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How do I (24F) help my boyfriend (23M) improve his feelings of self-worth


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I (24F) have been in a relationship with my boyfriend (23M) for three years and I absolutely love him to bits. We met whilst I was at university working in retail. I have now moved onto train to become an accountant whilst he still works there.

 

When the first lockdown was imposed in March he was placed on furlough whilst I had to Work from Home. I noticed at the time that his mental health worsened and he seemed down but I put this down to the lockdown and the associated boredom and cabin fever as we only live in a one bed flat.

 

However when it was lifted and he was taken off furlough but his mood didn't really improve very much. We're now in the middle of the second lockdown here in the UK and he is really low again. Also he took on most of the domestic duties whilst I worked in the first lockdown but in the second he insists that he does everything around the house (he's basically acting like he's my domestic servant and won't let me do anything).

 

I decided to broach the subject with him over this weekend . He told me that it's clear seeing me do my job during the lockdowns that he's not good enough for me and that he doesn't know why I don't leave him. He is really down about his job and says that it's clear I'm going to have a career whilst he works in a shop bringing in very little money. He says that I get to speak to people who are a lot more interesting than him and that I will eventually kick him out for someone better. This is not true whatsoever I love him with all my heart and would die for him. He said that he is trying to prove himself useful to try and prolong the time we spend together before I dump him.

 

When the lockdown ends I'm going to take him to the GP to see if there is anything they can do to help him. However clear that he needs a boost in self-worth as he has convinced himself that he is worthless which is the exact opposite and I know that I need to step up to the plate and help him achieve this.

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Sorry to hear this. He needs to sort out his own career path, dealing with covid, socializing, self respect, etc.When did you move in together?

 

Parenting is one of the biggest relationship killers in addition to fixing. You need to step down from the plate and stop infantilizing him. Let him do whatever he feels is required around the home until he figures himself out. If he wanted to be mommied and 'taken to a doctor' he can move back home.

 

It sounds like he's using the "It's me, not you" reasoning to exit the relationship. Is it possible that his boredom, loneliness is leaving him time to chitchat with other women while you're at work? Maybe he wants to feel like a man not a child, when he talks to others?

When the lockdown ends I'm going to take him to the GP to see if there is anything they can do to help him.
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I (24F) have been in a relationship with my boyfriend (23M) for three years and I absolutely love him to bits. We met whilst I was at university working in retail. I have now moved onto train to become an accountant whilst he still works there.

 

When the first lockdown was imposed in March he was placed on furlough whilst I had to Work from Home. I noticed at the time that his mental health worsened and he seemed down but I put this down to the lockdown and the associated boredom and cabin fever as we only live in a one bed flat.

 

However when it was lifted and he was taken off furlough but his mood didn't really improve very much. We're now in the middle of the second lockdown here in the UK and he is really low again. Also he took on most of the domestic duties whilst I worked in the first lockdown but in the second he insists that he does everything around the house (he's basically acting like he's my domestic servant and won't let me do anything).

 

I decided to broach the subject with him over this weekend . He told me that it's clear seeing me do my job during the lockdowns that he's not good enough for me and that he doesn't know why I don't leave him. He is really down about his job and says that it's clear I'm going to have a career whilst he works in a shop bringing in very little money. He says that I get to speak to people who are a lot more interesting than him and that I will eventually kick him out for someone better. This is not true whatsoever I love him with all my heart and would die for him. He said that he is trying to prove himself useful to try and prolong the time we spend together before I dump him.

 

When the lockdown ends I'm going to take him to the GP to see if there is anything they can do to help him. However clear that he needs a boost in self-worth as he has convinced himself that he is worthless which is the exact opposite and I know that I need to step up to the plate and help him achieve this.

 

That just sounds so devastating OP. I feel so sorry for your boyfriend.

 

I think it probably stems from something he had happen in childhood... he's for some reason, internalized this idea that his job is the "best" he can do, and then he sees himself as a loser.

 

In pyschology, this is called having a, "Losing Life Script," it's a devastating internal self-fulfilling prophecy type of thing that a person (man or woman) plays out without being conscious of what they're doing to themselves.

 

He's effectively self-sabotaging your relationship together because he believes he's a loser deep down and that he doesn't deserve someone like you.

 

Only counseling will fix him... I'm so so sorry.

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I'd treat this with a bit more calm and less emergency lights. He needs help for his issues but you don't need to throw yourself out of orbit for this. Stay calm and look at whether the situation warrants any more 'help'. You don't need to over-do or overwork yourself. Listen to him if he has had a bad day, if he wants to go to the doctor, you can go together.

 

I know you are trying to help but your approach is almost too much and overwhelming. Listen to him. This is just a hunch but I have a feeling he feels completely invisible in the relationship and just wants to be seen and heard as an equal to you in whatever you both do together.

 

If his outlook doesn't change or you both aren't able to come to an agreement for help or finding solutions, yes, I do believe it's time to re-evaluate. At this time listen to him and what he has to say.

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Sorry to hear this. He needs to sort out his own career path, dealing with covid, socializing, self respect, etc.

 

True.

 

I know you want to help your boyfriend but he has to find a way to resolve his problems. You can support him, but at the end of the day, he needs to get it sorted himself.

 

Maybe offer suggestions and see what he thinks. I think they are still doing online counselling if you think it might help him.

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Parenting is one of the biggest relationship killers in addition to fixing. You need to step down from the plate and stop infantilizing him. Let him do whatever he feels is required around the home until he figures himself out. If he wanted to be mommied and 'taken to a doctor' he can move back home.

 

This. x1000.

 

It's understandable for people to feel low when unemployed. I've been there. But that's not an excuse for a pity party, which is exactly what he's courting.

 

If your boyfriend feels so low about his station in life, then the question is: what does he want to do about that and what's his plan?

 

And to answer the question raised in the title of this post, you don't. In a healthy relationship, one is not responsible for creating or elevating one's partner's sense of self-worth. That's why it's called "self"-worth.

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Hi camus long time no see ...

 

op you say you saw his mental health decline ...did he already have problems ?

 

It is a good job you do love him because these things can turn into self fulfilling prophesies , one can be so hell bent they are not good enough that they drive the other person away , thus achieving what they feel they deserved !

 

It sounds like a massive bruised ego and too much time in his own head , he has connected the dots and come out with a whole different narrative then the one you are living . There are a lot of men who see themselves as the hunter gatherer , and feel their masculinity has been stripped if they are not the provider or at least equal . I find it quite enduring until it crosses a line ....like yours has .

 

I worry you will get fed up with reassuring him and going through the same conversations .....look we have the Oxford vaccine just about ready for lift off and there is light at the end of the tunnel , I think he just needs to get a bit of normality back in his life .

 

I say try not to feed this too much ...more brush it off ...like , oh shurrup you know I love you etc etc you get my drift .

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So this is a bit out there as far as advice goes , so just take this for what it is ....... I like Cherokee proverbs and this just for some reason made me think of this thread .

 

A woman's highest calling

is to lead a man

to his soul

so as to unite him with source

 

A man's highest calling

is to protect woman

so she is free to walk

the earth unharmed

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These are exceptional times. I totally get his discouragement coupled with watching you go about your fabulous life. It's not easy to feel perky about it when you are isolated yourself and don't have an outlet.

 

Having said that, even as difficult of a time this might be, he doesn't seem to possess the foundation to navigate it well. (as if handling a pandemic and isolation should be done *well)

 

Had he come from a place of strength to begin with he could pull himself up. Instead he's trying to pull you down. Stay supportive, but you can't fix it. It sounds like he might need some professional help to manage this.

 

In order to improve his own self worth he needs to do something and be successful at it. If that means asking for help or looking for new employment, that's something HE needs to do. You can't do it for him. That's why it's called *self

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Please do not discount the damage COVID is inflicting on people’s mental health. Taking a new path in life is very difficult at any time, so let's cut the bf some slack Are you becoming a Chartered Accountant? It sounds like you are from the UK. This is a very highly respected designation. Hopefully you will pass all of your exams.

 

I can almost feel his insecurity through the screen as I write this post. What he needs now is tons of reassurance that you love him and that is perfectly ok for him not to know his precise career path at age 23. Maybe you could encourage him to spend an hour a day looking into businesses that might appeal to him, maybe trades, or go back to school.

 

I would not call what you are doing “parenting” you are trying to support someone in need.

 

On a side note, my university ex - the guy who I went traveling through Europe with in 1st and 2nd year university just killed himself and he was very successful. I am now dealing with an anorexic/alcholic friend who’s parents just flew into NYC to have her committed from drinking over exercising and under eating, and still wants to drink on the seizure meds. What Im trying to say is COVID is f*&ing up a lot of people, seems to be pushing people over the edge, especially those that already have mental issues.

 

Be kind and supportive, maybe try to have some fun.

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Even though your intentions are good, you are not responsible for how he feels, his unfortunate circumstances, current occupation and the whole lot.

 

He wouldn't say what he's saying if he's not inclined to dissolve the relationship. He's hinting at breaking up because he's goading you. It's your decision whether you want to bite the bait or not.

 

I doubt that he needs to see a GP and / or Rx meds for depression. He needs to fix his life instead. For example, attaining a great job which he wants. He's envious of you because you're on the fast track (congratulations btw).

 

Your boyfriend is in his pity pot mood. There's no telling when he'll snap out of it and as long as he's unhappy with his job, he'll continue to be a drag just like your ball 'n chain.

 

You can't make him happy because he's unhappy with himself and his lot in life. Either he needs to create his own happiness, self worth and well being by elevating his job status or everything remains the same in your unhappy relationship with him.

 

Only you can determine whether or not you want a boyfriend who is a "project."

 

He's probably right. You would be happier without him or be with a man who has his act together. (Successful, w/o problems, healthy, moral, sound mind and very stable)

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From the outside looking in, you have outgrown the relationship, but only love is keeping you tethered to someone who isn't growing along with you.

 

He told me that it's clear seeing me do my job during the lockdowns that he's not good enough for me and that he doesn't know why I don't leave him. He is really down about his job and says that it's clear I'm going to have a career whilst he works in a shop bringing in very little money. A man who truly cared about being all he could be, along with being worthy of you--an equally contributing partner in a union, would be doing, not whining.

 

If he hasn't pursued continuing education or attended a technical institute, and hasn't spoken of those possible avenues, then deep down he's okay with that status quo, and just fine with you being the breadwinner and pulling a lot more weight than him. Otherwise, he'd be taking steps toward a better career.

 

At age 25, a person's brain becomes mature in the decision-making area of the pre-frontal cortex. You're 2 years away from that. As an older woman who made some poor decisions in choosing a first husband when too young to be making such an important decision, I'll give you some advice from my own life experience. You should have a must-have list and a dealbreaker list when it comes to choosing a lifetime partner. Being financially stable should be on that list. You might pooh-pooh that because you think love will conquer all, but believe me, it doesn't.

 

My ex-husband showed signs of immature decision making as far as jobs went. The work ethic you see in a person at present, is one you shouldn't expect to change. Life is expensive, and you will get tired of carrying the load. I remember working my butt off, along with overtime, while he was doing some fun, minimum wage job, and spending so much gas getting there it was ridiculous. During one argument I screamed, "I just want one vacation a year after all the work I do, but I can't even do that."

 

That aggravation, along with his depression, gradually spelled the end of our marriage. People with depression sometimes don't want to go to a pyschiartist nor be on anti-depressants, and it's hell living with them.

 

Be cognizant of when you're regularly upset in a relationship, it means it's not the right one for you. You have some thinking to do. Don't be so in love that you tuck your own happiness under the doormat.

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Yes, Andrina.

 

"People with depression sometimes don't want to go to a pyschiartist nor be on anti-depressants, and it's hell living with them.

 

Be cognizant of when you're regularly upset in a relationship, it means it's not the right one for you. You have some thinking to do. Don't be so in love that you tuck your own happiness under the doormat."

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Was he insecure before?

 

He sounds fragile so just telling him to sack up will only do more damage. You cannot be his therapist though. Is he open to doing some electronic counseling perhaps? Obviously getting an appointment is tough right now but is he open to at least talking to someone?

 

If he admits he is depressed that is a good start.

 

Being supportive and loving but not over the top like you are coddling him will be very helpful.

 

I am sure he has hopes and dreams, what are they?

 

Lost

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If you really want to help, then treat him as an adult he is - with respect. Tell him how much you value what he does for you at home and how much you love and appreciate it. Don't insist on doing things yourself or pitching in, but rather be appreciative of everything he is doing for you and make him feel good about it.

 

Don't drag him to doctors or treat him like a child or like he is broken. Just don't. Don't mother him. Let him sort himself out. If he thinks he needs to go there, then be supportive, but that's about it. Again, treat him as an adult that he is. If he complains about being depressed, then ask him what he is planning on doing about it. How does he think he should deal. Don't tell him what he should do, but rather let him figure it out for himself.

 

Understand that what builds confidence and self worth is knowing that you can fix your own problems without anyone's help. So leave him to it. Be supportive of his choices but don't do the work for him, don't even try. Step back, way back.

 

Ultimately, though....understand that you can't fix people. Self worth comes from self. If his talk is driven by jealousy, then your relationship is already over. It's not about you and that you love him dearly, it's that he hates you for being better than him...or so he perceives. Jealousy corrodes the soul and if he is that kind of a person and has gone down that rabbit hole......no force on this planet will pull him out. It's a hard wired character and personality issue.

 

Anyway, all you can do is step back and see where this goes. Do not jump in with trying to fix him because that will just leave him feeling worse.

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My husband and I had basically nothing when we married. I didn't require that he be financially well off before we married because that would have been hypocritical because I wasn't financially well off. But we worked TOGETHER to build our finances. I wasn't interested in a career but rather a steady job that paid well enough to do my fair share of providing for our household. My husband DID want a career and worked toward that.

 

He actually didn't want me to work (that's a whole can of worms I'm not going to open here) but the point I'm making is neither of us expected the other one to shoulder all the responsibility for financial stability. We were a team and behaved as one. Neither of us had to push the other toward this goal.

 

Now, if the two of you agreed you would be the primary breadwinner that's different. I worked with a woman who had a well-paying job/career so she and her husband decided she would go to work and he would stay home and be the primary caretaker for their kids and do much of the housekeeping and cooking.

 

If this relationship is to work the both of you have to be on the same page regarding finances. You can't "make" him want to do anything. He has to want it for himself and for the both of you.

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If this relationship is to work the both of you have to be on the same page regarding finances. You can't "make" him want to do anything. He has to want it for himself and for the both of you.

 

Yes, definitely. There has to be effort on both sides. If he is struggling, he needs to work out what will help him. You can be supportive, but mothering him won't solve the problems.

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From the outside looking in, you have outgrown the relationship, but only love is keeping you tethered to someone who isn't growing along with you.

 

He told me that it's clear seeing me do my job during the lockdowns that he's not good enough for me and that he doesn't know why I don't leave him. He is really down about his job and says that it's clear I'm going to have a career whilst he works in a shop bringing in very little money. A man who truly cared about being all he could be, along with being worthy of you--an equally contributing partner in a union, would be doing, not whining.

 

If he hasn't pursued continuing education or attended a technical institute, and hasn't spoken of those possible avenues, then deep down he's okay with that status quo, and just fine with you being the breadwinner and pulling a lot more weight than him. Otherwise, he'd be taking steps toward a better career.

 

At age 25, a person's brain becomes mature in the decision-making area of the pre-frontal cortex. You're 2 years away from that. As an older woman who made some poor decisions in choosing a first husband when too young to be making such an important decision, I'll give you some advice from my own life experience. You should have a must-have list and a dealbreaker list when it comes to choosing a lifetime partner. Being financially stable should be on that list. You might pooh-pooh that because you think love will conquer all, but believe me, it doesn't.

 

My ex-husband showed signs of immature decision making as far as jobs went. The work ethic you see in a person at present, is one you shouldn't expect to change. Life is expensive, and you will get tired of carrying the load. I remember working my butt off, along with overtime, while he was doing some fun, minimum wage job, and spending so much gas getting there it was ridiculous. During one argument I screamed, "I just want one vacation a year after all the work I do, but I can't even do that."

 

That aggravation, along with his depression, gradually spelled the end of our marriage. People with depression sometimes don't want to go to a pyschiartist nor be on anti-depressants, and it's hell living with them.

 

Be cognizant of when you're regularly upset in a relationship, it means it's not the right one for you. You have some thinking to do. Don't be so in love that you tuck your own happiness under the doormat.

 

Thank you.

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It's a difficult situation. There's a fine line between "mothering" him and outright dismissing him. Speaking personally, the wife and I are among the incredibly privileged to essentially have our biggest economic consequence be having to work more from home. Our careers have been virtually untouched, and mine having in fact improved (by no effort for my part). Frankly, if I were in a position to where I was furloughed during the first lockdown, went back to work under very questionable circumstances, and then experienced yet another furlough during a second lockdown amid a double-dip recession, I'd probably be pretty dejected.

 

That said, it's by no means a license for him to, even if as a more hyperbolic example, go off on you for him having done dinner dishes the 5th night in a row when this is pretty much the only way he can tangibly contribute right now. At the same time, I think a lot of very resentful couples similar to you two right now are skirting the reality that one or the other simply isn't going to be able to financially contribute to your joint livelihoods in the short-term future, and you gotta kinda come to a no-BS assessment and agreement on how the unemployed partner can in the meantime contribute while still maintain their sanity and being able to pursue constructive hobbies and interests.

 

I don't know how much you two have discussed or if he's been offered the option, but especially right now where people are unemployed by virtually no fault of their own, it's a huge weight off if they're provided some assurance that you appreciate what they are contributing around the house, and that it's fine in the more immediate future if they. again, focus more on constructive hobbies and interests in lieu of languishing over losing a job or finding one amid the worst recession the UK has faced in 300 years. That's not to say roll over and allow yourself to be taken advantage of. But again speaking personally, I'd give my wife or then-girlfriend the benefit of that assurance and the confidence they could independently take care of themselves, providing them the space to do so, before treating it as any sort of hard negotiation.

 

Beyond that, I just say best of luck. I again consider myself extremely fortunate for not having had to navigate this kind of dynamic during the pandemic, even with as confident as I am in my marriage.

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