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Low Self-Esteem Hindering Relationship

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I am 42-year-old mother of 13-year-old son. I left my husband nine years ago because he was irresponsible, verbally abusive, and didn't hold down a job. My ex-husband never provided child support, however, I always allowed full access to our son, even arranged and paid for my ex's car expenses when he visited, but he rarely took advantage of the easy access to his child.

It has taken me years to pull myself together to get involved again. The new man in my life, "John," is the complete opposite of my ex-husband. He is a hard worker, treats me with respect, gets along with my son, is protective, kind, brought the church into our lives, and we share the same hobbies.

But, ever since John and I became engaged over a year ago, our relationship has been a rollercoaster, fighting, breaking up, getting back, fighting, etc. The only areas that we got along in were music and sex. I complained to him and told him that I felt that he was boring, that he didn't provide the fire that I need to stay interested.

Also, I am still secretly attracted to my ex-husband. As irresponsible as my ex is, he provides stimulating conversation, and is very funny.



Dear Help,

Often people who have been emotionally abused suffer from low self-esteem. Self-esteem is how you feel about your self-worth, your importance. (see link below).

The fact that you still are attracted to your verbally abusive irresponsible ex-husband who shows little interest in his own son, is an indication of your low self-esteem.

John is caring, kind, hard-working, you have chemistry together, similar interests, just the opposite of your ex-husband, yet you find John boring mentally. Your lack of self-esteem is subconsciously driving him away; you feel you don't deserve him.

Low self-esteem contributes to poor communication and problem solving skills, both causes of the rollercoaster relationship. Poor communication can include difficulty expressing feelings, not truly listening, assuming what the other means, and berating the other person. For a successful relationship, you and John need to learn how to solve problems together, have constructive discussions, compromise, and come to an understanding, without anyone's feelings getting hurt in the process.

To communicate and solve problems effectively, it would be helpful to seek the advice of a relationship therapist who could give you the skills necessary to maintain a healthy relationship.