Look, I know how tough it can be to break up with someone. You don’t want to hurt their feelings (unless you’re breaking up with a total douchebag), but you just don’t see the relationship going anywhere.
It’s especially challenging when the person you’re breaking up with has low self-esteem. I mean, dumping someone who already feels inadequate can be an emotional minefield.
But what are you gonna do? Stay with them out of pity?
Of course not, that wouldn’t be good for either of you.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to break up with a guy with low self-esteem in a way that is honest, empathetic, and respectful, while being perfectly clear about what you want.
What is low self-esteem and how can it affect relationships?
Before we get into how to break up with a man with low self-esteem, I think it’s important for you to get a better understanding of what exactly low self-esteem is.
Let me explain:
When someone has low self-esteem, it means that they don’t think very highly of themselves. They have zero confidence, they feel unworthy of being loved, and they feel inadequate in pretty much every situation.
In their minds, everyone is better than them – smarter, funnier, better looking, more popular… It can be a huge obstacle to living a normal life.
They’re full of self-doubt and self-criticism and are constantly engaging in negative self-talk.
For example, “I can’t believe she’s actually dating me. I’m such a loser compared to her ex,” or “She’s gonna dump me, I just know she is.” And it’s not just in regards to their love life; they’ve got negative self-talk for every aspect of their lives.
This can put quite a strain on the relationship. I mean, it’s hard to relax and have fun when the person you’re with:
- Is constantly seeking your attention and your approval. People with low self-esteem can’t seem to do without external validation, and that means that your guy will constantly be seeking reassurance from you. Not exactly sexy, is it?
- Avoids new experiences or challenges because they’re scared of failure, looking stupid, and being ridiculed.
- They’re extremely jealous. Because they think so little of themselves, they have a hard time accepting that you actually like them. That means that your man is likely to be jealous of pretty much every guy you talk to.
- They’re constantly comparing themselves to others, and guess what – no good ever comes of it.
- Pretty much begs you not to leave them. That’s right, they may feel that something is off even before you try to break up with them, and they’ll beg you not to leave them and tell you how much they love you and things like “I’ll do better, I won’t be jealous anymore!”
Here’s the thing: It’s not their fault.
Your man didn’t choose to have low self-esteem. He doesn’t enjoy it; I mean, it actually feels pretty sh***y to be him.
There are many factors that contribute to low self-esteem: genetics, childhood experiences, cultural and societal pressures and expectations, mental health issues…
And here’s another thing: He’s not your responsibility.
If you’re not happy being with this guy – whether it’s because of his low self-esteem or something else – you shouldn’t have to force yourself just so you don’t hurt his feelings.
What your guy needs is to see a therapist and find out why he has low self-esteem. Once he’s done that, together, they can work toward building his confidence and self-esteem through positive self-talk and other exercises.
Preparing for the breakup
So, you’ve decided that for whatever reason, you just don’t see a future with this guy, and you just want to end things and move on with your life.
Problem is, you’re scared that you’ll hurt his feelings, and you’re not sure how he’ll take it.
You’re consumed with guilt because you know how vulnerable he is. What if he gets really depressed? What if he flies off the wagon?
I’m going to be honest: this isn’t going to be an easy conversation. However, there is a way to make it a little bit easier for both of you.
Here’s what I suggest: Get in touch with a professional relationship coach.
A good place to find some experienced professionals is Relationship Hero. They’ve got dozens of coaches to choose from, and in this case, you might wanna go with someone who has a degree in psychology.
Explain your situation to your coach. Tell them that you want to end the relationship but that you don’t want to cause any pain or suffering to your man. Tell them about him – explain how his low-self esteem manifests.
Once they’ve got the facts, they’ll be able to help you come up with a plan to break up with your man in the best, least painful, and least complicated way possible.
Having the talk
Okay, now that you’ve talked to a coach about your situation, it’s time to do the deed!
1) Choose the right time and place
This is pretty important because you don’t just want to spring this on your guy anytime, anywhere.
For example – A bad time would be during his lunch break. You don’t want him to be an emotional mess when he has to go back to work.
You also wanna skip public spaces because you want to avoid any public displays that could embarrass him.
So when and where?
I’d say that the best thing would be to break up with him on a Friday evening or during the weekend at his place; that way, he’s in a safe environment, and you get to choose when to leave (if you do it at your place, he could end up staying for hours and making the situation very uncomfortable for you.)
2) Never EVER do it over the phone
This is something to keep in mind at all times – not just when you’re breaking up with a man with low self-esteem.
Breaking up over a text message or a phone call is a pretty cowardly way out, don’t do it.
And when it comes to someone sensitive with low self-esteem, it could be detrimental.
So remember to be a decent human being and break up in person.
3) Be honest and clear
There’s no way around it. He needs to know that you’re serious about breaking up.
If you’re not clear or you hesitate, you could end up sending mixed messages and make him think that he has a chance to change your mind, and that will make breaking up even harder than it already is.
4) Use “I” statements
Even if he is the reason that you’re breaking up with him, if you want to spare his feelings, you should avoid putting all the blame on him or criticizing his behavior.
In my experience, it’s best to use “I” statements when discussing your reasons for the breakup.
For example, you can say, “I feel like we’re too different; we have different goals in life.” or “This is not working out for me; I want something else out of a relationship.”
Obviously, avoid saying things like, “You never want to do anything fun” or “You’re just not good enough for me.”
5) Be gentle and understanding yet firm
If you’re trying to spare this guy’s feelings, then you definitely don’t want to come off as a bitch.
That means that you need to show empathy and understanding.
At the same time, you need to be firm – leave no wiggle room for being talked into giving him another chance – because if you do, you’ll just end up back here again in a little while.
Best to get it over and done with now – like ripping off a band-aid.
6) Listen to his response
Once you’ve said what you had to say, don’t just walk away. Give him a chance to respond, listen to what he has to say, and validate his feelings.
You’re not listening to him because you want to give him a chance to change your mind. You’re doing it because it’s common courtesy, and he deserves some respect.
7) Suggest that he talk to someone
While you might have been their go-to person for difficult situations before, that’s no longer an option – you’re his ex now, and you need to go your separate ways.
That being said, you should tell them that you think it would be a good idea for him to talk to someone about his feelings, like a good friend, or even a relationship coach.
You can tell him about Relationship Hero and how you think that their coaches could really help him get through the breakup.
Who knows, maybe they can also help him work on his self-esteem.
8) Be prepared for all kinds of emotions
Breaking up with someone who has low-self esteem is no piece of cake. You should be prepared for a wide range of emotions – from sadness to anger.
What’s more, don’t be surprised if he starts begging and pleading or even trying to manipulate or guilt trip you into staying.
You can also expect to find some tears in the mix – so be strong!
How to help a guy with low self-esteem
We’ve had a look at how to break up with a guy with low self-esteem.
But what if you think he’s a really great guy and you enjoy being with him? What if the only problem is his low self-esteem?
Is there a way you can help him change? Is there a way to help him boost his self-esteem and confidence?
I can’t guarantee anything, but you could try the following things:
1) Express your love and appreciation
If you want to try and boost your guy’s confidence instead of breaking up with him, start by showing him that you love and appreciate him for who he is.
You may think that he already knows how you feel, but when it comes to guys with low self-esteem, they need to hear it regularly.
Focus on his positive qualities, tell him what it is that you love and admire about him. Let him know why you fell in love with him.
The goal is to have him focusing on his positive attributes instead of feeling inadequate.
2) Encourage him to pursue his interests
Here’s the thing, if he sits at home hiding away from the world, he’s not gonna feel very good about himself and he’ll just wallow in self-pity forever.
However, if you encourage him to go out there and do stuff he likes, he’s bound to feel energized and enthusiastic about life,
So, encourage your guy to engage in activities he enjoys and is passionate about. Trust me, this will help him feel more confident and fulfilled, which in turn will boost his self-esteem.
The more he pursues his interests, the better the outcome will be.
3) Show empathy and support
It’s important to let your man know that you care and that you’re there to help him.
Listen to him without judgment and offer encouragement.
Explain to him that nobody is perfect and that he shouldn’t feel bad about that.
4) Encourage positive self-talk
Encourage your guy to practice positive self-talk – that is to replace negative thoughts and limiting beliefs with positive ones.
Help him identify his strengths and accomplishments so that he can focus on those instead of his shortcomings.
5) Help him set achievable goals
Here’s the thing.
Sometimes people have big dreams. They want to get a lot done. They want to get BIG things done. But the problem is that sometimes, those goals just aren’t realistic.
And what happens when they don’t realize them? They lose their confidence and it affects their self-esteem.
That’s why I think it’s important to get your guy to set goals that are realistic and achievable, and help him develop a plan to work toward those goals.
And remember to celebrate his progress and accomplishments along the way!
6) Get him to seek professional help
Look, if his low self-esteem is affecting his daily life and he’s struggling to make progress, encourage him to seek professional help.
A therapist or counselor could help him work through his issues and come up with a strategy for boosting his self-esteem.
Remember that this problem isn’t going to go away overnight. It takes time for someone to regain confidence and boost their self-esteem. So just be patient and supportive, and so long as he’s willing to put in the work, he’ll manage to boost his self-esteem.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
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