Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association….characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend. – Wikipedia
How many people have had this happen to them: You get involved with someone you like, you’re intimate, you go out, you text/talk on the phone, you feel a connection and you’re thinking and acting like you’re an item, but somewhere down the line your partner blurts out, “This isn’t a relationship. We’re just friends.”
This could happen right from the start, they may casually spit out that they’re not looking for a relationship, or it may pop up after you’ve been intimate and you’ve already started thinking you were a couple. There’s nothing particularly wrong with having a booty call, as long as you’re both on the same page, but some people can’t do booty calls. They just aren’t wired that way and if you’re the type that wants a relationship, but you’re willing to just accept what they give you, while hoping for more, then you’ve got a really big problem on your hands.
You Don’t Take Your Booty Call Out To Dinner
My girls and I were having brunch one Sunday and my friend Isabel asked, “Who was that guy I saw you having dinner with last Friday?” A big smile came on my other friends face as she said, “That’s Alex. We’re not going out. We’re just having sex.”
“Oh honey,” Isabel said. “You don’t go on a dinner date with your booty call.” We were all in hysterics and it was starting to feel a lot like an episode of Sex and the City and once we stopped laughing we debated the topic of booty calls and realized Isabel had a really valid point.
She explained that a booty call is just that – it’s not a relationship, it’s all about sex and nothing more. You’re not romantic partners and you’re not friends. You’re two people that both fully agree that you want nothing more than a physical relationship. There are no feelings involved. You don’t plan your life around your booty call. You don’t plan a future together. You don’t give birthday gifts, you don’t lend your booty call money, or talk about your goals. You don’t hold hands, go out on dates, or act like you’re in a relationship. In order to maintain your booty call you keep it simple and you don’t blur the lines.
You Don’t Sleep With Your Friends
I have plenty of friends both male and female that are esthetically pleasing, but I don’t want to have sex with any of them. With all of my friends there is a basic feeling of mutual trust, reciprocity, kindness, support, empathy, and a great desire to spend time together, where we can be ourselves and have fun. We buy each other gifts and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. We build each other up and make each other laugh. Friendships are supposed to be positive and lift us up.
Most relationships start out as friendships, as both parties get to know each other, but eventually, it leads to a full-fledged relationship, or it ends. They aren’t supposed to start and end somewhere in between.
When you get involved with shady people they like to live in Ambiguity Land. They like to blur the lines. They like to take advantage of all that you have to offer, while offering you nothing in return. A lot of people fully agree to enter into a relationship, that looks a lot like a relationship, yet isn’t a relationship, with the hope that it will grow into something more in time. When you accept a relationship all on someone else’s terms, don’t expect that to change and suddenly be on your terms. Even if you threaten to walk away, things may change briefly, but you can rest assured that things will very quickly go back to the way they were before.
Get Your Free Pass to Disrespectfulville
Once you’ve been placed in the, I like you enough to sleep with you and take advantage of you, but not enough to legitimately date you, category don’t ever expect to be upgraded to girlfriend/boyfriend status. You’re not getting that promotion now, or in the future. When you accept that kind of agreement, that tells the Shady’s of this world that you don’t respect yourself enough to demand better treatment. Only a shady person would enter into a relationship knowing that you want and expect more, while fully knowing that they will not deliver. Someone with integrity would be straight up with you and concerned that your feelings don’t get hurt.
People that don’ t care about you, or respect you, have no problems standing you up, or taking from you. When you accept less, when you really want more, it gives the other person a license to be disrespectful.
“Oh I missed your birthday? I know you got me a nice leather jacket for my Birthday but – well we’re just friends, so it doesn’t matter that I didn’t get you anything.” Wait. What? “What’s that? I stood you up. Well you know how it is. I met this other girl. You and I are just friends anyway.” Oh no you didn’t!
What about friends with benefits Sav? That’s another term for a booty call and a Hollywood movie. In the movie starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, they both wanted more than a booty call, they were both just too scared and damaged from past relationships to dive into one – they eventually ended up together – but again that’s Hollywood not reality.
The point is, if my friend buys me a Birthday gift, you better believe I’m getting them a Birthday gift. Friendship is about reciprocity. Friends don’t look to use you, and they are not inconsiderate. Even with booty calls there is a certain level of trust and respect. So if your friends and your booty call treat you better than your part-time boy/girlfriend then you have to realize that you are not with someone that truly cares about you.
The truth is your McShady wants you somewhere in relationship-no-man’s-land, because if you’re good with just being a booty call and not caring – they don’t get the supply they’re after. They’re not getting your love, your affection, or your resources. Let’s be really honest here – most of us have been conditioned to share our resources with our romantic partners, more so than with anyone else. Users know this. Sure if your brother asks you for $100 you’d lend it to him, but you’d expect it back. You’d do the same with your friends and again you’d be sure to get it back, and not want to make a habit out of it, but with someone that you have romantic feelings for – that $100 leaves your fingertips a heck of a lot easier and often you have no expectation of ever getting it back.
Mr or Mrs McShady wants you in that little space where they know you’re hoping for more and you’re willing to overlook a lot of bad behavior to get it. It’s there where they are so willing to oblige your desire for more, because this is where they get the most out of you. That’s why you’ll get the mixed messages and why you only hear, “But we’re just friends,” when you object to their behavior, or you ask something of them.
Never Be Complicit in Any Activity that Erodes Your Self-Esteem
There is nothing, save child birth and a dying tooth nerve, that is more painful than unrequited love. When you love someone and you want to give them your all and they gladly take what’s on offer, but give little in return, that’s a recipe for heart break. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, this will compound the belief that you aren’t worthy of love and that you just aren’t good enough.
Some people want someone so badly that they are willing to take them at any cost. Knowing that they want you, but not enough to officially declare it, will slowly eat at you from the inside. The careless way they disregard your feelings will be like daggers in your heart. The inconsiderate way they go on about their business, as if you are not even a consideration will gnaw on you. The very word “friend” will grate on your last nerve and it will feel like you’ve been stabbed in the heart every time they say it. Never give someone you can’t trust the keys to your emotions.
There is no one on this planet that is worth sacrificing your self-esteem over. Sometimes we may think this is a better alternative than loneliness, or we may be feeling really vulnerable, or we may just want to have someone love us, but none of these reasons are an acceptable enough excuse to settle for less than you deserve, or allow yourself to be used. The cost to your self-esteem is far greater than a roll in the hay with someone that can’t make up their mind about you.
When you’re involved with someone, who acts like they’re in a relationship, when they want something from you and then acts single, when it suits their purpose, you have to walk away. If they don’t consistently and purposefully add value to your life, but instead cause you pain, then they are not meant for you. And you have to be brave enough and care enough about yourself to stop the madness.
If you want a relationship then say you want a relationship upfront. It will save you both a lot of time and a lot of heartache down the road and it puts an end to any ambiguity. When everyone’s cards are on the table, there is no room for misunderstandings. Relationships aren’t 50/50, or 10/90 they’re 100/100 and either you’re both all in, or your both all out. Never settle for less.
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Thank you for such a great article.
I am but confused and would like to ask for an opinion,..We are just FWB and I did know that he has other FWB.
Last time we had sex..we did it as usually. Got a motel room and we had sex, he left ( nothing unusual) and said he will be back.
However, this time he wasn’t alone and I was asked to leave. I was like wtf?!
This is my first FWB relationship, and I do not have romantic feelings for this guy, but I felt totally disrespected. I wanted to ask do I have right to feel this way or this is normal thing when it comes to FWB relationships?
I would like to thanks for your writting in this topic. He is a man I love very much for twelve years. He used to be the best adorable person until he became quite mean recently. We broke up 11 years ago when I was 20. We have been living in different countries for 11 years, too. During these 11 years we had a good friendship where he encourages me to do right things. But things slightly changed when I turned 24 and we had a very passionate make out when we met for once. It was making out, we didn’t have sex. But the memory was very good for both us and we started having sexual online chats since then. Lots of pressures and misunderstandings happended but it runs for 6 years. Until last year, I told him I wanted us to be back to friend.
He told me he could no longer be my friend and he always wanted to do sth sexual to me, even we are living in different countries. I didn’t agree and he ended up blocking me for a year. During that one year, I thought about him frequently, I wished if he didn’t block me so I could reach him whenever I wanted. I felt regretted that I could have been compromising with him by having sex chats with him once in a while, which can fulfill my sexual needs, too.
So some months ago, I called him and we had a calm talk gradually. He unblocked me. The first thing I did is sending him my sexual photos and he sent his.
Two days ago, I discovered that he is also having another sexual partner, who is really sleeping with him, not cybersex like what he is doing with me. I felt very bad to the woman and I told him my apology. He said that I dont have to bother.
I wish I’m strong enough that this is my last conversation with him.
Sometimes when I’m happy, I really want to share with him. But after reading your article, I know that this action may bring all the wrong things that I did back to the circle again.
I will be strong and I’m thankful for persons like you who remind us the right thing to do.
On one hand luckily we never slept together but then again we work together so kept things as friends. Nine months of which almost six were almost nightly 3-4 he phone calls to silent treatment. Can’t figure out if this was a narcissist or some simply emotionally unavailable. He’d always say this is about us having fun, I can talk to you about anything. It hurts because I still see him every work day and the silent treatment continues.
I’m SO happy to have found you on the internet ! Thank you for all the expert advice and support…all the subjects that you address are exactly what I’m going through “dating” a supervisor/co worker…… Having your website to refer to is like having a BFF available 24 hrs a day who gives excellent advice !! THANK YOU !!!! : )
I’m so thankful I’ve found this site, this been helping me a lot understanding unhealthy behavior and why some men act like they do – and when should I stay away from them.
I had this guy who was incredibly jealous and always doubting myself, like I was a whore or something. We were always arguing cause he was short fuse and I didn’t like the way he acted towards me sometimes. He was incredibly caring and loving when he was not having a stupid crisis. he acted like we were in a relationship and he couldn’t live without me but after a while he started to disconnect and being aloof. Without apparent reason.
I asked him several times whats going on and why he was treating me like this, he just said “I never promised you anything”.
I just told him that actually he didn’t, but he took too much of my time, he made me promise I would be there for him, he would go nuts if I didn’t reply in 2 hours, he would call me everyday saying he missed me so much and just needed to hear my voice. he said he NEEDED to talk to me everyday and out of the blue.. he does not. How can you say you didn’t promise me anything when I’ve done so much for you? I’m sure I haven’t done anything wrong, the problem is in you, not me.
He just didn’t answer or couldn’t care less.
But I feel way much better now wihtout him, I’m going out much more, having fun and doing my stuff and I don’t feel like i’m “sitting waiting for him to call”
Good thing I got from this guy is that I started to take care of my appearance since I met him and I notice other guys look at me, more than before.
Mary, there are many similarities in the behavior you expressed and my ex. She “said” this isn’t a relationship as she simultaneously expected and basked in all the benefits OF a relationship. Several times along the way I’d try to “talk” about the context, given the mixed signals, only to be greeted with “let’s not talk about it” and followed with an “I love you” from her. So when I was discarded on a dime, given the silent treatment, cheated on…I was devastated. After about 8 months of being in a complete mind**ck, heart wrung out from confusion, I can FINALLY say I’m over this. I’m in the very last phase of my healing because I’ve allowed myself to feel butterflies in the presence of someone else (although I’m not acting on it) – and it feels good. 🙂 I stayed hopelessly committed to someone who had ruthlessly used me and was aloof to my feelings, which, in part, her actions encouraged. It feels SO good to be almost all the way healed.
This blog is an excellent resource for learning and identifying the behavior of others, but more importantly, encouraging us to evaluate our own behaviors that lead us to narcissists,
Savannah, I’m on here tonight just to talk so as not to talk with my ex-husband. Of course, none of you are surprised to hear that after all that has happened I passed by him on the driveway in my vehicle and he called to me. (Yes, unfortunately, we live adjacent; split the farm as you may remember). Rather than ignoring him and driving on I stopped and he asked me if I would come over for a movie. Fortunately that was the last thing that sounded like a good evening to me and I had no difficulty whatsoever in saying flat “No.” However, then it played with my mind that I wouldn’t mind sitting in the yard and chatting with him. “No.” I know where all those things would lead. He showed me quite clearly when I talked with him yesterday to clarify his contributions to the fund for our daughter’s college expenses that he took that chance to try to engage me, to blame his bad behavior on me (yes, clearly he believes he can blame the victim.) But I am lonely. So for right now I am on your blog. Evenings are the hardest when you are single–and I know I need to join some groups and causes that I am interested in. A nice drive to Ann Arbor would be good for me to spend the evening among people. I am doing a lot to increase my friendships at work and through school and in a few local organizations meanwhile. I find that I am so much more open to friendships since I am not with the narcissist.
And, by the way, I have started reading Dance of the Wounded Souls and am enjoying it. In fact, that sounds like a great way to spend the rest of the evening. Take my shower, put on my PJ’s and crawl in bed with a good book.
@ Nashville. Yes, I certainly think we can help people without being co-dependent. My own barometer is whether they asked for help and I felt glad to serve them in that way vs. whether either I thought they should need or appreciate me helping/rescuing them or whether I at some level resent the helping as I feel it is something they should be doing for themselves and are depending on me instead.
I have been friends with a man for two years and we started having sex 2 months ago . He would tell me how I am 98% of what he is looking for a girlfriend, say he doesn’t know if he can love again after his ex 5 yrs ago, he would ask me out then go silent for three weeks out of the blue. Wouldn’t answer calls, it was hell on earth for me.
Finally saw him last week , he said he is going to marry me , says I’m his soulmate (he has said this all before too the last silent treatment )
Then after having sex he ignored me all last weekend, then spoke to me one night, then ignored me all week , then today says to stop texting him he’s annoyed with me. I say what you don’t want me to text at all ever? Doesn’t reply. Ofcourse he does but it’s all to torture me, like he did during the 3 week silent treatment
I get carried off with his saying I’m his soulmate etc then when I reciprocate I get the ” stop texting me it’s annoying”
I’m so confused, the hot and cold, please someone tell me what to do. He is 45, we both are.
I’m sorry to hear this but this guy sounds like an emotional flake who doesn’t know what he wants. You’re 98% of what he’s looking for? I’d ask what the other 2% is.
If he is saying he doesn’t know if he can love again after his ex, then that’s not a good sign. He doesn’t sound ready. He’s toying with you, even if he’s not trying to hurt you by doing it, it clearly is hurting you.
And as for the ‘stop texting it’s annoying’ — I suggest not texting him or contacting him, since he’s made that point clear. But he’s done this multiple times already–has sex with you and then pushes you away. He just really sounds emotionally unavailable.
He’ll continue to do it for as long as he knows you’re willing to put up with it, sad to say. He contacts you only at his convenience and thus far the ‘relationship’ has all been in his control.
Actions are more important than words. He could be involved with other women, or he could just be confused but the clear thing is that he is leading you on and a part of him knows this.
As hard as it is (believe me, I know) he’s already given you some clear statements that he’s not ready. Will he ever be? At this point I would say no. And waiting around for him will only cause you more hurt.
I’ve done this dance with guys before and this treatment just isn’t good enough so I would just walk away.
Yeah we had sex last week on Thursday, thn I texted him fri and sat and he ignored, and then I just stopped texting , then on Monday night he decided he wanted to speak to me and texted me all night and was really friendly . Then pretty much ignored me since then until yesterday when he said stop texting him all the time it’s annoying. Last time he just ignored me for 3 weeks. I thought he was dead he just wouldn’t reply.
Then he came back like nothing happened .
I feel like telling me to stop texting all the time yesterday is just another form of control, like the silent treatment he is so hot and cold. So I haven’t texted since yesterday , but by Monday he will probably decide he wants to speak to me. I feel so angry right now thinking about how much he strings me along. I said that I won’t text him for a few days and he seemed fine with that, but I just feel like I’m actually never going to text him again, and make him realise what he has lost . Make him fight for it if he really wants me deep down. I mean telling me he wants to marry me and then a week later saying “don’t text me all the time ” .??
@Just me — I had a 32-year-old man behave this way toward me and I chalked it up to “immaturity” and him being “confused” to make excuses for his behavior. In your case he is 45? Good grief!
You are “98 percent” of what he wants?! That is SUCH a burn. That is a statement that was purposefully said to mess with your head, make you feel bad and keep you unstable.
It doesn’t matter why he is doing this. You may be tempted to analyze and ruminate over why he is doing this to you to solve the mystery and find answers, but seriously, don’t waste your time. You will never get an answer and even if you did, it will NOT change his behavior.
Whether he is confused or doing this on purpose because he’s a player, it ends with the same result, you being hurt and left behind. The important thing to remember is that it has NOTHING to do with you! This is his issue.
Ask yourself this: Are you OK with having a relationship that is ALL on the other person’s terms? Are you OK with being at his beck and call, available when HE wants, but he can’t be relied on to be there for you? That is what is happening, it’s a dictatorship not a relationship.
Don’t fall for the soulmate/sweet words trap. If you see my story below, I did it too. I fell for someone’s words but his actions said the exact opposite.
Do yourself a favor and get rid of him. Block his number. Stop contacting him. Don’t run to him when he tries. Don’t even give him an explanation. He doesn’t deserve one.
I love how they always act like nothing happened. Boy, aren’t they good at it. Also be cautious of the fact that he’s brought up marriage and soul-mate without yet having even committed to you as your boyfriend 1st.
Watch his actions b/c that’s where it counts. If he begins making nitpicky remarks even before you’re officially dating, that’s a sign for only bad things to come.
As of yet, he is not being forthright with you and that’s not fair. There’s nothing wrong with you keeping some distance from him for the time being. And try not to let it get you down too much. We’ve all been there so in that sense, you’re not alone.
You are right, he isnt my boyfriend , yet he calls me his soulmate, and has TWICE said the following “I’m gong to marry you!” in an exclamation, futuristic sense.
We had a two year VERY platonic friendship up until March this year. He would text me all the time, talk about girls he is dating, there were never any issues with us. he was fun and open, and i really liked having him as a friend. There were no games, no silent treatment or anything of the sort. In fact it is starting to make me cry just this minute thinking about how he has changed since we started having sex. I havent made any grand statements about wanting to marry him or him being my soulmate at all. Its all him.
But now im thinking about it, i did bring it up in some texts this week,(in a fun way, not heavy) and maybe THAT is what is making him say “stop texting me all the time” He doesnt liek being accountable maybe, or feels vulnerable through his own words. I shouldnt analyse. But as soon as i reciprocate anything like this that he is giving me, he runs away or in this case , tells me my textng is annoying him.
Its all on his terms
Just me- I don’t know your guy but most stories like this mean the guy values what you can give him: attention, an ego boost more than he values you as a person. Some people can be quite desperate for an ego boost and say really intense, affectionate, over the top things in order to get this. They fill up on your attention and then they don’t need you anymore and because they don’t value you they push you away until they need attention again. This is common behavior for narcs and borderlines but emotionally unavailable or immature people can do it too. Someone who values you and wants to start a healthy relationship with you will be consistent with their affection and will not blow hot and cold (which is also indirect, manipulative behavior and problematic in and of itself). I don’t recommend distancing yourself from him with the hope that he will then value you because this sets up a dynamic where he only treats you well if he can’t have you. A healthy relationship requires that he value you when you are present and available to him. You deserve this and are worthy of this from someone. Why not tell him what your expectations for a relationship are, i.e. your boundaries, and see if he can consistently step up? If he can’t, then I would move on to someone who will. I highly recommend that you read Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl by Natalie Lue. She talks about “future faking”- when people start talking about marrying you before they can even commit to the basics in a relationship. Best wishes on this, stay strong and believe in yourself – you are of great value. :). Also love Lola and NRs comments!
@Just Me: I completely agree with NR and SU’s comments. However, as we all know, emotions are damn hard to wade through, esp. in these early stages. From an objective viewpoint, it appears like this guy is using you and a bit of an insensitive jerk.
However, from my experience with my ‘friendship’ N, I had a number of my real friends tell me to ditch him, ‘he only treats you like crap’ or ‘why do you keep going back to this poor treatment’? Etc., is what they used to say to me. I knew in my mind they were right, but in my emotions I still held out hope.
Ultimately I did cut N from my life but I did so on my own terms, as in, I came to the realization that there was absolutely no hope for him ever improving. It had been years of wasted effort on my part going nowhere, draining my energy and so that’s when I decided to call it quits.
Ultimately my friends were right about him (and in my gut I knew all along) but I had to really come to that realization on my own, in that, realizing that being in touch with him hurt far more than being away from him.
As we all have more or less said, this dude sounds like a flake who appears to be using you but is definitely hurting you. Given this is still the initial phase of the ‘relationship’, he should be on his best behaviour. That he’s not is a sign there’s something off about him. As NR said, don’t make this about you. It’s his problem. You deserve better.
But we all know how hard it is. Don’t hesitate to ignore him if you feel that’s what you need. Give him some of his own medicine. If a guy did that to me I would be PO’d as well.
thankyou so much for responding. I woke up today feeling sad, just because i cant be myself, i cant respond to his affection after it has happened and continue it, because he has gone back to being cold. Its so up and down with him.
I agree i think you are right, he says he wants to marry me and that i am his soulmate to get something in return. But i also think he actually believes what he is saying. Then when i say similar things days later, or refer to him saying it, thats when he freaks out and shuts down. Its like HE is the ONLY one who is allowed to say these things. I think thats why i got the “Please stop texting me , its getting annoying”. Which is a heart stab in itself.
Its been 2 days since he has heard from me, and i suspect when he has a few drinks this weeknd he will start contacting me, probably if not tonight, on Sunday night. But then his “stop texting me” message could have meant he never wants to hear from me again. Although i dont see why, we didnt argue or anything, i was being nice. he just cant concentrate on more than one thing at a time and my texts annoy him in that way i think.
But HIM omg before we started having sex he would sennd me 50 texts in one night even if i was asleep and not responding. Once he was mad and sent me 150 abusive texts in 2 hrs. So he is a texter.
My plan is to ignore him for now. Give him a taste of his own medicine.
You said this – “”Why not tell him what your expectations for a relationship are, i.e. your boundaries, and see if he can consistently step up? If he can’t, then I would move on to someone who will””
we arent in a relationship as such, just friendship except he doesnt treat me liek he used to, he isnt as open since we started having sex. So i dont know what to say to him on this level. In some ways i think i should stop sleeping with him altogeher, because i miss how he was beofre all this started, he was just nicer to me
thankyou, i agree, i dont know why i keep “going back” even though this is only a new pattern emerging. As soon as he “has me” either emotionally or physically, he backs off and goes cold. He thinks he cant love again, thats what he tells me and thats the reason he gives me for doing it. He has issues with his ex who kicked him out 5 years ago, she has a restraining order out against him (he was threatening). Until he lets her go completely which is difficult as they have kids, he wont be ready for anyone. Its definitely over with them, but until he stops thinking the sun shines out of her butt he wont be ready
Just me- I just want to send the encouragement to you that you will figure this out. Lola is right- we all need to figure these things out from where we are at now and learn from our own experiences. I know I did- I even knew what I was getting into when I had a fling with my “friend” who all of our friends called Mr. Come Here, Go Away :). You could not have convinced me to do otherwise at the time and my heart was broken for much longer than the fling lasted, lol. But he was so hot. Anyway, we learn, we grow, we move on, right? And I don’t need to tell you this I’m sure- but be very cautious with this guy if he has been stalking and abusive in the past to you and to others. You are clearly a seeker of wisdom and I think this will help you more than anything else. I wish I had been more of a seeker, more open, when I had my experiences. Best wishes- SU
This is in response to “Just Me.”
Whether or not this man is a narcissist is not relevant. What is relevant is that you begin to nurture and create a loving relationship with yourself. Instead of waiting for him to see your value, start valuing yourself. I understand it is not easy to change yourself, but it is entirely necessary to move on.
If you are still with him at this time, I imagine there are more hurts you’ve sustained. If you stay with him, expect this treatment, it will not change. In fact, it will only get worse.
I believe the relationship with a narcissist is a gift. They teach us to see the part of ourselves that is incongruent with real love.
Best wishes to you.
I had to chuckle when I read your post about “still attracting the wrong people.” I know the feeling, but also, I thought maybe that you are being a bit hard on yourself there. I think it’s possible that you just got a completely random sample of guys — the caveat being, they were random guys willing to approach a gal who just happened to be by herself, watching the world go by for a few minutes. This probably selects a bit for a certain type of guy. Maybe that’s more common than I think, across many types of people. And maybe it was a more social scene than I’m imagining. Anyway what I’m trying to say is that it probably has more to do with them than any signal you’re sending out. Just my two cents.
@Cowboy — Good point. The patio I was sitting at faced the busiest avenue in the busiest part of downtown where I live.
Sadly, there are men don’t understand that a woman sitting by herself in a public space is most likely doing so because she wants to be alone and is fine with being so, and that it is not an open invitation. The guy who bothered me despite me frowning at him is clearly the kind of person who just can’t take a hint.
My N was a ‘friendship’ (not physical) but he still toyed with my mind. I was never good enough to be ‘worthy of his trust’ so he would withhold large aspects about himself from me to gain control.
I spent years trying to prove to him I was ‘worthy’ of his trust, and he would throw me crumbs, telling me I was a ‘wonderful person’, yet the ironic thing is that despite him thinking I wasn’t worthy of his trust, he was the one who spent years in lies and deceit. Ironic, huh?
That ‘friendship’ made me feel like crap all the time and I let him erode my self-esteem. Everything all on his terms, contacting me only at his convenience, punishing me with silence and holding his ‘not trusting’ me over my head.
I would cry and tell him how his actions hurt and he would remain stone faced. No emotion at all, no empathy at all. I begged him, ‘what can I do to make this right?’ Always a vague response, distant, cold and the more I begged the less he respected me, and the more he bullied.
Almost a year NC now and I have to say cutting him from my life was SO hard because in the beginning he was so supportive of me and my work…till the nitpicking and bullying began.
I had no clue about N’s then but I did know something was seriously wrong with him. I became his emotional punching bag for a while and all my efforts to win his approval not only failed but destroyed my feelings of self-worth. A very traumatic experience. But it sure changed me.
“There is nothing, save child birth and a dying tooth nerve, that is more painful than unrequited love.”
I can not begin to tell you how deeply I am moved by this. I am awash with the type of relief that a victim of a schoolyard bully feels when someone finally notices the abuse and does something about it. Isn’t that wild? The fact that you, a complete stranger, took the time and energy to write this speaks volumes to your huge heart.
I saw the title here and delayed my gratification by doing some housework before reading it. lol…
You have described to a tee both the cold and calloused nature of the narcissist’s game and the feelings associated with the mixed messages, the rejection and betrayal felt by the victim.
It’s been a long road to recovery, without as much as an acknowledgment of my feelings by her. I feel into that trap of thinking that she really DID want a relationship, but was just too scared to say so.
Time has proven, however, that I was as disposable as yesterday’s news to her. And, on occasion, I still suffer the sightings of the ghost of my longing.
You are a class act, Savannah! May the universe reward you kindly for your acts of kindness to so many of us. 🙂
A good reminder…My divorce will be final this month after 21 years with my narcissist. There have been so many painful realizations and “if onlys”. Looking back I was not cherished, I gave more, tried harder, cherished him unconditionally. Finally I woke up to the fact that he will never give me a fraction of what I’ve given. I was spent and mustered the strength to get out.
Now 10 months out, I reconnected with a very long ago boyfriend. I always thought fondly of him and we’re just in the friendly texting zone right now. As nice as it is I’m feeling insecure about where this is going. I fantasize about a relationship even though I’m no where near ready at this time. Then I convince myself I’m happy keeping our friendly exchanges going as long as they do. Then I think of him romantically again and stress over sending the perfect response, get anxious over his long pauses, wonder if I should be honest & upfront with my feelings, etc.
What it’s come to is…I’m only as secure as his last text. I feel like a lost school girl.
I really need to step back and look at this as a sure sign I still have a lot of work to do before jumping into anything romantic with anyone. This has really sent me spinning.
Thank you so much for your insightful blogs!!
@Newlyaware — This is definitely a sign that you are either not ready to date, that this man may not be the right person, or both. Being anxious over what to say and pauses in messages is a really bad sign. Savannah said in a previous post that how we act in a relationship is a good barometer of how healthy the relationship is. Whenever I’ve felt and behaved like this, the relationship generally was not a healthy one.
You’re still tying your happiness and self-esteem to external approval.
I totally get it, because I am guilty of this myself. My feelings used to be so extreme whenever I was in a relationship, and my emotions were completely affected by a goddamn text message, what it said or whether I not I got one. People shouldn’t have this much power over us and we shouldn’t allow it.
Here’s something that I found helps: You don’t get anxious when a platonic friend doesn’t text back right away, correct? It’s because we are secure in the friendship. Carry this feeling over to your dating life. Secure people who are busy don’t fret if someone doesn’t write or call them back.
I am trying to really practice this and not just know it in my mind: I think being direct and assertive, yet gentle and respectful, and really knowing, believing in and communicating our boundaries/standards/expectations is helpful in dealing with these types of vague “casual” but not actually casual relationships. And to be prepared for pushback from them and to still hold our position. It helps me to ask my close friends to be my cheering section at these times for lots of extra (much needed) validation from healthy sources. Narcs won’t tolerate any of this, at least not sincerely or for long- they usually say you’re too needy or insecure which is such bs because they are waaaay more needy and insecure than someone who is confident enough to express and hold to what they want from a relationship. And sometimes the “friend” is not a narc- they are just emotionally immature and a little insensitive and if you express your boundaries they might treat you with respect or at least, honesty, so you can move on. And sometimes they don’t but at least you know that you are looking after you.
Speaking from experience, this can be challenging if we are non confrontational, were taught not to have too many needs or be assertive about them as a child, feel guilty asking for our share or if we don’t want the responsibility to ask and then have to be emotionally available. But I think, and it’s a process for me- the rewards are healthier relationships and better self esteem.
My boomerang narc got away with dumping and coming back 2 times and on the 3rd, I told him to shove it. He said, let’s be friends. I said ok. So I acted like a friend and kept my communication so brief, it wouldn’t fit on a postage stamp. He got upset and wanted to know why there was a “change in my demeanor”. I said you wanted to be friends, here it is. I don’t text friends with the same quantity and/or romantic quality. He didn’t like it and said, “you know we’re really more than friends”. Before I knew it, he had me slowly increasing back in texting levels. Not the same as before, but I felt myself getting drawn back in. Found this blog last week, blocked the mofo on twitter facebook, and everywhere I could. If he dares to contact me again, I really want to “blow it up” as one of Sav’s other blogs posts suggests. But I aim to control myself and give him the worst possible of all responses; NOTHING. Because that is what he is. Still think about him a lot. I am shocked and appalled at myself that I got sucked in to his game. Struggling with my anger. But I’m using it to propel myself forward.
Ha I did the exact same thing, including # times going back, with my boomerang narc almost 20 years ago (minus the Facebook obviously). I was so angry, too- I felt duped agreeing to be his friend. But then the anger eventually faded, I didn’t care what he thought, didn’t care what he said about me and decided, actually believed with all my being that he was a loser and I was lucky to have gotten away. So stay on track and you’ll get there.
Thanks for the reminder: that’s definitely the best: NOTHING.
Thanks Savannah, I just order it on Amazon.
Great F.A.L. let me know what you think.
How true your article is, yet it makes me so angry that people think its ok to treat you like that, & I’m speaking from experience after learning the hard way! I recently broke contact with my narcissist after he continually used & abused me for a year & a half after we split up. I was without question feeding his N supply, whilst overseas. Yet he had no problem sexting, calling me babe, holding hands, kissing & having sex with me when we did meet up, infact he even suggested a holiday together & wasn’t frightened of people seeing us together. Yet when I found out he had someone else on the side & questioned him about it, I got the reply ‘we’re just friends & I never gave you any other impression’?! Then told me not to contact HIM again??!! I asked why he behaved as he did, as I dont treat my friends like that & have boundaries! But I never got an answer?! Cant believe I’ve been so stupid, letting him take advantage of me & play with my feelings when he knew I still loved him?!
This post and the comments after made me very sad. For all the times my hunger and neediness have caused me to accept less than I deserve in relationships. The narc in my life was just the worst case, certainly not the only one. I think I had a magnet for emotionally unavailable people. I will say though that the extreme pain of the narc relationship is what broke through my denial and allowed me to see the pattern. I’m grateful for that — not for her, but that I had the strength to turn and face the issues head on. And I’m grateful for the community on this blog, where honesty and vulnerability are celebrated rather than exploited. Thank you all!
Me too. “I will say though that the extreme pain of the narc relationship is what broke through my denial and allowed me to see the pattern.”
Thank you for sharing.
@Cowboy — I know what you mean. After reading this post and re-living the relationship that I had prior to meeting my ex Narc, I came to the realization that majority of my romantic relationships were with Narcs and emotionally unavailable people. It’s truly sad that I can only think of a few men that I dated who are NOT narcs, and that in my 20s, I actually turned healthy men away and chose Narcs OVER them because I was THAT used to being treated badly.
What saddens me the most is that many of us on here have a Narc or emotionally abusive parent who built us to be this way, and thus attract these kinds of people in our romantic lives.
But the buck truly does stop here, with us. Now that we’ve had this realization, about what happened to us and why we have done what we have (being drawn to Narcs), we can finally end it and break the cycle.
That man I wrote about on this week’s post, being with him led me to my ex Narc. That’s what this post helped me realize. After being with someone for two years who ran so hot and so cold about how he felt about me, I fell really easily for a man (my ex Narc) who wanted a relationship with me REALLY fast and declared his love for me early. It felt good for a man to say “I want you to be my girlfriend” after dealing with a man who had friendzoned me repeatedly and sent mixed messages.
Then, being with my ex Narc finally woke me up to what I have been doing and why, all these years and how I was hurting myself and ruining my life.
Like you had said, me being with the last ex, the one who was the most toxic, had hurt me the most — that experience finally woke me the hell up.
Had it not happened, I’m confident that I would have wound up with a different Narc, one who very well may have been even worse than him, or that I’d continue walking through my life blind to the root cause of my pain and problems.
While it is sad that many of us have not experienced the right kind of love from our romantic partners, we can change this, right now. And real love, It IS out there for us!
As for attracting the wrong people, I think that I still am, and here’s my example: Just last night, I had to go to a work event downtown. After networking, I walked over to a neighborhood pub that has a great patio on the street for people watching. I sat at a table and had a nice cocktail by myself, just enjoyed the atmosphere.
I was approached by a few men during that short time, in the span of only one drink. Men who were in the bar and men who were walking past the patio. ALL of them, every single one of them, gave me a bad vibe and creeped me the hell out. One guy even walked past me, made eye contact with me, and I FROWNED at him and turned away. He still walked back to talk to me. Another man was actually quite nice looking. But I got bad vibes when he tried to talk to me.
The old me would have chatted with him, had a drink with him and felt flattered by the attention — especially the attention from a man that my brain would have unfairly convinced me was “too hot” for me to talk to. But this time, I listened to my gut and inner voice. I told them all that I was not interested.
When I left, I admit it bothered me that men who gave me a bad vibe were the ones approaching me. That I’m still giving off the aura of having issues and attracting broken people. But the difference is that I finally listened to my gut and trusted in it, and acted on it. By keeping this up, coming to this community and working on myself, I know that one day, I will NO longer attract the wrong people and the unavailable.
Spot on…Amen….another insightful and clear article….
Amen, amen, amen! Thank you so much for this piece. I have been waking up after years of emotional abuse. The gnawing at one’s gut…yup. I have called it recently my slow-bleed.
I needed this today so badly. Thank you a hundred times over.
This is in response to NarcRepellent. Certainly there are many narcissists who are not the typical narcissist discussed most of the time in this blog. My narcissist ex-husband spent 20 years with me without a single affair. However, he was a narcissist. He saw me as SUPPLY–in many ways in addition to sex. He did not see me as an equal; my job was to supply his needs, a lot of which were emotional and audience. And believe me, he certainly did not take very well to losing his SUPPLY. He still is hanging around, and that is why NO CONTACT is so vital because that may be the only way to get rid of them because they keep coming back to see if the supply might start again. But there is a hook here, and it is in me. Why do I keep even a little bit of contact? Sure, because of our daughter I must a little, but I see that it is more than that. I still somehow get something out of thinking that ONLY I could make meet his needs. That crazy codependency is not totally gone. That’s why I chose him, not because we loved each other, but because I was determined that I could meet his needs better than anyone else. And I spent 22 years of my life trying to do it. Shit, that our self-worth could be so eroded from childhood that we think the only way to have worth in life is to serve others . . . Yep, my mother is a narcissist, though I never would have thought it. Her goal is to get to heaven, and that is more important than even her children. But un-doing our own co-dependency, that is what we have to do to be free. Our enslavement is not the fault of any narcissist, but rather it is our belief that our value comes in serving others; it is our codependency that we must work with, and it is a lot harder than complaining about the narcissists we have in our lives. I think it is time for me to again read “Codependent No More.”
That’s not exactly where I thought I was taking this comment, but the piece helps release me from co-dependency is the realization that no one could have tried harder to please him; it was crazy and not possible. It was a moving target. It has been a long while since I have been there, yet I still can get hooked into how pleased he would be if I sat beside him at a sports banquet in our daughter’s honor–and just listened to him. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I did because I FELT SORRY FOR HIM. I said, Oh, yes, I can prevent that from pulling me in, but, and you are not surprised at this, it did pull me in more again. Now I must back off again and go NO CONTACT which I can until our daughter’s graduation open house. And why don’t I want to maintain NO CONTACT? Because he will think I am mean and rude and he will tell others. That is OK. He can think what he wants and say what he wants. It doesn’t make it true. I MUST GO NO CONTACT AGAIN. Time to focus again on my other friendships and make new ones–socialize more, etc.
Free at Last instead of re-reading Co-Dependent No More – why don’t you try reading Dance of the Wounded Soul by Robert Burney. I found that to be a better read on Codependency. My long-term Narcissist who I mention in almost every blog only cheated once at the end, but he constantly needed supply and he’d look for it from friends and friends of friends and co-workers. I mention the boomerang Narcissist a lot, but I mention the stay-at-home Narcissist a lot too.
This really is a healing environment here. This is a good place. Thanks, Free at Last, for sharing.
I like serving though. I don’t think we have to clamp shut that part of ourselves that enjoys serving to prove we are not co-dependent.
Thank you so much for your website savannah! It’s been 2 months of no contact for me now with my boomerang narc of 2 plus years.
I even moved overseas with my young daughter to be with him, something felt not right, And started doing those Louise hay ” what do I need to know ” meditations… Ended up reading your site and he left on Boxing Day after a trivial argument. He moved home and 6 weeks ago tried to contact me saying he is here again with some silly excuse to meet up.
It’s been really hard and today especially so..
Is it possible the narc relationship has really knocked me so much that I still struggle so much? I feel I should be doing more but days like today just feel I can’t do much at all. Is that normal after what feels like so much time has passed?
If only they taught girls at school what behavior is and isn’t ok to accept from a guy. So important to know these things..
Not all doom and gloom though. Have managed to find a lovely, light, sea view apartment and cute car. My daughter seems happier, mostly , so we are getting there… Just the last few hurdles..
Hope fully this month…
Anyhow, thanks again..Would have not recognized it , and stayed strong,without your help..
This is really interesting because, on a YouTube video about narcissism recently, someone said that very often people like us have been brought up to believe that asking for anything is wrong. Therefore, we find it very difficult to express our needs and wants, which also means that we are timid when it comes to saying what we expect from a relationship. We tend to hope for things rather than say what our wishes are.
My son’s father walked out of our relationship with someone who was ‘just a friend’, and for the last 35 yrs has been hopping from one poor woman to another, getting his needs met and never contributing, because after all they were ‘just a friend’. Once I started to heal and see things clearly, I realised that even though we had lived together and had a child, I was never more than ‘just a friend’.
A mutual friend phoned me up a few months ago and told me to watch a programme that had just been on tv because my son’s dad was on it. He was on a programme called ‘Escape to the Continent’ where a couple had a chance to be taken to a country in Europe where they were thinking of relocating, and shown around houses for sale…all expenses paid. He was there with his latest victim, a woman with property to sell (which she would have to have, as the N has never had two pennies to rub together). It affected me somewhat, even after all those years, because I was noticing and realising all the wrong he’d done and was still doing. Amusingly enough, though, he didn’t come off well in the programme, and looked a complete twat, with a fake posh accent. Lol!
Once again, Savannah brings up a great topic many of us can relate to. I would classify people like this as “emotionally unavailable” and I’ve run into my share of them in the past as well. They’re not full blown narcissists, but they definitely have issues and can confuse and hurt you if you allow them into your life. A wonderful book I’ve read about friendship is C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves. He actually describes true friendship as a higher love than romantic love because you aren’t always looking for something in return and you don’t walk away because your friend gains weight, or loses their job, etc.. I hadn’t thought of friendship in this way, but the feelings I have for my best friend since high school are certainly deep and enduring. I know if anything ever happened to me or I needed something, she would drop everything and be there for me. And I would do the same for her. Can’t say I feel that way about any man who has ever been in my life, including my ex husband of 20 years!
I’m in that situation right now. Basically, I’m in a relationship and he isn’t. Recently,I went out and another guy was wooing me and my “friend” saw and was irate. He said he was hurt and in turn I felt guilty. He said I was BUSTED. Like I was caught cheating. I was totally confused and still am. Now I don’t know what the deal is. Unfortunately,I missed the opportunity to clear that up at that time. Now I don’t know how to go about getting clarification and/or walk away.
He knows I have deep feelings for him and I wonder if,that might he realized he does for me too. He said he does,but are we still “just friends” I guess the only way to know is to simply ask, but maybe I’m afraid to hear the answer.
@kami, please don’t let the fear stop you. I know how difficult it is, having been in relationships where I’d have done anything to keep it going too. But, it might help if you look at asking as a win/win situation. If he agrees it’s a relationship then you can build on that and try and keep communication open. If it’s ‘just friends’, or vague and inconclusive, then at least you have your answer and you can start thinking about a different, better life with respect for yourself by leaving him.
That reminds me about something that the narc I mentioned in my previous comment once said. After having no relationship with him since he left, we were still friends, and he occasionally used to visit for a couple of days (nothing intimate on my part). However, it became obvious after a while that he was angling for something more. This one time he said that after all his experience of men and women, he’d concluded that the only thing people need to do is love each other. I couldn’t help but laugh at that, as I knew that what he really meant was for someone to love him enough to do all the work and let him come and go as he pleases without contributing to the household.
Before he left I wasn’t working because we had a very young child, and he suddenly refused to give me any money for food. I knew he was intending to go off with this other woman, so I told him he had to leave the home in order for me to get some social help. He then went around telling everyone that I’d kicked him out, with a big sob story. They only want things to happen on their own terms and aren’t prepared to compromise. After he left I took over the household expenses and found that he hadn’t paid any bills for months. I can’t believe how I put up with him and was so forgiving afterwards and still tried to help him even then. Just goes to show how conditioned we are to think ourselves unworthy enough to demand respect and good behaviour.
I had a strong reaction to reading this week’s post because it brought back a situation I have tried to not think much about.
I’ve talked a lot about my ex Narc on here and the extreme trauma and pain that he caused me. But I’ve never spoken about the man that I was involved with prior. He was this guy that you are describing. A man who perpetually “friendzoned” me despite being intimate with me and giving me SO many mixed signals about having feelings for me that crossed the line of a platonic friendship. I don’t think he was a Narc, but in many ways, this hot and cold behavior messed with my mind more than my Narc did.
We met through mutual friends and spent time getting to know each other once we discovered that we each had the same major in college. Talking on the phone and texting led to us hanging out, all the time. Dinners. Drinks. Nights out with friends. We shared a similar sense of humor, taste in movies and music, politics, you name it. I could be myself around him – a rare feeling for me, since I grew up having approval issues and had mainly dated Narcs (but I was not aware of my issues then). My feelings for this man started to grow, and it didn’t feel forced. It also didn’t help that he had the looks to model in a Hurley advertisement.
I thought my feelings were reciprocated, because it felt like we were dating and he acted like we were. Male friends don’t just call or text you all the time, right? Friends don’t make googly eyes at you, right? Or hold your hand in a dimly lit bar, saying how happy they are that they met you? And isn’t asking a woman to go see a movie on a Friday night a common date? Everyone in our circle of friends noticed this, too, especially the guys. They even said that us getting together made sense since we seemed like a good fit. Then it happened. A gossipy man in the group called me one day and said, “Hey, what is going on with you and *Jason? We asked him the other night when we were all out what was up with you two, and he said you’re ‘just friends,’ but it doesn’t seem like it.”
Just friends?! What? I was completely beside myself, confused, then hurt. I remember feeling really dumb. Did I misread Jason’s behaviors? Did I imagine this? I said nothing, to him or Jason.
But Jason continued to do things that were not very friend-like. He brought me to dinner to meet his friends who were married or coupled up. I met all his college and high school friends. He always placed his hand on my leg while he drove. He’d get extremely jealous and possessive when other men hit on me while were out. Some of his friends even hit on me, and then he’d get mad at them, even though he introduced me as a friend and insisted we weren’t together. I eventually met and wound up dating another man, and guess who ran the guy off? The guy broke up with me because he was tired of Jason always calling me and being mean to him at parties. He felt that I wasn’t honest about my friendship with Jason.
This hot and cold game went on for another year. Jason dated other women and would tell me about them, but then he’d call me almost every night before he went to bed. We’d go out for drinks and wind up at his place. Many, many times he would get drunk, say that he loved me, and then deny the next morning that he said it. He even tried to plan a weekend at a beach resort that was clearly meant for couples. You know it’s bad when your friends are saying, “What the HELL are you two doing?! This isn’t right!”
Jason was nothing like my ex Narc. He never put me down. In fact, he complimented me a lot and was supportive of my goals. But I internalized his hot and cold behavior as something being wrong with ME. He won’t commit because I need to lose weight! He won’t commit because I’m not a 22-year-old blonde! He won’t commit because I make more money than him! Yes, I actually thought all of these things. I found major fault with myself, that there was some defect in me as to why he was not making us a thing. The co-dependent in me thought that I had to do more, give more, and then he’d wake up and see how awesome I was. The only thing that was wrong was that I believed all of this, and allowed this to happen for as long as it did.
Jason didn’t take money or anything tangible from me. But what he did take was my time, energy and love. I was the first person he ran to with good or bad news. I gave him all of my emotional support, unconditionally. I spent a lot of time with him, talking to him and working out his problems, when I could have been doing things for myself. He was able to have my support, me as his rock, while he ran around town and screwed god knows who. With me he had the best of both worlds. Even when I told Jason that I couldn’t do this anymore, that I needed more, that we weren’t just friends and he knew it, he’d always find his way back in. I tried many times to end it. And when I finally did, it ended badly.
I think at some point in our life, we’ve all been with someone who did this. They’re not all Narcs. They may not even be players. For whatever reason, these are not emotionally mature people (Jason and I were both 32 years old when we met) and it is manipulative behavior on their part. I taught Jason that his scraps of attention were worth my heartache, and that I wasn’t worthy of any respect every time I took him back.
Thank you for this. It is exactly what I needed this week. I’ve been NC for exactly 4 months now. I got the “where just friends” and friends with benefits statements and it hurt, deeply. This was from what I thought was a good friend of mine of 35 years who I started dating and I thought I was in a relationship with for a couple months. It had been an amazing time and I loved and trusted him so much. I tried to go with it. But the lines were blury. I was confused. I Tried to be less romantic and more friend like. Then the disrespect began, silent treatments and rude terrible actions. Friends don’t treat friends like that and he had never treated me that way befor. The more Itried to talk about it with him the worse it got. Finally I ended it and tried to explain my hurt feelings but was met with crickets. This has been the most painful experience I have ever endured, the offenses so sever. I’m sure that the 35 year friendship is also over. I am slowly regaining myself esteem mending a very broken heart.., but this last week those “where just friends” words, all those blurred lines and the years of friendship have been rattling around in my mind making me feel confused and sad. I needed this article to remind me that I did do the right and healthy thing for me by ending it. All that you wrote is exactly what happened to me.. I want to thank you for this blog..