Have you ever ended a relationship and then wondered “If only I’d…” or “If he could have just…” Or maybe you’re one of those girls that says “This time I won’t let him come back after the breakup…” or “I won’t be his fallback girl when he wants me, but doesn’t want to commit to me.” Do your friends roll their eyes when you talk about him? Do you wish someone understood why one day you’re strong and ready to move on, and the next day you’re a mess and calling him – constantly?
Natalie with Baggage Reclaim gets it – really gets is. She’s not your therapist, she’s not your mom, she’s that girlfriend that knows every excuse before you even tell her what it is. She’s heard all the stories, she’s been through most of them, and her no-nonsense blog is not for the weak hearted – well maybe it is. If you need a reality check about your relationship, be prepared, you may never listen to love songs on the radio the same way again.
Natalie started blogging in June 2004 after a bad date with a “nice guy.” Feeling frustrated and unable to sleep, she remembered an article in The Observer about blogging. Ten minutes later, she wrote “When A Woman’s Fed Up” – which she no longer writes.
“I started sharing my thoughts about dating, living in London, wacky family, etc., and quickly gathered a following, and found that my relationship commentary was in high demand,” Natalie said. “I started Baggage Reclaim in September 2005. I originally wanted an alternative to the bland, homogeneous content that’s often aimed at women giving them 50 ways to please men that may not be worthy of their time and not really helping them feel good about themselves or have healthy relationships. At the same time, I was experiencing major life changes in that I realized that not only did I have a penchant for unavailable men, but that I was unavailable with commitment issues myself. Dating yet another unavailable man for five months in a barely-there relationship really opened my eyes – it was the culmination of a string of poor relationships including being involved with a guy with a girlfriend. Baggage Reclaim is inspired by my own personal journey and how I see relationships – I help people make sense (out of) dating and relationships and how that fundamentally connects to your self-esteem.”
While Natalie has no degree in relationships – she does have a degree in production design and two years of accounting and human resource management that she said her parents made her do – she does have five books and two workbooks out, which are available at http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/my-books/.
“I learned so much because truthfully, while I love my bonkers family, they’re dysfunctional,” she said. “My father is the first Mr. Unavailable I ever encountered! But certainly since my teens, I have been able to assess an interaction and make sense of what is taking place, as well as a lot of the thought processes and rationale behind human behavior. Used to be rubbish at taking care of myself – great at advising others. Then I turned it on myself. I don’t know where it comes from but I look at something or someone, read a story and cut through the fluff and the (BS) to what’s really going on.”
Natalie said her blog works better than just asking your friend for advice, because most people don’t listen to their friends.
“I’m not a sugar coater but I’m not cruel,” she said. “One of the things I learned a long time ago, is that sometimes, when we try to be too ‘gentle,’ the point gets missed entirely. Ever tried to end it with someone but tried to let them down gently only for them to not get the hint and think that they’re still in with a chance?”
Natalie uses her blog to empower and inform, she said. Post breakup, many of her readers often do things that are “embarrassing or downright humiliating.” She said society doesn’t help by telling people they should remain friends, keep in touch on Facebook, or that it’s okay to have sex with an ex.
“We’re obsessed with being thought of as The Good Girl/Guy, and other foolish social protocols and we end up opening ourselves up to further pain, plus there’s too many casual relationships making breaking up very ambiguous at times,” she said.
Natalie said she uses the comments on her blog and Facebook as triggers for the next blog post, as well as the many emails she receives.
“Sometimes it’s a conversation with the boyfriend, or friends and family, as well as seemingly unrelated stuff on TV, etc. One time, I was inspired by a line in Superfreakonomics.”
Natalie receives hundreds of emails each month from readers, but she tries to answer as many as she can. Her blogs are mostly focused on women, but she finds that lately they’re gender-neutral.
Up next for Natalie is working on a print edition of “Mr. Unavailable and The Fallback Girl,” and getting out more to meet readers, and host events and workshops.
“I’ve got some more spin off books on unavailability in the works, as well as breaking up and dating. Hopefully going into print spreads my words further and wider!”
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