Q: In the past year I’ve gone on a few dates and befriended a few women, but I always find they have poor self-esteem. I hope this is not saying something more about me, in that I only seem to attract such women. However, it just seems that there are so many insecure people out there. Any thoughts?

A: No instant-solution — but thoughts, yes. Here’s one: make sure you’re clear what you mean by “self-esteem” and that you’re certain all of these women have this problem. Sometimes the problem is simply incompatibility. In a way it doesn’t matter, since the end result is the same in either case. It’s easy for me to believe that many if not all of the women you encounter have some self-esteem issues; I subscribe to the view that there is a self-esteem crisis in the world. (For details, see all of my writings and the writings of those I recommend). However, there are self-esteem problems and there are self-esteem problems. If you find that all of the women you meet have serious self-esteem problems, then ask yourself:

(1) “Am I seeking to meet women in a variety of contexts? Or only in one or two specific contexts?” If the latter, re-evaluate the value of looking for women primarily in one or two places and try to cast a wider net, so to speak. Don’t rule out personal ads or online methods either. While these particular methods of meeting people have their disadvantages, I have seen them lead to success. I tire of hearing from people: “That’s only for the desperate!” Nonsense! Desperation consists of sleeping with or dating anyone you meet for the sheer sake of finding some illusion of intimacy. It’s not desperate to find as many opportunities for meeting a romantic partner as you can. Ask people how they met their partner. I have been doing this for years, as an informal research project. Answers vary: through family or friends; through an association or organization; through work; through a dating service; through personal ads; through a dance club or bar; out in public, by chance. Remember that in romantic love you only need one match to enjoy success. More than one tends to complicate matters.

(2)”Am I doing anything to unintentionally attract low-self-esteemed women?” Be honest and objective with yourself, of course. Ask some close friends for their input too, if you can count on them to give you honest but fair feedback. Keep in mind that you could never, merely in being who you are, cause someone to have low self-esteem. This was a pre-existing condition in her that you only become aware of later on. Also keep in mind that it’s unlikely you’re attracting women with low self-esteem, even subconsciously. Your level of self-esteem is determined by your ideas, emotions, actions and values — not by the kind of people who gravitate towards you. (In fact, low self-esteemed women might be drawn to you because they sense you have what they lack!) The greater concern would be if you stayed with such women once you knew it to be the case that they thought little of themselves and of life. That’s where a lot of people go wrong — mainly because they don’t know what self-esteem really is and the importance it plays in human life (especially romantic love relationships). They tend to go on their feelings without any rational judgment whatsoever (“Judgment? That’s unromantic!”) and as a result are continuously disappointed.

There are a lot of insecure people out there. I won’t argue with you. However, not everyone is so insecure that it will manifest in destructive ways. Not everyone is so insecure that it must be devastating to a relationship. It would be unreasonable to lose hope, because even if only a minority of people have high self-esteem and good values — you only need one. In a culture where a lot of people have self-esteem problems, those who have few or no problems stand out to each other more quickly than would otherwise be the case: through the joy and excitement of recognizing in one what most others seem to lack. Some people find the love of their life in their twenties; it’s probably true that most people find the love of their life somewhat later. A few even find several important loves in a lifetime. If you’re clear on what you want, then you’re at an advantage — even with all the disadvantages you might be up against. Don’t give up!

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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