Narcissistic Behavior 6: Accuses You of Emotions He Is Provoking

Another narcissistic mode of behavior that has the tendency to drive those interacting with them insane, is accusing others for exactly those emotions that they are provoking in the first place. Consequently, they can treat us like shit and we will be the ones feeling guilty in the end. This strategy is particularly harmful for the victims of narcissistic abuse, because they constantly feel that their feelings are unreasonable and not valid, when they are in fact more than justified. Instead of trusting our feelings and acting accordingly, we interpret them as sings of weakness, try to push them aside and, as a result, allow the narcissists to go on treating us with disrespect. Our low self-esteem makes us readily absorb all the guilt and the blame that the narcissist is trying to install in us. We don’t believe in our own feelings and instincts and consequently we readily believe the narcissist is right when he accuses of of being “too needy”, “too clingy”, “too jealous” etc. – feelings that are provoked by his ambiguous, dishonest and manipulative behavior.

During the time I was dating Mr. Unavailable I was constantly on edge, struggling with uncertainty, feeling gloomy, worthless, unappreciated and neglected. As if this wasn’t enough, I was also feeling guilty for every single one of these feelings. I was convinced that I only felt that strongly, because I was too needy, got too attached too fast, and allowed myself to have too many hopes right from the beginning. I blamed my codependency for everything and readily absorbed all the blame for not feeling well. It is certainly true that I tend to feel too strongly right from the start and that I get attached very easily. I am therefore also to blame for the intensity of my feelings. However, looking at the way I was treated, the uncertainty and ambiguity I was exposed to for months, it does not really come as a surprise that I felt so extremely low. Everyone receiving such a treatment would have eventually given in to depression and a feeling of worthlessness. Therefore, it isn’t enough to just blame your codependency and dismiss your feelings as wrong. We also have to see that we have gone through an emotional rollercoaster, that our feelings have been played with, and that we endured a lot of dishonesty and ambiguity. Our frustration, sadness and desperation are therefore valid feelings, that are not only caused by our codependency, but by the treatment we receive from the narcissists.

Narcissists, however, deny their responsibility for the fact that we are slowly disintegrating. Our dependency, feeling of islation and jealousy are for them only a product of our own weakness and we are to blame for feeling so low. Because we don’t believe in our own instincts and rationality, we readily believe their assessment of the situation. So in the end, we not only feel low, but we blame ourselves for everything. We end up feeling guilty and completely disempowered. As we don’t trust in our feelings of being treated unfairly, we don’t act on them and stay in the miserable and unhealthy relationship we are in.

There were times in my relationship with Mr. Unavailable in which I felt as if I was completely losing my mind. On some deeper level I always knew that I was not treated fairly and respectfully, and I knew that I had every reason to doubt his supposed feelings of care and affection. However, I never trusted my feelings, but pushed them aside as being a product of my codependency and therefore not valid. I rarely dared to give voice to how much I suffered, because I thought that my feelings were a sign of weakness and dependency. The narcissist I dated contributed to my tendency to shift all the blame to myself. Whenever I couldn’t take it any longer and told him how unhappy I was, he would dismiss my concerns and tell me I was just overreacting, clingy or being unreasonable. I immediately felt guilty for having said anything at all. I believed in his assessment without a doubt and was angry for allowing myself a moment of weakness.

Once, after I hadn’t heard from him for several days and he had ignored all of my calls and messages, I was so worried and feeling so low that I nearly got insane. I lay in bed all day with agonizing thoughts in my head, shaking all over and unable to do even the simplest tasks. I was convinced something had happened to him, or that he had decided to just stop communicating with me. I was racking my brain, feeling completely paralysed. He didn’t even know I was feeling so strongly. The only thing I wrote him was that I was really worried. When I finally heard back from him, he told me I was overreacting. As so many times before, I readily accepted the blame and hated myself for feeling so strongly. In the course of dating Mr. Unavailable, I was often on the brink of losing my mind due to his ambiguity, fickleness and dishonesty. Nagging feelings of uncertainty, doubt and unhappiness were constant companions during my interactions with him. Whenever I dared to complain, I was dismissed as being clingy, overreacting and as allowing myself to have too high hopes too fast. It was depressing as hell: I did not only feel like shit, but accepted all the blame for it. Shifting the blame to myself prevented me from questioning his shady behavior and it never really occurred to me that it would be better to leave him.

Being with a narcissist consequently really makes you lose touch with yourself. You are constantly treated with neglect, distance, ambiguity and dishonesty. They toy with our emotions and manipulate us in very shameful ways. It really drives you insane and turns you into a mess. Because we are not even getting the bare minumum of what we need and hope for, we feel low and depressed. We never feel fulfilled and happy, we always want more than what we get, because the narcissist is unable to give us what we need. He is unwilling to accept blame for not treating us fairly, but instead makes us feel guilty for wanting more. In the end, we not only feel depressed, lonely and neglected, but we also accept the full blame for feeling this way. We think of ourselves as being “too clingy”, “too needy”, “too dependent” and as “wanting too much too fast”, instead of accepting our feelings as valid and as a product of the shady behavior we receive. We end up settling for less than we deserve, because we believe that our (normal!) expectations are too high.

It is therefore always healthier to believe in your own instincts and feelings. Whenever you feel as if you don’t get what you deserve and that your partner is not dedicated and affectionate, you should act on those feelings instead of feeling guilty for them. It is not needy or a sign of weakness if you expect to be treated with affection, care and respect. It is what we deserve and we shouldn’t allow a narcissist to convince us that we are wrong. We should never feel guilty for feeling strongly as a result of not getting the bare minimum of what we wish for and of what we deserve. If we nearly lose our minds because of all the ambiguities and dishonesties we find ourselves surrounded with in our relationship, we are not to blame, but the narcissists who expose us to all this madness. Accepting this fact will hopefully enable us to free us from unhealthy relationships and to have more trust in ourselves and the validity of our own feelings.

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Reasons for Holding On 2: Lack of Self-Esteem and Self-Respect

In many of my previous posts I have commented on the lack of self-respect and self-esteem, and the part it plays in being abused by narcissistic, unavailable men. It affects our relationship to those men to such an enormous extent and on so many levels that I now decided to dedicate an entire post to it. I have already declared countless times that had I been more self-confident and self-assured, I would never have allowed a guy to treat me the way I was treated those past few months. Loving and respecting myself would have led me to see that this is not what I deserve and to set up some clear boundaries, which I should never allow a guy to overstep. I did such a poor job at being good to myself that I let the emotional abuse go on for far too long without acknowledging how much damage it did to me.

Having low self-esteem and finding it hard to love and respect ourselves affects our relationships in at least three different ways: First, it makes us more prone to enter into a relationship with narcissistic, unavailable men. Second, it leads us to accept the little breadcrumps of affection those men are throwing us, and last of all, it makes us shift all the blame to ourselves and think that we are at fault for the shitty treatment we receive at the hands of the narcissist. In this post, I will shortly comment on each of these aspects and point out how they were mirrored in my relationship to Mr. Unavailable.

For as long as I remember I have struggled with self-doubt and low self-esteem. I tend to question every decision I ever made in my life, I’m never really satisfied with anything I do, and I’m often inclined to put all the blame on myself whenever I face a conflict or difficulty. Being so hard on yourself all the time is emotionally draining and leads you to be dependent on others for love, approval and reassurance. Because of the low opinion I hold of myself, I’m addicted to the feeling of being valued and appreciated that (ideally) comes from being in a loving relationship. My addiction to approval and love often drives me into relationships with shady men. I’ve often felt that being in a relationship – no matter how painful – is better than being alone with all my self-doubts and inner conflicts. Lunging into a relationship without giving the matter much thought offers me the distraction and excitement I’m longing for. If I was just happy being on my own, I would not be so inclined to enter a relationship with the first guy that shows interest in me. However, I’m addicted to signs of affection and interest and therefore rarely assess the situation rationally before I am already in too deep.

The second reason why having a low self-esteem is an important factor in our relationships with narcissistic, unavailable men is that it makes us hold on for much longer than is healthy for us. We fear being abandoned so much that we keep going back to them and try to make things work (even though it is not really in our power to do so). We not only accept the little breadcrumps of affection they are throwing us, but often think that this is all we deserve. Having little self-respect we allow them to trample all over us and still come back for more of the humiliation and disregard. This was particularly true for me: I allowed him to cancel our dates in the last minute; I allowed him to prioritize his exgirlfriend and continually break his promises; I allowed him to ignore me for days, not answering to any of my messages. Still I came back for more, not wanting to be alone again, clinging to the little signs of affection he was showing me occasionally. I readily turned him into the center of my life and focused all my thoughts on him, while he was treating me like a secondary option, to be discarded whenever he felt like it. I was too blind and too addicted to being loved that I never really took a moment to question what was going on and what I allowed him to do to me.

Having little respect for ourselves we not only accept to be treated with less than the bare minimum of consideration and affection, but it also leads us to put all the blame on ourselves. If they ignore us for days, we think we did something wrong and thereby triggered their emotional distance. If we are put into a secondary position behind exgirlfriends, we question ourselves and believe that we are just not attractive, interesting, special enough to deserve his full attention. Sometimes rationality pushes through and we realize that we are getting less than we deserve. I’ve reached that point on numerous occasions and was once led to write him an email, telling him that I felt treated unfairly and dishonestly and how much I suffered from his disregard and neglect. I got an angry reply in which he shifted a lot of blame on me. Instead of telling him to fuck off (excuse the language!), I readily accepted the blame and wrote a long email in which I apologized and begged him to forgive me for my accusations. Looking back at it now, I can only shake my head at how readily I debased myself, how I accepted blame even though the only thing I did was voice my justified concerns. I was absolutely brainwashed at the time, so blind and dependend that I blamed myself for just being honest and standing up for myself…

Even when trying to cope with the effects of emotional abuse we are often affected by our lack of self-respect and self-assurance. We readily accept the label “codependent” and hold a firm belief that we were complicit in our own abuse. We often utter phrases like “It takes two to tango” and think that we are at least equally to blame for everything that happened. It was exactly the same for me: When I started to recover I blamed myself for allowing others to disrespect me and readily thought of myself as being a codependent who needs to reassess her behavior and mindset. I still think this is partly true, but I’m slowly starting to take a stand against this kind of thinking. No matter how low the opinion is that we have of ourselves, it doesn’t mean that we deserve to be emotionally abused and exposed to all that mindfuckery and manipulation. We need to put more blame on the narcissistic abusers who took advantage of our insecurities, doubts and need for affection in order to boost their own egos! Simply labelling ourselves as codependent and blaming our own insecurities is not right. We also have to see that others took advantage of us, manipulated us, wounded us and turned us into emotional wrecks, and that it is never right to be treated that way, no matter how little self-confidence you might have…

Reasons for Holding On 1: Belief That Things Will Change for the Better

After having already dealt with the reasons that can make a person unavailable for a healthy relationship, as well as the damaging effects that being with such a person can have on you, I will now dedicate the next few posts to the question of why we often don’t manage to opt out and save ourselves from all the hurt and pain. Despite of clearly not being happy and fulfilled in our relationship, despite the feeling of being neglected, taken for granted and treated inconsistently and disrespectfully, we often hold on for far too long out of a variety of different reasons. Drawing out the inevitable will in the end only cause more pain, heartbreak, disappointment and despair than would have been necessary. By ending the relationship and abandoning our futile endeavors to change everything for the better, we could often save ourselves a lot of misery. We somehow don’t manage to find the strength to do just that.

The first reason for holding on I will discuss in my blog is a naive belief that things will someday change for the better. Instead of drawing clear boundaries, sticking to them and opting out when our partner oversteps them countless times, we hold on and allow them to go on hurting us and causing us stress and agony. One could argue that it is clearly our own fault if we allow people to trample all over us and can’t find the strength to save ourselves. While this may partly be true, there is often also the fact to consider that unavailable people tend to feed us with little breadcrumps of attention and affection that lead us to hold on to our hopes for a better future. Instead of being fair and square about their unavailability, they often give us false promises, little tokens of their alleged love, dedication and appreciation of us.

Codependent people cling to those little tokens of appreciation for dear life. We don’t want to seriously assess all the evidence for their unavailability. Instead we leap at every little sign of their affection and we are tempted by those signs to hold on and allow them to keep on hurting us. I often found myself on the brink of letting go and opting out of the unhealthy relationship I was part of. However, I was repeatedly kept from following through with it by my naive hope that things might still change for the better, fueled by his false promises and affectionate gestures.

In the course of dating Mr. Unavailable I faced many instances that should have prompted me to run for my life. When I talked to friends about my relationship they were often completely astonished that I still allowed him to stay in my life and didn’t have enough self-respect to leave him. They pointed out to me numerous times that his behavior was unacceptable and that he has overstepped the boundaries of decent behavior on too many occasions. They were absolutely right with that assessment: I allowed him to cancel our dates in the last minute, I allowed him to prioritise his exgirlfriend’s feelings over mine. I accepted his lame excuses and bore the many disappointments and broken promises with understanding, patience and endurance.

I was on the brink of leaving him countless times because his dishonesty, changeableness and disregard hurt me to the point where I could not take it any longer. I was a wreck both physically and emotionally. When he realized how hurt I was he would feed me with little breadcrumps of affection to keep me going: He would promise me that he intended to move out of his exgirlfriend’s appartment and things would get better. He would tell me he considered staying in Germany and make things work here. He wrote me the kindest messages telling me how smart, attractive, appreciative and kind I was and how thankful he was for my patience and understanding. Instead of evaluating his actions with a clear mind, I focused on these breadcrumps. They were all I needed to hold on to the unhealthy relationship.

A clear assessment of the situation would have brought me to opt out of all that pain and drama. If I had had the strength, self-respect and sanity to see that his words were never followed by actions, I would have left and saved myself. I was never able to see that all my hopes were completely in vain, that he was completely unavailable and would not change anytime soon. I ignored the sound advice of my friends and relatives, I ignored all of the clear signs of his narcissism, disrespect and unavailability and clung to him as if all my life depended on him.

It took me far too long to let go and to realize that I was not the reason why our relationship failed. Whenever my hopes were crushed, I would have the tendency to put blame on myself. One question repeatedly occupied my mind: What am I doing wrong that he cannot treat me with consideration, care and respect? Am I too needy? Am I not attractive enough? I now finally realized that the fault was not with me. The guy was simply unavailable and prevented me from seeing it by feeding me his little breadcrumps of affection.

He dealt me a final slap in the face at the end of our relationship: He clearly didn’t want to see that he was giving me reasons to hope through his promises and tokens of affection. According to him, I was completely responsible for my own misery, as he had made it clear from the beginning that he was unavailable. This blatant lie is just another proof of his narcissism: Narcissists can never admit mistakes and never take responsibility for their own behavior. Mr. Unavailable therefore put all the blame on me and told me that “my hopes for a good outcome exceeded a reasonable assessment of the situation”. He might have been right, but the decent thing would have been to acknowledge his complicity in feeding my hopes. Being the textbook narcissist that he is, he was of course unwilling to do so.

My experiences have taught me that it is absolutely necessary to face the cold facts instead of clinging to hopes that will never be fulfilled. Narcissistic and unavailable people will likely not change their behavior for us, and it is a waste of time and energy to think otherwise. All the time we spend agonizing, evaluating their behavior and playing out possible scenarios in our heads is just wasted and should have been spent on ourselves instead. We could save ourselves a shitload of pain, drama, anger and time if we would acknowledge their unavailability right from the start and opt out of unhealthy relationships with them.

Effects of Being with Mr. Unavailable 4: Severe Depression and Insanity

The following lines will be dedicated to the feeling of falling into a deep bottomless pit – a feeling that I became more and more familiar with during my time with Mr. Unavailable. In the end, I was so emotionally exhausted from all the pain and drama that I sometimes feared I was on the brink of losing my sanity. Even now, almost a month after the end of my interactions with him, I still find myself randomly starting to cry (although never in public), because I’m still struggling with the effects of the ambiguous, unfair treatment I received. It’s hard to just shake off all the pain and disappointments and go on as if nothing happened. I invested so much love, dedication and patience into this relationship, trying to make it work, that having to realize that all of it was in vain was like a giant slap in the face. Despite of everything that happened, there was a time when I cared deeply about Mr. Unavailable. My feelings for him were so honest, pure and deep that I was sometimes amazed I was capable of feeling so much for another person. I would have done amost everything for that man. So when I realized that I was the only devoted person in our relationship, it was like someone had stabbed a knife into my heart.

It is a truly heartbreaking experience when the person you care so deeply about and who occupies a special room in your heart, treats you with disregard and neglect and cannot offer you certainty and stability. That insight is so painful that I pushed it aside for far too long and held on to the naive hope that things would change for the better soon. In my blind pursuit of him, I would do everything just for a chance to see him. I was chasing after him like a dog, debasing myself to make things work. I’m not proud of myself, looking at all of it in retrospect. But I guess I just wanted to be with him so much that it seriously impaired my ability to think rationally.

So when at times I didn’t get a message from him in days, I would feel so incredibly low that I spent all of these days in a state of agonizing pain and apathy. I would rack my brain thinking about why he didn’t leave me a message. I tried so hard to push the thought aside that he just might be emotionally detached and investing far less into our relationship than I did. It was too painful for me to accept. I so desperately craved to be cared for, loved and accepted that I couldn’t let the thought of him being indifferent enter my mind.

At one point, I didn’t see him for four entire weeks. He told me he was extremely busy. Then he told me he was sick. I tried really hard to believe him. When we finally agreed on a time and place to meet again, he blew me off in the last minute and I had to take the train back home without getting to see him. Sitting on that train back home, I felt like a desperate loser and I had to make a huge effort to keep myself from bursting into tears. After he blew me off, he promised we would get to see each other the following weekend. I tried to console myself by looking forward to it. When I texted him on the weekend, asking him when and where we should meet, I just didn’t get an answer. He never responded to one of my texts and ignored me the entire weekend. Of course it was a clear sign that he was avoiding me, not wanting to see me. I couldn’t get a clearer proof of his complete emotional indifference towards me. I never really wanted to accept that insight, and when he contacted me a few days later, telling me how much he wanted to see me and how he missed me, I so desperately wanted his words to be true that I went on as if nothing had ever happened.

However, that four weeks of being pushed aside and ignored had left me feeling like an empty shell. I spent most of those four weeks in agony, lying in bed, desperately waiting for him to call or leave a message. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone. I lived in complete isolation from everything and everyone around me. I’ve never felt this way before and in the end I was convinced that I was losing my mind. How could I allow myself to suffer so much because of a person that clearly didn’t care all that much? Did I have absolutely no piece of self-respect left? Those four weeks of isolation, depression and apathy were such a horrible experience that I hope with all my heart I never have to endure something like this ever again. At times the pain got so bad that it had an actual physical impact on me: I was shaking all over, throwing up and starting to lose hair. I had to force myself to not constantly look at my cell phone to keep myself from going insane.

Many of you might think that it was absolutely naive and desperate of me to keep holding on to someone who couldn’t have made it clearer that he wasn’t all that emotionally involved. It’s certainly true. But you also have to see that whenever we met he seemed to be genuinely crazy about me, and he couldn’t have been such a perfect actor and fake all of it. At times he seemed to be so sweet, caring and loving that it was hard to dismiss all of it as fake. He spent three days at my place, getting to know my parents and I could tell that he genuinely enjoyed the time and the presence of my family. All of this made it hard to accept the utter indifference and distance he would show towards me at times. I couldn’t deal with his changeableness and inconsistence: I would rack my brain because I couldn’t make sense of his behavior. At times I was convinced he cared about me, then again I thought he couldn’t care less.

To sum it up: The time I spent with Mr. Unavailable was the most exhausting time of my life. At times I was so depressed from him blowing hot and cold that I thought I was going crazy. The way I let his fickleness affect me clearly wasn’t healthy and let me to lose touch with myself. I completely isolated myself from everything and everyone, as my entire being revolved around him and his inscrutable way of treating me. I was prepared to do almost everything for him because I cared about him with all my heart. Having to accept that the person you turned into your absolute priority treats you like an option is heartbreaking and shattering.

I have to be glad that all of this is over now. It allows me to slowly gain back my sanity and to evaluate my behavior. I never want to feel this way ever again. Next time I will give my heart to someone, I have to apply a more careful screening process 😉

Effects of Being with Mr. Unavailable 3: Losing Touch With Yourself

In my last post, I have already dwelled on the fact that people with codependent behavioral patterns often have low self-esteem and tend to continually doubt themselves and their decisions. Our lack of self-love and self-acceptance leads us to search for love, recognition and appreciation in romantic relationships (or even other kinds of interactions). As we are unable to be satisfied with ourselves, we need others to make us feel loved and cared about. Being on our own makes us feel worthless, undeserving of love and alone.

Connected to all of these issues is the fact that people with low self-esteem tend to not devote enough time to their own needs, thoughts and wishes. As we are generally not satisfied with ourselves, we don’t want to occupy ourselves with our own personalities. Consequently, we are continually on the look for distraction, and painful and dramatic relationships offer us exactly the distraction we so desperately crave. As we don’t want to be let alone with our own thoughts, lunging into dramatic relationships keeps us busy and enables us to keep on denying us the attention we need. We spend all of our time and energy into dealing with Mr. Unavailables, and our thoughts are occupied with thinking about the relationship, and the wishes, needs and behavior of the emotionally unavailable person we are dating. In the course of racking our brains over all of the pain and drama, we completely lose touch with ourselves.

This is exactly what happened to me in my relationship with Mr. Unavailable. I have a really hard time not being in any relationship, as I tend to suffer from low self-esteem and to question almost every little aspect of my life. Not being in a relationship makes me feel unloved, unwanted, alone and sometimes even depressed. I’m addicted to the feeling of being loved that a romantic relationship ideally provides, as I have difficulties loving and accepting myself. This addiction often made me lunge into relationships with shady men, because being in a relationship – no matter how painful – was always considered to be better than being alone by me. My relationship with Mr. Unavailable provided me with so much pain, drama and emotional exhaustion that there was no more time left to think about my own wishes, hopes, and desires. I was getting the full-time distraction I was looking for.

Given the fact that my Mr. Unavailable had many narcissistic tendencies, I was during the course of our interactions almost completely kept from engaging with my own self. Our conversations tended to revolve around him, his problems, his unhappy childhood, his achievements, his setbacks etc. I never really had to bring my own thoughts, experiences and opinions into the conversation. Sometimes he would pretend to be interested in what I had to say and even ask me a question or two. But I soon realized that his interest was not strong enough to surpass his narcissistic tendencies. Consequently, he was dominant both in our interactions and conversations. In the beginning, it was a welcome distraction. After some time I felt like I was completely losing touch with myself. Having to realize that you are never really a part of the conversation makes you feel like you have nothing interesting to say, that you are unworthy of being listened and given attention to.

Another factor that made me lose touch with myself was that in the course of our relationship I felt like a dog running after his owner. Every single aspect of our relationship went according to his terms: He decided when to meet, where to meet, what to do. He was the one who almost never made time for me because he was – as he repeteadly pointed out – so busy. I was almost always the one having to do all the travelling. We lived quite some distance away from each other, and it took me more than an hour by train to meet with him. Sometimes we would only meet for such a short amount of time that I spent more time on the train than actually being with him. It was depressing, exhausting and made me seriously doubt my own behavior. Why was I doing all of this? Was it really worth it? Chasing after him like a dog, always waiting for a call, always waiting for him to tell me when we would finally see each other again, kept me absolutely distracted from myself. I was so busy evaluating his behavior, running after him and dealing with all the disappointments and drama, that I lost touch with myself. I kept chasing him, because it prevented me from spending time on my own, thinking about myself.

Another major contribution to all of it came from the fact that I was consistently treated like a secondary option, while his exgirlfriend got his undivided attention and always had priority. Some days he would complain about her being mentally unbalanced, on other days he pointed out to me that he respected her with all his heart and wanted her to forever stay in his life. Whenever she got hysteric and insulting or put him under pressure, he would yield and stay at home with her. I was continually pushed aside. I wasn’t allowed to give him a call, he wasn’t allowed to spend the night at my place etc: All of it would make her freak out. She went so far as to harrass me by giving me calls and sending me tons of text messages. He never interfered, and always talked about being considerate towards her feelings. My feelings never seemed to matter at all. In spite of all of it, I continued meeting with him. I gladly let myself be drawn into all this drama and ridiculousness because it kept me from being alone and devoting thoughts to myself. Of course I doubted my own behavior: Why was I allowing him to treat me like this? Why do I want to be part of so much drama? Am I really so worthless as to be treated like an option? Don’t I deserve to be treated with respect, care and consideration? I was completely losing touch with myself and my self-esteem was dealt a severe blow.

As usual I could go on and on, pointing out further examples for how being with Mr. Unavailable made me lose touch with myself. I think you got the picture: I let myself be treated with disrespect and disregard because I craved the distraction that came with being part of a dramatic relationship. I kept chasing him and debasing myself, because it prevented me from being alone and devoting time to thinking about myself and considering my needs. My low self-esteem and self-respect were the reason for why I didn’t opt out and save myself. The treatment I received from Mr. Unavailable only further lowered my self-esteem: it was a vicious circle.

In retrospect, I’m shocked because I allowed him to be so disrespectful and inconsiderate. Had I been more confident and strong, I would never have allowed this kind of behavior. Maybe this episode of my life presented me with the wake-up call I so obviously needed. I need to treat myself better and spend more time dealing with my own ambitions and wishes, in order to become a part of a healthy relationship.

Effects of Being with Mr. Unavailable 2: Self-Doubt and Self-Blame

This is definitely going to be one of the most important posts I will write, given the fact that I’ve been dealing with self-doubts and low self-esteem for most of my life. It is the reason for why I often end up with shady guys who not really have my best interests at heart. I search for recognition and appreciation in relationships, because I cannot give these things to myself. I’m addicted to being loved by others, because I have difficulties loving myself. However, the shady guys that codependent people with low self-esteem get into relationships with only make matters worse: They will eventually disappoint us, leave us heartbroken and therefore make us question our own part in the relationship. More often than not, this will only lower our self-esteem further and have us wonder if we are not worthy of being loved and treated with respect.

The most ironic part of my last relationship with Mr. Unavailable was that he told me right at the beginning that he had the feeling I had rather low self-esteem and tend to sell myself short when it comes to relationships. He also told me to be more confident, that I had all the reasons for believing more in myself, and that I should apply a more “careful screening process” when it came to guys. I felt like I had won the lottery: Had I finally found a guy who would be attentive to my feelings and treat me with appreciation? How was I supposed to know that he would turn into exactly that kind of guy he had warned me against? Was he unconsciously (or very consciously) warning me against himself? Looking at it in retrospect I can’t help spotting the irony…

In the end, Mr. Unavailable did absolutely nothing to help me improve my self-esteem. To the contrary, he shattered it to pieces and left me feeling like an empty shell, doubting everything about me (and especially my part in the relationship). Almost everything he did had me doubt myself, my behavior, even my own sanity.

The strongest source for my self-doubts came from the fact that he would often not call, leave a message or contact me in any other way for several days in a row. There were times when I wouldn’t get to see him for several weeks in a row. For me this was just heartbreaking and agitating. I would have loved to spend as much time with him as possible and it was affecting me that he didn’t seem to be able to make time for me. Agonizing thoughts were constantly revolving in my head: “Why doesn’t he call or leave a message? If he really cared about me, he would have contacted me. Is he interested in me at all? He must be really detached to not call at all…Or am I maybe asking for too much? Am I turning into an obsessive person?” My friends and family would repeatedly assure me that he is not treating me fairly by not calling me and not seeing me in weeks. I didn’t want to hear any of it. I preferred to put all the blame on myself and suppressed the suspicion that he might not be that interested after all.

Another source of self-doubt came from his continually voiced desire to leave the country and fly back to the U.S. I constantly blamed myself for not being able to stay more emotionally detached. Why did I invest all my heart, energy and time into someone who might be leaving soon? Why do I blame him for being more detached than I am? After all, isn’t this the reasonable way to handle all of it? But why does he even bother seeing me then? Why does he insist on continuing to go out with me? Why did he want to meet my parents, if he wants to leave? I couldn’t make any sense of his behavior and chose to blame myself for everything instead.

The fact that he still lived with his exgirlfriend and often pushed me aside because of her also didn’t add much to my self-esteem. I’ve already dedicated two entire posts to his hysteric, insulting exgirlfriend who did not allow him to see me. I therefore don’t need to go into further detail at this point. Allowing him to turn me into an option while his exgirlfriend still had priority had me seriously doubt my worth as a person. Why do I allow him to treat me like that? Am I only good enough to be a secondary option? Am I not deserving of the same care, appreciation and attention that she gets? Are the two of them secretly mocking me? Am I just the person he goes to to load off the emotional baggage from his last relationship? My mind seemed to be obsessively occupied with him and his exgirlfriend, painting the most painful scenarios. I felt absolutely worthless, disrespected and unappreciated because my feelings just never mattered as much as those of his exgirlfriend. It can leave you feeling so small…like a real loser.

I don’t think I have to go on pointing out more instances that caused me to seriously doubt myself. Suffice it to say that being with a Mr. Unavailable can be absolutely shattering to your sense of self worth. Through their emotional unavailability they have you doubt just about everything about yourself. Instead of accepting that they are to blame for not being able and willing to give us what we want, codependent people blame themselves and see themselves as not worthy of being respected, cared about and loved. We question our behavior throughout the entire relationship and keep wondering where everything went wrong. Instead of realizing that Mr. Unavailables won’t even give us the bare minimum of what we want, we see ourselves as too needy, too dependent and try to be satisfied with the little breadcrumps they are feeding us with.

Even if we manage to see through their shady and disrespectful behavior and realize that they are unwilling and unable to fulfill our emotional needs, we still find ways to blame ourselves: Why can’t I find the strength to free myself from this painful relationship? Why do I keep allowing him to disrespect me? Why do I still feel so much for a man who obviously doesn’t really respect and appreciate me? We are just really good at addressing reproaches to ourselves.

I’ve finally managed to see through the patterns that kept my self-esteem on a very low level. It doesn’t mean that I turned into a confident and self-assured person over night. I’m still struggling with self-doubt and find it hard to accept my flaws and the mistakes I make. I tend to be too hard on myself. But at least I’ve finally managed to realize all of it and I guess it’s the first step towards improvement…So if there is anything positive I can draw from all that pain, drama and suffering, it is that it really opened my eyes to the fact that I need to change my mindset. Only if we are good to ourselves can we have healthy relationships with people who also genuinely want to be good to us.