Relationship Contingent Self-Esteem

by bye2mrwrong

Another blogger just wrote a post wondering why women stay with cheaters. I understand the question and in the past I would have asked the same. But by now I also understand the answer. I am not one of those women. I left. But the choice was not as simple as ABC. It wasn’t easy to leave, and it sure as hell wasn’t my first choice, or my second for that matter.

 There are a few simple and quite obvious answers to the question of staying such as the number of years you’ve been together with someone, the history you shared, the life you built. After 10, 20 or 30 years it’s not easy to just up and leave because of one “little” mistake. There’s also the other blatant reason for staying: the kids. When you’ve got one, two or even more kids together, wrong or right, sometimes people chose to stay for the kids’ sake.

But what if you haven’t been with someone for that long and you don’t have kids together? Why stay then with a cheater who causes only pain? The answer then is harder to explain because it’s one that no one really notices. It’s hidden beneath the surface, only obvious to the experienced eye: Self-esteem! Low self-esteem and even worse relationship contingent self-esteem ensures that we stay because we undervalue ourselves; we think we can’t get anything better, or maybe we don’t deserve anything better. We evaluate our self-worth solely based on the outcomes of our romantic interactions.

 I can’t pin down why some people have a low self-esteem or for how long. But I do know that emotionally abusive relationships only worsen the problem. Those relationships slowly, secretly but surely stomp on our (maybe already low) self-esteem; causing us to devalue our worth, and diminished our confidence.

Even when you’re in a disastrous relationship, the one that everyone can see is spiraling out of control like a train wreck waiting to happen, it’s harder to get out than what others may think. After committing to and investing time and energy into something, anything; your gut reaction is not to throw it away. Ending a relationship is kind of like admitting failure. It’s another thing you attempted to do that didn’t work out. That’s another blow to the self-esteem. And so in an attempt to protect your dignity, (and investment) you grip on to it as tight as you can and you “throw away good money after bad money“.

5 Comments to “Relationship Contingent Self-Esteem”

  1. Seems so obvious, but Im embarrassed to admit- I never thought about it that way before.
    Great post! So true.

  2. Hi! I was in that club! And still working at removing myself from it!

    It is tough. We hang on. Incredulous (in my case) that it happened. Stunned and shocked to the core that he could have done what he did. And then we probably convince ourselves it was all our fault. We drove them to do it. Well not true!

    We are all worth so much more. I am rapidly coming to the view that Values and the Rules we apply to them are the key. I may have problems living by them all the time. But having a list helps no end. If nothing else it gives me something to read!!!

    Hang in there kiddo. You will come through. You are worth so much more than he is.

  3. You nailed it again. Love your writing and your observations.

  4. Terrific post, Bye2. I must say that my self-esteem has improved dramatically in the past couple of years. And I didn’t even realize it was in the ditch until D dumped me. It happens very gradually and sneaks up on you.

    You are getting better. I see it in your writing. Keep writing. I love reading your posts and it’s good for you to write. It gives you the voice that you need. Well, that’s how it’s been for me.

    Take care,

  5. Thanks to all of you for your comments and support.
    It seems to me that my double vision is clearing up and although I still have many questions floating inside my head, I also start having some logical answers.

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