I don't feel good about myself unless I am in a relationship

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    Hi there everyone, thank you for taking the time to read this. I am 26 years old and I have been struggling with depression, anxiety and extremely low self-esteem for 12+ years. I was in a serious relationship with a guy for about 9 of those years and it ended about one year ago. We shared a very strong connection and it was been so hard to get over. We are still are in contact with one another and have been communicating off and on, and also seen each other several times since we broke up.

    Throughout our relationship, I was way too dependent on him for my overall happiness and ability to feel good about myself. If he was in a bad mood, I blamed myself. If he felt unhappy with his life, I blamed myself. This has proved to cause a great amount of destruction on my spirit and I am left with little to no sense of who I am. I know that he loved me, but he didn’t take care of me and never fully appreciated who I was or what I meant to him. I did everything for him. The sad thing is, I would still do anything for him. He was never abusive, but he has such power over me and still to this day I can’t go 30 minutes without thinking about him and obsessing over him.

    I recently learned that he has a new girlfriend. This is of course devastating to me. Yet, he still texts and emails me and says that he misses me and our connection…he is so scared and confused right now…he really cares about me but is afraid to get back together. But besides words, he hasn’t shown any real interest or effort that he wants to be with me. But the things he says get my hopes up and then other things he says make me discouraged and fall back into depression…just like that. It has gotten to the point where if I don’t hear from him, I feel so horrible about myself that I will lay around and watch sitcoms just so I can have some relief from my constant self-loathing. If I don’t have love and attention from a guy (even if it isn’t necessarily good attention!), then I am worthless. (this is what I have come to believe!!)

    Right now, my life consists of constant wishing and hoping that my ex will want me back. Or wishing and hoping that some other guy will come along and want to be with me. I am always checking my phone and my heart sinks when there are no messages. I don’t know what I want out of life, I have no passion, I don’t know what interests me or excites me besides having a guy and being in a relationship. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t want to be like this, it feels absolutely terrible. I know that life is passing me by and I just want to get out of this very deep hole that I’ve dug myself. I want to have the power in my own life. I don’t want to NEED love from a guy to feel good about myself. I feel like I know what I have to do, but I still feel stuck.

    Again, thank you for reading. I am very grateful to have found this website and forums as it has helped me to feel better, at least for a little while.


    Hi- I think there are a couple different things going on here that you may want to explore a little deeper.

    Having a hard time moving forward when you break up after a long time together is not unexpected. I’m a year out from when my wife left and I still struggle with it. I think where the problem lies is that you continue to have contact with him when you don’t need to do so. You text him and talk to him, so of course those feelings you have are going to linger- he remains in your life. And honestly, he is seeing someone and saying he is scared and confused? Sounds more to me like he wants to keep his options open in case it doesn’t work out with the new girl He knows you’ll keep holding on, so why would he do anything different?

    In my opinion, you may want to consider seeing a counselor to help you find ways to cope with the situation. I also believe you may want to look at some codependency sites and see if any of those traits look familiar to you. And check some of the blogs on this site regarding relationships and letting go. The few weeks I’ve been on here have helped me so much to see I can’t stop living my life because I don’t like what has happened and want my wife to come back. Letting go of her is the hardest part of this, but it must be done. I don’t have to like what happened, but nothing will ever change the fact that it has.

    I’m sorry you have to go through this because it is a lousy feeling. I know how low the lows can go. But you can find balance and perspective. Keep looking forward and know that even if you take a step back, it is still a step in the right direction because it gives you a new way to look at things. Good luck!


    Hi, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there. Unfortunately more than once. I have finally realized that I needed and still do to a certain extent “love” and “attention” from a man to validate that I am lovable and that I am worthy. When I was not receiving the “attention” from a man, any man, I felt as though something is wrong with me and that I am less of a person. We all need love and we all need to be wanted. This cycle was driving me insane so I decided to stop one day and ask myself why am I like this? I realized that I have abandonment issues stemming out of circumstances that occurred when I was a child and every time I was alone those feeling of being alone, neglected and rejected came flooding back. I’m now working on resolving those issues and learning to like myself and to truly be one day be able to say I like myself and that I’m ok. I’m not there yet, far from, but I’m trying…some days are good and some days are bad…very bad…but I’m working on it.

    In your case, being in contact with your ex is not good. Not good at all. How can you move on when he is still trying to remain…what? You are not the fall back girl. You are better than that! I know you still love him and you want him back. But do you really? The ongoing communication with your ex is making it impossible for your to let go and grieve over the relationship that “died” a long time ago. I know you know this. I know you also know that you should stop communicating with him. But the hard part is taking the step to end the communication. Only you can do that. Change your number! Just do it! I did it once and I was sobbing at the phone company when I went in to change my number. The sales lady didn’t know what to do! But I did it because I had to…I just didn’t know what else to do but I knew I had to stop communicating with my ex. I had no plans after that…I had no energy nor the strength to think what was going to happen to me or to the situation after changing my number. But on my drive home I felt a small…very small…sense of relief that I no longer had to worry if he would call or whether there was a message from my ex. I was upset and relieved at the same time. All my emotions were out of control. But I realized that I was taking back control of myself and my life. I am not going to tell you that it will be easy, it will be hard…very hard. But it’s a BIG step. Go with a girlfriend, have someone with you.

    You can then begin to mourn the end of your relationship and heal. But you, like me, will still have to deal with the issue of why “I need a man to make me feel whole.” That has nothing to do with your ex, that is all you…all me…

    I’m going through some rough times right now as I write this…that is what brought me to this amazing site. Good luck and hang in there, you are going to be ok.

    samir saha

    Hi Ingrid!
    you have to completely accept that your relationship with your ex is over. Nine years is a long time and getting over a relationship like that could be the most difficult thing to do. I would suggest that you should stop making any contact with him immediately. These small interaction give hope and hope create confusion which ultimately complicate our lives.
    I did the same mistake what you are doing now. I kept my hope alive for my ex. We had a relationship of 8 years. My attempts worked and she came back to be.But now I regret why I chased her, I should have let her go. Even if you get back together relationship wont be the same as it was earlier. A string once broken can not be joined again, if you rejoin it the generated knot will hinder the early smoothness.

    Check out this story, this might help you understand my point.


    Life is not just of 9 years.You have two choices. Either let go these 9 years right now and live your life as it never happened or cry for another 9 years and then regret for wasted 18 years for rest of your lives. Good Luck 🙂


    Good point made, if only it wasn’t that difficult 😉

    Anne Southern

    Hi Ingrid. My relationship also lasted 9 years.we parted then got back together on many occasions. We both come dependent on each other. When we were apart jealousy took over,there would be emails, texts and phone calls accusing each other of cheating. i obsessed over him always wanting contact, needing that interaction no matter how small. We’d brought 2 dogs when we first meet, (he’d kept them) so that become another reason to bind us together. now I think we both found it difficult to let go. Eventually he meet someone new, and fell in love. There was no more contact between us.My jealousy was immense,I even wrote him a couple of letters, which wasn’t very nice. He’d ignore me if we meet in the street. that hurt more than anything. His sister is still one of my closest friends. So though her I;d hear occasionally about his life. I pretended to her I wished him to be happy. I eventually hared he’d got engaged, he’d never asked me to marry him. I realized I couldn’t hang onto what if anymore.It was over. One year later he got cancer and died aged 35. I still feel guilty 2 years on. In hindsight I wished I’d set him free. Our dogs are now looked after by his dad, I remain in contact with all his family, They never got to build a relationship with his girlfriend. I attend the anniversaries, Birthday, day he died ect. I visit his grave and apologize for my behaviour towards the end.
    I should’ve got in contact when I heard how ill he’d become.his sister said he’s in ICU nothing could be done.
    Time passes the guilt doesn’t.
    Live your life Ingrid. no one knows when it’ll all be to late xxx

    samir saha

    Hi Anne, I am really sorry for what had happen with you. You are doing a great Job by keeping in touch with his parents.
    It is really very clear from your writing that you really loved your man. Now think in this angle, if he could still see you from somewhere, will he like to see you living in pain of guilt all the time. By doing so you are bringing pain to his soul. Check out this story. It might help


    No one can go back and undo things but we can take right steps now and make things better in future. You have doing a great thing by still being in contact with his family.
    Family was the one thing about which he cared. The other thing he cared about was you, you should take care of yourself as well. Free yourself of all your guilt and try to live a life which he has ever dreamed you to live…


    You pretty much described my life, and just recently I figured out a way to break free from that habit. I agree with Jeff totally, he has made some very good points. I was looking on the website everyday see if he has been online, and he disappeared on me with no explanation! Not even a goodbye. My friends told me you need to contact him and demand for explanation he owes you that, but I knew myself and my pattern, and I was tired of it. So I did nothing, I felt like if he wants to be with me he will contact, nothing can do will bring him back, but I waited and tortured myself for a month, so finally the other day I realized;
    It is getting harder to hold and wait than to let go, so I just did. I signed off that website, and stopped checking him all together. I am still sad and I still remember things and miss him, but I see it as a past, IT IS THE PAST.
    This is what you should do as well, be sad, let yourself to grief over your letting go moments, miss the good times, but see it as a past, it’s done. This guy is keeping you around for rainy day, let him go. rip off the bandaid.

    You said you know what you have to do but you can’t do it. So listen to your heart, it is your heart that wants to let go, it doesn’t’ want to hold on! That is your ego tricking you to think that is your heart, IT IS NOT. Remember what Caroline Myss says; It’s that voice that we don’t want to hear is our intuition… you know what to do, btu your ego is making you weak. Your true self don’t want to be with him, and I don’t believe you are in love with him anymore, you are just holding on to a pervious feeling and long time habit of loving him.
    This trick has worked for me few times, anything you do for 21 days you will get use to it. Practice loving yourself for 21 days, you know you love yourself and not him, you know that.
    Remember whatever energy you give out, you will receive back. Be that cool confident woman that your ex fell in love with, and you can attract a guy that deserves you. You don’t know what you want from your life because you have been living your life wanting to someone else’s desire(this is what I have been doing as well) And I finally broke free from it.
    I made a decision last month, I am banning myself from going out with any guy, I am not allowed to want a guy or think about a guy or be with a guy or need love froma guy until I am totally happy with myself and my life. It’s like being an addict, me and you are addicted to love, we use love as to feel good about our lives, and it doesn’t work. It gives you a drunk feeling and it is not real.
    I am working on building my life without anyone’s help, any guys attention, it is hard, cause I am breaking a long time habbit, ever since I remember I had attention of guys, and it was easy for me, so I got use to it, so I didn’t pay attention to myself, and my own life. I know, it is hard to break the habbit, but this is called a breakthrough.. the first step is to realize it.
    I think you have been given the best gift of your life by your ex. And your heart has realized it but your ego and fear doesn’t wan to let it go.
    Practice this and see how it turns out, you got nothing to lose; There are no men in this world, make yourself happy 🙂
    I could write forever cause this is what I am working on as well. Let me know if you need to talk more I’m here

    Anne Southern

    Hi Samir. Thank you for your kind words.
    I checked out your link, It truly summed up my feelings.Part of me feels I have no rights to this grief. His girlfriend stayed by his bedside through his treatment, and was there when he passed away. I feel sorry that she doesn’t have much contact with his family, so miss’s out on their support.
    I like to believe he’s looking down upon us all.
    I try to live a much better life, one not dominated by getting into another relationship. I need time to heal, and to forgive myself.
    Hopefully when I’m honestly ready to meet someone new, we’ll both be well balanced with no need for all the mind games and dependency..


    Thank you everyone for your amazing responses. It is so nice to hear that I am not alone in what I am feeling. Even by just reading your stories and advice I feel so much stronger and that yes…I can do this! I can cut the cord and move forward with my life. It is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I am so hard on myself that I sometimes expect change to just happen right away, or I just wish I could wave a magic wand and be free of all the sadness, regret, and heartbreak. I am realizing that there is a reason I am going through this, that my life is changing for the better, and I really have to WORK at it, but I am holding myself back for fear of losing this guy who doesn’t even care for me in the way I deserve. So thank you everyone so much!!

    Jeff: You make great points. Yeah, I’m sure he is just trying to keep his options open, even though I hate to admit it haha. But he definitely knows me and knows that I have always been there and will keep holding on. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles as well, but it seems that ‘letting go’ of your wife was a good decision, even though it was tough. In reading your response, you have given me the strength to begin the process of letting go as well. Like you said, it needs to be done. Also, I am going to my first session with a counselor tomorrow so I’m looking forward to that. Thank you so much for your insight!

    Bunnie: You are so brave! Wow, going into the phone company to change your number must have been so so difficult. I have felt that small sense of relief mixed with sadness as well, when I knew he wouldn’t be contacting me..but he always did sooner or later…and the cycle continues. I also may have some unresolved issues from my childhood, like you said. I’m sorry that you are also going through a tough time, although it is comforting to know we are dealing with similar issues. We deserve to feel good about ourselves without needing a man! It is such a challenge but I know you are trying so hard and I am too. Hang in there and thank you for your kind response!

    Samir: You are absolutely right, that small amount of contact does get my hopes up! And then it all comes crashing down again and again. It is absolute torture, and yet I still continue to put myself through it. I am living in the past and that is not a healthy place to be. I really appreciate your advice and insight, thank you!

    Anne: I was very touched by your story. I also had a dog with my ex and he ended up keeping him as well. That has broken my heart on a whole other level because he (the dog) was like a child to me, in a way! I’m so sorry for what you have gone through and that your relationship had to come to such a tragic end. But you are strong and I believe that you can one day be free of your guilt and sorrow. Thank you for sharing your story and take care of yourself!

    Danubelle: You offer really great advice on breaking the HABIT! It is weird to call it that, but it totally makes sense. Being in a relationship with him, ‘loving’ him, became a habit and a sense of comfort. When it ended, it was as if my life had ended. And the contact we still share is like small little glimmers of hope that make me feel almost whole again, but it isn’t long before I crave more and feel utterly worthless again. Yeah, I am addicted! Good for you for breaking away from your old patterns! You have inspired me to do the same. I can’t take living this way or being treated this way anymore. Even though I have been resisting and resisting out of fear of life without him…like you said, my heart knows best, and I need to grieve and move on for good. Thank you so much for your wonderful response and I wish you all the best!

    Joanna Warwick

    Hi Ingrid,
    Its great to see all the lovely responses people have given you and I hope it helps. If you decide that you need more professional help, I would suggest coming over to http://www.rediscoverthemagic.com . I am a specialist in this area. I would agree that there are a few different things going at this moment and grieving is part of that, but I would also suspect that you and your ex have been in a merged – parent/child relationship. Simply we become one person instead of two independent individuals because we haven’t been ready to be independent and individual – there are many reasons for this but let me just say simply its developmental. We get stuck and cling to other people always wanting to be rescued by a mummy or daddy.My latest post on my site is all about being a GOOD GIRL wanting to please daddy and how we can mature into strong, resilient, confident, open loving women. If this touches a nerve please check it out – I can help. Also you will see in free events in this forum I am running a free healing webinar tomorrow – wed, which will help. All if this said it doesnt mean there isnt love between you but you the relationship dynamic is not healthy and adult and that can only change by loving yourself and becoming independent and secure…Jo x


    The more you read this same advice, I hope the more it sinks in. Don’t communicate with him anymore or you won’t be able to get over him. I am in a similar situation and have not had contact with my ex for almost two weeks after weekly communication for four months after our break-up. I can tell you that each day it gets easier. I am debating whether to respond or not the next time he contacts me (IF he does but I am committed not to contact him). I don’t want to be mean to him (he is a broken man — happened before me) but each time his name comes up on my phone it’s like ripping the scab off. Each day we don’t talk the wound heals a little bit …

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