change machineI’ve just been over visiting some of my favourite peeps HoneyandLance and Honey has written a brilliant post called People are Inherently Lazy: Or, Why We Over-Rank Ourselves, which was actually in response to a post by dating expert Evan Marc Katz called Do You Overestimate Yourself? Both of their posts were in response to a recent post on the Freakonomics Bulletin (Freakonomics is one of my favourite books) about people’s tendencies to seriously overestimate themselves.

Which got me thinking of course about Baggage Reclaim readers and the various problems that you come up against, particularly Mr Unavailable’s. In my new ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, I repeatedly talk about value and the correlation between that, your self-esteem, and why you will find yourself knock, knock, knocking at assclown door…again and again.

There was a standout line in this standout post:

“So we’re willing to put what might seem to be a disproportionate amount of effort into convincing ourselves and the world that we’re great, because we’d have to put far more work into actually becoming great.”

This is the whole Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl problem. Change seems far more scary than sticking in a bad situation so Fallback Girl’s put a disproportionate amount of effort into their relationships so that they can convince these men of their greatness.

I think on the whole, whilst it is good to be aware of your fabulousness and place a good value on yourself, we, as women need to be aware that we often place too much value in the wrong things, and not enough in the right things.

If I had a penny for every email that I had ever received where the woman told me she was great, funny, educated, great job, nice home, kind etc, etc, I could go off and buy me a serious 4-figure handbag.

It’s not that I want you to say ‘I’m ugly, I’m kinda funny, fairly educated, ok-ish job, house needs a bit of work and I’m a total bitch when I get my period…’ but… what you need to realise is that it is one thing to overestimate how great you are in terms of superficial qualities but it is another to overestimate how valuable you are to a relationship that hasn’t even got up off the ground, nevermind out the gate!

What’s even scarier though is that somehow, as women, we often manage to overestimate our superficial value but underestimate our value as a person who is an entity of importance.

This is how we end up in poor relationships with inappropriate men.

On one hand we think we have the things that tick the superficial boxes, plus we overvalue the ‘love’ that we think we bring to these relationships, with us even trying to do enough love for him too, but on the flipside of the coin, we have low or even no self-esteem and don’t believe that we have value or are an entity of value if we are not part of a couple, even one that has some seriously rocky or absent foundations.

When we realise that things are not all that they seemed or are everything that we have come to expect from a poor relationship, instead of remembering that we’re people of value and that we have to do what is best for us and protects us from being detracted from, we go into overdrive to put in that “disproportionate effort”.

What results is misery.

Many of us are afraid of the consequences of change or the perceived cost of change. It seems more comfortable to be uncomfortable in inertia than it does to change our situations because it is uncomfortable, so as Honey’s brilliant post suggested, we stay put and overestimate the wrong things to not only convince ourselves and him of our greatness, but to avoid having to do something about it and confront things about ourselves that we’re too afraid to see.

But even though the tradeoff seems better because we fear the pain of leaving and the possible revelations about ourselves that will result from being more connected, there is a far bigger cost to not changing because as thousands of women have seen, when we avoid change and are trapped in inertia, we lose our sense of self, our values, our self-esteem, and ourselves.

We don’t look at the bigger picture and we look at the short term.

Yes it may hurt now, but the tradeoff of making change is that by connecting to yourself, treating yourself as a person who is a valuable entity and loving yourself, actually changes your environment around you and who you are drawn to, and of course, who you attract.

If you stay, you will lose yourself, possibly your dignity, and anything else that you actually should be holding onto. The situation won’t change, he’ll still be the same, you’ll be miserable, or even more so, and life will zip by pretty quickly.

If you let go, whilst it will have it’s uncomfortable times, they pass, and by taking a leap of faith on yourself and building value in you, you not only learn to place value in the important things about yourself, but this change in attitude will reflect in the value of what others bring to your relationships.

You know you’ve made positive, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, change when you realise that you want to be around people who add positive value to you and your life as opposed to detracting from it.

Don’t overestimate the superficial because you’re missing the bigger picture; you.

Thanks to Honey at Honey&Lance for a brilliantly inspiring post!

NML is the founder of Baggage Reclaim and if you would like to get clued up about emotional unavailability, check out her new ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl.

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12 Responses to Overestimating Yourself:The Consequence of Change vs Inertia in Dating and Relationships

  1. Honey says:

    Glad you enjoyed the post, NML! You’ve got it exactly–this is just what we all do or have done in relationships, me included, when we place value on the wrong things (or don’t value the right ones).

  2. FinallyOverIt says:

    This article speaks volumes to me right now! After 3 1/2 years of trying to get my ex-EUM to fall in love with me, and after years of attracting people into my life who are all about taking, taking, taking, and who only think of themselves (my EUM included), I have finally realized that I need to stop! I have been so miserable for so long, and wondering why….when the answer was so obvious and yet I couldn’t figure it out until my recent revelation about myself. My self-esteem was so down in the toilet, and I thought so little of myself and had so little self-love that I was attracting (and choosing) people in my life that did nothing for me but validate what I thought about myself–that I was unworthy and unlovable. I was choosing friends who were more than happy to use me as a sounding board because I am such a good listener, etc., but when it came time for me to talk about my life and my problems, they were never around. And I allowed this and accepted it. I did the same thing with my EUM. I was his constant sounding board, ego boost, drinking buddy, dog sitter….you name it, I provided it to him without asking for anything in return. So, the message he got was “she doesn’t think much of herself, so I guess I can get away with anything.” No more! I finally get it, and after several weeks of NC with my ex-EUM, and after “weeding” out a couple of “friends” in my life that were not really my friends at all, I am really feeling like I am on my way to a happier life. Again, the website has been so extremely helpful to me, and NML, thanks again for your wisdom! :)

  3. lisaq says:

    Change is the single most scary thing in the world but, as you and Honey both pointed out, in the long term it’s the single best thing we can do for ourselves. You know I’ve been on journey of change and there are moments when it absolutely scares the shit out of me!

    On the other hand, I look at the progress I’ve already made over the past year and a half and I know I have to keep going. It’s worth being scared and uncomfortable. And, I know, that in the long run, though the journey is continuous, my life and my relationships will have benefited a million times an exponential amount.

    Seriously, isn’t a little fear and discomfort worth that?

  4. Kim2 says:

    Timely post!! Today I have been feeling really down. My heart has been totally smashed. I’ve been pondering HOW to increase self-esteem and self-worth. Deep down I have always feared I was unlovable (because I don’t look like a model, was never a cheerleader, goofy hair, etc) but most probably because of how my mother treated me growing up. I deserve to be loved and treated with kindness and respect because I’m me but just never expected to get it. I always felt I had to PROVE how great I was. I bent over backwards the EUMs likely thought I had no spine (until the day I walked out). I turned the other cheek so many times I was like the girl in the Exorcist. I don’t enjoy rude treatment – I thought in some way it was my fault for not being ‘enough’ – that the guy was getting bored so I put in even more effort.

    What is killing me right now is seeing him approach other women… being friendly to them… doing things with them… and knowing he is sleeping with other women. I still keep asking myself why I wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t I fun enough? Wasn’t I attractive enough? Wasn’t I interesting enough? What was it about ME that he wasn’t as nice to me as I see him being to other people? Living in a small town I cannot avoid him and feel like an A-one fool now for falling for him.

    The question I should be asking myself is why did I even try with a man that would treat me so poorly. Why did I stick around trying to prove to him how great I was? I thought once he got to know me he’d see what a fab woman I was. I wish I could kick my own a$$. The real friends I have are all good people – they like spending time with me – so it is NOT me but my expectations (low) and willingness to stick around even after being treated poorly.

    So… how do we deal with feeling worthless after these types of relationships? If we get into them because of low self-esteem what can we do in the aftermath? How do we change? I know self-esteem has to come from within and not other people but I don’t know how to do whatever I need to do. I don’t know WHAT to do beyond taking care of myself health-wise, taking care of my family, house, work, and doing things I enjoy. Any suggestions anyone?

  5. Kim2 says:

    I re-thought my post a little. Still confused though :-)

    We get involved with emotionally unavailable men due to low self-esteem. That involvement leaves us with even lower self-esteem. We want to be desired, wanted, loved, somebody’s special somebody. We look it for it from the EUM and when we don’t get it we try harder. Try to show him how happy he could be with us. Nothing we do works and we end up hurt, angry and feeling worthless.

    I am stuck on what to do after… how to value myself enough not to go there again. Does that make sense? I know I didn’t deserve to be treated like a blow-up doll but now I’m afraid of feeling attracted to ANY man in case same thing happens again. I don’t want to become a cat lady either. Seems I have two choices right now – cat lady or alcoholic. So far it’s been alcoholic – at least through the summer.

  6. FinallyOverIt says:

    Kim2, the answers are not easy. In order to get off of the “EUM rollercoaster” it takes a lot of self-examination and soul searching. I know for me, the reason I am attracted to men who will never love me (EUMs) is partly because I had a father who was “emotionally distant” and I never had a real strong father-daughter bond with him. So, a shrink would say that I am choosing men who are like my father so I can try to “make it right” with these men, and thus make it right with my father, and also that I am “going with what I know.” I’m not sure when in my life I started this “self talk” that I wasn’t good enough or that I didn’t deserve to be happy. Doesn’t really matter, I guess, what matters is that those of us with low self-esteem need to really start loving ourselves and realizing that the people we choose to bring into our lives DO NOT DEFINE US as human beings. We define ourselves and our worth. True self-love has to come from within us, not from external sources (like EUMs, friends, family, work colleagues, etc.). I, too, am in limbo right now–I have separated myself from my EUM, but I don’t have another relationship right now. I think it is important to focus on YOU, and do a lot of self-reflecting and really try to learn about yourself and what makes you drawn to the people in your life, especially those that may not be positive and healthy choices for you. I have ended a couple of friendships lately that I felt were not good for me because they were completely one-sided and not reciprocal, not to mention my ex-EUM who did a number on my self-esteem for sure. But, I know that his being unable to see me as the wonderful person I am IS HIS PROBLEM, AND BECAUSE HE IS EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. True, I had a part in the dysfunctional relationship, but I am not letting this failed “relationship” define who I am as a person. Also, it is not my job or my responsibility to analyze my EUM and try to figure out why he is the way he is. It doesn’t matter. What matters is US. What matters is that we get happy. Life is too short! Take care, Kim2!

  7. Kim2 says:

    FinallyOverIt – thank you.

    What I did was overestimate HIM and underestimate me.

  8. Loving Annie says:

    “What’s even scarier though is that somehow, as women, we often manage to overestimate our superficial value but underestimate our over value as a person who is an entity of importance.

    This is how we end up in poor relationships with inappropriate men.

    On one hand we think we have the things that tick the superficial boxes, plus we overvalue the ‘love’ that we think we bring to these relationships, with us even trying to do enough love for him too, but on the flipside of the coin, we have low or even no self-esteem and don’t believe that we have value or are an entity of value if we are not part of a couple, even one that has some seriously rocky or absent foundations.

    When we realise that things are not all that they seemed or are everything that we have come to expect from a poor relationship, instead of remembering that we’re people of value and that we have to do what is best for us and protects us from being detracted from, we go into overdrive to put in that “disproportionate effort”.

    What results is misery.”

    You hit the nail on the head (again) with their posts and your thoughts, NML.

    I did EXACTLY that – focused on how “great” what I had to offer was – without working on myself/my self-esteem/self-respect/boundary/entity on my own isses at all.

    Glad I see the difference now.

    Thank you again for opening a window into awareness and change :)

  9. Tulipa says:

    I think when we enter a relationship we get it backwards we say aren’t I great look at all my good points are they good enough for you if not well guess what I can try harder until I find the right combination of who I should be that makes you happy and love me we forget we should be questioning is this person a person who can add to my life what does he bring to the table and is he worth dating. I am finally learning its a slow process but Im getting there. There is nothing wrong with me per se I just keep trying to get people who don’t a long term relationship with me to want one but Im awake it a cause of pain in my life ..
    good post

  10. gina says:

    Yep, went through this too. I now know that every relationship we get into either negative or positive is a reflection of ourselves and how blind I was to go pointing fingers on these people like I was some goddess. In reality, I wasn’t being true to myself and these men who I dated were people who allowed me to live in avoidence of reality. When living in denial became too painful for my soul to bare, especially thinking of how much I did truly love myself and wanted a fulfilling life that is when I started putting in real effort to improve myself and in turn produce quality relationships (friendships and dating)… It feels great to take responsibility and take control of our lives.

  11. Sherry says:

    Dear NML,

    Great post! Love it!

    I am a student of life. I’m constantly trying to improve myself by reading sites such as this, learning from other people’s experience. Examining myself and why I do certain things go beyond the work of researching and getting straight answers on why, why, why. I’m on a constant “therapeutic maintenance” most of my adult life and I know I still have issues to work on such as trust.

    My journey started when I was 20 years old. My high school sweetheart of 5 years dumped me for someone he’d been cheating with. She knew we were together and he knew (obviously) we were together. My fundamentals of childhood were non-existent because I have two VERY selfish parents who didn’t give me what I needed as a child. I was left to tend for myself, in the dark trying to weave through life and understand human beings and why they do certain things, especially to their own blood.

    After 5 years of weekly therapy with a great therapist, I felt I was out of the woods in regards to the lack of security, esteem, acceptance and love from my childhood. I’d learned to be kinder to myself, to be forgiving of myself, I learned to have integrity and to deal with the cards that were given to me. I was given lemons and made lemonade out of it.

    Since then, I’m constantly in and out of therapy – on an as needed basis and I’m constantly learning something new about people and especially about myself.

    I don’t overestimate myself, but one thing I do know, I have my head screwed on much better than a lot of people I’d met.

    Sometimes, I’m thrown a “test bait” such as my last EUM (dated for 2 months and I recognized the signs and walked away). I think he was a quiz test from God to see if I’ve learned anything from my journey so far. I passed and I’m so happy that I did. The old me would’ve stayed, held his hand and walk down the painful path of self-realization with him. But instead, I walked away.

    My self-esteem is definitely higher than some of the people I know. I can’t help but compare myself to some. A lot of people would rather stay in shit and stink rather than get cleaned up and smelling better. Me, I’d rather smell like soap than shit.

    Thank you again NML. Love your site!

  12. raven says:

    This is a very interesting post which I hadn’t come across before. It’s really helpful because I’ve recently been thinking ‘how can I feel great about myself when there’s things that aren’t that great about me?’ Now I know I don’t have to be perfect, but I accept that to be attractive I do need to make more of an effort in certain areas (I’m an introvert so being social is very hard for me, for example). This post makes total sense – in order to fully love myself I also need to make the effort to change the things I don’t like (within reason of course – one could get a bit obsessional). I lost a load of weight last year and have managed to keep it off and that made me feel much better so it does work. And I meditate regularly. Work is tremendously time-consuming though and I do have quite a complicated home life with two teenage daughters and an ageing mother living with me. I need to sit down and think carefully about what I can do to improve things without getting too stressed out. A girlfriend asked me a really helpful question. I was saying I needed to work out what I wanted and she said ‘no, you want to ask yourself, how do I want to feel?’ Suddenly this made everything come within my control. At any moment I can choose – if I’m feeling bad, I simply ask myself how I would prefer to feel and look for something that will make me feel that way. It’s almost magic.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!