An intense interview with me is now online at The Atlantic! Judith Ohikuare did a fantastic job of asking insightful, probing questions. Here’s an excerpt:
JO: How does self-loathing affect people’s relationships, whether familial, or romantic, or professional?
AR: The way I see it, we who have low self-esteem make ourselves hard to love. There’s a certain negative narcissism aspect to having low self-esteem. People who totally adore themselves are hard to love because they only see themselves and it’s hard for them to care about you. But people who hate themselves are also hard to love because they, too, are so self-absorbed that their own needs and miseries obstruct their view of another person. You can’t see into someone else’s heart if you are so wrapped up in yourself. If you’re sitting there, sobbing on the bed and there’s someone beside you saying, “But I love you,” and you reply, “No! I’m so worthless!” you’re basically saying ‘screw you’ to that person. If we can have compassion for ourselves, then we are inviting ourselves to have compassion for others, which makes relationships fairer and more equal.
I’ve seen how difficult it is for people that are in relationships with a person who hates [himself]. They feel that they are not being listened to, and that their care and concern for the self-loathing person is being rejected. And sometimes they say, “I’ve been reassuring you for 20 years. I’ve got no more for you.” So we’re at risk of doing that and, thus, at risk of being alone—which is a self-fulfilling prophecy.