Feeling used? Start working on your self-esteem

Woman feeling used needs to work on her self-esteem first

Q: I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to a person. It's not doing anything good for my life when I continue to see him even though he spent two nights with me and another with another woman last weekend, and told me about all of it. (I guess it's better than lying.)

I don't like the situation, feel used and taken advantage of, and yet powerless to stop it because I love him, and I know if I say anything, I'll lose him. How do I move on with my life? It seems like losing him would create this giant gaping hole.

Anonymous

A: You mean "another" gaping hole — there's the void he doesn't fill, that no relationship can fill, from which the drama provides a distraction.

But first, you need a minor adjustment in terms to reflect a major dose of reality. You won't "lose him," because you don't "have" him. And you will never "get" him by staying on these terms.

Why? Because staying against your better judgment makes you feel bad about yourself, and it's tough to love people who loathe themselves.

Meanwhile, the approval-lust created by low self-esteem (see "unfillable void," above) opens you to users, abusers, enablers, "rescuers" with agendas of their own.

"Like yourself" is impossible advice.

But "take care of yourself" isn't: Start treating yourself like someone worth caring about. Good decisions are the roots of good health.

When you have grounds for a breakup, labels aren't needed

Q: How do you know if your partner's behavior is abusive? I think that label would make breaking up easier. I wouldn't feel like there was still something we could do to save the relationship.

The fight was about her (in my opinion) overreaction to something I did, which I didn't think was that bad. There was name-calling, including accusations of being a liar and a cheater. She was out-of-control angry. The thing that causes me the most PTSD is that she pulled the emergency brake in the car while we were on a highway ramp. No harm done, thank God, but, is that abusive?

Washington

A: "Liar" and "cheater" don't send me running for my abuse pamphlets; if she ventured into the "you're (expletiving) (worthless, useless, stupid)" territory, then you have a case for verbal abuse.

Certainly the brake-pulling, which could have sent your car out of control, was beyond the pale.

If her volatility is a pattern that leads you to alter your behavior, then that's a form of control.

But you don't need labels. The tantrum tells you all you need to know about her: She's not mature enough for a serious relationship.

And, it tells you all you need to know about you: If you're not strong enough to walk away when you think you should, then you're not mature enough for a serious relationship, either.

Of course, couples with immaturity in common usually cling for the long haul. But you recognize that this out-of-control fight is grounds for breaking up with her. Knowing that will make the breakup as easy as it's going to get — which is to say, never easy, not even close.

Feeling used? Start working on your self-esteem 03/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 10:57pm]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...