When You Love a Man With Low Self-Esteem – 9 Things to Keep in Mind

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.



I found this as i have been in love with a guy,we were together for almost 2 years and i had to leave the states after my graduation. I didnt believe in long distance but i took the chance with him cause i love him dearly,but a month after i left him,he said he wants to see somebody else,things started to go down hill ever since,we talked,peacefully but it never last long. Wanted to remain friend but yeah that never work,I honestly probably just miss him so i want to talk to him,trying to let the past go. He agreed but a few days ago,over weekend he said he went to lunch with a friend and i never ask whether it’s a girl or what but i’ll just assume a girl from the way he said it. I knew i shouldnt expect much and i shouldnt be bothered by the fact he wants to be with somebody else. But here i am,im hurt and everything that ever happened came back to me and i just cant. I notice a consistency in him of not being able to be alone. He said his insecurity bringing him down and telling him he doesnt want to be lonely anymore. I read this post and i kinda feel this is what he is.
I am honestly trying to run away,we already apart by distance,different timezone,what stopping me right?but no,i am still here loving him despite everything and i still cry cause it hurts and know i should move on but im not doing that. I did some stuffs talk to random guys just to get over him but no,it never work. Im just here alone and broken. Thank you for reading.


There is actually only one advice to manage the men described in this article: break up and don’t look back. And the sooner, the better.


Agree.. the article not only describes a man with low self esteem but also a very selfish man, who is more about pleasing himself and his needs first before even considering the so called woman he loves. Men like this are incapable of ever truly loving someone. Which saddens me because they end up missing out on experiencing the joy and beauty of what deep love is. A love so deep and so unique that rarely happens in life, when the feeling of love is stronger than the mistakes, than the obstacles, than the hurt, then we can say that’s a love that is truly unbreakable, a love that has proven to have overcome testing times, but true love will NEVER feel joy seeing the other partner in pain, suffering or sad over them and their careless actions, such constantly seeking the attention and approval of other women, yet does absolutely nothing to get his own woman to stay with him, instead his actions and lack of care and love just pushes her farther away from him, he’s also extremely cruel and mean to her (that tactic will never work if taming her is your goal here) going on vacations with other women to exotic places and having sex with other women while supposedly loving your woman is not called having low self esteem, is called being a deceitful, selfish, dishonest, disrespectful, and disloyal man. The only true fact in this article is that a man who takes a woman like Mary for granted for so long is not worthy landing a woman that loves as pure and as deeply. Take care selfish man! Let her discover what true love and happiness really is somewhere else, since you couldn’t give her that!

Lost Wife

This article really spoke to me. My husband and I have been on the rocks for about 2 years now… basically signing papers but backing out last minute. I finally convinced him to go to counseling because he would have “spells” as I called them where he would be super depressed for weeks at a time and not want to get out of bed. He says he doesnt love me but he also doesnt love himself so how can he love me. I feel like the only one wanting to save our marriage at this point… he gives me glimpses that we are improving then goes back down. I feel alone a lot of the time in the marriage and guilty bc I know he has a lot going on in his head of not loving himself. He has been very withdrawn this week but I have too due to scheduling conflicts. There are days I want to give up but I keep going.. hoping he does still love me and just needs to sort out his own self love first. But its hard. Especially when before all these issues we were perfect.


As a man, I found this article incredible… I am there, I am going through the same thing… I cannot love myself to love another, and I am saying goodbye to the most “other” that I have ever been with in my life. It doesn’t seem right to me, but that’s where we are. She deserves better than I can give. I realize I do suffer from low self-asteem, realize that this article was written by someone with the same traits and behaviour as I have. It has to change. It must.


I feel crazy but not stupid does thqt make sense?? I am at a point in my 38 years but still act look and feel 24…not normal or normal?


@Pete.. dont beat yourself up. I just ended things with someone i loved because he felt that “i could be happier” without him.. you dont know how my heart broke when he said that..

Just to give you the other side of the coin perspective.. I could be happier without him, no doubt. But i was happy. He made me happy. just seeing him smile and laugh sometimes, was all i needed to fuel my day.
When he held me in his arms, all the bad things would go away. But he couldnt see that. to him, anyone else would make me happier. I wish, i can keep telling him one hundred times more, that yes, being with him is painful and hard.. but he’s worth it.

By giving up, you (people with low self esteem), rob us of the oppotunity to love you. Dont push us away. For a long time, i thought it was me. the problem was me.

I hope that you one day realize how much she loves you. It might be hard, but we are still around. Dont push us away. You are worth it.

René P

I fully agree. Went through a divorce, after this article I found closure for the first time. I could not understand his foreign behavior, neither could he. But I gave him back to God and wish him the very best. It is very tough though.


I’m 31 and I thought this low self esteem shit would go away after my 20s. But it didnt. I did the same as your boyfriend. I broke up with my ex because I feel like she deserves someone better. I won’t ever be able to give her what she needs or make her happy. In fact I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make someone happy. I told her I don’t dislike her in any way. It’s me who I hate. I punish myself by breaking up with the people I love. I protect them from myself. No one deserves to live a life with a loser who doesn’t even love himself.
From now on I’ll stay single. It’s unfair to start something I won’t be able to keep.

Sherry T

Yes, yes and yes!!! I just had this talk with my guy Saturday night. He tells me he has very strong feelings for me but I could do better and he wished I didn’t care so much. I have fallen madly in love with him. I asked him to please not push me away and let’s go through his issues together. I am a disabled Army Veteran with PTSD, so I have been there. I just turned 50 and turned over a new leaf. I am happier than I have been in 25 years. I want to walk with him through this. We have been together on and off for 2 years. So PLEASE, when a woman says she wants to be with you and walk with you, let her. At least give it a try. God speed y’all!


Thank you for your very honest gift to the rest of us. Admitting mistakes is very empowering…even more so, being introspective is life changing. I’m almost 50 and I usually “prefer” to date narcissists, but this time I’m thinking it’s low self-esteem-shame. I have definitely seen him demonstrate compassion and other behaviors not associated with Narcs. But, Wow…I’m not so educated in this arena…and after another difficult conversation about how he’s making all the sacrifices/adjustments to be in our relationship…and behaving like a child when things don’t go as he expected, I started researching in a new direction. Not sure if this can be salvaged, but at least I’ll learn more in the process. I hope he can too.

Nikki A

In regards to ur preference to date narcissists, Lmao! I honestly feel ya on that statement! I mean i get Exactly where ur coming from if ur statement was made sarcastically… Bcuz we all know…. NO ONE prefers a narcissist with whom a relationship can be absolutely devastating to experience…. Besides no one really wanting to purposely be in a relationship with a person flawed so deeply they cut the ones that love them the most even deeper leaving permanent scars on their hearts, minds, & sadly even if their bodies even in extreme cases…. scars that usually far outlast the relationship with said narcissist which whom the narcissist chooses their victim never vice versa honestly… There for u are chosen by these type characters, not the other way around. Anyway, i found myself wondering if u were actually using sarcasm or not when i continued reading ur comment bcuz of ur statement about seeing ur current partner exhibit signs of compassion and other characteristics that arent generally associated with a narcissist… Which kinda threw me for a loop all together bcuz…. When u read or hear of these emotions that a narcissist isn’t capable of feeling… this does not mean u will know this or see this out or them openly. A narcissist is a master in the art of trickery and pretending…. U will THINK they act on compassion & empathy bcuz that’s what they want for u to believe. Are they capable of these emotions & or feelings the one experiences in response to another persons suffering? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Do they consciously know this fact? Not necessarily either. But the key thing here is that the narcassist catches on very early how others react towards someone with those & many other desirable traits. They notice the respect that is given and they have an overwhelming desire to seek admiration from others… So what better way than to achieve that goal? I cant think of anything better than convincing everyone around them how much of an empathetic, kind, compassionate, generous, & caring person they are? They are master manipulators and oscar winning actresses & actors… When it comes to these things. So seeing ur partner act in this way wouldn’t disqualified them from fitting ur described preference at all… And makes me wonder if ur labeling things that may not need a label or analysis at all. Usually it is us OURSELVES with whom we need to analyze and not the other person in our failing relationships… I say this bcuz if we could effectively achieve our own self analysis…. It wouldn’t be likely we’d need to read this article at all bcuz we’d clearly know the answer to it… Which would be to leave these men/women who do not know how to treat someone properly & with rhe respect they deserve… leave before they even think of treating u badly. If u do ul find out that it was u who set the standard for how u will be treated all along actually! 😉


I can relate to this article, my husband is the same way We are sepearated but but he is trying to get his life together, me too.. I love him more than anything…


This relationship you describe was toxic. Your women is an exception if she went through this. She certainly went above and beyond and couldn’t be blamed if she left you. I think you must have realised this yourself.
I’ve recently had my heart broken due to my self esteem issues. This was just after 1 month! Crazy. It went deep fast. Had what I thought was an amazing connection. My insecurities surfaced from no where and I lost myself. They were always there underneath. I really liked this girl. Thought maybe she was the one. I wasn’t horrible to her, call her names etc. I tried to explain that some things she said I took to heart. Though she said that isn’t what she meant. She didn’t want to walk on egg shells. Low self esteem can mean you take everything to heart and are super sensitive. I needed her to be sensitive to my feelings. I voiced how I was feeling as I wanted to be honest with her and hoped that by doing so it would help me get over things.
She was under stress for her own reasons and just ended it. As hurt as I am she didn’t want to hang around and support me with it. She doesn’t have to either. I didn’t even get a chance. So your a very lucky guy.
I’ve had a couple sessions with a psychologist since and will be continuing with this. If you read much on self esteem issues it almost always stem from early childhood issues. I suffered a lot of abuse and abandonment in that abuse. Even if you think your life was ok you ownly know what your parents
know themselves. Perhaps they were strict? Didn’t encourage you how they could have it emotionally distant. There’s many reasons behind this.
How you are treated in those years are crucial to how you see yourself in the world and relationships.
I’d suggest to anyone suffering from self esteem issues do something about it. I’ve always been quite open emotionally but I could not get through this stuff myself.
You have this life now, right here in front of you. Do you not want to be free of the shit holding you back so you can be yourself? Your free self so you are capable of loving someone and you can except thier love? Have a healthy relationship? This shit will be there in your next relationship and the next unless you do something about it. Seriously, though in your heart you might not believe it yet. Your are worth it.
If you can’t save your current relationship get ready for the next. This won’t just help your current or future relationships but your life.


Thank you so much! I’ve learned a lot from reading this. A lot of info on the internet regarding this issue makes men look like horrible tools. Hearing from a man admit his issues with low self-esteem and the struggles you deal with in relationships really helps me understand how my ex (and still friend) mind works. He tried to explain what he goes through as his struggles are exact to this article. However, after reading this, I’m much more aware and understanding of how a man with such low self-esteem mind works.


I have a problem where the guy thinks he’s not good enough for me because of issues with a friend of mine (she caused a whole arguement with me about him, getting involved in a situation in which she was not. He blames himself for the entire thing)]). How do I solve this issue and tell him that he was not the problem in the argument?

ms K

Hi,my H recently feeling very down.He keep saying to me he wish to start his life all over again.We have one son and m carrying another one which is coming on the way in 3 weeks time.
Past 6 months he claimed i was not supportive in his studies which he wanted to continue his phD,I did not support him during his bad times in office and many more.In the past 6 months I left him alone in a separate room,he claims to be doing his work.So i assume and let it be daily until about 3-4 am only he comes to bed to sleep.Recently I went down to the room to get something from the cupboard.I heard him talking to this girl X,as I entered only he hang up.I panic and confronted him as i was not ready to listen to his explaination.He told me listen i wanted to tell you this but had no chance.This particular girl has 3 problems she had a breakup, suisidal thought and mum was not well.So he was talking to her he claimed..I over reacted n called his parents into the picture as we are living under a roof .Than i explain to them what i heard and what was happening in the past 6 months.He justified himself n refuse to protect me.Im confused now.WHY IS HE FEELING HE CANNOT BE HELPED.


I appreciate this article very much and have identified with just about all of it. I did do all the things that he needed – constant compliments, assurance that he was succeeding and achieving, re-iterating that I’d stand by him, through thick and thin and no matter what he was dealing with, we’d get through it together. I picked up more of the financial requirements, kept the home peaceful, invited his friends and family over regularly for social gatherings, planned, booked and paid for fabulous holidays to places I knew he’d enjoy.
But none of that stopped him from having a 4 1/2 year affair. BTW, his affair started when I was recovering from cancer and even through my own life-battle, I worked, won major contracts and supported him in every way I could.
His low self-esteem and depression did not stop him from making a conscious decision and choice to have an affair. He could concentrate on his business, his other hobbies but not on the relationship and what he had? No, I can’t buy that.
I’ve left him now and what does he have left? Nothing. Business gone, mistress emigrated, me gone.
I do hope that he gets himself together and that one day he finds the peace, joy, prosperity and someone to love.

Ashley H

Paul, My husband is exactly everything that you have said in this article! I found him on a dating site meet me.. and confronted him about it at first he denied it and finally just told me that he just gets on there to look. I asked him if he has met anyone on there and cheated on me and he says that he has not. I am balling my eyes out and he is just telling me how sorry he is and that he never ment to hurt me and that he will never do it again, then he said something to me that made me upset but i didnt say anything to him about it, he said “I am glad that you found it because I didnt want to cheat on you.” I said so you would have, he stated that he wouldnt, and that my crying made him feel better because he knows that I do love him. I love him with all of my heart, I would do anything for him and he says he will too, I was hoping that you can help me with what I need to do to get him in the right path to love himself. He is such a good man, a good lover and he has a good heart but he cant see that. His father was very mean to him and never showed him love when he was a kid, and now he is the way he is he does not love his self I mean everything you said in this Article is him for real. He needs help and he actually admitted it. please lead us in the right direction.

Laura M

Woah. Thanks for this article. It is eye opening. I have read a lot about commitment phobia and can see that insecurity and self esteem can be at the heart of it.

I started dating an amazing guy. I fell head over heels and then out of the blue he ended it. We chatted it through and he backtracked, but he kept pushing me away. Eventually he opened up about how two of his exes had cheated on him. All his relationships tended to end with his partner leaving suddenly and he felt he must have not been enough for them. After sharing this he really pushed me away (he updated his profile on the app we met on after we’d been exclusive for 2 months) so I walked. He then started messaging that he missed me.
All my friends were telling me to ignore him and convincing me he never cared for me. I did initially and then we got back in touch. We chatted over the phone – he was out the country. This time he shared that he really hates himself. He doesn’t ever feel good enough for the person he is dating. He feels he has to achieve something spectacular (he’s just started a new business) and has to provide and protect for his whole family.
But he feels like a failure. He’s massively successful in his work life but doesn’t see it. He does also like to travel. When we were dating, he had to travel, he had to be free quite a lot. He also said he didn’t want to hurt me. When I asked what he meant, he said he would end a good relationship by… Well cheating on that person to push them away and he doesn’t want to do that to me and the best way to protect me is to push me away. I asked if he wanted to stop this behaviour and he said yes but that he didn’t know how.
Right now we are talking, he is still out the country. But I can feel him pulling away again. We were talking regularly but slowly he has started responding less and less to my texts. Again, my friends are telling me to ditch him and move on.
Im noticing a correlation between him sharing with me and then pulling away. I’m also not very verbal in my compliments for him even though I think he is awesome. It’s something I need to work on. I did tell him last time we spoke that he is enough for me.

I see so much potential for our relationship and in him. I’m really going to focus on letting him know that he is enough and lifting him.


I’m not sure what your current status is but I simply had to reply when I read what you wrote about potential. I’m 9 years into a marriage with someone who was brimming with potential. What I wouldn’t give to have known then what I know now. Please do not choose a partner based on potential. Choose a partner based on their PATTERNS. Don’t listen to what they promise or declare, or project for the future, look at who they are and what they consistently do right now. Look at their patterns right now because that is what you are signing up for. Low self-esteem and realizing one’s potential rarely go hand in hand. I know that my husband loves me to death and would do anything for me (within his capacity), but I don’t feel loved by him because he doesn’t love himself. It really messes with you and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It can be so hard to let go of that potential and knowing that if this one thing were in order things would be amazing, but that one thing isn’t in order. And you are left with a nightmare.


WoW. That’s eye opening. Needed to hear that. I hope for the sake of your marriage that you are wrong and that he will awaken and give you the best of him. I commend your commitment and clarity.


Hi Paul –
Coming off of my own recent bad experience but doing ok, actually. I know that his ending things like a bolt of lightning, albeit a suddenly cold, unemotional one, was about him and his fears. But I’m wondering, once you came to terms with your issues did you want to try to get Mary back into your life? She may have already been with her new guy, but if she had been single would you have tried again, knowing who she was and what she meant to you?

Robyn Elizabeth

Paul, thank you for this. I needed a mans perspective on this. I am going on my 3rd year of one of the hardest relationships I’ve ever had to encounter in my life, yet has given the most depth in not just a relationship but in myself. Without him, there would be no depth to me, As I stayed forever blind to my own deep rooted insecurities and low self esteem. Almost a mirror relationship, we have both been able to grow in it, discovering each other’s true, deep issues that desperately needed to be addressed within ourselves. I’m still “in” the storm, so much growing and changing brings much suffering as we go thru life trying to get ourselves to a healthy state in life. Much gets taken out on each other. A lot of hurt and damaged caused, and still being caused forcing us to both step back and away from each other just to stop the suffering. But we love very deeply and care for one another so much so that we recognize the need for distance, even tho this too doesn’t help as we need the love of each other and not the fear of losing our bond by staying away. I know his traumatic history that was bestowed upon him, thru no fault of his own, every type of abuse there is and so it is incredibly hard to have a relationship with someone who is emotionally damaged and has a hard time dealing with these types of strong feelings (love). You are absolutely correct in that I cannot do the one and only thing that will cure this and that is him truly, sincerely, genuinely loving himself – who HE truly is. I think a lot of people struggle with this, I know I have, due to the incredible amount of expectations placed upon people and life which only brings judgement and thus the cycle of low self esteem is formed. How to unwork something that has been engraved into your subconscious from such an early age…very hard, so I do thank you for this, and being real to the very core like when you said it gives a type of power when we (your partner) suffers. It is true, it is real. And all I can do is just remain constant. Remind him he is loved, unconditionally while still challenging him to be a better him by looking deeper, dating himself, get to know him like he is his newest love and attraction. By being with him and seeing my own issues reflected thru him I was able to work on myself, but guess what? That creates change which creates anxiety and fear of the unknown which could mean loss. It’s been a tumultuous experience, full of shameful acts that lead to more guilt and shame to add on the pile and it was just very refreshing and helpful that you wrote this article, I needed this, thank you.


I’m just sick reading this, and the expectation that anyone should not only put up with this, but keep trying. You engaged in “irresponsible sexual behavior” while your partner thought you were being monogamous. You could have given her HIV or herpes, things that she would carry the rest of her life. It’s often women who are expected to sacrifice themselves for a dead beat man because he’s depressed or has low self esteem. My boyfriend has a lot of issues that I support him with and try to help him with, including low self-esteem. But the day he uses that as an excuse to cheat on me is the day I walk. NO ONE should be expected to sacrifice themselves the way your ex did.


I honestly felt the same reading this. The expectation seems to be that men are the only ones that are misunderstood and that a
“good” women will put up with it. I found this page to try and find ways of reassuring my boyfriend, but I was a little taken aback that someone should need to literally put their life in danger for someone, to be worth their time. I have issues and I don’t feel worthy, and sure it’s nice to get attention from people, but I wouldn’t tolerate someone cheating on me and saying it’s because they have low self-esteem, because I don’t do it myself and it seems to fundamentally defeat the purpose.
I checked out the book and it basically follows an outdated perspective of masculinity, the advice given in that book could apply to either gender, but blaming women for the “nice guy syndrome” is going a bit far. Giving people support and great advice, as well as telling them to “go get it”, shouldn’t be gendered, and also shouldn’t put their partner through hell in the name of reclaiming their “masculinity” and creating selfish “self-love”


I agree with the two women above. This relationship was toxic. Your women is an exception if she went through this. She certainly went above and beyond.
I’ve recently had my heart broken due to my self esteem issues. This was just after 1 month! Crazy. It went deep fast. Had what I thought was an amazing connection. My insecurities surfaced from no where. They were always there underneath. I really liked this girl. Thought maybe she was the one. I wasn’t horrible to her, call her names etc. I tried to explain that some things she said I took to heart. Though she said that isn’t what she meant. She didn’t want to walk on egg shells. Low self esteem can mean you take everything to heart and are super sensitive. I needed her to be sensitive to my feelings. I voiced how I was feeling as I wanted to be honest with her and hoped that by doing so it would help me get over things.
She was under stress for her own reasons and just ended it. As hurt as I am she didn’t want to hang around and support me with it. She doesn’t have to either. I didn’t even get a chance. So your a very lucky guy.
I’ve had a couple sessions with a psychologist since and will be continuing with this. If you read much on self esteem issues it almost always stem from early childhood issues. I suffered a lot of abuse and abandonment in that abuse. How your treated in those years are crucial to how you see yourself in the world and relationships.
I’d suggest to anyone suffering from these issues do something about it. I’ve always been quite open emotionally but I could not get through this stuff myself.
You have this life now, right here in front of you. Do you not want to be free of the shit holding you back so you can be yourself? Your free self so you are capable of loving someone and you can except thier love? Have a healthy relationship? This shit will be there in your next relationship and the next unless you do something about it. Seriously, though in your heart you might not believe it yet. Your are worth it.


This article illustrates how a male malignant narcissist acts. I just ended a relationship with one. Women should not be doormats and take disrespect like this. Put your foot down and leave, ladies. You are worth more.


I’m in a relationship with my friend. Before getting in a relationship we were good friends. It was amazing at first. We like each other’s company. I fell for him over Time. But his low self esteem pushing me away. He thinks I deserve someone better than him. It’s not true. He thinks he doesn’t deserve happiness. His past and negativity affecting our relationship. I don’t understand what should I do. I want him back in my life. I wanna fight for him. I wanna help him. He said he tried to give me his best in a relationship but he cant because he doesn’t feel anything. He’s feeling guilty for no reason. He thinks he’s hurting me.


its been 7yrs of the nonsense you describe. I try to always take the high road to show him I dont want him to hurt. hes AWFUL to me.. vandalising my car, destroying my property, stealing , I have to pay for EVERYTHING. . I do cuz i dont want him to think I only care about money. but his sense of e titlement is horrific!! never a shred of gratitude.. so before work one morning he ****ed me and locked me out and I LOST IT. he hasnt been able to come lately when we have sex.. I know why.. I’m pretty sure it’s the pa tied I found and cried my eyes out four months ago. he swears he loves me but bes awf.. I lost it and dont wa t to be with him, I cant stsy away so I madat sure he would and I carved slut in his door——I FEEL AWFUL.


Then when you add a previous divorsed current functional alcoholic in the picture, it amplifies those traits. That’s where no amount of love and encouragement helps.


ive been with a man in a Long Distance relationship for 3 years and I went though the same things and always saw that he was always super jealous of meaningless things like going to my girlfriends house to have a glass of wine. He really never went out,probably hiding behind social digital technology but he made me begin to do the same thing, not going out to show to him that I was loyal and not cause any waves in the relationship. I was happy with him so I didn’t need to go out. I felt like he would always punish me by isolating me and ghost on me always to return because I would never chase him. But things would be going so well and then out of the blue he would escalate any questioning that I had for him into his favorite excuse of him being not enough. He always talked about his life in the past as in what he used to do. But I noticed he never would do anything in the present. He used to play college baseball and then all of a sudden he would buy a mitt and the oils and the stretcher etc… but would never join a league or attempt to play. He bought a guitar and started taking lessons and never continued it. It almost seems like he needs distractions from his mind but they soon take over. I believe that he has been in contact with women from his past to validate himself the whole time that he was telling me he was in love with me and that he wants to marry me and coming back to Chicago. The latest thing that he where I really took time with was he began getting close with my daughers buying them girfts and taking us all out to dinner when he would come into town and staying with us and talking with them giving them encouraging texts and then one day just pick up and leave telling me he doesn’t feel like he is enough. When he always was. But this time I was very hurt because he hurt my girls too. They accecpted him in their life after so long and he just picks up and ends it. He continues to text me here and there with regular texts and I respond politely but I try not to engage because I know that he doesn’t have the capacity to love anyone and he will always be the one leaving when his mind gets the better of him. I love him very much but I cant fix him and I think that because he is so proud that he will never seek help and I don’t know how else to help him. Any thoughts would be helpful.

Nelly H

My dear woman I know how you feel. My ex-partner similarly was geting close to my kids, but then the first time we split up 12 years ago, it was me who ended it. Now he got close to us again, for a while, and then told me to stop being so emotional. He is disturbed by my loving him intensely. So I have to accept that love is not for everyone on the planet. Some people have to protect themselves against it as they fear the pain of love too much to go through with it properly. They cause pain perhaps unintentionally, without being able to help themselves, like a pre-emptive war against a feared enemy who once was close to you. You fear they will strike first, so you strike to stop them striking…. a hard thing to watch as in the end it hurts everyone, including the person inflicting the pain on others. I really am with you in this, and hope you find a way to retain your self-respect and the respect of your daughters, more importantly. They need good models to learn from, as well as mistakes to learn from! Of course love itself is never a mistake, but it can be a case of ‘pearls before swine’. Next time you love, take it slow and be sure this is the person he seems to be.

Best for now and wish you strength.

Heather RK

Linda, I am in the exact same awful situation. It’s heart breaking isn’t it? I hate that there is nothing I can do to heal the deep pain of this man I love.

The only choices it seems, when he is unwilling to seek real help, are to:

break yourself away completely and go no contact to save yourself the ongoing heartache-

or stay with this man you love but endure a lifetime of the same heartache and pain cycle repeating over and over.

Both choices suck and both mean this man you love will probably still be enduring the same inner pain constantly forever.

Just heartbreaking.

Danae S

I am in love with a man like this. About every 6-8 weeks in our year relationship, he pulls back and begins going on dating sites . 3-4 weeks later he pulls me back to him. I nearly dropped on the floor reading this. He would always explain to me the high he felt meeting someone new. We would get in a routine and boom he said he needed a break.
Thank you for this story. I feel so relieved to finally make sense of this.
I really wantt to help him build his self Worth but must admit I’m running out of energy to stick with him.


My heart goes out to you. I am 5 years into the same relationship patterns and now that my self worth, betrayal trauma, and flat out energy to care are gone he says he is ready to change. I dont know what the answer is but I pray this isnt where ur still at in a few years. Many thoughts and prayers for you to find the strength to help you and him.


It is 3 months shy of 2 years for me and we are still together. He has improved greatly in the last 3 months but still has trouble letting go of friendship with women he dated or was married to. He says he wants to marry me but I will never marry him until and if he can give 100% of himself to me and no other women friendships. I am a pretty patient person but he does not need to hang on to a friendship with someone he dated. He said he is scared to let go of her because he feels good giving her advice/friendship.
It takes so much energy to hold up a man that has low self-esteem. They need reassurance quite a bit to know that you are with them and won’t leave. I love this man but am coming to the end of my rope with patience with this women that has this friendship. I won’t tolerate sharing his heart with anyone else. I would appreciate any advice someone reading this has on how to handle my life going forward with a man I want and love, but can’t have all of.


I am deeply in love with a man like this. He treats me very well. Always says that he’s lucky to have met me. And he dosent deserve me. We have a long distance relationship. After he leaves me.. after a few days he gets really low and negative. This time he found my daughter’s shirt in his drawer.. it’s a plain men’s t-shirt she sleeps in… He accusef me of sleeping around. I haven’t. He dosent think he’s worth waiting for.. but omg he is. Waiting has been so easy. Is there any way to reassure him? He’s barely talking to me. It’s torture.


Reading this hurt, a LOT! That is because this is me, feels like the writer has read my mind. I have been like this for as long as I can remember, ever since i was a severely overweight child and the bulling that resulted from it! I have always tried to hide the true seriousness of the self loathing and depression which hounds me, sometimes more successfully than others. I’m 33 now and have recently had the biggest wake up call of my life. My partner of 7 years has finally had enough of my selfish, inconsiderate ways and has called it a day! I have never felt so broken and low in all my days, and its so much worse when I can realize its entirely my own fault! I Do feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and i know now what I have to do to make myself better – seek help, which i am doing! The changes I have made in the last two weeks make me immensely proud of myself and fill me with optimism for the future, I know that i am going to be a better person and love myself for who I am, I am not going to stop fighting for this for as long as it takes, It just kills me to know how much I have hurt the one person who means the world to me and who’s support i need so much! I fear it is all too little and too late. I don’t think she ever really understood what i was going through, but i was so disconnected i couldn’t understand how she was feeling too. Please, please please, any one of you partners of those going through this, make them get help like i never did until I lost it all!

Heather RK

But how do we partners help our boyfriend or husband get help if he does not want to face it head on? My man acknowledges he is abnormally and majorly depressed and that he hates himself but whenever I suggest he go talk to a doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist he either A) flatly says ya or maybe or something in agreement but then never follows through and gets really angry if I follow up about it or try to remind him.
B) gets defensive and angry immediately, then getting angry and resentful and almost accusatory at me as if I am an enemy to him; or
C) says something very defeatist and extremely depressing to hear like, “there’s nothing anyone can do for me anyway” or “I’ll be dead soon anyway” or “what does it matter it’s not gonna change”


I feel you so much! What is important for us partners to keep in mind is that there is a scale of normalcy in which someone can stick around and help but beyond these limits, it becomes detrimental and counterproductive to both parties to stay together. The reason is that the actual loss of a partner who meant the world is what makes most people who are resistant to help awaken. Sometimes, it even takes several losses and a lifetime of destructive recurrent patterns to realize. It is not always worth it to stay.

Branden gray

this is me and I have been stuck in this pattern in my my realtiship and life for a while i didn’t realize it was my low Self-Esteem until now, until you described me in your article if you have any more books or advice i would be grateful


I married in 2006 and in 2008 I found out my husband was having affairs. He lost 4 jobs for sexual harassment and or getting busted having sexual acts with women inside the work place. We went to marriage counseling due to he stated they could help me. He got kicked out of marriage counciling by the second session. The psychiatrist basically told him if he was going to attend these sessions and continued to lie and manipulate. Then he did not need to continue forward he either wanted to fix the marriage or he didn’t. I continue going to marriage counseling alone for 9 and a 1/2 years. I grew a lot by it I was able to keep my sanity even though things got worse within my marriage. By 2010 I met 13 mistresses and his children he had with his mistresses. My husband and I never had children together he stopped touching me in 2008 stop communicating me completely and 2009 and became a complete stranger living in a separate room as we lived under the same roof. I did everything I possibly could sink of to save the marriage. In 2017 I decided I could not take and live this way anymore. I asked for a divorce which he filled out all the paperwork. I just turned the divorce paperwork in and paid for it. Of course I became the bed guy in the situation he became the victim. I struggle with that due to his lies have cause not only my family but his to have animosity towards one another which is sad. The even more sad part about this story is my ex still lives under my roof and we still have no communication and he still lives in another room as if we had never divorced. I feel that he may have some psychological issues with his sexual acts with many women. Whether it’s over the phone, computer or in person. I feel his lies and manipulating ways will catch up to him if he doesn’t seek help.


At this point, you’re bringing this all on yourself. Why on earth would continue to live with him? It’s almost like you enjoy being hurt or victimized by him. I think you both have some psychological issues that need to be addressed. Your relationship goes beyond toxic and delves into plain old ridiculousness. You need to move on and try to enjoy what is left of your life. Time is passing you by, and you are wasting it.


I can totally understand what Anonymous is going through. I’m a male trauma bonder. I do not loathe myself in the least, but I do see myself as inadequate and incomplete. In an attempt to complete myself, I bonded with a woman who matches the description in the article to a degree that is almost frightening. Or maybe I should say that I bonded myself with the confidant, competent, strong, kind, and trustworthy half of this woman that she builds up in order to compensate for the other half (which she herself calls “the sucking void”). Of course, you know which side I ended up getting REAL familiar with.

She is now my ex-wife, although to this day I would not hesitate to sacrifice my life for her if I had to. I will probably never be able to grasp the fact that the happiest moments of my life were shared with someone who can act at one time as if I am at least somewhat important to her, and then at other times does things to me that can only be explained as evidence that she holds me in utter and abject contempt, without even the least bit of concern for my dignity well-being.

Right now, my estimate is that she simply doesn’t care whether I live or die. I would actually prefer that she actively harm me, or physically beat me than to simply not care one way or another about me (and yes, I was once in a relationship with a different woman who beat me many times). At least if my ex were to beat me up it would show that she puts me in a different class of being than, say, a cockroach or a public toilet. I struggle to try to reconcile the two different realities of my experiences with her, but I can’t.

I know I have brought all this on myself, and I know that it’s up to be to get “unstuck”. But before I can do that, I have to try to arrive at an understanding of things that makes some sort of sense. Otherwise, I’ll have to go through life believing two contradictory things at the same time and not trusting my own ability to correctly perceive reality.


That sounds exactly like me. I’ve been urning for my ex girlfriend 30 yrs ago. Well I got her back and we were married for one year and recently got s divorce. It’s insanity on my part . She told me I had low self esteem, but she also said I was a full blown narcissist borderline sociopath. I was selfish and lied about everything just to get her back. To find out she said she wishes I would of told her the truth about myself instead of being delusional. I actually told her I had a daughter and actually sent her a picture I found on you tube of a young girl that resembled me in a way. I told her I was retired and would take care of her. She found out I lied about that also. But lying I had a daughter was the big Clincher. Even my own mother said ‘What’s wrong with you’ why would you lie that you had a daughter and even to go as far to send a picture of a stranger I didn’t even know that would pass as my significant other. I’m in my 50s and now alone with no confidence what’s so ever..


Continued: There is a lot more shit I told her also. Because she thought I was the handsomed man on earth and the sex and the connection was off the charts, is why it lasted as long as it did. I also thought she was the most sexiest gorgeous woman on earth. We used to sit and talk how we knew each other’s body’s so well. So I guess it more of LUST on my part. I’m just being real here , not bragging or anything. I would just here her voice and my heart would race… I drove her nuts with my lies and stories. Like I said I’m surprised she stuck with me for Almost a year. One other thing. She’s from Mississippi and I’m from New England. Complete opposites in accents, types of people, religions, activities. For instance I was a fitness freak, she didn’t even want to take a walk as exercise. So much more I can tell. But I get antsy, restless typing.


Hy ,,,first of all you are a really strong woman…secondly wow …all I can say is that I wish the best for because this story relates to my father’s story and it’s painful for me as a young woman to imagine what you went through directly because you were married but my advice is to the future..of you can it’s best to get out of that house and start worrying about yourself and your happiness and mental health staying there only hardens the impression that the past has made and left …but this is entirely up to you…for my mom it was the same thing and after my dad start to display aggressive tendencies she reached her breaking point and left and now I’m 2018 she is a happy loving n joyful spirit off course life has problems but you know they can be better handled and as for her ex ..he has only himself to blame ..yeah sure he occasionally tries to bring her down but she’s at that point in her life where understands what’s crucial for her seek …I hope everything is better now n you don’t blame yourself for what happened…


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All kids need the 'the right things' to thrive. The right people, the right motivation, the right encouragement. Out in the world, at school, or wherever they find themselves, kids and teens with anxiety don't need any extra support - they just need their share, but in a way that works for them. 

In a world that tends to turn towards the noise, it can be easy for the ones that tend to stand back and observe and think and take it all in, to feel as though they need to be different - but they don't. Kids and teens who are vulnerable to anxiety tend to have a different and wonderful way of looking at the world. They're compassionate, empathic, open-hearted, brave and intelligent. They're exactly the people the world needs. The last thing we want is for them to think they need to be anyone different to who they are.

#parenting #anxietysupport #childanxietyawareness #mindfulparenting #parent #heywarrior #heysigmund
Sometimes silence means 'I don't have anything to say.' Sometimes it means, 'I have plenty to say but I don't want to share it right here and right now.'

We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety are thoughtful, observant and insightful, and their wisdom will always have the potential to add something important to the world for all of us. Until they have a felt sense of safety though, we won’t see it.

This safety will only happen through relationship. This isn’t a child thing, or an anxiety thing. It’s a human thing. We’re all wired to feel safest when we’re connected to the people around us. For children it starts with the adult in the room.

We can pour all the resources we want into learning support, or behaviour management, but until children have a felt sense of safety and connection with the adult in the room, the ‘thinking brain’ won’t be available. This is the frontal cortex, and it’s the part of the brain needed for learning, deliberate decisions, thinking through consequences, rational thinking. During anxiety, it’s sent offline.

Anxiety is not about what is actually safe, but about what the brain perceives. A child can have the safest, most loving, brilliant teacher, but until there is a felt sense of connection with that teacher (or another adult in the room), anxiety will interrupt learning, behaviour, and their capacity to show the very best of what they can do. And what they can do will often be surprising - insightful, important, beautiful things.

But relationships take time. Safety and trust take time. The teachers who take this time are the ones who will make the world feel safer for these children - all children, and change their world in important, enduring ways. This is when learning will happen. It’s when we’ll stop losing children who fly under the radar, or whose big behaviour takes them out of the classroom, or shifts the focus to the wrong things (behaviour, learning, avoidance, over relationships).

The antidote to anxiety is trust, and the greatest way to support learning and behaviour is with safe, warm, loving relationships. It’s just how it is, and there are no shortcuts.
In uncertain times, one thing that is certain is the profound power of you to help their world feel safe enough. You are everything to them and however scary the world feels, the safety of you will always feel bigger. 

When the world feels fragile, they will look to us for strength. When it feels unpredictable, they will look to us for calm. When they feel small, we can be their big. 

Our children are wired to feel safe when they are connected and close to us. That closeness doesn’t always have to mean physical proximity, but of course that will be their favourite. Our words can build their safe base, “I know this feels scary love, and I know we will be okay.” And our words can become their wings, “I can hear how worried you are, and I know you are brave enough. You were built for this my love. What can you do that would be brave right now?”

We might look for the right things to do or the right things to say to make things better for them, but the truth of it all is the answer has always been you. Your warmth, your validation, your presence, your calm, your courage. You have the greatest power to help them feel big enough. You don’t have to look for it or reach for it - it’s there, in you. Everything you need to help them feel safe enough and brave enough is in you. 

This doesn’t mean never feeling scared ourselves. It’s absolutely okay to feel whatever we feel. What it means is allowing it to be, and adding in what we can. Not getting over it, but adding into it - adding strength, calm, courage. So we feel both - anxious and strong, uncertain and determined, scared and safe ‘enough’. 

When our children see us move through our own anxiety, restlessness, or uncertainty with courage, it opens the way for them to do the same. When our hearts are brave enough and calm enough, our children will catch this, and when they do, their world will feel safe enough and they will feel big enough.
The temptation to lift our kiddos out of the way of anxiety can be spectacular. Here's the rub though - avoidance has a powerful way of teaching them that the only way to feel safe is to avoid. This makes sense, but it can shrink their world. 

We also don't want to go the other way, and meet their anxiety by telling them there's nothing to worry about. They won't believe it anyway. The option is to ride the wave with them. Breathe, be still, and stay in the moment so they can find their way there too. 

This is hard - an anxious brain will haul them into the future and try to buddy them up with plenty of 'what-ifs' - the raging fuel for anxiety. Let them know you get it, that you see them, and that you know they can do this. They won't buy it straight away, and that's okay. The brain learns from experience, so the more they are brave, the more they are brave - and we know they are brave.

 #parenting #positiveparenting #parenthood #parentingtips #childdevelopment #anxietyinchildren #neuronurtured #childanxiety #parentingadvice #heywarrior #anxietysupport #anxietyawareness #mindfulparenting #positiveparentingtips #parentingtip #neurodevelopment
To do this, we will often need to ‘go first’ with calm and courage. This will mean calming our own anxiety enough, so we can lead them towards things that are good for them, rather than supporting their avoidance of things that feel too big, but which are important or meaningful. 

The very thing that makes you a wonderful parent, can also get in the way of moving them through anxiety. As their parent, you were built to feel distress at their distress. This distress works to mobilise you to keep them safe. This is how it’s meant to work. The problem is that sometimes, anxiety can show up in our children when it there is no danger, and no need to protect. 

Of course sometimes there is a very real need to keep our children safe, and to support them in the retreat from danger. Sometimes though, the greatest things we can do for them is support their move towards the things that are important a or meaningful, but which feel too big in the moment. One of the things that makes anxiety so tough to deal with is that it can look the same whether it is in response to a threat, or in response to things that will flourish them. 

When anxiety happens in the absence of threat, it can move us to (over)protect them from the things that will be good for them (but which register as threat). I’ve done it so many times myself. We’re human, and the pull to move our children out of the way of the things that are causing their distress will be seismic. The key is knowing when the anxiety is in response to a real threat (and to hold them back from danger) and when it is in response to something important and meaningful (and to gently support them forward). The good news is that you were built to move towards through both - courage and safety. The key to strengthening them is knowing which one when - and we don’t have to get it right every time.♥️

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