Dear Christian Counselor:
I have low self-esteem and seem to attract men who are emotionally needy. I end up being “the emotional rock” in the relationship. I am there for them when they need a shoulder or ear (“love bears all things”) but when I need them, they can’t be there for me in the same way. The relationships end, and I feel even worse about myself than before. How do I change the way I see myself and those whom I attract? Thank you and God bless.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on this same general topic, so you are not alone in your struggle. I hope you don’t mind if I use your letter to introduce a new resource for all the women who have written to say that they are unhappy in their romantic relationships. I’ve created a .pdf document which you can download from the “Resources” page (or click here) with six principles for romance, geared specifically toward women.
You already understand that you are struggling with low self-esteem, and I think that is really another way of saying you are not confident of God’s great love and purpose for you. I would highly recommend that you spend your time working on that problem before you consider getting involved in another relationship. There are many ways to do that, from personal study to support groups to intensive, one-on-one counseling. Start asking around at church, and if you can’t find something, get a group of friends together to read God-Esteem by Roger Sonnenberg or From Bondage to Bonding by Nancy Groom.
It sounds like you may be offering a listening ear in order to feel good about yourself in addition to meeting a need in your partner. When you enter a relationship looking for emotional validation, you place expectations and responsibilities on the other person that are bound to disappoint you both. When you don’t need another person to make you feel whole, then you will be ready to stand beside someone else and build a real life together.