How Do I Restore Self-Esteem?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Egypt: I had a relation with a younger guy. For the first few weeks, everything was wonderful when we were meeting over weekends. We shared many thoughts and memories as well and we seemed to be nice and supporting each others. We also had a strong attraction and we ended up almost living together.

The terrible day came when one of my old friends joined us. The first time they met I could recognize there was some sort of attraction between them. The one hour re-union we had ended to be four hours during which he repeated to her some of the stories he used to tell me and took some photos for her by his mobile. Next day, I went for few days trip abroad. In the meantime, he asked me for her mobile number. My doubts got increased but I did not question him on asking me for this and I hid my suspects. He did not meet her that day.

After I came back from my trip, he asked me to invite her. After she came, I had a terrible evening. They left me drunk while they danced together same way we used to and even much better! I started to feel really hurt but I did not want to look weak. I went to the bath room where my tears were coming out! I came back and I could hide it. I was asking myself why I am spending my time with those two! I saw her trying to follow me and check on me but I was avoiding her and avoiding to show her anything. This night, after we went home, he asked me if I am feeling jealous and desperate because of my friend. His manner was sarcastic and unkind.

On the next day, the same thing repeated. It started at first to be three person discussion and they end up together and dumping me. They were mainly talking and dancing together. I felt entirely intoxicated and I promised myself that this would be the last weekend that I would spend with them. Unfortunately, the worst happened on that night. She started getting sick out of the drink and crying. I had no other option but to invite her to my place until she gets better in the morning. He was with us and holding her. He was closely next to her and completely taking care of her and hugging her and simply helping her to breath. He tried to hold me from the other side but I felt disgusted and drove him away. It became obvious that they were having something under the sheet. I heard her telling him to check on me because I could be desperate!

I left and went to take a shower because I felt too terrible and cold. I came out of the shower to find them having sex together. I collapsed and I started crying on this moment. I told him you played on both of us. She felt that she hurt her friendly badly on this moment and she dashed to leave. It was early morning and he went with her. He said I am not coming back. Nevertheless, he came back after short time and he tried to have sex with me. I was physically very weak and badly crying. I continued crying all the day and for the following days. He always told me to forgive him.

Sometime passed and we met again. He tried his best to restore me back. We shared other time again and without my girl friend who chose to distant herself. I never enjoyed this relation after that because my mind kept thing does he think she is prettier than I? He probably does not see her anymore because she is not available anymore. These thoughts were deeply coming to me. I was fluctuating between our good time and my broken heart and insecurity. I returned to him but I could not forget that. Later on and on two occasions, he asked me to borrow him few hundreds. I stressed that he should pay me back but this never happened. I gave him some career advice and helped him to make some career change. Nevertheless, he never thought of paying me back after his situation became better.

I had to re-locate for professional reasons. We were regularly chatting for the first two months after my re-location. He started later to make excuses that he is busy and sometimes ignoring me. Then, he would contact me to say hi and I miss you just when he wants. I eventually unfriendly him. Throughout the few months after our separation, I would feel hurt when I see him liking a photo for my friend on fb. I would also remember being dumped on those days and feel again hurt. I would also remember those good days but mostly the bad times. I had an employment gap for sometimes which did not help me overcoming these feelings. The most serious thing I am facing now is that I feel I got my self esteem destroyed because of what happened and I feel deeply insecure and unable to trust anyone.

A: I don’t think this relationship destroyed your self-esteem. I think it was a weak self-esteem that got you into this mess. This man treated you terribly but you continued to be involved with him. You even gave him money and good career advice in spite of the disrespect. You deserve far better treatment than this. In hindsight, you should have dumped him the first time he came on to your friend. This man isn’t worth your pain.

So let’s get back to your self-esteem. The key to building a strong self-esteem is being active in making the world a better place. When we do things that matter, we like ourselves more. When we like ourselves, we don’t accept poor treatment. We look for other people who are also engaged in doing positive things and who treat us (and who expect to be treated) with the respect we’ve earned.

The relationship was a huge mistake, it’s true. But we all make some mistakes in life. What’s important is what we learn from them. I hope you’ve learned to look beyond age and some good times when deciding if a man is right for you. You also need to look at what he is doing with his life and how he is treating other people. Further, I hope you are doing the kinds of things that make you feel good about yourself and worthy of other people’s love and respect. It’s only by doing so that you will feel good about yourself again and worthy of good treatment.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). How Do I Restore Self-Esteem?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/13/how-do-i-restore-self-esteem/