Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When You Love a Man With Low Self-Esteem – 9 Things to Keep in Mind (by Paul Graves)

142,753 views

When You Love a Man With Low Self-Esteem

So you love a guy with low self-esteem. Sucks to be you. I’m saying that as a dude who used to hate himself. Who still kind of does. I know the crap you deal with. He must drive you nuts.

I was in a relationship with an angel, let’s call her Mary. Mary was such a pure, beautiful soul. We connected. Looking into her eyes filled me with comfort and calmed my fears. Mary loved me so much, and I loved her too. But I hated myself even more. Long story short – I ran away from her love. The love I felt unworthy of. I sought validation and distraction in women, alcohol and career moves. And in many other dark ways I won’t mention.

Low self-esteem is easy to explain yet hard to understand for some. It’s feeling shameful about who you are. Feeling guilty or embarrassed about who you are, deep in your core. You feel ‘different’. Damaged or flawed in fundamental, irreversible ways. You don’t love yourself. Your man may never admit it outright – but he wishes he were someone else.

Alas, there’s no return policy in life. We’re stuck in this skin forever, and the hate, the self-pity – it gets us nowhere. But here’s the rub:

When a man is dealing with low self-esteem, he’ll make mistakes. Big mistakes. My shame and low self-esteem led me to become reckless. I felt a constant, nearly unbearable background anxiety. I had to make myself feel different. I had to escape. Luckily, there were several reliable methods: nonstop partying, irresponsible sex, starting businesses, spending lots of money, exotic traveling. My worst nightmare was being alone, in a quiet room. I couldn’t stand my own company. Maybe your man feels the same way, I pray he doesn’t. But my feelings aren’t unique.

The mistakes I made led to more shame and guilt. And then more mistakes made running away from those feelings. The cycle continues. This leads to what I like to call the 9th dimension of shame. The hole can get so deep. The spiral of pain seems unstoppable.

Your man’s low self-esteem can manifest in a variety of ways. Every guy will act out in his own way. Some pull back and hide, some flee and seek experiences. Others party and rage, or try to prove themselves at work.  It’s troublesome for both the sufferer and the poor individual who loves them so much. Low self-esteem is tricky; the sufferer can distract himself or run away from it for years. He may not even realize that the darkness he feels is low self-esteem. And it’s f*cking heartbreaking.

If you love him, he will need you to get through it. You may be able to show him the light. Don’t give up on him, he needs you. Many times it will be confusing, and he may hurt you without wanting to. (Trust me, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He hurts enough just being himself.)

Here are some important things to remember: a cheat sheet to get you through tough times. And maybe to help him see the truth of his ways.

  1.  He loves you so much, but hates himself even more.

    He’s lost. You two may have such an obvious, beautiful opportunity for love but he squanders it. He only sees his own shortcomings. His pain and depression is like a dark, heavy, thick blanket that he just can’t shake. But like I said above, he may not even realize it. He’s not trying to mess with your head. He’s not unreachable. However he is in a state of constant anxiety, always wishing he could be someone HE loves. If you say ‘I love you’, he probably thinks: ‘Why would you? You can’t. You’re wrong’.

    He yearns to love himself, and the struggle to do that can ruin your relationship. This should be a good thing, right? Not all men act out this feeling in healthy ways. It will be hard but think about their perspective. If they don’t love themselves maybe you can do something to help them. If you love him, do what you can to help his HEART. Buy him books on spirituality, ask him how he feels about himself. Listen, and if required seek the help of a licensed therapist or psychologist.

    A book I recommend is No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover. It was a wake-up call, and helped launch my wild journey of transformation. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s a book about shame, self-worth and learning to accept yourself. It’s a powerful starting point, buy it now.

  2. He may seek attention outside the relationship, or activities without you.

    This was a huge factor in my relationship ending. My low self-esteem led me to crave attention from other potential partners. I was addicted to approval and validation from other women.

    Maybe he likes attention from others, flirtation and come-hither looks. I hope you haven’t caught him on dating sites or apps. That was another thing I would do – I craved the attention so much. Maybe he also yearns for people to tell him how cool he is, how great he dresses, or what a sweet job he has. Point is, he’s just crazy for attention.

    He seeks attention and approval from other people – but what about you? Self-esteem is a real b*tch. He thinks that he has to either prove to himself that he’s worthy, or look for evidence of it anywhere he can. ‘If other people tell me I’m great, then that must mean I’m great.’

    It may be common sense to you – that we should all love and respect ourselves as human beings. But to a sufferer of low self-esteem, this isn’t the case. Having low self-esteem is like being in a courtroom. And you’re guilty until proven innocent. He’s shameful at the core of his being. His soul appears blackened, damaged and irreparable. He craves escapes from reality.

    Try to talk with him about this. ‘I think you act like this because you like how it makes you feel, right? Why do you need to feel this way?  Can’t you just be yourself, how you feel now?’ ‘Why aren’t I enough?’ ‘Do you need help learning to love yourself?’

    If your man can’t handle this conversation, consider moving on. He’s not ready. It must be him who makes the changes necessary to heal. It is NEVER on your shoulders to do this for him.

  3. He believes he must have ‘got lucky’. He feels unworthy of you.

    At first he cherished you. You were his prize. He held you close, showed you off to the world. It was intoxicating and intense. But soon, he knew he ‘had you’ and started looking around. The high that you and the new relationship gave him faded. The drug wore off, so he’s seeking fresh supply. He needs more intense intoxicating experiences to feel okay about himself.

    I had an amazing partner in Mary, but I didn’t believe I was worthy. She could see the man I was, beyond the shit-storm that was my life. She saw through my shame and self-hatred but I couldn’t buy it. I was too deep in my own trance.

    I thought I’d got lucky, that I’d fooled her somehow. So I needed to prove that I could be worthy of someone amazing. Does that sound stupid or what? I wanted to be able to ‘earn someone’ who everyone else wanted, to prove to myself that I was a valuable man. Then I could love myself.

    Remember that this isn’t about you – this is about a hole he has in his heart. He needs to know that he didn’t just ‘get lucky’ when he landed you. Don’t let him feel that way! Please, tell him you love him. Tell him everything you think is unique and enticing about him. Don’t make it only about appearance either. If he feels like he fooled you, he will not treat the relationship with the respect. This is an important point.

  4. He may be restless, or always trying to prove something to the world or himself.

    Some call it ‘hustle’ or ambition. Maybe he has grand ideas or entrepreneurial zeal up the wazoo. He wants to create something that will change the world. That’s wonderful, but in his case it may be a cover-up: a distraction from voices in his head. The voices that say, ‘you’re not enough’. He’s trying to create a life that will prove his worth.

    He doesn’t want a life without you. His big dreams or grandiose desires get him out of his head. They give him hope that maybe one day, just maybe he will be able to like the man he is. After he does all this awesome stuff.

    There is nothing wrong with drive and initiative. But why is he so driven? Why does he desire so much?  If we bothered to ask ourselves ‘why’ we want the things we do, we could save ourselves much heartbreak. We’d stop running after so many shiny red balls. We could live with more purpose. Your man should ask himself why he wants to accomplish so much.

    To bring him down to earth, remind him how much life there is to live right now, in this moment. This moment, between the two of you. Kiss his lips, hold his head in your hands. Tousle that hair and look deep into those eyes you love so much. Say, ‘I love you for exactly who you are, right now’. Tell him he is enough.

    The point isn’t to make him an aimless, lazy ass. It’s to make sure he has his motivation and priorities in the right place.

  5. He can be extremely jealous or insecure about other men.

    My ex, Mary, had to think that I was perfect and wonderful at all times. She was my entire support system, and my source of confidence and security. She was my everything. (And yet I treated her awfully – aren’t men the greatest?)

    If I felt threatened or not #1 importance in her life, I would start to lose my sh*t. The low self-esteem inside your man creates an enormous hole. He filled it with you, and sprinkles in other things like vices and attention from others. When you threaten to leave them empty again they go crazy or become irrational.

    He doesn’t want you to suffer. Nor does he want to dominate you. He doesn’t know why he feels this way, but it’s because he hates who he is. In effect it’s self-defense, your actions hurt him. It’s painful enough just being who he is – when you threaten to make him feel even worse about himself … he lashes out or gets uncomfortable.

    Nothing about this is okay. I’m only telling it like it is.

  6. It can be near impossible to get him living ‘in the moment’.

    Many guys with low self-esteem are living in the past. He may be guilt-ridden and woeful over opportunities he failed to seize. Maybe he regrets not doing better in school, or choosing a better college. He might feel like a failure and disappointment to his family. Who knows, the point is he rides himself down all the time.

    Alternately, he’s living in the future. He dreams of a day when he can ‘be happy’. You may feel sad because it seems all he cares about is making lots of money, accomplishments or fame. Or making his family proud. He may seem to leave you out of his utopian vision of the future. But he probably just feels he’ll only worthy of you once he conquers the world. He feels he’s unworthy of happiness until he proves himself. These thoughts consume him and he’s desperate for that sweet moment of relief when he’s ‘made it’.  Problem: it’s never coming.

    You love him exactly as he is, right? Tell him that right now.

  7. True commitment scares the sh*t out of him – but not for the reason you think.

    In my relationship, I was afraid because I didn’t know who the hell I was. The only parts of myself I knew were sh*t. I didn’t feel like a good person, so who would want to be with me? I convinced myself that I was helping by not giving her marriage or children. By not giving her 100% true commitment I was doing her a favor.

    I didn’t believe in myself. I had no faith in my own goodness or potential. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the hard times that would come.  My feelings were ‘everything I touch turns to sh*t, so why would I waste her time? It’s doomed from the start, and I do not want to hurt her’.

    No advice here, no matter what he’s going to give you the ‘deer in the headlights’ look. Knowing this may help you understand the complexity of a man. He needs to learn to love himself through the hard times before he can love you through the hard times.

  8. He may enjoy seeing you in pain or suffering for the relationship.

    Sick, huh? Hate me if you want, I don’t care. I come in truth. This is a tough one to talk about. Self-esteem can get so low that a man gets validation from seeing his partner suffer. Seeing a person go through hell for us, feel pain caused by us – can actually give us pride.

    It’s a dose of the ‘I’m worthy’ drug … ‘Look at how this person goes crazy for me, I must be worthy’.

    Enough said, it’s time to leave the relationship. Hurt never justifies hurt.

  9. He adores you – but he needs to learn how to love himself.

    Your guy has to learn to love himself. This includes all the deepest and darkest parts too, the parts that scare him to death. The unfaced and unfelt parts of our psyche are the source of all neurosis and suffering. Carl Jung said that, not me.

    If he only loves a certain part of himself like his looks, the rest of him will just go on undeveloped. In many ways I was like a child before. I avoided pain or sacrifice every chance I could, and I turned into a big man-child. If this is happening to your man, you must stop it right away.

In the end, you can get over this together. The bond between you will be unbreakable, and he will love you forever. He’ll never forget that you were the girl who helped him discover the greatest love in the universe. His love for himself. Stick in there, but develop a plan right away. Not only is he suffering, you are as well. Take action now. If he refuses to draw a line in the sand and change his life, it may be time to walk away.


About the Author: Paul Graves

Paul Graves writes about pain, shame, and better living through self-acceptance at TakeTheLemons.com. He lives in Ohio with his 7-year old daughter and two cats. 

Paul is on Twitter and Instagram.

Like this article?

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly round up of our best articles

118 Comments

Maria

OMG, you sound exactly like my ex. Yup, I tried, stuck it out for 13 years, the last 4 were because we had a son together and I was trying SO hard to be there for him. I was your Mary. No woman should have to deal with that. It’s debilitating and heart-breaking. He is now married to another woman who is probably dealing with the same shit. She too, is a Mary. Funny how they keep attracting the good ones.

Reply
Paul Graves

I’m sorry to hear that, Maria. If I may be honest, there is something exhilarating and electrifying about someone like I used to be, and your ex.

I find it much harder to meet women now that I don’t seek external validation. And now that I stay in much more, read and write, and treat my family as my work of art, not my sexuality or my career. I guess I’m boring?

Can I ask you, what attracted you to this man in the first place? I’d love to hear more. Feel free to email me @ paul@takethelemons.com.

Sincerely,
Paul Graves

Reply
Vic

Thank you for this article. My boyfriend had told me that he had felt this way. I just hope that we can work through it. When I had asked questions about this it was hard for him to answer. I don’t want this to affect our relationship anymore.

Reply
Paul Graves

I hope it works out, Vic. When Mary and I split, she was broken for many, many months. But she then found the man she is still with today. They’ve been together twice as long as we were, and she seems so happy. My point being, life is always happening for us, not to us. Maybe there’s an amazing thing awaiting you through all this struggle.

Sincerely,
Paul

Reply
Vic

Thank you for article. We live together as well. It has been four years. Thank you for your kind words.

Reply
Vanessa

If this is what passes for helpful we are all in a world of hurt! For goodness sakes, why would I want this guy’s viewpoint? Buy him books, ask him how he feels? No, walk away!

Reply
Paul Graves

I agree with you, Venessa. If anyone is acting like this, they have so much work to do before they’re ready for any relationship.

I needed a healthy relationship with myself before I was worth piss to anyone else!

Thanks for reading,
Paul

Reply
TW

But it also takes two. Society right now has created a very throwaway society as if to say “Well its not working RIGHT NOW, better throw it out for something new”

I say this because Im a guy suffer from low self esteem due to being cheated on several times by my ex. My now fiancee and I were going great…until she inadvertently did something that triggered bad memories with me around 9 months ago and since then I find myself being guarded and honestly paranoid. With respect to the author, more often than not its because we’ve been the victims of abuse in some form, not always physical.

I caught it and most of the time I can control it, but every so often, it rears its ugly head. Work on issues, yes, ask us how we feel, how we’re doing. Afterall, is that not what most women would like their husbands/SO’s to do?

Reply
Steve Cripe

Thanks for this article Paul…seems like you were writing my bio in this piece. Made a copy to give to my wife. I think we oftentimes have the distinct belief our significant other doesn’t understand our plights and mental “ailments”; how could they, right? We want them to understand so they will accept us, but then, we really don’t understand ourselves.
Thanks again…

Reply
Paul Graves

Steve, thank you very much for reading. Yes, I know where you’re coming from. Our sig others are not mind readers. Instead of acting out, we should try talking with them. Treating my emotions and self-doubt as a purely personal battle is what led to so many consequences in my relationships.

And until we understand ourselves, how can we have faith or loyalty in anything we have chosen? If we don’t understand or love ourselves, how can we be steadfast in our decisions? It leads to a wishy-washy foundation. Loving and accepting yourself should be #1 focus, in my humble opinion.

Reply
Amber

I agree with Vanessa. It’s not up to a relationship partner to address thier significant other’s mental health issues (particularly if doing so means they have to put up with hurtful behavior). A therapist is the appropriate support for someone with the mental health and behavioral issues described; a partner can provide some empathy and understanding, maybe, but not at their own expense. I would never advise someone to stick around and try to “fix” the problems described here.

Moreover, this sounds less like the behavior and motivations of someone with a simple case of “low self esteem,” and more like either borderline or narcissistic personality disorder. In those cases, just re-affirming your love, exploring the problem, and otherwise “standing by your man” (ie, doing what the writer advises) just feeds into the problem. Again, some kind of therapy is in order.

“He doesn’t know why he feels this way, but it’s because he hates who he is. In effect it’s self-defense, your actions hurt him. It’s painful enough just being who he is – when you threaten to make him feel even worse about himself … he lashes out or gets uncomfortable.”

I don’t even know where to start with this. The writer recognizes that this isn’t “right,” but he spends a lot of time emphasizing what the partner ought to do and not enough imploring the person who is engaging in these behaviors (and probably suffering as well) to take some responsibility for the problems they have and are creating.

His own story suggests that the strategies he suggests won’t necessarily help the sufferer. By his account, Mary seems like a wonderfully supportive partner who got sick of the situation, and he only faced his problem after the relationship ended. I wonder if the author would have been as motivated to change if Mary hadn’t walked away? It seems like at that point, he had to accept that his behavior had caused him to lose someone he cared about, and he needed to make changes.

“In the end, you can get over this together. The bond between you will be unbreakable, and he will love you forever. He’ll never forget that you were the girl who helped him discover the greatest love in the universe. His love for himself. Stick in there, but develop a plan right away. Not only is he suffering, you are as well. Take action now. If he refuses to draw a line in the sand and change his life, it may be time to walk away.”

This is the sort of false hope and flawed logic that keeps women in abusive relationships. How many abused women have told themselves that their partner’s behavior would improve if they only loved them enough, or in the right way, or provided the right kind of support? The small chance that “love will save the day” isn’t worth the greater risk that it won’t, and the pain the helper-spouse would have to go through trying to make a potentially abusive and/or co-dependent relationship work. If it’s getting the to point where someone is engaging in the aforementioned behaviors routinely, skip the plan and just run away.

Reply
Paul Graves

Hi Amber,

Thank you for reading and for your in-depth commentary. I agree with you, this is not the job of a sig other.

I disagree with many of your assessments. The piece is meant to be hopeful. I refuse to condemn a man suffering from negative masculinity and low self-worth as damaged or unworthy of love.

I have learned to love myself and reached awareness. Problem is, I never communicated any of these feelings until five years later. Only when I communicated them and accepted them did I begin to heal and change.

There is no blame game here. If you forced me to try, I’d say blame our society. Most of our society places boys and men in rigid boxes that say:

*Emotions are for the weak
*Men must accomplish things to be loved
*Money equals success and power
*Don’t be a girl or a sissy, don’t be weak (what is this teaching men about women?)
*Men who sleep with multiple partners are “real men”
*Real men do what they want, no matter what

Now, once you realize this, change can begin. Awareness and attention begin the healing… But I was trapped in this “man box” and suffering from low self-esteem for most of my life.

I was writing about what I wanted to hear at the time. There is no right or wrong, just opinion.

I was so deep in my trance that I was the one who left Mary, not the other way around. Which only adds to my regret.

But yes Amber, you’re right. If your sig other is acting the way I describe in the article, he needs help. As a human being, try to help a fellow suffering human being. If you don’t want to, then leave. There is no right choice in this situation. Both are going to suffer.

Sincerely,
Paul

Reply
Ashley

Dear Amber and Paul,
I’ve been in a relationship for over 8 years with a man who struggles to love himself. Often I feel like the best years of my life are passing me by, my friends say that I’m in an “abusive relationship”, some even suggest that perhaps I too have self-esteem issues for not leaving. And certainly I feel the clock ticking.

But then its my choice to make: I’ve chosen to focus on my relationship and make it, on my part, the best that it can. This might not help me out of this situation but it cannot but help me spiritually. If you believe that God has brought you together, as I do “what God has joined”, then my calling in life is to help him get to Heaven.

Maybe its good/bad to issue an ultimatum, the psychologists are not in agreement about this one and I know that leaving may help me but it will set him back even further. So my decision is to carry on wooing him and loving him for the next forty years of his life.

The question I had to ask myself is whether his behavior was chosen (was he a narcissist deliberately trying to hurt me) or is this really an illness that he was battling within himself. Since its clearly the latter, then I remind myself that we marry for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.

I pray daily for him and do certainly hope that one day we will get over this together “The bond between you will be unbreakable, and he will love you forever”. But I’m prepared for the consequences of this not happening in my life time.

I would really ask if you truly love your partner and if you have a faith encourage you to seek support there. Mental health may really be the modern playground of the “devil”.

I understand the view that the “small chance that “love will save the day” isn’t worth the greater risk that it won’t, and the pain the helper-spouse would have to go through” is the prevelant one. And in cases where there is deliberate abuse even agree. For me that “small chance that love will save the day” is what I rely on everyday. Its what gives me hope.

People say that because he doesn’t love himself he can’t really love me and I’ve had to really ponder over the truth of that statement. I’ve come to realise that if you dont love yourself you can still love another but you just dont know how to express it.

For now I dont regret my decision, its a cross I’ve chosen to bear and I know I’ve been given enough strength to still successfully function in other parts of my life. I believe in my love for him, and because of that I must believe all things, hope all things (including the chance, however small, that love will save the day) and endure all things. Maybe I will change my mind someday so I don’t want to appear as if I’m on a soapbox. Its certainly a decision each person has to make for themselves.

If you’re married I’d ask you to examine what marriage is for? I’m okay with my decision because I believe that God created marriage more to make us holy, than to make us happy.

But then I’m just someone on a computer somewhere!

Reply
Julia Prentice

Reading this article was like it was written about my husband. Sadly, we separated almost 8 years ago when things in our marriage became too unbearable for myself and our 3 children. We tried to work through some of the issues a couple of years later but unfortunately we couldn’t “break through” the barriers that kept my husband a prisoner of himself :o(
Thanks for explaining this so eloquently.

Reply
Paul Graves

I’m sorry to read of your situation, Julia. I have a daughter myself. “Prison” is an accurate way to describe it. A prison with many dimensions. I thought I understood it back then, but I had no idea.

For myself, it took many years of struggle, pain, depression, and near-suicide to finally have that moment of clarity.

Part of it was finding an art again. For me it was guitar and writing. Maybe there’s an art or medium of expression that he left behind when you got married or had kids?

Also, do some research on negative masculinity. The film “The Mask You Live In” is excellent, on Netflix and Amazon. His man box, lack of creative expression and avoidance of his emotions may all we working together to keep him down.

Best of luck, and much love to you.

Paul Graves

Reply
Michele

I appreciate the vulnerable thoughts & feelings the author shares, and his recommendations for having stickwithitness with your struggling man. I’d be interested in his thoughts on how to avoid the low self-esteem trap to begin with. Is there something parents can do?

Reply
Paul Graves

Michelle, excellent question. I’d suggest doing research into negative masculinity. A film entitled “The Mask You Live In” is VERY introspective on this.

Most society places our boys and men into tight boxes that say:
*Real men make lots of money
*Men have sex with many women
*Real men don’t cry
*Emotions are “women things”
*Don’t be a girl, a sissy, weak (what is this teaching men about women?)
*Real man accomplish before they can be happy

So much more. Please look into it, start by watching the film. Our boys need to learn sensitivity, caring and benevolent strength. It’s a crisis of massive proportions.

Reply
Michele

Thank you! Your comments are right on the same page as I was thinking and suspecting. There’s always so much concentration on the pressure for women to look a certain way while also “achieving it all,” but I think many have forgotten how much pressure there is on males to achieve and be strong while also being sensitive (and also look a certain way). No one is defining what success actually is in that regard. What mixed messages our children receive! I will check out the movie, thanks! Best of luck to you….keep sharing your message and moving forward!

Reply
ML

“Most society places our boys and men into tight boxes that say:
*Real men make lots of money
*Men have sex with many women
*Real men don’t cry
*Emotions are “women things”
*Don’t be a girl, a sissy, weak (what is this teaching men about women?)”
*Real man accomplish before they can be happy

Most societies in the past did not allow women to vote, …Societies need constant change.
Paul you don’t understand that women need to be tough the same way as you described in the case of men. I am a woman, I don”t remember when I cried last time. Lives of women are not easy, and actually have never been, the exception is a small percentage of women with no financial worries. To accomplish something (anything ) in our lives is important, that is a part of who we are. What you are talking is just a societal conditioning. It is up to each individual to do what is right/good for him/her. If you need to cry, then cry, who cares what other people think.
Thinking about the problems you described, I am not sure they are just about low self esteem. People with low self esteem are maybe even more careful not to hurt other people. There is also a luck of empathy here. Maybe Amber is onto something. What I am sure of, is that staying in a relationship with someone where you don’t feel good, is not right.

Reply
Jessica

I think the point he is making is that unconditional love is what is required in these situations. I understand the points of Vanessa and Amber… if people are finding themselves suffering with low self-esteem and screwing their lives and the lives of other up in the process they need to take responsibility for their behaviour and go see a therapist who can help them in a professional capacity. Once they are feeling better about themselves they can go on to find a partner and fall in love. This is really about responsibility and the need for unconditional love, support and forgiveness (of self). Relationships should be about what you are bring to it and contributing not what you expect to get out of it. Interesting insights tho. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Paul Graves

Thank you for understanding, Jessica. Unconditional love for all humans is what I’m referring to here.

If we are strong people adept at managing pain, then we should attempt to help those who hurt. We are better equipped than they are, caught in their own trance and suffering.

If it’s too much, then we may leave, but let’s try to help all we can first.

Sincerely,
Paul Graves

Reply
CW Reed

I finally finished this today, after having struggled with it for a while due to my own Ego screaming “NOT MEEE!” – but after therapy and definitely needed alone time, I understand fully now why *she* walked away. Because she had to.
I was such a mess it was no wonder she couldn’t deal with it all 3 years on. And while I was pretending to get better at being a better me… she saw the truth. Thank you for this article, and thank you to *her* for knowing when to let go…

Reply
Jacqueline

I loved a good man who was floundering. He felt, with being with me, that he had to look a certain way, dress a certain way. I never fostered those feelings. In the beginning he was so proud to have someone like me. But as time wore on, he crashed dieted, he had to buy things (clothes, electronics) and he felt that his career success would help me and his family accept him. He spiralled into a depression. When my job became heavy, he felt I wasn’t there for him and after a couple of months of my gruelling schedule when I so needed him to hold me (I’m in healthcare), he broke it off with me. I feel wrung out. I tried so hard to encourage him and love him–but he just kept taking and taking. Now, he has gone on to the next girl. I now need a recovery group. I also need to figure out why I find myself with men with self esteem issues…

Reply
George

“Low self-esteem” is an understatement. Try no self-esteem because their inability to self-validate is total.

Do not buy them spiritual/mindfulness/psychology books because in doing so you will invalidate them. They will not see it as you caring for them, instead they will see it as you pointing out their inadequacies.

Just as they crave external validation, they will react to every perceived external invalidation like a vampire to sunlight, regardless of source. It will burn into them leaving a permanent scar and you eventually pay for that external invalidation as well-intended as it may be.

If they are not seeking professional help on their own accord, leave. If you leaving isn’t a sufficient wake-up call for them to seek help, you are not worthy enough in their eyes. Why stay in a relationship where your partner is incapable of handling conflict, is insensitive of your feelings, makes you feel diminished and doesn’t value your being in their life enough to want to improve?

Paul, I’m interested to know what led you to seek professional help and be on the path to improving your self-esteem.

Reply
Liza

I was with this kind of man for three years. I love him and tried to give my best just to work out our relationship.He is addicted also to cockfighting.I think this is how he is relieving his stress.As per George I want to know also what is the wake up call for you why you seek professional help?

Reply
Amber

I was just pushed out of a relationship with a low self-esteem man. He seemed so special to me. A few weeks into dating, he became severely ill with a heart issue. After 2 procedures over 2 weeks, he was on the road to recovery. I was there for him since many family members and friends weren’t.

He kept saying how terrible it must be for me to be with someone so broken. He often spoke about his parents being selfish and not acknowledging his achievements enough as he grew up. He worked hard with several significant career and financial setbacks. He was divorced twice, but I only found out about the second one during a family trip he asked me to take with him. During the 3 months we were together, he also lied twice about being on dating sites. Oddly, he also was very involved in his church and spoke about being a caring person with a good heart. Yet, in the end, he broke up with me – by text. He wouldn’t talk to me just said he was too upset and would only say something bad.

I accepted all of his difficulties and even felt I could help him through it because it was worthwhile. We’d been through so much already. Now, I’m heartbroken and confused.

Reply
Kalindi

Hi Paul,
Thank you for sharing this. I am in love with man from almost 10 years. First he was not accepting our relationship, then he was keep saying he hate responsibility, commitment. For me many days and nights were crazy. We had break ups amost five times in last 10 years. But I Knew this man is genuin and humble, and he need counselling. I tried for him, but he was not ready. Now few months back he accept that he has some problem to deal with emotions. I am waiting for him to say ‘lets go to proffessional Counceller’.

Reply
ASHLEY

My fiancé has issues I think it’s depression but I may be wrong. From the day I met him ik he was the one for me. But he doesn’t want to see me or my family we don’t live together out of respect for our families and being raised in a Christian background it’s sad and it makes me sad I cry all the time I’m lonely and lost but when I’m with him everything is ok and the world stops around us that’s how it feels at least. What do I do how can I help him without loosing myself in the process

Reply
Jenny

My current boyfriend is exactly like you. He doesn’t understand why am with him and thinks that I can do better. He’s even gone as far as to say that maybe I should date other people so then I can find the right one, because he felt like he didn’t deserve me. At the same time he says he loves me and doesn’t want to give me up, but he scared he’s going to drag me down and m feels like I shouldn’t have him. I told him about your article what you said, and I even asked some questions myself. He started feeling this way about a year ago when he took a break from college so you could work more. I start a regimen with him where we work out at the park after his work, and at the moment I’m helping him get back into his college. Is this the right steps for me to take? Should I just listen to him and let him deal with this on his own because it’s a ” me problem “

Reply
Chrissy

I have been battling this with my partner for 5 years. Dating sites, fb girls, ex girlfriends, Craigslist really anyone who gave him attention. Although I was all about him and always wanted his attention and love.
His ability to navigate through any agrument led to Constant break ups and running away for several weeks. Only to return in tears and utter commitment. It was mine boggling for me until I realized that I was not the problem. No matter how great, careful or direct I was, the result was the same.
It became so bad that my counsellor diagnosed me with PTSD as a result of the abuse and abandonment.
Yes everyone needs love and support. understanding that it is their issue not yours is helpful. If you get to the point where you are left with scars, it’s time to go.

Reply
Asil

Reading this broke my heart because I realize if I stay things will never truly change. After an all day battle with my husband I have been searching the web for understanding, advice, and insight. I have been with my husband for 6 years and today I reached my breaking point. A point I thought I would never reach. I used to a social butterfly with a close relationship to family and friends. I was always the fun loving dependable person that had a burning desire to help those in need. But over the last 6 years my husband has sucked my entire soul from me. I no longer socialize with friends and only socialize with family around holidays. Attempting to help others is misconstrued as a sign of me being loyal to someone other than him. I have tried everything and yes I mean everything I know of to help him and make our marriage work but nothing works. I’m ready to walk away but over the last 6 years I have put so much effort into him that I lost myself and I don’t know where to begin to start over but I’m going to take a leap of faith and see what happens. So some advice to others in this situation if your going through this with someone you love it is up to you to make the decision to stay or leave. Neither will be easy decisions. Just don’t get so wrapped up in your loved one that you lose yourself along the way.

Reply
Robyn

My boyfriend of three years has just threatened to leave me if I go on a trip to Nigeria. The trip is paid for already. I’m going with a girlfriend, I don’t see what the problem is. But, I don’t appreciate being given an ultimatum. He feels some rich Nigerian will whisk me away. We’ve been arguing for over one week about it. Now, I’m tired of trying to get him to see how his insecurities are hurting me by wanting me to give up something I really want just so he feels better. It’s the craziest thing. I can’t get him to work with me, so I guess he will leave me. He is an over weight guy and from what I’m sensing, he doesn’t believe he’s enough for me. But, I accept him and love him, so not sure what’s going on with him. Needless to say, I’m leaving to go on my trip and I hope we can get through it. This is something I want and have always wanted to go to this country. My oldest child is Nigerian, I have a large community of Nigerian friends, hell, I threw a Nigerian concert to celebrate their independence last year. And, I can’t go to the country? It sounds ridiculous.

Reply
Michelle

This is exactly what I am going through right now. My husband has anxiety and depression as well. After reading this article it gave me more hope in our relationship. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up I feel like I now know what to do for him. Thanks for the amazing article.

Reply
Taylor

My boyfriend only recently just broke up with me because he expressed that he felt he was wasting my time, that he cannot promise me a future with him. Stating there is something inside him blocking him from giving me the relationship I deserve and the big love I have searched for. He expressed he had fears of rejection, not fulfilling his potential and not being good enough. He told me that it wasn’t my fault and told me that he still loved me and I would always have a special place in his heart. Previously he had been feeling constantly distant and also resorting to going on adventures without me. This breakup has left me shattered but Im seeking assistance from a councillor. I now better understand he was in no condition to love me. I still respect him dearly as a friend and I am going to suggest he come along to a therapy session with me because he was the one to identify his low self-worth. Should I see this as us creating stepping stones for a new chapter in an improved relationship?

Reply
Karen - Hey Sigmund

When he says that he can’t give you what you need, believe him. Perhaps it will be a new chapter as friends, but before that to happen, it’s important to take the space you need to be able to let go of the relationship you were hoping for with him.

Reply
Lisa

This article is hitting me hard. I’m so torn about my relationship with a man who hates himself and the past hurts he’s caused me. I stay because he keeps making small steps towards getting better but it’s hard to tell anymore if he’s doing it for him or just to keep me from leaving as he goes up and down like a rollercoaster. I love him dearly and truly want him in my life but also know that it is killing my own self esteem constantly not having stability or feeling like I myself am not enough. I’ve gotten into such a hole. It’s been this way for months. After 3 years, I don’t know when to give up or if it’s on the edge of getting better. He is in constant conflict with himself and what he wants, saying he’s just going to ruin my life because he’s a bad person. It’s breaking my heart.

Reply
Lusa

Been with my bf 2 years he has low self esteem and depression, most of the time he’s extremely loving and caring but recently he’s been saying he hates himself and doesn’t know who he is anymore. He’s started drinking more and smoking weed, messaging other women, it seems like he’s in self destruct mode, don’t know what to do , love him so much ,we’ve been through so much can’t give up on him. But can’t keep getting upset and feeling I’m not enough for him.

Reply
Nonameworksforme

I’ve been in a relationship with my man for a year and a half. In this short amount of time we have taken some serious steps together. We recently bought a home that can fit our four children and us. I feel as though there have been mind games from the start. He told me he was a non smoker when we first met. Well turns out he was hiding that along with the fact that he chews. Once i found out he became comfortable with it and chew is in his mouth all day every day. I can’t even kiss him because there’s chew in his mouth. That’s the least of the issue here. Within the first two weeks he told me his ex is one of his best friends and that I will have to accept her as my friend. I struggled with this as any person would but I have hung out with, text, and tried very hard to have her in my life. She has been dating man after man and now all of a sudden she means nothing to my boyfriend and he says i don’t have to be friends with her and i never did. He refuses to be intimate with me if I initiate (which at first was often because I enjoy sex) he turns me down. I’m literally looked at like I’m a freak who only wants sex if I try to be with him. So I’ve given up. We only have sex on two Saturday mornings a month and its because he initiates it. He tells me he doesn’t want to be with me often because too much of a good thing is bad. I own two businesses, i work another 40 hr a week job, i take care of my two kids and his two. I cook from scratch every night, clean the house and more. I’m growing spiritually and emotionally and I want a partner who’s equally as motivated. He only wants to work, eat, and watch TV. He feels quality time spent together is him in his chair and me on the sofa watching reruns of 90’s shows. He is by nature a fairly negative person. He was raised in a very abusive environment and has said to me he feels the most loved when he pushes me for hours and sometimes days into losing my cool and letting him have it verbally. I can’t stand being down, or negative. I really see no point in it and I’m generally a very happy person. All that being said I now feel a massive amount of guilt for wanting to leave. We bought this house and are working to fix it up. He talks about marriage but I am very hesitant about the idea. He has said he feels he has me on lock down. Like I’ll never leave him. What I have highlight here are some of the things that are really bothering me. There are many more but I do strive to see the good in him. He does have many good moments, and traits. I can see his low self esteem and because of that I am afraid to leave. I don’t want to be another person to take it down a notch. I’m trying to figure out if I should stay and do my best to help him or if i should call it a day and move on. Anyhow, thanks for letting me vent. I needed that.

Reply
Melissa M

Thanks for this insightful article. I just broke up with my boyfriend, who I love dearly, because of this very issue. There were control issues, as well. In my mind, I showed him nothing to be jealous of, was always attentive, and tried early on to tell him I loved him for who he was and didn’t have to prove anything. But, he didn’t hear it. He is kind to the point of almost being annoying, overly considerate. I never understood that, until now, and I see that he wasn’t taking care of himself. He says he is an emotional wreck right now, and that he is going to need time to heal (mind you, we have broken up and gotten back together at least 3 times in the 2 years of dating). I think we’re both tired of this dynamic, but I still want to be there for him, and would like to rekindle something, if he commits to working on himself. I suggested couples therapy, and he was open to it, seemingly. But in the end, he said we just needed and wanted different things. I see a pattern in his many relationships, the longest most recent one being 5 years, but normally they are between 6 months to 2 years. Guess I was number whatever…..

Reply
Nimah

Hi..
I was wondering..
The author sounds quite similar to my partner.. but I am no angel.
I am an outgoing, creative, talented person who gets attention irrespective of my desire for the same.
I have been married to my husband for 4 years.. and I feel that he hates the fact that I get attention all the time..
he is an extremely quiet and reserved guy.. sometimes you won’t even notice that he is in the room..
Our relationship as a result is quite volatile..

What I want to know is that is there something that I can do to make things better.
Is this too lethal a combination?
Will things ever get better?

Reply
Paul Graves

Sounds like you’re two different attachment types. Him more anxious attachment, and you more avoidant or secure-avoidant attachment. I’d do reasearch on attachment types and encourage him on his own to research this as well.

Maybe he needs to practice becoming more secure in his attachment (aka HIMSELF). I’ve dealt with this recently in a relationship. An anxious attachment style can be hell to live with for both parties. (And stems from low self-esteem, always needing reminders of his worth in your eyes)

Reply
Kathleen

Your question was would ever get better? If you don’t know what the problem is no it won’t and even if you do know what it is they are self-destructive I’ve been with my husband for 25 years two weeks ago I finally had enough it’s a very long story but to shorten it up I said to him one day because even as self-esteem kills him they also don’t show affection very well their love they make you just know that they love them or you got to ask him constantly and one day I said to him just off the top of my head I said if you can’t love yourself how can you love me and you turned his head and just kind of looked at me with Dunn surprise and that was the end of that and then like I said he started a fight over money and it got really bad to the point where he is very emotional and mentally abusive to me and it was like he was trying to make me look like the dirtiest bitch out there over a couple of mistakes I’ve made with money and it was bad and even more I have lost my two parents in 90 days and then the time that I needed him the most he wasn’t there and if I went to left I would have hated because of all the mean things you were saying to me he sucked the love right out of me and even preserve what I had left I had to leave and I don’t understand and didn’t understand why he was feeling that way until I read the story from him and he is everything that my husband was or is everything but it gets worse if they don’t get help I know it will good luck honey and please be careful don’t let him take you down with them it’s easy for him to do and I know you love him to death so do I it’s very destructive that’s all I know

Reply
Tallgirl

Well everything I have read above rings so true. I fell in love with my boyfriend who was 20 at the time and I was 18, who I know now suffers from low self esteem as well as he was dependent on marijuana (which he hid from me). I believe he truly loved me and I know I loved him dearly.

We were together until this past December. I now 19 and he was 22.. I am in university and he was not in school and not working. He lived in his parents house with a guy roommate.

The problem wasn’t his infidelity it was is secret I’ve weed use and lies. He was extremely loving when I was with him but he would disappear into his own world when I had school and other commitments. I did everything to make him feel special and loved. Always giving and never asking for anything in return….(and I didn’t receive anything). I’m not materialistic so I didn’t care but every girl wants to feel special.

I’m not a weed user so I had no idea what was going on. I ended up catching him high and he totally rejected me…it broke my heart. I worked through that…..and it happened 3 times….these were binges he would go on too! Anyway I tried to help him get his life on track. Helped him register for schools and we shared a sport in common and I’d always support him and watch him play.. he may have supported me in his own way but never really seemed to care too much. He told me “you are the only person who has never given up on me. No one else has ever stuck by means tried to make me a better person”.

Needless to say this past fall after many struggles and me always being there for him but him never showing any signs of change or even trying to make positive steps I had to leave. I would tell him what I needed and the last weed binge totally broke my heart (the weed was his other woman) I was devasted. He went away for 3 weeks to stay with his mother and then came back sort of like an intervention. When he returned he expected all to be forgiven or forgotten…after all if I loved him I’d get past that right? Well during those 3 weeks I realized how much I gave of myself to him to make him stay on the track he said he wanted and loving and keeping him happy that I realized I lost myself loving him. He wasn’t supporting me or giving me security. I was exhausted. While he was gone I felt relief…not that I didn’t love him more than anything but simply it took all of me and my attention to keep him happy and On track.

I remember breaking down right before he came back and told my mom that I feel the only way he may change and take responsibility for himself and work on his own happiness is if I leave him. I was so upset at this thought but I truly felt he never thought I’d leave nice three times I stayed with him when he had given himself the ultimatum to quit weed and so on.

As the story goes he came back and I felt heavy…with worry that I had to make sure he was going to be okay. Like a mother…… I’m 19….I want a man to love me and I want to love a man…not feel so responsible for him to be like a mother. Anyway, he came back and things didn’t improve. He made no attempt to make me feel special, “he said he was afraid of doing the wrong thing…so he did nothing”. He is a wonderful person with so much potential and I’ve told him over and over again…but it never seemed to register. I believe he suffers from low self esteem, learned helplessness and avoidance.

So I ended the relationship…with many tears and broken hearts. I truly do love him but I can’t fix what he won’t work on. He says I gave up on him…adandoned himand so on and I feel that’s so unfair. I did everything for him I wanted him happy and in my life…but I lost myself and I have my own dreams and I’m very academic and athletic so I need to look after me too. I fear he thinks I never cared or gave up….it’s actually the futherest from the truth. I want him to succeed and I knew I had to leave if he is ever to be the man I know he can be.

I have had support from my family through it all. They loved him too…thought he was the one for me and reached out to him all the time so it wasn’t lack of support from all of us.

We fell in love quickly and once he knew he had my heart (and I’m a very loyal, loving, generous person). He didn’t truly put much effort into working on a healthy relationship. I have nothing other than a few material items from our 1 1/2 together …maybe that’s a good thing…but it also makes me feel he didn’t appreciate or respect me either.

I guess my question is did I do the right thing? I love him and always will he was my first true love and I really didn’t give up on him but after telling him in a 100 different ways what was going on he never “got it”…he thinks it all came back to his weed use….yes I hate that…but there were many other things that concerned more. No education, no motivation, no job, no life plan, and I feel he needs counselling …but he says he’s fine!

I hope someone will respond. I know he is hurt but so am I.

Reply
Paul Graves

I’m no professional, so please don’t take this as absolute.

But reading your heartbreaking post, I must say I feel you did the right thing. Sounds like he truly sucked you into his world.

In a healthy relationship you BOTH have your own large, fulfilling worlds, and you meet in the middle to create your own. At the same time, I believe you still get to keep your separate worlds.

Your favorite color may be blue, and his may be red. But in the middle, you create a purple world together. You’re still blue, he’s still red.

You must keep this in mind in the future, and now. And it’s something I’m still working on myself. I tend to get very invested someone and then in the end, become completely entrenched in their world. Feeling like a bothersome fly in their reality.

Your self, and your world, must come first. If you’d like, wait for him to visit. Wait for him to ask for an invite, but that’s where you must come from.

That’s all I can offer. Hope it was understandable to you!

I wish you peace and love.

Reply
Tallgirl

Thank you. I am now working on my own life and realized it’s the first time I have been myself in a very long time.. I have on interest in a relationship at this point with anyone simp,y with working on myself and my life path.

I have cut all ties to my ex, simply because he was becoming very difficult to deal with. Still blaming me for not standing by him, he’d say if I loved him I would take him back no matter how much he does wrong.. in a perfect world maybe but when the person you love makes the same mistakes over and over again and doesn’t make an attempt to improve himself or even take step to communicate what’s going on it’s impossible. The lies and secrets undermine our relationship but he doesn’t see that. All he sees is I left, I didn’t stand by him anymore..apparently I’m the one the caused his weed use because I shut him out which led to his depression. This is so unfair, he shut himself out and has been depressed ever since I met him…I’m certain of this. He blame shifts all on me in a passive aggressive way. He says “I take 100 percent blame for the relationship not working”. Then he goes on to say but “you shutting me out cased it”.

He never once acknowledged that he lost my trust and not once did he truly even understand why. I still so angry with him…that is how I know it was love but I can’t go back to that ever. It’s not healthy for me. I know he is struggling but only because he isn’t getting what he wants. He says “adulting is tough”. Maybe it is but he should be looking at it that it’s exciting.

He received his first real paycheque and he’s spent the whole thing on things for himself. It told me a lot about his personality. Everything is truly about him. And it explained why he never spend anything on me…I never really mattered. I was there to look after him not the other way around..

I’m not use if he is off weed. He says he is, but he is out with his mom again so I wouldn’t know. He lied about his use all the time so I really can’t trust anything he says and for just reason I have to say.

He also goes on instagram and likes all these relationship things which I find so hurtful….he used to send them to me until I said stop. An example of what they’d say are “even if I had a 100mreasons to leave I’d have that one reason to stay and fight for you”. That is hurtful and I find so much of what I’d on the internet so toxic…..a person like my ex who is ill, will read things and then take it out of context. I don’t believe that saying is healthy anyway but when you lie and deceive the person you are suppose to love the most….how many chances do you give? I gave 3 big chances…but the third was too much to get over….and there were many other issues all the way along that I simply did let get to me. No one is perfect but I do believe if your significant other can’t even try to make adjustments when they are fully aware it hurts the other there is a problem…maybe with the relationship…but in this case I believe it’s him and the way he is. Low self esteem and a whole barrage of other insecurities.

I was the perfect girl for him because I’m tolerant, accepting and she. I trust or love I’m all in. He knew this about me and took advantage. I am independent and not a jealous type so he had it all. I do wish him well and maybe some day when the Agee goes away I can be friends with him. I know now I could never go back to him. Even if he improves himself and gets help he caused me so much pain and heartache and I don’t think I could ever trust him again.

Do you think he truly has a problem? Or was all of this in my head?

Reply
R

Tallgirl, no it’s not all in your head. You’re younger and much smarter than I was; I am in my 50’s and recently left a 26-year relationship for the same reason. Can you imagine? 26 years of THAT insanity? Shows how sick I had become. It damn near killed me. Good you got out now. I read a couple of books; “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” and “Codependent No More” Maybe you will find some wisdom and solace in those as well. I wish you luck in the future. Stay strong.

Reply
Charlotte

Thank you for sharing your story, Paul. I live with my fiance, and have been for 2 years. The first year he treated me so amazing! The past year, so much has changed. I use to cook breakfast, pack his lunches, cook dinner, keep the house cleaned and have myself always dressed like he and I were going out. He use to tell me he never thought he could get a woman like me. His ex wife and sister have made comments like “you’re the prettiest woman he has dated” I’m aware there’s more to a person than their physical appearance, but the past year has left me feeling insecure. He has stopped noticing me, doesn’t take me anywhere, never ask how I’m doing and seems to always notice other ladies, that aren’t as attractive as the one he has. His drinking has picked up, but he’s an everyday drinker anyway. I’ve had many talks with him about things, but he doesn’t have much response other than “I love you and want you with me” I’m starting to resent him, after so many attempts at trying to communicate. Maybe I should just be done..? I definitely don’t feel attractive with him anymore. We’ve lost respect for one another. The pain inside of me is the reason I voice my opinion of him in a negative way, making sure he knows I now see him (all negative traits) for what he truly is (and that honestly makes me feel horrible!) I only wish I knew ” what makes letting go so difficult.?”

Thanks for sharing your story. It has definitely made me feel better about my inner self/peace.

Charlotte

Reply
Jenni

hey,

I’m in love with this guy and he really has low self-esteem… But I love every piece of him.. He told me he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me, because he won’t be able to give me what he thinks I deserve.. I just can’t let him go for that reason.. I mean if he told me he didn’t have feelings for me, there was nothing I could do about it.. but this reason only makes me want him more.. he’s such a good guy, he just doesn’t see it… I really can’t let him slip away like that… Is there anything that I could to make him see that he is enough for me and to convince him to give us a try? Or is all hope really lost…

Reply
Christine

I am in the same boat Jenni. Mine broke it off unexpectedly saying he couldn’t force himself to continue our relationship and end up resenting me in the future, but still didn’t want to lose me. I was left in shock…I’m head over heels, but could see he had esteem issues while we were together. I tried to do everything I could to just show him I wanted to be there and we could work through, but I guess he just couldn’t deal with it. I still love him very much and given the opportunity I would work things out with him, but I had to let him go as it was his request. I hope and pray one day we can rekindle, but until then I am working on myself and being the best version of me I can for me. Good luck to you :).

Reply
Charlotte

Wow, so relieved to have come across your article on low self-esteem. It really hit the nail on the head for me for the man that I love. Its been a roller coaster ride for several years and sadly he has gone down the path of drug addiction. He is also addicted to online dating sites. He asked to borrow my laptop one day and accidentally left his inbox open. So that was an eye opener. I asked him to move out as i didnt want drugs in the house. He moved in with a buddy who seems to not mind/care. He still contacts me every week or so and we spend a day or two together. He recently gave me the “you deserve better than me, I’m not a good person” speech and it broke my heart. I know he needs to learn how to love himself and right now the drugs and the dating apps fill the huge void. I dont know if me staying in his life helps but I like to think it does. I tell him I love him for who he is, regardless of what he’s doing right now, I just can’t live with him while he’s on drugs and he tends to brush it off, makes him uncomfortable but I never want him to feel he’s truly alone.

Reply
Alison

Wow, this article explained my current situation to a T. My fiance and I (well, him) decided to separate for now because he has anger issues, is off all of his mental health medications for the first time in years, and recently had a heroin overdose. I saved his life. He has 2 daughters that I love to pieces. We were due to get married in October but postponed. I KNOW he loves me. We have to live together for the next 2 months. He has been clean for 3 months now off all substances and struggles with life every day. His mind goes to very dark places and he is kind of all over the place. He has not been treating me well lately, and knows it, and is going to start therapy for his anger and the past. He wants to get better. I’m just fricken sad and am trying to have some faith. He said to me this morning, Al, I love you. Please just let me do what I have to do to get better. He does feel unworthy of me, I believe. I am currently just trying to take care of myself but I ache in my heart. I love this guy so much. He said for me to have faith that everything is going to work out. We got engaged and moved in too fast too.
I hope we can work things out. I made a therapy appointment for myself too. I have issues I need to work on. In my heart I think we will be okay, but fear overrides faith a lot of the time. I am an addict in recovery as well, clean for almost 11 years. Unfortunately he is so messed in his mind I cannot do what you’ve said… Kiss him and touch him. I have NO idea where we really stand. I do know what it’s like to be in early recovery though… And off medication… And it blows.

Reply
charity

I have a best friend for 7 years, I am from the Philippines and he is American. He friendzoned me and dated other girls although he does not love any of them. I asked him, you dated these girls to try and make things work but you set me aside. Why? You are convincing yourself that you can love her somehow? I grew up trained by my father that a rejection is a challenge. So, my mistake is I hit his ego to challenge him. I am the type who becomes very challenged in face of obstacles. But when I feel I am not wanted I walk away. For so long, I endured he is dating other women and I am surprised he never sleeps with them. He tells me he does not want to get any of them pregnant. And then he told me, “you will hate it, but I am only sexually comfortable with you, and I’d be glad to have a child with you.” It got me confused. He friendzoned me and then he tells me he wants to have a child with me? a week ago, I told him I am hurting so much I don’t want to be your bestfriend anymore. He I guess got mad, he blocked me and unblocked me after. Just tonight, he told my niece that he loves me but he also said “I am nothing more but a piece of a puzzle that fits into Charity’s (me) life. If she remembers my 2 exes, they deserve someone better.” My confusion is, is he inlove with me too? But just so afraid to lose me as a bestfriend that he does not want to make “us” an official couple? All his girlfriends are so threatened of me that some of them attacked me. Now, I am in a dilemma asking myself if I am right that he is inlove with me or am I just fucked up too.

Reply
Nya

Thank you for the insights. The issues you raise resonate. My partner of fifteen months suffers from low self-esteem. I have sensed it virtually from the get go, and did my best to create a secure and loving environment. He is very loving and attentive when we are together…and then pulls away, and is non-communicative for days. I have on ocassion found him on his phone – and it’s startled him – so figured he’s chatting to other girls online…Well I have cut him off. I need time out to figure next steps. Maybe it’s time to really move on…Very painful.

Reply
Jewel

Reading your article it seems my SO is suffering from this, he’s getting therapy help and I was just wondering if there was any advice you can give me to help him through his process? I want to be there for him, I just don’t want to push it and make him push away.

Reply
Alyssa

Hi there your story made me realize that i need to love myself and my boyfriend too, because when we started talking and met each other we were so happy with each other and gave each other the love bonding we had and we went on a vacation together and he told me it was his first time doing that with me like it has never happen to him with his other ex’s like it was such a good feeling to feel like that with a different person. But anyway after that happen and came back home everything changed like he was telling me if i was ready to be in this relationship were his personality involves with hatetred and negativity and knows this I’m going to leave him after a year and a half being with him because that’s happen to him in his past with his ex’s and it makes me very upset when he talks about his ex girlfriends it irritates the living sh**t out of me like do i really care and it hurts be so much when he’s like that. Like he’s afraid to love himself amf show emotions to me and not communicate with me like isn’t realtionships suppose to be 50 to 50 % but to me it doesnt feel like it. I try to give my boyfriend as much affection i can and its like we doesnt want to give that to me like what is the matter with you. Such a short temper my boyfriend has and i can’t even talk to him on how i feel because he takes things the wrong way and has to prove himself that he’s right about everything like i need lots of help!!!!! Someone please tell me what i should do with a 3 month relationship that has cause through stupid arguments and then don’t want to talk about it and also pretend it like it never happen!!!!!!!

Reply
Sara

This article was so helpful. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 9 months and he completely hates everything about himself. He goes through phases where he seems so invested in me and our relationship to being so cold towards me. As soon as I feel him hitting that switch I withdraw and give him space until he comes to me (which only really takes a couple of hours). He has serious trust issues from past relationships which doesn’t help his self esteem at all and questions my faithfulness often. I have dealt with my own mental health issues in the past and can happily say, with a lot of effort, I figured out what works for me. I love him so much but because he does not love himself he says that he cannot tell me he loves me. I am being very patient but this hurts me so much. I want to stick it out and be there for him but how long am I supposed to go without the love I also need.

Reply
Danielle

This was quite a helpful article for me, thank you. I know my husband (of 8 years) is definitely a people pleaser and so a lot of this makes sense. I’ve been really struggling with “my husband’s actions were about him, not some fault or short comings with me” advice being given and what that really means since discovering his compulsive use of pornography/masturbation–which has absolutely wreaked havoc on my own self esteem both within our relationship and outside of it and has led me to go back and question everything I thought I knew about him and the authenticity of the relationship. There’s been many bombs come out since, including the discovery of dating sites (using right up the months before our wedding), lying, inappropriate flirting, looking up old flames or online oogling random women etc in addition to the pornography and the ongoing fear of the possibility that there remains more to be uncovered. I used to feel secure, not suspicious or jealous/comparing and feel good about my overall appearance/attractiveness etc. Even though we’ve been working to heal and repair our relationship and reestablish trust, the idea that seeped its way into my head and latched on–that my partner was not satisfied with me and so was constantly on the lookout for new (better looking, younger, thinner, more interesting etc etc) partners or stimulation has been very, very difficult to shake for me. I feel half the woman I was before and have considered everything from leaving the marriage and remaining single for life to (I’m humiliated to admit) cosmetic surgery, currently I’m considering taking medication for the anxiety and distress it continues to create within me, even though I’m aware this comes with additional side effects. This piece has helped give some meaningful perspective on much of his behaviour.

Reply
Pam

Hi Paul, Thank you for your article. I’m a 55 year old woman and just recently discovered, after 25 years of counseling and 3 stays in mental hospitals, that my incredibly intolerable anxiety is from low self esteem. NO ONE ever mentioned, not even once, that my emotional pain was from low self esteem. You said that it is a ‘feeling of constant, nearly unbearable, BACKGROUND anxiety’. My God, that is perfect. That’s it!!! That is what I could never express to my ’emotional caregivers’. I used to say things like, ‘I have this pain in my chest; this deep underlying ‘thing’ that comes and goes, but mostly comes. Relationships with men have been torturous for me. My life has been different for the past week. I have a lot of work to do, still. I can breathe now. Thanks, again, Paul.

Reply
Antoinette

Interesting article. It felt as if my husband (soon to be ex) was the one who wrote this article- everything you said describes him to a T! He even (weirdly) looks a lot like you. Anyway, thanks for the read. It’s not often that you find a man who’s willing to do a little soul searching to pin point the root of his problem. Many men, like my husband, sweep their problems under the rug. So, good for you!

Reply
Allison

I dated my boyfriend for 4 years, and he broke up with me last month. It’s been a heartbreaking, trying experience.

He has suffered from anxiety and depression, and I have always done my best to be there for him. In turn, he has been there for me as I’ve worked through my own anxiety.

He told me that he doesn’t know what his future looks like anymore. He used to be so sure that no matter what the future held, it always included me. Now, he doesn’t know and wants to take time to be able to find what makes himself happy, as well as figure out what he wants in life. I told him that many people don’t know exactly what they want, and that even things you plan for don’t always happen.

I had proposed working through this as a couple but he is determined to do it on his own and to work through his issues by himself. I know he is hurting, and I want nothing more than to make him happy again. I honestly think that I should be able to get through to him that I love him unconditionally and want to help him through this, and any other challenges that come our way.

Reply
Awkward1

This rings so true to me.
The guy I have been seeing for the past two years says he loves me and can be so attentive and loving but then out of the blue he will withdraw and want to be alone.
I had suspicions he was texting and messaging a girl we both knew and these were confirmed but when I challenged him on it he said ” we just get on there’s nothing in it” we split for a few weeks earlier this year and I decided to move on or at least I tried but I love him so very much it was hard. Three weeks later he began messaging me saying he had made a mistake and that he had a pattern of “running away” when he felt relationships were getting serious. We started seeing each other again gradually at first and then more frequently 5 months later he has done it again, this pattern of pushing me away as things get serious seems to me to be very similar to your article, he also needs affirmation from people that he looks good or dresses well etc and loves that affirmation to come from other women, I can see that this is a character trait and I became accepting of it but when I realise he is back on the texting with the woman we both know again it breaks my heart.

He says he loves me and he is sorry but he can’t give me what I want, is this just a get out. Is he totally irreparably messed up? I wish I knew

Reply
Robert

I’m a guy whose self esteem and confidence is so low that at age 36 I’ve never even been able to ask a woman out in the first place. As such, I’ve never had even a mere second’s glimpse of what it’s like to be in a relationship. At least the guys referred to above had the confidence to ask someone out – or were attractive enough to be asked.

Reply
Karen Young

Robert there is someone out there who is thinking exactly the same thing as you and who would feel so incredibly lucky to know you. I understand how difficult it can be to ask someone out – it can be terrifying! Know though, that there is no such thing as rejection. We have all heard ‘no’ and we have all been rejected. Rejection is a redirection to the person you are meant to find. I promise you – there is somebody out there who would love to know you. Everyone has a match – many matches. You do too. I know that for certain.

Reply
Lupe

You just totally described my ex-husband. He not only pushed away all the time in many different ways, but also his children. He made everybody so unhappy. I was basically father and mother the whole time and was and still am the strong support for my children. I tried my best, but still he left us 3 times before as if we did something to him, and he went on a sex, dating rampage the last time. I shouldn’t have taken him back the last time, he became a total asshole even though I gave our marriage one last chance. Finally I said enough is enough and told him everything was over and he went nuts!!! We are finally divorce, but even though he found a girlfriend within a month after I kicked him out for good, he manage to interfere in my life and make not only me, but his kids suffer. He is still with that woman who has 4 kids, he hasn’t change a bit.

Reply
Juanita

I was involved with a guy for almost 4 years. A lot of this does not seem like him, but some of it does. He really always made me feel like I was special and worth listening to. I remember when we first started our friendship, I was involved with a cheater, Sam, in an online relationship. Abhi became my friend right about the time I found out Sam was a cheater and Abhi became my shoulder I cried on. But Abhi had low self-esteem, I know, because I saw everything good in him, his loyalty, his kind heart. When I was crying about Sam and his many women one day Abhi said, I envy him. I said. why. He said, because he has so many women after him. I said, so what, they are hoes, one of them I knew cam sexed with anyone. The Abhi said, but I need someone like you, a real woman. In the end I broke it off with Sam, but I did fall in love with Abhi and he fell in love with me. When I would say, why are you so wonderful, he would say, because of you. But almost 4 years into our relationship and he tells me he cannot be in a relationship. It hurt and still does. I wonder if his low self esteem drove him to break it off with me. Idk.

Reply
Txxx

You sound almost EXACTLY like my bf. What should I do to build his self esteem? What did you want “Mary” to do to help you? I feel like I’m just taking everything… I feel that no matter what I do nothing changes and it kills me inside. Sometimes I regret to have gotten into this relationship, but at the same time I can’t imagine my life without him. I feel like a lot of his issues are because the loss if his mom at a young age. I’m just really lost, but I’m glad too have found your article at least  I can somewhat understand what’s going on in his head.

Reply
L

I think i have read this almost 7x since Sunday. This really helped me make my decision recently and without being able to talk to anyone about what I’m going through these last few days reading this has been my mental savior. I’m sure ill be reading it many more times. Thank you.

Reply
Chad

Thank you for sharing Paul. This was sent to me from an amazing woman I was with for over two years until I recently broke things off. All of the thoughts, feelings, actions, the “dimensions” are almost everything I’m going through. I felt I needed to break things with her to save her from me. Breaking up with her was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. She’s such an amazing woman, we got along on every facet, never argue, finish each other’s sentences, have the exact same humor, but something within myself is missing and your article hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m ordering the book “No More Mr. Nice Guy” that you suggested. Was there anything else you could offer as to advice on how to help resolve these issues?

Reply
Micky

My partner of 7 months left me completely out of the blue last week. We had fallen in love 5 months before and had told one another how much we loved an adored one another ever day during that 5 month period (and even before we said the ‘L’ word.

3 days before he told me (in the coldest voice I’d ever heard) that he ‘didn’t want to be in relationship’ he was telling me that he ‘loved me soooooo much, loved our relationship and felt so lucky to have me in his life.” On Monday and Tuesday he was saying those things. Firday night…he called me for 5 minutes from work to tell he didnt want to be with me anymore. No reasons – nothing. Just cruel and hard.

I know he has self-esteem issues and depression and he often said so but I did nothing but support him through down times, love him, try to build him and show him that I loved him for who he was. I never judged him and we communicated very well – but not about him wanting to run. I had no idea. I am confused and heartbroken and have no idea what to do. When I asked what I did and if he still loved me he said it was ‘him’ and that I did nothing and just kept reapeating, “I dont’ want to be in a relationship anymore.”

It is hearbreaking. I have not contacted him again since he called and he even blocked me from Facebook, with hurt even though I am like Mary – never harrassing, never being abusive, not an unkind work and I never would have. I dont understand his reasons of his coldness and had no doubt we were still madly in love until 2 days before.

🙁

Reply
Jenny

Paul ,
In reading your article I felt like I was reading about my life. You give me hope that we will get through this but I it is hard on me sometime. He gets mad when I tell him I love him- he says he does not think he will love again. I don’t want to give up – I love this man with all my heart . Is there hope?

Reply
Zac

This is so passionately written. Very moving, eye opening, and great advise to begin moving forward with my partner. Thank you Paul.

Reply
Mercy

I am so happy I found this article. My ex managed to push me completely away, despite our connection and love. This details his behavior to a T. Thanks for making things clear. I can move on now.

Reply
Tim

I came across this looking for help for me an my wife.
I shared this with her and she was able to see herself. Thank you for writing and sharing this article. We are working together and in my case she has drawn a line in the sand to change her life.

Reply
Mary

This sounds so much like my husband. I love him very very much. My worry is he keeps pushing me away and others hurt. I don’t want to leave him, but I’m not sure he will change his ways for me. How do I get him to understand how much I love him.

Reply
Michele

My husband will rub his lips while talking to another woman (in my presence). He’s an attractive man (he looks like Morris Chestnut) and I (look like J-Lo) am an attractive woman. He loves engaging woman in a conversation (in front of me) while he smiles and laughs with them. That concerns me deeply because Im thinking if he does that in front of me how does he acts at work? I have never flirted with any man in front of him. In fact, I go out of my way to dodge men. I just don’t understand why I can’t get the same respect in return. I love him dearly and have talked to him about it and yet he denies it. He says Im making more out of it that what it is. The only way I can get him to feel how I feel (so he can stop doing it) is to flirt with men in front of him. If I were to do it, he would not like it because I get a lot of unwanted attention as it is. What should I do?

Reply
Alichia

Paul, Thank you for your transparency. This is not an area people are willing to expose about themselves. Thanks to your article, I understand so much about what I’ve been experiencing in my realtionship. My ex-guy has all these issues and has been trying to put them on me as my issues. But I understand now and can forgive and pray for him.

Reply
DowninOH

I too am going through this with my husband of 10 years. He has moved out of our home and has an apartment at an unknown address. I have gone through extreme pain resulting in job loss, but also learning a lot about who I am, what I want, and gaining self esteem and personal strength. I am at the point of apathy, I have asked him several times to come home or let me go. At this point I am ready to walk away, live alone, and go on with my life. I think he enjoys seeing me in pain, and playing along with his games. I have decided to not entertain any crumbs he offers like awkward weekend visits, coffee and dinner dates, I’m so tired of it, I have to take care of me now. Thanks for your article, you’re a quite gifted and insightful young man.

Reply
Aria

Dear Paul,

You have described my ex husband. It has taken me 14 years to move on and even then I still cannot fully. I tried for 7 years with him. He would tell me he didn’t want kids. I knew he was with other women and in the end he threw me out of the house. I never stopped loving him. However after this article I can accept and feel sadness on him throwing away our beautiful life.

Reply
Jenny

Reading this article has given me the clarity I have been desperately seeking for the last 2 months. My boyfriend of only 6 months suddenly turned cold. After weeks of distance, crying-filled discussions and trying to make plans on how to work through, I realised how insecure he is. He told me that I love too intensely, and he could never match the love I gave him.
He sobbed in my arms for his pain, not for what he caused me. I realised he broke down when I complimented him, and told him how highly I thought of him. This was eye-opening for me.
We have been apart with no contact for 6 weeks now. I have spent this time working on how to win him back, but now I know that it is beyond me.
Thank you for showing me the way.

Reply
danes

this is a great article… it is actually an eye-opener for me, me and my husband qre going though tough times at the moment because of this so called “self-esteem” issues..and it’s great that i came across your article, this would help me see things in a different perspective. thanks for writing this!

Reply
nina

I literally nodded on almost every numbers. This guy whom I grow to love at have recently and one-sidedly decided to stop our relationship for what previously appeared to me as the most ridiculous reason: he hates himself and feel I don’t deserve to be with the awful person he is (which for me, he is a beautiful soul). He doesn’t want to hurt me and by stopping our relationship, he thinks he does the right thing. No matter how I reasoned with him and argued that this decision is the only thing that could hurt me instead, his stubbornness won. It’s unexpectedly difficult to penetrate his mind and get to that hurtful soul to offer help. I almost give up but reading this, I grew hope. I want to help him, and I realised I haven’t done a lot to make a final decision. Thank you for helping me understand his mind better. Bless you and your kind soul.

Reply
Nicole

Hi Paul – this confession fits my relationship to a tee. I’ve always known and I know my guy is aware of his problem too. I just had a question from your point of you about “Mary” and your process after your relationship ended.

Reply
LR

My partner and I left our spouses for each other 15 months ago. 3 months ago my partner sank into a depression and has been suffering from terrible guilt, self loathing and regret. I encouraged him to seek counselling to address these issues and to try and recover from the trauma of his separation. He also has long-standing issues with his parents he has to address. He has asked me for space to go through this process. He says he cannot give me what I need while he hates himself so much. He misses his kids so much and obviously I cannot replace them – it’s not my role anyway. Anyway, suffice to say I am devastated. We believed we were soul mates – I still believe we are. I am using this time to get my own therapy to address the breakdown of my own marriage and to work out whom I am too. I can only hope that my partner and I will be reunited again when the time is right. He used to say he wished he had met me before he got married. I told him recently I wished we hadn’t met yet! I hope we will get there…we were perfect when he was healthy. He admits to being broken now. I hope his counselling will help him see that it’s ok to leave an unhapoy marriage and that he can still have a great relationship with his children – and me!

Reply
Anne

This is so sad. He is out of the high of the fantasy where everything feels good and right. Now he is experiencing the reality of the wake he left behind. A broken relationship, broken hearts, suffering and scars of his family that may or may never mend. A marriage is never happy when there is a third party involved. How could it be? When all is said and done, he longs for the family he had. That is a familarity in his heart that you cant replace. That is why he is depressed. Perhaps his heart misses his real soul mate. Let him go mend his family and be whole again.

Reply
LR

Hi Ann, you are probably right on many counts. However I believe it is too easy to say a marriage cannot be happy if there is a third party…as if the third party is to blame. What if there was deep unhappiness before he ever met me…years of it? And what of my marriage before I met him. It’s complex and one should be wary of jumping to conclusions. Obviously I don’t expect you to know the ins and outs of our story but affairs often happen for a reason. Anyway, I am respecting his request for space – it’s been 7 weeks – and am assuming he may never come back to me. That said, I do not expect him to reunite with his ex either nor me with mine. Only time will tell. Thanks.

Reply
April

What do you do when a man’s insecurities turn into him being too controlling in the relationship? What are some of the warning signs?

Reply
Karen Young

When you feel as though you have less freedom to decide what you do, who you spend time with, when you feel as though your feelings or opinions are shut down, when you feel you are not free to disagree, or if he controls money and decides how much you can have or what you can spend it in – these are some of the signs that your relationship is becoming unhealthy.

Reply
Anne

I think I loved a man like this. I couldn’t hold onto him no matter how much I told him I loved him, and what I loved about him. He kept changing his mind about “being in love”. In the end I had to walk away. I can’t help but wish he would come after me. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done and I miss him every day, but it was nothing but heartache.

Reply
Anita

I have mixed emotions about this article. 1) I appreciate the insights but 2) it’s beyond disturbing. My ex was exactly like this. It was reading a chapter out of our past relationship playbook. I stayed with him at his lowest which was when he lost his job; was his cheerleader, made sacrifices, completely lost myself in trying to help him find himself. After reading your article, I felt nauseated and sick to stomach, but not in a negative way but in a way where someone slapped me and I finally woke up. Granted I’m still getting over him, but article but it in perspective for me. Makes me want to reconsider why I would even want to put myself in that type of predicament again.

Reply
Jenny

I am living it now and wonder if we will survive. I am curious did you leave him or did he end it. Part of my biggest fear is staying in it for the long haul just for him to get better and then move on. I don’t want to be his transition crutch. I hope he loves me as much as I love him – but I don’t know. We have been together a year. How did you get through it?

Reply
Anita

Unfortunately the toll and negativity of the situation was too much. I had to end things because I had no other recourse. He no longer was the man I fell in love with and it was so difficult for me to finally accept that.

And when you do, you’ll have to muster up all your strength because it’s going to be really ugly before it gets better. And when it does, it’ll be worth every tear you’ve cried because you’re finally putting by yourself first first. DONT lose sight of yourself because you deserve to be loved.

One thing I walked away with was that people hardly ever change for the better. And preparing for the the long haul with that idea in your head will make it a million times worse.

Best of luck to you.

Reply
Charity

I appreciate this article because my fiance of 8 months broke up with me about a month ago. Every time I started mentioning something concrete about our upcoming wedding, he would become negative. It hurt me badly and when I mentioned any negative behavior that I didn’t like, he got angry, defensive, etc. threatening to break up with me and then he did even though he said that no one was leaving and that he’d always be there. He also became controlling. He also cried in my arms many times about his stuff. He did try to comfort me about some of the things I was going through with work etc. to his credit, but towards the end of our relationship, he drew farther and farther apart. He is a chronic worrier and it seemed to be worse with him sleeping for 12 hours a day and not feeling rested. I am concerned about his mental health. I’m also concerned that this isn’t the only guy I’ve dated that has so little self-esteem. This one I thought was different for a change because he seemed happy and for the most part positive during our first few months dating. But when he went to live with his aunt, the game changed and he became more and more sullen. I feel like he is codependent as well with his aunt. Why can’t there be some sort of training for people to go to who have low self-esteem so they don’t go around hurting other people.

Reply
Dawn

I wish I could have read this much sooner. I’m afraid as I read this it, everything hits so close to home. I’m so heartbroken, wishing I could have reassured my husband more, encouraged him further or recognized these patterns of low self esteem or feelings of ineptness. You would never have known, he’s an amazing athlete, extremely handsome, successful and one of those people everyone likes. He’s commonly called “a saint” or ” the perfect guy.” ( I can see the pressure now) In the past month he’s revealed how much he hates himself, how ashamed he is and how he’s always known he was never going to be able to be good for me in his eyes or be able to give me what he knew I deserved. I also in this period of time have found out about his multiple affairs and this is something no one in our lives would believe to be true of him. No one. They would think I was pulling a prank. I’m uttertly shocked and he just decided not to come home from work one day. I know he believes he can never be forgiven and that he must absolutely get away from me immediately so he can stop hurting me any further. We’ve been together 14 years, and married 8-I’m so hurt and betrayed, but ultimately, I’m very concerned about him. I am searching for guidance on how to help him or how to navigate this black hole I find myself in. Thank you so much for your words. I’m ever so grateful to have stumbled across your site this evening.

Dawn-Cbus, OH

Reply
Tallgirl

My heart goes out to you Dawn. The low self esteem is so damaging to ones life for sure. Reading your situation I could parallel the idea that no one would believe that he was unfaithful or you. ‘ He’s such a great guy.” Well from my experience…granted we were never married which is an entirely different ball game and I do not mean to step out of line, but from what he did to you….he isn’t a “good guy”. Personally after reflecting on my experience your husband is a narcissist just like my ex-boyfriend is. Good people don’t do those things and carry on almost secret lives from those they say they love. If I am out of line I apologize but like Charity above said….these people need help and should not be able to get away with hurting others the way they do. I felt my ex was suicidal…..he even told me so….but his tactic to keep me with him was cruel. Do I believe he is mentally unstable…most certainly, however, he has no intention to get help. The narcisist that he is believes he is fine and can deal with it. He is simply looking for a new girl to do everything for him, play victim and then mess her life up. If you don’t have children together I would recommend seeking help for yourself and rebuilding your life without him. The lies will continue with him. Lying is a way of life for them. Again, hope I didn’t step out of line but after almost 4 months with no contact I can see how toxic these people are. Worry about yourself now. You need to be your number one focus.

Reply
Spier

Nice article but to clarify – this happens to all of us and not just Alfas or Betas. There are other type of people out there aswell..but as a victim of depression from past i can agree. Just because some men are more emotional than others does not make them problem. They just care above average..they know what it is like to be hurt and do not want to hurt someone who they pretty much worship most of times. This however often is confused and stereotypicaly called for not being straight..but it is definition of being normal. I guess God has funny way to teach us value of life.

Reply
Nicole

Wow it’s like reading the pages straight from my journal. My bf of 8 years together 5 inclusive ended our relationship bcuz I caught him with using crystal meth and learned he has added infidelity to our lives surmounting the pile of issues where cheating had been the last thing I’d have suspected as this is not in his character. Although he has has rebound relationships over the years as the first couple were a pattern of on again off again. However before maybe naively I dismissed some signs that I now feel that potentionally I may have been able to make a difference in the outcome we now find ourselves in by getting him help for the mental health issues .. as i now believe it may have saved us from some of this hurt and horrific pain, anger, mistrust and the betrayal that these underlying problems created. I failed him miserably instead of being proactive I was dismissive attributing some of his quirkiness and oddities and feelings of worthlessness ,shame, self hatred and inadaquacy on his age and emotional immaturity due to the unresolved developmental milestones which had not been achieved because of an unhealthy childhood and mother/son enmeshment. Now it is far to late the damage is done and my own views and my own once highly confident and healthy sense of self has taken a nose dive into feelings of resentment hopelessness and depression. I love this man more than life.. Now all I fell is sad and pathetic.

Reply
Sunny

Paul, Im so happy to of found this article. My boyfriend of 8 months fits most of the bill. I fell in love with him the moment we met; we are so much alike and feel like it is meant to be. He has so much to offer in this world and struggles to see that. We are both Aquarius’ and share a birthday and can relate to alot of his issues, but have found ways to address mine. I so very hope I can be the reason for him to pull out of his self doubt because he is worth it and so is our relationship!

Reply
Raylene

I’m sitting here with a guy who I had a child with during one of his reckless rebounds (I didn’t know). He’s still in love with his ex and I see him. He has severe low self esteem and prides himself only on his looks and truck. This post hits the nail on the head. Your words are how I see him and what he’s going through. I love him so much but he is narccistic and loving someone else someone I’ll never be. I wish I could help him.

Reply
Dino

Well written article that describes me pretty well, and it’s exactly why I avoid any chance of romance or sex. I feel I shouldn’t be in a relationship when I feel this way, and I wouldn’t want to bring anyone down. I definitely have the urge to connect with women for validation but then I remind myself that it would be selfish since I have no self esteem and have nothing to offer. I am genuinely convinced I’m being realistic. I have lots of debt (passed every course but still failed college as I was too anxious to get a pass on my clinical experience), live at home at 28, no job (just lost it because I had to junk my truck and a friend wrote off my car that
I still have a loan for). Oddly enough, I do believe I am a kind, outgoing person with a good personality, and good looks, but I just don’t think I deserve anyone, at least not in my current state of debt and feeling like a complete loser.

Reply
rp1983

I am going through this with my wife only because I found out she’s still been liking a old friends pics on Facebook and it was a guy I caught her texting before we got married …she lied about it then so now my mind is crazy cause if she post a pic he doenst just like it he wows at it….im a handsome guy but this article sums up everything I feel about this situation…i feel inadequate vs this guy she claims is no one but I had to end my relationship with my bff who also made me her kids God dad….an honest friendship…i love the he’ll out of my wife but I’m scared cause I display all of these characteristics….though I want to forgive I just can’t let the betrayal thought go.

Reply
BE

I dated a guy for a short 5 months. I met his sister, Best guy friend and best girlfriend, and parents. We got along famously. I’m independent and know where I’m going in life. I noticed subtle changes, mood swings, no communication and then the online dating thing..I ended it with him immediately bc I love who I am, value my time and although no one is perfect I’m not a fixer upper type of gal. This article is well thought out and beautifully written.

I feel good about my decision to cut ties. It confirms my intuition and discernment Vibe that I was getting from him. Thank YOU Paul for sharing in your own words. It’s powerful and well received.

Thank You 🙂

Reply
Thea

U did the right thing. I also wanted to do the same with my ex but felt sorry because he not just have low self esteem, he also is often depressed and feels very lonely. But as u are saying we cannot fix anyone. Now it is me crying for being stupid and loving someone who didn’t appreciate me. I admire u for doing that

Reply
Jamie

I dated a man for 7 yrs ( with some break ups and re-uniting again. He definitly had low self esteem and would rage if he felt he was being done wrong by anyone. I looked at many articles and I thought it was Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But now I’m thinking it could be this. Our last breakup was bc I got very sick and couldnt be there at an event with him. He wanted to call me all the time but I could barely hold the phone. He sId I was cutting him off. He flew into a tage and said vile things about me. I’ve seen him do this with people in his family and rage all night. But then they just get over it and act as if it didnt happen. I dont want this to be my normal so after he raged on the phone and called me names I went into no contact. I love him still and cry often but dont want to be beat down. He also was very manic in always having to go out. Constantly! Come home for a minute and we’d both have to go right back out. His Mom told him once when he was raging thT he was disassociating. What disorder or problem does all of this behavior sound like to you? I know you cant diagnose but what might it be. I need to know how to crame it in my mind, or it will keep me in tears. Thank you Jamie

Reply
learningtochill

Oh I’m pretty sure you are barking up the same tree as I am. These are all classic examples of the things me and my boyfriend have been through, plus more. Much more. He’s never tried to hurt me, at least on purpose. There’s been times he got too far out too fast and threw something or pushed me away so hard I fell in the floor. I was shocked, mortified, couldn’t believe the man I loved so incredibly much it hurt could be so cavalier and reckless with me, he loves me! Oh my heart is so beaten, it hurts, aches every other day. I’ll have the original for a day or two, then comes a trigger..and there are so many of them. Some from my actions directly, most (lately) are from being out in public or watching something emotional on television. We ALL need a support group for couples trying to overcome this together or something, this is the hardest and most cherished relationship I’ve ever been in and losing him is NOT an option. I will die before I will leave him, doesn’t matter if it’s from a broken heart or the fallout from a meltdown. Lately we’ve both been having them and that’s making it even worse. He’s agreed to go to counseling together (when he makes enough money..don’t say it..) Either way there’s only two ways this will ever end and they both end with the end of me. I try to remind him he’s accomplished so much and what a gentle soul he is inside so he’ll know I’m on HIS side but it’s hard not to take it personally up till now. Paul has opened my eyes and mind in a way I haven’t been able to on my own. I can understand now that it isn’t because he hates me but he does resent me because he thinks people just love me and hate him. He is blatant and direct and spares nothing on describing his feelings and what he’s going to do about them and for what or who. He’s never denied he had problems, much to the contrary actually. If I can get a handle on my own insecurities again, once and for all, I know I can help him. He challenged me on mine and helped me get over them, if he can do it, so can I. He thinks I want to change him but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I just want to be his peace and help him to be happy knowing life can be fulfilling again and filled with love and happiness, adventures and long vacations, because of his unique talents and abilities. He just needs to find peace and I want to help him and be that for him. He’s a wonderful man, always reaching out to people and trying to help them get a leg up. I’m redecorating our den with Asian decor and playing the Zen meditation soundtracks on youtube at night as a preliminary step. He’s yet to ask me to turn it off 🙂

Reply
Thea

Hi. I have experienced the same before. I would suggest you to don’t contact him and move away. You cannot change him unless he want to do something with that. I tried to help my ex and ended up being so heard. Remember that those people are selfish and cannot believe that u are saying the truth. He should not know that he have you and that u will accept anything just to be with him. He do not appreciate you. At the end It is you who is going to be heard. Take care of ur self and let him Deal with his problems. If he become better one day and want u back, I am sure he will find you :).

Reply
Confused

I recently got engaged to a man that I had loved for most of my life. We dated in school but due to a serious misunderstanding we broke up. Now 30 years later after extremely painful failed marriages on both sides, we found one another again.

Within weeks after our meeting up again we were right back in love. We got engaged 3 weeks ago and started planning the wedding. It was like a dream come true and he treated me like I was a princess.

However I am noticing that he started to criticise literally everything I do. Things that attracted him to me now irritates him and what I hear from his explanations is that I am smothering him by doing most of the chores myself. I started doing this because he injured his rib and could not really do anything. Also spoiling him is my love language.

The following happened and it is confusing me:

*One day he came to pick me up after work. He didn’t greet me as usual and was in a terrible mood the entire night. We had an event to attend so we couldn’t go straight home. He was really disrespectful towards me the entire night and never even touched me until we were on our way home. I was completely blown away and I honestly didn’t know how to act. When I asked him about it he said that he was in pain from his injury, apologized and went to bed.

*The other night he asked me if I was going to take a shower and I asked him jokingly if I seemed dirty to him. He went completely off the handle saying that he asked a simple question and that he was ecpecting a simple answer. He said that I always tell him to but out when he asks me questions. Prior to this event telling each other to but out was an inside joke between us hence his reaction shocked me. After this I tried to appolohize for making him feel like he can’t ask me questions which is when he told me he wants a woman in the house and not a maid and a cook. However he asks me every night what is for dinner????

*Yesterday he complained about a painting that I had dusted previously saying that I used the wrong cleanser and that it should be cleaned with window cleaner.

*Apparently his socks didn’t match the day before because I had mistaken dark blue lines with black lines.

* I put a bag into his car to put waste in to make it easier to clean. He was upset that I did not tell him that I’m going to do that…this after he told me the week before that the house and the car was now also my house and my car and that I should stop asking permission before I do things.

He did tell me that he had never had a woman who took care of him and wanted to spoil him and that he would have to get used to it. So I am wondering if he may be feeling unworthy?

He still holds me close and tells me he loves me daily. But something is not right.

I am really confused and hurting right now. I have worked to hard to get myself to be strong and independ to let a man just trample all over me again even if I do love him so much.

Reply
Roop

Hi, my husband has similar issues , so he is always on this mission to prove his family he is worthy! He wants to achieve things that are unreal , so hard on himself that he pushes himself to extremes ! When we talk about bad day at work (he works with his dad, and major issue is he works really hard but messes up , n his dad talks to him rudely , shows no faith that he cld do things , also when he does something good no appreciation, he doesn’t take a single day off :() I see him tensed , he feels may be he really is not capable , it’s sad , he has a brilliant mind but he can’t see it .
We are married since 8 years and dated for 3 .5 yrs before marrying . I love him a lot ! He had become violent with me twice ,he wld regret n feel tht he ain’t worth my love ! N be sorry n not repeat it for months together ! 2015 I left him ! I said enough of u destroying me ! He was devastated! Sad ! Did try crying n asking me to come back but I did not ! He wld say I don’t want to hurt u ! Y do I do this ! When I hurt u it makes me feel miserable about my self , I love her n I’m not capable of keeping her happy , that breaks me ! 1 yr we stayed separate! He was in touch with me and was letting me go n supporting my decision meanwhile working on his anger ! After a yr I saw a changed man ! Anger under control ! But he still becomes sad n doesn’t like himself ! Too hard on himself ! I don’t know how do I motivate him ! He is filled with guilt and lives in past ! I want him to reaallllly see himself ! He is kind hearted and amazing soul ! It pains me to see him like this ! He realises I’m in pain , and he feels he ain’t making me happy , but thts not the case … I’m so happy with him , I really want to help him out What do I do please help !

Reply
Dawn

How can I understand him better. I loved him the first time i had met him. He left and came back and seeing him again made me happy so. I took the first step

Reply
J

Reading these posts brought tears to my eyes. My story is so long but it sounds like all of yours. I am going throught this as we speak.
2 years i was with my ex. He was great at first, (im sure he still) it was different. He would spoil me, treat me almost like royalty. Ive heard so much bad things about his past, but i couldnt see it, i saw only what he showed me. And that was a man who was trying to live life. Hes a broken man. Hes lost. He used to tell me how much he needed me and how he ccouldnt believe i gave him the time of day. We came from different back grounds. Hes older than i am and what i found weird is that he was always obssessed with his looks hr always had to look good and always looked to me to double check. He always had to have the best of everything.
Later on, we broke a couple times throught out the 2 years, but he woulf always find his way back. When we would fught he would push me away and say thibgs like ik too old for you (47 and 34) or im no good. Just stuff to belittle himself. Id talk him away feom that i understood. He would be ok for awhile. Then came the validation he felt he needed with othet women. I couldnt handle that. This time, i believe were really over. He hasnt even tried to contact me one in 4 days. Unusual for him but i am having a hard time accepting things for what they are.
I do truly love him but im not sure he is capable of loving himself.

Reply

Leave a Reply

We’d love to hear what you’re thinking ...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected



Contact Me

karen@heysigmund.com














Hey Warrior - A book about anxiety in children.













Pin It on Pinterest

Share This