I Dated A Guy Who Destroyed My Self-Esteem—Here Are 12 Signs I Missed

Having your self-esteem destroyed is a terrible thing in any case, but when it happened to me because of a toxic guy I dated, it surprised me because it was so subtle. Here are 12 ways in which he tried to break me because he was messed up. I only wish I would have noticed these signs much sooner.

  1. He used to shut me up. He’d cut me off halfway into a story I was telling him and say something like, “I have to go now” and then hang up on me! It made me feel like what I had to say didn’t matter.
  2. He would “joke around” with me but it just wasn’t funny. He’d call me stupid or dumb but then say, “I’m just kidding!” and flash me one of his killer smiles. Even though I tried to erase the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that he wasn’t joking, that feeling never went away. I always felt like he didn’t respect me.
  3. He would look at me like I was stupid… When I expressed my opinions, he’d look at me like I was the dumbest person to ever have walked the earth. It was enough to make me stop talking and feel like he was right.
  4. … And then he’d deny it! Even worse than his looks was when I’d call him on them and he’d deny them, looking all angelic as though I was the bad one. It was enough to drive me crazy and give me high blood pressure.
  5. He would ignore me for the whole weekend. Sometimes he’d get into a weird mood where we’d be spending time together but he wouldn’t say a word to me. It was unnerving and had me wondering what I did to upset him. Ugh. Instead of spending time thinking that, I should’ve realized he was manipulative and left the loser.
  6. He would moan to his friends about me. Once or twice in our relationship, he’d mention something I’d done and mock me for it in front of his friends. It could’ve been when I’d tripped over myself or stole my car. Whatever the case, it was clear that his crappy behavior in private was now becoming more public. Both were red flags that I had to leave.
  7. He would do something stupid and then pin it on me. For example, once he turned up to my parents’ Christmas lunch totally drunk but then later blamed it on me. According to his screwed up logic, I forced him to sit through it.
  8. He’d make me second-guess myself the whole time. He’d always change his stories so that I never really knew what he was saying or if he was lying. It was enough to make me doubt myself and my judgments.
  9. He started out wonderful and then slowly changed. When we started dating, he was Mr. Charming. He was fantastic to be around and really enjoyed my company. He was always showering me with attention. It should’ve been a red flag that he was love-bombing me. From thinking I made the sun shine bright, he then started to make me feel like I couldn’t do anything right.
  10. He’d find things to criticize. He’d criticize me for the most stupid things like how I couldn’t find my car keys and he once even criticized me for having an allergy as though that was my fault. This guy was sick and after awhile, I became allergic to his shenanigans.
  11. He’d look at me like “so what?” This happened a lot, but mostly when I had something good to share. A few times when I’d share something great that happened, like a work promotion, he’d look at me as though he were unsure why I was even mentioning it. Clearly he was trying to make me feel bad and undermine my achievements. He was so insecure, it was pathetic.
  12. He’d storm off when he didn’t get his way. If he asked me something and I wasn’t sure how to answer, like “Should we have chicken or beef for dinner?” he’d storm off like I was just draining for him and he couldn’t deal. What a complete drama king. Ugh. I was so glad to send this loser out of my life.


Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.