I’m no guru.

A regular guy who’s made a lot of mistakes. One day I hit rock bottom for about the 100th time and finally grew up and started getting my life together. I wrote about some of these struggles and realizations. I got too lazy to keep writing. Then I decided to pick it up back around the end of 2020.

I’m from Ohio. I live with my two cats, Jack and Ella. I have two daughters who light up my universe. I own a company and do pretty well these days.

When it comes to struggling with insecurities and fear, I understand feeling like a prisoner within yourself. I spent many years running from problems in my life, and my own existence, before I finally began to wake up.

I realized that the solution was both extremely obvious and difficult at the same time. The problem was myself, and the way I reacted to the world around me. Change my methods of coping with pain and difficulty = change my life.

The cliche saying that “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it” – is 100% accurate. It’s a long process that never ends, but I love taking the long-cut today. (versus shortcuts – which always lead to trouble and disappointment) I love earning my keep and do my best to always stay on solid ground, living in the moment.

Let me know how I can help you and thank you for reading.


  1. Hi Paul,

    I found your site through your post about loving a guy with low self esteem. After reading more about you, I felt an immediate connection and wanted to reach out.
    While my boyfriend’s situation might be slighty different, I think he comes from a similar place as you. From a very young age, he couldn’t focus in school. He had his IQ tested and was discovered to be a borderline genius, but was also diagnosed with ADHD. He was medicated from elementary school into high school. I think a lack of initiative from teachers/educational resources, introduction to recreational drug use, and frustration with conventional learning methods led him to completely tune out from education. I can imagine that he felt similarly to you; special, but then that deteriorated into feeling damaged and not good enough.
    His father is a Marine, Vietnam veteran, and a born and raised South Philly Italian. I think growing up with him as his male influence only served to further fuel his feelings of inadequacy.

    In conjunction with this, I think his past relationships with women have done the most damage to his self esteem. He was dating a woman when he went away to college at West Virginia University. I have reason to believe this was his first “serious” relationship. I’m not sure how long they were involved, but after two years of dating, he found out that she had been cheating on him that entire time. Their break up was ugly, I can only assume, and there was no closure.
    He dated women who were drug addicts, drunks, narcissistic, and chronically unfaithful. He dated a woman (who he also lived with) who he found out was stealing money from his bank ATM to fuel her cocaine addiction. The list goes on. It breaks my heart to think about all the women who broke his.

    When we met and he told me that every woman he’d dated had cheated on him, I immediately thought to myself; “This guy either chooses the wrong girl every time, or he has some major communication issues.” I was right on both accounts.
    It didn’t scare me away though, I can relate–I dated women who cheated on me, I dated men who disrespected me and treated me like I owed them something, and I chose all the wrong people too. That is, before him.

    I guess I’m telling you all of this in an attempt to ask for some sort of advice. I can tell he has these moments of complete insecurity, pushes me away, lashes out, and tries to cast blame on me for things that he’s solely responsible for. After dating for almost three years, and living together for one of those, I have seen these episodes lessen. But, I want to make sure that I’m helping him heal from these painful associations in his past. I don’t want to be naive about how my behavior and the way we communicate can impact him, especially since I think he’s still not fully to a place of loving himself.

    How can I continue to foster this growth in him? Bear in mind, he’s not a “feelings” guy. He’s not very self aware either.

    Any and all insight is greatly appreciated. And major kudos to you for keeping the faith and finding yourself. You should be proud of how far you’ve come.

    Kind Regards,

  2. Hi Paul,
    I have a question for you between the difference between love and validation and if you were truly able to love someone differently from the women you needed to validate you. I want to help my boyfriend but he has so much shame I’m not sure where I actually stand with him. Thank you! I love your site

  3. Hey Paul, I’m a 28 year old guy, and your post brought tears to my eyes. I’m in your old shoes right now, it’s a scary and dangerous road. I’m going to counseling, and it helps, but the hole is deep, very. I’ve wanted to just stop living. I have even checked out if it was possible to donate my fucking heart… I look forward to learning more about your journey.

    • Hi Rene. I’m very sorry to read of your situation. Man, it’s a lifelong process of healing. But you must get started.

      I had another big life situation throw me back into the deep hole early this year. For 6+ months I was back there again. I’m telling you this to let you know, I’m not over here whistling and living the perfect life!

      You have to choose to love yourself even if you kills you trying. Get into the gym and care for your physical health first. It’s not the complete solution but it’s the ONE thing in your control and can make rapid difference in your life. Get obsessed with yourself and in living a healthy, calm life.

      It’s not going to be easy. But life sucks either way. May as well make it suck trying to do the GOOD stuff.

  4. Hi Paul,

    Firstly, congratulations on turning yourself around! No mean feat I am sure, and respect where it’s due 🙂

    I’ve just been reading your article about boyfriends with low self esteem and wow, did it hit the nail on the head for me and my current situation. Forgive me for giving you the details, but I would massively appreciate your opinion.

    I was in a long distance relationship for 13 months with a French guy who lives in Switzerland (he’s 37). I’m 49 and live in England. We met 5 days after he’d left his wife after a 5 year relationship (yes, alarm bells were ringing then.. Rebound!!). But we embarked on a relationship and got on great. He has struggled consistently to get on top of money worries, and due to his work commitments (he’s a chef), it meant it was always me that went to visit him in Switzerland. It was apparent pretty quickly to me that he had self esteem issues.. Comments like ‘why is someone like you interested in me? I’m just a lowly chef’. I have done quite well for myself financially (I’m a property developer) and I always felt like he found that intimidating. He would make comments that his flat wasn’t good enough for me to visit, compared to my house, and other such things. I always tried to reassure him that I am not interested in someone’s financial worth, but I don’t believe that ever really helped him. He would FaceTime me 3 times a day, every day, and particularly at the beginning would question if I was seeing anyone else/on dating apps as ‘someone as nice and pretty as you must get hit on all the time’. I would never cheat and would continuously tell him this, having been cheated on myself in the past.

    To the crux of the issue.. Back in February I saw a dating app notification pop up on his phone. He was highly defensive saying he was just ‘chatting’ to people as he gets lonely. He works most of the day and lives in a very small, fairly isolated community. So whilst I was 100% not ok with this, I ‘let him off’ telling him it needed to stop as it was the same as cheating to me/how would he feel if I did this? Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago when I went to visit I have to admit that I did check his phone (I feel bad about this, and have never done it before, but needed to know..). Sure enough, he was on Tinder, with loads of messages to girls and he’d obviously met up with some too. For me, it was the final piece of the jigsaw to get rid. Prior to that he had ‘forgotten’ my birthday for the second time and failed to give any emotional support the one time I had sought it from him (after I was upset that my son had left home for university). It was almost a relief to find the dating app; to validate and give a final, solid reason that he didn’t give a shit about me and to move on.

    I read a lot about narcissism, originally suspecting him of this (he is now trying to ‘hoover’ me back, saying how gutted and sorry he is, and misses me so much). I don’t actually think he is a narcissist as I do believe he has empathy and is actually very sensitive. I started suspecting it was due to low self esteem and the women thing was a fix to validate him, and then I read your article! Yep, reads just like him!

    It’s funny, as all the other articles that showed under yours were all giving the advice to ditch the guy (which I have essentially done), but yours really struck a chord in not wanting to abandon him in and leave him in this misery. He is obviously going to just live his life in this destructive cycle if he doesn’t wake up to what the hell is happening! I don’t know if he has worked anything out yet, but I do wonder if I should try and help him. Or run the hell away??! I was thinking I could point out what I think his issues are, be there for him to talk to (not in a romantic capacity) and basically see if he can get his shit together with some support. He is also a big drinker, so if he can curtail that it would make a big difference I am sure.

    Your thoughts would be amazingly helpful, if you do have the time. I’m sure you get lots of mail to contend with, and I am just impressed if you have managed to get to the end of this mammoth message!

    Hope to hear from you 🙂


  5. Hi Paul, your articles have been incredibly insightful for me. I’m currently a woman who is in love with a man who absolutely hates himself. On the outside, you’d never know. He overcompensates with confidence and a little cockiness. We are currently on a sort of “break”, having gone from extremely close best friends (they type that a healthy dating relationship should be built on), to romantically involved, and now stepping back because he’s aware that he can’t be in a relationship just now. “I’m the devil in disguise” he says, “and you’re an angel”. But it’s like he puts on the disguise and forgets the mask. None of his big, bad talk ever comes to fruition. He isn’t totally gone yet, and he treats me incredibly well. The only way he has ever hurt me is holding back from committing to me. (There is so much more but pretty much lines up with your articles)
    Any suggestions on what to do for the woman that is standing by faithfully, praying and encouraging? I don’t want to push him like every other woman has tried to or lecture about what he already knows. Thank you for your articles! You are truly a blessing to me and so many others.

  6. Paul- thank you for sharing what you have went through so openly. Your words really resonate with me and I find myself nodding yes to myself a lot when I’m reading your bio and your articles. Please keep writing, I will be reading.

  7. Hi came across your site and read your bio.

    I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way as I know nothing about your life and if you take this the wrong way I understand, but I can empathize 100% with your previous self-esteem issues. However where it stops is merely the fact that you have a daughter, a presumably successful business and you are a good looking guy. So for me, I wonder exactly what the fluffy issues are. You have everything that a lot of guys would give anything for. I can’t speak for your past, but I seriously wonder.

    Perhaps if you start from a real zero, it might provide real inspiration, but then those sort of guys are non-existent honestly!

    I don’t doubt your past issues because everyone to a degree has problems but don’t please lecture on such matters when you already have things that anyone stuck in a pit of self-esteem would kill for and would achieve.

    • Thank you for the comments, Simon. I appreciate the compliment and and feedback. I do. I agree with you, too. However, I’d counter and say my situation then serves to make me feel more guilty and damaged. “Why, if I have so many blessings, do I feel so rotten and worthless at my core?” were the thoughts. Of course feelings like this are probably why the rich and famous commit suicide. “I have all this money and fame. All these friends. And I still hate myself. It’s hopeless for me” may be what they feel.

      We all live in a vacuum. The hedonic treadmill affects us all. Whatever we have in our life, becomes normal and expected. And in our culture, it’s never, ever enough.

      Happy holidays Simon, be well.

  8. Here’s my thought your NOT even close to all better, you possibly have to self realization but far far from better, it’s a cover up as we’re all the women and Love, you never really loved any of them including Mary the one you speak of so fondly. NOPE your screwed up and screwed up the women you were with as well…..like a dead body in river you floated along lifeless and no intent but to serve your own ego….what’s changed? Your still serving up a good dose of ego gratification.

  9. Great Article! – 9 Things To Know If You Love A Guy with Low Self Esteem.

    I am now trying to come up with a plan to help my boyfriend help us.

    I would love to see a follow up article on how I can get started doing that. I’m a very straightforward person but I don’t think that’s a good route to go. My bf is an amazing man with loads of potential and I know that we can do it. My history with relationships is very non traditional and hardcore/tough love (think Showtime’s Shameless) so approaching this plan is the real challenge. However, I think anyone could benefit from an article like that.

    Thanks for sharing experiences! Very admirable and helpful

  10. Hello Paul. I was in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t love himself yet. I read your article, and it really hit home… but he’s gone. He broke up with me a few weeks ago and said he needs time and distance to work on himself. I had done literally all of the things you said in your article prior to reading it: telling him he was enough, telling him I loved him as he was, even if he were never to change. He never acted out, but would get distant.

    Neither of us wanted this to end, but he has the self-awareness to realize that he has some work to do on himself, with the help of professionals. He was married before, but he was trapped in it and was never actually in love with her. He said that feeling such love with me triggered survival mechanisms in him, and that he may very well die alone. He told me that he would like to reconnect in the future, but can’t promise what or when that will be. My heart is broken, both for the loss we’re both experiencing and for the pain he must be going through. I just don’t know how to get past someone I love so much, because I know that while he may come back changed, he may also move on (like you did from ‘Mary’). Is there any way I can support his growth when he just wants space? Do I just let him go?

  11. Wow, you just described my life. I actually found your site after seeing your name (somebody with the same name I’m sure) tattooed on some girl’s chest. I thought, who the heck is Paul Graves, thinking he was some sort of celebrity like Justin Bieber! I’m so glad that I stumbled on this website though, it’s nice to find someone who actually gets it. The feelings of hopelessness and self-hatred really hit close to home. I’m also on a journey of self-love and acceptance since last summer when I let go of the love of my life. My life is Hell on Earth right now because I’m going through a huge purging process, but you give me hope that I’ll become a butterfly soon too! Thank you.

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