he lives on the other side of the country.

    I have asked myself why I want to have any contact with him. The answer is the hope that he might be able to stop all the pain. Intellectually, I know he can’t and I need to stop seeking validation from him. Emotionally, I just cannot bring myself to go completely NC yet, but I have declined his latest offer. I am holding on to reality. I can see that all he is offering are crumbs, maybe because he feels bad about himself and/or maybe he wants me to continue my role as the fall-back girl. I’ve also worked out that all I’m doing is making excuses and allowing myself to slip back into fantasy land, but I’ve been a BR reader for too long now and I can’t stay there for long.

    I’m aching for my baby, but I’m going to try my very best to get through this and not by self-soothing on this completely emotionally unavailable AC . This awful excuse for a man has hurt me badly and has almost broken my spirit, but I’ve also hurt myself badly. I am trying to stop doing that and I’m trying to face all of the pain, the shame, the regret.

    This has set me off again (crying!), but thank you for all the supportive responses on Nat’s “let go” post. I was awash with emotion reading all those responses. I let all the pain, the shame and the regret come up and I’m a step closer to understanding and learning from all this. Natalie, Fearless, Ixnay, Grizelda, Ms Determined, Allison, Runnergirl, Dancing Queen, Sadder but Wiser, loj,Jennifer Tiffany, Revolution, Fearless, Mymble, La Pintura Bella, Truth=Freedom, Rosie and to everyone else who has ever tried to help me, thank you for having my back.

    • Ms Determined says:

      I’ll always have your back Lilly, and I’m sure the others will too. I understand your reticence to go complete NC for the memory of the baby (even though he was a total shit about it), but can’t help reiterating that the longer you let this go on, the further you’ll slip down that assclowny slope. You already have so much to deal with, the last thing you need is to be plunged into further emotional mayhem by this guy. NC. Do it! I love that you have no chance of running into this bozo too.

      And please tell me you turned down the offer with the university thing.

      I have to ask, how are you keeping your state of mind from your husband? He’s still around, yeah? This is a dynamic I just don’t get, because unless this guy is both blind and deaf, he’s gotta have noticed HUGE changes in you.

      • Lilly says:

        Ms Determined,

        It was so difficult emotionally, but I took a big leap of faith (c/o BR and all the amazing advice) and told him I could not accept the invitation because I’m still hurting. At the same time I said that maybe in the future! I now sound like him! A future faking, totally EU woman!

        I haven’t heard back so maybe he has given up. I don’t feel the need to pursue him, but then again I’m not completely discouraging him when he does make contact. At the moment it’s enough to know that he is there still and yes, I know I sound like a complete and utter fool. Of course he isn’t there. I will admit it, but it’s the most painless way I can think of to cut off at the moment. Slowly, but surely. Am I kidding myself?

        Ms D, there is no husband thank god, just me. As for the changes, they are huge. I’m a shadow of my former self physically and mentally, my self-esteem is eroded, but I will be a better person. I want to be a better person.

        And Ms D, thank you for your support. I just love your posts. I know you have experienced your own pain, but I so admire your intelligence, wit and strength.

        • Mymble says:

          I played hide and seek with ex MM for long enough, because for some reason I imagined I couldn’t do without him. But the key word is “imagined” as the person i identified as him in my mind actually had nothing much to do with the real person. How could I have thought I couldn’t do without him – he was never there to speak of. If you go on like this his attempts to get you will diminish, and then you will feel “rejected” because he isn’t pursuing as hard; so in a way hanging on makes it worse. I hope you get really really angry, soon. Make a list of all the nasty things he did and said, allow yourself to feel the anger. Then let it go and do something nice for you. Decide to “put the problem away” for a while.
          And don’t let yourself starve away, you MUST eat properly,
          regular balanced meals, whether or not you feel like it, put yourself to bed at a sensible time and have a plan that forces you to get up in the morning. I had dreadful trouble getting up, unusually for me because I’m a morning person, but the sadness and anxiety were worst then, and incapacitated me sometimes.
          You will get through – and you will get better quicker if you
          take care of you. Apparently grief impacts the same part of the brain as a physical injury, so treat yourself as a convalescent. One who should not be re-injuring herself over and over again.

        • courtney says:

          Lilly, reread what you wrote…”I am a shadow of my former self…but I WILL be a better person. I want to be a better person.” THAT is key. The desire alone can drive you. You want to be better and to love yourself better. That desire alone shows that you are strong. You may feel like a shadow now but you ARE going to get through this and you are going to rise above all of it. ALL of it. It will take time, it will take effort, and it may take more attempts until cold turkey NC is established, but you WILL do it.

          If you don’t do this already, I recommend writing affirmations in a journal and repeating these to yourself on a daily basis. Things like, “I will get through today. I will be strong” and “I KNOW I can do this.” They really help and they will reprogram the way you think eventually. You have to basically hammer it into your own brain how much you love yourself and are willing to have a better life. So you have to repeat…”I want to be a better person. And I WILL be.” HUGS!!!

    • Sunyata says:

      Lilly, can you get massages and/or Watsu?
      I’ve found these to be SO helpful in releasing the painful feelings.

      The agony is of being physiologically attached to a harmful person. It’s confusing, we want to go to the source of our pain for comfort! For me, it has been just like when I was a kid and I was dependant for survival on the people who abused me! Deeply feeling the feelings has definitely informed my intelligence in a way that ‘reason’ hasn’t, and now it’s easier to see through the eyes of an adult.

      I feel so much compassion for you and wish I could do something to soothe your pain. Yet I know you will find your way through and become more and stronger and more resilient than before.

      I just keep telling myself the truth as much as possible,and other things are falling into place.

      For example, I had a date schedule for tomorrow night – gave the guy my phone number and asked him to confirm and firm up. It’s Thursday and I haven’t heard from him, I noticed yesterday evening I was already feeling anxious so I made the call for ME and decided I will date myself Friday night, even though there are little thoughts fluttering around about being mean and unreasonable. I need more security, and I’m not about to bust my boundary and wait for a guy who is already making me feel insecure. I know my need for security isn’t something wrong with me, woo-hoo! It’s a need that deserves to be met and I don’t have to settle for anything less, and if that makes me a beeyotch, then fine. I can’t lie and pretend like I don’t need the security I need. I can’t lie and pretend like the anxiety is because there is something wrong wtih me, I WAS feeling insecure for a reason and I can trust meeeeeee when I tell the truth!!!

      It’s not the funnest process but it gets better and you WILL have real REAL love and peace and harmony in your life and eventually all of this will be a nightmare that fades into the past like dissolving smoke.

      Hugs and hugs and hugs to you <3<3<3

      • Victorious says:

        Keep us posted Sunyata. We need to know if he does call and if so, what BS reasons he tries to pull on you. Runnergirls dating stories are the stuff of BR legend.

        • Sunyata says:

          Hahaha, yes, he did call late in the morning. I told him I had made other plans since I had expected to hear from him (expectations based on saying, “Call me so we can firm up details on time and address and such”).

          He said, “Oh. I didn’t know I needed to call you.
          I thought about calling you earlier this week.
          I was wondering if I should call you.
          Well, maybe some other time, then?”

          I said I would like that, as I don’t think the guy is a jerk, maybe a little rusty on the dating scene.

          I felt sick and almost like I might die and like Something Very Bad Wrong was going to happen and I just breathed through it and let it pass :)

          So, if he wants to go out, he knows now to call. He has my number, I’ve said I’d like to see him again. I’ll enjoy my Friday evening one way or another.
          That’s all I need to do.

          • Allison says:


            You did the right thing! Enjoy your Friday!

          • runnergirl says:

            Good for you Sunyata and thanks Victorious for the shout out. I didn’t know my dating stories would resonate. Guys are grown adults and know how to dial a number. Has an AC never failed to dial a shag? They know how to call. I never, ever, ever wait for a call anymore and I quickly flush a text.
            Even my worst dates, even the guy who grabbed the fries off the plate from the former patrons, and the guy who stood me up and begged forgiveness so I had to block him after one date gave me insight into understanding what I need in a relationship. I think it took being an OW and discovering BR to make me face my fear of abandonment. These guys are just guys. They can’t abandon me. Only I can. Natalie’s description of abandonment issues has been the best for me.
            It’s not like I have this great fun filled life. I am starting realize I do have a life. It’s pretty boring…my daughter, teaching, the gym, my garden (now dead), my house (needs fixing) but a guy would have to compliment my life, not fix it. That’s the difference since I’ve been on BR and that’s the difference when I date. What would this guy contribute to my life? So, so far, there’s been no contributors. If I make me a priority, they have to as well. Oh and busy guys who aren’t leading a country, get worse than an automatic flush. Every single date has been a window to my soul. I can’t now imagine being treated in a less than manner. It’s taken a god awful pit of despair to work it through though. The good news: my former husbands, ex bf’s, and ex MM wouldn’t stand a chance today. Most importantly, my father would get the royal boot out the door.
            Sunyata, no excuses. For me, it’s not about whether he’ll call rather it’s about the fact that I will have plans particularly if those plans are with me and a cup of cocoa by the fire.

            • FX says:

              I just want to reiterate something about texts I’ve mentioned before and I think Grace has said something similar also… Texting within a r/s is different than before a first date. My new bf texts to let me know what time he will be able to pick me up on the day of our date since his hours can vary a bit. We rarely talk on the phone at all because we see each other frequently. We spend a few nights a week together going out to fabulous dinners alone or with his or my friends and he just bought tickets for us to vacation in a few weeks. In other words, he communicates through his actions that spending time with me is his priority. He also initiated the conversation to label our r/s. To the point of this post, he’s not someone I would necessarily have been attracted to before the education I received from BR and the relationshit that led me here. I am enjoying getting to know him/us together better in an exclusive r/s with fun and no drama and actions matching words so the fact that he texts rather than calls to firm up our dates doesn’t bother me at all.

          • Victorious says:

            Perfect example to the rest of us Sunyata.

    • Allison says:


      We so have your back! Please have as much faith in you that we do :)

      Keep strong!

      • MSA says:


        Just to second everyone here. Stay strong, you have it, girl. And you have us at your back as well ((((hugs))))

    • Grizelda says:

      Lilly, yes you ARE moving in the right direction!

      Emotions blind us to the bad behaviour, even the unconscionable behaviour, of the sorts of men we’re talking about. We give up whole chunks of ourselves and our lives for nothing in return. For LESS than nothing. These emotions make us embarrassingly naive in a way that’s painful for others to witness. Because they don’t make the bad behaviour okay somehow. They just makes us smile stupidly through the abuse and ask nicely for more. How absurd is that?

      Lilly he knows full well what he’s done to you. And yet he keeps popping up to ask for MORE? He wants this to keep happening to you? He wants you in perpetual pain for, what, his personal entertainment? Who IS this man, Vlad the Impaler?

      He does not have your best interests, your health, or your happiness in mind. They are not on his to-do list and never were. In fact he seems to relish knowing that you lost all of the above, and more, due to his behaviour. Keeping your distance is an absolute must.

      • FX says:

        I absolutely agree with Grizelda, Lilly. Print this out and carry it with you:

        “He does not have your best interests, your health, or your happiness in mind. They are not on his to-do list and never were. In fact he seems to relish knowing that you lost all of the above, and more, due to his behaviour. Keeping your distance is an absolute must.”

        My ex AC still tries to hit the reset button/chances his arm occasionally with invitations to take me out. As if! I haven’t replied or spoken to him in many months and it is not flattering. I am insulted because it implies I think he so damned special that I will turn off my brain and put myself back in harms way at his convenience. We all need to call “Bullshit!” on this arrogant, cruel AC behavior. Take your lovely sails out of his ill wind now! I haven’t blocked ex AC everywhere because I am well and truly done but you may need to if contact from him can still make you spin and suck you back into his “special” hell.

        • FX says:

          I just want to add that it’s not like I or anyone else here who is NC just snapped our fingers and made NC a breeze. It is hard to process the cognitive dissonance, give up seeking validation from the pain source and acknowledge the end of all of your fantasies with someone you’ve shared your time and heart with over an extended period of time. I spent several years with my ex AC and I’m still hurt, angry, etc. I have made a conscious decision, though, to look forward not backward in how I spend my time and with whom I share myself.

          No new contact = No new pain. By remaining NC, we can process the past and be better for it in the future as NML says in this post.

    • Jennifer Tiffany says:


      My heart bleeds for you. My father left my mother and I when I was a baby too. And my mom died when I was a child. Your father leaving and dying is not your fault, nor are the actions of this man you are with that treats you less than.

      You are making progress. EVERYTHING you do to love you, no matter how small counts. Every word you type on this site, every feeling you give yourself permission to feel, and every kind word you tell yourself counts and matters. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and work and you can do it. It took me a couple of months to break up with my alcoholic ex after discovering Baggage Reclaim. And I was a mess. Love yourself through it. Love yourself through the pain. And oh that “nagging need.” It’s with me near every second of every day, but it’s getting better. There is hope over all the pain. Get your spirit back. It’s yours. You deserve it.

    • dancingqueen says:


      I promise you, I PROMISE you that if you block him, if you if you tell him in no uncertain terms to NEVER call or email you again, you will feel better within weeks. Much better than you feel now, a year later, when you still have contact.

      You are NOT addicted to this man; you are well aware that it is physically impossible to be addicted to a person. You are knowingly immersing yourself in rejection, marinating in it, in fact, because you keep telling yourself that he is the solution, not the cause, of your pain.

      Please please listen to your rational side and stop lying to yourself that your body and heart needs this freak; he is a freak, he is a sociopath with no heart, and you are also hurting his wife.

      Please stop waiting for the “sign” to give yourself the final push to reject him…he will reject you more at some point, soon, and that will hurt worse.

      You have two choices: reject him, go nc FOREVER and save yourself. Or don’t reject him, continue to let him jerk you around, and he will eventually tire of playing with someone who he has “conquered” with his namby-pamby mindgames and he will leave and go NC himself. So there are your choices…you are basically recreating your childhood and giving another “dad” the option to jerk you around and leave you. You are recreating history.

      Why not re-write, and reject, history?

      That is the only way to “right the wrongs of the past”.


  21. Selkie says:

    “Self-neglect magnifies the contribution and ‘good points’ of those we deem to have power.”


    Self neglect= relationshit beer goggles.

    • Robin says:

      I so agree! That’s why I saw some of my controlling ex-friends as being strong, opinionated people, when it turns out all they really wanted to do was give me advice that they thought I should listen to, talk about themselves, or complain without doing anything about their problems.

      • Spinster says:

        In agreement with Selkie and Robin. Admiring the wrong people or things due to not feeling good enough. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Let’s unweave it.

  22. ixnay says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you, Natalie.

  23. c says:

    Like “The Rules for Being Human” so elegantly state, the lessons get harder until the pain makes us finally learn. I’m in the throes of abandonment hell and it took the guy with the first guy I ever felt chemistry with to teach me. I rode the almost instant anxiety and insecurity for 24/7, for a year and a half, laying out my boundaries like a red carpet to wipe dirt off his shoes – just make sure to drop a crumb or 2 please… It took this ‘chemistry’ to finally get me to allow someone into my heart – what we put up indeed reflects how we think of ourselves. After leaving an abusive relationship, single for 5 years adn thinking I had my stuff together, in strolls Steve and and the very thing I’ve feared all my life has happened. Abandonment!

    Not sure what’s more painful, the emotional abuse I settled for or that I created the very situation. If only the human mind could learn to communicate with us…. Ha, just like if only men could communicate….neither are gonna happen. So here I am in therapy 4 months later and still devastated, and now I finally see.

    My abandonment was since birth and the emotional unavailability of my ex was the perfect combination of both parents. Hence “chemistry.” Dealing with pre-verbal terror and fundamental sense of *bad* are my reality.

    Your post today is so meaningful for me. I could have read it 12 months ago and not batted an eye. The irony. Unlike many fellow abandonment-fearers who have memories or can at least name the core emotion, I feel beyond stuck. The world is a mirror. I hope you go into how you made your mirror a beautiful and loveable place to be.

    • Ms Determined says:

      c let’s not give the concept abandonment too much power (and I too was abandoned, by my father, in my twenties, which is a whole other story). Obviously when you are an infant, being abandoned or not being abandoned is literally the difference between life and death. I would say that we are programmed to think when it happens at that age “Fuck, I am totally done for.” A biological response that happens whether we want it to or not. It’s visceral. And horrible. BUT (and there’s that word but this is a good but) you have lived through it. You are here, fighting the good fight. No one died. The difference is now WE ARE ADULTS. Sure, it may dredge up some unpleasant echoes of feelings we suffered as a helpless child but we simply aren’t going to expire if it all goes pear shaped with some asshole. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite, life can only get better. The abandonment is NOT him walking out on you/you being pushed so hard you have to kick his shitty ass to the curb, IT’S OUR ABANDONMENT OF THE BULLSHIT!

      If we could all have a reassuring word with the children inside of us that being abandoned isn’t going to kill anyone, and in fact there’s going to be more ‘we’ time for pizza and icecream now that the bad man has gone, we’d all be feeling a lot better about our abandonment issues.

      • Victorious says:

        Wise words. Pizza and ice cream all round.

      • natashya says:

        ms. determined… just wanted to say, i really love your posts. there’s great strength in them. awesome.

      • getsmartyr says:


        Two nights after my breakup, I had a very angry conversation with God, asking, “OK, so why am I here again? Why do you let this keep happening to me?” But then my rational mind said, “I let this keep happening to me because I am choosing this.”

        You know what? Everyone suffers from abandonment, and some of us have suffered to a great extent. However, if I chose to let that rule me I would never come out from under the bed.Sometimes I have to have a stern talk — or a reassuring one, depending on my mood — with that scred little kid that is in me, and in all of us, the one who is afraid she won’t survive without someone else to lean on. Guess what? The fact is, I have survived some seriously shitty things in life and I am just fine. I think if I did more to prove to myself that every day, most of the time, I am just completely fine on my own, I wouldn’t have put up with all the ridiculous crap I have tolerated in the past. And, since I am advocating for myself, I think I would like pizza and beer, thank you very much.

      • dancingqueen says:

        “being abandoned isn’t going to kill anyone, and in fact there’s going to be more ‘we’ time for pizza and icecream now that the bad man has gone, we’d all be feeling a lot better about our abandonment issues”

        That is beautiful, adorable, wise, sassy, cutie-pie-ness Miss D! I so salut you for that one:)

        Pizza and ice cream for us all now that the bad man is gone lol!

  24. oc says:

    The trick is catching yourself when you fall back into those old negative patterns. I’ve been reading this site for a year, in therapy for 2 months, and I am just now starting to come out of the blackest pit of low self-worth I’ve ever been in. Its not so much the relationshit itself that did me wrong but rather where I took myself ont he journey for love, what it represented in the quest to start my own family, and the deep, long-untouched places of my psyche that were unearthed and brought forth to the fire. I am feeling more and more thankful everyday for the experience.

  25. MissBliss says:

    Wow. You knocked it out of the park with this one, Nat. Love it.

  26. Hopeful says:

    I love this post and Natalie the way you take all of these horrible negative experiences and personality traits and turn them into something positive with a different perspective.

    I love the part: “I used to be terrified of abandonment, which in my mind was being left, not taken care of, not wanted and basically anything that felt like aspects of my childhood. I’ve walked away from people who I’ve known that it was the right thing to do because the whole partnering was toxic and then felt agonised about being away from the very person I’d left! The self-doubt, the guilt, the fear, the pain, the need. Two two’s, I was on the phone, pushing to get back together, or lying in bed feeling tormented by lacerations of ‘abandonment’. Whether I was bored, lonely, tired, stressed, worried, insecure, needed to make a decision and the list goes on, my ‘solution’ to all of these things was variations of validation seeking. ‘Soothing’ on men had to stop.

    All of my previous relationships showed me time and again that I needed to develop an identity and personal security and address the source of my original abandonment”.

    That’s me 100%, over and over again! I wish I could have my back, I was abandoned time and time again in my childhood and could do nothing about it. Now at 58 yrs of age I still feel the same way.

    I have more problems than answers in my life, don’t know where to start, feel so unloved and unwanted, and desperately want to just be loved. My adoptive mother who was dysfunctional in many ways was the one and only person who fought for me and never gave up. She is gone and I so wish she were here in my darkest of days. Where does it all end?

    Thank you Natalie and BR readers!

  27. Darlene says:

    Great post! The fear of abandonment is huge and I think overshadows most of my life – I love my dog more than anything in the world and know that the worst thing she will ever do to me is die. I trust and cherish her, just as she trusts and cherishes me. I have had a number of relationships, some good, some bad, some ugly and no matter usually being the one to end them, they have all carved a piece of my heart out. It is hard to try again, even though deep down inside – I want to. My last disappointment was awful – someone I thought I knew and I loved who I thought I knew, but after an almost 10 year friendship, it turned out I didn’t know his true character which ended up hurting me very deeply because it made me realize that it is hard to rely on my judgment – he was so great, but in reality, he put my health at risk and trashed my heart, even when I tried to be so sensible in the beginning and wanted to take it slow. So – — yes, the above post by Natalie is ever so true and I hope that people learn these lessons before it is too late to learn them…so don’t wait to send your young friends her to learn from her.

  28. natashya says:

    what a timely post. i too have a core group of very good friends. most of them i’ve known since high school (and am 41 now) but my romantic relationships are disastrous.

    the most important thing i need from a partner is to be someone’s priority.

    in my marriage, alcohol and negativity was my ex’s priority. in the relationship after, i was competing with an iphone — and i lost. in the r’shit with the EUM, the ex wife was the priority.

    i am tired of always having to compete with something or someone else for love and affection.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Natashya, the idea is to cut out the middle man (or as you have also had the pleasure – meeeee tooooo – the middle iPhone) and get the love and affection you seek from YOU! Perhaps you yearn to be someone’s priority because you possibly aren’t yours yet. While you are trying to find others who you think will do for you what you aren’t, you’re going to stay stuck and repeat old patterns. Been there, got the mug to prove it. Actually, I WAS the mug.

      Let me assure you, I have the Fukushima of relationship histories. BUT I realised lately I was only paying lip service to Natalie’s ‘love, care, trust and respect’ directive on the most basic level. It’s not just something to look for in a prospective assclown partner, you have to actively be doing this FOR YOURSELF. I was severely lacking in the care and respect departments in that I was stretching my body beyond it’s limits, eating badly (I am a very time poor person, single mum with punishing, stressful, full time job) and gasp! I *WAS* A SMOKER. FFS! So, I am now two weeks smoke free and eating well, and going to bed earlier (I feel like such a nanna). My next thing is to introduce some exercise somehow. To do anything else would be to not love, care and respect for myself (hey, I’m still working on trust, but one at a time people).

      If I am not taking care of me, who will? Be assured, it won’t be some dumbass I met at speed dating. Have you got the basics covered? We should all start at the beginning!

      • Victorious says:

        This is absolutely correct. I have been reading Nats posts for several months and although I have read this message in various formats over and over again it has taken me this long to really get it. How you maintain the patience to keep preaching to us Nat when you just know we are listening with one ear and telling ourselves “Yeah, but my ex and I CAN be friends” with the other is a minor miracle to me.
        I had NEVER put myself first. Even when I lived alone, I just didn’t know it was Ok to do this. The realisation that this is the norm, to treat everyone with care love trust and respect, but start with your damn self is a revelation to me. Honest!
        Ms D, re the exercise, I got myself a stationary exercise bike cos then you can just set it up right in front of the TV ( no man to tell me I can’t) and cycle whilst you watch the soaps/whatever. It works out a lot cheaper than gym membership (like I would go!) and you can do it even when it is cold and raining outside.
        Natashya, I just know there is something/someone exceptionally good out there for you.

    • yoghurt says:

      Really good point, natashya.

      In my last long-term relationship, I was competing with beer and football – and it was always made pretty clear to me (like, explicitly. He actually SAID this!) that I was coming in at third.

      I’m not sure that it’s an open-and-shut case of prioritising, though. For example, my son will always be my most pressing and important concern, but I don’t see that that would prevent me from treating a partner with enough care and respect to make them happy.

      Imo, when someone treats something/one as more important than you it’s not because they’re that bothered about the other thing either, it’s that they aren’t prepared to make the effort in their relationship and they’re looking for an excuse. There are plenty of people in the world who manage to have really good, loving and fulfilling relationships AND be passionate about other things without one area of their life detracting from another.

      • natashya says:

        ms. determined…. you are absolutely right about everything. i am currently enrolled in BR school and taking the self esteem course. it’s confronting already, and that’s a good thing.

        however, when i’m in a relationship, i still do want to be a priority in the sense that i don’t want to compete with addictions, apple fanboy-ery, or supposed goddess exes. it that’s too much to ask, i’d really prefer to be single!

        yoghurt… how could anyone of us ever win from beer and footie!! :)

        i am not talking about kids. yes, kids should absolutely be a priority. but going out for a nice meal at a wonderful restaurant and my ‘date’ can’t stop twittering and facebooking is really pushing it! and this happened time after time, even though he knew how much i hated it. FLUSH!

      • Victorious says:

        It’s an open and shut case of assholery Yoghurt!

        • Ms Determined says:

          Nataysha, that is nothing but your garden-variety fucking RUDENESS. Of course, Twitter and Facebook are every narcissist’s wet dream; an audience on tap at any time to bore with whatever lame, self-centred bullshit they’ve convinced themselves the world needs to know about. No wonder they can’t stop touching their iPhones (what was his other hand doing under the table?)

          I’m going to invent a blow up doll with an iPhone for a face so they can indulge their two favourite passions at once. Then they can leave us real women alone.

  29. Gina says:

    Thanks for posting this Nat. I have been in a funk lately trying to sort myself out. You see, Iam notorious for beating myself up and blaming myself for past mistakes. Hindsight is 20/20, which means that as I look back with clarity, I beat myself up even more for not seeing the obvious. Reading your post is helping me to focus on using my mistakes to make me better so that I can attract somrone who reflect my values….I am most definitely a work in progress!

  30. Little Star says:

    t’s so true that all down to self- esteem… IF they do not give a sh@t about me, why should I give a shi@t about them?

  31. Gina says:

    I, too, have a fear of abandonment, and I am tired of being in relationships where everyone and everything else is the priority, and I am simply an after thought or the third wheel. My mistake is that I do not project that inner confidence (the ‘this is who I am, take it or leave it’ mentality) that women who seem to attract men who are crazy about them and make them a priority tend to have. With that said, my exes often ended up being taken advantage of by women who behaved in this manner. In other words, it appeared that they were attracted to women who really did not care as much as they thought. So the exes–who were chasing a feeling–would work twice as hard to gain their approval and win their love and allow themselves to be used and abused in the process. I get so frustrated at times because I do not feel that I will ever meet anybody who will love and accept me for me. This isn’t to say that this person isn’t out there because I believe they are….I just do not believe that our paths will ever cross.

  32. marie83 says:

    I used to think fear of abandonment only referred to women who had parents who walked out on them or were physically absent for periods of time, I never thought I fell into this category. However after reading around, on this blog and other literature out there it dawned on me – my Father, although being physically present was definitely emotionally absent – he didn’t really know a lot about me as a child or a young woman – when I was at achool, I was bullied terribly and I think it was there that my self esteem plattered – I didn’t feel attractive enough to ever be loved but I got little support from both my parents, saying I should just ignore it, stay out of the bullies way and get on with it – When I went to uni he had no idea what I was studying and seriously had a problem with the word ‘sorry’. These days I have a much better relationship with him but I definitely think it has drawn me to men who are emotionally unavailable – my ex did not value me at all, I was an option to him not a priority and although the first year was wonderful and I was happier than I have ever been, the last 2 were on and off – hm breaking the relationship and returning – me twisting and turning myself into who he wanted me to be, always failing

  33. Debbie says:

    Just a BRILLIANT post! I have learned this the hard and painful way the last 5 years – escalated in the last 6 months by a terrible abandonment by a man who basically left me when I was at work one day and never contacted me again. Incredibly painful but self imposed totally me focused time has followed and now I feel that I really love and like me and I can’t imagine being attracted to my ex – or others like him – again. People like him take more away from me than they give -the investment doesn’t make sense. Thanks NML xx

  34. Tinkerbell says:

    @ Selkie,

    You said: “Self-neglect magnifies the contribution and good points of those we deem to have power”. Spot on! This to me represents the essence of this post and why it resonates with me more than any other. I have carried low-self esteem for an incredible number of years. I spent 23 years in a marriage that “worked” at the time, but when he passed away I was suddenly thrown into turmoil and realized I did not have a clue about managing my own life. He had taken care of everything leaving me unequipped to run my own life. A few years of isolation followed, meaning no love life. Then the worst thing that could ever have happened to me walked into my life, a MM. I fell hard because, of course, he love-bombed me. After a couple of months, while we were having a disagreement over the phone, he said to me,”You don’t love yourself enough”. It was powerful in that I began inward reflection and realized how true that statement was. I did not love myself because if I had, I could never have involved myself with him and he was telling me that. I thought he was the greatest thing on two feet. I focused on external attributes, i.e, his own successful business, outgoing personality and sense of humor, and an expert lover. I never gave much importance to how he treated me, which was abominable. But, I put up with it, because I was desperately seeking validation. I felt that if I was “enough” he would leave his wife and want me. That’s hilarious to me now. After going NC and never going back, I am soooo much better for having gone through hell with that man. I FINALLY WOKE UP. But, it was a gradual process, as some of you on BR can attest to. I’ve learned so much and have been continuing to learn more about myself. I now know my strenghths as well as my weaknesses and what I will not put up with from ANY MAN because I value myself more. While I have been on this journey to self-improvement/self-love, I’ve been currently involved with a man who offers exactly what I need at this point in my life. We share the important stuff such as goals, aspirations, family values. There is mutual love, care, honesty, and respect. Since we’re getting a bit long in the tooth, and we’ve both had one than one marriage, we are looking for an enduring, stable and secure relationship and not carried away by external attractiveness. Been there done that. I feel at peace, at long last, and he is more amazed every day at how wonderful things are between us. We are really and truly compatible. We are both committed to working out future discepancies. I am very happy with him. But more important than anything else is that I am happy with myself.

    • Selkie says:

      Hi Tinkerbell,

      I was quoting Natalie and as usual, she is spot on. That statement stood out to me too because it’s been the simple reason for almost every one of my bad ‘complicated’ relationships. I wasn’t looking out for myself, but accepting any attention that was thrown at me…too eagerly. It’s like being so hungry you’d eat garbage. Recovering from this kind of self neglect is a process with ups and downs, but like you say, it can be done. Better things can happen in our life. I’m glad you are in a good place now and are enjoying your life. It’s inspiring.

  35. Tinkerbell says:

    Right on Yogurt. As an example, look at President Obama. Who could have more on his plate than him? And yet he finds time for his family and obviously adores Michelle. His presidential duties, obligations do not detract from his family life and vice-versa. Because he CARES and he is COMMITTED to what is important in his life and the lives of us all. AC/Eum’s have no concept at all of what it is to be that way. Utterly selfish.

  36. Jennifer Tiffany says:

    I idolized the ex. I thought he was such a misunderstood renegade and a sexy rebel, bad boy type, and how superior of a woman I was for having ‘tamed’ him. He was a giant six foot mama’s boy infantile loser who delivered Chinese food, and was an extemely shady character the entire time we were ‘together.’ I craved his seductions, (lots of grand makeouts in public, where it’d surely get back to his ex). I became very addicted to this person. Then I broke free. I initiated no contact near nine months ago. If he ever even thinks of me, I bet his jaw drops at my total absence. By the way he acted it became clear no woman had ever challenged him. And to be broken up with by naive/clueless me! He never saw it coming. I guess I sort of didn’t either. I never would have imagined in a million years I’d have had the strength to leave and stay gone. The ex before him was nothing short of a vile monster and I would beg him not to leave me. I was tormented by abandonment issues. This time I left and it was by far the most painful thing I have ever done but I did it.

  37. Ms. Inspired says:

    I really needed to read this blog,becasue I have been battling in my toxic relationship for almost two years. I have known for sometime that my boyfriend is not the man for me. What I couldn’t figure out was why I couldn’t just say no. I came from a great home. Parents have been married more than 30 years, loving extended family…only seen great examples of true loving relationships throughout my entire life. So it becomes hard for me to understand sometime, how I ended up where I am.
    I now realize first off, is that I didn’t place high values on myself. I have found myself with the tendency to settle..feeling like I just couldn’t do better for myself. Then I came to learn that I tend to gravitate toward men who have some type of issue,(Florence Nightingale Syndrome) thinking that my value was based on how I could bring normality to their lives and help them with whatever issue they had. All this in hope that my efforts to assist them would be returned to me through love and respect. This tendency of mine has gotten worse from one relationship to the next. Hence now I am involved with a very grown man who is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, whose father abandoned him, and has eight children with five different women. Now I have given him a ninth child and has added to all this mess, that I wish I had been smart enough to walk away from before.
    What I was able to pull from this article is that I need to step back and take on some self evaluation and figure out what things I need to learn about me, as well as focus on what will make me ultimately happy.
    What I can testify to ultimately is that I have been cheated on multiple times, lied to more times than I can count, dealt with more babymama drama than anyone should in a lifetime,have been yelled at,cursed at, disrespected,and called out of my name….I really need to get a reality check and deal with my fears of what life will be after the breakup.

    Thank you for helping readers like me come to some realization on how to make life happier and healthier.

    • Mymble says:

      The comment about your bf being an “Adult child of an alcoholic” made me recoil a little. As a matter of fact my father was an alkie so I suppose I am one too, something I might want to explore privately with my self when thinking about my choices. However I would present this as a reason justification or excuse, most especially people I might have harmed. The thing you have to focus on is ADULT and forget the rest. His psyche is for him to rxplore and address not for you to analyse and ponder as a distraction and an excuse for his shitty behaviour,
      He is making deliberate conscious choices to shag around bareback because he likes it and doesn’t feel responsible for the women and children he hurts.
      Please get testing for the full range of STDs, tell the Dr why, and what your bf gets up to, and stop having sex with him immediately. Your child needs you to look after your health as she only has one parent. There

      • Mymble says:

        Sorry typo I would NOT present it as an excuse! Also I was going to say it’s for him to address his issues, and it doesn’t sound like he’s got any intention of doing anything of the kind.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Ms Inspired I have four words that will make your life instantly happier and healthier. GET RID OF HIM. Actually 5 words once I add the word IMMEDIATELY. Honey, you need to get used to the idea of doing it on your own because I guarantee this guy is going to be less than no fucking use whatsoever.

      Eight children? Five different women? EXCUSE ME, MY HEAD JUST EXPLODED. Wow, this sensitive, nurturing guy REALLY cares about everyone involved, especially the children. No wait, that was complete and total fucking sarcasm. I should have said, this guy really cares about relieving himself of boners by creating small people.

      This utterly fucking ridiculous asshole had to be the most charming man on the planet to convince you that it was all going to be different for baby number nine. Please tell me he is one of those hypnotists who travel the world and put on those expensive stage shows for his day job, because that is the only way you could have agreed to be a party to this situation. I mean, did you pause and consider how well it turned out for baby mamas one through 4??? I just don’t even…But hey, it’s done now. Whatever ridiculousness led to you being in this situation, it’s time to take a teaspoon of concrete in your tea and harden the fuck up. You have a baby now.

      Let the others squabble over his crumbs and get yourself into a situation that works for YOU and your CHILD and DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER HIS NEEDS. Enlist the help of whoever is available (family? Friends? Government assistance?) to get you and the baby as faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar away from this utter fucking madness as possible.

      FWIW I have been in this exact same position (well, without the extra children and baby mamas, but our guys sound like they were separated at birth). DO NOT be harbouring any magical thinking about how he will come around eventually because he is the father of your child. That would have already worked for baby mamas 1,2,3 and 4. You do know this overly fertile fuckwit is never going to change, right? You know baby mama number 6 is going to turn up soon, right? Right?

      Ms Inspired, I would be one million times more afraid of what could happen were you to stay in this relationship (is that what we’re calling it?) than what fear I would feel after the breakup. OK so admittedly at first it’s kind of confronting as you accept that it’s just going to be you and the baby, but then! The sweet, sweet realisation you never have to deal with any of his shit/bananasbabymamas EVER AGAIN!

      Let your child be the one out of 9 (so far) who grows up normal and healthy thanks to having at least one parent it can rely on. That defenceless, innocent little person is depending on YOU. Pack up your normal today, and BACK AWAY FROM THE CRAZY.

      • Allison says:


        This situation is utterly ridiculous! What do you get from this mess? What does your family think of this loser? I bet, he doesn’t work, either!

        The dude is a bum! Do you and the baby a favor: REMOVE HIM FROM YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!! Very unhealthy for your child!

    • Fifi says:

      Interesting M.I. maybe it’s more a societal thing that teaches women that their value is what they do, not who they are…or in fact, that women will always be subject to some kind of evaluation or worth…it’s like we have to earn the right to be here…hmm

  38. Kim says:

    “Whether I was bored, lonely, tired, stressed, worried, insecure, needed to make a decision and the list goes on, my ‘solution’ to all of these things was variations of validation seeking. ‘Soothing’ on men had to stop.”

    Wow, this is me to a T! Actually, quite a lot about this post resonated with me, but nothing more than this paragraph. Most of what I am feeling goes back to my first family and seeking validation from those I love (and not getting it), but really, and it’s been said so many times on this thread and others, the only person I need to seek validation from is myself. Your primary relationship is with yourself, and if you aren’t being good to yourself, neither will anyone else. Tinkerbell, your MM intuited that when he said “You don’t love yourself enough,” while he did the fandango all over your heart. I have had to learn these lessons the hard way, and I am sure that I still have lessons I haven’t entirely mastered to go through, but for now, I am content and at peace with myself, and intent on improving my primary relationship, and treating “me” like the goddess within.

    Some of your ladies on this thread seem to have given up finding the right partner for you. Don’t. Be clear about where your boundaries are, have an absolutely crystal clear image of whom you wish to attract and what your goals are in your relationship with that person, pray and meditate on your dream partner, and then let it go to the cosmos. And then, smile, and find the beauty in everyone you meet. I can almost guarantee that your partner will appear, as if by magic. Just be open to the signs, and trust how he makes you feel. Anything less than delight is not enough.

    • getsmartyr says:

      I love what you wrote about taking care of oneself, Kim. I have noticed that my self-care really starts to fall apart when I get too caught up in a relationship. I could feel my self-esteem starting to take a hit in my last relationship, and that was a huge cue to fade out for me.

      Now that I am aware of this, I will guard my self-care and my self-esteem like a mama lion. And I do feel exactly the way you do about the crystal clear image, only I am focusing on putting out into the universe what I am hoping to draw from it. Among the many things I ask for guidance about when I pray is this relationship partner I’m seeking, but I also ask to be the best version of myself and to be show the way to do those things. I am trying to be patient and not to try to force the process but letting it go, as you suggest. I know I will be more peaceful in myself and get better results this way!

      I am so much more compassionate toward myself now, and I realize that if I took care of myself only half as well as I try to take care of my child, I’d be a much happier person.Toward the end of my last relationship, I realize I was feeling depleted. Time to love me up a bit…and I am just the person for the job!

  39. kookie says:

    Can’t believe it’s taken me 27 years to figure out that I want the very basic things I saw my friends get in relationships. I thought this pseudo-relationship / hookup culture crap was just how relationships in America were , and my old fashioned views I had been taught as a young girl were dead in this modern world. I contorted my values to be “sex positive” and “sexually empowered” but the joke was on me. I felt so bad about myself for giving up my old values and felt bad for not being able to mentally shift to a more casual approach , thought if i kept practicing I would finally be as carefree and detached as a modern first world woman should be. The only good thing is that exploring modern American views on sex, I abandoned some homophobic views I had held before coming to America as well as learned a lot about feminism but I also lost some good things about myself. Now I know that I want to be sex positive , liberated and fully into my body WITHIN a mutually fulfilling relationship. I have never had one so I am a bit terrified of how to start now but I know it is what I really want. Wish me luck and good luck to you all too on your journey. Thanks Nat and everyone here for giving a safe space to admit out mistakes. Elsewhere , I get dismissed for having willingly been a slut( which I have never felt i was). Here I get constructive knocks upside the head and an understanding that I just did not know how. One step at a time.

    • courtney says:

      kookie, I have a similar background and I used to feel “wrong” at not adapting to the current hookup culture, but I no longer feel that I should have to adapt. I am a feminist, but I have nuanced views on the topic. I don’t think that hookup culture is as empowering to women as it’s portrayed. In fact, I think that the idea that it is empowering is a deceptive falsehood that prevents us from gaining real empowerment.

      Of course there are women who enjoy casual sex and relationships. But there will also be women who won’t and that’s not what they’re looking for. Women shouldn’t be “slut-shamed” but they shouldn’t have to deal with being pressured to have sex and look at sex in a casual way either. There has to be some middle ground, some nuance and a broader more open-minded perspective.

      Each woman has her own unique cultural background, personal ethics and values that she lives on based on her own life experience. Like you I no longer wish to cave into the pressures of involving myself in something casual when I know it goes against my values and beliefs.

      Good for you for recognizing your own values and good luck on your journey! Hugs!

  40. Megan Schmidt says:

    Lots of take-aways from this post! Thank you for bringing to light such insightful thoughts that are brewing within each of us – and if they’re not, they should be! You rock Nat! Xx

  41. Brenda says:

    I’m lost I don’t know who I am.I have been trying different tings church gym mostly I work go home take care of my kids.I found that I do enjoy that part although it is a lil stressful what would I do without them,My bills are paid I feel good about that I am doing rather well thankful to God.But I’ve been off and on for 10yrs with a guy who has started a relationship with someone else within the first five yrs.I feel he loves her I get minimal time fake promises he has borrowed money twice and hasn’t paid it back but I checked his pocket and he had another woman cable bill in his pocket,he said he wasn’t paying it that she gave him the money to pay it and its nothing sexual going on that she’s just his babymother,this is not the woman he’s in a relationship with he even says he’s not in a relationship with anyone,but I know better.I wash his clothes cook his food give him rides when he has a car but license is screwed up.He text me a pic of himself exposed one day i was at work he usually does that so I asked when would I see him cause I hadn’t seen him in 3 days.So he said never I went too talk to him like closure which I know is non exsistent.He said I was boring all I do is work and take my kids out I don’t like having 3ways,or going to clubs all the time.So I left soon as I got home he called said he was playing I hung up,the next day he was at my house said he love me and just were playing with me.I cut contact changed my num he kept showing up at my door and even called my daughters cell.He called on christmas told her he had a gift for me I got on the phone with a false hope of change which is non existent also he said if I would have sex with him he’d give me my present so I just hung her phone up on him.He continues to call hasn’t paid my money I feel stupid he has had a baby and denies that also,I feel like whats wrong with me what did I do for him to think its okay to treat me like shit?All that stuff stuck to me now i try to go out to clubs dress different cause I feel like I’m not good enough How can I shake this feeling and shake him out my mind?Going out to clubs is not that enjoyable to me although its nothing wrong with it,and I don’t want to do a 3way.I am lost now I don”t know if I need to change who I am for him to treat me better like a competition and now I really don’t think I have feelings for him in that way anymore he never returned my money and it was for my rent.I just wonder if I need to do those things to even be excepted by any guy?He has told me I’m boring cause I don’t like using sex toys but I have used plenty and even with him and he had me sore and I still let him use them when we had sex.I’m confused I just want to be loved and I don”t want to have to do cartwheels to get it and I do love myself I’m just so lost and confused right now.

    • natashya says:

      brenda, blood curdling story that reads like a soap gone wrong. you said you just want to be loved and that you do love yourself. errrr…. no, you don’t.

      if you did love yourself, you would not have this grade A assclown pull this despicable crap on you.

      i usually try not to come down too hard on people, as i know how your mind can get all warped and twisted because they’re infected with assclownitis but this story really takes the shitcake.

      you’re lost and confused? about what exactly? he treats you like garbage, he takes your money, he uses you for sex, he disrespects you. what else does this sadistic bastard need to do for you to kick him out of your life?

      the good news is… there is a great solution. flush his pathetic ass, go NC and seek help from a professional (perhaps your church can help you with this?), read up on self esteem issues as much as you can and start to heal yourself. you deserve way better than that piece of disgusting trash.

      • Allison says:


        I agree with Natasha! This guy is a piece of shit!

        I’m sorry, but he treats you this way because you allow it. If you don’t want to do this for yourself, remove this filth for the sake of your children.

        Please seek some help!

    • getsmartyr says:

      Brenda, your story sounds like you have been seriously abused. If abuse is a pattern that has repeated itself in your life, or even if this is the first time you’ve been abused, please do confide in someone like a therapist who can give you some counseling. This man has you very, very confused. Until you know you’ve been abused, you may be a victim. The thing I learned about victimhood is, it ended for me when I started going back to be victimized anyway. That’s when I became a volunteer. I decided that I wasn’t doing a great job as a mom or as someone taking care of herself like a responsible adult by allowing other people’s crazy drama to dominate my life. I needed to live chaos-free and to have a safe, healthy, calm house. I didn’t want crazy people in my life. I’ve been divorced now for 3 years from my crazy, emotionally abusive ex husband, who is an addict. I cannot say enough about the benefit of getting him totally out of my life. You are at the start of a journey where you can focus in on yourself, take care of yourself and understand that you are worth far, far more than this man is telling you. You have to believe that first, though. When you do, you will never tolerate abuse again. Please do get some help. You really deserve to feel better.

    • Jennifer Tiffany says:


      I can say with out a doubt and this is a promise: YOU ARE VALUABLE. I urge you to connect with your inherent value and dignity as a human being and woman. You are worth far, far, infinitely more than the situation you described.

      Also, you never, ever, EVER, have to do, need to do, nor should do ANYTHING sexual that you are not comfortable with and any man that coerces you otherwise, well, this is just straight up abuse.

      YOU. DESERVE. BETTER. I urge you to keep reading Natalie’s posts and if you are able to take her self esteem class, I’d highly recommend it.

      Also, research and find legitimate sources that describe healthy relationships, perhaps therapy with a legitimate well trained/knowledgeable therapist is in order. I can assure you that you are not in a healthy relationship. What you described is a very toxic situation. You need to learn how to love yourself and take care of you. Because ultimately you deserve nothing less than love and this man is not offering love, quite the opposite. Take care. Pleas take care of you.

    • runnergirl says:

      Brenda, I’m an not the expert on relationships so take whatever I say with a grain of salt. I would posit that you do know who you are and what you need. You know that taking care of your kids, going to church and the gym and going to work is what you need. Natalie’s topic sentence is most applicable to your situ: “If you want to get a good sense of what your needs are, take a good look at the company you keep in your relationships”. You know you don’t want to do 3 way, go to clubs, be cheated on, exchange sex for an xmas present, lend a deadbeat money, and use sex toys till you are sore. That’s what this guy is offering and you don’t have to buy it. We may bust our boundaries and seek validation when there may be a projected future at stake. What would be your future with this guy? What would be the future of your kids? This situation is providing you with an insight/window into what you need…it may not be him. You don’t have to do cartwheels or end up sore from using sex toys. As Natalie says, pain isn’t love. You also don’t have to change who you are to get him to treat you better. He is abusing you. I’d suggest signing up for Nat’s NC course ASAP and don’t lend him any more money that you need to pay your rent. If you think you can’t go NC, start with not lending him money or using sex toys. What you have described is not what I would consider love and I have/had a totally warped version of love too.
      PS. I always feel the need to own up to new readers that I was a OW and bought his lies as well as my own. I’m a shining example of how my involvement with a MM and fear of abandonment provided a window to my soul.

  42. EmM says:

    Yeppity yep yep yep!

  43. Tinkerbell says:

    @ Selkie,
    I realized when I reread the post after that it was Natalie who had said it and you were quoting her. I was wondering…where did she get that from, out of a book? Then it mad sense that our super-wise facilitator said it first. No matter, it’s wonderful that so many of us are understanding and getting to a much better place in our lives. At first I was a little reluctant to say I was doing well, but I’ve noticed and may be you have too that more of us are getting there or at least making great progress.

    • Teddie says:

      I too notice I’ve internalized some of Natalie’s lingo to the extent that it’s become part of my thinking and I don’t always realise it’s her words ringing in my skull. This only goes to show that her efforts bear fruit. This is why she keeps beating it on us, so that our thinking influences our emotions, our emotions our actions, and our actions our habits.

      • Victorious says:

        yes that is so funny. I found myself telling my hairdresser the other day, re her AC boyf “Words and Actions Don’t Match Stef!!!” blah blah. At least we are spreading the word :)

  44. kookie says:

    Random thought. Can anyone recommend any fiction, poetry, songs, or films etc that are based on healthy love. I love the arts and my brain is pretty much made up of all my favourite books, movies and songs but looking closely i see how my tendency for believing love was angsty, pain and against the odds came from a lifetime of internalizing soul crushingly beautiful art which matched my low self image.

    • pinkpanther says:

      Kookie, hands down this is my idea of the perfect love, to share art!

      the film Herb & Dorothy

      Most of us go through the world, never seeing anything. Then you meet somebody like Herb and Dorothy, who have eyes that see.” —Richard Tuttle, artist
      He was a postal worker. She was a librarian. Together they amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections in the world.

      HERB & DOROTHY tells the extraordinary tale of Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a seemingly ordinary couple who filled their humble one-bedroom New York apartment with more than 4,000 works of art over a 45-year period. Filmmaker Megumi Sasaki turns her lens on the Vogels during a critical period of transition for the couple and their cherished collection.

      Herb and Dorothy at The Gates, Central Park, 2005
      From the earliest days of their marriage, the Vogels delighted in art. While working the midnight shift at the post office, Herb studied by day at the Institute of Fine Arts. Dorothy soon followed suit and began taking classes in painting and drawing. But ultimately, Dorothy confesses, they were “wannabe artists” and quickly gave up their own ambitions when they realized the joys of collecting.

      Despite their modest income, the two began acquiring work that was undiscovered or unappreciated in the early 1960s, primarily Minimalist and Conceptual art by such visionaries as Robert and Sylvia Mangold, Donald Judd, Richard Tuttle, Sol LeWitt, Christo, Lynda Benglis and many other artists who are featured in the film.

      • pinkpanther says:

        Marcel Proust, “In Search of Lost Time”. Yes it’s seven volumes, and it can take months, but if you want to know about love, M. Proust is the man.

    • Lilia says:

      I don´t think there are any (or much) films, songs, books etc about healthy love simply because they would be too boring!
      Fiction needs conflict and tension, without it there would be no story.
      I was just talking about this the other day with my mom, I was certain there had to be some film or novel about a healthy relationship somewhere, and she said Well what would that be about? A satisfied couple having tea together year after year, one saying “Pass me the sugar please, dear” and the other responding “Here you are, dear”?
      As happy as they are together, it would be pointless to show it because their happiness is based on something only they share, something completely intimate.

      There seems to be this book I saw recommended though, A fine romance by Judith Sills, that describes how a healthy relationship evolves. It isn´t fiction, but it seems to be a really good guide.

      • kookie says:

        @Pink Panther and Lilia,

        Thanks for the suggestions i just wanna saturate myself with as much hopeful, healthy romances as I can. The couple can be boring as hell but maybe have interesting things happen to challenge their love or something or go on adventures together. I wish I had any writing talents I would write something myself for my future babies to read. Thanks guys! Happy weekend!

    • Mymble says:

      A lot of Anne Tyler’s earlier novels (the latest few I found rather less than) She is a sympathetic observer of human relationship behaviour, and is particularly talented at portraying less extroverted personalities!

      • yoghurt says:

        Ooo – I love Anne Tyler. A Patchwork Planet is one of my all-time favourite books.

        Film-wise, I can recommend 500 Days of Summer and Bridesmaids as being the only relatively recent films about relationships that I can watch. They’re about messed-up people and/or bad relationships and they’re angsty, but at least they’re honest, and don’t tell you that it all works out if you change yourself and then a relationship will come and take away all your problems.

        Also, if you’re in Britain and/or you can get it, I’d recommend Coronation Street. It’s unrealistic in that it’s a soap and someone suffers a near-fatal head injury just about every two days, but I find that it’s quite true and wise when it looks at what makes for good or poor relationships.

        I tend to opt for the lighter end of the entertainment spectrum (I’m often tired! But I’ll let you know how Middlemarch goes when I actually finish it sometime in 2015) but, referring back to what people were saying earlier about the real damage being done by repression and denial and in the absence of films about Good Relationships (like Lilia says, they’re boring!) then I tend to try and go for REALISTIC and HONEST accounts of relationships, even bad ones.

        When I was involved with the EUM I watched Pretty Woman a lot. Fatal.

    • Grizelda says:

      There are some charming European films about love I can recommend! They project a much healthier and more down to earth attitude than any of the harmful rubbish coming out of psychopathic Hollywood. Try award-winning ‘Amelie’, and more recently ‘Romantics Anonymous’ (‘Les émotifs anonymes’) which is as delightful as a box of chocolates. Don’t forget the Italian ‘Cinema Paradiso’ if you want a good old fashioned burst-into-tears-at-the-goodness film.

    • Robin says:

      When Harry Met Sally was my favorite movie. Harry and Sally, to me, exemplify what Nat talks about with a relationship organically developing (or even ending, as it were).

      I think these days it may be easier to show healthier relationships on TV, especially if the series goes on for many seasons.

      If you like your crime dramas, the chemistry in Bones between some of the main cast also represent pretty good relationships and friendships. Rizzoli & Isles (based on the book but completely different from it) has some positive friendships. In The Closer, the early seasons do focus on some BR issues as well as the crime, but over time, the female lead does find someone who accepts and respects her (she can be a pretty tough person to deal with, her knack for getting confessions means that it can often translate negatively in her relationship), but who isn’t a doormat himself, either. To me, it’s clear they’re equals who put a top priority on the relationship.

    • SheGeeks says:

      Hi Kookie, I have been reading Nat’s blogs for a few months and finally decided to comment on something. I really like the movie Lola Versus. She starts out a lot like many of us on here, but learns a lot about herself, and her best friend cracks me up. I also like the song “That Guy’s an Asshole” by Sara Bareilles.(Not kid friendly, but hilarious) It seems that a lot of the musical artists I like have a mixture of songs about unhealthy love, and then writing a song about learning from that love. Ingrid Michaelson-“Fairytale” Lily Allen-“I Could Say” or “Smile” are good ones.

  45. Tinkerbell says:

    @ Kim.
    I forgot to mention:
    What made it doubly horrific and what caused him to say that ( “You don’t love yourself enough”), was when I told him I NEEDED him in the most pathetic tone, (near tears) and BEGGED him not to leave me. Never in my life had I stooped so low. I should have been begging him TO LEAVE ME. When I became fed up with hating myself and the shame I was wallowing in, I left him. IT WAS SO, UNBELIEVABLY HARD. But I did it. I’ll tell anyone, now. For God’s sake, don’t grovel. Don’t even tell him how much he has hurt you. He already knows that quite well and doesn’t give a sh*t. You hate yourself for doing it and he hates you, too.

  46. Tinkerbell says:

    @ good Lord! Are you for real? You need a therapist asap! I hate to tell you, Brenda, but you are not in any mental/emotional state to be with any man. It will only end badly. Men don’t respect or like women who don’t have any backbone. You are a doormat to him, not fit to wipe his shoes on. This has got to be painful you to hear but you need to to shocked out of your dream world. I am sorry if I’m hurting you, but it cannot be any worse than what he has done to you. You have very high emotional pain tolerance. You’re courting danger with this MF. How old is he, anyway, 16?

  47. nancy says:

    I am still seeing my AC even though I know it’s unhealthy. I just can’t seem to let go. I hadn’t seen him for two weeks because he was sick. He said he had the flu and a mouth full of canker sores, which kind of freaked me out because I worry about all the women he has slept with, including me. Anyway, he showed up at my work today and we had a nice 45 minutes of hanging out time. I felt those feelings…he is fun and I always enjoy him when he’s around. Of course, he says all the right things and always says that he misses me. He’s leaving on an 8 day trip to Africa and said he wants to see me before he leaves…but no set time and I doubt I’ll see him except that he’ll want to sleep with me before he goes as his thinking that will keep me interested until he returns from his trip, which is true because I’m so hooked on this man. He went to a party tonight without me. I keep telling myself not to contact him, but it’s so difficult for me. Why? That is the question I have been asking myself for two years. I sit here tonight thinking about how good he looked today and even breathing in his smell. Obsessed? I’d say. How do I move on?

    • natashya says:

      nancy, how to move on? first FLUSH and then go NC. it works!

      it’s not that you can’t seem not to let go, you are CHOOSING not to let go. i know it’s easy for me to say, writing from the comfort of my bed on my laptop, but i’m talking from experience.

      that assclown of yours gives me the creeps. he’s gross.

      going NC is the one thing i did right after the EUM dumped me. it gave me time and distance to heal. if i can do it, so can you.

    • Grizelda says:

      Nancy, have you thought about reading Nat’s book Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl? You’re in a classic Fallback Girl situation and this book will be the the clanky, clattery alarm clock that wakes you up. If going NC is not possible for you to do right now, your mind will be whirling with honest and true reasons why you need to go NC immediately after you finish that book.

      I say this because I think you’re not seeing clearly what your role is in this, and how unhealthy (bordering on emotionally dangerous) it is for you. You don’t know it yet because you’re still under the spell, but you are the sponge that’s absorbing a hell of a lot of negativity, lies, deceit and dispair that he’s feeding you. Wake up, start dealing with what’s really going on, and get out fast– before he makes the move first and tears your unprepared soul right into shreds.

    • Allison says:


      You move on by realizing you are no more than a booty call!

      Is being used by some guy, good enough for you?

  48. Marg says:

    Natalie – time and time again, I read this article because it so aptly describes the way I think and behave. I’m struggling so profoundly with this because I have got to the roots of my obsessive and self destructive neediness and I can’t seem to get past this obstacle, no matter how (or what) I try. I know the source of my abandonment, but I cannot fix it or forgive it. I’m not that healed, yet. And I’m brain damaged. There are significant problems that arise in my neural processing. I try and work with this but it’s a case of repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat some more, repeat again, ad infinitum…

    When you said, “If you look at the person you claim to love and what’s looking back at you is someone who doesn’t truly value you, who treats you without love, care, trust and respect and even takes advantage of and even abuses you, it’s time to address how you feel about and treat you because if you did, putting up with someone who treats you in a less-than manner would be unacceptable. You’d know what love, care, trust, respect and security felt like and you wouldn’t trade it for the hollow cake with stale icing that is a pain filled relationship…”

    Thing is, I KNOW what love, care, trust, respect and security feel like because my g/f’s and friends shower me with it on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.

    I just can’t internalise it. And because I can’t internalise it, I allow the man in my life to continue to walk all over me because it’s HIS relationship I want – HIS love, care, trust, respect and security, even though I KNOW he cannot and will not ever give it to me because he’s even more emotionally damaged than I was.

    I SEE what I have to do. I HEAR what I have to do. I just can’t change my pattern of behaviour. Try as I might. I do no contact. Longest time was for 6 weeks and then it was back on. I missed the shit treatment.

    I know I’m worth more. That I deserve more. Why can’t I walk away from this toxic interaction? Why can’t I respect myself enough to let him go? It would be best for both of us if I could…

  49. carlaaaa says:

    I am 4 months NC as of this week. I have learnt a lot, especially that I need to trust my gut instincts and acknowledge the red flags when they pop up.. cos lordy, I ignored countless flags.. they would have been waving in the air and a few shot straight at my head, but I just closed my eyes.. If I had to count, it would probably be 178,098 in a year with the ex. I feel like I’m over *him* but not the situation. Moreso, I’m having trouble getting past the anger at myself for not trusting myself and my gut when I should have. I don’t blame myself for his deeds. I still have lingering thoughts of him, the airtime in my brain is spent mainly ruminating over situations that happened and asking how did the pin not drop at that point.. !! But alas.. It’s working, slowly but surely.

    One thing is for sure, I will never let anyone play me like that and I am learning to enforce my boundaries and trust my instincts. They’re there for a reason, right!! Love to you all xx

  50. Naina says:

    If you are working with others on a regular basis, the Johari Window is particularly good for helping you build your awareness and relationships with those in the group.
    Thank for share this post.

  51. Tired says:

    That was me down to a tee. Always thought be all and end all was having a fella requardless how they treated you .i put up with right shitty behaviour because basically to scared to go it alone . I have done nearly a month of nc and no snooping on fb and i do feel better . Though today i lookedat his mums page and she had put a status wishing so and so a happy new yr etc . Shes part of family , it was a punch in guts and then i thought how insensitive to the ex wide they been apart a couple of nmonths and the mums done that cant she spare her a thought . Then it struck me she backing her shady sons behaviour up no wonder hes a natrsisct ac . Mum has got to suport her arsehole of a son . Everyone eles thinks ges a arsehole ! I know tiredwhy you looking a rare moment of madness that yep has sent me down , tired ticking the days off on her calander for nc how stupid is that , is that twatt going oh its so many days since i heard from good ole doormat i bloody well doubt it . So kick in pants received and onwards but im sorry if i let you down but so e days i feel because i wasnt goid enough didnt have a bigger house , flasher car etc etc . And i can see all the shitty behaviour he dished out and i just wish i could have dump him on hos sorry arse for someone so much better and rubbed his face in it .!!

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      You know what’s waaaaaay better than dumping his sorry ass for someone so much better??? Dumping his sorry ass period!

      And BTW, you actually did dump his sorry ass for someone waaaaay better…YOURSELF.

  52. Tinkerbell says:

    @ Tired.

    You are rubbing his face in rejection of him NOW. Be glad of that. Stop thinking about him, anything or anyone to do with him. He is not your problem. Actually he never was. You made it that way. Keep at it. You’ll get there. I’m supporting your efforts.

  53. Tinkerbell says:

    Boy, I sure have a lot to say lately. But, Nancy, please do not spend any time with this man. He is unhealthy mentally and PHYSICALLY. Do you want to get a disease from him? I think not. Go NC and move on. No back-tracking either. He is sick in more ways than one.

  54. marie83 says:

    I was bullied quite badly between ages 11-16, it made me very depressed at the time but since then 9I am now 29) I never felt that it had affected me, but since the split with my ex, I am wondering whether this contributed to a fracturing of my identity – the break up with my ex has taught me that I am a people pleaser and that I fear rejection and look to other for validation and I am trying to trace why and how this emerged- not sure if I am barking up the wrong tree with this though

  55. Tired says:

    Marie i was bullied at school for being fat , yes it effects your confidence later on . But you can overcome this . I still doubt myself but i am now getting stronger and so will you . Youre 29 , smile you have fpund here earlier than me .you got a head start on being a beautiful connfident women from today . Im 43 and i wish id found here years ago.

    Tinkerbell thankyou for your support , all that have posted i continue nc and no snooping , thanks thats helped me look at it in a diff light , i am rejecting his sorry arse , and he knew id sussed him out so let him squander in his inly option , im moving on and being everything i wanted to be and ill alwYs reject his sorry sotty arse ! Lolx

  56. marie83 says:

    Grizelda, have you watched 500 days of summer, not really a romance technically but shows the danger of fantasy relationships wonderfully

  57. Monique K says:

    When I was married, I fell into the trap of doing all I could to appease my ex-husband because I thought he would eventually realize what he wasn’t doing and try to follow my lead. I loved him so much and realized it would never be reciprocated. However, I thank God everyday that I went through that experience. It forced me to look at myself and re-evaluate who I was.

  58. cc says:

    holding on to the following for dear life:

    When you’re willing to positively learn from the insights gained, each dating and relationship experience is actually taking you closer and closer to a mutually fulfilling relationship where your needs are met within it and also independently by you. That’s why I always say that you shouldn’t fear so-called ‘mistakes’ – they’re often feedback that if you listen without judging your worth, they pave the way to a relationship that’s more befitting of you.

  59. Feistywoman says:

    I now know I was a pleaser as a child and put others needs before my own. A relationship I had in my twenties with the man for whom I was his childhood sweetheart was a real hot and cold affair. This set me up for emotionally unavailable men. I am good to myself and look after myself be it clothes, pampering, holidays, concert tickets, my riding and don’t mind being on my own. I find happiness in a lot of different things particularly my cats but know myself better and what I will/won’t tolerate. It is interesting how if you enforce boundaries other people turn it round as if you are the problem. I am feisty because I won’t take any shit especially from men. Yes I have days when I remember being married and sharing time together but then I also remember the affairs/emotional abuse and being lonely in the marriage when he froze me out. I know that it is better to be alone than with the wrong man. My life is a pretty good all told and I am grateful for that.

    So many men in the 40/50 age bracket play games because they haven’t sorted their baggage and bounce into one relationship after another to validate who they are or to run away from life/their past and their responsibilities thus repeating a behaviour pattern that fails. At some point these men will wonder why they are alone but we will know why that is and that we are better without them in our lives.

    I now have boundaries for dating learnt through experience and reflection:

    1)If I have to ring the man to set up the first contact i.e. he gives me his number it is no go. This = lazy as if there is no effort at the beginning then there will be none down the line and I don’t buy being shy or fearing rejection = bullshit.
    2) I don’t expect to have to ring to confirm arrangements for a date, the man should be doing that = laziness on his part.
    3) Mention of meeting the right woman if single a long time = red flag
    4) Mention of health problems on an early date = red flag
    5) Keeps his own counsel = loner = red flag
    6) No interests = red flag
    7) Showering with compliments, sexual innuendos and very heavy flirting early on = player out for sex = red flag
    8) Listen to what is being said as most men give clues or even say directly what they are about/interested in and if he has his guard up = emotionally unavailable. You need to be open to be emotionally available.
    9)Listen to my gut instincts they are always right
    10) Don’t be afraid to question something that is said or reflect it back even on a later occasion rather than being too polite.
    11)Be allergic to bullshit on the diet!!
    12) Don’t be afraid to set my stall out early on to filter out time wasters and EU men. This paid dividends when a player bailed on me after one date saving me a lot of grief and being used for his agenda.

    If this causes a man to run then so be it but a genuine man will not be afraid to answer for his actions/words and show he is worth the time of day. Let some other woman have the problem of the AC/EUM. I have learnt this also via Nat’s excellent blogs and her book as finding the site helped me understand a hot and cold marriage. I had so many light bulb moments in realisation I nearly short circuited! I don’t need a man in my life to define who I am as a person or a woman. Whilst I can’t stop men finding me attractive and wanting me for sex I can filter out as I know that I only want to have a quality relationship, nothing else will do or interest me i.e. nothing casual, no booty calls etc. as I won’t sell myself short now.

    • Allison says:

      “I don’t need a man in my life to define who I am as a person or a woman.”


    • Amy says:

      oh Feistywoman.. RIGHT ON!!

      You had me at #1! I thought that was something that was only common in men in their 30s (i.e. guys a few years younger than me). No, it’s an epidemic.

      I don’t know what it IS about single men in their 40s and 50s but BOY is this getting tiresome! I’m all for women’s liberation and equality between the sexes, but when men put us in the role of having to “take charge” just so they can sit back be coy and pretend the whole thing is “our idea” – that’s not equality. It’s mind-f*ckery.

      A lovely woman in her 50s recently said something that chimes in harmony with what you said, as well as what Nat has said on her blog. Women have to stop setting themselves out on the “clearance” rack and instead place themselves with the fine china. We have to treat ourselves like the lovely, special people we are – beautiful and worthy of respect.

      This is something that I’ve learned the hard way. I’m starting to realize that my priorities were all out of whack. It’s not having a man in our lives that makes us “complete”, it’s having rich and fulfilling (true) friendships, and feeling that we’re special and worthy whether we’re single or not.

      I’m learning (slowly) that it’s much better to be alone than in a “relationship” that makes me feel anxious and empty. NC has felt awkward, and it seems like it’s been ages (when it’s only been 2 weeks) but I know I can do this.

      I feel more control of my life and my heart now than I have in a while. While I’m not entirely sure what I “want” in a partner now – I know what I DON’T want and what I will no longer accept.
      The BS detectors are now fully operational.

      • Feistywoman says:

        Well I am fine china, never saw my self as clearance material lol! Trouble is you always get a man who likes to punch above his weight and goes for the fine china when he is really clearance material!

        I think it is sad that men feel so insecure they have to leave the woman in charge and fail to lead on dates etc. The only ones who seem to are players/womanisers but even then they will ask the woman to check in to verify her interest. Sorry but my free phone minutes can be put to better use than letting a lazy man off the hook. I also feel that if a man can’t be bothered to dress up for a date when the woman does i.e. not wear jeans that says a lot about him indicating laziness and a failure to treat the woman with respect.

  60. Kelle says:

    I am in this stage right now. I was set free from an incredibly frustrating relationship five months ago and honestly, I feel good about being by myself because being by myself has really taught me about the importance of boundaries and standards and I have to say that God led me to your book Natalie, and I’m really glad I found it. If anyone told me five years ago that your relationships have a close link to who you are as a person and that you shouldn’t conform to anything that doesn’t make you comfortable, i would have just laughed. I understood that as well as addressing issues that I had. I also had to address issues within the home and issues within my childhood and how certain situations could have impacted on me, without me knowing it.

    I feel more free knowing that there is nothing wrong with being a strong woman who expects nothing but the best from a future partner. I definitely want to find love one day but I will never put myself in a position where it is far from mutual.

    No more Florencing and a fulfilling,healthy relationship will come my way. I just know it.

  61. Robin says:

    On a very different note, I’m also very curious about how the message that we receive from family can potentially contribute to an unhealthy relationship. I have literally been encouraged to work things out on a relationship that no longer works (believe me, I worked it out for 4 years and the same issue persists…nothing actually changed), or that, even though one may find years later that a marriage didn’t work out, “Well, at least you still have kids!” O_o Potentially emotionally unhealthy kids, maybe! (I know, because I was, and to a degree, still am, one.)

  62. Tinkerbell says:

    I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t there such a thing as attributing a bit too much to a bad childhood, horrible parenting, etc? Pyschologists are always singing that song, “You do this because of your chilhood. You think that way because of your childhood”. We, imo, seem to become brainwashed that too much happens to us because of our childhood. But, your growth physically and emotionally has not been stunted. What about what’s going on in your life years and years later. Like NOW? Any thoughts. I welcome sharing.

    • Eponine says:

      Hi, everyone,

      I think that what our parents do is huge, but not just because of them. I believe that we then internalize the abuse; make value judgments against ourselves; and practice the same behaviour against ourselves and we set ourselves up for the continuation of the same abuse.

      My father abandoned me and let me know I wasn’t important to him in a thousand ways. I think that he was just a narcissist going after the light he saw in me and I am TRYING to forgive him.
      He purposefully and systematically set me up for a lifetime of pain, in order to deal with his own pain and anguish.

      He was very sick, but managed to call his granddaughter, my brother’s child, (mine don’t rate), to sing happy birthday to her. How sweet! In my life I don’t have one memory like that, so I realize that he WAS capable of loving a little girl, just not me or my child.

      I learned to abandon myself: treat myself with less than respect and put myself down. I didn’t demand respect from others and have let people walk over me and put me down, b/c I was taught that they know better and are worth more than I am. I was also completely terrified to be alone.

      So, I would absolutely continue to attract people who abandon me and treat me like I am not worthy of their time and respect.

      I am 3 weeks’ NC, and am sooo much better, but have been completely exhausted and have had a case of eczema that has really been bad (decreased immune system). The aftermath of my last 2 relationships has worn me out like no other experience in my life and I have been through a lot. I see, now, why some women in these relationships get really sick.

      My Dad just died and I couldn’t physically fly across the Atlantic for the funeral. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around trying. I hope my mother will forgive me, but I couldn’t take on any abuse and I couldn’t listen to what a wonderful guy he was just now, when my life is in shambles-always has been-b/c of his abuse and neglect, at least initially.

      So, I believe I must be aware of it, process it, try to let it go, but mostly, learn to change everything that I am doing and learn to love me, talk to me, listen to me, respect, honour, and encourage me and meet my needs, even if I feel silly and selfish sometimes. It is not selfish. It is absolutely essential to NC, healing and having a life and a future-which I do, now. The ball is in MY court. I just have to take care of me.

      love and hugs,


      3 weeks NC. I am NEVER going back, but I see the difference, now, in my health and life with him (before) and now without him!
      Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

    • Robin says:

      @Tinkerbell: I agree with your points. I think the childhood could have affected you more if you didn’t know that that’s what it was doing, but once you’re aware of it, you can start working on learning healthier behavior. For ex. once I realized I was doing something as a defense mechanism, I stopped it, because it wasn’t necessary anymore. I also know of someone who went through the same horrible experiences I did growing up, but instead of internalizing it and blaming themselves, like I had, they just shrugged it off and keep on doing what they want to do.

    • Espoir says:

      Great point Tinkerbell – I remember reading once a book (he was either a psychologist or a psychiatrist – anyways, someone ”in the knows” :) saying exactly the same thing -”so if you think that your mother is the problem – let’s bring HER on the couch and it will resolve YOUR problem” I don’t deny that people are hurt by childhood experiencies – my heart goes out to all of you – but we (hopefully) grew up and we have a ”saying” into that, no ?

      A great video about Grown Wounded Children – thank you to the person who introduced me to this over here on BR – I learned so much from you all.
      Hugs all the way from Canada


    • Amy says:

      I think there’s a difference between using your childhood “wounds” as a crutch or an excuse vs. refusing to acknowledge that having a troubled family history could have anything to do with your toxic relationship history.
      I had a multi-year relationship with a very broken AC who never stopped blaming his terrible childhood for his poor emotional regulation, horrific boundaries, and drinking problem. That’s all I ever heard from him (was how his parents did this, and that to him, etc.)

      On the other hand, I met quite a few women in a (codependency) recovery program who didn’t want to think that their childhood was the cause of their bad relationship patterns. They just wanted to blame (and shame) themselves.

      I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. My siblings have the same parents, but yet they’ve been able to find fulfilling and happy marriages. Obviously I’m wired differently and/or experienced my parents differently from my siblings.

      Personally? I know that my problems come from trying to be a people pleaser. This goes back to my mom who was impossible to please, was (and is) hot and cold, and was never.. ever.. validating. My dad was absent a lot because of work – so naturally that plays into it too. Nobody had my back, so that’s what I got “used to”.

      Took decades to figure that out, and now I’m trying to integrate that knowledge into real life. It’s not easy – it’s like trying to learn how to write with an opposite hand, but I know I just have to keep trying or continue being miserable.

  63. teachable says:

    Brenda. This guy is a TOTAL LOSER & PLAYA. You were on the right track when you changed yr ph number. NC him HARD & don’t back down. The gall of him trying to pressure you into sexual behaviour which is not your cup of tea is OUTRAGEOUS. I’d be FURIOUS. GET RID OF HIM, BELIEVE YOURSELF & take care of yourself & your daughter. PRICKS like that asshole are a waste of space. Don’t let him shit in your life with a nanosecond more of his BS! YOU DESERVE MORE. T x

  64. Victorious says:

    I have been approached by childhood sweetheart. Ooh! Must go off and read Nats”returning childhood sweetheart post. Anyhoo,must share, his fakebook message reads, amongst other things,
    “Got a son, left his mum.”
    and “Now married with a stepson but am temporarily separated as I have been unwell.”
    ” I have had to leave my career as I didn’t fit in with the new managements autocratic ways.”
    ” We should meet up, that would be mad.”
    Red Flags anyone?
    Can I tell you, especially you Natalie, if you happen to be reading, that before I was BR-Educated, I would NOT have been able to translate this. I would have thought, “ooh, yes, he was hot, and he is clearly single. He must have been treated really badly by his ex employer and now his wife doesn’t want to take care of him because he is ill, what a bitch she must be….I bet I could take much better care of him. Think I’ll just message him back and make it clear I am up for pretty much anything he cares to throw at me.”
    Not now. Take good care of yourself childhood sweetheart, cos I ain’t gonna bother! And that is what we call progress :)

  65. Ann says:

    Tonight I want very much that the man I am trying to stay away from, will call me and pursue me and make it alright. Like Nat said the person I am trying to stay away from, because the relationship hurts me, is the man I seek soothing from.

    It’s been four years and I have been asking him to meet my needs for a long time. The more I ask, the more he says he cannot meet them, because I am now argumentative. We’ve had many break ups and then he says he can’t live without me and promises me marriage. Once I am safely in his arms/bed he makes no effort to progress the relationship. I could go on and on, but I do love him and it’s breaking my heart.

    It hurts to believe all he wants is a ‘special friend’. He wants us to be ‘living apart together’. I feel like I lost myself almost begging him to love me enough. I haven’t seen him for three weeks, but we’ve had a couple of telephone conversations. He usually texts or calls me near the weekend, because Saturday night was ‘our’ night together. That was me going to his house, sitting snuggling on the sofa, then sex. THAT plus one holiday together pretty much sums up our four years.

    This is giving me strength, thanks.

  66. Kitty says:

    Oh my God, that so describes me in some places!
    I have never been in a relationship and have just turned 39. Whilst being very independent this does sometimes get me down, especially around February 14th…

    I always go for men where nothing can happen, and would love to be able to know why I am like this (eg. is it because I never had a father figure in my childhood? Am I too fussy? Or am I just scared?) but more importantly I’d really love to know how to get out of this cycle. Maybe I will come on one of your workshops. Thanks Natalie.

    • Victorious says:

      Kitty can I recommend Natalies book, Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. I feel sure you will find the answers there. I know I did.
      And to Ann, you are living on a crumb diet and have been made to feel grateful for the tiny bits of validation you get from this man. Please get out and save yourself. You will NOT be able to see this situation for what it really is until you put some distance between you by going totally NC.

  67. Spinster says:

    My only comment (for now?) is thank you for the extra food for thought.

  68. ROBIN says:




  69. Intotouch says:

    Super post. Thank you so much Natalie.

    I love the optimism at the end. If all these mistakes can help us find love for ourselves and another then they are worth it. This is great to hear. Much better than looking back on mistakes as a waste of time.

  70. […] relationship with you but then try to make them available, it becomes increasingly obvious that your needs cannot be met but you keep lowering your expectations, desires and needs to make it ‘easier’ for them […]

  71. Deekthecat says:

    A guy speaking here, and I’ve been reading this wonderful forum for reassurance and comfort. A lot of this resonates and is helping me through my depression :(

    I’m still reeling from a 2 month relationship that HIT ME HARD (yes I know 2 months, outrageous..) with a girl who basically hugely disrespected me and abused my trust – forcing me to walk out on her on 2012 New Year Eve in the middle of a party. The girl basically took drugs in front of me and this is the reason why I walked.

    I am in NC now (2 weeks) after having to get my possessions back, which was a feat in itself.

    You could argue my boundaries had been crossed earlier in the relationship, where there were red flags that I chose to pass by and park but they didn’t go unnoticed. I gave the benefit of the doubt (in fact I should have trusted my gut instinct when excuses were being made that “didn’t add up” over the first month – I won’t go into those now)

    We had an amazingly intense bond regardless of how short the relationship was with a simply pure attraction and a feeling of deep connection (spent a lot of time together every other day, staring into eyes when we were together, and constant texts, pictures etc). The girl was incredibly pretty, slightly immature and a little lost with her life/career, but seemed to have a heart of gold. She also went out of her way to care – by cooking meals, looking after me with man-flu…this was hugely important. It simply was all too good to be true (red flag maybe…).

    One of the deep rooted problems with her was she was from a party lifestyle, who was very much used to taking recreational drugs over her twenties but claimed she wanted to leave that scene desperately have a normal life with a normal guy such as me, doing normal nice activities and not getting blotto. She wanted change and I decided to believe her. She reassured me many times that this was still the case throughout the relationship and knew how strongly I felt about drugs and how against it I was.

    (I know what you’re thinking now, why on earth would I want to get involved with someone who was destined to be a car crash..)

    The relationship accelerated very quickly into month 2 as boyfriend & girlfriend (we are both in our thirties btw and had been in successful relationships before so its not like I was naive or totally blinkered). It was lovely when we were together. Incidentally, I have had many relationships in the past but this relationship “felt” different. I was falling big time and it seemed she was too.

    Looking back in review, red flags were frequently appearing… and I’ll mention the obvious ones.

    Despite all the people she introduced me to (who adored me), her brother had apparently said I wasn’t “right for her” (I have no idea why) and she ended up breaking up for a day, purely for this reason. This was really odd and didn’t make sense. We ended up resolving things but it resulted in me feeling like I had done something wrong – I felt like I had been persecuted. It didn’t add up.

    I started feeling perplexed and anxious. The whole relationship was tiring me out as it felt like I was constantly having to prove myself and it was never her issues that needed confronting. I felt uncomfortable. She never apologised for even silly little things. It was all about her.

    There were no arguments, but I seemed to have to revolve around this girls life and lifestyle. I was invited to everything and everybody, and pretty much shown off as her other half. There was however no interest in my family who I wanted her to meet, or even my friends. I was fed a constant stream of texts, images of herself, updates on what she was doing. Even though intoxicating, and this bludgeon of affection and interest probbaly got me hooked, the narccisism was rife in hindsight. This was a serious female ego.

    Anyway – long story short, the girl continued to use drugs (not obviously around me) regardless of the trust we’d promised. To this day I’m unsure of how blotto she really was – what was sober and what wasn’t?

    I almost walked out before in month 1, but was coaxed back to bed saying it was a mistake and she wouldn’t do it again and how she didn’t want to lose me. To this day I have no idea how much she was doing but her whole life revolved around people into the same grubby scene so it was never going to be a clean exit for her.

    After walking out on her I felt very, very depressed, I sent a message stipulating what I saw was going on, and how I couldn’t go out with anyone who did drugs and chose them over me, despite our long conversations about the subject and how much she deeply said she wasn’t going to do them. And there I sat on NYE, 5 to midnight, on my lonesome, wondering whether I did the right thing by ejecting myself from something I felt so strongly against.

    I even tried negotiating with her the next day to try and remedy things – hoping she would apologise for her actions and see what she had done. There was none – she turned the whole thing around and made me feel like I abandoned her, and noone has ever done this before. Absolutely no admittance to any wrong doings herself or remorse on the impact it had on me.

    This is where I should have seen what was going on in the relationship all along: Regardless of the drugs use (which I detested) and also the friends she associated (unsavoury types), regardless of the effort I went to with Xmas presents (and were not recipicated), regardless of my morals and feelings that were ignored, I still adored her.

    With her narccistic actions, her unwillingness and denial to admit her failings, the irrational unreasoning “cocaine is less dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol – they are drugs too” argument and how I need to work on “my temper” etc. it was bewildering. Staggering infact. I had done nothing wrong but stood up for what I thought was right and acted gentlemanly throughout our relationship. I had never argued and was always positive and I went out of my way hugely for her. All I did was eject myself out of something that was morally wrong because it felt so wrong.

    The aftermath allowed me to do some soul searching and piece together facts and information I’d remembered over the relationship, and what I resolved was that she is a classic narcicist, had abuse issues reaching back to adolescence (fact) and was of course a drug user – mainly perhaps to smother these aspects in her life. And with me she frequently drip fed the truth as and when it suited her. When it didnt work out for her in the way this “man” was intended to – it was easy for her to turn the situation around and blame me and say “we were incompatible”. Easy way out.

    The odd thing is I still feel like I’ve lost something really important even when my logic states I dodged a bullet with her.

  72. stefani says:

    Sorry for your pain. what you did took courage, even if it feels bad. Your friend has an addiction disease, and until she deals with it , is unavailable to have a relationship.

    stay strong and move on.

  73. Mary says:

    @ Deekthecat,
    So sorry for the pain and suffering you are going through…keep going, it will get better. You say you feel as if you lost something really important though logically you know you saved yourself and your sanity…What you have lost is not real, she projected her self-importance on you and made you believe she is something so special, but she is not. You have also lost all the attention you were used to via the texting and pictures, another way that she made you feel important. Now you are faced with the stillness and that is what hurts so much. Hang in there, it will get better :-)

  74. blue70rose says:

    I especially like how you said, “When we practice being and doing the things we expect others to be and do for us…” because it makes it seem more doable, thinking of *practicing*, rather than having to be suddenly perfect at it. It makes it seem like this an ability I can develop if I work at it.
    I had a slight epiphany a year ago when I got an unexpected text from EUM. I felt kind of divided–part of me wanted to be ecstatic, but then there was kind of a little voice that whispered something like, “Whatever (happiness/fulfillment, etc.) I get from *him*, I should be doing for myself–I actually already contain it.” But yet the wonderful feelings only occurred around *him*. We can change this.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.