Breaking the cycle on October 5, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Love your column, long-time listener, first-time caller, etc., etc., posture, pose, whine, wheedle.
I have the perfect relationship. I’m engaged to my high school sweetheart, who is intelligent, witty, well-read, and fun to be with. And, of course, as an added bonus: she’s gorgeous. Sorta like moving into a cool, inexpensive apartment and finding out that it has a dishwasher.
It may sound as if Ms. Perfect is just that, but she’s got an annoying flaw. She has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever. She’s constantly belittling her appearance and her intelligence.
I’m fairly certain that it’s not a “fishing for compliments” thing. If she is looking for compliments, then she’s got a *really* high quota: this trend reared its ugly head well into the relationship…she’d had over a year of “gosh, you look nice today,” “you’ve got really pretty eyes, dear,” “hey beautiful,” and other such compliments. (We’ve been dating for nearly five years, and it didn’t really start until midway through the second year.)
At first, she stumbled awkwardly over them, and I could tell that she just wasn’t sure how to react…then she started deflecting them with either self-hateful remarks, the ever-popular “oh you’re just saying that,” or simply a scathing “whatever.”
Telling her that her rebuttals to my compliments are causing me angst causes her to lapse into a depressed self-flagellation, where she berates herself for being an “awful bitch” and offers to break up so that I can find someone better.
She’s 5’2″ and 120 pounds, and she calls herself fat. She’s got a 3.8 GPA and considers herself dumb. She’s the most wonderful human being on the planet and she thinks she’s Leona Helmsley.