gavelI have an ex who in retrospect, it was only once I’d gotten as far away as possible from him, did I truly acknowledge what an abusive situation it was brewing up to be. Long time readers may recall that he’s the one that drove like a maniac ranting in a jealous rage, got caught out, lied, called me a psycho, and turned out to actually be lying, and also slammed a door at me, hitting my wrist. Obviously I was still there, so I hadn’t judged the situation adequately. Yet.

No, I judged it when he was shouting at me and being very aggressive and I asked him to stop. He then cowered on the floor covering his head, and mimicking what he imagined was me as a child he said “Oh pretty please! It’s scaring me! I don’t like it when mummy and daddy fight!” and then sort of did that maniac laugh like at the end of the Thriller video. I literally went cold and it was like reality slapped me in the face. Within 48 hours, we were over and my flight was booked.

There were too many situations with him where I could and should have judged the situation and hit my eject button but denying, rationalising, minimising and even wondering what I had done to ‘provoke’ this in him, kept me hanging around for far too long – this man displayed anger issues the first time we met, yet went from “angry asshole” to boyfriend material…

Older and wiser, I’m not afraid to judge a situation because it helps me to make decisions and also keeps me safe, plus enables me to live authentically and happily. What worries me is that the more I read about what could be viewed as ‘objections’ to having boundaries, to distancing from inappropriate situations, and even calling a spade a spade, is the more I recognise that people who aren’t making judgements about situations or even a person’s behaviour have a problem with appearing judgemental and conversely with thinking that their judgement has more power than it does.

Judgement: The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. (source Oxford English Dictionaries)

This is a fundamental part of life. Whether you recognise it or not, you make decisions (not always considered…) and come to conclusions (not always sensible) every single day. When I walk to the pedestrian crossing, I look left and right and judge that it’s safe to walk.

When I’ve opted out of relationships, often after I’ve flogged that donkey till it collapses, I’ve judged the situation which includes me, them, and the combined result, and decided that it no longer works for me.

To judge/pass judgement: To criticise or condemn someone from a position of assumed moral superiority.

Another meaning for judgement: A misfortune or calamity viewed as divine punishment.

If you avoid making decisions, it means you avoid making judgements. If you at the same time get your knickers in a knot about how you may be perceived as ‘judgemental’, you’re mixing up your meanings! You also have the inverted ego issues that can have you make other people’s actions about you. Just like how we often give to people what we hope to get back, how you feel about judgement says a lot about you.

You don’t make ‘judgements’ because you don’t want people to make judgements about you, which is also trying to control the uncontrollable. You likely see it as rejection. The ridiculous thing is that all this worrying is a waste – they’re going ahead with their own lives and making their own judgements even though they may not be specifically criticising or condemning you from a position of moral superiority or laying down divine punishment – not everything is about you.

You can still use your intelligence, gut, instincts, common sense, eyes, ears, nose, boundaries etc to make judgments that enable you to get on with your life in a healthy, happy manner by opting you into what works, and opting you out of what doesn’t.

If it helps you to feel better, forget the word ‘judgement’ and replace it with ‘decision’; you may not like it but you still have to do it. A life without decisions is stagnation.

Long time reader Grace with her straight to the point, often hilarious comments said on my last post:
“You kick a dog. The dog runs. In what way has that dog judged you?” Amen.

If you lure the dog back with a piece of meat, stroke it for a bit, and then kick it and it runs off again as it rightly should, and doesn’t come back no matter what you throw at it, still in what way has it judged you?

You kicked the dog twice and even went to the trouble of wooing it back – common sense would suggest it would be foolhardy to go anywhere near you again. The dog has instinctively backed off for its own self-preservation and senses the danger. Yeah maybe when it gets down the street, it has a think to itself and judges the situation and maybe even calls you a twat, but really, what has that dog done to you lately? It certainly hasn’t judged you, even though it probably should. By the way, if this situation sounds vaguely familiar to you even though you’re not a dog, just swap in being lured back to a relationship with some Future Faking and sex…

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not God, a higher power, a county court or whatever judge, or even Judge Judy, so basically whatever you think about or even deem someone to be when you tell them all about themselves (clicks fingers in front of face with attitude), really your judgement has limited impact.

It’s not like if you judge someone, that as soon as the thought occurs or you say it, that lightening strikes them, you put a curse on them, or that every media outlet within a 100 mile radius starts printing out newspapers, putting posters up in the streets, and pumping out articles on the net making your judgement public. They’re not going to be ostracised, struck down with the clap, or branded – it’s just your opinion that pertains to you.

It is incredibly egotistical to believe that you ‘can’t’ make judgements for fear of how it may affect the person because you automatically come from a place of being superior. Get off your pedestal because if you don’t, you’re a hop, skip, and a jump to being a Florence.

All you have to do is judge the situation and yes, at times, that may involve judging someones actions or their character, not because you think you’re superior to them, but because if you don’t, you may allow your vagina/penis/ego/lack of self-esteem/desire for status/desire to be the exception to the norm/betting on potential, or whatever, blind you or even put you in harms way.

Sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade. Yes their ego might be a bit dented but don’t inflate yourself and think that their life won’t be able to go on because you have judged yourself out of a situation with them. You can judge a situation without being judgemental – it doesn’t mean you’re ‘better’ than them but it does mean that you know what’s best for yourself.

Your thoughts?

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

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162 Responses to You’ve Got To Call It As You See It: Why you mustn’t fear judging a situation or actions

  1. Leisha says:

    Spot on as usual! Self-preservation indeed! It isn’t about being better…it IS about taking care of your life…taking personal care which is essential…if not us…who? To paraphrase…if not now, when? Yep, it can take some time to untwist but it is SO worth it…they and we change if and when we choose…at least here we learn healthy alternatives and how to live authentically with courage and honesty and keep our love alive… to give it and to get it and to be fair, live balanced lives…all wonderful things to strive for…

  2. Sue says:

    Natalie, this column was meant to for me! Thank you so much! I left my marriage after one month when I got a first-hand dose of his abuse, starting the night we married. What kept me there a month was, first, the shock that my new marriage, and the person I planned to spend my life with, were lies, and second, the realization that I was might be in danger. He’d been abusive with his former wife, and little by little I learned the truth about lies he told me. So I left, and we got divorced. My eyes are open now, since I missed warning signs. Go with your gut, ladies; if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

    • NML says:

      I remember this Sue and all I can say is I salute you. I know of people in the same situation that stayed for 15/20/30 years. “My eyes are open now, since I missed warning signs. Go with your gut, ladies; if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.” Spot on. If you hadn’t listened to you, I dread to think of what you would have been involved in. You have great survival instincts. Keep listening to you.

  3. Natasha says:

    Very thought provoking stuff! It’s funny, because my ex’s judgement of me can be boiled down to, “Natasha is a gullible ninny.” and my judgement of him is, “Natasha’s Ex is a falsehood-telling user.” Am I letting his judgement of me impact on my life anymore? Nope. So, I wouldn’t expect my judgement to impact on his either.

    I’ll admit that there’s been a few times when he’s crawled out from under a rock to pester me and, I couldn’t help it, I told him precisely what I thought of him. I’ll tell you though, I felt stupid doing it. Why? Because if he gave half of a toss about what I thought of him, he wouldn’t have been treating me badly to begin with.

    This guy tries to convince me that he’s great, but not because he cares what I think – it’s part ego, part “Hmmm, if I say this, maybe I’ll sucker her back in.” What it’s not is, “I know I don’t respect or value her at all, but Natasha must think I’m a Great Man. Otherwise, my whole life will be jacked up.” That’s about as ridiculous as me sitting around thinking, “Well, my ex must think I’m a worthwhile woman, because otherwise I’m screwed.” (The say part is…there was a time when I actually thought like that! OY.)

    Now I just don’t respond to anything, because the first thing I did was the right thing and communicated absolutely everything about my judgement of the situation – I opted out.

    • NML says:

      “Now I just don’t respond to anything, because the first thing I did was the right thing and communicated absolutely everything about my judgement of the situation – I opted out.” Excellent Natasha. And the wonderful thing is that when we don’t read too much into judgement and give it too much weight, it’s freeing. If I concerned myself with my exes or every person out there thinks of me, I’d never leave the house because I’d be terrified. My exes don’t give a rats about me – I’m sure they have bigger concerns. Hell, they barely gave a rats about me when I was *with* them!

      • Natasha says:

        “And the wonderful thing is that when we don’t read too much into judgement and give it too much weight, it’s freeing.”

        So true! I used to waste a truly stunning amount of time worrying about what people thought of me, especially when it came to dudes. I remember a few years ago I dated a typical player and we had a lot of mutual friends in common. As an involvement with a player will tend to do, it lasted a whole whopping month. There was no drama at all, but for some reason this guy told a bunch of mutual friends that I was, “Beautiful, but as dumb as sh*t. Seriously, she so dumb. My one regret is that I didn’t make a movie with her.” I think I cried for a week I was so mortified! Mind you, everyone that he said this in front of thought he was idiot (and knew full well that there was a better chance of Judi Dench coming out with a sex tape), but I just could not abide that there was one dude that thought I was a moron. If that happened now, I’d give him the finger and say, “Film THIS.”

        p.s. I burst out laughing at, “Hell, they barely gave a rats about me when I was *with* them!” That is precisely why I have a giggle when my ex sends me texts about how “bad” he feels about what happened – it’s like, “Dude, you never cared about me when I was in the same room, somehow I doubt it’s magically kicked in a year later!”

        • Lavender says:

          This guy sounds horrible Natasha. Also he’s showing his insecurity by criticising you.

          As a side note, you’re pretty hilarious and witty and that’s a sign of high intelligence I think.

          • Rising Up says:

            Amen. Humor *is* a sign of intelligence.

            And let’s remember that, just because someone says something (e.g., “Natasha isn’t smart”) doesn’t make it true. People used to say the world was flat.

        • Natasha says:

          Awwwwww thank you ladies! :) I think some of these guys (and by “some of” I mean “every last single one of their fool selves”) don’t realize that when they talk like that, THEY are the ones who look dumb. I had actually pretty much forgotten that blessed incident, but the recent non-stop foolishness with Kim Kardashian’s divorce made me think, “Hmmm. There’s someone I dislike because of something to do with sex tapes. Ahhhhhhh, yes.” That just tells you what a loser the dude is, considering that my thought process leads from Kim Kardashian to him haha!

          • Elle says:

            You’re super funny, articulate and insightful, Natasha. You can and should definitely internalise that! (says me who knows all)

            That kind of sexually degrading stuff is the lowest. It’s near the Mum/Mom jokes rung. It’s creepy.

          • Natasha says:

            Elle, you are too funny! I shall most definitely internalize that ;) I definitely agree that guys like that fool I dated are creepy lowlifes. The most amusing part was that he tried to start things up again a few months after that! I wanted to be like, “Say whaaaaaat?! You, son, are a looooooser!”

  4. umi says:

    I was just on a dating website chatting to a man who seemed to have some nice qualities. Suddenly the conversation turned to sex and very rapidly it was THAT sort of conversation. I’m not comfortabe with discussing my sexual preferences with strangers and I said so. It’s not a judgement of him, it’s just I know that I am uncomfortable with those sorts of revelations. Flush……he’s made his game clear even though on his profile he wants a soul mate and children to me he is rushing the interaction to a place I don’t want to go so soon and my gut feeling just says…..thus guy is dressing up sex as something else.

    • NML says:

      You made a good judgement call there Umi. It’s probably my #1 peeve about dating websites. That’s not a man that’s looking for a date; he’s looking for a shag. You don’t need to judge him because the situation in itself is more than enough for you to make a judgement on – he comes with the situation hence if you don’t want the situation, you don’t want him. Good for you Umi.

  5. colororange says:

    “You don’t make ‘judgements’ because you don’t want people to make judgements about you, which is also trying to control the uncontrollable. You likely see it as rejection. The ridiculous thing is that all this worrying is a waste – they’re going ahead with their own lives and making their own judgements even though they may not be specifically criticising or condemning you from a position of moral superiority or laying down divine punishment – not everything is about you.”

    And that is exactly it! Oftentimes I keep my opinions to myself about things or others because I do not want to hear their opinions about me. I do NOT want to be outright rejected or even close to what feels like rejection to me. I don’t always trust my judgment about things. I have been in situations where I was wrong and my perception has been distorted. I have also changed or felt worse about myself when I pick up on (I am hyper sensitive to this in others) possible rejection or disapproval.

    I guess it could be like if I were allergic to a certain kind of food. When I eat it, I break out in miserable hives. It may be the most enticing food ever and a lot of people are eating it, but it just is not for me. It would be illogical on my part to keep eating it when my body keeps telling me that it’s no good for me. I worry a lot about some things, that I may have made the wrong decision and if I had made the “right” one my life would somehow be better/different. Now several years after graduating college I realize I got the wrong degree and I am not in a situation where I can just go back and get a different one.

    • NML says:

      Hi Colororange. I think if we devote our lives to missing what we never had, we miss out on the opportunity to create meaning in our present and future while taking the steps to get what we want in those contexts. You’re not the only person in the world who did the ‘wrong degree’ – millions have. The sheer number of people who are doing a job that is very different to what they studied or what they originally believed was the perfect career is astounding. I have a degree in product design. I don’t and haven’t worked in the field although the other side of my life puts the degree to reasonably good use. Before that, I did 2 out of 3 years of accountancy and human resource management because according to my mother, like many African and Caribbean folk believe, it’s important to be a lawyer, accountant, doctor. I know many women who have changed their careers in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s. It’s never too late to do something different. One of those ‘something different”s that you could do is 1) stop being so hard on yourself 2) stay away from that married man, 3) stop worrying about all this stuff (and take action instead), and 4) start to trust yourself.

    • Lavender says:

      colorange I think degrees are overrated. I have three and realised after finding myself in debt, starting full time work later than my peers and earning a lot less than my friends who left school at 15, that it’s important to be educated, but that doesn’t have to come from a formal institution necessarily. Also very rarely do people work in the very same field that they have a degree in. There is huge scope for movement in your career, so don’t get disillusioned.

  6. kookoo cachoo says:

    so struggling, to see the truth, to make my life about me. Its like almost in my peripheal vision, but the known uncomfortable has an extreme hold on my subconsious mind. I had no contact and broke no contact and these are the dark days again when he dissapears. But this final epipheny relationship has brought me to battle of mythical proportions, me v. me, and funny, has so little to do with him anymore!

    • NML says:

      Hi Kookoo Cachoo (love the name), you’re going through a battle of illusion and fear vs reality. If you’re afraid, it means it’s not happening yet so you’re creating a lot of anxiety for yourself while not taking the necessary steps to begin addressing the uncomfortable unknown. There you are afraid of something you’re not doing, when you’re already in pain about something you already have and are doing. You can do this – but make sure you get on your own (positive) side.

  7. FX says:

    I really don’t know what I would be doing now if I hadn’t found this site. I actually did judge and articulate quite accurately to myself that I was in an unhealthy situation and his behavior would not be considered acceptable to anyone when things were going south… I was putting up with crap I never tolerated in my life to keep him around because my self esteem had tanked. Probably mostly due to him!

    I can totally relate to thinking that if you take off the rose colored glasses and see what assclowns they are, somehow they or the universe should have an appropriate reaction! I somehow managed to rationalize staying (and mostly acting happy about his crap) for whatever lame reasons because I was terrified of being where I am now. To tell you the truth, although I don’t wish I felt as I did with him, this isn’t much fun either. I’ve been thinking I may mostly be missing the adrenaline rushes of intermittent reinforcement just like a lab rat, though! I never knew when I might get the treat I coveted and now there are no man treats at all… At least, I’m getting my self respect back even if I don’t go out at night. I know that it has only been a couple of months of NC but I think this is the longest I think I have been away from dating/a relationship as an adult and I don’t have any close female friends anymore either. Another good reason to take a break but I’m over 50 not getting any younger! There is no dispute that I have aged 15 years in appearance in the 6 years I spent with that tool being a fool. There will not be a fire sale, though, thanks to BR!

    • NML says:

      “There will not be a fire sale, though, thanks to BR!” God that made me laugh FX. You are funny! You’re only two months into NC – it was never going to be fun or easy after leaving behind a six year relationship. It can feel like they take a part of you with them and you may not fully recognise yourself anymore. It takes a while to get grounded and you have to invest some time reacquainting yourself with you and even branching out into pastures new. A lot of the readers I hear from that are doing NC are in their 40s and 50s – you’re not alone. There literally is no fire though and when you’re feeling better, you can approach life with new vigor.

    • Tanzanite says:

      FX

      I can relate to you in many ways because I am of a certain age.

      Don’t they say the best time to make friends is before you need them ? I never did because I was at the bottom of my priority list.

      I came on on here because I found myself with a AC but I now realize he was a symptom of a bigger problem.I feel for the people who had struggles in childhood because I did too and it never goes away.I have read lots of information on narcissism and my ex was one,but I think I probably was too,but in different ways and I was made worse by him ,we were a bad combination and an accident waiting to happen.He was incredibly selfish and I was incredibly selfless.I also discovered I am a compensatory narcissist eg-I have had 3 sons and I made it a personal mission to make sure they never suffered like I did, and they haven’t,but it was at the expense of myself.I am 46 years old and I realize I forgot to have my own life.
      I have digressed, but I know it’s never too late to be the person you were always meant to be.Men are at at the bottom of my list of priorities and for the first time in my life I am at the top.

      There are many reasons why it took me so long to get here and the biggest was being in isolation.

      I can recommend watching the film eat, pray, love, that is how my life was and it’s very inspiring and up lifting.

      • SM says:

        Tanzanite another good book to read is Women who love psychopaths It explains some of your actions and his too. I dont know your situation or his but the author explains how sometimes people inadvertently take on the traits of the narcissist etc person, when in fact it is not in their makeup.

        • Tanzanite says:

          Hi SM

          I have always had medium self esteem I suppose, but it has never been as low as when I was with the AC and also when I compare myself to some of the people at my divorce recovery workshop I feel guilty even saying I have medium self esteem because it seems high now.It was a temporary slump due to being with the wrong person and in the wrong situation.I think my ex loves to be loved, and he future faked/fast forwarded and when I was fully available, he disappeared faster than a rat deserting a sinking ship.

          It’s a pity we can’t do a book exchange ,-”Women who love too much” is also a good book.

          I have never felt so good and there isn’t a man in sight( man free for 2 years ) I sound like a recovering addict.The situation we are all in is temporary and we will all recover at our own pace.Then we can give up the labels and just be us.

          “My name is Tanzanite and i’m not an assclown magnet ”

          Natalie-Have you ever done a post about being single and happy? What a great foundation to build on!

    • Natasha says:

      FX, first of all, you are hilarious! Second of all, I want to second that it’s never too late. My grandmother was married to one of the most egregious examples of an assclown on this earth. When he impregnated another woman and ditched her (and four children, the youngest of which was less than a year old), she was a single mother and child suport wasn’t happening. Her children were always her first priority and she never dated much – honestly, she probably didn’t even have time to. However, she did meet a fantastic man and married him….in her late 60′s! :)

      • Tanzanite says:

        Natasha

        My next door neighbour has just met a new man and she is 75.

        They look like a couple of teenagers it’s great.

    • Jasmine says:

      FX,
      I hope that although you were terrified being where you are now… that it gets better with time, and you will see thats its not so bad to be alone with youself. It sounds simple but you are so much better off taking time off, and making yourself the first priority…. it just takes a while to get used to living without the anxiety and highs and lows that come in the form of AC and EUMs. Especially if that sort of dynamic reaches back to your childhood. It’s not easy to change, and unfair to expect of yourself overnight, so be patient :)
      Jas

  8. brenda says:

    Nat.I honestly had to stop reading and come back after I collected myself..I first posted here about 2 months ago,My ex did the SAME THING!!Drove in rage,slammed doors in my face,anger issues like no other I have seen…And Yet I continued to chase him and think this was relationship material..I am forever grateful for you and this site,You have saved my life and sanity more and more,and honestly I owe you so much…I am healing,and moving on in healthiness..I have guys coming out of the woodwork,and today if I see any redflags,I stop it dead,No more insanity!!
    Love from Canada!!!
    Brenda

    • NML says:

      Ah Brenda, I thought of you actually when I was writing this. I know you have your bumpy days, but you know you did the right thing, right? Yes you do. Sending you a big squeezy hug and take care of you!

  9. runnergirl says:

    Oh this post brings back social psych memories. In order to illustrate the difference between a judgment and being judgmental, the classic example in social psych is diet pepsi vs. diet coke. I prefer diet pepsi over diet coke. Thus, I’m making a decision based on my preferences. I’m not judging folks who like diet coke, it’s just not what I prefer…too sweet. Diet coke hasn’t gone out of business just cos it’s too sweet for my taste. I totally trust my judgment when it comes to diet sodas. Now I get it, I think. I get to make a choice, based on my preference, about what men I prefer and allow into my life. As a kid, I was stuck with EUM/AC. lying, cheating, father. As an adult (and older one at that), I get to choose. Wow. What a relevation. I can choose what is best for me…just like I can choose diet pepsi over diet coke. After a life time of being the dutiful daughter to a really creepy father who engaged in porn, child porn, and was recognized as a sucessful high school teacher for 40 years, it’s really difficult to realize I can now make my own decisions based on what is best for me and my daughter. I’ve been NC with my father for 6 or so years, once his pedophilia was revealed, I cut him off. My daughter just knows Grandpa has issues. He was caught with child porn on his computer. He was caught being a peeping tom, watching his daughters and his grand children undress and urinate. YUP, that’s my dad. Anyone want to make a judgment call here?

    • NML says:

      (((((hugs))))) I shall responds properly when I get back from the rainy school run.

    • Magnolia says:

      Runner – you must be doing some major unsent letters and work and thinking and self-understanding etc to be able to tell us that. What a difficult, difficult reality.

      Thank you for putting it in such clear terms. You mean I can choose something that I prefer, rather than feeling I should be grateful even for guys who only seem to be a *little* bit pedophilic/controlling/narcissistic/abusive? If I follow what you’re saying, it gets trained into us that choosing non-creepy over creepy is *judgmental*, when really it’s about exercising judgment. It’s having a preference, and you (and I) have a right to do that, and okay to have a preference based on what feels good and healthy to you.

      I feel like saying: “I am so sorry for your loss.” No, no one died, but seems clear that you lost the hope of a caring, healthy father in your life – and probably lived out that hope, and that loss, more than once.

      I have probably mentioned: I was ten when I found my father’s porn stash. White women: ie what me and my mom were not. I don’t think he and my mother were indulging together: he used to abuse my mom verbally about her body a lot at that point. I felt I lost something huge that day; faith in men, belief that I could be beautiful, respect for my mother (couldn’t keep her man’s attention): so much. I can only guess at the magnitude of loss when your father’s behaviour is outright criminal.

      God. If we think of our task as something as simple making sure we enjoy our relationships as much as we enjoy Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi), then I haven’t needed to give much thought at all to these recent dates. I enjoy my five minutes with Diet Coke way more than forcing conversations with any of these guys.

      Anyway – thank you again, runner, for sharing that. You have endured much. Hugs to you.

    • NML says:

      OK I’m back. You have done some wonderful, brave work on yourself Runnergirl and with your authenticity and willingness to face your past, the pieces of the puzzle are slotting into place. Like Magnolia, I want to say that I’m sorry for your loss because really, with those revelations, it’s like not only have whatever illusions you’d carefully constructed about him come down, but you’ve had to remove yourself and your daughter out of your life. You are 100% right that it is about choices, decisions, preferences about what you do and don’t want in your life. It’s *your* life – you have got to protect you and your child – when you were a child you had no choice. I’m horrified at what your father has done – it’s an incredible violation and abuse of a basic trust and relationship.

      Oh and just to add, I despise diet drinks and cannot drink Pepsi.

    • Lavender says:

      runnergirl – this is so sad. You’re such an amazing person. I agree with the unsent letter idea.

    • Fearless says:

      Runner,
      Me sending you a cuddle! You are doing so good. You are an excellent BR student – you may even be a BR swat! (Lol) You make me feel like the lazy one in the class! xx

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Natalie, Magnolia, Lavender, and Fearless,
        Thank you for the support, hugs, cuddles, and your kind responses. I realized that I really hadn’t grieved the loss of having my father in my life. It was a devastating (but clear choice) decision at the time but I stuffed the feelings of the loss until recently when working on my Unsent Letter. I could never really get started until I used Natalie’s guidelines. They are fabulous Natalie. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop. I started with the Unsent Letter to the exMM (which helped me to not send the poision pen email) and found myself copying and pasting into the Unsent Letter to my father. It was almost the same letter!
        I don’t think I really felt comfortable with my decision to remove me and my daughter from such a toxic environment until today with this post. As an adult, I do get to choose, make decisions, and judgments about who I want in my life. For me, it’s been a struggle to break the powerlessness I experienced as a child being raised in a creepy environment. The puzzle is going together.
        Magnolia, I’m sorry about your father and how he treated you and your mother. It must have been a huge loss for you as well and you must have experienced some similar feeelings when you made the discovery. But the upside, our fathers are human (although mine’s a criminal still on the loose) and their stuff is not our stuff. I’ve stopped owning my Father’s sins and crimes. As adults, I guess we do get to make decisions and exercise our judgment about who we want in our lives and who we spend time with as well as what soda to drink. I’m glad you’ve stopped pondering the dates and feeling grateful if a guy is only a little creepy. The social psych analogy of diet coke and pepsi always stuck with me for some reason. Now I see the reason. It really is about preferences. Even a little bit creepy=bounce!
        Hey Fearless, being a studious BR student means I’ve learned a ton from YOU as well as all the other brilliant folks who comment on this blog. Thank you.
        PS. He, he, he Natalie. I don’t feel like you are being judgmental of me because you don’t like Pepsi! I actually haven’t had a diet soda in a long time. I think I’m going to buy one tomorrow. Pepsi, of course! Hugs to you all.

    • Natasha says:

      Runner, you are just awesome – you really do inspire me with how brave you are. I have a very close friend that had a similar situation with her stepfather and her mother wouldn’t leave him – she ended up in some straight-up crappy situations with guys because of this (she’s now happily engaged – woohooo!). I want to commend you on how well you’ve handled this situation with your daughter, because I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to shield her from it. I’m sending you big hugs sister!! xoxo

      p.s. For what it’s worth, I cannot live without Diet Coke. My world would literally come crashing down if they discontinued it. I look at it in my fridge in all of it’s artificially-sweetend glory and think, “Why can’t I quit you?”

      • runnergirl says:

        Hey Natasha, you always make me laugh. Don’t worry, diet coke won’t discontinue manufacturing it’s artificially-sweetend glory. You and your fridge are safe from us pepsi folks. Give your friend a hug for calling it like it is and moving on. Yup, when it came to subjecting my daughter to my father’s criminal behavior, there was simply one clear choice, NC, and that was long before I knew what NC was. Ironically, my father always taught me to call it like it is and I did. There is nothing confusing about his criminal behavior, or other criminal behavior which includes being hit, bit, or verbally abused. I’m getting so clear, I can see the stars through the clouds.
        I loved reading your comment about the exdicksplash that attempted to insult your intelligence, to no avail. My bet, you could run rings around that ex and he wouldn’t even know where to begin or how to respond, intelligently. In my experience, that’s the thing about dicks heads, they go right for intelligence as though being born with a penis makes them intelligent!
        I know I say this everytime but this is such an incredible post Natalie. I can now say, without reservation and without inserting in the infix effing, I am so grateful. It is what is it is and I get to call it. Most importantly, my siblings and my stepmother get to call it as they see it. Since they have decided my father’s criminal behavior can be overlooked, that is their decision, their preference.
        I just off-loaded a ton of baggage, airports beware (I’ll probably be charged for excess baggage in the morning). Everybody gets to call it as they see it and I do too. My preferences may not be the same as their’s.
        Go Bruins! No judgment intended USC fans.

        • Natasha says:

          Runner, I am so glad to hear that the Pepsi Contingency is not coming for my stash – otherwise I’d have to chain myself to my fridge like an old-school protester haha! I love what you said about abusive behavior being straight-up, non-negotiably unnaceptable – I had a verbally and physcially abusive ex a few years ago and it took me some time to get to that point too.

          That’s very true about how a lot of jerks go after intelligence – my most recent ex announced right before disappearing, “You know, you’re actually intelligent.” and looked so distraught that you’d think he’d discovered that I had just been released from prison after a 10-year sentence/planned on having him abducted by aliens/had a concealed goiter/announced that there was a man on earth more attractive than him.

          This is the beauty of freedom of choice: you can say “Buh-bye!” to the assclowns of the world!

    • Blaise Parker says:

      Runnergirl, you are so awesome it’s stupid. :-)

      (I said this to my fiance on our first date. It’s still true two years later. Anniversary yesterday. Yeah!)

      • runnergirl says:

        Hey Blaise, thank you and congratulations on two AC/EUM free years. Happy Anniversary. You are a tremendous inspiration. It is possible to overcome our stuff, learn to trust our judgment, call it like it is, and learn to trust ourselves. I’m looking forward to my AC/EUM/MM free future. I’m so determined to get out of the muck and learn to call it like it is with men. Part of dealing with being involved with a MM who is a politician and a prominent father who is a criminal, is every thing is a secret. Thus, I can’t talk with anybody I know because they are recognized as pillars of the community. Their secret lives are safe with me but I don’t have to own their secrets. I don’t have to live their secrets. Unloading my creepy, criminal father’s behavior has been awesome. Unloading the exMM even more awesome. I’m forever grateful for Natalie and our BR community. Cheers.

        • Tulipa says:

          Hi Runnergirl,
          Many a time I have related to your posts and this is no exception.
          I have typed many responses and deleted them, but your post has been on my mind a lot.
          What you wrote about your dad perving on you I know how that makes you feel in my case it was my step father. I have never labelled him a pedophile before never even thought of his behaviour on those terms. I was 14 when he declared he was in ‘love’ with me.
          It has always been a long hard uphill battle to come to terms with this and it is good to know I’m not alone in dealing with this kind of stuff. To me what happened here and looking at my last relationship has forced me to look at the situation again and connect pieces of the puzzle. I get what you are saying about keeping secrets too and having no one to tell but you are right his secret is not my secret he owns his behaviour just a shame I have to live and have lived with the consequences of it.
          I wish continuing success, Runnergirl, in your journey and thank you for sharing.

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Tuplia, it is a tough road to hoe when a father figure is a prevert and is involved with criminal behavior with their daughters. I’m so sorry for your experience with your step father. It just does not compute when a father is in “love” with their 14 year old daughter It is NOT your fault. However, we are not alone, unfortunatly. At some point, we get to decide and call it like it like it is. Our fathers may be prevs. Here is the most important thing, I think, my father is a criminal . I’m not.

  10. Foxy Cleopatra says:

    This article was very timely. I just stepped away from a relationship that was elevating to an abusive level 28 days ago. Have been in the NC zone and am striving to maintain that. I had been witnessing this lovely, funny and remarkable man unravel over the last few months of our relationship and was finding myself more often on the receiving end of his angry mood swings on one hand or blatant disregard on the other. When it came time for the break up even HE knew how his self destructive habits were taking a toll on him and our relationship. In fact i only had to say very little but “Where do you foresee us going?” And he proceeded to open the floodgate and tell me that he’s too effed up to go anywhere with anybody right now and that i deserve better and yada yada. Perhaps it was a farce on his part to free himself or even to do me a “favor” and yeah sometimes i miss that assclown but you know what? He was right. I DO deserve better. For him the pursuit of his personal wellness, cleaning up his hot mess and getting it together should be his goal but he must earnestly seek it on his own. For me, the pursuit of excellence will not include being intertwined with someone who sucks the life and joy out of me. Sometimes making a judgement call means keeping it real with yourself.

    • NML says:

      Also loving your name Foxy Cleopatra! He *was* totally right about you deserving better. “For him the pursuit of his personal wellness, cleaning up his hot mess and getting it together should be his goal but he must earnestly seek it on his own. For me, the pursuit of excellence will not include being intertwined with someone who sucks the life and joy out of me. Sometimes making a judgement call means keeping it real with yourself.” Yep, no matter what good times there were, it should never have come at the expense of having the joy sucked out of you – where is the fun in that?

  11. Kmac says:

    Natalie, let me begin by saying that your writing, and this website, have proved invaluable to me in the past two months. It seems though, that one particular blogger’s response to your last post may have inspired this particular topic. Maybe I’m wrong, but your response to her seemed so angry. In the spirit of it being perfectly healthy to judge, still, I’m not judging that. I would, though, like to express that I think it is very possible, with incredible inner strength and support from external sources, to heal and move on without the contant barrage of: This person is a this, and that person is a that, all with capitals and stereotypes. It just seems quite hard, all of it, and none of it do we actually know to be true. It does bring short-term symptom relief, of a sort. It’s like downing a shot of My Ex is a EUM, MM, I’m an OW, etc., etc, and it certainly is helpful in the moment. Perhaps though, if we just came from the place of : What is best for me right now? we might be better off. For me, your encouragement of no contact has been invaluable since my ex broke up with me and then played the friend card. But rather than put an inordinate amount of energy into judging him, I am instead saying: what is best for me in this moment? How would it feel for me to let that play out on his terms? What possibly, could be his intentions? You said it best when you called these actions ‘underwhelming.’ Still, it has been harder than words can express. But at the risk of sounding lofty, isn’t it a bit better for humanity if we strive to make it more about what we can do most compassionately for ourselves (and even for those that hurt us), and can’t we find a way to do that without judging? Maybe not. I’m just thinking out loud. Go off on me if you choose! It’s your site. And again, you have held me up from across the pond without even knowing my name, so I do not judge you in the least.

    • NML says:

      Hi Kmac, no it’s not just her but she is a part of it. Obviously what you want to think is up to you but if it were just one person, i’d just add her comment to the post/link to it. I have over 12k advice queries at the moment, never mind the many comments – being the Good Girl/Guy is a repeated theme.

      It’s ok to judge me about that comment Kmac (not that you need my permission!) – it wouldn’t do anything to me. I was very specific as to why I felt that comment was inappropriate – quoting as truth when it’s not and far more worryingly what was said about abuse and even bringing ADHD into it. You may think what’s the big deal or even that I overreacted – I take abuse very seriously.

      You can make a judgement without being judgemental. The pressure to villanise only comes from ourselves. Also the only one of those capitals that I use is OW but interesting on the constant barrage etc stuff.

      I prefer being direct Kmac, so even though you have said you haven’t judged, you have. 100%. It’s like telling an ex that you’re not judging them and even saying “you know I love you….but…” and then criticising them and making judgements. I should add, I don’t think it’s that you’re critical of me per se (although maybe partly), I just think that you’ve judged this situation (the site, the message, the readers) and it’s like ‘This site has been helpful and as a result I’ll hold off judgement but you’re all a load of man/people bashers who sit around sending a barrage of insults and criticism to make yourselves feel better’. It’s just so much more than that.
      But that’s ok also.

      Take care.

      • Kmac says:

        Thanks for responding, Natalie. I honestly don’t know how you find the time, but it certainly shows how much you care. I don’t actually perceive your site as man-bashing. Never have. You put quotes around something I never wrote! ‘you’re all a load of man/people bashers.’ You inferred that, I never wrote it, and you seem to hate it when people do that to you! And by the way, I never thought ‘what’s the big deal’ when you responded very aptly to that woman’s comment about ADHD, abuse, etc. That’s an inference as well. I teach young children who suffer from both every day, and it breaks my heart.
        For those of you who think I’m on some martyrish ‘compassion train,’ I don’t think you read my entry with the spirit intended. Certainly, MM’s and OW’s are known quantities. Trust me, I’m not espousing what the Buddhists refer to as ‘idiot compassion,’ which is allowing someone to cross your boundaries and cause you pain in the name of compassion. It doesn’t do you, or them, any good. But I do believe we can see these guys as fellow humans who are suffering, and doing so seems most helpful for me in the long run. Does it mean we stick around? Does it mean we allow them to treat us poorly? Never. I think we are all trying to get to the same place here. And that’s a beautiful thing. Natalie, your words on seeing red flags clearly, self-esteem, staying strong, and no contact have saved my sanity, maybe even my life, so I do realize that your site is about much more than the names.

        • NML says:

          Oh dear Kmac. I wasn’t quoting you (I used single not double quotes) as you didn’t say it, that’s why I said “and it’s like ‘This site has been helpful and as a result I’ll hold off judgement but you’re all a load of man/people bashers who sit around sending a barrage of insults and criticism to make yourselves feel better’.”, the “it’s like” being critical between differentiating between a suggestion of implied meaning as opposed to me saying “and you said”.

          I have to say – I didn’t get any of what you said in *this* comment from your previous comment. That’s just my opinion and this is the joy of clarification. It actually, if I’m being totally honest, when you pointed out my anger, appeared to be an inference of what was I angry about. As I had said it in the comment and you then brought it up again, it seemed that not only had that not come across to you in my response to her but that you also seemed to think I’d written this post specifically about her, which would be a very passive aggressive act. Otherwise, why bring it up? I certainly don’t see anything in your previous comment that even *hints* at me responding to that comment aptly. If that was how you’d felt, it would be what you’d conveyed. Instead, you said “It seems though, that one particular blogger’s response to your last post may have inspired this particular topic. Maybe I’m wrong, but your response to her seemed so angry. In the spirit of it being perfectly healthy to judge, still, I’m not judging that.” Really, that’s like saying (like not quoting) “I could judge you but hell, I won’t”. What am I supposed to do with that? Feel spared from some sort of divine judgement?

          I, in all honesty, don’t know what spirit your comment was supposed to be read in. I just read it. I made sure I read it a good 10 times so that I didn’t jump to conclusions. I’m not sure what you wanted from me. You even prodded at me to “Go off on me if you choose! It’s your site.” That’s just odd. I can only have the reaction that I feel and that I want to so again, it leaves me wondering what it is that you were truly trying to convey or get from me.

        • SM says:

          Kmac I do see these people as fellow sufferers but it takes a while to get there. If you read Grace’s post I think it sums up the different stages people have to go through before they arrive at that point. I sure you are already there but give others a chance.

    • SM says:

      ‘This person is a this, and that person is a that, all with capitals and stereotypes. It just seems quite hard, all of it, and none of it do we actually know to be true.’ Kmac, we do know this is true. The problem is this line right here, while I was in these crappy relationships I would tell myself this exact same thing and it would keep me stuck with the person when it was quite obvious that he was unavailable to everyone not just me. Until I learned to call a spade a spade, I didnt begin one iota of changing my own actions and behaviors. I went through lots of therapy and workshops and the main theme was to see the reality of a situation from my perspective and what the actions of the other person were actually communicating.

      • NML says:

        Great point SM “Until I learned to call a spade a spade, I didnt begin one iota of changing my own actions and behaviors.” I think we have to stop thinking that we’re saints that have no right to think anything about anything. Unless we have no intentions of ever trusting our judgement and drawing a conclusion, we have to think something. Also we have to ask ourselves what we don’t know to be true? The Other Woman is the Other Woman. The Married Man is the Married Man. How is this false? They’re unavailable – that’s not false either. Someone that abuses you – they are being abusive. That’s not false either. If none of anything is known to be true then the whole world knows nothing.

        In the past I wondered if I had been too harsh to see his actions as abusive even though they were. His ex who I’d known when I first moved there was terrified of him. He said it was because they’d had a disagreement over a ‘fender bender’. It turned out he’d actually crashed his car with her in it into someone’s house in a rage. He then tried to make her pay for the damage… I now know why she was looking at me with pleading eyes.

    • grace says:

      kmac
      I come from a christian background, am female, and chinese. I was most definitely brought up not to judge and it has hurt me immensely.
      I felt very uncomfortable drawing a line in the sand and saying, this has gone too far. You echo exactly what I used to think. Unless you get off the Compassion train, you’re heading for a heap of trouble. By all means have compassion on little children, your family (unless they are toxic), the helpless, and the sick. Not for grown men
      “I have given my love to what is worthy of love. Is that not the kingdom and the unperishing spring?” You throw all this positive energy at people who don’t deserve it and don’t even want it.
      You are a woman. You are smaller and not as strong as most men. You can be sexually exploited. You have nurturing instincts that can be taken advantage of. God gave us our feminine instincts for a reason, not for us to ignore them.
      The reason the women here pour out their rage is because they’ve been very badly hurt and that’s an understandable and natural reaction. If you’ve been following the blog you’ll see that we don’t encourage that indefinitely. At some point, we do try to move women along to a happier place. You might think that you can progress without feeling the anger. My experience is that you can’t. Instead of fully recognizing the wrongs I suffered, I turned it into self-loathing, self- doubt and depression. That anger has to go somewhere.
      I’ve been hit with sticks, pushed down stairs, punched in the face, insulted, controlled, ignored, neglected, allowed to go hungry. For me not to get angry about that is unnatural! And for me not to judge the people who did that, even my own mother, as ACs is the utmost denial.
      I’ve been able to forgive my mother. But it sure took a long time and I was only able to do it after I stopped trying to justify why she treated me the way she did. Have you seen Dogtown? At the end of it, the heroine’s father says to her “You patronise people when you don’t hold them to the same standards you have for yourself”. Amen.

      • blueberry girl says:

        @ grace
        I can’t believe what you have endured and how strong you are. I admire your fighting spirit.
        This struck me the most: “Unless you get off the Compassion train, you’re heading for a heap of trouble.” Indeed!
        Before I started to read BR ~at an all-time low emotionally during an affair with a MM who used me like an unpaid prostitute ~ I didn’t understand why I had put myself in such a devastating, self-destructive situation…So, the language here (EU, AC, OW, etc) and insight helped me to finally begin to grasp what the hell I was doing and why. And most importantly, that I wasn’t alone and losing my mind! As a perpetual doormat/Florence Nightingale since childhood, I wasn’t being judgemental or self-preserving enough!

        • grace says:

          blueberry
          Thank you for your comment.
          I guess I’ve been here long enough to know the backstories – women who’ve been cheated on, cheated with, lied to, attacked, bitten, pimped out, bullied, controlled, abandoned in pregnancy, ignored while he goes on benders, insulted, dumped multiple times (by the same man), raped, defrauded and robbed. And the women, instead of running for the hills, are wondering why he’s doing it, what they can do better, waiting for him to change, all the while believing he’s a nice person underneath it all. A breathtaking lack of judgement.
          We are not dealing with men whose only “crimes” are giving you a crap present every now and then, or who won’t do their share of housework, or don’t like to talk about their feelings from dawn to dusk. Rather, there are some real users and losers out there! If a woman is lucky/careful enough not to have encountered any of them, then all power to her and I admire her for it, but the things that work in relationships with decent blokes (listening, discussion, patience, kindness, compromise) are not going to work in these jacked up situations. Just shoot yourself in the foot and be done with it! The power balance is so much in their favour we kid ourselves if we think they need/appreciate/want our love/compassion/understanding. Just get the hell out! Oh, yeah, and NC. It’s hard to see someone for what they really are when you’re hanging around on their texts or stalking them on facebook.
          By the way, my abusive ex, within a year was married to another woman and they now live in the flat I helped him buy. I don’t care anymore but I sure did spit feathers over it at the time. The fact that I call him an AC has not, in any way, diminished his happiness. Though it’s ramped mine up since I stopped trying to “understand” him. I’ve got better things to do with my time. And this is someone I used to feel sorry for because he clearly had issues. HA!

      • Sushi says:

        You inspire me Grace, thank you.

      • NML says:

        Grace you know how much I rate you but again I’m tipping my hat and doing a lot of Hercules clapping because reading your comment shows me not only how far you’ve come but even connects with my own and of course other readers experiences.

        While my parents aren’t heavily religious, certainly like a lot of African/Caribbean families back then, there’s all this elders know best, anything they do is for your own good even if it’s bad, even if you’re being treated bad it’s better than what they’ve had to put up with, families forgive everything and yada yada. What’s interesting is much of this was patently untrue even to a very young me because family quite clearly did not stick together no matter what – I’ve been estranged from my mothers family since I was a child. Even more interestingly, I actually understand and agree with many of her reasons for staying clear of them (some of it crossed into Runnergirl territory…) but equally some of the reasons are the very reasons I could have cut off.

        What I have learned over these past six years is that pretending that I don’t judge anything and bestowing a forgiveness that often they’re not bothered about anyway was actually very fake on my part. Being honest means that sometimes you’re rightfully f*cked off. Why was I carrying on like I was the Queen of Forgiveness Sheba who sees the good in everything and imagines what type of problems these people might have to grant them forgiveness? What I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt is if I said to an ex “You and I are alike. I know your problems and I empathise with you. You’re this and that” he’d probably laugh his head off or look at me blankly while wondering who the hell I think I am. It’s very presumptuous and as you rightly pointed out, patronising. I realise that at times I was acting like I felt sorry for people or making up problems for them to be all ‘there, there’. We need to mind our own business and focus on ourselves.

        • Fearless says:

          Said it before and will again: Amazing Grace! Am so glad you’re here – you have brought things home to me so many times in so many ways; am sorry for all your heartache and am so glad you are happier now – you so deserve to be! And Nat, yes, we should mind our own business! I finally got that part only about five months ago – that if these guys were remotely interested in our “advice”/lecturing/analysing they’d be doing somthing about it themselves. This is one of the major things I have learned from you Nat – that I should shut my face telling “him” (or feeling the need to tell him) all what he did wrong and all how hurtful his behaviour was! I tried to explain the “problem” to him a thousand times (in his four page monthly “here’s why you’re an asshole” newsletter!) in a thosand different ways for years – he DID NOT care! It is actually very liberating to accept and realise all that it is a serious a waste of my time and breath and so to not want to do it anymore, to finally give my jaw a rest from “explaining” things to him and worry about what’s the problem with *me*! Yay. That feels better – to let these men (or whoever these people are) figure it out themselves on their own time, not on mine!

    • yoghurt says:

      I really understand where you’re coming from, kmac – when I first started reading BR I would read about EUMs and ACs and I would imagine little stereotyped cartoon men running around (both, mysteriously, with big elvis-style quiffs, although the AC is diffentiated by his pointy evil teeth), visiting girls in the middle of the night, refusing to commit and generally making heart-breaking nuisances of themselves.

      And sure, they were described as doing the same things as *my* ex, but *he* was so much more complex than that, and I understood all of his hefty issues and *we* had a much deeper, more complicated connection than that and… so on and so forth. Be that as it may be, his behaviour still mysteriously fit in with the description of an EUM on here to a T.

      People are people. They’re all unique and can’t be categorised. However, I think that Patterns Of Behaviour CAN be categorised.

      For example, I’m a teacher. Often I have attention-seeking students in my class. Now, I’m aware that they’re all individuals and they all have their own histories and aspirations and fears and motivations for and methods of attention-seeking, but one attention-seeker (even those who seek negative, as opposed to positive attention) often comes across as very similar to another and my strategies for dealing with it don’t vary that much. Everyone knows what an attention-seeker is, and everyone would know one if they met one.

      Similarly, EUMs have a pattern of behaviour that is recognisable and that actually makes them much of a muchness – and probably masks the interesting and unique individuals that I’m sure they really could be. We need to adopt strategies that will minimise the negative impact of that behaviour, by either not getting involved/attached in the first place or by going NC once we are.

      When it comes to teaching, it doesn’t matter why or what or how they’re behaving as they are. I might sympathise, but I HAVE to get on with my lesson. And in personal terms, it doesn’t matter why or what or how an EUM is EUM, I HAVE to get on with my life.

      Also as a teacher… we’re encouraged to ‘judge the behaviour and not the person’. I can do that… “you’ve behaved like a toerag and I’d prefer to enter an slow armpit-waxing competition than be with anyone who behaves as you do”. See, easy, innit? :D

      • yoghurt says:

        Also meant to add…

        I hadn’t actually come across the term ‘Emotionally Unavailable’ until I found BR and the reason that I love it and consider it so apt is because it ISN’T judgemental, on either party… it’s just a statement of fact and it means ‘not in the right frame of mind to be in a relationship’.

        Admittedly ‘AssClown’ is a touch judgemental, but then anyone who deliberately perpetuates a relationship with someone that they actively mean to harm deserves judgement, imo.

        • Elle says:

          What Nat’s site does is give a language and framework for understanding and action. But it’s only one way of understanding it. A good one, but only one. If, after you’ve gotten the requisite physical and emotional distance, you then want to fill in the gaps with a more nuanced understanding of your situation, knock yourself out. But if you do it first, if you go straight to compassion – and by compassion, I mean compassion for him/the other (not self) – then you get stuck in that diagonising, and understanding and forgiving too early, when you don’t even know what your pain is about. It’s bull. Compassion and love are wonderful gifts, but it’s sometimes not very compassionate or loving to stick your hand in someone’s blender. These people often don’t want or need love in the way we have tried to give it to them, often in an anxious, ‘I know best’ way. Besides, as far as the world goes, far better, I think, to be around people who let you, and even want you, to shine.

          • anoosh says:

            Great comment. I went back and read this entire thread twice, b/c at first I didn’t think this was part of my general problem, or one of the issues related to my last EUM/AC. It’s turning out to be a very valuable topic, as I sit here and ponder why I am still sad about a breakup that happened a year and a half ago this Saturday. For a long time, I’ve been insecure about my Man-Radar, because I’m 46 and have had nothing but heartache from “nice guys”. So much so, that I stopped dating altogether for many years, until Mr. “Loveless Marriage”-Separated-LDR-Old Crush from College swept me off Facebook and off to London. I am still recovering from my lack of better judgement, and yes, I think, for failing to be judgmental about his Future Faking-Fast Forwarding-A**. When he pulled the rug out after a year, instead of letting my fury take center stage, I looked for every reason to be “understanding”, compassionate, etc. Then, 6 weeks later, when he came to my city w/his kids to visit his mom, and never called as he was supposed to, and sent me a box of some of my stuff w/no note- instead of processing my anger, and judging his horrific behavior appropriately, I gave myself a nervous breakdown for the whole summer during his Vanishing Act (mind you, he was aware that my most beloved cat had been diagnosed with lymphoma at the same time). I had all the feelings of anger- but I pushed them to the back burner, because all I did for a year was pray for a miracle and Divine Intervention for our “true love”, even though I’m basically an atheist. Then, when he started getting in touch again, instead of “bouncing” and telling him to never contact me again- I kept the door open. Only ONCE did he have to deal with with me breaking down crying conversation, in which I also gave an in-depth analysis of his Assclownery. After that, I instantly snapped into Ms. Bottomless Compassion mode. I failed to revise my judgements about him, his character, the whole basis of the relationship as a midlife fantasy escape for him. So, I allowed him to throw me crumbs of communication for SIX months, believing that I shouldn’t “judge” him, because I’ve never been married and don’t have kids to think about like he does. Wouldn’t I have been better off judging his motives for keeping in contact, rather than send him an email on Valentine’s telling him that I love & miss…

      • SM says:

        yoghurt..yes..thank you. Myself and my bff dated guys with the same eu/ac ‘behaviors’ at the same time. She could aptly label my guy as an AC, but not her guy as she had labeled him ADHD therefore more complex than my guy and more ‘deserving’ of chances. Even though my guy was arrested once 5 years before for domestic violence and her guy has been arrested twice for stalking two different women, the last of which was 8 months before she met him. Well I aptly labeled/judged my guy and bounced him while she is still giving chances to the ‘more complex ADHD guy’ he is manipulating her, making her cry, trying to control her, doesnt have a job and has sorta moved in with her. So let’s not judge anybody. Oh and did I mention, he’s totally single so he is physically available so he MUST be emotionally available too.

        • yoghurt says:

          According to a educational course that I went on not long back, “adult ADHD-sufferers are often characterised by their heavy drinking habits and preference for lots of short-term sexual relationships”. Now, I’m putting that in quote marks and referencing the source because I don’t know whether it’s true or not (and certainly wouldn’t want to label all ADHD-sufferers unfairly) but imo a preference for heavy drinking and a lot of short-term sexual partners would not a good relationship make.

          I hope that your friend sees her way out of it, it sounds like a situation that she will end up regretting a lot. But then it’s really not appropriate or her place to try to ‘fix’ his problems, either.

      • anoosh says:

        I laughed so hard, I almost cried!… pointy evil teeth… I’m dyin’ ovah here!
        “when I first started reading BR I would read about EUMs and ACs and I would imagine little stereotyped cartoon men running around (both, mysteriously, with big elvis-style quiffs, although the AC is diffentiated by his pointy evil teeth), visiting girls in the middle of the night, refusing to commit and generally making heart-breaking nuisances of themselves.”
        “you’ve behaved like a toerag and I’d prefer to enter an slow armpit-waxing competition than be with anyone who behaves as you do”.

    • jennynic says:

      Kmac, I am quoting you just so you know, you said,

      “without the contant barrage of: This person is a this, and that person is a that, all with capitals and stereotypes. It just seems quite hard, all of it, and none of it do we actually know to be true.”

      Stereotyping? Do you think we are all idiots? I KNOW things to be true in my bad relationship, he was abusive and lying and downright mean. This is stereotyping? Should I say instead that my misguided angel of an ex boyfriend pulled my hair, punched me in the face, cheated on me, verbally abused me, isolated me, harassed me, broke my windows and doors in, and terrorized me for four years, but I’m sure he has his reasons, and maybe even a bad childhood so I won’t judge him because of it. Being too nice, giving second chances, being a goody two shoes and not judging landed me in that abusive situation. Things have changed….my compassionate nature is still intact but not to the point of being abused or disrespected. I am not judging people based on their hairstyle or clothes, but on the way they treat me…and others. It’s pretty basic. If you don’t want to judge people, don’t. Start with not doing it to us.

      • Australia says:

        jennynic,

        “Should I say instead that my misguided angel of an ex ….(fill in the blanks here).”

        This post is actually very freeing because for the longest time I protected my ex often talking and thinking about him as you have mentioned above.

        I almost think not making judgements and making excuses go hand in hand. By not making judgements, we are definetly not making decisions rooted in reality, therefore we are making some form of excuse to stay engaged in a situation that our gut is most likely telling is unhealthy!

  12. Christina says:

    This is such an important distinction. For me, being unacceptably judgmental is when I look at what someone is doing in a critical way even if it has no bearing on me. I really struggle with this. Now, if they’re doing something that affects me directly, it’s a whole different story. When bad behavior is directed at me, that’s unacceptable, and self-preservation is definitely not judgmental!

    • SM says:

      Christina you hit the nail on the head! I can certainly judge someone whose behavior personally affects me in a negative way or a positive way.

    • NML says:

      “When bad behavior is directed at me, that’s unacceptable, and self-preservation is definitely not judgmental!” Sing it Christina! Brilliant comment. I think in a world where so much of what ‘everyone’ does is called into question, especially women, learning the difference between using your judgement and being judgemental is critical. As a result, I pay no attention to all of these studies and statistics that pertain to being a woman that micromanage us and judge our choices. It’s also none of my business how someone wants to parent their child – it might not be my way, but who am I to be getting my knickers in a knot when it’s got shag all to do with me. But when it directly affects me, I’m going to use my judgement and I sure as hell am not going to apologise for it.

  13. Jasmine says:

    Great one Nat!
    I used to project a lot of good qualities on others and trust blindly because thats what I thought would make me safe. That also meant not trusting my gut or being “too judgmental”. Well, now going back out into the dating world, I sometimes wonder, do I veer to far into the other direction! But I have decided, no, I am just learning how to listen to myself.
    So the other night I am out and a very tall, dark, and handsome man approached me. We started chatting and there were sparks. He asked me for my number as he wanted to take me out, and although I hesitated, I gave it to him.
    When I left I thought a little more about the conversation rather than the attraction. I didn’t like his arrogance, some of his remarks about my name and ethnicity were vaguely condescending and at the end he was actually telling, not asking me, to pull out my phone so he could be sure I hadn’t given him a fake number. It all may seem minor, but considering this man knew me all of five minutes and was telling me what to do was a major red flag, based on my personal experience. Before I would have just passed it off as funny, or some sort of misunderstanding, but now I realize that he reminded me a lot of a controlling ex of my past. There was just something off about him, so I decided that I will not see him. This is a first for me!

    • SM says:

      Jasmine good for you! I am so proud and I dont even know you. Your post just summed up all that Nat is trying to tell us. Listen to your gut, trust that it is telling you the right thing and then make a judgement call based on it. Too many times did I ignore my gut instincts, told myself to quit judging someone I didnt even know and then went out with them only to discover that I should have trusted my gut reaction to begin with because what it was trying to tell me (judging) about the person turned out to be correct. Bravo!

      • Jasmine says:

        Thanks SM! Yes listening to the gut is new and unfamiliar territory. I acknowledge I may even judge it incorrectly from time to time, but at least I come from a place of self love and preservation and not a place of “not good enough therefore I should put others expectations before myself”.

        • sm says:

          You’re welcome. That is the one vow I need to make to myself above all others, that I will listen to my gut instincts next time they tell me to bail. I remember on at least the last 5 ‘bad ones’ I dated, that I got a gut feeling in the very beginning that later proved to be accurate. One I got the nudge on before he ever asked me out but I had been acquainted with him for a while and he had a good reputation among his friends. The last guy on our 4th date he was late to my house by an hour and a half, now he let me know but as he was giving his reason, I got a stab in the gut that he was lying, then the entire weekend it was like god saying to me ‘get rid of him’. I mean it hung over me like a crushing fog but because I was attracted to him and we had another date planned I continued to go out with him. He turned out to be a massive liar and much more. So hence why I am applauding you because I want to be strong enough to do the same thing.

    • NML says:

      Go Jasmine Go! Familiarity with a previously unhealthy is a warning sign, at the very least code amber. You are right to listen to yourself and actually, that situation reminded me all too much of some of my own prior experiences. It’s always very odd to me when someone knows you all of a wet five minutes before they say something about your ethnicity and your name. Bearing in mind that this is a first impressions period, it’s actually very forward and potentially overstepping the mark. Keep trusting your judgement Jasmine. You can’t miss a man and a relationship you never had. Look forward.

      • Jasmine says:

        Thanks Nat!! I agree no need to start something that is already a little off 5 minutes in!
        @sm I replied to your comment but not sure it went through. I just wanted to say thank you for the support, and that trusting the gut is new for me, but I trust myself and my motivation now. I am not “judging” to put myself above others, but to make sure I keep people around me that I can be my authentic healthy self with :)

      • Jasmine says:

        Thank you Nat!! I agree no need to start something that is already a little off 5 minutes in. I have learned so much here, and its still tough but I know I can break the habit of projecting what I want to see in others, and instead seeing people for who they really are.

  14. Gina says:

    As usual, a great article Nat!

    Too many of us women worry so much about judging and being unfair to other people, that we do not look out for our own best interests. When my first husband was acting like an ass for the nth time and I’d reached the end of my rope, my ex sister-in-law laughed and said, “You know that you love that man.” Implying that I would take him back no matter what he did. I thought about it for a moment and replied, “That’s true, but I love myself more.” Shortly after that conversation, I filed for divorce and haven’t looked back since. My mom later informed me that my ex told her when I broke things off with him, he was shocked that I cut all ties and acted as though I’d never even known him. My last words to him were, “As far as you’re concerned, I’m dead.” My second husband, after I kicked his butt to the curb for acting a fool, once said that I had a very strong sense of self-preservation. He was right. If I have to choose between you or me, I’m gonna choose me EVERY time. A man make f**k me over once, but I’ll be damned if I give him the opportunity to do it again. I don’t care how much it hurts to walk away…I’m walking away with my pride and self-respect intact.

  15. Magnolia says:

    I don’t know whether I am steeped in negativity and seeing the world through poop-coloured glasses or if I just have my own way of seeing things, and that my judgments are valid but painful.

    • grace says:

      Magnolia
      The boundary that we most need and most lack is the one that separates you from other people. The line between yourself and others is fuzzy. Everything they do impacts you. You believe that everything YOU do impacts them. This puts you in a state of mental paralysis.
      Most people – your colleagues, the person in the street, the store assistant, your boss are not burning up time and energy thinking about what you may or may not have done wrong. I guarantee that 99.99% of their actions, thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with you. Not because you’re insignificant but because people are just too busy and too concerned with their own lives to be worrying about What Magnolia Thinks.
      Because you worry about what others think of you, you imagine that they worry about what you think of them. Set yourself free, they don’t care. Ironically, when you put the boundary in place you’ll actually end up getting on BETTER with people. It’s like taming horses, it’s when you walk away that they come to you. Interactions become too stressy and forced when you worry, better to just believe that most people are well-meaning, decent, and don’t have it in for you. I’ve found that to be true and I live in flippin LONDON and work with LAWYERS.

    • NML says:

      I tried hard not to snigger at the poop-coloured glasses Magnolia. How you see things is how you see things. If you strip out what could prejudice that judgement for instance previous experiences, your beliefs, insecurity, anger or whatever, and take the topline data, you’ll find that a number of these ‘judgements’ still stand, and then some of them represent where you may be being too harsh or just using up your energy. That said, you don’t want a brown life, no more than you want a rose tinted one. It would be better to see in full colour. It doesn’t mean you won’t see things that are painful but it does mean you’ll also see the beauty. One of the things that I’ve found that has taken a weight off me is that I don’t concern myself with judging things or people that don’t bear direct importance as investing that much energy is like trying to cup the ocean in your hands. The world will still keep turning no matter what you think but things that do require you to make a judgement/decision about them do require your attention because they pertain directly to your happiness. This gives you focus.

      • Magnolia says:

        @grace: that is so funny that IYO, it’s a boundary problem of not knowing where I stop and others begin. Funny, because I experience myself as not having many friends, and as isolated, but I probably do isolate because I find dealing with people, and guessing what they really mean by what they do/say, so exhausting and painful. I would have thought there is a huge gulf between me and others, but I see it when you put it that way. I don’t know that I operate as if everything I do impacts them: I’ll think about that, Grace. I certainly often give myself pep talks to get myself out of thinking that nothing I do really matters or is noticed or is taken seriously.

        @Nat: “One of the things that I’ve found that has taken a weight off me is that I don’t concern myself with judging things or people that don’t bear direct importance.” This follows Grace. Judgment requires figuring out what does bear direct importance, eh? Yesterday I was furious most of the day thinking about what I think one of my friends thinks about me, and confused because I can’t be sure if I’m projecting or if she really does think poorly of me. Your strategy makes that unimportant, largely: how much does what she thinks actually matter?

        I would have said a lot, given how much time we unavoidably spend together and that I’d prefer to have less people in my life that condescend. But really, does it? I grew up with a mom who never said what was on her mind but made you know she was displeased with sighs and eye rolls and sarcastic comments made to other people. This would infuriate me. I now find that I assume most people are doing that: secretly judging me, never saying that they wish I would be more cooperative/do what they want/be more pleasant.

        I suppose even if I suspect they are doing that (which as grace points out, wd require them to actually be thinking about me in the first place, which they likely arent) I don’t need to be infuriated by that suspicion. I can just decide that I don’t do guessing and if someone has a problem they can tell me or else I’ll just assume they are “decent and well-meaning.”

        As another reader says, judgment is asking if it’s good for me. I guess worrying about whether my own judgments are “right” or not, or “too negative” to an imagined outsider, is not very good for me! Thanks to you both!

  16. Patricia says:

    I, unfortunately had to come to the point that I didn’t want to once I made the decision/judgement of ending a “relationship” that in the end left me with the big question “what was I ?” I was flying to England almost every three months to see a man whom would make me believe I was everything to him in private but in public he would always introduce me as Patricia, not only that but would tell me not to leave “romantic” remarks on his Facebook wall for his family and friends would see it and he was very “private”. I adored the bloke…. But even though it took me a long time to “judge” him it was the best decision I have ever made, it hurt very bad to go all the way to London just to tell him off but at the same time I knew it was for the best… I learnt that no matter what if you are with someone you should (at least) get the same as you give.

    • NML says:

      What an awkward situation Patricia and kudos to you for judging the situation and acting in your own best interests even though it of course hurts, although not as much as it would have done if you’d continued. Nobody wants to be treated like that and while he may be ‘private’, his behaviour froze you out and left you neglected. Relationships must be mutual.

      • Fearless says:

        Patricia,

        your comment reminded of one time just before I went NC with the now ex EUM: I bumped into one of his work colleagues in a supermarket; a young woman I had met a few times and liked very much (she was, as far as I know, unaware of the nature of my relationship with the EUM) – we chatted about work type stuff; she mentioned in passing that the EUM was working too hard etc… and that he was going to America for four months on a work ‘thing’ in the summer (of 2011), which I knew nothing about – he had never mentioned this to me, so that really pissed me off though I tried not to show it, but the thing that I noted was that she happened to say, ‘oh you know x (the EUM), he is very private person’. I nodded, but fumed inside cos I was thinking, well, “private” is one way of putting it I suppose, but try “secretive”, “distant” or “withholding”; these are more accurate! “Private” – my arse!

        I don’t think any of us should be afraid to judge… it’s necessary – and I totally agree that it’s not really about judging people but about judging a situation or judging whether or not this person is worth being around, good for us, or not. If you don’t judge – what do you do? Just accept any old shite? Great post Natalie; and very pertinent I think, as I have noticed recently on the comments that some ladies here have indeed imagined that their judgement (of some EUM or AC guy) actually holds some power, or that their judgement matters to him in some way when in reality their judgement of him holds very little power – if any! – and the only person our own judgement makes any real difference to is *us”, so heaven help *us* if we don’t exercise (good) judgement – ACs/EUM are relying on us failing to exercise our (good) judgement!

  17. Kathy says:

    The only judgement I need to make is: Is this good for me?

    Amazingly, I was over 50 before I started asking myself that question.

    • NML says:

      Amen Kathy. At least you’re finally acting in your own best interests – enjoy the fruits of it.

    • Australia says:

      “The only judgement I need to make is: Is this good for me?”

      Perfectly stated. Thank you. Making myself a priority is my top priority now. I can start by tackling situations, friendships and relationships in my life by asking that very question: Is this good for me? and go from there.

      Also to add, NML, I do not know what I would have done without your site and all your wise words. I have a lot of work I need to do on myself but it will help me become a strong female that doesn’t accept SH*T from anyone.
      I now find it funny that when I was involved with my ex I would avoid this website because it held the truth. When I wasn’t involved with my ex, and that includes now, I run to this website because it holds the truth.

  18. M x says:

    “You don’t make ‘judgements’ because you don’t want people to make judgements about you, which is also trying to control the uncontrollable. You likely see it as rejection.”
    Wow! I think I just had a bit of a light bulb moment here…! I have spent my whole life worried about what people might think of me, and interestingly, it hasn’t made me live a ‘good’, respectable life; quite the contrary… it’s led me to live a rather ‘rock ‘n roll’ shady existence which has left me physically and emotionally exhausted. I think that the judgement that I was worried about was that I wasn’t ‘interesting’ enough or ‘cool’ enough to hang with the ‘in crowd’. So even when the individuals who’s rejection and judgement I didn’t want, were suggesting activities which were going to be really destructive for me; I would be jumping up and down in a “Oooh! Pick me! Pick me!” kinda way. With that mindset, is it any wonder that I never rejected/judged/walked on anyone who I thought was cool and interesting… even when their behaviour was totally unacceptable? And as my own behaviour became more and more inappropriate (and by that, dear reader, I mean having sex with married or otherwise unavailable men whilst being unavailable myself), I was LESS and LESS likely to judge anyone else, because who the hell was I to do that??
    Recently another ex EUMM has crawled out of the woodwork (there are a LOT of them), and emailed and text me with a few crumbs to see if I would bite… His opening email was “Boo!”. Seriously. “Boo”. I wonder how much effort that took?? But I didn’t judge. I didn’t reject. I didn’t reach for the flush… Because he is one of the coolest and most interesting twerps I have ever encountered, and I am very susceptible to his attentions, and very mistrustful of my own gut. I nibbled the bate and before I knew it, I was being dragged into some potentially very dodgy doings. He can fast forward like a Cheetah with a deadline. He wanted us to meet at a hotel in London next week, so he could take me out and “wine and dine me”, so he could spend time “staring into my eyes” and “reconnecting”. He had “missed me”, and I had “always been on his mind”. Yeah right. I now know this is AC code for “a shag and an ego stroke please”. I will not be responding to him anymore…

    • NML says:

      “And as my own behaviour became more and more inappropriate (and by that, dear reader, I mean having sex with married or otherwise unavailable men whilst being unavailable myself), I was LESS and LESS likely to judge anyone else, because who the hell was I to do that??” Very astute observation M x. I think reading your comment, it’s like you’re in high school trying to be in the cool crowd at any cost. You might be being dragged into trouble but it’s a half hearted drag as you’re practically running to it as well. The lifestyle that you aspire for is actually depleting you emotionally and physically which is your body’s way of saying ‘Please stop abusing me Mx and take care of me! Stop looking for validation from these people and validate yourself!’ These people can smell your need to be liked and they avail themselves of it. You’re like the kid that gets the grunt work, is sent to play the practical jokes or steal stuff, and who will take the blame for stuff in the hope of being seen as ‘cool’ and ‘loyal’. You’re too old for these shenanigans. We all are after we leave high school. Cut off these men and go and find meaning in your own life with *you*.

      • M x says:

        Thank you for your forthright reply. Particularly where you say, “You might be being dragged into trouble but it’s a half hearted drag as you’re practically running to it as well.” Yup. That was me. Sprinting into the danger zone! But by regularly reading the wonderful posts on here, and reflecting on my own situation, I am starting to establish some boundaries for myself, I am learning to trust my gut a bit more, and I am concentrating on what really matters to me, and what’s important for me and my family. It’s starting to feel really good… So thank you all!

    • Jasmine says:

      Mx
      The kinds of words your ex used sounds like what a six year old child figures a woman wants to hear, which is usually the level of emotional maturity you are dealing with. Good for you to not fall for it!
      In a previous relationship, my low self esteem also got me caught up in a lifestyle that was not in keeping with my values and boy did it cost me. I was new to town and became friends with a co-worker. At night he occasionally played music with high profile group of musicians in San Francisco. He was a bit older, so I asked him how important it was for him to be on stage (and all those things that come with it, the partying, the girls). Some of the men he played with enjoyed a drink after their set, and then went home to their wives, while others lived it up. He said, I just want a committed relationship and would be happy if I could play from time to time, for my wife and kids, I don’t want to be a rock star. Eventually he worked elsewhere but we kept in touch and then dated. Next thing I know he started playing more, and we are out on the “scene” more often. I was often tired and didn’t have as much time for my friends… and although he had always drunk and smoked more than I ever did (cigarettes and more), I began to drink and smoke. I went from enjoying shows because I got to see the person I love do something he loved to do, to secretly dreading it because he had begun pushing for threesomes every time we went out. Because I was his girlfriend and he was on stage, he would tell me “I could have any girl I wanted”. Some fairytale… do you think that Prince Charming ever asked Cinderella to hook up with Snow White? “It’s just something I want to get out of the way before I’m married”. He would say these things to me, (and he had also mentioned marriage to me before, so I thought: is he is essentially telling me that I have to do this for him if we are going to get married?) So I asked him straight out: “I came in offering a commitment, with a possibility of a life together, family… are you telling me I have to do this for you to be happy- because I won’t- I will never be that girl who brings girls home with you, and this isn’t something you said was critical to you when we got together” I also let him know that I felt disrespected, (he hadn’t introduced me to some of his lady friends as his girlfriend) like I was an object and not a person to him. It was tough because I was already seriously emotionally invested in him. He didn’t really answer me, but apologized for being so self-centered, kissed me on the forehead and walked away.
      A month later he broke up with me. He let it slip that he had known he was going to do it for months-so the whole time he had kept pushing me for threesomes, insinuating it was a step before a deeper commitment- he’d been manipulating me. Yes I allowed it, but as Nat says, just because you enable that behavior doesn’t mean you are created it! The things I struggled with the most afterwards is how much I let myself down and how I had lived a life that was not true to myself to keep a relationship going, where he was giving nothing at all. Better to be alone and living with integrity then be with someone who has a toxic effect on your-self esteem. Stay away from those people! Make new friends, people who are happy with themselves and don’t use others to fill the void within themselves!
      Keep it going!
      Jas

      • RadioGirl says:

        Jasmine,

        “The things I struggled with the most afterwards is how much I let myself down and how I had lived a life that was not true to myself to keep a relationship going, where he was giving nothing at all. Better to be alone and living with integrity then be with someone who has a toxic effect on your-self esteem. Stay away from those people! Make new friends, people who are happy with themselves and don’t use others to fill the void within themselves!”

        Brilliantly put! I’m realising more and more each day that a big part of moving onwards and upwards from these awful relationship situations is to work hard at being our *authentic* selves 100% of the time. Not living authentically was one of the biggest factors in my plummeting self-esteem, not just in the last epiphany relationship but in every single relationship over the years. And because I never properly dealt with the fallout from any of those relationships, the effect on my self-esteem was cumulative and toxic – eventually resulting in a breakdown. My squirmiest moments now are remembering how much I let myself down. Never again – as you say, Jasmine, keep it going!

      • M x says:

        Jas,

        Thank you for your comments – your story about the musician really resonated with me – as I too had a year long ‘relationship’ (for want of a better word) with a musician, who treated me horribly and was always trying to persuade me to bust my sexual boundaries with things I wasn’t into – including threesomes. “Better to be alone and living with integrity then be with someone who has a toxic effect on your-self esteem.” Such wonderful and wise words! I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story and your encouragement… As for the “six year old” – I have been NC for a couple of days with him and I’ve had umpteen text messages and emails – all increasingly irritated in tone – the last one telling me he’d ‘gone back online’, presumably in the hope that that would provoke a response from me. There was a time (long long ago, BBR) when I would have been truly flattered by his attention and properly distressed by the fact that he was going back online to find someone else… What an idiot I was! Now, it’s more a case of, as Natalie would say, “Bothered O’clock”!!

  19. snh says:

    “…yet went from “angry asshole” to boyfriend material” – brilliantly said. I relate entirely! I swear, I look back on my relationship with the ex (who I just realised I’ve been NC with for just about 3 months! :) ) and boy did I rationalize and rationalize and rationalize the bad behavior, the abusive behavior quite frankly. The yelling, the 0-100 in 2 seconds, the screaming, the punching of doors, the hang ups, the doors closed in my face, the being left on the street, then the wailing apologies and the “please don’t go’s” and “I need you’s”. I rationalized it all away – he is a cop, his job is hard, his stress is high, he has two “crazy” baby mamas (they weren’t so crazy it turned out, if they had to put up with his garbage). I was always a little afraid of him, and massively untrusting – but I was the classic “want to to be the exception” girl. Honestly, I’m amazed at how little I think of him these days. And how happy I’m capable of being. I didn’t think I could be. But I really am a happy person without him. Funny – the other night I did have a dream about him where we kissed. But his faced was all mottled and brown, like it was diseased. And in my dream I kissed him and my face turned the same as his YET his face cleared up. I woke up with the distinct realization that in this abusive relationship I took on his disease and thought it was love. While there was kissing in the dream, it was the unsexiest dream I’ve ever had! :) It was also the best dream. It was like all the stuff that had been running around in my mind was finally pieced together and I woke up with a light bulb over my head. After 3 months of NC I’m going multiple days without thinking of him. It’s been awesome. I’ve accomplished so much. No contact has saved me, quite frankly. Not from him. But from myself.

    • NML says:

      Brilliant snh. That dream – just ace. You’d be surprised just how many readers have been in touch with me about cops… WHat you of course realised is that yes he is a cop, that he may well be stressed with two seemingly crazy baby mamas, but that aside from the fact that he should know better but it was an unworkable situation for you. I could never go through that drama again. It’s like living on a knifes edge. I’m so glad you saved yourself and keep going – don’t look back!

      • snh says:

        Natalie – absolutely. And it all goes back to what you’re saying about judgement vs. decision. If I look back, the fact that I stayed for so many many months being miserable and angry and jealous and a whole slww of uncharacteristic behaviors on my part tells me just how judgemental I had become AS A RESULT OF not making a decision. That’s the key distinction for me. Judgements are, I think, passive-aggressive ultimatums – it’s what happens when we forget we have a choice. No matter how high my ex’s stress from his job, or his baby mama’s, or his…whatever…I had a choice to stay or go because he CLEARLY was not making good, healthy, loving choices toward me. And yet I stayed. Against my very best interests and gut instinct. I don’t beat myself up about it anymore because I’ve consciously dealt with my stuff. Thankfully I woke up one day with the resolve to get out and stay out. I actually thought he would be pestering me but I haven’t heard from him this whole time. But he is, as you’ve described, the one who will show back up in my life, on his own timelines, when he needs something. But he holds no allure or attraction for me. It’s so odd for me to say but I have no desire to see or speak to him again. I literally feel as if I escaped by the skin of my teeth. Plus, at the beginning of NC, when things were excruciatingly hard in facing myself I remember looking at myself in the mirror, bawling my eyes out, telling myself that I would never ever put myself through that again. The one relationship I’ve spent this time repairing is the one I damaged with myself. It has been crucial to my happiness and self-worth. And this site is my check-in. Thank you Natalie!

  20. John says:

    What a phrase ‘ A life without decision is stagnation’ . It is so true I can relate to it.Sometimes decision making takes too long which results in stagnation.I think one must use one’s instincts and rational mind too for judging a situation and it need not be right all the time.What is important is one must be accountable for one’s action and not blame on external factors for any fallacy.

  21. I’ve always struggled with the difference between showing good judgement, and being judgemental. They really should have chosen different words!

    Thanks for clarifying it.

    • sarah says:

      Bingo – this is what I have struggled with my whole life. I can be very judgemental and have learned through experience that I am often wrong about people. I also grew up in a family and society where judging other people was “wrong” and so I consciously worked not to do it.

      Then came the AC and I made excuses and overlooked and gave the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t want to judge harshly, but I should have.

      Being judgemental means thinking that someone is less than you because they aren’t doing things the way you would or would want them to. Having good judgement means paying attention to the evidence and information someone is showing you about themselves, their intentions and their character and acting in accordance with your best interests.

      A critical yet vital distinction. A great post and a great life lesson.

      • NML says:

        Being judgemental means thinking that someone is less than you because they aren’t doing things the way you would or would want them to. Having good judgement means paying attention to the evidence and information someone is showing you about themselves, their intentions and their character and acting in accordance with your best interests. ” Sarah, if I had one of those bells that you can ring in the bingo hall, I’d so ring one right now.

        • Elle says:

          Yeah, I need to read this post again, and the comments. Many bells sounding right now. Not least because the AC and my recent ex used to say that I was being ‘judgemental’ when I was expressing a need or worry I had. Most often I wasn’t even talking about their behaviour being intrinsically ‘bad’ or unreasonable, though sometimes I was. In any case, even if all I was saying was that what they were doing was, unintentionally, making me feel bad or whatever, I was called judgemental. I now think that once someone says that, once you’re seen as some rival trying to make their lives difficult and full of shame, you’re pretty much screwed. Then you’re fighting over love and respect, and it’s shit scramble. It’s then time for that gentle, self-possessed judgement to kick in, that quiet decision to leave, because you don’t feel good, and they want to make your expressions of feeling bad or concerned or whatever a judgement on them, instead of a potential source of understanding and growth, for the good of both of you (because you might well be misunderstanding things too).

          • Magnolia says:

            Elle – you brought back a memory! Early on with my ex, as I was in his new place helping him move in (he assigned me the kitchen, which was fine, but … ) I ‘found’ in one of the empty kitchen drawers (did he leave it on purpose?) a cheque for $17,000 made out to his ex-girlfriend, whom I had recently met, and had guessed before he told me that they had been together (because she so clearly wanted to f*ck him).

            I asked a lot of questions about the cheque. As in, will there be lots of instances of you giving jaw-dropping amounts of money to your ex-gf while I am your gf? He called it ‘personal philanthropy’ said she was going through a ‘tough time’ and called me judgmental for asking what kind of relationship they had that had him giving her that kind of cash. Certainly I didn’t know anyone who would hand over 17K if I had made bad decisions in my own life. I was taken aback by being called judgmental: it worked to have me back down immediately.

            Later, when this woman decided she was feeling suicidal, and wanted to be sent away to an expensive, private, pastoral facility to recover, and wanted daily attention, she called my ex. He went into overdrive to help her, asking me for referrals. When I expressed discomfort with that, he REALLY let me have it, saying I was being judgmental and jealous. How dare I get pissy when a friend is suicidal? I backed down then, too. But I did feel something was off about it.

            He really made me question my own judgment by calling me ‘judgmental.’ I didn’t want to exercise my judgment and say the situation wasn’t working for me. And because I didn’t really want to let go, I worried about being critical and wrong and allowed the situation to continue, telling myself I was learning to “not be judgmental.” What a crock.

            Thanks Elle for helping me see what a “button” that is for me and how easily defused I am when someone says I’m being judgmental.

          • Namaste says:

            “and they want to make your expressions of feeling bad or concerned or whatever a judgement on them, instead of a potential source of understanding and growth, for the good of both of you (because you might well be misunderstanding things too).”
            @Elle yes, I’ve experienced that when I have expressed my feelings honestly, they interpret that as a judgement on them so they didn’t let me finish what I was saying and effectively brought the focus back to themselves. I had to let go of my need to be understood and act on my understanding of myself-asking myself “is this relationship good for me?” When the answer is NO, walk away and don’t look back.
            It took about a year to get there. with a couple of failed NCs enroute. Now I feel free emotionally and have reached a place of healthy detachment where I can accept them as they are but don’t have a need to caretake them anymore. I don’t want to be in their orbit. :) It’s a wonderful feeling. I like reading your insights on BR Elle. :D

        • jennynic says:

          Being told you are too judgmental when you are making decisions for your own well being is kind of on the same order as being told you are too sensitive when you tell someone they crossed your boundary.

          • grace says:

            jennynic
            Also beware of being told that you’re “over-reacting”.
            BTW I have a friend who pretty much demands (and gets) expensive jewelry, When I tell her she’s spoilt she brushes it off and say “I deserve it.” I’m not saying we should follow this pattern but I remember watching her yell at her boyrfriend over the phone for some slight infaction – he failed to respond to a voicemail – and thinking “I could learn something here”.
            I know quite a few men who LIKE it when their wives/girlfriends stand up to them. Not like our guys who either freeze us out for days on end or start insulting us.

  22. Emma says:

    I love this Natalie.
    Sometimes it’s not until you get away that you realise how bad a situation has become …. I know this only too well.

    In fact it has been with the help of your posts that I have come to this realisation and I thank you for that. My low self esteem and lack of awareness following a dodgy and abusive childhood has led me into many situations that no one in their right mind would continue to be involved in.
    I never really thought of myself as being particularly deserving of someone decent, I always felt grateful for any slithers of attention because I never though any man would want me because of my past and in some degrees my present. The last man I was with exploited this. He made me believe that he was somehow better me and tried to control me with covert putdowns and manipulative tactics. The ex before that always told me how I would never amount to anything because I ‘couldn’t get my act together’.

    Now I realise even though I have a bad ‘past’, a not so good upbringing and resulting mental health issues (which I am now working on) that doesn’t mean that I can’t find someone nice, normal, respectful and decent … that I don’t just have to take what’s going, whoever gives me a attention … anyone just because I feel grateful that they somehow find me ‘cool’ despite the fact their actions prove contrary.

    I have my eyes and ears wide open now. I know there’s only too many men willing to take advantage the vunreable … and for the first time in my life I am beginning to see myself as smart, attractive and worthy of more than crumbs or just downright shady behaviour. I refuse to let my past continue to shape my future.
    :)

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey Emma, good for you. You are so worthy of a loving, respectful relationship. “I feel grateful that they somehow find me ‘cool’ despite the fact their actions prove contrary.” That’s the key for me. After almost year on BR, what do they have to offer me is now the question. If they are offering just a shag, I’m no longer interested. Flush and next. Never, ever settle for shody behavior and never feel grateful for shody behavior or a drop of attention. I’ve had to build my self-esteem from the ground up with the help of this website. I’m not totally there yet but I’m getting there enough to know that I will never sell myself down the river for a dweeb that needs a shag or an ego stroke. There is never any pay back. These guys take and have nothing to give. Cut your losses. focus on you.

      • Complicated says:

        Hi Runnergirl,

        Once again, you give great advice. Haven’t posted on here in a week and thought I’d give you the update. Well, I decided I was better than having crumbs of attention from a MM after 3 years and sent a goodbye letter this morning. Yep, I sent the ‘unsent’ letter. I guess I’m just one of those people that needed to get it off my chest and it actually feels better. I basically listed out facts on the things he had done to hurt me and how I will miss him but it’s best for me to cut communication. Well, 20 minutes later he responded:
        “Wow, don’t know what to say about your email. Guess I’ll talk to you sometime later.”
        I didn’t respond. Yay me!! Then I quickly logged on here and signed up for the daily NC email. I’m going to need as much strength as I can get. You’re right, he has nothing to give me and I’m cutting my losses and running. Today is my Day #1 of NC and I’m praying after 3yrs of trying it sticks this time. Hope to hear back from you!

        • Fearless says:

          Complicated,

          am glad you’re giving NC another go. Beware of idle threats though – you have to mean business or your words and actions won’t match – already he doesn’t take you seriously with the “guess I’l talk to you later”! Did he not read your letter?! Pfft. You say you want to cut contact and he says ‘I’ll talk to you later’! (Aside from the obvious dismissive attitude – why “later”?! Pft)That just reminds me of what a waste of time it is telling them anything – they’re not listening and they don’t believe you anyway. Action is the only message they hear and believe. Stay firm. Don’t doubt your decision.

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Complicated good to hear from you. You so deserve so much more than crumbs from a MM. Wahoo and yes, this is the first step!
            Now you’ve got to buck up, suck it up, and follow up with NC action. Here is where it gets tough. Of course he doesn’t know what to think about your email. It’s just words. Praying may help, although I’m not the praying kind. In addition to Nat’s NC guidelines, I would recommend Natalie’s new edition of Mr. U and the FBG. Also try to set a NC goal even if it is only a day or an hour. Even though I wasn’t the perfect role model for NC, everyday I resisted contact, I got clearer and clearer. Then, there just was no point. You are headed in the right direction. Do not respond. Just breathe, look at the stars, the moon, and breathe. Oh yeah, eat something too. NC with a MM is a rough road to hoe because they are so good at stringing us along. They are lying to the mistress and to their wife…point blank…they are liars. It sucks to grieve the loss of what never could have been. Breathe. It’s gonna be okay. Everyday of NC will bring clarity. Here’s to day 2.

          • grace says:

            Complicated
            Don’t put any value on him saying he’ll talk to you “later”. When exactly is “later”? Even a 2 yo kid knows that “later ” = I’m being fobbed off. It’s just another one of their non-promises.
            He may pop back up, when he thinks you’ve calmed down and “come to your senses”. He’ll be back for JUST long enough for you to give him an ego stroke or a shag. And then he’ll disappear.
            I know we shouldn’t care what they think but – don’t give him the satisfaction!

          • Complicated says:

            Fearless,

            I just had to let you know that your comment was a godsend this morning. When I woke up, I felt so weak and almost broke my NC on Day#2…but I didn’t! I wanted to say forget what I said, I miss you, come back. But I didn’t. I haven’t had the guts to block him from FB yet (I’ll get there) and noticed today that he had changed his profile pic and commented on friends pictures…but still hasn’t replied to that message I sent. I guess it’s not “sometime later” yet. Ugh! This weekend will be the real test when our sports teams we always banter on play each other. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll hear from him then. Trying not to expect anything is the hardest for me. I’ve always been filled with hope when it comes to him.

          • Complicated says:

            Hi Runnergirl,

            I wanted to thank you as well. Like I told Fearless, I was a wreck when I got up this morning and almost broke NC on my Day #2 but I didn’t. I cried alot though. Your comments kept me from contacting him and saying nevermind, I didn’t mean it, come back!! Still haven’t heard anything from him, but we’ll see what happens this weekend when our two favorite teams play each other that I mentioned a few weeks ago that we always bantered about. If I do hear from him, I’ll have to duct tape my hands to keep from responding. If I don’t hear from him (to be honest), I’ll be disappointed because sports were the one connection we always had every day for the past year. Will be a brutal weekend for sure. Prayers, comments, good thoughts and karma are much needed!!!

          • Complicated says:

            Grace,

            I couldn’t help but wonder that myself (if he’s waiting for me to calm down before replying) earlier today when I was sitting around crying during Day 2 of NC. It sucks right now to be honest. I spilled my heart out and said how much I cared for him but had to let him go because I knew he didn’t feel the same and he said “Wow, not sure what to say to that. Guess I’ll talk to you sometime later.” Wow, guess I wasn’t that important to even warrant a decent response. Oh, but he had the time to post pictures of his dog on FB today (yes, I’m working on the blocking part…baby steps). Shouldn’t it be easier for me to get over him??? I’m the nice one haha! Why do the good guys and girls always have to suffer the most it seems? Like I said to Runnergirl, this weekend will be interesting to see if he sends me a message because our sports teams are playing each other and not one single day this year has gone by that we didn’t talk about them. And now they’re playing each other. Will be interesting for sure. Please keep the comments coming..I’ll need them!

    • NML says:

      Here here Emma and I’m glad that you are beginning to see yourself as the woman you are. Did we both go out with the same guys? Haha. That covert stuff really messes with your mind. I became someone that apologised in advance even and often apologised not really knowing what the hell I was apologising for. You don’t need slithers of attention – you need the whole kit and kaboodle and don’t sell yourself short again. You are better than what any of these guys have in mind for you.

      • Emma says:

        Agreed the covert stuff is the worst .. there are a number of techniques I’m aware of that assclown types tend to use: the covert insult: … 1) he insults you and you sit there and wonder … ‘is he joking or did he just insult me?’ … ‘is he showing concern or did he just insult me?/trying to control me?’ … then when you take them up on it and ask them why they are doing what they are doing they go ‘you’re too sensitive’, ‘where’s your sense of humour’, ‘your being a drama queen’ …. 2) the technique of gaslighting too is also a mind right mind ‘f**k’ … he does or says something and when you take them up on it at a later time they claim that they ‘never said that’, ‘I didn’t say that’ … or claim that you said something that you actually didn’t … oh and 3) blame shifting … the whole twisting a situation thing to suit their own agenda and then somehow you end up sympathising, excusing and even apologising for their misbehaviour. Like you caused them to do the shitty things they do.

        I could go on all day. This is crazy making behaviour intended to make you question yourself and your judgement.

        The thing is it has taken some time away from relationships and a lot of reading (thank you Baggage Reclaim) and a lot of therapy to understand how to trust my own judgement and to trust myself on the fact that if what’s happening in the relationship doesn’t feel good for me than it DOESN’T WORK FOR ME! :) I don’t have to spend time in crap relationships because I’m so called ‘damaged goods’ ….
        Noone gets to decide that I’m that.
        I ‘d love to know if any of the women here have experienced similar to what I have.

        • FX says:

          Emma, I experienced pretty much exactly what you described on a regular basis. He was always “just joking” when he said something critical and he undermined my confidence by interpreting situations in the relationship or even my professional life in ways that made me question my judgment. The blame game was so bad that it got to the point I didn’t even try to refute his logic anymore. I knew he would stick to his interpretation of my culpability and remain confident in his complete lack of responsibility no matter what the facts were. When I called him out on truly outrageous behavior at the bitter end, he disappeared! I had already decided to go NC so it was actually a blessing.

          BTW, an overriding issue for me from early on in the relationship was that he was an overtly and covertly controlling man. I rationalized that his good points and generosity outweighed the bad. He actually said to me early on “I live on a one way street but it’s a very nice street.” He was telling me clearly that the perks came at the price of him holding all the power and control. I’m still working on getting his take on reality out of my head. I’ll find myself feeling bad about doing something or how I’m handling something and have to stop and ask myself whether I’m still internalizing the BS he used to keep me under his thumb. I feel a sense of relief when I realize a bad feeling is just leftover habitual self-editing to appease him and that now I can do what I want however I want without needing to justify it to anyone but myself.

        • RadioGirl says:

          Emma,

          “I ‘d love to know if any of the women here have experienced similar to what I have”.

          Yes, we surely all have to some extent – that’s why we’re regular Baggage Reclaim readers/students :-)

          ” ‘is he showing concern or did he just insult me?/trying to control me?’ ”

          I experienced this kind of thing very subtly with my last ex, and it really undermined my confidence in judging what is best for me. For example, he told me that my life was out of balance because I didn’t have a passionate interest outside of work. It’s true that I don’t have one all-consuming hobby, though there are plenty of different things that I enjoy doing either on my own or with friends & family. His all-consuming hobby is flying planes, his holidays are spent flying planes, and his job is flying planes. He even lives on an airfield. His *whole life* is based around flying in one form or another. Looking back, I see now that he was actually doing a thing called “projection”, where a person transfers what they subconsciously feel is a weakness or failure of their own onto others in order to deny it in themselves. Like “gaslighting”, it’s another psychological technique to subtly exert control. They don’t necessarily even know consciously that they are doing it – but the effect on the person they are doing it to is insidious and eventually devastating. I’ve been truly appalled to read on here of readers who were punched, kicked, bitten and knocked about by their partners. My ex wasn’t physically abusive in any way at all, but after several months of NC and therefore enough distance to see reality instead of illusion, I now realise he was just as cruel in a different way.

  23. yoghurt says:

    I also came from a very strict (nice, like, but strict) Christian family so grew up on a diet of grace, grace, forgiveness, love, forgiveness, grace… it took me a long time to realise that actually you are doing someone NO FAVOURS WHATSOEVER if you let them walk all over you and treat you badly. It’s a degrading situation for you BOTH.

    Even if you don’t believe that it damages their soul (and I do, frankly) then it isn’t a particularly fulfilling or healthy way for them to live their life and they won’t ever have the incentive to change, improve or reach their potential whilst they’re in it. They may not if you walk, either, but that’s their choice and you’ve done what you can within the limited realm of your influence.

    So you have to make a judgement – it’s in the other person’s best interests as well as your own.

    I had to go on an anger management course recently (not for myself – I work in education) and the instructor told us that, actually, it’s a right and a good thing to feel angry – obviously you have to handle it in the right way and not go around thumping people – but it’s a defence mechanism that is there to prevent you from being hurt or depleted. And that absolutely Blew Me Away – I’ve spent 29 years of my life getting upset with myself for getting angry and telling myself that it was WRONG to get angry. If I was angry, it was somehow my fault (cos it’s wrong) and couldn’t possibly be the other person’s.

    Although interestingly, if someone else was angry at me, that was okay and must’ve been a result of something I said or did and how terrible of me to put someone else in that situation. :S ??? I’ve harboured far too many weird ideas for too long and I’ve really no idea where they came from.

    As an aside, this post made me think of that quote “if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything” and googled it to find out who said it (Alexander Hamilton, in case anyone’s interested). And then came across this song which, while it’s not really my bag, does seem to sum it up!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL9NgvT1TzE

    • NML says:

      Absolutely spot on Yoghurt. Anger is a very healthy and necessary emotion. Rage is something entirely different. Anger is actually alerting us to pay attention to ourselves, the situation and is even protective. If you never express anger or even get angry not only are you avoiding conflict, but you’re numb and being inauthentic. Even Mother Theresa got pissed off.

  24. Lynda from L says:

    Wise words Natalie… I stayed in relationships way way far too long trying to solve the unsolvable,control the uncontrollable, manage the unmanageable while the guy got on with his life, taking the piss, taking the benefits and my life exited on the way to ‘stagnation city’.
    By focusing on them I lost focus on me.
    I could make judgements on their wellness,mental health issues,shirt they had on,salad choice,family issues,any problem they had at any given time they gave me it…but I could not make my own decision to get the hell out. When you stay too long all you lose is time and energy, you are actually making a ‘bad decision’ to put your life on hold!
    Today, things are very different for me and getting better by the minute.
    I have just,after considered reflection, decided to change my career slightly and move to a nearby city. In making that decision I know that this will remove me completely from my ex EUM’s orbit. It ends a chapter completely and I am at complete peace and full of happy excitement at the prospect. A year ago I would have been unable to make that decision for myself, just didn’t trust my judgement enough. It’s a work in progress but whoopee!!!

  25. Spinster says:

    “What worries me is that the more I read about what could be viewed as ‘objections’ to having boundaries, to distancing from inappropriate situations, and even calling a spade a spade, is the more I recognise that people who aren’t making judgements about situations or even a person’s behaviour have a problem with appearing judgemental and conversely with thinking that their judgement has more power than it does.”

    Agreed. This also goes the other way around – many assclowns won’t say or do anything outright (but will say or do passive-aggressive things) partly out of “fear” of being looked at negatively, which is why many of them try to speed up the “sorry and please forgive me” process so that they won’t be judged too hard. (Correct me if I’m wrong; I haven’t looked at the other comments yet.) It’s very egotistical, as you said, because it’s giving themselves more power than they really have.

    I know someone who is (or was) like that – always worried about hurting people’s feelings, no matter how nasty they were towards her. I understand that many people are hit with this affliction (for lack of a better word) – worrying about hurting someone’s feelings or having their words taken the wrong way – hell, it happens to me from time to time, as shown in the following paragraph:

    “You don’t make ‘judgements’ because you don’t want people to make judgements about you, which is also trying to control the uncontrollable. You likely see it as rejection. (EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s me from time to time.) The ridiculous thing is that all this worrying is a waste – they’re going ahead with their own lives and making their own judgements even though they may not be specifically criticising or condemning you from a position of moral superiority or laying down divine punishment – not everything is about you.”

    But for it to take over one’s life is not healthy at all in my opinion. I hope that the person I know has changed that because it was a huge issue for her in all aspects of her life and especially so with men.

  26. Arlena says:

    “I hate to break it to you, but you’re not God, a higher power, a county court or whatever judge, or even Judge Judy, so basically whatever you think about or even deem someone to be when you tell them all about themselves (…), really your judgement has limited impact.”
    I understand, I agree, still this one is mind-boggling for me.
    When my father raged and yelled at top of his lungs and when my mother couldn’t take it any more she just collapsed on the floor gasping for breath, as if suffocating. I always thought now she’s gonna die and I am left with that assclown of a father. So I learned that conflict IS a matter of life and death and better to be avoided. As of course my father yelled a lot of “judgements” I came to conclude that they might have the power to kill a person and I couldn’t have lived with that guild causing it myself, which was the way I got that imaginary duct-tape over my mouth.

    It costs me tremendous brain energy to get this straight while seeing my mother falling to the ground. Whenever we later had a daughter-Mum-fight and she touched her heart I knew this is the sign to stop or to risk her causing a stroke perhaps. (Later it dawned on me that it also could be used on purpose just to shut you down, as well – but that is another story.)
    I still react with some panic to yelled “judgements” as I fear they might kill me or if I dare to fight back I might cause something awful… hard to unlearn.

    Without this childhood experience the next quote applied to my then first long-term boyfriend wouldn’t have hit home as it did:
    “…this man displayed anger issues the first time we met, yet went from “angry asshole” to boyfriend material…”
    Ouch. Because warning signs were always there!!!!!!

    I came to use the term “reading the situation” for making judgements. I ask me “What does this basically tell me?” I refer to what I hear and see and check in with my gut feelings, which are meanwhile first class information to rely on and no tiny thing is dismissed as “unimportant”. Those are more often the golden hints.

  27. Lavender says:

    I love this post, I think I confused judging with judgmental. I dated someone who was extremely judgmental and who judged my clothed/shoes/education etc, so I didn’t want to be like that cause I knew how hurtful it was, so I went to the other extreme and didn’t judge anything about him. I told him that it hurt me how much he judged me and that I wouldn’t judge him no matter what. That just made him treat me worse. So I need this post!

    I was wondering if anyone knew of a post on here that covers no contact with people who you still have to see, such as those you work with and have no choice but to see, but who you want to keep distance from?

    • Fearless says:

      Lavender,

      if you’re talking about the rat who had you cook dinner for him and then stood you up – twice – then had you pay for coffee for him and his pal as a way of “making it up to you” then had a good laugh about you with his pal, you should have no compunction about totally and blatantly blanking him at work and anywhere else. Speak to him only when and if necessary to meet your employment contract. if he tries to speak to you about anything else other than absolute job essentials, exercise good judgement with him for once – by telling him to get lost and stay lost.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Lavender, sign up for the ‘No Contact Newsletter’ on site. It covers dealing with those you still have to see at work as well as the crap we tell ourselves about our choices. It helped/is helping me. Cheers L.

    • NML says:

      I remember that man well Lavender. I judged that situation and knew immediately from the comments he made, the control he exerted and your reaction to it that he was dangerous. I’m so glad you cut him off – I suspect he was very surprised…while moving on to his new prey.

      Not making judgement won’t invite no judgement from elsewhere but as you discovered it may invite danger.

      I’ll email you the link to the email tomorrow for the articles you requested.

  28. Lessie says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Wow, I see SO much of myself and my own behavior reflected in the other comments here. What a truly insightful distinction to make between being judgmental and having good (and sound) judgment. I think for me, even at this late (r) stage of my life I am discovering that, having boundaries in place seems to equate with having good judgment in place as well.

    And for me that means, being able to trust, respect and love myself and to KNOW, inherently KNOW that I am equally deserving of those things from another, whether it be potential romantic partner, friend or family.

    My ability to empathize with others has been both my greatest strength AND my greatest weakness, I think and I am now trying to find a balance. One thing I am paying more attention to is “how do I feel after spending time with certain people? Do I feel uplifted in some way or do I feel exhausted and drained?” Granted, everyone has “off days” but I think for me, at least, being able to see consistency in someone has been key for me in understanding and valuing my own sense of judgment when it comes to others. This has been yet another very difficult lesson to learn.

    I hope I’m making sense, I’m still trying to wake up, drinking my Darjeeling tea :) Sending good thoughts to everyone here :)

    • Ria says:

      That ´s a good point – “how do I feel after spending time with certain people? Do I feel uplifted in some way or do I feel exhausted and drained?” – l personally think that to be able to distinquish *just bad days* from the draining feeling, is also very important. Because if you dont, its the open door to more misery. Not only in dating scene but also with friends/contacts.
      I recently had a good example of this. Had a date nr.2 with a picture perfect guy, who seemed to be very interested in me but during and after the date l felt that my energy is being completely sucked out, as if l was dating a vampire. Right after the date l did the “typical guy thing” – ignored him completely from that day on. And there was not the *missing spark or low level of chemistry,* as people usually think in those cases (oh, he wasnt just that into you) , but the fact that if this drained feeling would have followed me every time l meet him, it wasn´t my job to turn the ship around and make it *feel better* but making me feel better by recognizing the uncomfortable and opting out. Its not worth it.

    • yoghurt says:

      “how do I feel after spending time with certain people? Do I feel uplifted in some way or do I feel exhausted and drained?”

      I like this too.

      I had a colleague before I fell pregnant (who was nothing more than a friend, btw, but probably not even that), who used to sit in my kitchen, drinking tea and spending hours telling me about how he’d been screwed over by everyone we worked with, how awful they were, what an awful place we lived in, how cruel and unfair life was, how naive I was to see any good in ANYTHING or ANYONE and why I should watch my back with all of our mutual acquaintances henceforth.

      At the end of his visits he would leave with a bit of a spring in his step whilst I lay on the floor, gnawing my wrists and dreading the next day, when I would have to venture back into the HellHole Where Evildoers Lurked Around Every Corner (ie work).

      I put up with it on the assumption that I was being a Good Friend. When he met his current girlfriend, though, it was a ‘secret’ and he didn’t bother to tell me about it for three months. And guess how much support he was when I fell pregnant?

      Whilst I wouldn’t recommend an unplanned pregnancy, by the way, it doesn’t half give you an incentive to sort out who your friends are. I am no longer friends with the bully who shouted at me in the street for not wanting to go to his cafe of choice (even though it meant carrying the very heavy baby and his car seat for about a mile), the woman who threw a hissy fit if I attended someone else’s party and didn’t invite her, or the bloke who once walked into my bedroom, drunk, and woke me up at 4am to talk to me about his problems one night when I’d forgotten to lock my door.

      Good grief, with hindsight it’s really no wonder I ended up in trouble – I was lucky, I could’ve ended up dead.

    • NML says:

      You are definitely making sense Lessie – if I feel drained by someone, that’s a major sign for me that I need to step back and not being so ‘receptive’. People can’t just come along and vomit out all of their negativity or bust up your boundaries – it sucks the life out of you! I think if we sanity check how we feel instead of putting our energies into how we’d like to feel in the future, we’d realise that right now in an ill judged situation, we’re not happy.

    • blueberry girl says:

      @ Lessie
      “My ability to empathize with others has been both my greatest strength AND my greatest weakness”
      I know exactly what you’re talking about! I am the one people unload their problems on even if I’ve only met them that night! I scrape my gf’s drunk, obnoxious ass off the bar floor after her fourth glass of wine because I am, of course, sober and the designated driver… I had to drop a toxic friend out of my life who manipulated me into picking her son up from swim practice then tutoring him for free afterward. Not to mention the money she borrowed from me that never got paid back. A friend texted me a few days ago to let her ancient blind dog out at 6 am so she could cheat on her boyfriend and stay overnight with another guy. WTH???? NO, NO, NO!!! The Compassion Train has left the station. My Welcome Mat says, “Go Away” and it’s about damn time. Whew, I feel so much better…

      • yoghurt says:

        ‘My Welcome Mat says, “Go Away”’

        Heeheehoohooha! I am SO getting me a one of those mats…

        How brilliant! That just made my night.

  29. Artemisia says:

    My dad has, shall we say, boundaries issues with women and an underlying hate for them defined as “ protective and controlling”.
    My mother is under the thumb so to speak and loving it ( she grew up poor and without a father until her mum married when she was 13) . He is nothing without her, she tells me and in a way it’s true. She has no need for freedom or independence, she has my dad and he is her security. She hates feminists – not even the male bashing kind, just the women’s lib kind. My father was unfaithful and my mother was very controlling of me, wanting me as a friend to compensate for her loneliness but not as a separate person. I grew up a feminist but my strength was made of paper, I attracted men like my dad, had female friends like my mum and avoided relationships with secure people because I felt – not good enough to be loved.

    Yet, I kid you not, my mother feels superior to me because I am not married, ( and I have been to therapy but only nuts go there) she feels like she has one on me because she is with my dad while I am still single – independent and a feminist but with no man in your – you have nothing she tells me. It does not matter that I do not get my strength by knocking people down, or take other people hostage by replaying dysfunctional childhood patterns or that I have boundaries and able to know what is real and what is fake. She still see me as competition for my father’s affection. Now that I don’t play into her games she is openly hostile when she does not get what she wants. I smile now when she tells me “ what are you doing to your hair ? ” and no longer bite, ” it’s your crap” I think, not mine.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Your post moved me Artemesia and I ‘m sending you a hug for all you’ve been through with that kind of dynamic going on.
      I get it too, my Mum played me off against my sister a lot, telling her how great I was…and then vice versa. She had a desperate need to be the focus of attention compounded with a love of the grape and grain…not good.
      I do not do the family stuff anymore. It’s one place where I was able to secure some boundaries that thankfully I can sustain. If I visit… I put a bubble around me that allows me to listen, take dutiful action if needbe as a daughter and I leave if there is too much passive aggressive nonsense. I always leave with a kiss and I love you(which sometimes is hard) and I try and reward myself afterwards even if it is just going for a walk,buying a new lipstick whatever. Like your haircut story… I worked out long ago that my goodnews stories/successes/looking good weren’t really appreciated. These days I cut them short, speak about what is non controversial, TV,holidays… As you say it’s crap, but not yours. Once you truly believe that, as you know it gets easier. Thinking of you. L

  30. Sushi says:

    I love this post. I have spent most of my life afaraid to make judgements for the fear of misreading people and situations, having unreasonable expectations of partners, having insecurities that ruined my relationships and thinking that there is something badly wrong with me for being so unhappy with the way I was treated by men. If you haven`t got a good foundation for self-confidence from childhood it is hard to trust yourself and so easy to believe BS from EUMs along the way, with said BS propped up by “modern” dating advice and relationshop experts ect – that you DO need to twist yourself in a pretzel and squash down your feelings, boundaries and opinions in order to be in a relationship. I feel that the modern dating and communication is making it even worse for women, does anyone ever get the feeling that it is “unreasonable” to want a good commited relationship and expect to be treated well? Oh, and I`m convinced that the dating sites were invented by the EUM! 8 months of BR and I feel like a different person, and it is so good to see someone ( Natalie:) to stand up and go against the tide for what is human and just plain old decent. And respectful. We have every right to judge, have an opinion, and even get it wrong sometimes. Truly life changing stuff, thank you!

    • yoghurt says:

      I absolutely agree with everything that you’ve said, Sushi – that’s me to a T.

      Specially this:

      “so easy to believe BS from EUMs along the way, with said BS propped up by “modern” dating advice and relationshop experts ect – that you DO need to twist yourself in a pretzel and squash down your feelings, boundaries and opinions in order to be in a relationship. I feel that the modern dating and communication is making it even worse for women”

      When I walked away from my six-year relationship back in 2008 I had loads of male attention, but ALL of it came in the form of offers of one-night stands, phone calls in the middle of the night, attempted booty calls and sitting in MY kitchen for hours drinking MY tea and bending MY ear about THEIR problems.

      I was actually very good and held out for someone to take me out for dinner, but by the time the Master Of EUMism came along I’d got to a point where I actually believed that it was normal, that I’d missed something along the way, that this was how everyone behaved and that I was just being uptight about it.

      ‘Course, with hindsight, I suspect that I had a great big “EUM! Willing listener! Makes great tea!” beacon on my head but I do remember thinking “well, this is just obviously how everybody rolls” at the time. Or – worse – “this is obviously the only way that anyone is prepared to roll for ME”.

      • Ramona says:

        Yoghurt,
        “master of EUMism” …..peed a little while laughing my ass off. I love this site, not only because I am so much happier but you ladies are the real deal – charming and funny. Esp you NML.
        Keeping it real….Ramona

      • Sushi says:

        Hi Yoghurt,
        “this is obviously the only way that anyone is prepared to roll for ME”.
        Exactly and absolutely how I felt. Not good enough to love. All my compassion, effort, openness and love ( and the tea in China) and all I ever got was to feel I`m not good enough, which was exactly how I felt as a child. I see now I was for starters not judgmental or demanding enough. Brought up to be selfless. We aim to please. Ect. But I can feel myself changing and it`s great!!! Uptight? noooo, we are on BS diet, remember ? :)

      • kirsten says:

        Hi Yoghurt,
        I feel a bit this way too, most men that show any interest in me are clearly only after a one-nighter or a once a month visit (like a freakin period), up until I started reading NML I was like “WTF, what makes these guys think I’m up for this shit?” Now I couldn’t care less why they think and how they think, not my problem.

        • CC says:

          Ditto ditto ditto. It’s like waking up from a bad dream right? Jeez has my attitude changed… I have literally ZERO time for guys and people in general that have no respect. Users have no respect. I found myself surrounded by them, and I actually thought for a long time that this was the norm. That every guy was like this, that every guy was a player until they weren’t anymore. Now I know better. Players are users. Women aren’t to be used, if you are using women for sex, ego stroke, whatever.. you seriously lack in level of maturity and integrity. And it goes both ways, we women need to stop letting ourselves be used in order to feel loved or validated. I am MUCH happier being alone and feeling great about myself than being in some non relationship with some assh*le thats got god knows how many other women on the go. Hallelujah!!

  31. insightful says:

    This post is a beauty and so accurate.

    The biggest heart break of my life dates back to my early 20s. Early in the relationship, one night he promised to call so that we could get together. Never called that night, but we did get together at another point and so began years and years of heart ache and abuse.

    If I could have done it all over, I would have dropped him after his first “dropped” call. Or at least dropped him when he told me about his long-term partner.

    It became an awful dance of hot-and-cold love, push-me away, pull-me close tension.

    I am now middle-aged and am still recovering the self esteem that was shattered during my early 20s.

    Back then, I did not give much respect and attention to my instincts. Years of emotional abuse followed

    Life is better now–but I am still recovering

    I know, now, to listen to the gut!
    Bless you NML!!

  32. Umi says:

    I am practicing using my judging skills on internet dating sites…so I am chatting to various types of dipsticks..the first was a guy who contacted me with this opener, “I read your great profile, but I don’t think I would be your type”. I wrote back..”when a guy tells you he isn’t your type, I believe them..good luck in your search!” To which he replied….so clearly he didn’t expect that response..”I;m submissive!” He was absolutely coirect Flush. the second was very nice, so I mentioned how about meeting up at the weekend, he couldn’t change his plans at short notice etc etc..but the reason why I flushed him was that he did not offer alternate plans. I am looking foir a relationship in real life not talking all night on the computer!
    When you know what you are and where you stand exercising your right to judge a situation is really easy.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Umi, to be sure, when you know where you stand it’s your choice…
      I noticed your previous post about dating sites and thought I ‘d share my experience and what(I think) were good judgements.
      About two years ago , propelled by friends and my sis.. I online dated three guys…the first was 5 inches shorter than he said on site, the second was a foot fetishist(can you put your foot next to my leg on the seat??No kidding…the first date!… I click clacked away from him to the taxi rank pronto)
      The third I had a few dates with, nice guy,considerate,intelligent but on our fifth date he invited me to his house for dinner, and in the study and one of the bedrooms there were kids and women’s stuff. ‘Are you married/divorced?’ I asked…Big No!’ Do you have an ex girlfriend with a child…whats the deal?’ I asked. I didn’t want the gory story or all his life on a plate but I did want an answer…
      he swerved.
      I left that night about a half hour later and did not pursue the relationship. He had me at arms length because the nuances and system of a dating site allow someone to do that.
      You seem to be making wise calls as you date.
      My opinion is that if you date online you need to be’extra careful’ of what you share, believe and extra secure in your boundaries for possibly a longer period of time…but good luck.

  33. TRL says:

    I minimized and essentially denied abusive behavior from my exAC MM. I don’t know what the fear was that kept me from acknowledging it, being alone perhaps, disbelief that he was really doing this to me for a THIRD time and breaking all the promises he made. After he left, I now see the situation, and I see his behavior for what it was. He tormented me so much post break up, via text, over phone, and at work, making it so uncomfortable at work for me that I was able to see just what a low life he is. I ended up reporting him to his supervisor after asking him nicely several times to leave me alone, then having to resort to threats because he wouldn’t stop. Well he didn’t take my threats seriously, so for my own protection, I reported him since I felt he left me no choice. I now see him for who he is, and am not afraid to judge someone’s behavior if it is unhealthy and causes me pain or suffering. It felt really good to stick up for myself. I know he thought I never would do something like that. Work is a little awkward, but at least I don’t have someone harassing me and sending abusive texts, such that I have to excuse myself for a cry in the ladies room. Like it’s been said in many posts, if YOU don’t take care of YOU, who will?

  34. Snowboard says:

    For me, the concern about being judgmental is rooted in the idea that “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” We all have problems, we all make mistakes, we all hurt each other. Some of us (usually women, who tend to be better linguists) are better at articulating what prompted us to make those mistake and thus more likely to earn forgiveness from society. But we all have our reasons, even when we don’t understand them.

    I used to suffer from severe OCD, and I lost my last relationship because of it. I could easily see that my problems were interfering with our relationship, but I didn’t know what to do, as I have received ample therapy and anti-depressants over the years, and none of it has made any difference. (It turns out that the doctors weren’t identifying my problem as OCD, and as a result not giving me the necessary cognitive behavioral therapy; instead, they were giving me traditional talk therapy, which is actually counter-productive to the OCD mind.) My point is if you think that I had a responsibility to “step back” from that relationship, that is your call. I disagree. I tried to talk to my partner multiple times about it, and he just shut down, and didn’t want to address it. I did worry I would lose him because of it, and finally I did. (It does seem important to add that my OCD never led me to be MEAN to him, but rather just disrespectful in the sense that I constantly needed to go over my list of worries with him, even when I was obviously driving him nuts.)

    Is he wrong for leaving me? No. He has needs, and has every right to find a partner that can make him happy. But I do think it’s sad, because if he had talked to me about it, and supported me while I went through the OCD treatment, we could still be together today and share a really beautiful relationship, based on mutual support.

    • NML says:

      Snowboard, I think you’re hypothesising in a dangerous way. You just don’t know that this is the relationship you ‘would’ have had or ‘should’ have had ‘if only…’. The relationship you had is the relationship you had. To assume that had he been more understanding that you would still be together, is for him to assume you’d still be together if you had a better understanding of your problem and were addressing it *yourself*. These assumptions have you both focusing on the wrong aspect of the issue. Maybe if one of my exes had been more understanding of my rejection and abandonment issues as well as the problems I had with my family at the time, we could have had a beautiful, mutual relationship. I actually believed this to be the case for a while and in fact believed this of several of my relationships until I realised that not only was I not all of the problem, but they were not who I should be with. I think it is important for partners to be understanding and supportive – this isn’t the same as fixing our problems or turning a blind eye to them. We cannot decide what other people’s tolerance threshold should be. I ended up being glad that I had the issues I did with my exes as it forced me to address my problems and manage them. Incidentally My youngest daughters godfather has OCD. He can be a pain in the arse at times but he and his now wife have a rhythm and he’s learned how to manage it to an extent and she knows when to talk or leave him to his own devices. What she won’t allow him to do is dominate her or the relationship hence why they’ve now got a good flow. In fact I know several people with OCD.

  35. Michelle says:

    Gotta look out for number 1. People who don’t treat us with respect have got to go. It really is that simple, even though it is hard to do in practice.

    The sooner you take out the garbage, the sooner you can get rid of the stink.

  36. grace says:

    http://www.amazon.com/Her-Fearful-Symmetry-Audrey-Niffenegger/dp/1439165394

    Snowboard
    Have you read this book – it has a character in it with OCD and follows his relationship. It seems realistic but I don’t have personal experience of OCD. I won’t spoil the ending for you.

  37. TRL says:

    Natalie,
    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind emailing me the link to the articles that you forwarded to Lavendar, that pertains to dealing with your ex when you work with them. I don’t have to see him for a week and a half because we both have time off, but next week I have to face the music again so any encouragement and help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for all you do.

  38. brenda says:

    Oh Nat and amazing Ladies!!!
    Nat,you are so right…You bet I know I did the right thing!
    It has/was not been easy,and your right I do struggle,but even on my weakest days I get a little bit stronger.
    I honestly had to reread this post as to find the message,about judging…Ihave alwasys been one of those people who do not judge,and I thought that perhaps if I told men that I would look so open.Yup I was open alright,open to be treated like shit!What I took from this is one has to judge actions and words a bit more closely.
    And you know what,today I am…I have been dating a bit,and because of you Nat and all the women on here,I have a rebirth in values and morals,meaning whilst I am dating,I am REALLY getting to know these Men,and listening,REALLY LISTENING to them…So I have the right to make clear descions if I know they are not Assholes,future fakers,looking for sex,EUMS….And You know I am powerful beyond belief in these moments..I realize I dont judge people,just thier actions.They will be judged at some point by someone or something FAR more powerful than me!!!!Love you!!!

  39. Tonya says:

    Spot on…funny how you can rationalize the crazy behavior away. I was in a long distance thing with a guy in another country I had met online. He works in politics in his country and poured it on thick..called me daily, started sending 2 dozen roses to my work on the anniversary of my birthday for 9 months straight..I delighted in his attention and found it cute and romantic….in the beginning.

    First off the phone calls…before work, in my car on the way to work, then at lunch time, then when I got home. Most of those 2 hours at a time (on his dime but still) and sometimes longer. I didn’t realize this was control over me..I thought “well he’s so far away from me, maybe when he gets to know me better he’ll stop being so worried I’m going to stray – it’s a “cultural difference”. Nope. Assclown.

    Then came the actual first visit to see him in his country – I dealt with him having to speak for me because none of his friends spoke much English. The first night there I found out that he wasn’t just getting divorced from his wife but actually STILL LIVING with her in their flat until it could be sold – not only did I walk around with all his friends knowing I was the unwitting “mistress” but he put me up in his buddies bed and breakfast place. A cottage type building with bars on the windows and door. He actually (and I’m ashamed to even admit that I was so shocked at what was happening that I could barely speak up for myself) LOCKED ME IN and took the key with him as he went back to his flat to his family promising to be there in the moring to fetch me!

    Then there were all the fights…(and I’m super laid back and like everyone to be on equal fields). Always about the same thing – the fact that I had had sexual relations in my life before he came along. He could NOT get over it…here I was 39 years old, had been previously married for 14 years and had gone out with a few men after divorcing but I was consistantly being punished for having had sex with other men. We would go around and around in argument and then (I thought) come to some understanding – it would flare up again…the same sh*t over and over. He excused it off as how it’s “normal” in his culture to fight and it shows passion and love. (??) Speaking of…he was WAY too quick to declare me his and try to talk me into moving there and marrying. The guy…

  40. Elle says:

    I have another thought about judgement. I haven’t articulated this, so bear with me, this may be a little scatty: Something I still haven’t quite become as cool at as I would like is being OK with an ex (or friend, but mostly those in intimate relationships with) judging me negatively. What can happen then is that I might judge them as being, say, too cold, controlling and mean to me for me to feel emotionally safe and positive about the relationship, but what stumps me (and sometimes keeps me there) is that I start to think that I too can be crap in my own way: overly-analytical, potty-mouthed, assurance-seeking, not super mellow, a time-waster etc. So then I get all ‘who am I too judge?’ It’s like I can’t live with the relativisitic, contextual-based nature of judgement (I warned you about the overly-analytyical thing!).

    In other words, I still, possibly due to a religious upbringing, want a sort of outside referee to say something definitive about who is more crap! I am exaggerating a bit, but I almost want to stay in an unhappy relationship some times so that I can avoid having the appraisal, you know all the sh*t at the end where they sum-up (explicitly or otherwise) your flaws (or when you, yourself, start to pull it all on top of you). Then, after a relationship, I find it hard to back my decision to leave (or accept being left) because I can dwell on how I was probably a bit of a dick too. Even if I don’t freeze-out, have rage bursts, exclude from family, discipline stare or whatever, I can still be a tool at times.

    Also, I had this guy recently who was super keen on me, but his approach was just so weird and intense – he sent letters to me every few days and would often be standing there when I turned around from buying something in a shop or getting a drink at a bar. After countless attempts at telling him I was not interested in a friendly way (for over a year), I ended up losing my patience and being pretty foul. This was understandable, but my point is that maybe for someone this guy will be awesome, whereas for me, he was a nightmare who made all my inner sirens go off (not the good ones). My unevolved ego wonders: sh*t, I have probably been creepy guy for someone too, where I gave them the heebies, despite all intentions…I just have to get over this though, don’t I? (Feel silly writing this)

    Anyway, I am getting better at this – I am feeling OK and even very happy after recent break-up – but this judgement aspect (and I mean judgement in the morally superior – here are your flaws – sense) is something that lingers. I don’t know if I have expressed it properly here, but am keen to hear what’s made of it. x

    • yoghurt says:

      “overly-analytical, potty-mouthed, assurance-seeking, not super mellow, a time-waster etc.”

      These might be vaguely annoying habits (although I bet they’re not!) and they might irritate but they don’t HURT.

      “too cold, controlling and mean to me for me to feel emotionally safe and positive about the relationship”

      This is behaviour that hurts other people. And – get me going out on a limb to make a JUDGEMENT – Hurting Other People Is A Bad Thing To Do.

      That’s the difference, in my opinion. Even the world’s most annoying person deserves to be treated with care and respect. You might not go out of your way to spend time with them but you wouldn’t deliberately knock them down, damage their self-esteem, make promises that you’d no intention of keeping or mess up their life, would you?

      So there’s the difference – you’re an okay person, they’re not. The New Judgemental Yoghurt Hath Spaketh.

      ALso, though, making a judgement doesn’t mean that you do anything other than decide not to have someone in your life – you’re not going to publish their personal details on fuckwit.com or write a character reference for their future employer or produce a coffee-table book called ARSEHOLES with arty close-ups of their face on every page?

      (tempting though it may be)

      You’re just going to remove yourself… and honestly – would you want to spend time with someone when you knew that they didn’t like spending time with you? Nope, so you’re actually doing them a favour.

    • Natasha says:

      Girl, every single last one of us has things we don’t like about ourselves. I could do with about 10 times more patience, implementation of the “Count To 10 Before Responding” Rule and a pocket thesauras to pick more useful, less dirty words when I’m upset or annoyed. However, do all of these things mean I shouldn’t leave someone that doesn’t respect me/isn’t making me happy? Nope! I’m not going to think, “Well, I can be impatient, so I can’t really judge this dude that’s trying to keep me in his back pocket for when he’s momentarily out of options.” I think there’s two kinds of flaws: the minor, human stuff and then the character flaws. I’ve struggled with the same issues, so I totally get what you are saying!

      As far as that weird guy goes – I would have lost it eventually too. I’ve been in that situation as well and, of course, you try saying you are not interested nicely and it just doesn’t get through. To me, that stuff is so creepy. Some might think it’s the dude being “persistent”, but I think it’s actually a boundary violation. Especially if he might be following you around? I wouldn’t care for that either – not one bit. Honestly, even if he is a socially inept “nice” guy…if he kept asking you out after you said no, of course he’s going to get a “big rejection”!

      I also think that there’s no way that you’ve creeped any of your exes out – we’ve all been misguided in our affections at some point, but no one’s skulking around parking lots, getting anyone’s name tattooed on their arses or sending love letters! Most importantly, don’t feel silly for bringing these things up – I’ve had a lot of the same thoughts myself, so if you are silly…then so am I!

      • Elle says:

        Bahahaha! Your comments, Yoghurt and Natasha, made me giggle out loud – you’re both comic geniuses – and brought much relief because, while I thought what I was saying was a little skewed, and certainly unhelpful, this fear of judging someone as not right for me was something that was really keeping me stuck, as Nat would say. And I suspect it all comes back to me needing to be OK with someone saying ‘Got to know you, but nope, not so up for it,’ which really isn’t all that bad. It quite freeing, as you say. Plus, when you’re being honest and stable, it’s two-way, these things. So many insights, thank you!!! (I say as I watch you from behind a tree, smiling vapidly)

  41. EllyB says:

    When I was a child, I was VERY judgmental. Judgmental of my parents who sexually abused me, humiliated me, tortured me, deprived me of all good things in life, scolded me for nothing and expected me to worship them like gods 24/7 . I was also very judgmental of my schoolmates who bullied me, ridiculed me and tortured me physically for almost 10 years. I was insanely angry. I was pissed.

    But being judgmental, angry and pissed was so fruitless. Whenever I got angry, people attacked me some more and told me more things that were “horribly wrong” about me. Whenever I claimed someone did me wrong, it ended up being VERY PAINFUL for me.

    Of course I learned not to be judgmental anymore. I ended up judging ONLY MYSELF. I judged myself more and more harshly. Did I have a choice?

    Now things have changed. It’s about time.

  42. Tonya says:

    Oh man does THIS article hit home with how i’ve been feeling lately! :P

  43. Jenny Garnto says:

    RE: “Long time reader Grace with her straight to the point, comments (about the dog)”: To top-this-off, both my bio-dad & my husband’s reaction to this would be, “That stupid dog doesn’t even act like it “likes” me, like it is suppose to do…being a/the dog that it is, & all!”

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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