This is one of those topics that most people will probably roll their eyes at, but it’s extremely important. Most people look at themselves and feel good about what they see. But for others, it’s the complete opposite.
I, myself, have struggled with hating myself for a long period of time before I realized that was what was keeping me from achieving my true happiness.
But what a lot of people don’t realize is that men struggle with it deeply and much differently than women. I read an interesting article last night that really opened my eyes to how it is for men to really hate themselves. So this article is going to be aimed more towards men, but overall, it’s going to have good points for both genders.
Societal standards have created such a form of toxic masculinity how men aren’t allowed to have emotions. They’re expected to just suck it up and stuff it down, bottle it up, until it just explodes and hurts everyone around them. I say, fuck that. Men are just as human are women and their emotions are just as valid as women’s are.
According to the CDC, women are more likely than men to receive any type of mental health treatment. Nearly 25% of women received mental health treatment in 2019, compared to 13% of men. I am almost certain that it’s due to the stigma that men don’t need therapy or that therapy is a joke. We have to change this, normalize men getting mental help!
Okay, so now that we’ve established the numbers, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
As I mentioned the article above, the one about self-hate in men. I strongly suggest you read it in it’s entirety but I’m going to highlight the key parts here.
“Low self-esteem is easy to explain yet hard to understand for some. It’s feeling shameful about who you are. Feeling guilty or embarrassed about who you are, deep in your core. You feel ‘different’. Damaged or flawed in fundamental, irreversible ways. You don’t love yourself. Your man may never admit it outright – but he wishes he were someone else.” This is usually what both men and women feel, but of course, men and women handle things differently, let alone that each individual handles things differently as well.
“If you love him, he will need you to get through it. You may be able to show him the light. Don’t give up on him, he needs you. Many times it will be confusing, and he may hurt you without wanting to. (Trust me, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He hurts enough just being himself.)” I needed to read this part so much just last night. If you love him, and really love him, then you can help him through this. It’s not going to be easy, but it can be done.
If you are a person who loves a man with low self-esteem, then here are nine important things that you need to remember:
- He loves you so much, but he hates himself much more.
- He’s lost. You two may have such an obvious, beautiful opportunity for love but he squanders it. He only sees his own shortcomings. His pain and depression is like a dark, heavy, thick blanket that he just can’t shake. But like I said above, he may not even realize it. He’s not trying to mess with your head. He’s not unreachable. However he is in a state of constant anxiety, always wishing he could be someone HE loves. If you say ‘I love you’, he probably thinks: ‘Why would you? You can’t. You’re wrong’.
- He yearns to love himself, and the struggle to do that can ruin your relationship. This should be a good thing, right? Not all men act out this feeling in healthy ways. It will be hard but think about their perspective. If they don’t love themselves maybe you can do something to help them. If you love him, do what you can to help his HEART. Buy him books on spirituality, ask him how he feels about himself. Listen, and if required seek the help of a licensed therapist or psychologist.
- He may seek attention outside the relationship, or activities without you.
- This was a huge factor in my relationship ending. My low self-esteem led me to crave attention from other potential partners. I was addicted to approval and validation from other women.
- Maybe he likes attention from others, flirtation and come-hither looks. I hope you haven’t caught him on dating sites or apps. That was another thing I would do – I craved the attention so much. Maybe he also yearns for people to tell him how cool he is, how great he dresses, or what a sweet job he has. Point is, he’s just crazy for attention.
- He seeks attention and approval from other people – but what about you? Self-esteem is a real b*tch. He thinks that he has to either prove to himself that he’s worthy, or look for evidence of it anywhere he can. ‘If other people tell me I’m great, then that must mean I’m great.’
- It may be common sense to you – that we should all love and respect ourselves as human beings. But to a sufferer of low self-esteem, this isn’t the case. Having low self-esteem is like being in a courtroom. And you’re guilty until proven innocent. He’s shameful at the core of his being. His soul appears blackened, damaged and irreparable. He craves escapes from reality.
- Try to talk with him about this. ‘I think you act like this because you like how it makes you feel, right? Why do you need to feel this way? Can’t you just be yourself, how you feel now?’ ‘Why aren’t I enough?’ ‘Do you need help learning to love yourself?’
- If your man can’t handle this conversation, consider moving on. He’s not ready. It must be him who makes the changes necessary to heal. It is NEVER on your shoulders to do this for him.
- He believes he must have ‘got lucky’. He feels unworthy of you.
- At first he cherished you. You were his prize. He held you close, showed you off to the world. It was intoxicating and intense. But soon, he knew he ‘had you’ and started looking around. The high that you and the new relationship gave him faded. The drug wore off, so he’s seeking fresh supply. He needs more intense intoxicating experiences to feel okay about himself.
- Remember that this isn’t about you – this is about a hole he has in his heart. He needs to know that he didn’t just ‘get lucky’ when he landed you. Don’t let him feel that way! Please, tell him you love him. Tell him everything you think is unique and enticing about him. Don’t make it only about appearance either. If he feels like he fooled you, he will not treat the relationship with the respect. This is an important point.
- He may be restless, or always trying to prove something to the world or himself.
- Some call it ‘hustle’ or ambition. Maybe he has grand ideas or entrepreneurial zeal up the wazoo. He wants to create something that will change the world. That’s wonderful, but in his case it may be a cover-up: a distraction from voices in his head. The voices that say, ‘you’re not enough’. He’s trying to create a life that will prove his worth.
- He doesn’t want a life without you. His big dreams or grandiose desires get him out of his head. They give him hope that maybe one day, just maybe he will be able to like the man he is. After he does all this awesome stuff.
- There is nothing wrong with drive and initiative. But why is he so driven? Why does he desire so much? If we bothered to ask ourselves ‘why’ we want the things we do, we could save ourselves much heartbreak. We’d stop running after so many shiny red balls. We could live with more purpose. Your man should ask himself why he wants to accomplish so much.
- To bring him down to earth, remind him how much life there is to live right now, in this moment. This moment, between the two of you. Kiss his lips, hold his head in your hands. Tousle that hair and look deep into those eyes you love so much. Say, ‘I love you for exactly who you are, right now’. Tell him he is enough.
- The point isn’t to make him an aimless, lazy ass. It’s to make sure he has his motivation and priorities in the right place.
- He can be extremely jealous or insecure about other men.
- The low self-esteem inside your man creates an enormous hole. He filled it with you, and sprinkles in other things like vices and attention from others. When you threaten to leave them empty again they go crazy or become irrational.
- He doesn’t want you to suffer. Nor does he want to dominate you. He doesn’t know why he feels this way, but it’s because he hates who he is. In effect it’s self-defense, your actions hurt him. It’s painful enough just being who he is – when you threaten to make him feel even worse about himself … he lashes out or gets uncomfortable.
- It can be near impossible to get him living ‘in the moment’.
- Many guys with low self-esteem are living in the past. He may be guilt-ridden and woeful over opportunities he failed to seize. Maybe he regrets not doing better in school, or choosing a better college. He might feel like a failure and disappointment to his family. Who knows, the point is he rides himself down all the time.
- Alternately, he’s living in the future. He dreams of a day when he can ‘be happy’. You may feel sad because it seems all he cares about is making lots of money, accomplishments or fame. Or making his family proud. He may seem to leave you out of his utopian vision of the future. But he probably just feels he’ll only worthy of you once he conquers the world. He feels he’s unworthy of happiness until he proves himself. These thoughts consume him and he’s desperate for that sweet moment of relief when he’s ‘made it’. Problem: it’s never coming.
- You love him exactly as he is, right? Tell him that right now.
- True commitment scares the sh*t out of him – but not for the reason you think.
- No advice here, no matter what he’s going to give you the ‘deer in the headlights’ look. Knowing this may help you understand the complexity of a man. He needs to learn to love himself through the hard times before he can love you through the hard times.
- He may enjoy seeing you in pain or suffering for the relationship.
- Sick, huh? Hate me if you want, I don’t care. I come in truth. This is a tough one to talk about. Self-esteem can get so low that a man gets validation from seeing his partner suffer. Seeing a person go through hell for us, feel pain caused by us – can actually give us pride.
- It’s a dose of the ‘I’m worthy’ drug … ‘Look at how this person goes crazy for me, I must be worthy’.
- Enough said, it’s time to leave the relationship. Hurt never justifies hurt.
- He adores you – but he needs to learn how to love himself.
- Your guy has to learn to love himself. This includes all the deepest and darkest parts too, the parts that scare him to death. The unfaced and unfelt parts of our psyche are the source of all neurosis and suffering. Carl Jung said that, not me.
- If he only loves a certain part of himself like his looks, the rest of him will just go on undeveloped. In many ways I was like a child before. I avoided pain or sacrifice every chance I could, and I turned into a big man-child. If this is happening to your man, you must stop it right away.
Just so everyone knows, this list was just copy/paste from the article, but the article is linked here as well so you can check it out yourself.
But the bottom line is that love prevails everything. In my personal case, my husband struggles with low self-esteem and I’ve known this, but not to the extent that it is until recently. It broke my fucking heart when we figured it out, but I’m telling you that this article helped me understand it tremendously. I felt so helpless, but I knew that I didn’t want to leave him. He is my husband and we made a promise to be there for each other even when it’s so. fucking. rough.
Some of these things I can even relate to myself as I have struggled with esteem issues growing up. I remember feeling the same way, and I’m a woman. But I went to therapy, I failed it a few times, but I finally found an amazing program that really fit me and it helped. I still struggle myself, but we’re only human. We have emotions and sometimes, they get out of hand.
Anyways, if you have any information that you feel you would like to add, leave a comment and let’s destigmatize men getting mental help! They need to know how to cope healthily too. 💖