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11 Sad signs that you are in an "imaginary relationship"

He doesn’t want to fulfill boyfriend duties… but he expects you to fulfil girlfriend duties. Beyond wanting to talk about himself only, he is completely unwilling to make any sort of sacrifices, and his main motivation is always getting his own needs met. I have covered this topic quite a lot in previous masterclasses, so I won’t go into big detail here, but I will give you a brief list of warnings to look out for:

Listen my lovely, this article was not the easiest to write and it is not intended to hurt anyone, as a coach who spends almost everyday hearing about and helping with the painful challenges that women face, I am extremely sensitive to a woman’s suffering and what I am about to say to you is out of love and through wishing to be your cheerleader, getting to see you succeed in creating the relationship you dream of and deserve.

Unfortunately, in recent years the bar has gradually been set so low in terms of what qualifies as a healthy and fulfilling connection that many women are walking around devoting their time, effort and thoughts to “imaginary relationships” believing that if they just hang in there, things will improve. Sometimes things get so badly drawn out over time that we don’t even realise that we are in a one sided or imaginary connection with a man that isn’t actually investing himself.

What makes this even more difficult is that there is often -just- enough input or flattery to suggest that he is right there with us, that we feel justified in our efforts. So, I want to go over the sad signs that you are, in fact in an “imaginary relationship”, or maybe you will identify that you were in one before now and didn’t see it.

This means that you can avoid ever falling into a trap like this again and you will know what signs to look for so that you can change or even improve the situation for yourself.

Now it seems like the signs would be easy to spot, but often they are not, some men are experts at keeping a woman on the hook without ever intending to fulfill her needs or show authentic reciprocity, but as women we are masters of rationalisation and analysation which often leads an understanding of the situation that we want rather than what we need.

With that in mind, if this post jumped out to you or you felt compelled to click the link, I would recommend that you read it, either it will reassure you, or it will open your eyes for good.

Men are simple and often it is us that complicate things in our minds, men are even very predictable in the things that they will or won’t do when they are falling in love or genuinely building with a woman. Make no mistake about it.

Don’t allow yourself to be place holdered, it’s time to learn how to get an accurate read on your situation with men, learn the signs and to level up!

Don’t worry because I’m here to give you the cheat sheets to fast track your success.

Below are eleven in-depth indications that you have been trapped in an imaginary relationship, some of these will surprise you….

Grand gestures or love bombing with no day-to-day substance

This one is surprising, and it keeps women holding on because as women we are all about grand gestures, roses delivered to our door, a beautiful and thoughtful gift arriving spontaneously or a weekend away in a 5 star hotel full of passion laughter and exciting conversation can feel like it really fills our emotional cup, seems like an odd red flag right? Most of us would love this sort of attention.

But this does become a massive red flag when there virtually no day to day substance accompanying the big gestures, which displays his consistent interest in going deeper with you, knowing the little in and outs of your life, your routine and your intimate thoughts and feelings, this is where the real hard work and effort comes in with men, so if he is going for days or weeks with barely a text, but then surprises you by travelling a long way to see you, or sends gifts to keep you sweet, then think about it, he is only doing the easy things, throwing his credit card at the situation while also gaining enjoyment from and appreciation for quick fix actions, he is not putting in the work to know you more deeply, the good the bad and the ugly, he is just doing what he needs to, to keep you on the string.

It’s like the opposite toxic behaviour to "bread crumbing"- which is doing the bare minimum to keep you interested (a little cute text just as you begin to lose hope or a basic date because you are about to walk), this man is tossing a whole loaf at you each time you almost starve, and that isn’t much better, yet the rush of this sort of attention can be exciting and can have us convincing ourselves that he must care a lot, especially when even our friends are impressed by the latest bottle of champagne, hotel stay or Tiffany jewellery and yet day to day you don’t feel his presence and you’re stuck waiting for the next big gesture.

Big warning here angels, stay alert. Charm and flashiness without attention to the little details or support when times are tough sets you up to be a trophy or placeholder, not a partner.

Love bombing can also be less materialistic in nature, if he constantly messes up and hurts you, but is masterful in laying on thick apologies, grand speeches and even guilt trips, only to revert back to the same harmful behavior once you have let down your guard, then trust that you are being manipulated.

Feeling insecure and obsessive about his actions or lack of.

As woman we are blessed with powerful intuition and insight but then we really like someone we might shove our gifts aside because wanting the man becomes more important than what is healthy or right for us. If there is a niggle or knot in the stomach or chest, stop rewriting it mentally it as exciting butterflies and get real with yourself. Tune into what your heart is telling you.

Is it really excitement or is it anxiety and uncertainty that’s keeping you on your toes?

If you feel the need to analyse his actions endlessly and obsessively with friends, it’s a warning.

If you struggle to think of much else but him trying to figure out what his latest words or actions are telling you, it’s a warning.

If there is a new drama around him regularly that makes it, so you never feel like you’re standing on solid ground with him, it’s a warning.

If you have become low in energy and abundant in sadness, it’s a warning.

When you meet the right man, the man you are meant to marry or share a full life with you will feel stillness and safety, plus genuine butterflies, the happy ‘life just seems brighter and more beautiful’ kind, it will actually strengthen your foundations

and support you in pursuing your own goals instead of getting derailed constantly because of the ups and downs he is putting you through.

I have watched women finally ban a selfish man from their lives and get master’s degrees, transform their homes or start an exciting new business, in contrast while they were stuck in that connection, they felt drained, de-energised and like a shell or their former selves operating at a fraction of their potential, with their minds feeling filled with candy floss because half of their life was spent second guessing the relationship and still never getting any solid answers.

Fantasy has become more enjoyable than reality- where disappointment is a familiar feeling.

This can be tough, but we have to be able to become aware and identify when we are gambling on a man’s potential rather than what he is really giving to us, to stabilise and elevate the connection.

If you find yourself daydreaming often about the fantasy future that could be you might be heading into fantasy/imagination territory. So many women are guilty of this, and it’s definitely something I did often in my younger years, it doesn’t really matter how handsome, successful or well spoken a man is, or how “high value” he appears to be, what matters is how much he is doing to connect authentically so that you are feeling valued, appreciated, pursued and wanted. But in reality, he is dropping plans last minute, letting days fly by without any meaningful conversation or effort, or he is dragging his heels on locking anything significant down, there’s a vague sense that he’s toying with your love.

Look, this is where women really get it twisted, men are not dumb, they may mess around with some women, but when it comes to their dream woman they won’t complicate it or play around, they’re not going to risk losing out to other men or take a gamble on losing her interest or respect for him. He will be consistent, devoted, loyal, and he won’t leave you wondering or questioning what is going on.

I genuinely feel that this is why it is so difficult for women to release themselves from unfulfilling “situationships”, it’s because she’s so focused on daydreams, imagining moving in with that man, him proposing, or how exciting it will be to introduce him to her family and friends, coming to parties with her or family barbeques or taking trips away, that she’s not paying enough attention to what is truly materialising in front of her, and the pain of loss becomes so significant because of the hopes and expectations she placed upon him. Sadly, this is how we play ourselves and we have to be smarter than that.

Your lives are still progressing separately

When feelings and investment are equal, couples can’t help but begin to merge, the very enthusiasm they feel at meeting someone they see a future with drives them to start linking their lives up in meaningful ways. When you get a sense that you are compartmentalized in a man’s life, even though you have been giving a lot it doesn’t feel good.

If he only want’s to meet in hotels, or after 10pm or if he only loosely reserves every third weekend for you and it’s largely geared around sex, or for example if he bases all your interactions around work with no indication of wanting to spend time with you consistently, in the light of day and to start gradually making you a serious part of his life, then pay attention, this is totally ok initially (men don’t want to look too keen too quickly either) but if it continues on for months or years with no signs of changing then you are being place holdered or he is just not thinking long term/ serious enough to change things.

It can also be a scary indication that he’s married!

I have heard every excuse imaginable for this:

He is prestigious or semi famous and has a lot going on

It’s due to my circumstances, he doesn’t want to intrude on my life

He’s stuck in X/Y/Z situation and has no control over it

He’s been hurt badly, his guard is up

Plus more.

Again, this stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of male psychology, when a man wants you, he will work to overcome his own obstacles, not only that but he will move mountains to be close to you, in such ways that will blow your mind, especially if you are used to low effort men.

This can also suggest that there’s other women in rotation, if his friends ignore you/seem to have no idea who you are and he doesn’t really introduce you to anyone/ you only see him alone, give some consideration to what his motivations could be, for example some women are confused when a man who is warm and flirtatious in conversation on a daily basis over the long term but won’t allow any trace of her on social media, perhaps for example she tries to tag him in a post she knows he would find funny or interesting and he actively blocks it from appearing on his profile, this may be to protect another woman’s feelings or to protect himself from the questions it might create from other women he is entertaining.

You certainly shouldn’t expect him to put it all out there, especially in the early days, but again if the months are flying by and you feel invisible something is wrong.

He's all talk

As time goes by, if you notice the relationship isn’t really progressing, pay attention to how he talks, and if he is just all talk.

Does he big himself up a lot? I’m a big believer in “show me don’t tell me” So I don’t particularly want to hear a man tell me how great he is, in fact it’s generally a red flag, the right men will show you all of his wonderful qualities, so he won’t need to talk himself up like he’s his own PR agent.

Is the conversation always about him, does he speak in terms of he/him constantly without any real interest in you? When we are truly interested in someone, we want to know all about them, this goes for men and women.

This point really is one to watch after a few weeks as often a man won’t pry too much or ask deep questions on the first few dates or during those initial conversations ,but if the months are dragging by and every conversation is maneuvered towards him don’t let it slide, start pushing more talk about you and see how he responds, if he always steers it back to himself again you probably have a convenience guy on your hands, a man who is benefiting from your support, interest and encouragement in life, with little to no intention of giving back.

Be aware too, that some men will “we” you constantly, “we should visit that city” “we should live in a villa in Spain someday” “we should check out this new restaurant” yet over time nothing actually manifests in reality, he’s just dangling the carrot.

He dangles the carrot

As much as we make excuses for this, dangling the carrot is a way to manipulate you, control you, and to keep you from finding more viable and fulfilling options because you are too busy running in place for a man who has no intention of giving you what you need. Again, this is a sign of place-holdering, he wants to keep you around but only by doing the bare minimum to sustain your interest.

We have to make it default to watch what a man does rather than buying into everything he says, there are a lot of indications that a man may be dangling the carrot, ie:

He makes statements like “I could marry you” but then later disparages his own statements with contradictory comments like “jeez people who get married are suckers!”

He talks about a future with you, but never invests in those plans in real life, for example a man who says he wants to move in together will want to spend a lot of time together at home, ordering food or cooking, watching movies cuddled up and spending the night, he may even invest in your living space by repairing things or helping you improve the place (even if you are going to look for a new home together), this is because he is already moving into the frequency of living together.

When you question him about the stuff he promised you he gets moody or makes you feel like you’re at fault or he pulls back until you lose interest in discussing it. You don’t want to seem clingy or immature, so you stop asking, but deep down you know his words and actions aren’t matching.

He only opens up emotionally or even feeds you a sob story when you’re close to walking away, he’s closed off for the most part but when you start to get fed up or wonder if the relationship is worth being in, suddenly he’s able to express himself with long deep conversations and emotional speeches that encourage you to stick it out.

It’s a difficult fact to accept that when a man largely withholds his emotions until the point when he thinks he’s going to lose his grip on you, it’s a sure sign that you are being strung along.

You feel the need to observe other women that are orbiting his energy.

A man who is around for a real relationship will have no issue with other people learning about your presence, but a guy who is only around for convenience may never make you feel secure because he needs back up options ready in case you wise up to the game he is running.

Even if you’re usually quite a secure person, you don’t ever quite feel secure in this relationship, you worry that he could be talking to other women or you find yourself monitoring his social media, friend list, reactions or comments, or you feel the urge to dig for information about what he’s up to. This is never a good sign.

A guy you’re newly dating may not yet show you off, but over time he should become increasingly proud of his association with you.

If it’s going even further and you are starting to feel like you need to take steps to let other women know that he is off limits, then take it as a serious warning.

Perhaps you act like a couple but he still has a dating profile up and you hate it, or he behaves like he’s single in every way, except when you are alone together, regardless it’s never your job to prove that a guy is off limits, and you shouldn’t have to live with the stress of wondering if he’s even loyal to you.

Men are territorial, so if anything, he should want it to be fairly clear that you are off limits, if he expects you to give 100% loyalty but he’s happy to appear single, then you’re definitely not being unreasonable for feeling weird about his shadiness. If he expects loyalty and transparency, he should also give it, otherwise he’s a huge hypocrite and he is expecting you to tolerate something that all men understand as basic.

If he has caused arguments deliberately or you have broken up many times, it’s highly possible that he’s been indulging in interludes with other women and needed you out of the way temporarily, he then predictably falls back in contact days or weeks later full of guilt and apologies.

Trust your intuition and know that you deserve better.

Remember too that a man who is crazy about you, would be devastated if he thought he was losing you for good, yes some men handle a deeply painful breakup with a one-night stand but if he has a new girlfriend or love interest a week later it’s a clear signal that he regularly place holders women for his own benefit and actually encourages orbiting women so he has a supply of options ready.

This can also be a narcissist or covert narcissist warning, research “narcissistic supply sources” for more information.

You don’t trust your own instincts anymore

Are you constantly questioning if you’re just unreasonable and expecting too much? Have you gradually been made to feel that even your most meager wants, and needs are a burden on him?

This is one of the saddest signs in my opinion, when a woman has been so conditioned that she now literally feels guilty for wanting the most basic reciprocation, regular communication, respect, his presence beyond the fleeting, or even just simple types of help- when he can see she is struggling with something he could easily take care of, it shows systematic devaluation and emotional neglect.

You might have even got to a point where you no longer trust your instincts or judgment about how others treat you.

This goes deep, it can be a continuation of childhood frustration where we weren’t allowed to express ourselves or our anger without being accused of “talking back” or our needs became secondary to a parent or sibling, as a result being marginalised in adulthood can come to feel quite natural, even comfortable.

If you have got into a relationship where you frequently question yourself, whether even basic standards are too high and where deep down you are hurting and internalising your needs, then please reach out for a coaching session. You deserve so much more than that.

Perhaps you have even become depressed or cry often in helplessness or frustration, please don’t brush these emotions under the carpet.

Your feelings are important and so are you.

You feel lonely

It’s like you’re always waiting, waiting for him to step up, to make plans, to make you a priority, or to make a commitment to you.

Relationships don’t magically fix everything, even when they are super healthy, but these days women have been so conditioned to accept low effort that some even experience deep loneliness and separation within an active relationship.

It’s exceptionally sad that I even feel the need to include this but please remember that in a real relationship you should feel embraced and supported, sure your partner might not be physically with you every day and that’s fine but even if you can’t spend much time together due to distance, career or other obligations, you should still feel like half of a team where both of you are able to flourish.

Your partner may also have times of preoccupation or his own emotional fluctuations, but if he loves you he won’t neglect you. Extended or intermittent periods of deep loneliness are not healthy, and they are not normal.

It’s all about his needs

He doesn’t want to fulfill boyfriend duties… but he expects you to fulfill girlfriend duties, he may be completely unwilling to make any sort of sacrifices, and his main motivation is always getting his own needs met. I have covered this topic quite a lot in previous masterclasses, so I won’t go into big detail here, but I will give you a brief list of warnings to look out for:

-If he only texts or calls when drunk or out with boys

-He uses pet names early like "baby" but it feels superficial

-He only gives you compliments or says sweet things during the build up to sex

-He’s never around to support you when something rocks your life

-He expects you to play therapist to him though

-He doesn’t support you but manages to bring drama/sadness to your life

-He ignores you to scroll through his phone even though you don’t spend that much time together

-He expects full loyalty from you but doesn’t want to commit

-He never wants to spend the night, or bolts first thing in the morning

-He periodically breaks up with you and you hear rumors about other women

-He then returns promising he will improve, but doesn’t

-Some men are so brazen that they will flirt with other women openly online or even in person

- He never remembers anything you tell him, especially about yourself

- He makes disrespectful comments about your body, career or looks

- He never asks anything about you

-He has committed verbally but isn’t acting the part in reality

- You ever have to ask yourself if he cares about you

I think you get the idea, essentially dating him is just like watching some reality show where everything is about him.

I have spoken to hundreds of women over the years who are giving soo much and yet when we break it down, she is getting virtually nothing back, but many women are such major givers that they sometimes don’t even notice this.

Quite simply you’re just not his priority

Your friends and family are concerned about you

As a coach I don’t always put the highest value on the advice of friends and family as it can be dreadful, you know, they will tell you stuff like “oh no babes he probably didn’t ghost you, if you haven’t heard from him in three weeks just call him and tell him how much you like him” *facepalm, it can be a nightmare for a coach, and you’re very lucky if you have a friend or family member that gives you consistently stellar advice.

BUT regardless of the advice quality, if all the people close to you get "ick vibes" about a man you are dating or like, you should pay attention, at the end of the day these people care about you and want the best for you, and they are usually the first to spot a change in you that’s for the worse, like you becoming increasingly unhappy or anxious, they also don’t have rose tinted lust goggles on when it comes to the guy so they can usually see through him more quickly.

How we can raise the bar as women

I’m very mindful of not spreading hate towards men or even apathy towards relationships because there are so many incredible men out there looking for good quality relationships, and there are plenty of men out there getting jerked around when all they want to do is find a good woman, unfortunately the low effort guys are generally the ones shouting the loudest, which can derail us so I want you to stay conscious about the sort of emotional contracts you are entering into.

With that said, we need to raise our game as women and to please stop romanticizing empty relationships, this is not Romeo and Juliet and even if it was there was nothing romantic about that story either, good relationships do not consist of longing, dumbing yourself down, suppressing your needs, being ignored or feeling unimportant, they do not demand that you constantly sacrifice yourself for nothing, they’re not supposed to drive you into depression or have you so anxious you cease to function properly, I know of many women who have never had mental health problems but found themselves on meds just to cope because they fell for the wrong guy.

Over the years I have heard women convincing themselves these types of relationships are deeply spiritual, simply because they cannot accept that they can feel such intense feelings for a guy that doesn’t really care.

We must also stop enabling each other in these sorts of relationships once and for all, we have to stop subtly telling our girlfriends that it’s okay to feel like crap with a particular guy or supporting what we can clearly see are low quality situationships, just because we don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, be honest but be kind, and if she doesn’t listen, love her anyway, it may be part of her journey to learning. However, overall, the capacity to which we women can collectively stop tolerating damaging user men, and raise the standard we expect is the extent that these dud guys stop getting away with being emotional vampires. So lets’ start raising our frequency and educating each other, so these men become cast offs or have to grow and develop as humans.

Exhausting ups and downs and on/off toxic relationships have become so normalised that we barely bat an eye to them anymore, which is so messed up and when it feels like you are being drained and it’s never over, to the point where you are even starting to feel like it’s normal you have to summon the courage to gather up all of the strength you have inside and command better for yourself, even if it hurts terribly to let go, you will heal and holding on will hurt even more, and it could even leave you with significant trauma.

Please don't be hard on yourself if you have realised you're watering a dead plant, you are not in any way stupid just because you cared so much for a man who will never actually be worthy of you.

Some guys out there are pretty calculated with the ways that they manipulate women and often they will instantly turn into a victim as soon as you question their lack of decency or raise your boundaries, so be brave angel and look out for you. Never forget how magnificent you truly are or everything you have to offer. Be confident in yourself, don’t let some waste of time man be the very thing that stands between you and your future husband.

If you would like some help with this I'm always happy to hear from you so, get in touch. Sessions are effective compassionate and start at just £30!


Goddess Vibes, coaching, blog, relationship guidance, dating, support
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