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Author Topic: Jealous of my boyfriend
aprilmay
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I have been dating my boyfriend for 4 months. It's been the best relationship I've been in and I can't imagine anyone treating me better. He's adorable and supportive and I love him. But I feel insecure around him. He has a very impressive resume and is is getting amazing job offers for after graduation. I am in student teaching and not having a very good experience. I am under a lot of stress and constantly feel like I'm not good enough. I don't even think I want to teach anymore. I confide all of this in him and for the past 2 months he's been nothing but supportive and reassuring. But last night I was particularly upset and for the first time ever he got fed up with me. He told me I have to be positive and take pride in what I do. He said that it hurts him just as much as it hurts me when I constantly put myself down. He was angry and didn't want to hear it anymore. I went to sleep feeling so lonely and upset because I still feel just as bad about myself and my prospects after graduation but now I have to keep that hidden. I know he means well, but I can't shake this horrible feeling ever since we talked last night. I was with him all morning and this afternoon and couldn't shake this sadness. I don't know what to do. Whenever I'm with him I feel like I'm not good enough. I find myself taking it out on him and acting short, which he doesn't deserve. He does everything to make me happy and I am so scared I'm going to ruin everything with my issue.
He told me that I need to love myself as much as he loves me and I don't know how.

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Heather
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aprilmay, I'm pretty much out for the day, but I wanted to make sure you got some kind of answer to start with tonight, because it sounds like you're hurting pretty badly.

It also sounds like you're voicing some very low self-esteem. Is this something you think you've had an issue with before? If so, have you ever gotten any counseling or done any other personal growth work on this?

Additionally, I'm hearing you comparing yourself to your boyfriend, or perhaps even more comparing his study/work achievements with your own. Since I assume you two aren't competing in a workplace, can you maybe fill me in on why you think you may be doing that?

Most of all, though, I think it's clear that this really isn't about not feeling good enough for this particular person, but about not feeling good enough, period. If that's so, can we maybe talk about what you think a person would have to be or do to be worthy of love and respect, including self-love and self-respect, and why -- if you feel this way -- you don't feel you're worth those things which everyone is?

Lastly, you say when you're with him you don't feel good enough. Are there other relationships of any kind where you do? other contexts in your life? How about all by yourself, even?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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aprilmay
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I have always had an issue with self esteem. It's something I think I've improved on since middle and high school days, but I still have moments where I feel pretty horrible about myself. That I'm overweight, that I'm awkward with new people, that I haven't achieved enough or gotten high enough grades. Since I've been dating him some of these issues have become worse.
As for comparing myself to him, I don't know why I do it. He's so sure of himself and laid back. He has done so many amazing things in his life and it makes me feel inadequate. He's good at everything he does without trying and it's like a constant reminder of my shortcomings. I'm so proud of him and his accomplishments but I find myself resenting him a little bit. I hate that about myself.
Maybe it's that he's set to have an amazing career doing something he loves, and I'm starting to realize that I have a degree I don't even want to use. He's always going to be outstanding and I'm going to settle.
I always want to change things about myself and can't, and then I feel bad about them. I compare myself to everyone. I have a roommate who is extremely critical and makes me feel bad about myself all the time. I usually avoid her because she has a way of cutting you down with just a few words. She is really high achieving but is really insecure, more than I am even I think, and I know that's why she puts others down. But it still hurts.
This is really long but I think I've answered your questions. My biggest concern is that my insecurity is going to ruin my relationship. He is so important to me and I can't risk anything messing things up.

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Heather
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This is one of those moments when it really sucks that we don't have a button on the keyboard that can give someone a big hug.

First of all, I want to say that I don't believe, unless you choose this, that this person is "always going to be outstanding and (you're) going to settle." I certainly don't believe that just based on the difference in your education or degrees. Plenty of us don't settle and do great things despite changing gears in our education or our lives, or having one kind of education in which the education or the degree it resulted in aren't of use to use. Really, I promise. I know plenty of people that started all guns blazing when younger in their work then stalled out later or switched gears later. I know plenty of people who switched gears earlier and love their work later and do very well with it. I'm one of those folks myself.

But that's just a piece of the pie: work isn't our whole life, and not being where you'd like to in life or work now, or feeling how you'd like to about yourself or your life now doesn't mean you have to settle or will always feel that way. I know it can feel like that, but you get to choose not to settle.

There's something I tend to notice -- not just me, a lot of folks do -- about people who are in a space where their esteem is low and who are constantly so focused on changing themselves so they can feel better. That's the fact that often what happens, then, is that you're not focusing on who you are, right now, as-is, and learning that that person is great just as they are. Maybe you haven't done all the things you want to do, or have some bits of yourself you want to work on so you feel better and are happier, but chances are that you don't feel bad about you because you're not a person to feel good about. rather, you're likely feeling bad about you, on the whole, because you're not focusing on and accepting the person you are, working to know that that person, with no changes, is awesome.

I'm more worried about your relationship with yourself than with a partner, but I totally get having something great with someone you're worried you'll tank. The good news is that working on your own esteem for yourself, working to better care for who you are and enjoy that person fits both those bills.

Can we talk about what you've done to work on your esteem? Have you had any counseling? If not that, what other kinds of work have you done so far?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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aprilmay
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I've never had any counseling before. I went to a counselor once at my college because I was really overwhelmed with school and was feeling really down about it. That was just one visit, though.
I've gotten better about going easy on myself and accepting myself the way I am, but sometimes I slip back. I try to push those ideas out of my head. I also try to work my hardest at the things I do so that I can feel as confident as possible about them. I guess I don't really know what kind of work I could do.

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Heather
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Okay, I'd suggest you look into some counseling, then.

What a good counselor can do around self-esteem is help to identify where yours is at, where any poor self-esteem may have come from or be coming from, and then help you with strategies to raise your esteem.

Trying to just push bad feelings out or hide them away, whether we're talking about esteem or anything else, usually isn't a very good strategy. Instead, what we usually have to do is allow ourselves to have bad feelings and process them, which is how we get to the other side.

Perfectionism also isn't usually a sound answer to good self-esteem, because when we have truly good esteem, we know that even when we aren't doing anything at all, even if we don't have certain achievements, we are valuable and worthwhile. I understand the inclination (all too well: perfectionism and overachievement were long, and are sometimes still, the way I personally tried to counter times of poor esteem since I grew up with a lot of messaging that the only way I could have value was through achievement), but it can actually be counterproductive in this respect.

So, how about you do some legwork looking for that counselor? In the meantime, since it can take a little while to get connected with a counselor, how about you and I talk about the times that you DO feel really good about yourself? Can you identify what some of those times are for me?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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aprilmay
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I'm kind of nervous about doing that. I just get uncomfortable talking to someone I don't know about myself like that. Is it that serious?

I feel really good about myself when I'm running usually. When I sing... When I achieve a goal for myself... When I'm relaxed and having fun with friends... When I'm eating... This is a surprisingly hard list to make.

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Heather
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It might help to remember that when we establish a relationship with a therapist or counselor, they aren't someone we don't know: they become someone we know.

In any kind of therapy or counseling, we should always be given time to build a relationship and disclose things to that provider over time. It's not like anyone is expected to walk in, meet someone for the first time, and dump everything right then and there. [Smile]

That's a good starter list. So, have you been able to spend some good time lately doing those things (let's put the goal-meeting aside)? Do you do any of those things with your boyfriend?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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aprilmay
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No, not really because I've been student teaching and don't have time. Maybe that's part of the reason I've been having a hard time?
We eat together haha. And I spend a lot of time with him.

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Heather
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For sure, if we don't make time to do the things where we feel good about ourselves most, we're likely to have a tough time feeling good, especially if we are struggling with poor self-esteem.

So, sounds like you can make time for your boyfriend and need to do a better job making that same time for yourself. Since it sounds like he's very supportive of you working on your esteem, I'm sure asking him for more time for yourself, and/or to do more of the things with you where you feel good together would be no big whoop. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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aprilmay
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That's a really good idea. I hadn't even thought about the fact that I haven't been doing the things I enjoy. Maybe that will help.
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Heather
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I'd consider that basic maintainance. Mind, it's not likely to skyrocket your esteem from awful to awesome: if your esteem is as low as it's been sounding like, you're still going to likely need some help with that and some work expressly around that.

But I would expect doing those things to help, and would say you (and everyone) needs to keep doing those things as a habit, period.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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