Self-sabotaging behaviours and LSE

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A few months ago, a girlfriend of mine complained to me about her relationship problems, and told me it was extremely difficult for her to find a good man.

“I’m attracted to men who treat me badly,” she would say.

I felt pity for her, and as my brain has me fooled into believing that I’m superwoman and can solve any problem, I endeavoured to find her a good man from my list of male friends. I eventually decided to ‘set her up’ with my friend Kyle, who I personally thought was one of those rare specimens who were genuinely good. Kind, warm, respectful, he was funny and I knew for a fact he was intelligent and very sociable. I knew he wasn’t perfect because we all have flaws, but I hoped that he’d be perfect for her.

After their first date she called me, gushing with excitement; she thought he was perfect and spent the next half-hour talking about him. When I finished speaking to her, I called Kyle, and his response was decidedly less animated. He told me she seemed like a cool chick. They dated for a while, and a couple of months later she was professing her love. That disturbed me because I’d known her about a year, and she had fallen in love five times during that period. I put it out my mind though, content to think that I was an excellent matchmaker, and that there would be no problems.

Then Kyle called and invited me to lunch, and I decided to use the opportunity to find out how he felt about my girlfriend. He became very serious when I asked and told me that he felt my friend had ‘LSE’. I will admit to being confused, not knowing whether ‘LSE’ was a disease or a mental disorder, but I knew from his expression that it was bad. He explained to me that he was talking about low self-esteem and that it was a definite problem to him. I listened attentively as he described her clinginess, and the 20 or more calls he received each day, even though she had nothing to say. He talked about the fact that she claimed to be in love with him after just a few dates. He complained that she would get angry if he couldn’t speak to her and constantly questioned him about his feelings for other women.

I wasn’t surprised when she called with the news the following week that they had broken up. She took it really hard. She started calling me and spending hours, talking about Kyle, bashing him or reminiscing, and soon our friendship started disintegrating, as news about him became the only reason she would call.

I realized then that Kyle’s diagnosis was right on point. The problem wasn’t with the men that she dated; the problem lay with her interactions with them. She did have self-esteem issues. My girlfriend hadn’t figured out how to love herself, and was using the men in her life as a balm for her self-esteem. What she should have known is that if you can’t love yourself, you make it hard for others to appreciate you.


“If you can’t love yourself, you make it hard for others to appreciate you”


Low self-esteem means that you think of yourself as inferior to others, and the symptoms can apply to shy people as well as bullies. The most obvious are a low level of self-confidence, feeling that you’re not good enough, the inability to assert yourself in social situations, constantly bickering about constant issues and the tendency to compare yourself less favourably to others.

A lot of relationships can fail because of the insecurities and self-sabotaging behaviours of a person with ‘LSE’. The partner who demonstrates these feelings of inadequacy focuses on what they consider their flaws, and would then find themselves becoming extremely jealous of other women who they consider more beautiful or more intelligent than themselves. Women with ‘LSE’ are usually unable to set boundaries, giving in easily to demands and usually have a low level of self-respect. They want so much to be loved that they’ll do anything for it, and, in a lot of cases, they are willing to accept that love from men who want nothing but to use and abuse them. Even when they find a good man, they focus so much on the negative that they ruin relationships before they have a chance to truly develop and blossom into something wonderful.

Self-esteem is all about how you perceive yourself, so the first step is to change the way you look at yourself. Instead of focusing on your flaws, focus on your strengths and use those strengths to help improve the things you are unhappy with. Do not compare yourself to other people. You are an individual and so there is no one exactly like you. It is unfair to measure yourself against others. You should also bear in mind that very few people are fully satisfied with themselves. The girl who is full-figured might wish she had a model’s figure, while the slim woman wishes she was more voluptuous. Surround yourself with positive people, and remember that people who spend their time tearing down others are usually unhappy with themselves. Learn to accept compliments with a smile, and with the knowledge that the person giving it to you has no reason to fabricate lies (unless they have nothing better to do than do just that). Instead of spending time searching for the one, try falling in love… with you.


Image credit: iboy_daniel


Kalifa Clyne is a writer who spends all of her time writing or thinking about writing.


  1. Lonnie

    May 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Please stop spreading this self esteem propaganda. It means nothing… it is a made up word that has been twisted around to mean any combination of vague and misleading qualities. Talk to someone from the 18th century about self esteem and they’d think you’re crazy.

    Self esteem: One who has an internal locus of control.
    Good strategy for learning from mistakes.
    Able to find happiness outside external circumstances.
    Vision independent of external support.
    Good explanatory style, when it comes to situations that affect one directly.

    I read this ….. and this seems the best description of what self esteem is… and therein lies the problem.

    It’s like saying the car has a problem and calling the problem ‘LSE’. But that explains nothing, because the problem could be the transmission, the tyres, any number of things.

  2. Allister

    May 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

    While i could agree that the common understanding of LSE is vague at best, calling it “propaganda” is just plain ridiculous. If you don’t like the term maybe “inferior self image” would suit you better.
    This article is about the fact that what one perceives herself or himself to be greatly affects their behaviour and interactions with other people.

  3. MM

    May 5, 2010 at 9:51 am

    hello. just because you may have good or even great self esteem doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I have suffered from this for years and the pain is REAL. the negativity is REAL. i didn’t make it up, i didn’t imagine it.

  4. Lonnie

    May 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    In fact the only reason I even am aware of this information is because I thought that I needed to work on my self-esteem. So, I researched on the topic and the glaring truth was that this term was coined in the 60’s during the television advertising boom years and obviously it was capitalised on by the savvy marketers of the time. Think the tv show ‘Mad Men’. Marketers know in order to sell water you need a thirsty crowd, hence the whole self-esteem scam. Consumerism at its best.

    Well, I did find some solutions to my problem once I correctly defined it. The whole negativity thing is about chaotic flows of emotional energy that needs to be managed with equanamity.
    MM check these guys for some answers.

    This book breaks down the child psychology really well.

  5. Supernova

    May 6, 2010 at 2:37 am

    The dictionary meaning for esteem is regard, also to consider of a certain value or a certain type. Self esteem is in fact how a person regards themself, the value they place on their attributes. Saying that the media coined the term in the 60s doesn’t make it less of a problem and doesn’t make it less real. And your reference to the fact that you would be called crazy in the 1800s indicates that you may be a bit closed minded. The fact is you could be called crazy for a lot of things in that era. I’d like to think we’ve advanced as a race so that belittling a problem that MANY people face everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% about doing research and if you discovered something ‘outside i=of the box’ that was more acceptable to your beliefs so be it. If it helped you, that’s terrific. I’m honestly happy. The trouble with thinking outside the box though is that you forget that what’s inside of the box doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
    Anyhow, Low self esteem is a real problem, it affects a lot of people, both male and female. It affects their behaviours and their relationship with others.

  6. David "Da Face" Hamilton


    May 16, 2010 at 10:20 am

    LSE is low self esteem or low regard for one’s self. Some ppl regard themselves highly…others not so much. What’s hard to understand about that? Of course there is something causing this LSE but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

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