Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a person who has low self esteem/worth? | INFJ Forum

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a person who has low self esteem/worth?

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by slant, Feb 26, 2020.

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  1. slant

    slant M O U L T I N G
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    This is something that's been on my mind lately and I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

    Before I get into it: I want to acknowledge that everyone is a work in progress. All of us have struggles with our self esteem and sense of self worth, it's something that has to be built from the inside and that's a process. Some of us have more trouble with it than others because of the way we were raised or traumatic conditioning we've accepted.

    As a person who used to struggle with low self worth/esteem and has gradually built that within myself by using self love, self compassion and accepting my fundamental flaws of being human, I am easily able to recognize my old self hating behavior in other people.

    I have worked really hard to build a life that I enjoy and develop myself. I find that people with low self esteem/worth can sometimes be drawn in my my encouraging, optimistic energy and philosophy of life. In truth part of how I've been able to recover from my own trauma is being surrendered by a community of loving and supportive people that I've learned from.

    Initially, I was too dependent upon these people for approval and was using them to build my own self worth. I'd say about 3 months in, I was finally able to break free of this trap and seek internal validation. I still struggle with it from time to time but I am aware of it and actively seeking to prevent it so it really isn't as much of an issue as it used to be.

    However...

    I am beginning to notice a lot of people who also struggle with low self worth and self esteem flocking to me. In the beginning of these relationships it is a positive interaction; I feel good sharing information about my journey and this other person taking inspiration from it. Quickly though I find these people can become overly dependent on my approval and seeking my validation. I start to set boundaries with these people in response. Sometimes that goes well, other times it doesn't.

    Admittedly, because I relate to low self worth or esteem, I can fail to set boundaries when I need to. Or I set them and the other person reacts badly and it turns into a point of contention. I understand what it's like to be in the headspace, but i know I'm not able to fix them, either.

    These types of relationships seem unhealthy to me but I am struggling to understand what would be healthier, or what the misstep is here. It's an emerging pattern and I'm trying to understand it.
     
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  2. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    Yeah I think so. But like you said, you have to establish boundaries (just like with any relationship, really.) Maybe the boundary to be set is knowing your role. And you already know you can't fix anyone so you've got that down. All you can really do is encourage the other person to look inward, be kind to themselves and support them through it. Everyone struggles with self esteem and low confidence at times and sometimes we need friends to help us find our footing. I think you have to remind people that they have everything within themselves to make it. And if a need for support is beyond your scope, I'd refer to a counselor for the big stuff. Because a professional would know how to help them work through major things. You mentioned that setting boundaries can lead to some backlash or negative reactions. But I think you still have to be consistent. There's a way to give gentle reminders when you feel boundaries are being breeched. Just always be aware when something is becoming too much for you. If it's causing you stress or burning you out then you really know boundaries aren't being held.
     
  3. ReasonEnduring

    ReasonEnduring Permanent Fixture

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    Yes, but it depends whether the person is willing to work with you and work on themselves.

    I've had exs where they had self esteem issues but just leaned on me to fill the gaps in their lives (both in their self esteem and their lack of life structure in general) and it didn't work out.

    That said, if the person is willing to take active positive steps forward when they can, and show they can do so, its not too unreasonable to help them find self worth if you have the resources.

    In the end its if they can improve, and if you have the means/will/desire to support them.

    No one is obligated to fix everyone around them on their own.
     
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  4. ReasonEnduring

    ReasonEnduring Permanent Fixture

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    Depending on the skill of the professional, some people don't respond well the counselors. They often come across as patronising or over simplifying things for some people.

    A personal touch can help significantly if you understand and appreciate the issues the individual is going through, but it is a big commitment no one should take on lightly.
     
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  5. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    You mentioned in your other post that it's important that the other person be willing to work on it. I think that's the key here. If it's someone who is not able to do that, then I think the most responsible thing to do would be to acknowledge that you can't help them and suggest a professional who probably can. Or if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed and stressed out by their needs, I think it might be helpful to suggest a professional if they are leaning on you so much. You can still be there and support them through that if they are open to trying it. You don't stop being their friend because you don't have the training to teach them the skills to help themselves.
     
  6. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome
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    Yes, it is. Throughout our lives we'll all struggle. Healthy relationships last through those struggles. Working on self, healthy behaviors, healthy boundaries, and healthy interactions will make a relationship work.

    Unhealthy people, weak people, troubled people, etc, flock to those they think will listen and support them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but setting boundaries is important. Developing a radar for those who are going to be troublesome, versus those who just need a little boost is helpful, too.
     
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  7. ReasonEnduring

    ReasonEnduring Permanent Fixture

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    Agreed.
     
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  8. Aneirin

    Aneirin AKA, David
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    those of use that appear to have our stuff more together are appealing to those that struggle. and, it is appealing to be that white knight that makes someone's world better. that makes us feel good, and so the dance goes. . however, we need to watch ourselves and not get drawn into someone's mess. or get in deeper than we have the ability to help them through. boundaries are indeed the key element. it's up to us to determine if a relationship with someone, anyone is in our best interest . .but I don't know that someone else's self esteem is the determining factor.
     
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  9. Rit4lin

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    I would argue such relationships are healthy, as long as you take the necessary precautions. In the correct amount, such relationships can become emotionally rewarding and mutually beneficial in growth. The main thing is understanding your fortitude and how long your 'energy' can be expensed without severe effects upon yourself - and then relaying that to the person(s) you're helping. If you become stretched too thin, emotionally exhausted or pushed into something you have little comprehension over how to approach, then you are of no good either to them or yourself.

    Communication is key, for the health of both parties. Should you deplete yourself too much on behalf of these people, then you pretty much end up like them and having to turn to another, stronger source to help pick you back up. But I think it is also important to realise that these sort of relationships your interests are only secondary to their development. If there is any ulterior motive, then it is just disingenuous and you shouldn't bother. Even setting boundaries are arguably only done so that you can remain at your best to help them when it is needed.
    For myself I approach such things with a sense of duty; they have chosen me to entrust themselves and so I do as much as I can to help. It can be a thankless task sometimes, but there are few greater experiences I have had than the joy, pride, happiness and excitement of observing the steady growth of a person that you helped encourage, and witnessing the fruition of your efforts.
     
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  10. Wyote

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    As long as you are facilitating growth in the other person, and they are demonstrating a willingness to improve, then any kind of relationship is manageable. It comes down to personal preferences at that point. Relationships strain/break when one person charges ahead, one person remains idle, or both people go different directions entirely.
     
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  11. Hostarius

    Hostarius Dad Bodinem

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    The modern narrative of 'relationships' in the West is intriguing to me in that it seems to have internalised cultural principles of individualism and consumerism to such an extent that any kind of dependency or interdependence can seem like an affront to our 'natural right' of self-gratification.

    That is, it can seem that anything less than a person who fully supports our individual 'needs' and autonomy is somehow 'toxic', 'unhealthy' or 'deficient' and ought to be swapped out for the latest model. That 'relationships' now are transactional, contractual and 'for' individual gratification at bottom.

    I think this thread itself is symptomatic of that cultural norm, to even ask the question if someone else's 'self-esteem' renders them incapable of a relationship. There's something very troubling about that, to me - the reduction of a person to their capacity to gratify, like a consumer product.
     
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  12. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda Controversial Girlfriend
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    Ding ding ding.

    We're social animals. We need relationships to function and to build our self-esteem. (Friendships and family are relationships too.) That which is impaired in the social emotional context can only be repaired in the social emotional context. You internalized the love of the people around you, and continued to build on that.

    It isn't a trap. It's human nature. Like Hos said, it's a sign of the times to see any form of dependency on other people as a weakness to be abolished. John Bowlby would roll his eyes if he were around to see it.
     
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  13. OP
    slant

    slant M O U L T I N G
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    The main issue I have with it is like

    I think we should be able we accept someone 100% the way they are

    And people with low self esteem, there's things about them that I don't like that aren't healthy or good for me

    A lot of you keep hinging the "if they change" part.

    But aren't you not supposed to go into a romantic relationship thinking another person will change? Why would a friendship be any different?

    Isn't it a little fucked up to engage with someone on the condition that you believe they'll become different?
     
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  14. Aneirin

    Aneirin AKA, David
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    You have to accept the person exactly as they are.. It's emotionally dangerous for you to think that they will change. . if they need to change for you, they are not for you
     
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  15. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    I don't think we should accept things that are unhealthy for us in relationships. So if you feel something is unhealthy, then a change must be made. It's important that other people accept you and your boundaries as you accept others.
     
    #15 acd, Feb 27, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  16. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda Controversial Girlfriend
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    Oh no, agreed. You 'should' like them as they are, warts and all. It's not good for you nor for them if you're with someone you don't like for who they are.

    It's inevitable that relationships change people though. Hopefully for the better.
     
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  17. ReasonEnduring

    ReasonEnduring Permanent Fixture

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    Both yes and no. Expecting them to change a fundemental aspect of their personality or behaviouris one thing and that probably won't fly.

    The difference is seeing a person WITHOUT an issue. IE Anxiety, Depression. Its not changing them, its a recover away from a condition.

    They will be a happier person, more positive person themselves and its something they want to achieve then being with them to help them on the journey is not a bad thing.

    Provided that you aren't doing everything for them of course.

    Its not changing them, its helping them recover to their true self. KIf you don't like them then, well its your problem.
     
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  18. ReasonEnduring

    ReasonEnduring Permanent Fixture

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    Agreed.

    We all learn something form relationships, even if all we learn is "I don't like that type of person".
     
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  19. OP
    slant

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    The thing for me is that I don't like how people with low self esteem behave.

    No one does, right?

    So this seems like contradictory information. Yes, it's possible to have a healthy relationship with people with low self esteem, no you shouldnt be friends with someone you expect to change/ don't like.

    Help me out?
     
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  20. Odyne

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    I don't know what the science says, but, from my experience I will say no. I do not have rational and detached thoughts on the topic, only a subjective answer.
     
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