If a woman has a negative self-image and generally feels poorly about herself, she may work tirelessly to find a cure by securing a perfect match. As a result, she may find herself perpetually caught in a cycle of working to attain male desire and feeling high once it is temporarily achieved. But of course, when the match turns out not to be a good one, the high is often followed by a crushing low. All of which can play out over a few hours or a much longer period of time.
When self-esteem is lacking, it is tempting to outsource a sense of self through associating with an idealized match. Unfortunately, until self-love is present within, true love and care from outside evade. If self-esteem lags, it is easier to focus attention on finding the perfect mate than it is to develop and achieve broader goals for the self. Attaching self-esteem to a romanticized other becomes a way to feel a sense of love that perhaps a woman cannot feel for herself, in her own head. Placing romantic partners on a pedestal is a way to make up for the self-worth deficit. If the man seems confident, sexy, high achieving, then suddenly the woman feels better about herself, almost as if she is him. Failing to harness her own self-esteem, she leans heavily on his.
As a general rule of thumb, the more obsessed and ruminative a person may be about obtaining a partner or finding new romantic attention, the more depleted and inadequate they may feel about themselves.
When self-love is lacking judgment becomes impaired; a woman is more desperate to couple up and is so lost in this pursuit that she has difficulty making an accurate assessment of who the person really is and if he can truly meet her needs. When partners are idealized, the illusion is destined to dissolve, leaving the woman depleted and with a greater sense of inadequacy.
Building self-love is a process. A helpful first step is to notice if you are putting all of your energy into making a relationship work or to finding the perfect match. Take a step back and consider if you are hoping someone else will provide you with something only you can develop. Ask yourself if you have a tendency to idealize your romantic partners and then are left deflated when you discover who they actually are. If you tend to camouflage what you consider unlovable about yourself through attaching to highly desirable, oh so important men, refocus, not on another potential mate, but on yourself.
Jill P. Weber, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and author of Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy—Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships.
In my opinion:
I know women who are homeless and have boyfriends who have just come out of jail. I know women who have children from several different men. I know women who are in miserable relationships who, when asked why they stay, say that they’d rather be with the wrong person than be alone. I’ve heard of women who sleep around, subconsciously hoping that some random sexual partner will one day turn to them in bed and say, “I love you.” I’ve heard of women who feel ugly, stupid, lonely, and broke and hope that when they find the perfect man, he’ll make things all better.
Guess what? Waiting for a man to fix your life will only lead to disappointment and pain. Only you can fix what’s wrong in your life. It’s okay to seek help- a therapist can help you identify what you don’t like about yourself and what you don’t like about your life. Through self-examination, you’ll see what’s wrong and feel empowered to change your situation. Empowering yourself not only will improve your self esteem and self confidence, but you will stop having to wait for someone else to “fix” you.
Empowering yourself will also help you to avoid the “bad relationship” trap- you will see yourself having higher standards in a partner. This will minimize the chances that you’ll end up with the wrong person just because you’re lonely or desperate. And if you do end up with the wrong person somehow, you’ll realize that you deserve better and move on.
I love the picture I found for this article- don’t you just love her confidence? Cheers to you if you’re that confident! (I gotta try that hairstyle!)