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Topic: Advice on relationship-y stuff and self-image

18 posts, 0 answered
  1. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    5 July 2020

    Hi folks!

    Hope you're all doing ok.

    So, I'll try to keep this relatively short (though in doing so I will leave out a bunch of the story).

    About a year ago, I got friendly with this girl and developed feelings for her. I was going to ask her out, but wanted to know what my friends thought of her before I asked. Basically, no more than a week after I introduced her to my best friend he asked her out (I hadn't told him I was going to, etc.). This hurt a bunch but I kept it to myself for a long time, and I progressively got worse emotionally. Eventually I told them, which didn't really help me at all - in fact this made it worse. They were nice about it, and supportive, etc. (they were my two best friends at this stage).

    Eventually, they stopped dating and she started dating another guy (who is now also one of my good friends).

    I now don't know if I like her or not, I'm really confused - I guess I'll figure it out eventually - but I'm not over it by any means (though a lot better than I was).

    I don't want to blame this completely, but I think it heavily influenced my poor/relatively unhealthy self-image. She is the only girl I have been this close to so I guess a part of me perceives her as a 'representation' of the female sex (which I know is not logical and is wrong in a number of ways). But anyways, I've never seen myself as anything close to society's standards of good looking, my friends are objectively much more attractive than I by these standards. This wasn't a problem before but is now.

    Basically, it feels like I'm just feeling sorry for myself for not getting the girl, and I'm kinda convinced that I have no chance in the 'relationships' area due to the self-image issues (with the above story as 'evidence' of how incompetent I am in this regard).

    Its a lot more complex then this, but anyway... any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated, or if you want me to clarify anything or give more details I am happy to do so.

    I'll also say, recently I haven't been feeling too down, but thought it would be a good idea to talk about it.

    Thanks :)

  2. Aphador
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    Aphador avatar
    50 posts
    6 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy
    Hi Danioboy! :)
    Welcome to the forums, and well done for having the confidence to share! Talking about problems with others is the most effective way to deal with them, in my opinion.
    I'm coming at you from the other side of the tunnel- I've been through this exact situation when I was a little younger, and it sucks. And so, let me tell you that basing your self-image on one woman is not a crazy concept- in fact, it is EXTREMELY common for men to do this!
    I was absolutely consumed by an attraction to a girl who did not reciprocate those feelings for three years! She was and still is an amazing girl, but I was young and not the person I am today.
    Now get ready for the lecture. To beat a dead horse- you should work on yourself, and your purpose and the women will fall into place. When I was hanging around this girl, my purpose in life is the last thing I was interested in. I see now that this is what makes males attractive- a sense of direction and confidence. Trust me when I say that if you have these things in place, your physical attractiveness does not matter.
    Basically, what I am saying is- that you should work on your self-image! It's important to note that this is not something that will fall into place in your life- you need to actively work on it to get better.
    - Work on your physical health- go to the gym, go for running, eat healthily.
    - Decide what you want to pursue in life- make steps towards achieving this goal (ie. what you might need to study, etc.)
    - Pursue fun hobbies- do you play music? Do you enjoy hiking? not only are these fantastic ways to improve your self-image, but they are also great ways to meet women too ;)
    There are more thing that you can do to improve poor self-esteem, which I can happily tell you, but I feel like the above items are the basics that you should choose to work on.
    Please don't hesitate to ask any more questions! Having gone through what you have, I think I know how you feel. What I have told you here is a very abridged version that has taken 2 years of my life to understand. I would love to help you, so don't be afraid to reach out!
    If you enjoy reading, I would highly recommend: No more Mr. Nice Guy (Dr. Robert Glover) and Awaken the Giant Within (Tony Robbins).
    3 people found this helpful
  3. cluelesscloud
    cluelesscloud avatar
    4 posts
    6 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    Hey,

    This seems really hard and I totally get what you're talking about. I have really poor self-esteem too and I'm really insecure. Just like you feel like you aren't attractive as per societal standards, I feel the same way too!

    I'd love to help you and give you advice on a few things that you've said! Firstly, you mentioned that this girl is the only girl you've been close to, as a result, you perceive her as a representation of the female sex. Whilst I do understand where you're coming from, I just want to reassure you that this isn't true! I'm a female and every girl/woman finds different guys attractive. My friends find guys attractive that sometimes I don't think are and vice versa. Therefore, if this girl didn't find you attractive or you think you aren't attractive, don't worry because you probably are :)

    Yes, your friends did get the girl but she's one girl in a billion (cheesy, yet true) and maybe she just had a type and that type was both of your friends or maybe your friends showed more interest towards her. There are many reasons why you guys didn't end up dating but that's okay! Although you may still care about her and what she thinks of you, my advice (which you don't necessarily need to follow) is to focus on you for now and building up your self-image.

    This brings me to my second piece of advice (which is hopefully helpful!), you should definitely try to build up your self-esteem. The first major way to do so is to avoid comparing yourself to others and your friends because no one is you! It's tough but once you're confident in yourself, you'll be ready to be in a relationship and you'll definitely have a chance in the 'relationships' area because trust me, girls love a guy who's confident! Self-image does take time though and no one can do it for you except yourself.

    I hope this helps (sorry that it's so long!) and that you feel better, everyone struggles with their self-image though and it is always easier to focus on the negatives than the positives but it doesn't have to be that way :)

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    6 July 2020 in reply to Aphador

    Awesome! I'll check those books out.

    Thanks heaps

  5. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    6 July 2020 in reply to cluelesscloud

    Hey, thanks heaps for getting back!

    Some of that stuff I kinda knew or figured logically, but its good to reinforce it sometimes I guess, and to hear, or read, someone say it.

    Just wanted to ask 1 thing, is there a way to get notified when people reply to stuff on hear? (Im new to this)

    Thanks again! :)

  6. Aphador
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    50 posts
    7 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    Hey Danioboy :)

    I don't believe we are able to receive notifications, unfortunately. Instead, I am trying to check the forums and the 'My Threads' tab daily.

    1 person found this helpful
  7. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    8 July 2020 in reply to Aphador

    Hey Aphador,

    I've been reading No More Mr. Nice Guy, and I resonate with a lot of the stuff in it.

    Do you think you could be my safe person?

    If not its all good and I can find someone else I don't want to force this on you, I just figured you would be ideal because you know about the content of the book. Also I thought since its anonymous it would be easier to talk about some of the stuff, I guess.

  8. Aphador
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    50 posts
    9 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    Hey Danioboy!

    That's awesome! It's a book that helped me out immensely. Kind of started a journey of healing for me.

    For sure, I can help you out. I'll be checking this thread regularly, so post whenever!

    It's essential to recognise that these forums are quite similar to the 'safe person' he is talking about. It's someone (or people) who you can talk to about these things so that you aren't going through it alone. In communicating with others, we can understand ourselves better (and in some ways, hold ourselves more accountable when necessary.

    In any case, I'm excited to be able to help, and I'll do my best!

    Aphador :)

  9. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    10 July 2020

    Thanks heaps Alphador,
    It means a lot.
    So I guess I'll start. I'll just follow the book.
    Activity 1: Done
    Activity 2: (Why would it seem rational for a person to try to eliminate or hide certain things about himself and try to become something different unless there was a significant compelling reason for him to do so? Why do people try to change who they really are?)
    I thought this was a really complex question with a really long answer and also that it would be different for everybody, but I kind of narrowed it down to insecurities and/or life experience as the possible causes.
    Activity 3: (Childhood experiences that may have caused Nice Guy-ness. Compare to examples)
    My parents are nice people, really loving and supportive. I guess you could say my Mum lives through myself and my younger brother to some degree, in a sense; by this I mean she doesn't see her friends very regularly and so she can tend to turn to my younger bro and I for 'companionship and affirmation of her worth'. More so when we were younger. My Dad is a nice man, in lots of ways I am quite like he is. My family has never been super wealthy and it wasn't uncommon, when I was younger, for Dad to have to work decently late on Weekdays and sometimes weekends to stay on top of our expenses.
    My older brother is 12 years older than me (for perspective, I was 6 when he turned 18). He had/has substance abuse and anger issues. He was a tall and athletic guy, who for as long as I remember, was prone to kind of exploding sometimes unpredictably as a manipulation tactic and an attempt to feel big.
    When I was a kid he used to stand over my mum and grandparents and scream in their faces and sometimes through stuff around, often in front of me and usually when Dad wasn’t around. This whole time I saw everyone (my parents and grandparents) stand up to him, and by the time I was 5 or 6 I started feeling guilty for not trying to stop him or try to redirect his rage to myself, like my mum did when he was going off at my grandparents or like Dad did when he was going off at Mum when he was around. I used to sort of… freeze.
    I'm running out of characters, I'll expand on this next time.
    It also says to take note of my feelings while I share, I’m not sure if Im meant to share this too, I don’t mind doing so, so I will. Kinda mostly made me feel a little sad, and guilty, but also sort of relieving in a way.

    Thanks again,

    Dan

  10. Aphador
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    10 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    You're making great progress! I just listened to the audiobook again quickly to refresh my memory of the content (although it definitely is a book to be read slowly).

    Firstly I'll address the end part about feelings. We relate to the world through our emotions, and often they dictate our actions (that is what they are there for). Being able to recognise how we feel about things can give us control over our actions in the future (this is a part of mindfulness). I think it is super important to talk about feelings/emotions, and would encourage you to do so. It is okay to tell people how you feel- it is a part of communication.

    Activity 2: Yeah, so true! For myself, it was a misunderstanding about the world and how I should present in it. Also, a subconcious dissatisfaction with who I was as a person. Experiences in the real world triggered this recognition of dissatisfaction and my desire to change.

    Activity 3: I can imagine that your mother living through you guys places stress on you to achieve well?
    That sucks that your brother is like this. It's awesome that you are able to see the potential impact that this has had on you, however!

    I don't want to say too much at this point, because there is so much of the book to go that can explain things better than I can! The activities in the book will build upon activity 3, as you will see soon.

    Looking forward to the next entry,
    Aphador :)

  11. Aphador
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    10 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy
    I would just like to make an additional post to preface a few things about the book, not only for our sake but for others that might come across this thread.
    (1) This book is not a replacement for seeing a counsellor/psychologist. The author (although a psychotherapist himself) stresses this point and suggests that the themes of the book can be discussed with one. I went through the content of this book without seeing a counsellor; however, I have seen counsellor's/psychologists in the past due to things I uncovered about myself due to this book (and others like it).
    (2) I don't believe this book is anti-feminist. Many of the themes of this book have the potential to be taken out of context in the current age (this book was written in the early 2000s). I consider myself a feminist. I would like to emphasise that this book is more about changing self-image and becoming confident in yourself, rather than a libel against feminism.
    (3) The theme of family is recurrent in this book. It is a strange thing to think about- especially for those of us who believe we had perfect childhoods. It is something that to be understood entirely, should probably be communicated with a therapist/counsellor. I recognise that psychodynamic theories are often speculated against; however, without a doubt, many people (including parents) seem to misjudge the effect that parenting has on the development of a child/person. Although we may be able to recognise these faults in our parents, we mustn't get angry at them, or judge them for it. Our parents are people too, who were once upon a time, just as clueless as you or me.
    (4) Many of the anecdotes in this book are of men who are middle-aged and married, perhaps giving it slightly less relevancy to 'young people' like you (Dan) and me. I still found this book extremely relevant to trends I saw in my life, and the themes/activities of the book were an excellent leaping pad into other books/ideas that may be considered 'more relevant.'

    I'm not suggesting you should see a therapist Dan; however, I believe their service to be invaluable. As I am currently at university, I can use the free counselling sessions they provide on a monthly basis- even though I no longer have any significant concerns with my life. You may, however, find that going through the content in this book and discussing it with me will be helpful enough :)

    Sorry for the long post!

  12. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    17 July 2020

    Hi,

    I have noticed that in some aspects of my identity I do avoid being 'masculine', but in others I actually strive to be more 'masculine'. I'll give an example of each:

    More Masculine - be more 'handy' in a practical sense, i.e: fixing things etc.; something I have no interest in beyond seeming more masculine

    Less Masculine - avoiding conflict

    Activity 4: (Note any of the ways in which you seek approval.)

    I keep my hair relatively long and try to keep in relatively good shape. I guess because if I get complimented about my appearance, it'll either be about my hair or my fitness.

    Other ways are:

    - Being intelligent

    - Having a pleasant, non-threatening voice

    - Looking unselfish

    - Being different from other men

    - Never getting angry

    - Making other people happy

    - Being nice

    - Never offending anyone

  13. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    19 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    (This is in relation to the last post)

    I have also just realised that when I drink with friends I do it mainly for approval (at least when I drink the quatities that I drink when with friends I am).

    And the opposite is true with my family; I stay sober for approval around them.

  14. Aphador
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    20 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    Awesome work Dan, Keep it up :)

    You and I sound very similar- many of these things I recognised in myself (especially hair and fitness). I used to live for those complements even if I would act like it didn't mean anything to me.

  15. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    24 July 2020

    Yeah I relate to that, with a fair few things on the list as well.
    Activity 5: If you did not care what people thought of you, how would you live your life differently? If you were not concerned with getting the approval of women, how would your relationships with the opposite sex be different?
    Well, to answer the first question, as I write this from my room, I have looked around it for inspiration and I guess I have realised I would not keep as much of the material things that others have given/provided me. For example my parents bought me a desk when I started highschool, and I never really used it beyond an extra place for storage within my room. I'd get rid of it if I the possibility that my parents could potentially be hurt by the act as they had spent time and money to buy it and gave it to me with love, idk that might sound silly..
    But more generally, its kind of hard to say; I guess Ii would be more open about my mental health, and wouldn't be so quite when being around people I don't know very well.
    And the second question - I don't know that I would change much, just act more naturally, and do the stuff listed in activity 4 less

  16. Aphador
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    26 July 2020 in reply to Danioboy

    Good Work Dan,

    Activity 5 is one that I still have trouble with. Especially with my parents, as I mentioned. You can start small and build up, however. For me, this was not succumbing to the peer pressure of going out with friends every week. I don't like going out often but went due to pressure to fit in. Whether I chose to go out or stay in, I wanted to be comfortable with my choice. Realising that my friends wouldn't hate me for it.

    It's about recognising what you want to do in certain situations, rather than fulfilling the needs of others. Obviously being courteous to others is great, but people like you and I tend to go over the top to please.

    Being open about mental health is a big one, but I think it's important. I am open about my mental health in my life in order to raise awareness so people know what it looks like and to try and reduce stigma around it.

    Aphador :)

  17. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    27 July 2020

    Hey Aphador,

    I really respect you for talking about mental health openly with people. I definitely wish I was better at it; I'd also like my friends to be better at it too, I think we would become closer if that wasn't as much of a 'boundary' between us.

    My issue with talking about my mental health (especially in person) is that often I don't feel like I am successfully communicating my emotions accurately. There is also that kinda... self-imposed stigma that I definitely feel when I try to bring it up, even though I know for a fact that they would be supportive and try to help me. I also almost feel guilty when I talk about my emotions (when their negative) as I feel like I'm complaining and should just sort it out, often it feels like my problems seem insignificant if I voice them, or at least seem that to another they would look so, which sort of comes back to the successful communication thing somewhat.

    Another reason I don't like talking about my feelings in real life is that my brain seems to freeze or become cloudy when I try to think about how to express myself this way, and it becomes hard for me to actually speak at all sometimes. I think this is some sort of self-defense thing my brain thinks is necassary.

    I have a feeling these things are some of the main things that will be helped by the book.

    So how would you live differently around your parents?

  18. Danioboy
    Danioboy avatar
    10 posts
    27 July 2020

    Activity 6: Write down examples of situations in which you have tried to hide or distract attention from any of these perceived flaws. How effective do you think you are in keeping these things hidden from the people you love?

    The biggest one for me is, having a phobia-like thing of eating fruit - which I know is not healthy at all and I really want to try to remedy this (but keep avoiding it 'cause its kinda a fear), but I don't know why it exists or where it came from. Up to this day I think only one of my friends would know about this.

    Another thing is-especially last year-was hiding my sexuality/that I was sexual. This was to others as well as to myself, this was an attempt to convince myself and the girl mentioned in the first post that she didn't mean as much to me as I felt at that time. (There was other stuff that happened related to this that I don't want to talk about tonight as it will be uncomfortable to talk about, but if you could prompt me in your next reply I think it would be beneficial for me to get some stuff off my chest about that).

    I definitely tried to repress and hide my emotions, but it eventually got to the point where I couldn't. I try to do that less now (often unsuccessfully).

    I don't actively try to hide it, but if I mess up with something I casually avoid talking about it.

    I do often try to hide my needs and the fact that I have them as well.

    I want to comment on how doing this is affecting me in general life. Since I have started doing this I have definitely felt far more positive on average; happier, etc. I've also been acting more confident I think, which is good thing; often this makes me feel a bit more confident. But I'm not sure if it has been all positive change; I have started kind of... joking about insecurities I have. This might be a good thing because it is one step closer to openly talking about them, but may be bad as I am making a joke out of it... I'm not sure yet. What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Dan