Savage Love Oct 23, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Savage Love Letter of the Day



A&E, most of the issues really come down to your fear of being alone, and lack of self esteem. If a person sees themselves as a valuable person, when other people are shitty, they get dumped. Your issues are not with him, but with yourself. And you will never find happiness with someone else, until you are comfortable in your own skin. Happy, self assured people attract other happy self assured people.

Until you get your act together, all you are going to attract are deeply shitty people. Walk away from the asshole and get into therapy now. And remember, just because you are alone now, does not mean you will be alone forever. Just take it one day at a time.


This fellow may very well be dyslexic or unable to read or write. At his age, he will never admit it unless he totally trusts her. Its very embarrassing.


At this point she likes him because he’s shitty, not because he’s “different”. There was a plausible deniability at first but “ma’am” and holding doors is a pretty small façade of who he is, and I doubt what she’s looking for in a partner is solely some fucking weirdo who will stand at the dinner table until all women in the room have been seated.


Ugh, that came out harsher than need be, the more I read the more my brain screamed “AAAAAAAAGH no!”

My point was, it’s really not about this man at all. I agree with @1 that she needs to step back and speak to someone about why she keeps trying to shoehorn a very bad person into her life, no matter how many times he’s revealed himself.


My head is still spinning from this letter, causing me to stumble about in a fog, run into trees, and abandon my normal creed of “be sympathetic and offer reasonable advice” because all I can come up with is:

Holy shit, woman! How many red flags do you need!? I can’t even begin to give you advice, because you are so out of touch with reality that plain English has about as much chance of registering with you as it would if I was talking to a fish. Sorry for being harsh, but fuck! Pull your head out of your ass!


LW, you are a fierce, independent, single mom of three yet look at the hell you are putting up with.
I didn’t read much past his living in a car and other gf, because I’m sure by the end I’d feel like giving you a head swipe and asking wtf woman.
Kindly, because who needs more drama, show this drop kick the door. Enough.
Then re centre yourself, with your three children, and after some time, get back out there. And never compromise again. Being alone is much better than putting up with this crap.


I am also a 48-year-old straight cis gendered mother and I have recently had a similar experience, although on a much smaller scale. There were a million red flags, all of which I ignored. "He told me he loves me to he won't hurt me." Yes, I said that out loud. To my therapist. Ultimately he ghosted me, just like my therapist and my friends said he would, but holy shit I'm still hooked. I still love him even though he treated me like shit. I still have that fantasy in my head, because I was convinced that he was "the one," and I want him back. He told me I was the one, how could he do this to me!!!! I constantly replay in my head the things he said to me and the hope and happiness I felt when I was with him, before he disappeared out of my life without even a word.

I am still in therapy and slowly learning that it's not him that I miss, it's the feeling of hope and happiness I had with him that I miss. Because even though he does have a lot of great qualities that attracted me to him in the first place, HE TREATED ME LIKE SHIT. What he did to me is not what you do to people you claim to love. And the good part is that at least I know I'm capable of happiness with another person, unfortunately it's just not going to be with him.

I wish so much there were some magical words that somebody could tell me that would get him out of my head, but the painful truth is that those words don't exist. It's just me and my brain and time. He's not who I thought he was and that's enormously disappointing, but it's still the truth. So now I have to figure out how to take care of myself and make myself, and my children, my priority. It's hard, A&E. It's so fucking hard. I feel your pain so much. Like a junkie, though, it has to be one day at a time. Only time and self care will get you through this.


Dan, with all honest non-sarcastic due respect, it's ~you~ that needs to go easier on the LW. Dan's core advice is the only right advice there is, but I'm asking the LW if she sees this, to please read and think about this comment.

LW, you are going to get free of him and you are going to sooner or later get 100% completely over and past this and be happy again. You ARE NOT ABLE right now to do that on your own. You don't cliches or sympathy, you need concrete actionable advice on what to physically do next. The next thing to do, literally no later that tomorrow, is to track down and get yourself into counseling. I'm just going to pray that you're in a financial and/or insurance situation that'll allow you to get intensive counseling ASAP, because there isn't shit I can do about that to help you if you don't, other than praying and voting Democratic.

Lastly but most importantly, LW: there was only one tiny little detail in your letter that reeked of bullshit. It was the part where you called yourself an idiot. If you're an idiot (hell, maybe you are, maybe I am), I don't see any evidence -- ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOFUCKING EVER -- in your letter of you being an idiot. I see evidence of you being severely psychologically assaulted by some asshole psychopath. I see evidence of you being extremely intelligent and thoughtful and caring and, if not exactly strong right now this exact moment, then still built of strong shit.

That's how I know you're going to be OK. But you can't do it on your own so don't try. Rob a bank to pay for mental health support if you have to. Best of luck.


"So you watched fifty thousand red flags march past your window, A&E, but were still shocked to discover it was May Day in Moscow circa 1963."

Well done, Dan. [100 hand clap emojis]

One "no show, no call." That's what people get. ONE.


1) DTMFMFA (Dump The Mother-Fucking Mother Fucker Already) seeing as how both his lovers (and perhaps his wife) are mothers.
2) About one paragraph in, I started screaming, "Always use a condom. No, wait, use three!".
3) Any FWB would be WAY better than this arrangement. A 48-year old single woman who is "GGG, kinky, and very, very sexually experienced" is a hot commodity. One who will put up with this shit should be happy to be in a basic FWB with a, you know, sane, semi-honest person.
4) The LW either loves the drama on some level or falls so hard "into love" that she's blinded to very many many obvious facts. While going cold turkey might be good for alcohol, maybe a different relationship is an easier transition. Find a new FWB. Be honest that it isn't exclusive. Then find another. Pick the better one. Wash, rinse, repeat. If you're so afraid of being alone, fine. But that's a way to keep improving your partnered situation.


When you read "I’m strong, independent, fierce, and tend to be pretty street smart" you can guarantee that you're about to hear about how they completely fell apart in some relatively normal circumstance. Not that this guy isn't one of the worst - he's a pure con man, a serial manipulator - but when people make statements like these, i feel like they're doing so to their own detriment: By paper-macheing over your weaknesses, your that much less likely to protect yourself.

Get to therapy. Build your self esteem up. Be less desperate - it's a beacon for leeches and manipulators. Consider it doing right by your kids - I'm a big believer that true strength is in dealing with your weaknesses (which we all have) rather than not having them. That's a bit of projection/fantasy on my point because I was raised by a woman who stuck her head in the sand or chanted mantras to try to deal with her issues, and I recognize those same tendencies in myself and wish I were more brave more often. It's the life skill I wish I had learned the most as a child rather than trying to build it as an adult.


LW was the subject of a long-term con job, and she is still worrying about the "sunk costs". She invested so much emotionally into something that turned out to be a fraud, so she's still trying to get something out of it.
She needs to focus on how lucky she is that she wasn't one of the other women who had been conned much worse. She can now be free to hate on the POS as a way to examine why she was vulnerable to his particular charms in the first place. He knew how to press her buttons because it's what he does, but they are still her buttons. Beyond the simple "fear of being alone", he said & did certain things that made her feel special. She needs to focus on those parts of herself, because they existed before that POS showed up.


therapy therapy therapy
hard work hard work hard work
accountability accountability accountability
hard work hard work hard work
accountability accountability accountability
healing healing healing

repeat. MANY, many times
thats all there is to say and do


This is eerily similar to a situation a good friend of mine went through very recently. The good news is she has completely and permanently removed the piece of shit from her life and is putting everything back together. People like this do a number on you and find ways to convince you that you don't deserve better. They're lying. You do. Being alone, for now, will be the starting point of what "better" looks like. Surround yourself with friends. Find the ones you can tell the whole story to and then do so. It can help so much just to remind yourself that even if your romantic life is in tatters, you're still not truly alone. Friends are an amazing gift. Lean on them.


I just wanna say, I feel for every half decent dude/lady reading this who is currently not getting any loving but found out that this homeless lying dropout douche has 3+ women who are desperate for him. Why, evolutionarily, are men pigs? Because this breeding strategy works.


LW, you are not alone in what you are feeling and experiencing. I've been there, and many other women (and men) I know have experienced similar situations. The comments on here lacking empathy and expressing incredulity come from those whose brains are just wired differently. There is no shame in experiencing addiction; there is no shame in being hooked on a harmful person. You will be able to return to yourself and just that in itself will feel like an amazing rebirth.

Like others have mentioned, DEFINITELY seek out therapy. If you can, fully disclose what's going on to trusted friends and family members and others who could hold you accountable. It's not for everyone, but I have friends who have also benefited greatly from Love and Sex Addicts Anonymous-- even just reading the literature.

One day at a time-- each small step of enforcing even the smallest of boundaries will make you feel empowered. You have lessons to learn here-- you will emerge with greater strength and depth of character! You can do this, woman!


@15: I don’t think it’s news that some people get laid through lies and seeking out people conditioned to fall in love with a persona.

@12: I wouldn’t be surprised if she gave him money repeatedly, this has all the marks of a financial scheme as well. He, attractive drifter, sponges several “girlfriends” at a time. I’m just surprised that he didn’t pretend to be a Navy SEAL.


Anyway, LW please talk with a therapist, and if you can’t, talk with friends at length. They love you and want you healthy. They won’t think ill of you, they’ll help you.


He's a sociopath. I've been there and they're good at what they do. Perhaps this will help.

The 7 stages of relief

Do you have any idea how hard it is to be this hilarious in the face of such constant daily fuckery?

I’m still tired. I’m still not a bitch though. I think.

I can forgive you for being mistaken. (But I probably won’t because I like to hold a grudge.) Things sure have taken a rather bitchy turn for me lately. When I get more likes on a picture of excessive amounts of alcohol, than I do on an inspirational meme……. I let out a little scream inside.

I think I’ve entered a new phase of post separation trauma.

I have a theory. There are several phases we go through, when we leave abusers behind. It feels similar to grief, except that I’m relieved. So I call it the ‘7 stages or relief’ instead.

Weeks 1-4 EUPHORIA

You’ve just busted serious caps in asses, and the physical separation finally begins. In this stage, you’re not going to notice anything except how fucking badass you are. You’ve gone through the strategic planning, and the execution… and you’re out.

Thank. Fuck.

You party your ass off, in your own special way. Whatever friends remain will applaud you, and you wonder how you could ever feel crappy ever again after an accomplishment of that magnitude.

Weeks 5-9 SHOCK

The euphoria starts to wear off, but things are still pretty awesome. Without the constant stranglehold of abuse holding you back, you can dig a little deeper and manage on your own.

If your ex hasn’t started the love bombs and the ‘I can change’ speeches by now, They’re just around the corner. If he has…… They start to erode your bubble of peace a little.

You’re numb. In shock. It’s not such a bad way to be, though. Little, if anything, affects you at this stage. It’s amazing what a small taste of freedom can do for your resilience.

Weeks 10-14 DOUBT

You’ve been out for a couple of months now. The initial shock has worn off. The congratulatory high fives and messages of support are few and far between these days. People start to forget. They move on and assume you’ve got your shit together, whether you do or not.

This is usually about the time your exhole will up the ante on the psychological abuse. The firmer you stand, the harder he’ll try. He starts to use anything and everything he can against you.

You start to wonder if you’re going to lose your fucking mind, just quietly. This is about the time they all pull some major stunt for an attention grab. (Mine talked me into a "date" and then left me bruised, broken and spending the last 6 months in court with a Domestic Violence case against him.)

Weeks 15-19 FEAR

The dust has definitely settled. You’re still standing, but where the fuck is your posse? Getting on with their lives, unfortunately. You’ll be feeling the effects of whatever abuse you’ve withstood since leaving. The doubt of the last phase lingers a little bit as the fear breaks through.

Is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of your life?

Maybe. You try to make a plan for your future even though you’re so uncertain. You get depressed. You start to struggle, if you weren’t already.

Weeks 20-24 RAGE

There it is. You were waiting for it, weren’t you? This is actually a good one. You want to feel the burn because it’s better than feeling nothing at all. Your rage is justified and it’s probably not the type of thing you want to swallow, either. So you just go with it.

You start to use whatever you can to bolster yourself and stay sane. Self care becomes your new religion. Before you do ANYTHING- you ask yourself if you actually give any fucks. Increasingly, you’re finding yourself with few fucks to giveth.

You’re exhausted by now, but starting to feel pride in how well you’re handing yourself, despite how many small riots you’ve started.


This is the point where you decide that you just…. give…. zero…. fucks now. You felt the burn. It was pretty hot, but whatevs.. you’re a badass.

You’ve withstood everything that came your way. You didn’t go back. You didn’t go totally insane. People are liking your memes and you’re making new friends like nothing ever happened. New skills have emerged. You barely recognize your life at all, but you’re okay with it.

Sometimes, you have to axe a few of these new friends really quickly. But- in your new zen-like state of zerofucksgiven, you give zero fucks about that. So it’s not so bad.

You start to lay plans and actually execute some of them with some type of finesse.

Weeks 30-34 RELIEF

This is the other side. The point where you go from surviving to thriving. Things will trigger you and you’ll instantly deflect them with a “fuck thaaaaaaaaaaat” and a shrug.

You’re a gangsta who gives zero fucks, a total badass who takes no shit. For the first time in a long time, you respect yourself. Even if you’re still alone (like I am)… let’s just remember how many fucks you give about that.


You still probably have no idea where you’re headed. Do I need to ask you how many fucks you give?

I didn’t think so.

You’re killing cockroaches, squishing spiders and naming the resident rodents. (What? I know I’m pretty tough but there’s a size limit on the targets I’m willing to take down. It’s a logistical thing.)

You don’t know what comes next, and neither do I. Because I am you… and I haven’t gotten that far yet.


Oh A&E, it's fine to be alone and you were romantically alone when you were with this guy anyway. But also: you're not alone! You've got kids and a mom and a job! If you want more companionship you can get a dog or call a friend or watch a movie with your Mom. If you need some strong hunky male presence in your life, volunteer to tutor wannabe firemen to pass their entrance exams.


Block the guy. Do it now. You need to get him out of your life. You know that. Then you should consider therapy, if your insurance covers it, to see why you fell for such a duplicitous scumbag. He sounds like the classic sociopath; they can lay on the charm, but hoo-boy, do they take advantage of you. This is your classically emotionally abusive relationship. I suggest you read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. It's over 20 years old, but it'll help you spot those red flags sooner and hopefully give you the strength to kick sociopaths out of your life before they get their claws in.

Focus on your work, focus on your kids, focus on YOU. It's better to be alone by yourself than alone in a relationship. And your kids really don't need to see their mom addicted to such a shitweasel. They're going to learn a lot from you; you don't want your son(s) (if you have them) to think it's okay to treat women this way, and you don't want your daughter(s) (if you have them) to think that this is what they should expect from a relationship.

Good luck!


Why should we be sensitive and kind? That’s not what this woman needs.

Listen, my sister was with an abuser. I mean a violent physically and emotionally abusive asshole who was also an alcoholic. Her excuse “he says he loooooves me.” I knew he was bad news within a month when I, as a high school teenager, could send him into a fit of rage by mocking his dumb ass. Regardless of the million red flags before the red welts, she took losing 3 houses and 13 years to dump his ass.

This woman is going to lose everything if she doesn’t smarten the fuck up and get some goddamned sense. All because he luuuuuves [using] her [once in a blue moon]. This woman isn’t street smart. She’s emotionally needy and insecure, making her an easy mark for con men like him.

She needs to have as much sense knocked into her as anybody who voted for Hillary in the primary. Victims to con men who usually abuse and abandon them, but occasionally say they luuuuuuuve you to keep you hooked enough for your vote. Squish heads, all of you.


Oh Darlin' - it took me a long while to recognise the abusive pattern of neglect and attention my previous partner rode me with for years. Get yourself to a therapist quick smart it was the best thing I ever did.


OK, I've not had anything this insane happen but I have been in shitty situations with guys who were clearly abusive shitheads and I couldn't see it. How did I finally break the cycle? I suddenly realized (literally, it came to me when I was crying on the floor after some more bad shit had happened) that I was the problem. That I was expecting these guys to provide something for me (unconditional love that I hadn't gotten from my dad, a salve for my childhood wounds, to make me feel whole, etc) that I didn't have a right to ask for, and that nobody else could provide for me. Yes, these guys were crappy people, but the real issue was ME. I was making these situations happen by staying with people who were obviously not interested in what I was interested in terms of relationship, and who didn't share my values. It took me 20 odd years to figure this out. So please, OP, seek therapy, meditate, journal, do anything you can to figure why this manipulative psychopath is still someone you feel any attachment to. Best of luck.


It's an addiction, and you need tactics for getting past it. Nobody has real good chances with "I'm just going to stop! by willpower!"

Therapy if you can. Ask a friend to help you. Identify what times or places or activities make you go back, and replace those. Form new habits that aren't this fucking guy.

I claim you do not need to seek out what is missing deep inside or any of that. Not yet. First you need practical support to cut this guy off and be alone until you can breathe. You don't have to find self esteem, worry about that later, after this guy is gone. (And before any next guy.)

Here's another thing:


I've been there, nearly obsessed with a person who was actually barely giving me the time of day, except when I did have her attention she was very charming and very flattering and I was very, very physically attracted to her. My brain figured out she was bad news pretty quickly, but, for the life of me, I couldn't get my behavior and desires to line up with what my brain knew (I spent SO MUCH time, money, and energy!). It was pretty excruciating, but here's the good news: when I finally snapped out of it, it was completely and totally done. No lingering anything except perhaps a tinge of regret at the wasted resources.
I know a lot of people would say this advice is unhealthy, but what worked for me was to seek out other romantic attention. If you haven't dated much since your divorce, if this guy is your first significant romance post divorce, your intense feelings are partially not about him specifically at all, but more about a natural desire for romantic attention. So, get back on that dating app, you may find that one decent date will snap you right out of the state you are in over this manipulative jerk.
Either way, just keep telling yourself that you will one day be over this guy, the very unpleasant feelings you are stuck in right now will definitely not last forever. It really is true and the sooner you Gove yourself a chance to act like it's true, the sooner it will actually feel true.


To quote Cary Tennis: "If you don't admit that you have a real, emotional self that is vulnerable, that can be damaged by such experiences, then you will continue to be abused."


LW, I think that you really, really need to go to therapy. Please. Your letter points to some unresolved trauma in your life that is leaving you vulnerable to harm from men who zero in on your neediness.


And another thing, LW? Get rid of this absolutely ridiculous idea of "The One." There is no "The One." There are no soul mates. There are people who bring out different aspects of you, people who make you feel better or worse, people who bring you joy or sorrow or indifference, people who lead you to a stronger, better version of yourself and people who lead you to harm yourself, people who add to your life, people who detract from it. There is no "The One." There are no soul mates. Tattoo that on yourself if you need to.


You can do better.

I know you don't think so, and that your time is running out, but it's not.

Therapy regardless, you need to love you.


Maybe LW doesn’t need to feel sorry for herself so much? She needs to feel sorry for her kids. She has 3 young kids, is obsessed with a loser guy, and can’t get out of bed for DAYS? What about your kids, lady? Don’t they need a parent? One who has a job (to support them), has attention (to give them), and gets out of bed to make them Mac and cheese? They didn’t ask for this guy, unlike you, and they can’t trade you in for a better mom. Think of them and stop calling this dude and stalking his other girlfriends.

Then, once you’be gotten therapy and paid enough attention to the rest of your life to ensure that you still have a job and happy kids... then you can find a man friend to bone (with protection) on the nights you have a babysitter.


Therapy, of course. Please focus on your lack of accountability. You're only 48 - you are young. But your life will be wasted and drag on if you settle for psychos. What happened with your kids when you couldn't get out of bed? They need your presence at the very least and ideally an engaged, loving parent. Please think long and hard about bringing another man into their lives until you figure out what is going on that made you tolerate so much crap. All the best to you.


Dear A&E, I'm so sorry. Just reading your letter I was already traumatized by the time you got to "He almost always no-shows". (By the end my brain had melted many times.)

A key phrase came soon after: "I don't want to be alone."

To be happy WITH someone, we need to be able to be happy alone first. Not forever, just work on that for a while please. Then you'll be able to have a relationship in which the love is healthy. I'm afraid right now (like, to some degree believe it or not, most people) you're more in NEED than in what you'll call being in LOVE after you work on yourself a while.

Please do see a therapist. Try talk therapy first. Please give that every chance and don't only see someone who can prescribe some meds (aka a psychiatrist) as a last resort.

Once upon a time I had some terrible relationships too. (I'm not comparing, I think you may have the world record.) I found the intense energy of them exciting. Then I hit a point where I found that what I really wanted was healthy, and when I embraced that, I was pleasantly surprised that just because dysfunctional is intense, does NOT mean that healthy is boring. In fact, compared to dysfunctional, healthy is heaven.

(Oh, before that point, how did I get out of the relationships that were hard to end? Wow, I hope somebody else can shed light on that. All I can say is that, far later than I should have, I just couldn't take it any longer. Try to get to there. It is time to not take it any longer. If you can't end it today, at least end it for a while today, aka take a break...because some distance might help you see right now you're choosing torture.)

It /is/ better to be in no relationship than a bad one. You will find your way to being happy in just your own company. One have no greater gift.

p.s. Other commenters are right that self-esteem is your (at least one of) core issue. And that you should be prepared to work on yourself for quite a while.


In the past I also have been vulnerable enough to fall prey to dirtbags. Being in a relationship with such a person was, in and of itself, always its own punishment for my poor judgment. Everything Dan said is right (especially about how important it is to get good therapy!)

I have some additional ideas on why it is so difficult for you to let go. The fact that this hot trophy (in some ways) of a guy is into you makes you feel good about yourself. However, that comes at the price of a parade of misery in every other way.

As Dan said, there is terror of being alone. We all suffer from that. But I think what bothers you most is that you didn’t win. He never gave you an apology, he never repented, and he never got the comeuppance he deserves - unless you remember that he’s homeless, poor, and apparently not getting good sex. He apparently has sufficient looks and charm, at least for now, to survive by taking advantage of women.

Just let him live his miserable life, which is its own punishment for him. You may not have directly defeated him or your female rivals in this sick game. However, as you well know, being in a relationship with that bum is its own punishment for any woman foolish enough to opt in.


Sending all good thoughts your way.


You need therapy and Buddhism, stat! This creep has gotten into your headspace and like a parasite, he's feeding off your insecurities and self-loathing... I know you don't want to be alone, but you, your children, your LIFE deserves better than someone who doesn't really give you a second thought, except what they can leech out of you.

Drop him. Block him and anyone connected to him on all social media. Stop having discussions about him with the other women he's used... I'll bet there's more than just those other two... Get a therapist and figure your shit out. Red flags like that should have stopped you in your tracks back at mile 1, which means you're susceptible to creeps like him, and you need to fix that shit now: for you and for your kids. When you're not giving off the needy vibe, you start to attract the kind of people you want in your life. It's going to take work, but you CAN do this.

Remember: All the "Yes, Ma'am's" and Southern charm in the world can't cover up what a lecherous pig this man is. Get him out of your life. Now.


Hey, LW - I promise, it's possible to get over the addiction to your 'fix.' I was recently in a similar situation myself - charming blue-collar guy I met on a dating app who made me feel like the center of his world... when he decided he had time for me. The first two months were a blast, but then he stopped calling or texting unless I started communication first: then, he'd answer every third message or so, and so oHey, LW - I promise, it's possible to get over the addiction to your 'fix.'

I was semi-recently in a similar situation myself; I found a charming blue-collar guy on a dating app who made me feel like the center of his world... when he had time for me. The first two months when he focused on me were a blast, but then he stopped calling or texting me unless I'd started communication first. Then, he'd answer every third message or so that I sent him, apologizing because he'sd been busy with work, and so on.

When it got to the point that I'd cry myself to sleep after leaving dates with him, I realized it wasn't healthy -- so I took the step and blocked him. Period. I won't say it wasn't hard - it was, after going through six months of that push-pull before I decided I deserved better treatment. And I did miss the good parts, even as few and far between as they'd become. I still have him blocked so he can't text or call, and I haven't checked to see if he's messaged me on the app: with four months and some distance now, he's not nearly as catnip-like for me anymore.

Give yourself permission and cut him off - block him everywhere, and stick to it. I know that's hard, and I understand that you want him to miss you like you miss him... but for your own mental health, realize he's not going to give you what you want. His silent treatment behavior already was the answer there - he doesn't miss you like you need him to. Stop making yourself nuts for this guy - just give yourself permission to let go, and try to focus on things not-him.

If you're wondering how to re-focus -- I personally did that by joining a few adult school classes for fun, so I'd be too damned busy to think about him and how sad I was. I don't have kids, mind, but you do - maybe turn up the bonding time with them, and try to remind yourself what real (albeit non-romantic) love feels like? n. When it got to the point that I'd cry myself to sleep after leaving dates with him, I realized it wasn't healthy -- so I took the step and blocked him. Period. I won't say it wasn't hard - it was, after six months of push-pull before I decided I was worth better treatment, and I did miss the good parts (as few and far between as they'd become). He's still blocked, and I haven't checked to see if he's messaged me on the app - with four months passed and some distance, he's not nearly as catnip-like anymore. Give yourself permission and cut him off - block him everywhere, and stick to it. I understand that you want him to miss you like you miss him, but for your own mental health, realize he's not going to give you what you want - his silent treatment already was the answer there. Stop making yourself nuts for this guy - just give yourself permission to let go, and try to focus on things not-him.

If you're wondering how to re-focus -- I personally did that by joining a few adult school classes for fun, so I'd be too damned busy to think about him and how sad I was. I don't have kids, mind, but you do - maybe turn up the bonding time with them, remind yourself what real love (albeit non-romantic) feels like?


Kind of a heartbreaking story, really.


A&E...this is long, brace yourself. The very first thing you need to do is cut any and all ties with this destructive man. Look that fear in the face and embrace it. I know you're afraid of being alone, but don't you see? You're already alone. You've been alone in this from the very beginning. He's a drug, and any indulgence is NOT worth it and more than you can handle.

I was a lot like you. There were so many red flags and I STILL couldn't stop myself from being with any of my exes. Hell, one of them even tried to bash my head against the wall and rape me on our VERY first date. I fought, I pleaded, I begged, I guilted him, half-conscious at this point, and when none of those things worked... I punched him in the throat and stomach to win my freedom.

...I then brushed it off, decided I was "fine", and went right back out with him the very next day.

Having LIVED for YEARS in camps with red flags planted like multitudes of ugly flowers across the landscape, I can tell you that it really DOES come down to the simple fact that you DON'T think you deserve better. If you did, you wouldn't be okay with this charming man who uses you and ghosts you, and lies about everything he does...and you can't even explain it away by saying he's too good in bed, because he fucking SUCKS at every part of it! (Hello, me from the past!)

So PLEASE, for your sanity, throw him off. Then spend some time reflecting and thinking, unpacking with a therapist, if you choose, and deciding why you don't deserve any better. You need to look at your past and your life and reconsider ALL of your romantic choices and attractions. Look at your environment; look at your past traumas. Write off relationships for a little bit while you do your homework. Focus on making social connections and memories with family, old friends, new friends, and yourself, most of all. Explore your life through new and old hobbies and outlets, and THEN sit down and take time to ask yourself what you really, REALLY want and need in a relationship. Not what you'll accept, and not what you've experienced...something completely new has to be your goal. You need CHANGE. You DESERVE better...and nothing else will do.

I met my amazing boyfriend (we were friends second, but rivals first, ironically...i didn't recognize a good man when I saw him, I thought he was "too cocky" (confident), and "full of himself" (self-loving and motivated)), of two years, after years of relationship hell, in which I was humiliated, used, manipulated, raped and impregnated, blamed for it, threatened, stalked, lied to at every turn...they even used threat of suicide to gain their own way, knowing it was a traumatic experience with my first boyfriend... I could go on forever. It was something I was extremely and extraordinarily used to, being nearly kidnapped by strangers and social contacts, or sexually assaulted and nearly raped, and never believed. I was a true escape artist...for a while. My pride was in my ability to survive. I grew up thinking the only one who really had my back was ME and the joke of it was I was my WORST abuser.

Plain and simple, honey: you're damaged, and you don't love you, and you need to know why. But if I can go through every hellish circumstance I went through over 30 damn years and come out having better, and believing I DESERVE better, so can you! Because you're NOT broken. Your heart and your brain is more flexible than you think. I look at me from the past...what I lived through, sure, but more importantly, what I ACCEPTED...and it makes me PHYSICALLY ill. Now I'm in the most functional relationship of my life, and my boyfriend is STILL trying to get me to understand that we don't have to have an ugly fight even once to have a relationship. We meet conflict head on and accept no less for ourselves and each other. There's no limit to the respect and consideration he shows me...but more importantly, there's no limit to the respect I now show MYSELF.

When you reach the end of the tunnel, you might decide you don't WANT a serious relationship, and that's great, too, but the important thing is that whether in an NSA relationship, committed, or single, you accept ONLY what's best and healthiest for you, and your kids. This is no small's an epic quest to reunite with your TRUEST soulmate of all....... you. I wish you ALL the BEST.


Drjones @15: "Why, evolutionarily, are men pigs? Because this breeding strategy works."

Oh spare us the evolutionary psychobabble. Some people (male and female) are con artist and predators of their own kind - and some of them specialize in using romance as their con. There's 100% no "only jerks get laid" crap - that's just bullshit that bitter incels and "Nice Guys" use to try and justify their bad behavior and lack of romantic success.


cindyluwho@19 you are very hilarious. Thank you for that fabulous missive full of insight, it helped me too!


cindyluwho @19 you are hilarious. Thank you for that fabulous missive and insight, you helped me too!


@40, I see unfortunate parallels between @15’s comment and the current political regime in the US. @15 isn’t trying to elevate the cause of incels, merely pointing out that certain strategies work (unfairly) for some.


"holy shit Dan, I don't want to be alone"

Holy shit, A&E. Get some therapy. Please!

Block him. BLOCK HIM. You can do it! Click the button. If you're "hooked," as you say (and I know how you feel), make like a recovering alcoholic and get a sponsor. Do you have any friends? Get your best friend to come over with a couple of bottles of wine and block, block, block. In the old days you could have torn up his photos. If you're ever tempted to communicate with him again, call this friend instead. Hell, I'm tempted to give you my number.

It's been less than a week since this all blew up, so you're still reeling. That's understandable. But YOU CAN DO THIS. You know you must, AND YOU CAN! You're strong, independent and fierce! Remember that! Show your kids how one deals with lying shitstains by blocking his ass and never looking back.


The Mega Millions winner is from South Carolina, so I'm guessing their first order of business will be getting a new set of teeth, second, overfunding whatever Christian church they attend. Third, living like Trump, with all the gold doodads and whatnot.


A&E, leave this dude, and start playing the lottery! You will have a better chance of being happy.


I'm not going to say 'DTMFA', I'm going to say, 'ha ha ha, just desserts to you, class tourist!'. It’s not entirely fair ... but it's pretty fair, and it's more likely to help you disengage and move on. At least you did some good in getting him out of his car ... feeding him, giving him somewhere clean to sleep. Introducing him to your family, too ... though that probably made him feel guilty or overwhelmed... I'm not sure he's attracted to you, hence the lack of sex.

If you want to think that working-class people like him don't have the cultural or educational resources to articulate what they want, or to negotiate polyamory, then think that ... it wouldn't be true, but it might help. He may be very confused, or he may just have seen you as a meal ticket. White-collar professional women go on sex tourism holidays to Goa--this would be less stressful than your experience.


LW, this narcissist has fed on your fear of being alone to act out his crazy shit. It’s going to hurt, you still need to go cold turkey. Cut all ties, no interactions at all except a text saying thanks for the mind fuck mate, see ya.
These sort of people have no empathy, very damaged around interpersonal relationships. Skilled at manipulating the environment/ people in order to feed their narcissism. No care for others. Trump is an extreme narcissist.
Focus on the kids, cry and moan to friends, therapy as others have suggested, pig out on nice food, go walk in the hills: just expel this man from your head.
Remember you’re a strong, fierce, independent, single mom of three. Warrior Woman.


@Dorinacrownsberg95 You are fail.


All your bases are belong to us!


All your base are belong to us


Long-time reader but never comment...until now. I feel you, lady, and I want you to know there is hope. That pattern of pushing you away until you're about off the hook and then pulling you back in hard...he doesn't want you but also refuses to let you go... It does a real number on your head until you're not even the same person anymore. I've done it twice. Nearly died getting out of the first 10-year one only to walk right into another one a year later with a great sigh of relief and joy. Oh boy. Getting out of the second one wasn't dangerous physically, but it was even harder emotionally. Finally, I had to just give up totally. Surrender to the idea of being alone forever. So that's what I did. It hurt, badly. But, honestly, it was also a relief. I was too tired. I did get therapy (I wasn't much for talk therapy, so I went to a Hakomi therapist, who helped me a lot). And I started doing things and organizing my life around the concept of being single. I even bought a house just for me and my cat. (I don't have kids.) And finally, I started to feel sane again. I started to function at full capacity at work again. I felt a much deeper satisfaction with life in general. I even looked younger, I was told. I still love those two guys and always will, but I am ok with that as long as I don't have to deal with their ridiculousness in person. And now--believe it or not, in my late 40s I met someone completely new and (shocker) we created a partnership of equals. It rocks. So, there's hope. Even if my story had ended before I met my partner, it still is a happy ending. It feels great to be free. So I'm sending my wish that you find freedom for yourself and your kids. Best of luck...


Thank you Lava! BiDanFan and you boys, for the good natured support!


I had another constructive thought. A&E, see if there are Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous groups in your area. Your being "addicted" to this man is exactly what they deal with. Having people to talk to who've been there may help you more than you can imagine. Good luck.


@Xiaohei, thank you too! Amazing story, world's blessings to you!


Antiserumite @45: Wow, what a bigoted remark. Sour grapes much?
Harriet @47, too. Wow. So people must only date within their own social class? Don't you see you're feeding into Dadddy's ideas of "hypergamy" when you shame this woman for dating a "lower status" man? Sociopathic users come from all social strata. "Serves you right" is NOT helpful here.



Hello there female version of almost exactly what I'm going through now(woman who is unavailable 90% of the time but is super charming and engaging when she is)!

I hope it eventually worked out well for you.


@58 Blah, it's easy to clutch your pearls when your not living under a potential dictatorship.


@58 The fates of democratic majority are going to be decided by these people, I have every right to call them out!


@58 explain


@10. David. Your last advice is excellent. Dan's last words, however, are Stockholm Syndrome. They come from the idea that heterosexual norms--romantic expectations of monogamous coupledom; of a fulfilling, honest, integral relationship--can sometimes serve straight single women in their 40s and 50s well. What are the stats? How many single women in those age-groups 'marry' or 're-marry' within five years? 10%? Less? What you say is right. Look at the damage her hopes have caused her. Stop looking for the One and start cultivating the Six.


It's easy to clutch your pearls when you are not living under a potential dictatorship.The fates of a democratic majority are going to be decided by a minority of the American people, with 4 Supreme Court Justices appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. I have every right to be angry, and to call them out!


But, I don't have the right to do that here, so I digress. Sorry!


@BiDanFan, I still want you to explain bigotry to me


@58. Bi. She is fetishizing his strength, charm and polite Southern manners. She knows that's not him--has known for a while--so it is a fetish, even tacitly a form of depersonalisation (like e.g. lots of male porn use). Of course people can date outside their social class--but it will perhaps be apparent whether a relationship can be 'honest', 'passionate', genuinely a matter of sharing and of learning, within a few months, say; or whether the differences in partners' life-experience have raised insurmountable barriers between them. What are the races of the two people here? Both white? Both black? Is just he black? I ask (though it's a topic Americans often dislike to open) because, in my mind, there are affinities between the LW's fetishization of poverty and the way racial signifiers are often impersonally eroticized.


It has been my experience that people who self-identify as "fierce" often are anything but. Their "fierceness" masks a huge vulnerability. The ones who are actually fierce are the ones who have gone through hell and back (which often is sitting with a trusted friend or therapist and feeling the shit out of your feelings) - these people don’t present as fierce. But they're fucking ninja warriors when a threat appears and will easily and calmly see through someone or something masquerading as something good when their hard-earned ninja-feels are informing them of the faker standing in front of them. It becomes as easy as identifying different kinds of fruit. You’ll get there, but the only way out is through. Find a trusted source of help.


Antiserumite @63: Sorry, I didn't realise I needed to be on call 24/7 for your stupid questions. Try looking "bigotry" up in the dictionary. You'll see that it means holding negative attitudes or making negative comments about an entire group of people, in the case of your comment, those who live in a certain US state. In point of fact, more than 40% of South Carolinians voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election, and 19% of them are not religious. Try rewriting your sentence starting with "The Mega Millions winner is black" and see how it sounds.

Harriet @68: It's only a fetish if EVERY man she goes for shares the same characteristics, or if she refuses to see that there is an individual beyond those characteristics she finds attractive. Her staying with him once the superficial charm should have worn off isn't evidence of a "fetish," it's evidence to me that he was able to masterfully manipulate a needy woman with low self-esteem.


Btw, LW.

Something to think about that I found out about recently.

People aren't "like" addicts when they are in love, they ARE addicts. The neurochemical soup that happens when you fall in love is very similar to the neurochemical soup that is a result of cocaine addiction.

The bad news is that this is going to be as hard as kicking some serious drugs. The good news is that the research discovered a thing that might help. Tylenol. Regular, old school, nothing special Tylenol. It seems to help with emotional pain, oddly enough.

That plus lots of therapy and things should get better eventually. Godspeed.


@BiDanFan, Perhaps you're the kind who blamed Hillary for calling out the deplorables, I get it. I don't know why you need to be insulting (Have I ever insulted you?), but I understand. I know there are two sides of the electorate, but I think you're a very precise example of liberals having a circular firing squad.


All I'll say is this. Anyone capable of lying like this and behaving in such a disordered, narcissistic manner might also be capable of violence. Just google it. Protect yourself and your kids and DTMFA.


@15. drjones. His wife is not desperate for him. (?). She has thrown his ass to the kerb, which is where he parked his car.

@24. Ms Adventure. Well done for digging deep into yourself, finding something out and changing so as to make things better.

More advice: don't break ties but contact drjames or blackwizard at once. Go round to where he's parked his car and camp. When it rains, lie under it. When the police come round, dig in, singing 'I'm waiting for my ma--aa--a-n'.


skyweaver @69: True. "Fierce" is something drag queens say about very good eyemakeup. If you're using it in any way that doesn't include making little kitty-claws with your fingers, you're probably not as "fierce" as you think you are (case in point: this LW).


@70, I will try to be diplomatic, but my country is under siege, and your false equivalencies are not helping. I thank you for your support, but must admonish you, when you are ignorant.


@75 Truth to power! Fierce is not supposed to be in this LW lexicon.


35- Eleven-- That narcsite webpage is excellent. Thanks! Sources for battered women can also help. I know that A&E hasn't been literally battered so I'm not suggesting she use resources at a women's shelter, but the psychological dynamic is very much the same so there's some good advice there.

For others, I'm not naming names or numbers, but saying "sorry for being harsh" and then being horrible to someone in pain doesn't make up for being horrible to someone in pain. I participate in these comments not so much because I'm that interested in sex but because I like a community of articulate passionate and compassionate people. I usually find that here, but some in this thread aren't showing their best sides.

Now for A&E-- As others have said: Therapy.

Other advice that might help. In addition to dumping and blocking this guy, look for ways you can turn your experience with him into something positive. Part of it is figuring out what was in you that made you fall for such an asshole. Another part is figuring out what was in him. One example is learning that you like old fashioned manners in the form of a guy who holds doors for you and calls you ma'am. That's useful information! When it's time to start dating again (and honestly it might be a while), look for guys who hold doors and call you ma'am. You could put that in a dating profile.

Tap into the strong, independent, fierce, street smart person you were and are. When you start feeling tempted to contact this guy, ask that independent fierce you for help in resisting the temptation.

In my own story, there weren't that many red flags, and the guy wasn't nearly so awful, but I do know what it is to be unaccountably attracted to someone who rejected me over and over and was pretty bad to me. That was over 30 years ago, and there are still times I long for him. Something that helped me was thinking of that attraction as a chronic medical condition. The comparison to addiction is apt, but you might also think of it as arthritis or colitis which flares up from time to time before going back into remission. You can get to the point of laughing gently at yourself. You can spend the day missing him to the point of distraction and at night tell yourself that you had a bad flare up of your old problem. That's gentler than kicking yourself for having the problem in the first place.

That kicking yourself can lead to a dangerous spiral. That's the one where you hate yourself for falling for the guy, and hating yourself makes you think on some deep level that you deserve to be treated the way he treated you. Better to think of him as some sort of disease that you have for which you sometimes need medicine.

And speaking of medicine-- While seeking cognitive therapy, talk to your health care provider to see if an anti-depressant can help you over the worst of what you're going through.


@70 Your kiss is on my list!


@70. Bi. We don't know what kind of man A&E falls for, but a natural inference would be that it's one who says that 'he loves her' or 'calls her The One'. She does not have trouble meeting people. We know that when she (self-destructively) opened her relationship with this guy, she found other lovers quickly. So--it would seem--it isn't solitude itself she fears, or the fear of solitude to which she's vulnerable; rather, she perhaps loses all judgment before a guy who professes undying love.

But this is a facade, a fantasy. It doesn't measure up to his behavior--and hasn't measured up to the behavior of any guy she's known. Her accessibility to it is a kind of willed ignorance, it would seem--a reversion to the state of vulnerability, of not-knowing, of being-subject-to, of childhood, in contradistinction to the agency and competence she exhibits in her professional life and parenting (presumably). This is something that she might need to go to therapy to work out, as commenters have suggested. Therapy could also make her see that her faith in romantic love is leading her to 'miss' or overlook people in their flaws, or half-heartedness ... that it involves a (roughly) comparable sort of idealisation and dehumanisation to manipulative abuse.

I don't see much evidence of the guy being a great manipulator. Or a sociopath, in fact. He can't fake sexual interest when it would be advantageous for him to do so. Even when it threatens his meal ticket, he feels guilty in cheating on his actual gf with A&E (perhaps). But if he's not a master manipulator, he chose a highly susceptible subject.


I've also been in the situation of holding on to a deeply shitty person and I really sympathise with this situation. I am smart, confident, and very logical, so when Mr. Red Flags came into my life, I assumed I fell for him for a REASON. The truth is, I was in a similar enough situation - a few back to back bad break ups, wanting desperately to be loved, etc etc, and at that moment of weakness you can get someone who for whatever reason really gets their emotional claws into you. You fall hard, you can't let them go. And you're a smart, independent woman... So those feelings must be there for a reason! There must be something there or you'd be able to let it go, right? For me, letting go of Mr Red Flags was a painful multi year process, the first step of which was to convince myself that my emotions are just wrong. I found I couldn't control them, but I could ignore them in my actions. The second step was to cut off contact and stick to it. After an awful few weeks, you feel so much lighter without that person weighing you down, even if you still love them. And third... You accept it's not going to go away. Some people we inexplicably love forever, even if they are terrible and toxic. Almost a decade on, I still have feelings (though thankfully less strong) for Mr Red Flags, that I now accept are undeserved but never going to go away. The sooner you get to that place and accept the feelings for what they are without needing to act on them, the sooner you can go look for a great guy who deserves you.


You’ve established that he is a pathological liar, and therefore his words hold no meaning. I know it will hurt to hear this, but that applies to both the bad AND the good things he said to you. Stop holding onto the platitudes he gave you in order to validate hanging on to this guy, when his words mean nothing. Don’t assign them value, don’t assign HIM value. You are valuable all on your own. Please find value in yourself, you can do it.


Thabar, sympathies, you have loved deeply, and now reel from the devastation of love greatly.


LW, he's lying to/using you. Face it now please.

There are FAR too many wonderful, insightful comments for me to even begin praising them. So I'll just comment upon a few meta-comments.

I thought @45 antiserumite was funny. And as antiserumite pointed out @60, here in The Trumpfatherland it's understandable/therapeutic to make fun of the poor people who tend to vote rightwing extremist lunatic. At one point I would have made that joke myself. I'm in a place now though, where I wouldn't feel good about myself for that; nowadays I instead only feel compassion for them. They're just like us down deep; it's not their fault if they're not as educated, smart, wise, or lucky as some of us. Society has failed them to such a titanic degree, it's not their fault they don't know how to even begin to fix it.

@47 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
"'ha ha ha, just desserts to you, class tourist!'"

I don't see anything wrong with the LW dating outside her class, and I don't see anything wrong with the LW being well off, so this doesn't feel good to me. I'm just thinking something pushed a button with Harriet...and I have compassion for that too, Harriet.

@26 chaosgirl
"keep telling yourself that you will one day be over this guy"

I find it helpful when my heart is broken, to use a little black humor to remind myself that 'someday, my heart will be broken by someone else'! (OK, maybe that feels defeatist to you, but the truth of it simply reminds me that all things pass, and that I /will/ get over the unbearable thing of today.)


I'm an insensitive piece of shit, thaber, I apologize.


@78. Fichu. The best advice on the thread will come from those who were once (a bit) like A&E and learnt how to change. Highly self-conscious people; those with a background in psychology or the academic humanities; those who aren't cishet women--we can't offer that, and the most we can do to try to reorient her is to give her a sense of how she appears to us (i.e. individually).


@86 I have a crush on you and @84, you both make me warm and fuzzy, because I gave you both breadcrumbs.


@84. curious. See my explanation @68 to BiDanFan of how I take the LW to be fetishizing her ex's (let's hope 'ex's'!) poverty.

I think commenters have been cued by Dan's 'be kind'. But when a man writes in advertising stereotypical het-male behavior, or even thinking of inititiating said behavior, he faces a hailstorm of reprobation--5 to 10 times as much, and more reflexively or indignantly leveled, than anything meted out to A&E.


@88, The het-male faces a hailstorm of reprobation, when he writes in, and if he thinks of asking a question, he is even more likely to be leveled, because Harriet_by_the_bulrushes dictates those things now. And we are better for it! So, Harriet, how do we make things better?


Didn't want to disrupt anyone's good time, just wanted to pop some rope on a cool guy's ass.


@89. antiserumite. Eh? I'm in an extreme minority in my reaction to A&E.


I did get a "touristy" vibration (particularly from the opening) of the letter. It made me think that LW had tired of being treated as an equal (or "treated as an equal" if she really hadn't been, but it had been pretended) and been attracted by the wide variance of the alternative on offer.

As for cross-class dating, there are so many different types of class distinctions that, one way or another, many people must be doing so nearly all the time. There is a knack to it, which can probably be learned. Whether I'd want LW (post-therapy) to be dating a friend or not will require more consideration.


No judgement, but advice from personal experience: cut him off for your kids' sake. Not because of how he may act towards them but because in tolerating his demeaning behavior, you are establishing that as a normal relationship in their little brains and hearts. And it doesn't matter how old or smart they are. I know because it happened to me -- my dad married an abusive loser when I was 15 and 11 years later, I settled down with someone just as bad. I was old enough to see the disfunction in my dad and step-mom's relationship at the time, I disengaged and set boundaries, and still found myself subconsciously drawn to a version of her when I went looking for partners as an adult, because that dysfunction felt more like home than anything else I knew. Leaving that toxic relationship (after a decade) was tremendously difficult and I completely understand all the self-defeat you're describing. It's imperative that you get support. Check out Amber Ault's books and online "rollercoaster relationship recovery" course (, or at least read Women with Controlling Partners by Carol A Lambert and Coming Apart by Daphne Rose Kingma. Then, learn what you can about personality disorders (sociopaths, narcissists) in relationships and why you're vulnerable to those particular charms. Commit to understanding this situation and never reproducing it. Not for you, but for your kids.


@91 And your extreme minority advice for A&E, bared to it's pulp is:


@92, are you certain there is no esoteric literary reference you cannot shoe-horn into this situation?


95-- I'm not Mr. Venn, but how about a reference to Mickey Sabbath?


I admire your comments, Harriet, I was only calling into question your ire for Dan, and now that we have a row, I guess I should call vennominion into question as well.


Why do you all keep posting here, if you don't even like the top brass?


@96 Hey, Mickey sounds like an amenable fellow, perhaps more.


I'm sorry I bugged you guys, status quo, status quo!


When you’re with him, your life is completely out of your control. If you block him, leave him, say’ll feel much more in control. I had to do this with a BF, too. He was lying, told half truths, never answered questions...basically said he loves me...disappear for awhile, then come back. It was a vicious cycle. More recently, he ghosted me for almost 6 months and then one day 6 weeks ago, he sent an apology text. Basically, he wants to see me again. I haven’t responded to him and it has felt so good to be in control.


@45 you've secured another few thousand Trump votes - well done!


@Bishmic, Delete that contact, try to forget the number, your are better, so much better, I promise you!

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