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.

348 Comments

Claudia

I am so glad I came across this article. I have been “Mary” for a little over a year now and I am beyond exhausted and broken hearted and I am a very strong, independent woman but this put me over the edge. Every good I pumped into him, he turned into something bad. He simply refuses to see it. He was so loving and caring and over the moon the first couple of months and the moment he realized he had me, he started with the emotional cruelty, often not even realizing he did so. I have never let a man get away with as much as I did with him. I can’t wrap my head around him. All I know is that I truly love him and I know he does as well but he just cannot go there. To see that you were able to work through this truly gives me hope. Thank you!

Reply
Cecilia

Hi Mary, I am another Mary. I would normally never comment on an article, but tears have been falling all night since I read this article and your comment. I left my boyfriend who I also lived with a year ago. In our last fight I found myself curled up on the floor not being able to move from the crying and he did not know how to help me, even if he was the only one to. I left him because he would not seek help, and I have been told ever since how strong that made me. I have tried to understand how your big love can tell you that you will always be the love of his life and still let you go. I still feel the wounds of going from being the prize to the one who got away. I am proud I did, but my fear is that I will love him forever. Just like you, I put up with so much more than I ever would. I went far and just to the edge. Every point in this article sounds like words from him. Thank you both.

Reply
Lydia

The comments below sadden me. This is what people do when confronted with narcissism…. They tell themselves that they need to love more, be more empathetic and forgiving. While this article is helpful to understand the why, every single one of these people should RUN. You cannot love someone into loving you. Love yourself!! Do not pur up with abuse regardless of WHY.

Reply
Melisa

I am a Mary as well,I love him with all my heart, mind, body and soul. He is:was my best friend , but word for word he changed like explained in the article
I know he loves me But he also is married and we were killing each other . I miss my friend. Oh and to top it off we got pregnant and lost a baby ?

Reply
Joe

I agree, “Do not put up with abuse regardless of WHY’.

You don’t get appreciated any better when YOU break.

Reply
B.B.

Yes, agreed—-it sounds like he’s a narcissist—who definitely could get therapy—to overcome any trauma, hurt, past belittling; held tight and silently in his psyche.
He sounds stuck, emotionally stunted.
It doesn’t help when one turns to substance, or any coping abuses — they remain under-developed in their coping skills.
If one truly becomes aware-or made aware of these areas to improve in and the reasons why they remain stunted….then one must take responsibility and make the needed changes for themselves..!
Then, only then, there may be a chance to give “true” love.
Not simply giving out what he thinks the idea of what love is..
When the heart is touched and released of the burdens that have be. Held—light can shine through.
Improvements can be made…for themselves and for those who cone into their life—other than just superficial friends.

Reply
Shelly B

Yes! Sad and terribly terribly painful because as you said, this is narcissism. There’s overt narcissism and covert narcissism. Recommend watching YouTube for some videos to learn more about it because I just ended a relationship three months ago after years and it was such a struggle to leave but I finally knew I had to have some self-respect and stop being pathetic. This article is a good insight coming from the mind of someone that’s likely narcissistic or has narcissistic tendencies. Maybe he just didn’t use the word to be pigeonholed but instead attract more people that wouldn’t otherwise be attracted to read this article; which was smart
Recommend watching YouTube for some videos to learn more about it because I just ended a relationship three months ago after years and it was such a struggle to leave but I finally knew I had to have some self-respect and stop being pathetic. This article is a good insight coming from the mind of someone that’s likely narcissistic or has narcissistic tendencies. Maybe he just didn’t use the word to be pigeonholed but instead attract more people that wouldn’t otherwise be attracted to read this article; which was smart.

Excellent article thank you so much!

Reply
Aneta

My boyfriend told me he’s leaving me for another woman after an almost 5-year relationship.
He’s been loving, caring and sweet until he became all miserable, fatigue, with no willingness to leave the house unless going to work.
He’s been fading away, and I was in pain as didn’t know how to help him.
And then he dropped the “news bomb” on me.
And I started reading online about “low self esteem” condition and all the symptoms were correct…
The worse thing is, he’s claiming to love that other woman (but he loves me too! ), and chooses to leave me for her, as I deserve “better”.
I poured my heart out to him, tried to persuade him it’s his emotional conflict he’s going through, he said to think about it, but I know 100% he’s adamant to leave me.
I think there’s no more for me to do in that case…
Still, I’m heartbroken

Reply
Heather

I’m a Mary too. This article could have been written about my life. It’s almost exact. I just finally told him tonight I’m Done! Now I read this article & I feel so bad. This goes against everything I believe and I’ve never had a relationship like this before. My heart is broken. No one in my life thinks I should be with him. In spite of it ALL … I still love him

Reply
Ashlynn M

I am going through very similar. I appreciate hearing this. It is so encouraging to know I’m not the only one struggling with this. I have had many nights where I just break down and feel I cannot go anymore. Thanks very much for this!

Reply
Lorraonr6

Going thru the same, I’m another Mary and have been for 11years I’m now tired.Things were ok the first 2years then he learned about his hiv status that it was positive and mine negative and he has been treating me badly evetsince.What made it worse is I make more money than he does and it’s always an issue.So all this stripped off his confidence .I caught him cheating 2weeks ago and I forgave him but I feel it’s high time I let this go,it’s weighing me down. He doesn’t want to change jobs or take on a course to improve his life, he has no ambition and him cheating on me was the last straw ontop of having to deal with his status,not kiss him coz his gums bleeds ,all of that

Reply
Christina

Hi i am 46 and just got out of a 30 year marriage i have met a 62 year old man and have fallen for him a little,no i love him we have been dating for 8 months now,at the first 4 months were awesome,we do have excellent sexual chemistry,but he has gotten where we only see each other 1 a week,sometimes 1 everyother week,i know he has feelings for me,he says he has been hurt a lot and he has been married 3 times.I told him i love him and i would like to see him more,me and my ex husband never did anything he was an alcoholic,so i just want to do some things like have go fishing,i have never been fishing with a man before but anyway,i suffered some mental and physical abuse so i am a little broken myself,when we are together its awesome he cuddles and kisses me,i mean he is real attentive,but when i leave i have to do all the textin and calling,i dont know whether to stay or should i cut my loses because i dont know if he will ever love me!Do you have any advice that may help me ?

Reply
Omar

I am Mary (I am a male) in a gay relationship. My lover (guy) is going through the same issues above. He has low-self-esteem. Reading this article gives me hope that he will someday love himself. We’ve been together for almost 10 years together. I’ve been thinking of letting him go bcuz its beyond hurting pain I can no longer deal with. But reading all this above gives me hope. Bcuz I truly love him & I know he does too.

Reply
Coua

I found this so helpful and it makes so much sense. My boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic so go figure he is the most codependent, low-self esteem SOB out there. He’s scared of marrying me because he’s afraid that one day my body will change and he will not love me the same anymore. He told me that he would like me to be more in shape so that he would always be attracted to me. What a fucken bucket of B’S. When i confront him, he tried to defend himself by minimizing the unrealistic part of his wants. He says he always does the work on changing himself for us but i never do anything. I love him so much but is it even worth it? Would it make sense to stay with him, encourage him, and see if one day it all changes? Please help. I am do hurt. This I’d the man I thought I would marry, but he doesn’t love me enough because he doesn’t love himself.

Reply
Nessa

It took me the last 2 months prior to accepting that I was inlove with a psychopath. This is our 4th break up, and I have come to an acceptance that he is incapable of love. He is always angry and miserable. Always finding faults. Always saying something bad about everyone, including his friends, family, and of course me. This is a poem that I wrote recently about “us.” I was okay to leave the 4th time, where I was feeling comfortably numb. Now I feel more anger that I should have lashed back at him for humiliating me infront of his family. So this is my poem to help me cope.

Tries after tries
Lies after lies
Compassion i gave
Anger you have
Delusional, toxicity
Still hope of longevity
True love you say
In the end it is nay

Suffer is in thee
But you can not see
Tears i cried
Of your hatred and pride
Trust noone you believe
For you have been deceived
Take no side of me
No remorse, no empathy

Hugs and kisses
Something amiss
I pity thee
Have to let you be
A manipulator, a user, an abuser
Makes a Loser
Thought your love is divine
I am just blind
A scolder, a controller
Make no mistake for I am bolder

Shame and blame
Tired of your game
Lessons not learned
True love not earned
Your demons so pure
No love can cure
Farewell psychopath
May peace find you at last

Reply
T

In my situation, he told me after dating a few short months that if we got married, he would feel more secure in the relationship. But I believe it was as you said… a hole that could never be filled.
I think because I recognized his inability to be with his own thoughts, and felt sorry for him, I let the criticism directed at me slide, making allowances for him that I would have never normally made.

It got to the point that I felt I almost had to give him a watered down version of myself, downplay my successes, avoid talking about past experiences, to try to make him feel better. I stopped wearing certain things, stopped going out with certain people, but he still needed constant reassurance.

He also said I never made any sacrifices for him, and I needed to give up something I really cared about to “prove” to him how much he meant to me. All of my successes (no matter how small) became a competition to him. I got a raise, and he wasn’t happy for me. I had a job interview, he didn’t talk to me that day. I went to my therapist, he questioned her competence. My friends were “weird”, my reactions were “stupid”, paying for language classes was “pointless”. Anything I did to improve myself was a problem.

Looking back, it was quite twisted, yet I had (and I am still having) a hard time letting go. As others have commented, I feel extremely confused now that we aren’t together. It’s only been a few weeks, but I’m frustrated that I still want to call when I know I am better off without this relationship in my life.

Reply
J

I have loved a man with low self-esteem for 2 years. I have traveled a journey with him that I would not want to do again, but my patience, my constant love shown to him, my support of the wonderful man he was underneath all that hurt and pain, has paid off. He is 100% with me, he let down all his guard and now is able to tell me how much he loves me and wants to be together forever. It was a painful journey and so hard to hang on during it. He is such a wonderful man. It is so sad when people don’t realize that we are all flawed and have baggage. It’s how you pack it away or leave it out in the open that determines your path.

Reply
Beth

I am currrently dealing with this with my boyfriend. I found texts to another girl in his phone. He said he is working on himself right now but how do I help him? I am being supportive and see the true person he is inside and love him deeply. While his working on himself do I keep my distance?

Reply
Been there

Beth – Yes leave him. Go life your life and let him have the space to work on himself. That’s what he needs and if you love him then you’ll let him have that. If it’s meant for you guys to be together than nothing – not even a break – will stop that. On that chance that he never figures himself out then you will look back one day and be happy that you made the tough decision to walk away. And likely you’ll have attracted someone who is healthy well adjusted and capable of seeing in you what you see in mr. current.

Reply
Jenny

I met this guy and he likes me so much, at first i don’t think i like him as a lover but as a best friend. I kept him chasing me and i am actually learning about his behaviour. He was such a happy sweet polar bear that will smile and share laughter with me. He touched my heart so much and i realized i should try dating him. He likes me because i am being a straight forward person and also positive. Time passes and i love him so much… but he likes to make me insecure by saying he doesn’t love me, he has lots of girl friends, he has 3 ex’es, and so on. I test him so i revealed that i have a cancer. He was shocked and he told me that he actually smokes and drinks, he has bad friends and so on. I tried my best to help him feel like he is ok eventhough my cancer still hurts… then one day he told my friend that i never date him… i chatted my polar bear asking about it… he said i’m just too bright and good for him, he said that no boys would even date a girl like me… i was so torned till now… i miss my happy polar bear… he changed so much… i tried saying hi and so on but he pretends he doesn’t see me ever…now i’m confused whether deep inside he needs me or he just wanna run away from the reality that i have cancer… i love him so much but he hates me… he lost his smile… he acts good to friends but deeply inside, no one knows his true self

Reply
Pkm

How long ago was this transformation? And do you still feel this way?
What made him change?

Reply
Alicia

My boyfriend and I have been together for a couple of years now. We dated years back right out of high school but now we’re closer to our thirties. I love him with all of my heart. This helped me because he would hurt and hurt me and I always thought it was something I did wrong until I caught him crying. He also cheated . I’m still with him but I didn’t realize how hurt he was and how much he looked down on himself. I couldn’t and won’t leave him because I don’t want anyone else. This blog will help me to help better love him . He is my everything. I don’t wanna live without him. Thank you

Reply
Josie

I’m totally with you Alicia. I feel the same way about my guy. He has been so hurt and I love him too with all my heart. This article helped me with patience with him and understanding why he does some of the things he does. It has taken me two years to realize how hard my guy has been on himself too, but my constant love and reassurance that he is a wonderful giving, loving man is paying off. He is opening up like I never thought possible.

Reply
Mary #999

This is so relatable. We dated since college and now we are close to thirties. I think he have not cheated but he did seek attention from other ladies when I was studying abroad. He decided not to stay connected with them but I think if I have been studying abroad a little longer, he might.
I always strive to make him feel secure. He used to calling break ups over and over again. Each time I would hold him and let him know we will work out.
He always look into the mirror and says “I don’t think I have done enough in the gym today”
He is doing very well even though he is in his late 20s. Still he would say it is not enough. When I suggest he should set a target and take things slow, he looked frustrated.
After years of dating he really worn me out by saying “I don’t think I want to marry you anymore.” I took off that day, but to have him call me in the same evening and tell me he loves me, he feels maybe everything will be okay.
But I left for my studies thinking if I give him some space, maybe he will finally make up his mind if he really wants me. During this time he called me every night, came to surprise me and just never let me down. When I came back from my studies, he kneeled down on one knee, asked me to marry him.
I thought he got it all figure it out.
One and a half year after the engagement, he has not planned anything. He has constantly delay our wedding date saying he has another plan.
Finally, he confessed he is not ready and he is not sure why. Up to this point, we have been together for eight years. He said there will be no one like me, but he is not holding me tight enough. I have pressure from my family and friends as to when will be the wedding date.
Again, I let him go. I told him we should take a two months break and let things clear up.
I still have not decided if I should stay and work on this or I should just leave….I am so used to love him unconditionally I don know what to do now.

Reply
Jess

I have been with my boyfriend for three years. We’ve been engaged for over a year now. I’ve wanted to break up with him a couple times. However, I know who he is deep inside and want to keep giving him the chance to love it. I want it to work. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I just don’t know how much more one-sidedness I can take, along with the lies and messing around behind my back (even though he will always deny it). I don’t feel love from him like I’m looking for. It’s been there a few times. My trust in him had been completely broken and he told me If I give him a chance, it’ll just take time. I’m falling out of love with him because of this. What and how did you change your thinking and behavior? How did you come to that point of self-love?

Reply
Nathalie

I think you guys loving someone like this is so beautiful. It’s a picture of how God loves us all although we come up short. Although, I think if we take God’s example and where he draws the line, is how a man is also inspired to change. God’s line is that’s refers to His people as His bride many times, but not married to us yet. In the same way, we can love a man and be there for them but draw the line and say they can’t have our body, or our devotion, but they can always have our love. Two different things. Respecting someone is not the same as loving someone. And men desire to be respected, which would make sense why they push a women away that isn’t respecting herself by letting him treat her like crap. I myself have to also put my boundaries down because I am learning how to draw the line as well.

Reply
Been there

I hope you have left him. Do NOT marry this guy. It is not going to get better. Marriage doesn’t fix things. You should not take one more minute of one sidedness. Not one more….It sux to be alone but better that temporarily than to sign up for a committment that will likely lead to an even more painful divorce. There are too many good guys out there.

Reply
Christy

I was in a relationship with a man for several months who was incredible. Our kids got along we loved to do all the same things he was incredibly affectionate and loving constantly kissing me showing up at my house cooking me food very loving and giving. However he had been cheated on by his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend and he would constantly bring up an ex-boyfriend of mine even though I had ended it- that boyfriend was a contractor working on my kitchen. He would bring him up a lot and not believe me when I assured him nothing was going on- I even fired the ex and got someone else to finish the kitchen. Then out of the blu he looks at me and says there should be fireworks by now and again brings up the ex even though I cut off contact! To say there were no fireworks between us was ridiculous and a slap in my face. I said you are getting cold feet you’re having a guy freak out moment and you don’t want a real relationship and he looked at me very cold and said no you’re right I don’t. After telling me all kinds of things how all he wants is me …he’s all in …I’m yours … I want you to be with me all summer at my beach house ….he would say all of these intense very loving things to me. I will say it all happened between us it very quickly and I wonder if it just terrified him . I also wanted to mention I caught him crying one night because the ex had called about the kitchen and he had seen it in my phone. I begged him to stop that I only cared about him- he said now you see the real me this tough guy is just a facade. Do you guys think this sounds like low self esteem? I didn’t get upset the day he broke up with me which is been a week now I just looked at him and I said OK no hard feelings and I got out of his truck … got in my car and drove away . I haven’t contacted him at all and don’t plan on it. I was dying inside at the beginning but now I think maybe I just let him go- I’m torn. I’d love any advice. I don’t want to go to him and have him push me away by saying something mean – I do wonder if he misses me. Our kids are friends it’s kind of sad it didn’t work out because there was a lot of good there. He even took me to a wedding and I met his whole family. Who does all this and then pushes someone away telling them there are no fireworks – it’s just weird behavior. He couldn’t keep his hands off of me

Reply
Julie m

He is a covert narcissist am
Afraid . It’s text book words like mine was . Am all in you have all of me I had the same . He’s a narcissist

Reply
Carol

I had a similar thing happen to me this year. We met in January and our connection was instant. It scared me a little how immediate it was.l but also didn’t scare me. We had so much in common and everything seemed perfect. His insecurities started to show quickly but I felt we could work through that. He had a lot of jealousy towards me and competed with me. …I still felt like everything was great and knew he loved me…. He is the one who had our future completely planned out. Every detail of it. … Then one night he got upset after dinner over nothing. He said extremely hurtful things. This wasn’t the first time and yes, it really bothered me. I was in the middle of some extreme stress and he knew that. I just shut down. Didn’t say anything else that night. The next morning he broke up. I immediately got my things and left. We haven’t spoken since. His friends tell me he was the happiest they’ve ever seen him when we were together. I honestly don’t fully understand what happened. He had a very traumatic childhood and he was also in the middle of a lot of stress. … but do you break up just because you’re in a difficult situation in other areas of life? I believe two people stick together in bad and good. …that’s what builds the relationship.
I’m very hurt and confused by it all. My friends tell me I dodged a huge bullet. Even his friends say that. I guess there’s something I am not fully accepting about it all. I just know I hurt. At this point I think just continue to give him his space and usually by the time he will want back together I will have moved on. … I still just don’t understand though. It is so painful. Why?.

Reply
Hannah M

Right now, Just like the other women in the comments section, I’m also a “Mary”. But unlike the other women, you have been so understanding and all you did is to shine light to your man, unlike me who fucked up everything from the start. I contributed to the pain that he’s going through and I didn’t realize the impact of my mistakes before. I felt sorry and guilty because he don’t deserve that kind of treatment, no one does. Now, his ears has been shut for God knows how long, he’s not listening to what i’m saying, he talks to me like i’m just somebody else. I admit it’s hard and me, myself is also going through something that’s why it sucks. But big props to this article because knowing that i’m not the only one who’s in this situation gave me strength. Seeing strong women/men in this comment section made me love my man even deeper. I’m so proud of ya’ll.

Thank you so much for this article Mr. Graves! More power to you!

Reply
Anonymous

I don’t tend to comment on articles but this one really bothered me. Staying in a relationship that has turned toxic is never a good idea. No one but the person with low self esteem can “make themselves” feel better. Sorry but this just made me feel sick… you deserve better. Understand that like attracts like and that you too have low self esteem if you choose to remain in the dynamic as described above. Once you start to gain self esteem you would never put up with bad treatment and would recognize that you cannot “save” someone… if that’s how you gain your self worth that’s a whole other issue. Sometimes we stay with people we feel superior to in some way, or we stay with emotionally unavailable people because we are too… I’m just in shock and awe to read what some here will put up with and call it “love”. Breaks my heart!

Reply
Kathy

Thank you.? for your comment. Same thing I was thinking. Some of us a sacrificing themselves to keep these broken men.
Never a good plan. It will leave you tired, stress and never good enough.

Reply
Paul

I have to say I am a Man with (relatively) low self esteem , I’m jealous reading all these women that love a guy, whether things worked out or not….I am 61 and have YET in my life to find a two-way love. I have had relationships, including once being married, but never where we BOTH felt it. I want that badly but fear it will never come to pass.

Reply
Carla

My and my bf were together for 6 years and he left me because he felt that I wasn’t giving him enough. He also has low self esteem and I did not know how to handle it. It kept pushing and that drove him away. Now he is seeking validation from other women and his friends by drinking and partying. He told me that he hates me but he thinks I deserve better. He said we could still be friends and see where it goes. I don’t want to give up on him. Do you have any advice on how to build his self esteem and in the process maybe win him back?

Reply
Chrissi

My ex was insecure Tried to help him I have study stress managment you can’t fix someone doesn’t wanna to be fixed they have to find them self its part of thier path you gotta set free go on your own. Self care self love meditation saying in mindset in your mind and in the mirror your enough. Mind body and soul take care what you came with once you love yourself thr spell is broken.

Reply
Nozi

I’d love to just read the comments becoz all im feeling right now is that im not needed or not enough to him and to our relationship. Maybe am not what he wants, or am not worthy of love. Am so sad! Am crying!

Reply
Shreyas

No 1 is so fucking true, no women can ever understand that or cant even think about it

Reply
MsTree

I’m divorcing my husband of 41 years for all the reasons you mentioned. I tried. God knows I love this man and I’m a tortured soul having to let go of the dream.

Reply
C berry

I have been married 41 years too. I have tried everything3. I wish there was an easy way to leave . I can’t do this anymore.

Reply
I don't agree - Triggered

You never see articles like this about how to understand WOMEN with low self-esteem, but there are so many, plenty of articles about men that needs extra understanding and love, and women writing in forums “How do i help my poor man who was traumatized by blah bla…” Or “How do i help my autistic boyfriend” etc etc etc. I never see any articles about a man trying to do his absolute best to understand and help his autistic or traumatized girlfriend. You know why? Because they drop them ass soon as they see that a woman might need extra care or understanding, saying “Hell no i didn’t sign up for this, i’m out” Or “No damaged goods please”.
Most men only care about themselves, that’s why we have so many single mothers out there. Way too many men are emotionally/socially retarded and society happily accepts it, which is why men and guys only gets gets away with autism/asperger’s/ASD or any selfish behaviour overall. Women are always supposed to, and potrayed as self-sacrificing angels who should put up with so much crap from their husbands. And if they are not fitting into this mold that society has given, then they are portayed or viewed as complete heartless monsters, lesbians, or crazy catladies. There is nothing wrong with either lesbians or crazy catladies though for that matter, i am only reflecting the comments of what has been heard over the years in society overall.

Reply
A.S.

Thank you for posting this. If I had read this last September, I wouldn’t have ended it with him. I feel terrible now for doing that. However he didn’t fight it when I ended it. I just wish he could’ve been kinder, even if he was struggling inside. He was more than enough, he was wonderful. And I can tell from your writing that you are the same, and also have a big heart. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story.

Reply
Denise

This article helped me understand my guy but I already knew about much of his low self esteem. This article confirmed it. He didn’t live in the moment much, he stayed closed off, he felt he got lucky with me and after the first number of months, he began interjecting cruel comments and alleging they were just jokes. Then there was the flirting with other women and he said he was just being a nice guy. He also lied a lot. I left him and I am glad I did. His statement after we broke up was “I don’t feel good about myself right now.” The truth is that he hadn’t felt genuinely good about himself during the relationship and was always seeking new experiences and approval from others to validate himself. I’m not cruel but it’s not my responsibility to “fix” this type of guy; especially at the expense of my own well being.

Reply
McKenzir

My boyfriend is extrememly self concious and depressed. He doesn’t hurt me on purpose, nor does he seek affection from others in forms of cheating.

He just thinks that he is going to fuck up our relationship simply because he is being himself. He’s been extremely depressed these past couple of weeks and I’ve been trying to help him through it. He has a rough life at home (he is 18, I am 17). His parents don’t have insurance and he doesn’t qualify for state insurance so seeing a therapist would be extremely expensive, and him mum doesn’t want him to get a job. He doesn’t want me paying for him to go do something he sees as a waste of his time.

At this point I’m completely shattered that he is stuck in this position. It hurts to see him in constant distress. We truely want to be together for the rest of our lives but I’ve told him that we need to work on this. Any advice?

Reply
Georgie

This article has helped me so much. Exactly what I am experiencing. Partner has thrown himself at work and is avoiding spending time with me whilst telling me he doesn’t deserve me and I can do better. He says he knows he isn’t the best version of himself right now but the thought of not having me rips him apart (his words). I told him it rips me apart being with someone who takes me for granted every day. For about 4 months he’s not shown me the love or affection which came so easily at the start. He was obsessed with me, couldn’t do enough for me. Now it’s like he can’t even look me in the eye. I’ve been supportive the entire time but it has been so hard. At first I was hurt and blamed myself – is it because he doesn’t find me attractive? Am I too fat? Am I not paying enough bills? (He did actually mention this last one at one point but I’ve come to realise that was an excuse to cover up that he actually didn’t know why he had changed so much towards me i.e low self esteem and depression, easier just to tell me I wasn’t paying my way enough) Then I realised through research and talking to family that he is struggling with depression but can’t recognise it himself. I cry most days as I try to build him up without receiving much back. I’m just telling myself it will all be worth it once he gets his promotion or whatever. And maybe putting up with this is a reflection of my low self worth but I’m willing to give everything I have to get him back to his best self. I love him unconditionally. It’s just heartbreaking that he has become so distant and cold with me . I draw the line at cheating though, if there was someone else I wouldn’t stick around. He is an amazing guy, i tell him as often as I can how proud I am of him. I will try giving more compliments that don’t revolve around just his physicality after reading this though. Thanks so much, feeling much more hopeful. Ten minutes earlier I was crying and now I feel I am doing the right thing after reading the comments of fellow Marys.

Reply
Future me

****Me from the future replying to my past self’s comment****

OMG GIRL IT GETS WORSE. Wow, reading how hopeful we were back then makes me feel sad. Well done for doing everything you could to try and help him though. Ultimately he is on a train to self destruction which you can not derail. You are so much better off now. You will cry a LOT in the first few weeks. Then you’ll cry less. Then you’ll walk up to his van to say Hi, excited at the prospect of seeing him after a month of distance and him messaging you that he misses you and wants it to work, only to see his new girlfriend sat next to him and for him to stare blankly at you as if he has no idea who you are, and drive off. You will go see his mum and she tells you they’ve been seeing each other for a couple of months at least. Well, that explains why he became so cold doesn’t it? Ohhhh, also you have a two hour phone conversation with his ex before you. He was seeing her for the first 9 MONTHS of our relationship. Yeah. I know. What a bastard.

You’ve met someone recently who gives you the time and attention that your ex couldn’t. You’ve also got a great new job and made tonnes of amazing friends. Chin up, proud of you. Things get better.

Reply
Lakesgirl

I can totally relate to what you shared. My boyfriend says the same thing periodically. He says, you are just going to get sick of me and leave. Everyone does.

I have made great strides with him in the past 6 months. I just reassure him that he is wonderful and I love him.. I tell him I accept him exactly as he is and love being around him. I call him a limited edition. He calls himself strange. He is very introverted and that makes situations awkward sometimes.

If you are willing and patient, keep telling him that he is your life and you love him for the man he is. My boyfriend is completely healed in my opinion after repeatedly telling him, he is great.

Reply
Mina

People like this are very anxious. They aren’t narcissistic, that’s completely different. They just doubt themselves and like to focus on the things they feel they are good at. Relationships are something they feel they are very bad at so they will usually try to sabotage it. The key is to just be kind to them, constantly tell them they are loved and are worth it. Give them space when they need it. Give them a secure relationship where their behavior does not activate a negative response from their partner. It is hard to do, but if you are mature you will be able to handle their immature behavior. Just sit still, be loving and kind, and let them figure it out. It’s not about you. You are fine. You are being there for someone else and it can be extremely hard to do so, but not impossible. It doesn’t mean you put your needs aside, no, never. Fill your needs with your friends, family and goals. Do not depend on them because they are broken. You cannot sit on a broken chair. You can slather glue and what not but they must heal on their own. It takes years unfortunately. But in the end you end up with a wonderful man. Jehova God will allow him to heal on his time and terms, not yours. If you are very needy, leave him and find a different partner.

Reply
Alice

I am definitely the “Mary”in this. Me and my boyfriend has such a beautiful relationship, always telling me “this is it” “you are the one”. a few months ago he went through a life crisis where he didnt know what he wanted to do with his life and he got extremely overwhelmed. He started thinking that this relationship didnt make him happy anymore, when it was really him being overwhelmed and pulling back emotionally from the relationship and not putting in effort. Nothing happened in the relationship, yes we had our small argument, as every healthy relationship does, but he just completely stopped putting in effort and I believe he is going through some type of depression. He seems like a completely different person even within a month. We are currently taking space but I am still in this in between where I want to be there and help and and reignite our love that is still there. I dont know what to do and I am in so much pain.

Reply
Mary

Hi, I’m in exactly the same position at the moment, my boyfriend just broke up with me by fear of being too inconsistent. He explained how he’s so unhappy with himself and can’t possibly be in a relationship. He has extremely low self esteem and I’m not sure what to do about it. He’s asked me to give him space so he can figure out what he wants and that’s exactly what I’m going to do but how can I make him see that he’s an amazing, sweet and caring person that does not deserve to feel this way and believe we shouldn’t be together?

Reply
Louise

Really helpful article and has given me some direction just when I needed it most. Thank you.

Reply
Ghreiz

Hi, I’ve been going through with the same situation right now and I feel like I don’t know what to do with him. I started to love him because of his good character but after awhile he got really busy with work and its the first time he ask me that he needed space. I couldnt understant why but for a week he never replied to my messages so I stop texting too as I was upset but after a week I contacted him and meet him to know whats going on, he admit that he was having a depression thats why he act like that but in the end we patch things up and get back together. But after awhile again he is going back to being distance, he keeps cancelling spending time with me because he will say he wants to be alone and most of the time he will tell me that he doesnt like or love himself so how he will be able to love someone else. He always lower down himself about his body about everything, he hates his job, he hates where he is right now and wanted to go back to where his family and friends. I keep telling him that I care alot about him and encouraging him to go to the doctor so he can get better but he said he is ashamed to go there. I did the best I could, I support him, encouraged him tell him that I accept him for who he is and he is worthy of love but I feel like he doesnt want to do anything about it. I feel like he is also cheating but I can’t be sure. Then he would say now that he is not ready to be in a relationship with anyone when he knows we are together for 9 months now and now he changes his mind, but he dont actually break up with me, I feel like he also dont want me to stop seeing him but when he have his depression and self loathing he would push me away. Because of this I believe I got into depression too that I never was like this before. I couldnt eat properly, I could not work properly thinking about him. I lost 3kg in one week because I dont know what to do about him. I wanted to love him and show him that this world is worth living for but I dont know how to convince him with that. Please help, AM

Reply
LB

These comments make me think that the women dealing with these self-loathing men have pretty low self-esteem as well.

Please do not conflate LOVE for NEED. There is a difference between loving someone and needing someone. The author describes this pretty well. A person who truly loves someone else would never dream of doing anything to hurt them for any reason. In fact, true loves is selfless – and inspires us to show up for our loved ones as the best possible version of ourselves. But for those who NEED us, the behavior will demonstrate manipulative tactics in order to solicit a response – such as praise, adoration, and glorification. “Mary” and so many like her, was not loved. She was USED.

Truth be told – the value of this article is that you get to see inside a Narcissist’s head. As much as the author wants women not to give up on men who loathe themselves, this is brazenly presented as somewhat of a “it won’t always be like this” scenario. Please do not excuse or endure toxic and emotionally/psychologically abusive behavior. You will end up paying the price both spiritually and physically. Manipulators become this way due to tactics learned in childhood to get needs met. You do not have to tolerate this because he has some personal growth and maturing to do. IT IS NOT A WOMAN’S JOB TO GROW MEN UP.

Reply
Kamiesha

LB where are you? I agree with your comment in my heart and that’s why I left but I so need the encouragement to stay away.

Reply
Nirmala

So how can make him get into marriage? he has been delaying and Im suffering for continuos 2.5 years. he enjoys irritating me, that bugs me to core

Reply

Leave a Reply

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

Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
⠀⠀
Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
⠀⠀

⠀⠀
 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
⠀⠀
"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
.
.
.
#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting
The move towards brave doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a shuffle - lots of brave tiny steps, each one more brave than before. What’s important isn’t the size of the step but the direction.

⠀⠀
 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #neuronurtured #anxiety #anxietyinchildren
You know who I love? (Not counting every food delivery person who has delivered takeaway to my home. Or the person who puts the little slots in the sides of the soy sauce packets to make them easier to open. Not counting those people.) You know who? Adolescents. I just love them. 
.
Today I spoke with two big groups of secondary school students about managing anxiety. In each talk, as there are in all of my talks with teens, there were questions. Big, open-hearted, thoughtful questions that go right to the heart of it all. 
.
Some of the questions they asked were:
- What can I do to help my friend who is feeling big anxiety?
- What can I do to help an adult who has anxiety?
- How can I start the conversation about anxiety with my parents?

Our teens have big, beautiful, open hearts. They won’t always show us that, but they do. They want to be there for their friends and for the adults in their lives. They want to be able to come to us and talk about the things that matter, but sometimes they don’t know how to start. They want to step up and be there for their important people, including their parents, but sometimes they don’t know how. They want to be connected to us, but they don’t want to be controlled, or trapped in conversations that won’t end once they begin. 

Our teens need to know that the way to us is open. The more they can feel their important adults holding on to them - not controlling them - the better. Let them know you won’t cramp them, or intrude, or ask too many questions they don’t want you to ask. Let them know that when they want the conversation to stop, it will stop. But above all else, let them know you’re there. Tell them they don’t need to have all the words. They don’t need to have any words at all. Tell them that if they let you know they want to chat, you can handle anything that comes from there - even if it’s silence, or messy words, or big feelings - you can handle all of it. Our teens are extraordinary and they need us during adolescence more than ever, but this will have to be more on their terms for a while.  They love you and they need you. They won’t always show it, but I promise you, they do.♥️
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.

 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness

Pin It on Pinterest