Okay, so my boyfriend of nine months has terrible self-esteem. He always disses on himself and never believes me when I tell him how amazing he really is. It’s gotten to the point where he’s constantly talking about how much he doesn’t like himself and I’m getting so frustrated. I want to help him and help make him confident but I don’t know what to do. Whenever I tell him how great he is he tells me I’m wrong! Please help.
I know you’re concerned about your boyfriend and I can completely understand that you feel like you need to help make him confident, but here’s the thing, girl: lifting your BF’s self-esteem is not your job or responsibility. It’s actually most likely not even possible – this is something your BF has to figure out on his own. No one can get him to be confident and love himself except for, well, himself.
Showering your boyfriend with compliments and always telling him he’s wrong when he complains about himself isn’t really going to help the situation. In fact, it could only be making it worse. I’m not saying your BF is doing this stuff intentionally (I’m sure he doesn’t want to feel this badly about himself all the time), but in a way he could be ragging on himself for attention. It probably feels good to hear you talk about wonderful he is – and he knows that you’re going to do that when he says certain things.
It’s also really unfair for you to have this burden on your shoulders of trying to make him more confident. Again, I’m not saying your boyfriend is doing this stuff on purpose. But he has unintentionally made you feel like you’re responsible for his self-esteem, and you’re not. You can’t spend your life trying to convince him he’s great, because all that’s going to do is make you focus more on him than yourself, and that’s never healthy.
Also, this is probably going to start majorly affecting your relationship, if it hasn’t already. When you constantly hear about how you’re too good for him, and about how much he sucks, a little voice in your head is probably going to start believing it. You’re probably going to start wondering, “what the heck am I doing with this guy?” I’m not saying you don’t love him, but hearing the same thing over and over will get to you after a while.
So what are you supposed to do? The next time your BF disses himself, don’t start complimenting him – tell him you’re sick of these negative words. Remind him that you love him for who he is and you don’t think there’s anything wrong with him, but he needs to start gaining more confidence. Let him know that you don’t like hearing him say this stuff and it may hurt your relationship. Be there for him, but don’t feel like you have to change him. Maybe suggest that he should go to a therapist or talk to a professional for more help. If he doesn’t start trying to be more confident, then give him an ultimatum: either he starts working on himself, or you’re outta there.
I know everything I’m saying may sound harsh, but being with a guy who hates himself can be really hard. The sooner you realize this isn’t your responsibility, the better.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org