Can a Little Jealousy Be Good for the Self-Loathing?
Seeing your crush date other people may help you see yourself in a better light.
Posted Dec 27, 2013
This may be a bit extreme—not for my friend, mind you!—but I do think that, in a milder form, this feeling is quite common for self-loathers (and perhaps some other people as well). You don’t feel good enough for the person you care about, and you hope that he or she will find someone better. As it often turns out, however, this person finds someone whom you feel is not good enough for him or her—and maybe even worse than you think you would be! You think something such as, “Why is he with her? She’s not good enough for him! Even I’d be better for him than she is!” As a self-loather, you may not like yourself very much, but you like this other person much less—especially as a romantic partner for the person you do like.
Ironically, this feeling may point to a way for self-loathers to realize their own worth. Remember that self-loathers see ourselves in a much more negative light than other people do. We often exaggerate our shortcomings and de-emphasize our positive qualities compared to how other people see us. Even though we often idealize the people we care about—which many tend to do whether self-loathing or not—we may be able to assess other people more accurately, including the people our crushes end up dating.
Furthermore, this response relies on the same attitude of care that, when filtered through feelings of inadequacy, normally keeps self-loathers away from those we care about. Taken in isolation, we think our crushes would be better off without us. But that same concern may also motivate us to step in when we see the people we care about with people that we feel are “even worse” for them than we would be. And if we (of all people) are able to think we’re better for our crushes than these other people are, imagine what our crushes themselves likely think, given that they probably see us in a much better light than we see ourselves.
For a select list of my previous Psychology Today posts on self-loathing, relationships, adultery, and other topics, see here.
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