By | February 3, 2012 94 Comments

When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

I guess I am making a “confession” here of being a wimp, or maybe an enabler, for the majority of my life. But when people would ask me for a “favor,” I would almost always do it, even if it meant that I had to cancel plans of my own that I would much rather have done. In other words, by saying “yes” to my friends and family, I was saying “no” to myself.

Shopping on Mondays

After my husband died I cared for my stepfather during his long battle with cancer. In fact, I cancelled my “life” and my own grieving for my husband to voluntarily be there for him. I wanted to be there for him. However, after his death and a reasonable period of time, I realized that I had put my own business interests on hold to take care of him and my egg donor, and because of that, I had lost value in several large assets that I needed to take care of before they deteriorated more and became totally valueless.

The egg donor had a habit of wanting to go to town on Monday, for no particular reason except that was the day she had always gone to town since her retirement. One Sunday, I spoke to her because I had something very important to do on the following Monday and wouldn’t be available to take her to town to grocery shop on Monday, but could take her on Tuesday. I went to her house to tell her how I had neglected my own business interests over the last 18 months and now it was time for me to get cracking and take care of these interests and that I might not be available when she wanted to go to town, unless it was an emergency of course, and then I would cancel any plans, and that I would take her anywhere she wanted to go, but we’d work around my schedule of business.

She looked at me like I had asked her to jump off the roof, and she said, “But what if I WANT TO GO TO TOWN ON MONDAY?” I was a bit taken back by the tone of her voice and the look in her eye, but I patiently re-explained that it really didn’t matter if she went to town on Monday or not, that any day was okay to grocery shop. Still she looked at me wide-eyed, that I would dare put my needs before her desires.

That was a totally unsuccessful attempt to set some boundaries and actually caused her to become so angry that she immediately started the devalue and discarding, finding the Trojan Horse Psychopath and my psychopathic daughter-in-law to do her bidding and “jump when she said frog.” Because I had said “no” to her, she would punish me and replace me.

Wanting to help

Setting boundaries with others, especially “family and close friends,” has been a challenge my entire life. But I didn’t realize it, because I didn’t even know what a “boundary” was. I lived in the expectation that I was supposed to drop everything I had planned and meet the needs of my friends and family and if they were unhappy, it was my job to “make them happy.” If I did something for myself instead of doing something for others then I was being “selfish.” Saying “yes” to the demands of others was what I was put on this earth to do.

Was I tired? Were they hungry? Well, of course I’d get up and get them something to eat, no problem. Did they need a babysitter so they could go out on the town? Well, so what if I had worked hard all week and come home to my own house full of toddlers or teenagers, I’d cancel my plans and sit for their kids ”¦ no problem.

There are times when we want to cancel our plans to do something to take care of the need of someone we love, such as when my beloved stepfather got cancer. I didn’t even hesitate to cancel my “life” to be there for him. I moved across the pasture into the spare room in my parents’ home so I would be available in case he needed me during the night (he frequently did). I “closed down” my kitchen and told my son, our hired hand, and my husband that they could come to my parents’ house to eat, and they did. I was there for every doctor’s visit with my Daddy ”¦ and was glad to be. It was not an imposition at all. I also had household help for cleaning, a hospice aide for help with his personal care, and the neighbors and the church brought in enough food to feed an army, so I actually had to do little cooking. I was also able to take the breaks needed by caregivers to “just get away,” so it was, given the nature of the situation, ideal. When he finally passed away, he was ready to go and we were also ready to let him go, we did our grieving together.

So there are instances when we completely shut down our own lives to give care to another and that is perfectly okay. But when we are asked to do something though and we do not want to do it, we resent doing it, then we need to ask ourselves if saying “yes” to someone else means saying “no” to ourselves.


When we give time, effort or money to someone and we resent doing it ”¦ when someone comes to “borrow” money and you know they will never repay it, and you want to say “no” but you are afraid of hurting their feelings or you feel trapped one way or another into “having” to “loan” them the money, then you are saying “NO” to yourself.

Even if the “cause” is good, such as a charity, but you don’t want to donate, yet you feel guilty for not donating, then you are “saying yes to others, and no to yourself.”

Someone said once that “No” is a complete sentence. That’s actually pretty profound if you think about it. We are all adults, and we know how to say the word “no,” but many times we won’t say it for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings, or feeling guilty for saying it.

Some people seem to know how to push your buttons to get you to do things for them, give them things, or allow them to literally walk on your back and you keep saying “yes” to them when you really want to scream “NO!” Sometimes we say “yes” many times and the resentment builds up (as it always will when you want to say “no” and instead say “yes.”) and eventually the resentment builds so high that one day they demand that you do such and such and you “explode!” You give them the tongue lashing that you’ve wanted to give them ever since you said “Yes” the last 15 or 20 times when you wanted to say “No” instead.


Saying “yes” when you want to say “no” is a form of what many people will call enabling, doing for others what they should be doing for themselves. Taking responsibility for others’ needs when they are perfectly capable and able to meet these needs themselves. That kind of saying “yes” causes resentment. Me saying “yes, I’ll take care of you” to my stepfather didn’t cause resentment because I loved him, and I knew that he could not meet those needs himself. I was glad to provide them. Taking the egg donor to town every Monday, and ONLY on Monday when it wasn’t necessary and when she could have hired a driver, when I had serious business to transact, that would have been enabling.


I’m learning to say “no” to people now when I want to say “no,” and “yes” when I don’t mind saying “yes.” It takes practice and patience with ourselves but it makes life so much more peaceful when you have the courage and ability to say “no” and know that by doing so, if the person you say “no” to gets upset, you don’t care. It is okay for someone to be upset with you. It is perfectly okay to say, “No, I’d rather not do that, but thank you for asking.”

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I really hate the notion of being an ‘enabler’ but I have to say, I do all of the above all the time. Although yesterday when my ex-spath tried to shift responsibility for being our disabled daughter’s guarantor from him to me – despite him being the one with the career and earning power – he got a one word email in return. It read ‘No’.


Thank you so much for this article. I believe that it is a huge part of why we attract spaths. Of course a parasite is going to be attracted to a willing victim.

My problem is that I actually WANT to say yes. I really really want to. I LIKED helping other people. It’s because that’s the role I played my whole life. Learning to want to say NO when I want to say YES, is my challenge. To want things because they are good for ME, is what I lack.

Mrs. Grimm, great response! “No”


Oxy, you are so right on the money here. I’m pretty good at not enabling people these days, but once in a while I get challenged. When I first started saying no, I felt like a selfish person. But then I realized that if you can’t say “no” to someone, you can’t really say “yes” and mean it. I found that when I stopped enabling people, some of them would get angry and drop out of my life. I consider this a good thing, because my life is more peaceful without them in it. I have a pretty low tolerance for drama these days.


My most recent challenge is lately my new landlord who is in London wants me to do a lot of the footwork for the repairs that need to be done on my place that I sold to him (I’m renting it back). He doesn’t have a reliable handyperson, and of course, he is trying to cut costs. He wants me to do all the bidletting and cost comparisons and be the go-between for any new handyperson.

Though I like the landlord and appreciate his zealousness in getting the placed fixed up, I had to tell him that I couldn’t do these things without charging him for my time. It felt good to do that, even though I knew he wouldn’t like it.

Even though I have learned to say no, I do have a few people in my life that I would do anything for. My boss, for example, has saved my life on one occasion (literally – she physically saved my life) and has done SO much for me. If she called me in the middle of the night and needed something, I’d be there, and I would do it willingly, whether I wanted to or not.


perhaps suggest a nominal reduction in rent?

Ox Drover

You are right Star there are SOME few people we should want to go out of our way for and that’s okay…the point is that when people DEMAND that we put our lives on hold and do things fo them OR THEY WILL PUNISH US IF WE SAY NO—WHOA NELLY! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE.??????

When we start feeling resentment for doing for others because it means we can’t take care of our own needs, then we need to reassess the situation.

When we “enable” someone…i.e. do something for them that we really don’t want to do, or that they are CAPABLE of and SHOULD do for themselves, then we become resentful and we will ALWAYS start to feel resentful if we are asked to say “yes” and demanded to say “yes” and dont’ have the option of freely saying “no”—-so when we start to feel this resentment it is a CUE to us to step back and examine OUR behavior to see if we are engaging in a case of enabling.

If you ask someone to do something, say like your kids to pick their clothes up off the floor, and they don’t, and eventually you start to pick them up for them because you’re tired of nagging them, you are ENABLING them to drop their clothes and YOU are fixing it…they won’t learn and you become resentful. So leave the clothes, and then when they have NOTHING clean to wear…they get the consequences and you calmly say “I will show you how to run the washer. After that it is YOUR responsibility to pick up your clothes out of the floor and wash and put them away…any that I HAVE TO PICK UP OUT OF THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR GO INTO THE TRASH….then do it.

When you have plans and someone wants you to drop them and do something for them—look at how you FEEL about saying “Yes” versus “NO” who do you say yes to, and who do you say no to and how does it feel to you!

Like Sky said, many of us have been programmed that the GOOD FEELINGS we got from doing all for others and nothing for ourselves, but now that we know it is OKAY to say NO we need to put our needs in the pot!

If you can’t say no, then I belive you can’t say yes!


Whoa Ox!

Love this post. Am learning a whole new way of being with this saying “no” thing. Being myself and not feeling I have to be “nice” is also in the same category? I have recently changed my mobile number to stop unwanted contact from the ex. But it also made me think, actually who do I want to have my new number. This woman at work …..very annoying. N characteristics I think at least. She wants my new number. But I think she’s playing this game of …..she wants it but doesn’t want to ask directly. If she drops enough hints ie “Have you changed your number?” or “Do you know your new number?” that I will fall for her bs and just hand it over. Unwittingly. Er no!

Today I told her I was being selective about who I gave the new number to. Her reply?
Stop making excuses as to why you ain’t given me your number.


Come on, these things know what they’re doing don’t they?!

No. Nada. Not. Negative.
Learning to say no? Mm mmm an it’s feeling goooood! 🙂


Sky, regarding reduction in rent – same thing as them just paying me outright. I would bill by the hour.


Boy, I bet everyone of us relates to this one Oxy – great article. We need to give ourselves permission to just say “NO.”

Star ~ I think when someone does what he is asking you to do, they usually get a percentage of what the “handyman” charges, from the landlord/owner.


Profound post, Oxy!

I have rarely resented doing things for other people… but I did in the case of the spath. Each time I told myself, “If next he comes with a question for money I’ll say no…” and I tried… but in the end I always ended up giving him kind of what he wanted, bargaining tings down. Resentment built as I was working late hours to prepare classes, often until 1-2 am whie he went out and stayed out much later, with the money I was earning. I wanted to give him a little bit of fun money and a chance to make his own friends, but when I gave a finger, he tore a whole arm off. I hated the situation and started to hate him for it.

At some point I tried to be ahead of it, by giving him something of my own free will, a gift (a phone, but he had to pay his own card with the allowance he got from me), and things like that. At least my cell phone was mine again. But I didn’t have the pleasure in being able to enjoy that. He was with me when I bought a phone and wanted an IPhone (I don’t even have one). Again, I ended up having to bargain. He still ended up having a cell phone 25-30€ more expensive than mine. And what happened to it? He lost or sold it in Nicaragua. When I bought him an mp3 player (so he’d leave my IPod alone, after he had already “lost” my prevous IPod). Didn’t really have much budget for it, so there was no discussion room about it for me. What did he do? In Nicaragua it supposedly went broke and then blamed me for buying cheap stuff, instead of “quality” stuff. I didn’t say it, but though… well that’s it… no more gifts from me anymore.

And since my life went to the sewers in the aftermath I’m learning to say “no” to opportunities as well to give myself a yes in time management. Instead of assuming, I’ll manage it all together, I’m making choices, “this is what needs to be done and what I want to do, and so the rest has to wait.”

Gosh Joyce. I’m about to cry reading this article. I have this problem. I say yes to absolutely everything short of someone requesting to murder me.

Lately, I’ve been trying so hard to stop this, but I have this absolutely terrifying fear of being retaliated against and then abandoned.

More specifically, my boyfriend had a nervous breakdown and has been in a medical ward for the past 2 weeks. Of course, being this type of person, I put all my needs on pause immediately. I’ve been to visit him every chance I have. I call him at least twice during the day to check if he is okay, ask if he needs anything, offer support etc.

But I’m having problems with my job that have resulted in me actually going 2 weeks without eating anything but apples, carrots, and protein shakes because my employer is paying me WAY less money than promised and now I’m trapped in Germany, freaking out that I have to find another job or face starvation/deportation. I literally cannot afford food.

After dealing with a boyfriend in the hospital, eating nothing but apples, carrots and protein shakes for almost 2 weeks now, and fear of needing a new job/getting deported, I’m totally overwhelmed. So, today, I asked him if I could talk about this with him, because we are pretty close at this point. He actually got frustrated with me for being upset. Then he told me I am being insensitive when he is in the hospital and I being emotional. (I’m freaking hungry! Of course I am emotional!) I told him that I’ve been there for him like a rock since he went in there, that I’ve done my best not to burden him with any of my own issues, and he has an army of psychologists helping him out…..I have no one in this country at all. I just asked him if for a moment he could be there for ME for a moment.

Now, he is NOT a spath. Absolutely not. He is overwhelmed, yes. But I made the mistake of thinking that just because I would do anything to support him and be there for him….that when I needed some kind words, he’d put himself aside for a moment to be the same way.

That’s the biggest problem with us saying “yes” all the time is that we run out of gas because we put all our gas into other people’s tanks, and then when our car runs out, we have no gas. We ask them if they can give us some gas this time, and they act like sharing gas is a crazy idea.

!!!! 🙁

I forgot to mention that the house is a mess too cause I spend all my spare time being supportive of him. I’m so depressed/stressed right now I can barely do anything short of collapse.

Edit: And I feel SO GUILTY for asking him to help/talk to me about something other than all the stuff going on in the ward. It must be so hard to be in there!!!! It’s just that….I’m so stupid. I feel so selfish and mean. I shouldn’t have asked him. I should have found other people to talk to. I just thought we were close, you know?

Ox Drover

Panther, as I remember, please correct me if I am wrong, this relationship is fairly NEW is it not?

You picked a man who is so needy and so broken that he has to be HOSPITALIZED IN A MENTAL INSTUITION and he seems to be so SELF CENTERED that he can’t realize what his prosition is doing to YOU and your concerns are not his….so please tell me even if this guy is NOT A PSYCHOPATH (and I think comparing any man to your last one Tend Bundy would turn up nice by comparison) it seems to me that you are picking people who NEED TO BE FIXED, and that is a problem with YOU, not just with the men you are picking.

He may be the “nicest guy inn the world” and “not a psychopath” but here you are in another dysfunctional situation going HUNGRY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD and this man is only concerned with you being there for him>

Hospital or no hospital, I saw, Panther that you TAKE CARE OF YOU and stop taking care of the broken and down trodden in this world….FEED YOURSELF….and heal yourself before you get involved with ANOTHER NEEDY PERSON….he may not be a psychopath but he is a person who is NEEDY and requires a lot of energy that YOU don’t have available right now. WAIT for a relationship, Panther–many of us jump back into relationships after we think we are strong again and it hasn’t really been all that long since you came here still in the spin cycle….don’t even think of another relationship for a year at least to be SAFE….in the meantime, you need a man who is emotionally unstable like you need another hole in your head. Dump this guy. Take care of YOU.


Panther ~ HUNGRY – I can’t hear this!!!!

Sorry baby, Oxy is right. Your edit really upset me. Please think of yourself, now.

love – MiLo


Oxy said it. I couldn’t have said it better. And the topic of this thread has said it best. GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HIM.

Even before mental health, FOOD, WATER AND A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD are priorities. This is sooooo wrong, Panther. Anyone who doesn’t care if you eat is not good for you.

Put your feelings for BF aside. Deal with your employer. You are too nice and you are letting people take advantage of you. Time for the PANTHER to pull out her claws, sharpen them and go make a killing.

Ox, Milo, Sky,

Yes, I guess you are right. It does seem self-centered to me, but he says his therapists and group therapy people don’t find him insensitive or self-centered. I did directly tell him that he should empathize with my position too, as I’m trying so hard to empathize with his. He just got frustrated, and then he checked with everyone at the ward about our conversation, and they said that he isn’t being insensitive.

I had no idea he would end up in a hospital. When we met, he said that he wasn’t made of glass and he seemed pretty collected. This happened suddenly. He seemed to have it all under control, and then BAM he called me and said he was going to the hospital. I was thinking WHAT THE HELL? Since WHEN are you emotionally falling apart? He had kept a straight face until he snapped.

Considering 4 months of him being nothing short of a fantastic guy, I don’t think it’s fair to kick him to the curb the moment he goes through a hard time. But I need to focus on my own needs and find a way to distance myself. I, too, have been hospitalized for mental health issues (when I was 14 my dad threw me in there). It doesn’t seem right to dump someone just because they are going through a hard time. That’s really not fair, considering that he has emotionally invested in a relationship and gave me his trust.

I’ll definitely distance myself to work on my immediate problems, put him more on the back burner, but I care for him a lot. I don’t want to walk out on him just because he is going through hard times. I’ll just have to trust in the therapists to know what they are doing and let him fix this with them.

Sky, I am a vegetarian, but I’d gladly kill some broccoli right about now.


Dear Panther,

This guy is a leech, sucking the life out of you. Since I attract disordered guys by the bucketful I read this book about dangerous men to stay away from. Your supposed boyfriend fits one of the descriptions. Needy Ned. Not all guys are like this and please don’t settle for needy Ned.

Do you feel this is a reciprical relationship? Can you talk to him and he’ll listen? If you tell him that it’s important that he listen because you need him, is he there for you? Dump the guy if you can’t answer yes to these questions.

I agree, he’s not like your last beau who resembled Ted Bundy for sure. A master manipulator. Thank gosh he’s gone, but now you are dealing with a leech who can’t give you what you need and you DESERVE to be happy.

Ask yourself if you would behave the same way this guy is behaving if it were you in the hospital. Hell no you wouldn’t. So don’t make excuses for him, it’s not okay for him to be sooo selfish.

I am finally dating a non-disordered man, and he listens. I’ve never had that and it sure feels good. They are out there, you don’t need to settle for anything less.

I wish I could help you with your food situation. You will let Lovefraud know if it gets dire, right?


I have to say that I think he is lying about what his therapists said. No therapist in their right mind would agree that your need to eat should come after his “peace of mind.” F*** THAT!

I hate to remind you Panther that people who go for spaths will often end up with another spath – and another, and another, until you clear up your own issues. They don’t all seem alike. In fact, none of the spaths in my life seem anything like each other – on the surface. Then the funny little quirks come out. The self-centered attitudes etc… And BTW, they are ALL so nice at first. Couldn’t be nicer.

How long have you been with this guy?


panther, you don’t need his therapist or therapy-group members to tell you how his response made you feel. Your FEELINGS are not wrong. You trusted him to confide in him and he made you feel as if you’re a narcist and selfish for even trying to lean on him once. Maybe it’s true he cannot be expected to do this in the state he is in right now. Fine. But he was insensitive by making you feel guilty for confiding in him.

You know, I think that at this moment NEITHER of you should be romantically involved with each other. He needs to work at himself, have his ME-time to get well again. And you NEED me-time and get emotionally better TOO.

No, you don’t necessarily need to drop him like a hot stone as a person… but neither of you has the energy to give to each other, nor should you be giving to each other at these times. You can tell him that perhaps it’s best he’s left emotional room to heal himself, and you have emotional room for yourself, not to visit him and call him, and put any romantic relating on hold for a while. This is not to punish him, but give you both the space and time you need to work on your selves.

Save your money that you’re paying for calling him and visiting him for food instead.


I just read your post. What did your boyfriend tell the therapists? Were you in the room when he talked to them? Getting backup minions was a favored pastime of the old spath, be careful about trusting what he says.

To me, his behavior is a big red flag.


Panther, were there any other signs with this guy that he is unbalanced? Or is he just one of these stoic types that keeps things bottled up? I totally support your standing by a friend who is going through a hard time. However, being hospitalized is a red flag in a serious relationship IMO. It really takes a good 6 months to see someone’s character. And now you are seeing that when the chips are down for you, he is so self-involved that he cannot be there for you. Please do not downplay your anger at the situation – you have a right to be upset. Your anger is telling you something. Let it fuel you to go out and get your needs met – standing up to your boss for more money so you can EAT; finding friends who CARE about your needs, etc. Even though your bf is completely incapacitated and can’t/won’t be there for you, you STILL have the right to be angry about it. It might not be skillful to direct it at him right now but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be angry.

I also read a book about spotting dangerous men, and guess what? There is a whole chapter on the mentally ill. It was a real eye opener for me.

Hopeforjoy and Sky, we started seeing each other in October, so it’s 4 months now. Actually, he can be very loving and attentive, but just not to the extent that I am, which actually might mean I am the one with the problem of being overly supportive and he might actually be the one with more healthy boundaries. He’s better at saying “no.” He did offer to give me some money for food, which I refused until it got really bad. He gave me some money that I used to buy apples, carrots, protein powder, and yogurt (yogurt ran out quick). The problem was when I asked him if I could talk to him about the situation a little bit to get some perspective and feedback about what to do. He got frustrated when I started crying (and I was crying because I hadn’t eaten and had biked 4 miles to work on an empty stomach). Sky, he has something more akin to Asperger’s. It’s really not sociopathy. He literally doesn’t “get it” sometimes. I agree that his therapist has misguided him with her advice, but I think his therapist heard a version of the story that he honestly thinks is true, which would mean details are missing that he didn’t even realize are very relevant, like me being hungry. I started to cry because I was so hungry that my stomach hurt and I had a headache, and he told me to “hang in there.” That does absolutely nothing to make a starving person feel better. In fact, it made me more angry. If he was literally starving, I’d go to an online grocery store and have a full load delivered to his house. Or I’d go in person to fill up his fridge. Most people probably don’t do things like this, though. I’m an extreme example.

He’s just not in a position of surplus anything at the moment. Not emotionally, not financially (which is why I really didn’t want to accept any money, but I will pay him back tomorrow when I see him, because I just got paid today). Of course, neither am I. Yet I am the one who would mistakenly give over my right arm to someone I care for, even if I needed it desperately. That’s a bit extreme and something I need to work on myself.

Hopeforjoy, you are right that right now he cannot give me what I need, but he is in therapy to become better, and he told me that part of the reason he is staying in there is because he wants to get better so that he can be strong enough to be there for me. Until then, he just gets angry and is emotionally detrimental in his attempts to help, which start off with “hang in there” then move to frustration and anger when “hang in there” doesn’t work, then finally end with him calling me insensitive for being so emotional at times like this. I don’t know how much can change via his therapy in there, but I do need to back off and take care of myself.



I agree with your wanting to back off and take care of yourself, get some perspective on the situation. If therapy helps your boyfriend be a more compassionate man, that’s a good thing, but, don’t count on it happening.

In the meantime, take good care of yourself, love yourself first and maybe the situation will resolve organically. Do they have foodshelves in Deutchland? They must have some social services. Take advantage of them, you are needy and should not have to starve!


Yes, I think it’s best to back off for a while, for the both of you. And when you take some distance to take care of yourself, because he’s in no position to support you in any way, you’ll be able to get a clearer view on this situation too.

Just the situation makes you toxics to each other. At the same time you’re depriving yourself for him long term without return… your gut is starting to resent it, and at the same time you’ll feel guilty and tell yourself how you should feel, even focusing more on him with your empathy and understanding. But that’s a downward spiral where you start to ignore your gut, a clear view on what you are feeling, etc…

It ain’t good for anyone to be in a guilt-frustration emotional situation, let alone people with a victim past like ours.

darwinsmom, I think you are right. We’re both wiped out and neither one of us has anything left over. I will talk to him about what you’ve proposed. Maybe that is the better thing to do.

hopeforjoy, my nostrils burned when he told me what the therapist and group therapy people said, because it reminds me of the minion thing as well, but I honestly think he doubts himself a lot and was trying to figure out if he was to blame, since he couldn’t understand why I was upset with his response to me.

stargazer, he’s German. Stoic much? Totally stoic. He was like the ice man. He was also goofy, sweet, fun, and a bit zany, like sorta in a different world. Emotionally not completely present at all times, as though things can be organized, even emotions. In this culture, that’s quite typical. I knew some things about his past that would effect a lot of people in observable ways, but he didn’t wear the emotions on his sleeve, so I didn’t know they were there in this way.

hopeforjoy, darwinsmom, sky, ox, stargazer,

Thank you all for some perspective!!!! I’m starting to see this a little differently. I think I’m even seeing a way to dig out of this mess. Thank goodness I brought this up!

I’m so prone to feel guilty for thinking about my needs, and this article in here just broke the dam I was using to bar this issue and deal with it in all the wrong ways.

Thank you!


Panther, aren’t there any food banks in your area or churches that could help you out with food? It sounds so isolating to have no one to reach out to for basic survival needs. I’m kind of a loner, but I know if I was starving, there are many people around who would help – even neighbors would feed me. Also, is there any such thing as food stamps where you are? And how is it that your job doesn’t even cover your basic living expenses like food? I’m sorry for being so nosey. It’s just that things are so different here. There are places where anyone can get food if they are genuinely hungry and don’t have money. It’s so easily available that a lot of people take advantage of the system (but that’s a whole other rant).

It sounds odd to hear of your bf saying that he wants to get better so he can take care of you. But yet the fact that you are starving doesn’t ignite any kind of compassion on his part. Seems very odd and contradictory. Makes me wonder about his motives in wanting to take care of you, and what that really means to him. To my thinking, a real man feels a loss of pride when his partner is not being taken care of.


Panther, sorry, I missed your last few posts – we are posting over each other. I’m being really nosey, and you don’t have to answer if you you don’t want to. But I’m curious how long you waited before becoming physical with him? Sleeping with someone too soon can really blur your objectivity so you miss red flags.

Stargazer, I don’t know about food banks or churches. I don’t participate a lot in the community, because the language makes me nervous. I speak German, but I’m not confident in the language. How did this happen with my job? Sheesh, where to begin! Long story short, I was trying to get out of Turkey with the spath situation, and I saw an ad for an English teacher here in Germany. I love Germany and wanted to work on my language skills. So, I interviewed, got the job, looked over the contract, came on over. I wasn’t fully versed in German law…nor did I know the full character of my employer. I didn’t know that he only intended to give me part-time hours. It seems like anyone in their right mind would mention this either in the advert, the interview, or the contract. But since he has me hired as a “freelancer” then he can give me as many classes as he wants. When the holiday months came around, he told me in mid-December that I wouldn’t have classes for the next 3 weeks! But also that I wouldn’t be paid for three weeks without working. I didn’t see that coming, and up until this point, I’d been going back and forth with him asking him why he doesn’t give me more classes since I moved all the way to Germany for a job, and I need to be EMPLOYED like a normal person. He kept saying it wouldn’t happen again, that I’d get full hours. He’d give me a full schedule for a week or two, then suddenly it would cut in half for a couple of weeks. I don’t know what the hell is going on. So I did some research, and it turns out he’s weaseling to get out of paying taxes and health insurance by using a creative contract and calling me a ‘freelancer.’ All the Germans had a Christmas holiday too, which they were PAID for according to mandatory holiday under German labour laws, but this doesn’t apply to “freelancers” which I didn’t know.

It’s a mess. He’s not acting with integrity and I made the mistake of not expecting to be exploited by my employer. So now I’m here.

Stargazer we waited 2 months.


Thanks for sharing the details, panther. I know it’s hard to make ends meet when you are living in another country. Aren’t you Belgian? Forgive me if I’m thinking of someone else. I get people’s backgrounds mixed up. Have you considered going back to your own country?

I am looking at teaching English in another country, as well. If I do, I will go through an organization that will help me with school contracts. I’ve heard about stuff like that happening. I don’t know about Germany, but I hear the pay in Japan for teaching English is incredibly high – enough so that you can work there for a year and save a ton of money after living expenses. I don’t know if you would ever consider that.

In any event, it sounds like you need to look out for #1 right now and let your bf deal with his own issues. Doesn’t sound like he’s available for a mutual relationship. Also, I agree with hopeforjoy. If you stay with your bf for his “potential” you may be disappointed. He is already treating you a certain way. If you are okay with it, you are setting the standard for more of that treatment. You are letting him know that it’s okay. It wouldn’t be okay with me.

Stargazer, I am American, actually. You must have me confused with someone else. I grew up in California 🙂

I cannot even afford a plane ticket to…Belgium….at the moment, let alone back to Cali. Those are expensive!

Japan is nice, but just keep in mind that living expenses are very high. The best countries for putting a lot of money in savings are South Korea and Japan. Next would be China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Saudi Arabia is actually where the best salaries are, but it’s Saudi Arabia! And it’s hard for women to get jobs there.



Ouch, that’s a very bad situation to be in. “Freelance” jobs are the worst position to be in in European social wellfare situations. A priori in EU countries if they want you to work as “freelancer” while you’re doing an employee job, then you’re fucked, if they don’t give you enough job to cover expenses + taxes.

I don’t know the German system exactly, except that it’s even stricter than the Belgian one when it come to unemployment help. But I’ll explain the Belgian one, and you’ll get an idea.

You’re either employed by a boss (officially) or self-employed (freelance, business owner). When you’re employed by a boss, you get paid throughout including holidays, and taxes are taken off your wages before your paycheck. So in application discussions about wages, you usually discuss the full wages (without tax detraction), approximately based on what you wish and should be earning after taxes are detracted. IF you have worked long enough in employment (at least 1 year, and so have paid taxes on your wages for at least 1 year) and have evidence of having been laid off, you have the right to unemployment fees (in Belgium we get those from a union… so you need to be syndicated in order to get unemployment). Even if you work only part-time (like myself right now), you have a right to an extra unemployment boost up to a certain treshhold.

A self-employed person does NOT have a right to unemployment financial aid, and holidays are on your own dime. Taxes is a big shit too… because you have to pay them in periods AFTER you got paid (those aren’t wage taxes, but VADs… taxes the consumer are supposed to pay to the state, but they do it via the self-employed person who then pays it to the state). They also need to pay another sum for social services, also in periods… to preserve minimal health service for self-employed people. So, if a self-employed person doesn’t earn enough to live and pay those taxes (VAD and service) then they grow debts towards the state.

If you actually own a business it kinda makes sense… it doesn’t though for freelance employment. There you are dependent upon a boss who’s regarded by the system as a customer of yours. You don’t get lay-off evidence, if they’re on holiday you get zip, and if you’re only part time you get zip extra either. Worse, if you’re totally out of a job you don’t have a right to unemployment money. Then the sole thing to fall back on is wellfare (in Belgium that’s about 400-500€ a month for a single person without children). But as long as you work and are officially still self-employed you don’t have a right to that either.

Nope, stargazer, foodstamps is an unknown concept in the EU. There’s either wellfare or unemployment. And if the German system is close to the Belgian one, then that means Panther falls by the wayside for financial state support (in food stamps or money wise).

There would be charities though, for food, legal aid, etc… And if you’re in shit in Belgium, like Panther’s in Germany, then one of the first things to contact is a union organisation. Usually the unions for teachers are extensively built out. Panther seek one out to contact them about your issue. At least they can give you some practical information where to go, find a new or extra position, etc… And I’m sure they’ll be very interested in learning the practices of your “boss”. Almost ALL schools are subsidzed by the state (including private ones) here, certainly for the wages of the teachers (whether I’d teach at a private Catholic School or a State’s school, it’s the state that would be paying my wages directly from Brussels). So, it would be impossible for schools to hire you as a freelancer, nor do they have an interest in doing that. There are a few private schools though, that fall outside that system and have to pay from their own funding… those are usually schools that do not follow the minimal teaching curriculums (Yewish schools, The American school)… Guess at which schools I don’t apply?

And now stargazer has her answer: I’m the one from Belgium 🙂 Panther, I’m very sorry you ended up in this fake-employment situation, because that’s basically what it is. I advize you to go to a union and find other employment ASAP. You’re more secure in earning wages by working in a pub than the situation you’re in now.

I am gonna try to sleep. It’s 2.33am over here!

Have a good day on the other side of the world. Thanks for all the advice Stargazer.

darwinsmom, I was just about to sign off when I saw your message. Thank you for that!!! I’ve been researching, and it sounds like German and Belgian law are VERY similar. IF he was giving me full-time hours, I’d be okay. But this is a joke. I read up on what constitutes an “employee” versus a “freelancer” relationship, and in every single way, I fit the description of an employee. Even the contract is written like an employment contract with the words “freelance” on the front page. It’s nonsense.

I wasn’t sure if I should look for a union or a lawyer first, but on your advice, I’ll look for a union. I bet they know lawyers.

I’m not the only teacher he is doing this too. My co-worker, who just arrived, told me his weekly food budget is 20 euros. Yeah, that’s about right. That’s mine, which means…well…very little food, if anything. And I have a student loan back in the States to pay every month that refuses to let me defer it at the moment. They are a “private” loan, so they don’t care if I am homeless, they want their money and my mom is a co-signer, so I have to send her 150 dollars every month, or else they come after her.

I’m really pissed, darwinsmom, because I know that he knows what he’s doing. If I get in touch with a union and they get a court to look at this, he will get slapped with back taxes for all the money he didn’t pay them, plus he’ll have to give me a paid 4-week holiday. That should be enough time to find a new job without the burden of teaching!!!

I don’t know how anyone with an ounce of integrity can recruit people from other countries to move their entire life to Germany and then pay them an amount of money that puts them on the LOWER end of the poverty scale. I made more money as a waitress when I was 16, and back then I didn’t have a university degree, a TEFL, and 4 years of teaching experience!!! All I asked him for was 25-30 hours per week to keep my head above water. He kept saying it would happen, and guess what? Now he will wish he had just done that, because back taxes will suck if that really happens.

I’ll look for unions this weekend. Thank you so much for the info.

I really must crash out. Good night.


20€ sheesh, no wonder you’re going hungry. I only buy the cheapest brands I can find here on food and meat and meals that are on sale (50% priced off)… the food has less preserves in it, but I buy just enough for 2-3 days and the extra I keep in the freezer… but at its cheapest, the budget is around 7-10€ a day if I only buy in the supermarket.

A tip on finding cheap food: look for brands by the supermarket (they’re usually cheaper than the normal brands). ALDI brand is one of the cheapest supermarkets out there… for 20 € you could buy food that last you about 4 days. But Delhaize (expensive supermarket) has a brand that’s cheaper even called 365… but the food has no preserves in it. As long as I don’t buy more than I need for 2-3 days per time and eat it in those days, I don’t have to throw anything away. Preserves are bad anyway. For vegetables: go to a specialised fruit and vegetable shop of a Turk. They’re usually the cheapest places to buy veggies and fruit, and the market too. Find out in your community where they have ALDI, Turkish vegetable shops and on which day there’s a market.

For water: tap water is drinkable. I don’t buy water, I just drink it from the tap.

Here are the German websites for ALDI

Delhaize group sold their holding to REWE in Germany in 2009

As for unions… most often the strongest ones are
a) the Christian affliliated union
b) the social democratic affiliated union


Darwinsmom, you are the one from Belgium??? Wow, I’m having a blonde moment here…….lol

Panther, I’ll be the American Embassy would help you. Isn’t stuff like this pretty much what they’re for?


Great article! I have always had the same problem as everyone else on this thread- saying no.
For most of my life I tried to please and appease everyone, but looking back I can say almost nobody reciprocated.
Being told ‘Tis better to give than receive” has been my lifelong motto, but its not about receiving at this point in my life.
Like you said, Oxy, its about giving to OURSELVES. It is so much clearer now. I have actually used this a few times since coming on Lovefraud 2 months ago. I’d love to share my examples:
A “friend” who has taken advantage of me for 9 years (money, favors, food, time and energy) without once giving back, even when I asked for her help, has been asking me to bake her big fancy cakes for a very long time. I love to bake and decorate cakes so I never said no to her or anyone else and never charged a dime.
She tells all her friends about my “free cakes” and tells them I’m a retard on top of that because I don’t charge. This was not something I wanted to do- make free elaborate expensive cakes for strangers!
Anyway, never once did she say thank you, tell me they tasted or looked good, OR returned my trays and cake holders.
To the point- she asked me to make her daughter a cake the day before her birthday a month ago and I said no, don’t have time. She put me on a huge guilt trip and called the next day requesting a cake in advance for her coworkers baby shower. I said no, I’m done making cakes, I’m over it. She hasn’t called since.
I feel wonderful, though. I can do without friends like that. Its very liberating to say no for the right reasons. 🙂

Ox Drover

Dear Woundlicker,

When we win a big o ne like that we get a TOWANDA!!!!! which is the LF cry of a big WIN! GOOD FOR YOU! Not only did this mooch mooch off you but she CROWED about what an idiot you were for being so nice and not charging for your work or materials.

She thought she had a good thing going there and I guess she did, but I doubt that you will hear from this “friend” again! So you have not lost a THING, NOT a thing.

Doesn’t it feel GOOD to stand up for yourself? To say NO to these people who would mooch off you, use your good nature and your inability to say no? “GUILT TRIP” you because you wouldn’t make a cake for her daughter’s birthday the day before. TELL HER TO GO TO WAL MART, THEY SELL THEM. Or a bakery.

I’m soooo proud of you!!!! TOWANDA again!!!!!


Thank you! And yeah- I got my first TOWANDA! 🙂

On another subject near and dear to all of us here, forgiveness. This “friend” was the one who talked bad about me and tried to lie to our then boss about me. This was to get me fired in order to save her job, but the truth came out and she was fired. After that she said it was my duty to forgive her because she was closer to God than I was (?!).

I did forgive her in the traditional definition of the word, which at the time (years before even the ex spath slithered into my life) was the only definition I had of forgiveness. Foolishly I let her keep taking advantage of me, maybe convinced she was holier than Thou.

Anyway, got her and the ex spath out of my life and thanks to this website I feel myself healing and getting stronger. Thank you and God bless you all!

Ox Drover

Dear Woundlicker,

That is FUNNY, you had to “forgive her because she was closer to God that you were?” LOL ROTFLMAO that is toooo funny! She lied. She tried to get you fired and SHE was closer to God that you were? Now that is egomania for sure!

Well, she is not worth the time or effort to be bitter about. Just be glad that you are NOT HER. Think of how miserable she must be.

You deserve a big towanda and I’m proud to have given it to you! (((hugs))) and God bless.


she sounds like a spath. Spaths have an addiction to having people do things for them. They crave it. When you do stuff for them, they go around bragging about it to their other spathy friends. My spath encouraged the spathy neighbors to call me and ask for favors just so they could laugh at me for doing what they asked. To them, this is like a huge joke.

Isn’t that the strangest thing? Helping others is a joke? They had variations on it. My Spath BIL would ask me to help him find a good deal on a hotel. I’d spend time, find a screaming deal and he would say, “No we found one that we are happy with.”

Both the spath-lil-sis and the spath-witch neighbor would call and keep me on the phone for hours and hours, jabbering about nothing. They just liked wasting my time. It made them happy that I would waste my time ON THEM.

All spaths do these things and variations of it. They LOVE SERVITUDE.


“you had to forgive her because she was closer to God than you?” (!!!) This is the thing that kills me – they say this stuff and at the time they’re saying it, the mood is so serious and confusing and then later you remember it and you wonder why you didn’t laugh your head off and walk away? How do they DO that?

That is the strangest thing, skylar. I will never ever ever get my head around it. When I figured it out, I thought: how pathetic. For instance, his mom came to visit him (for three months!) and he didn’t want her to leave (he yelled, he cried, he was thirty-three) and convinced her to stay for another week. He told me this but then he said, “her ticket was non-refundable or exchangeable so she had to buy a totally new ticket. It cost $1300.” I saw that it was the fact that she was out the money on his behalf that made him happy. It made him happy to have people wait for him or sit in the back seat, etc. He was smiling because it made him happy and it gave him pride and it gave him energy. I’m guessing we could make a very entertaining list of their “variations.”

I very much believe that is the way a weak person thinks and behaves so I was actually grateful to finally notice that disgusting trait.

Oh, can I share with everyone? I’m so happy to be on the other side. Thank the Lord. I’m just so grateful this day has come. No contact, my friends, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Woundlicker, high five!


parallelogram, It’s really obvious that my spath sister keeps a running tab in her head of who has done how much for whom. It’s sooo important that she has always received more than she has given.

They actually feel BAD when they do something for you. I’m the opposite, I feel guilty when others do for me and I feel really good when I get to do for others.

I’m thinking that perhaps my attitude is just as bad as theirs. We need a happy middle ground.


Yep the ex spath loved his stories of women who “bent over backwards” for him. I never did enough. Nothing I did compared to this ex or that ex. What a holy crock! I see it now for what it was. Pure, unadulterated manipulation. Bet he’s saying the self same thing to the new woman in his life. Poor cow!


Edit: of course he’s saying all this to his new victim whilst still sending me emails declaring his undying love for me and now he realises how badly he treated me.

Barf……who’s got the sick bucket?

Ox Drover


Yea, it is sickening isn’t it? LOL Amazing that we don’t walk away barfing! LOL


Sorry bout the offensive language but I find it wholly therapeutic to post his messages here. It’s sorta like airing my dirty laundry in public ….. But the shames on him

God knows how much I fucking miss u B. now I relise how bad I treated u if only I had one last chance.I would never ever let u down again.u was made for me in more ways I ever new.gettin over u is the hardist thing I’ve ever had to do.I miss you so fucking much.thinking and pinein for u more and more as each day passes with out u by my you hope ur well .xxxxxxxxx

Ox Drover


I suggest that you block his texts or e mails completely….don’t even read them. It is back door contact….

He sounds illiterate too…and crude. What a loser! You are well rid of him for sure.


Oxy is right about you blocking him, but it is kind of interesting isn’t it? They will keep telling the same old BS about “one last chance.” The truth is, the more chances you give them the worse they will treat you. Mine came up with his scheme to destroy me in 1991, right after I left him for the 3rd time. He was determined that I was never going to leave him again and he set everything in motion for my isolation and my demise. Being abandoned was a narcissistic injury that he couldn’t abide.

HAHAHA! must’ve been a shock when he came home in 2009 and I was GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE! 18 YEARS OF WORK FOR NOTHING! 😆



Crude and illiterate, hmm remind me again what did I see in this person. Sigh

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