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Dealing with my self punishing thoughts

Community Member


Im hoping to gain some outside perspective on my thoughts as i feel like im going to go into a pattern of self punishing myself.

In 2020 i was on and off with a guy as friends with benegits and i had really strong feelings for him unfortunately we werent able to make it work due to different lifestyles he ended things. we decided to stay friends.

a couple of weeks later we caught up with a mutual friend for drinks. I drank too much and misread the situation when he placed his jacket around my shoulders. I was a little bit flirty, he drove me to the station and when we said goodbye he gave me a fist bump. I message him that i was a little bit upset that he gave me a fist bump. I thought we were close enough that we would hug goodbye. He responded that i crossed his boundaries as he was there catching up with friends.

i mmediately apologised and agreed that i haf crossed his boundaries. He cancelled a trip we had planned together. I ended up going on the trip alone, i wanted to do something on my own to work on my independence and in part as a punishment for what happened.

We ended up hanging out in a social group but only online and i even went to visit him when he was in hospital.

fast forward a year and i asked if he wanted to catch up and hang out if he was comfortable. He then said yes and could we invite our social group. Unfortunately the social group didnt want to catch up cause of covid, so i asked again if he was comfortable hanging out just the two of us. He used the covid excuse as a reason he didnt want to catch up.

I then decided to be direct and i asked if he was uncomfortable so that i could understand where his current boundaries were. He replied that due to the past incident he didnt feel comfortable hanging out with me one on one and that he needs more time.

I completely understand where he is coming from and i will respect his boundary. What im struggling with is my thoughts i have depression and low self esteem and my mind is telling me that im still being punished and that i deserved to be punished.

does anyone have any tips or techniques on what to do when your mind is telling you, you need to be punished?

5 Replies 5

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi lolue,

I’m sorry to hear that you are punishing yourself with these negative thoughts. To be honest, I don’t really think you have done anything wrong here. You misread a situation which is easy enough to do when you were once in a friends with benefits situation with this guy. From the fist bump and his subsequent message about crossing his boundaries, I think he initially gave the impression that he was interested and so had to get his point across that he is no longer interested (for whatever reason) - and so he did that with the fist bump and with the discussion about crossing his boundaries. You made a mistake here, one that so many of us have made when someone is initially attracted and then withdraws, so I really don’t think you need to beat yourself up about it. I’d maybe just give him a bit of space and see whether he comes back. Although he sounds a bit of a prickly person so it may be worth considering whether this is how you want to feel.

Community Champion
Community Champion


So sorry to hear how this situation is making you feel. If we were talking to each other, I guess I would ask what sort of relationship do you want with this person. I know this is not the answer to the question you posed and I will get to that shortly.

In regards to the "incident" when you caught up with mutual friends... I think the combination of alcohol and any feelings you might have had, and him offering his jacket was purely a misinterpretation or perhaps mistake. It is commendable you apologised, however it seems he has not been able to move past this happening? There is little that you can do about that. 😞

have you family or friends you can speak to about this?

As for techniques.... you could try reframing your thoughts, or writing a journal, or use bridging statements. An example of a bridging statement might be ...

It's possible that I'm not as [insert-word-here] as I think I am. I might be, but it's possible that I'm not. I could be over-reacting.'"

Hint... I don't think you deserve to be punished or feel like you should be.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi there Lolue and thanks for your post!

It seems to me that you are a pretty open, likeable and sociable person with quite a few friends. Lots of peeps would kill for that so my view is that self punishment is not at all what you deserve.

The Black Keys song 'Little Black Submarines' sing has a line 'A broken heart is blind'. To me that means after a relationship break up it is important to reflect, take some time, and not do things you might regret later.

It sounds like the boy in your post really likes you (you do sound very likeable), but is not romantically into you. So just let it go for a while and see how what happens over time.

All these speed bumps are just detours in our lives that we can look back in and see what we learnt. When Mr Right comes along you will be flying high - you have that to look forward to!

Happy to discuss further if that would help.

All the very best - self punishment is not for you. You are far too amazing for that.

The Bro

Community Member

Thank you to everyone that posted, your responses were verry helpful.

i thought i would clarify a few things, its been a year since the incident and i have gone back onto dating apps. So i dont feel like im still broken hearted over him.

whats upsetting to me is having someone that feels uncomfortable being alone with me. Makes me feel like im some perverted creep. Again though i understand the reason why he has put in place the boundary.

but now i feel uncomfortable that if i say or do something hes going to misinterpret it and wont communicate to clear up any misunderstandings.

I know its going to take time for him to be comfortable hanging around me but its been a year and i hoped we could make more of an effort with our friendship like getting lunch or coffee. My worry is what if it takes him years?

Ive also been reflecting on the friendship and its always me iniating texts and he never him. He also never really iniates group hang outs either, so i feel like it would be all on me to put in the effort.

I want to rebuild the friendship to be Healthy one not a one sided one.

So ive decided to give him space and if he really does want to maintain the friendship see if he iniates a conversation or a group hang out.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi again Lolue and thanks for responding!

I think what you are suggesting is a very good idea - to give him time and see what happens. After all who really knows what is going on in his own life at the moment, what issues he faces and how he really feels about his life.

The one sided communication you mention cannot be that great for your self esteem! What I am wondering is if you should pretty much leave him alone until that wonderful moment arrives and you have a new boyfriend and the new relationship is feeling great! This happened to me after a four year relationship broke up - I was devastated for a long time until this wonderful new lady entered my life (we are now married).

About a year after we met, we were at a party when my old girl friend appeared. She was plainly jealous and asked lots of questions about how happy I was. That was when I knew I had done the right thing n not chasing the old relationship.

If you and your ex are still moving in the same social circle this is likely to happen to you as well - when it does, enjoy the moment!

All the very best, I am glad to hear you are feeling much better about things - time is a wonderful healer.

Regards, The Bro