Self-Loathing and Relationships: Believe in Others Who Believe in You
Can the self-loathing trust that others love them?
Posted Oct 09, 2011
This post was prompted by Ashley, one of my regular commenters, who wrote in response to a recent post:
...it would seem that a "self-loathing" person is likely not going to be in relationships very long given it would be an unsustainable situation for both parties involved. What does it take for a self-loathing person to stop self-sabotaging? At one point, he/she would have to take a look at themselves—and even if they don't like what they see, at least pretend they do so that they are in suspended disbelief until they buy into the realization they are what they believe they are.
How can you sustain a relationship in which you do not feel good enough or right for your partner? The answer is simple yet difficult to implement: you must have faith that your partner knows his or her own interests and has made a choice that promotes them. You must believe that your partner sees something in you that you don't see in yourself.
Your partner may feel that you have no faith in him or her, asking, "Don't you believe that I think you're good enough for me?" Your partner realizes that you don't believe in yourself, but needs you to trust that he or she does. If you don't, this says as much as about how you see your partner as it does about how you see yourself. You're entitled to your own opinion, of course, but so is your partner, and his or her opinion deserves as much as respect as your own.
As a self-loathing person, how can you maintain this trust or faith in light of your fundamental feelings of inadequacy? One way is by remembering why your partner is so special to you: all the qualities about him or her that you admire, one of which is likely good judgment. Do you have any reason to doubt your partner's ability to make good choices—other than your opinion of the choice to be with you? Everyone makes bad choices from time to time, of course, but why do you always think the bad ones involve you? Keep in mind that others do not see you the same way you see yourself, and even if you don't choose to see yourself the way others do, don't assume they are "wrong," but just that you disagree—and trust that their opinions of you are made in good faith.
Along with having faith in your partner's feelings for you, you also need to remember that his or her feelings are not as unstable or fleeting as you may think. As I discussed earlier, the self-loathing share with depressives a tendency toward negative and extreme thinking: not only do they take everything the wrong way, but they inflate its importance of relatively minor things. For example, if your partner seems less communicative one day, you may interpret it as 1) you've done something wrong, and 2) this is the final straw and he or she will leave you soon. But just because your partner is less talkative one day doesn't mean you did anything wrong—it's not always about you.
To sum up, the self-loathing do not find it easy to see themselves in a positive light, but if their relationships are to survive, they have to trust that their partners do. This may not change the way the self-loathing regard themselves—which ideally will come from within—but it is essential to both letting others love them and allowing themselves to be comfortable with being loved.
* It has been mentioned to me that I have never written about the benefits of being with a self-loather. Having never been on that side of things, though, I'm not sure I'm well suited to speak on that!