Dating a Man with Low Self-Esteem

The number of men suffering from self-esteem issues might surprise you. This is due, in part, to the male tendency to mask “signs of weakness” for fear of looking less masculine and because men with low self-esteem tend to behave differently from their female counterparts. It’s true that women more frequently suffer from self-esteem issues than men and that self-esteem increases with age after adolescence but childhood trauma and abuse, school-age bullying, social media-driven body image issues and, even the current pandemic have led to more and more men reporting issues with confidence and self-esteem. In one recent study, 58% of the men polled showed signs of low self-esteem.

Dating a man with low self-esteem is a journey through very rough terrain. As one relationship specialist described it; “A man can’t love you more than he hates himself,” and, as much as we’d like to fix him, we can’t. Only he can take the steps necessary to improve his self-image. For some men, the first step; admitting the problem, is something they just aren’t comfortable doing.

What are the signs of low self-esteem in men?

A man with low self-esteem may appear to have an inflated ego. He describes himself as superior to others and needs to be the alpha male. He boasts about his every achievement and frequently describes himself as unique, special, and possessing talents that other men just don’t have. This posturing is a form of self-protection.

Men with self-esteem issues often develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, (OCD) because they suffer from anxiety and distress. He will engage in compulsive and repetitive behavior.

He likely suffers from psychological escapism. When things get uncomfortable, he disconnects from them mentally. This trait combined with his tendency toward OCD often leads to addiction.

Dating him may feel like dating a child. He wants to be pampered, fed and provided with all of your attention when you’re together and may throw a tantrum if he isn’t the center of your universe.

He likes to play the victim card. When things go wrong in his life he turns to self-pity saying things like, “Why does this always happen to me?”, “Why am I so unlucky,” etc…

He is likely to have difficulty committing to a relationship. His need for external validation is too great for one person to fill. He may also feel unworthy of your love and avoid committing for fear of being hurt.

Though he will expect to have your complete attention and act jealous and insecure about your relationships with others, he will likely have a wandering eye and will flirt with other women. He has a need to seek attention from other women as a means of validation and the more, the better because external validation is a weak substitute for self-love and can only temporarily fill the void.

If you’re dating a man with low self-esteem, it’s important to understand that you can’t fix him. You can offer realistic compliments and reassure him but you won’t convince him that he’s good enough. He will need to come to terms with his problem and work through the root cause. This generally requires some form of professional counseling.

Ghosting, Breadcrumbs, and Gaslighting

And How to Handle Them

There is no doubt that social media has changed our interpersonal interactions and not always for the better. When it comes to relationships and dating, the internet has expanded our options exponentially which could provide access to the love of your life several states away. Unfortunately, this additional reach also invites more of the wrong people to have access to us.

By now, everyone has an idea of what ghosting is. Simply put, someone seems to have an interest in you and things appear to be progressing in a positive direction and then, suddenly, they go dark. They don’t text or call and stop responding to your attempts to reach out. So, why do people ghost? In many cases, for one reason or another, the person who is ghosting has decided not to proceed with the relationship but fears confrontation so they cut off all communication. They may feel guilty for initiating the contact and then changing their minds and simply don’t want any repercussions for their behavior. If you’ve been ghosted, move on. There won’t be closure. Simply understand that being ghosted is not a reflection on you. It’s a reflection of them.

Breadcrumbs are the texts, messages, and comments on social media posts that someone leaves to give the impression that they’re interested in you. The problem with breadcrumbs comes in when the person leaving them has no intentions of moving forward into a face to face relationship. Breadcrumbs are a vague way of leading someone on. The messages are sporadic and just when you think the person has lost interest, they pop up on your social media again to keep you on the hook.

 There are several reasons why people leave breadcrumbs. In some cases, the person is healing from a breakup and wants to feel validated by communicating with someone else. They may also be looking for an ego boost for other personal reasons. In many cases, they are leaving breadcrumbs for multiple people so that they can feel good about themselves when their inbox is full of messages from people who find them attractive. If you’re getting messages from someone and they don’t start discussing a meet up after three messages, it’s best to not get emotionally attached to this person and move on.

And, finally, gaslighting. Gaslighting is a key indicator of a toxic relationship. When someone gaslights, they cause their partner to question reality. They twist the narrative to make others question their thoughts, feelings, actions and memories in order to control them in some way. Gaslighter want to play victim when they, in fact, are the manipulator. It is a common trait of narcissists who disregard their partners wants and needs and make them feel shellfish for having them. If you are certain about your thoughts, feelings or account of a particular incident but find yourself questioning your view of reality after discussing it with your partner, you may be the victim of gaslighting.

I had the misfortune of being involved with a gaslighter for several years and can say from my own experience that I had no idea that he was manipulating the narrative until after the relationship ended. I reflected on the many times that he had made me feel guilty for pointing out his behavior and somehow convinced me to take blame for his wrong doing. It was a hard lesson to learn and a relationship trap that I will never fall in to again.

As interactions become more virtual, we will coin more phrases to define peoples evolving online behavior. On the bright side, we’ll be able to access this information and arm ourselves so that we don’t waste our time on people who aren’t really interested in committing to a relationship.

The Wanting

I can’t not want you. The sound of you, the scent of you, the smug look that you wear on your face because you know that I can’t not want you all fill me with the need to touch you, to taste you, and to take you inside me.

To me, you are perfect despite your scars and memories that sometimes make loving anyone more difficult for you. You’re perfect because you’re pure in your imperfection and would sacrifice yourself to save me from harm, even if the harm could come from loving you.

I’ve told myself that I “deserve” more or better than what you have to give but that’s society talking. That’s what I’ve been trained to think. You asked me if I regretted any of our time together and the answer is no. What you give me is adoration, care, and your sincere desire to be close to me and only me and, for now, that’s enough.

Exercise and Sexual Health

Getting a bit personal here, in October 2019 I decided that it was time to revamp my diet and return to the gym. I was always a fairly healthy eater and exercised regularly for most of my adult life but changes in my home life, having another baby, and spending more time working from home had caused me to waver from my healthy lifestyle and I was seeing it in my waistline and feeling it in my energy level. So, almost exactly two years ago, I reduced my caloric intake, made healthier food choices and developed a weekly workout schedule. The result was a 35 pound weight loss, an increase in muscle mass, and, to my surprise, a kick start to my sex drive!

I decided to investigate the connection between physical fitness and sex drive/arousal to see if there was any science to back my experience. What I found was that it wasn’t only the end result of the exercise that increased the sex drive but also, the act of exercising itself!

A study on exercise-induced sexual arousal showed that women get a different kind of sexual benefit from exercise. A vigorous workout affects hormones, neurotransmitters and autonomic nervous system activity. It also raises and sustains levels of an enzyme in women that increases genital blood flow and arousal. For women, a twenty minute workout can boost sexual arousal by 169 percent.

Regular cardio workouts reduce stress and increase the flow of “feel good” hormones resulting in a more relaxed and focused sexual experience. Cardio also helps to control insulin levels. High levels of insulin negatively impacts the sex hormones in both men and women. Exercise helps to keep hormones balanced and insulin production in check resulting in a higher sex drive.

Sex organs need good blood flow to function properly. Exercise reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of heart disease allowing for better blood flow. This can help men manage erectile dysfunction and help women become sexually aroused faster and reach more frequent and faster orgasms.

Regular exercise also boosts cognitive function and improves over all stamina so you can be better engaged with your partner and have more rigorous and longer lasting sexual encounters.

We shouldn’t forget the effect that having a positive body image has on our sex life. If we think we look good, we are less inhibited and more open to sexual exploration. Let’s not forget, also, how increased flexibility opens up options in the arena of sexual positions!

We’ve always known that exercise and fitness improved sexual health for men. We now know that women benefit as much, if not more, than men do!

Happiness is Brought to a Relationship, Not Found There

Finding and keeping a healthy, committed relationship seems to be harder than ever these days. The internet, a rise in mental health concerns, and dynamic societal gender roles make remaining in a relationship a real challenge and tend to cause women to behave in ways that are more likely to drive a man away than bring him closer. We can make them feel demasculinized, unloved, untrusted, or smothered and in most cases, we’re oblivious to the things we do and how they make men feel.

The first, and most important thing, to realize is that men and women are not the same. Sure, not all men are the same either, but there are fundamental evolutionary aspects to manhood that, on some level, all men share. When we interact with our partners we tend to expect them to function the same way that we act, think and respond rather than how a man would think, act, and respond. This is why we feel so lost when a man starts pulling away. We feel like victims because we can’t fathom what we may have done to cause his distance and make assumptions rather than taking stock. We believe he’s cheating or that we’ve been played.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. let’s look at a few fatal relationships mistakes that women make.

The Chase

Let’s face it, women like to be pursued and men don’t. Sure, his ego might get a good stroking but to a man being chased is usually a turn off. Men are fairly simple when it comes to courting. If he’s interested in you, he will make it known and will appreciate having to chase you a bit. Why? Because it makes him feel charismatic and manly to chase a woman and win her over but the woman he wants to win is the one who seems like an actual prize to him. Women who chase men often appear desperate and void of self worth to the opposite sex and who wants to win someone like that?

So how do you assure him that you’re interested without appearing desperate? Stop initiating contact. Let him text first and call first the majority of the time. Miss a phone call or two and wait a while before calling back. You’re not supposed to be sitting by the phone waiting for him to call. Live your life and let him know that your world doesn’t revolve around him.

If you’re already in a relationship stop asking for every detail of his day. Don’t show up at his job to surprise him with a lunch date. Don’t feel the need to break in to his guy time with text messages, Communicate with him and find out exactly what he expects as far as contact goes and don’t cross the line in to crazy girlfriend territory.

Being Consumed with Your Own Agenda

There is something disingenuous about trying to plan the future of a relationship when one only considers their own desires and needs. It’s a me centered mindset.  You get so fixated on achieving some sort of relationship goal (like being official), and on figuring out how he feels. When you do this, you aren’t connecting with him as a person, you are using him as a means to feel good about yourself and worthy of love and that is not the pathway towards a meaningful connection.

When you cook for him, clean his apartment, or offer him praise, are you doing it naturally or are you doing it to convince him that you’re worthy of his commitment? If it isn’t genuine, it won’t penetrate his heart. You’re far better off bonding naturally and making him feel like he can share parts of himself with you that he hides from the rest of the world. He needs to feel valued, not mothered.

Without manipulation, a relationship follows a natural course. If it’s taking too long for you, it may not be right for you and you should be the one moving on.

Feeling Entitled

Nothing turns a man off faster than unreasonable expectations from a woman. When he does things for you he wants to feel appreciated. Stepping outside of yourself and looking at him and appreciating him for the person he is, not just for the way he makes you feel and what he does for you, is other-focused and that is how a real connection forms.

Being too Needy and Stressing too Much over the Relationship

I once had a man tell me that even if he was the perfect man for me, I would still find something wrong with the relationship. He was right. I was insecure and needy and stressed too much over his behavior. I was always looking for a hidden meaning or agenda. I wasn’t ready for a commitment. I needed to work on myself, first.

Neediness usually comes from an emptiness within that we believe somebody else can fill for us. We may come to believe that some other person can give us something emotionally that we can’t give ourselves: a feeling of being OK, of being worthy of love, of feeling good about ourselves. The problem is someone else can’t give us those things; they come from within.

Neediness leads to a constant need for validation and reassurance. It causes jealously. We panic when he doesn’t call or text. We obsess over him and fear that he’ll leave us. We make him the center of our universe and neglect our own well-being as well as other people in our lives while we stress over the state of our relationship. This behavior is unhealthy for us and a deal breaker for most men. If you find yourself feeling this way. step back and take the time to understand why you behave this way.

Committing too Soon

You meet a guy who is heads and shoulders above all of the other men that you have to chose from. What do you do? You cut the others off and focus exclusively on him even though he hasn’t shown a desire to do the same with you. He tells you he likes things the way they are and you’re hurt by this, but you stay the course anyway hoping he’ll change his mind. He probably won’t.

You need to free yourself up to explore other options. It’s not that guys are anti-monogamy, or don’t want to commit, it just isn’t a man’s natural inclination to want to be tied down. A man will only commit himself to a woman if he is inspired to and if it has a benefit to him. If he is getting all the benefits of having a girlfriend without the obligations that come with being in a relationship, then why in the world would he change that situation?

If a man knows he is with an incredible woman and senses she will leave if he doesn’t commit in the way she wants, then he’ll commit. If a man is with an amazing woman but is kind of on the fence about her and senses she’ll leave if he doesn’t commit, then he’ll let her go. But if this same woman sticks around even though he won’t commit, then he might keep her around indefinitely and that is where the real trouble lies.

Pathological Fear of Commitment

You met someone and things are going great. You laugh together. You have a lot in common and of course the sex is fantastic. As things progress. you spend more and more time together and may even start to use those three little words. You’re in love and surely ready to move this situation into relationship territory, right? Well, you might be but the mere mention of making a commitment causes your partner to shut down. Maybe they hit you with every reason in the book why you should stay how you are; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe they just stop calling or become distant, or maybe, they sabotage the whole thing and you leave them. You ask yourself how you could have been so easily played by someone who didn’t care as much as they led you to believe but you may not have been played at all. Your partner truly love you but may also be suffering from a pathological fear of commitment.

Gamophobia is the fear of commitment and can also be defined as an irrational fear of marriage. Although not a diagnosable mental illness, the psychiatric community agrees that it is very real. Fear of commitment or long-term relationship anxiety could be linked to early experiences or even trauma. Someone may fear commitment because they’re afraid of being abandoned, hurt, or betrayed, for example.

An article in Psyche Central states:

It’s possible for someone to experience gamophobia only. They might feel comfortable committing to their job, other relationships, and events that require long-term responsibility.

If your partner has a fear of commitment or commitment phobia, that doesn’t necessarily mean they:

  • don’t love you
  • don’t value you
  • are rejecting you
  • don’t want to spend time with you
  • are cheating on you
  • are playing with you

It may be difficult for someone to deal with the commitment itself but not the feelings. They may be in love, want to spend time with you, and even desire to get closer. Yet, they might have a hard time dealing with the dedication and engagement this may require.

If they live with a phobia, the irrational fear this involves may trump their feelings.

So, how do you know if your partner is playing you or if they truly fear commitment? What are the signs of commitment phobia?

Sadly, those who fear commitment demonstrate the same behaviors as those who consider themselves “players”.

They don’t make long term plans and if they do, they don’t include you in them.

They don’t readily open up about their feelings or have deep conversations.

They may avoid contact with you, particularly is you’ve mentioned making plans or moving your relationship to the next level.

The best way to approach a partner with fear of commitment is through open communication. You can’t threaten or trick them in to committing to you. These tactics will only drive them further away. Be real with them. Tell them that you understand that they are confused about taking the next step and assure them that you know that they love you. Agree to move slowly as long as they agree to work on the problem.

Some suggestions include:

Individual or Couples Therapy

Practice Commitment – Leave items in their household and have them leave some in yours. Hold hands in public. Go out as a couple with other couples. Take weekend trips or a vacation and plan future trips together.

Be empathetic. Most of us have experienced a breakup that left us a little shell shocked. Talk about it.

The bottom line is that fear of commitment doesn’t make some one impossible to date. It just means that the relationship will take more work, lot’s of trust, and honest communication. It’s not easy to be with someone who fears commitment and not take it personally, but if you’re willing to put your feelings aside and they’re willing to work on the issue, it is possible for your partner to overcome their fear.

Relationship Failure in 2021

There are as many reasons that relationships fail as there are failed relationships but some relationship issues don’t have to be fatal. If they can’t be avoided, (they’re already happening) they may simply need to be addressed so that behaviors can change.

Non-Acceptance

You meet someone and think, “He’s great, but…” We’ve all done it. We find someone that we like who has many qualities that we really dig but there are some things about them that are kind of a turn off. We weigh the good against the bad and decide if we want to go any further. Deciding to over look a partners personality traits or behaviors that we find annoying is fine as long as we commit to acceptance. The problem is that more often than not, we don’t. We go in to it thinking that we can change them. We believe that once they see how great life can be with us, they’ll change for us. In most cases, they won’t.

Over time we get frustrated with our partners and either demand that they change or use passive aggressive ploys to elicit a modification from them. We may even make insensitive comments about them or worse, point out their flaws to others in an attempt to shame them into complying with our will. These doesn’t work. They may even agree to make changes but, depending on the issue, the changes are unlikely to stick. They may grow to resent us for our overbearing behavior.

How do you avoid this pitfall? There are two ways. First, talk about these things before getting serious. Some things need to be ironed out ahead of time. For example; if your partner isn’t ambitious and works a low paying job that they love but you expect them to foot half the living expenses when they move in, you can’t just assume that they’ll leave their great job for a higher paycheck. Let’s say that you believe your partner spends too much time out with the boys. If you’ve accepted this behavior when you were dating, they are likely to expect you to accept it when things get more serious.

Second, simply accept your differences. You picked him and for better or worse, if you value him, you need to let him be himself, no matter how flawed you think they may be.

Lack of Trust

The only things as bad as wondering if your partner is unfaithful is being accused of being unfaithful when you’re not. If your trust issues are justified, forgive or run for the hills but if the lack is trust is manifesting without justification, you need to find out where your trust issues are coming from. We carry our baggage from one relationship to the next and it’s unfair to our partners. I was once told, “You carry the burden of proving that you’re better than every woman who came before you.” but that shouldn’t be the case.

If you find yourself cracking the lock code on his phone while he’s sleeping or sniffing his laundry for left over perfume when there have been no signs that he’s been cheating, you probably have trust issues that you need to address. If you don’t, they’ll cause you to do “Crazy Ex” things until he leaves you.

Differing Priorities

For some, a romantic relationship is the most important aspect of their lives. For others, it’s just a part of the equation and things like family, work, friends, or a hobby hold equal or greater value. If one partner expects to be the center of the universe while the other wants to spend a large part of their life apart from their partner, one will end up with hurt feelings while the other feels smothered.

Relationship building is like building a fire. If you just toss a bunch of logs on the fire without leaving room for air circulation, your fire won’t burn. If you’re relationship can’t breath, you also run the risk of losing the flame.

If there is trust in a relationship, there is no reason why partners can’t have aspects of their lives that they keep separate from the relationship.

Communication

I saved communication for last because it’s a pivotal part of the other three. Proper communication helps to avoid most pitfalls in relationships. If you communicate your expectations in the beginning, your partner can decide if they’re willing to change for you. If you communicate rather than being passive aggressive your partner is more likely to hear you. You can’t just assume that you hold a place of importance in someone’s life. You need to know where they see your relationship going. If you’re uncomfortable speaking honestly with your partner, you need t evaluate the situation and determine if it’s a problem on your end or not. If you are justifiably worried that communicating with your partner will make them angry, you may be dealing with a gas lighter or narcissist and it may be time to move on.

Adam and Beth Bring the Heat

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he whispered as he clipped the leather cuffs to my belt and I quivered.

His big hand cupped the back of my head tightly guiding it down until my face was buried in the black, silk pillow.

An eternity passed. My bare legs growing goose flesh from the chill of the room. He believed that the cold intensified the pleasure. I flinched as his bare hand made contact with my bottom. He rubbed it with his cold fingers, then gave it a thunderous smack. My insides swelled and I let out a whimper.

He leaned forward placing his thick erection firmly between my cheeks and tickled my back with the leather strips of the red and black flogger. I tried not to tense up as I awaited the first strike.

“Crack!” the sound echoed in my ears and my hunger for him grew.

He gently ran the leather straps across the strike zone, then, struck me two more times. I would be incapable of holding back much longer.

“What do you want? Say it!”  he told me as he stuck his hand between my legs and squeezed.

“Fuck me…”  I whispered.

He slapped my ass hard and said, “I didn’t hear you?”

“Fuck me…” I said, louder this time.

He struck me again, ‘Who are you talking to?”

“Fuck me, Daddy! Please!” I cried.

He grunted, satisfied that I’d learned my lesson. He placed his big hand on the small of my back and plunged his cock inside me.