Last night I was talking to Bruce via text message. I had invited him to go paint-balling with me. He said that he didn't want to go because he had better things to do. I was disappointed, so I decided to tease him a little for being so introverted lately. I asked Bruce whether or not he was against fun or something, and then pointed out some of the activities that I think are fun that he doesn't like. For example, I love to go dancing on the weekends, but Bruce HATES dance clubs. I was of course just giving him a hard time and accompanied all of my teasing messages with winky faces ;) . It didn't take long though before Bruce accused me of being on the verge of being annoying and insulting.
This is not the first instance where I have given Bruce a hard time and he has taken it the wrong way, in fact almost every instance where I try to tease, or joke with him he gets upset. Amongst my family, and the friends I grew up with this is just how we show affection! We tease each other to show that we know each other, we're comfortable with each other, and to make one another laugh. The more I thought though about Bruce's reaction the more I realized that I'd never really seen him self deprecate before. In fact often times Bruce would go out of his way to make himself look good when it was completely unnecessary. I began to realize that Bruce's problem was blatantly obvious and glaringly simple! He simply has low self esteem. Here are just a few examples of Bruces behavior that led me to this conclusion:
1) Even though Bruce regularly refers to himself as a "nerd" and is usually quite proud of his nerdiness to the point that he displays it out loud as often as possible, whenever I have referred to him as a nerd he has gotten offended. When he says something particularly nerdy, like quoting an obscure comic book for instance, I would often times make a comment like "you are SUCH a nerd" with a smile on my face. I find his nerdiness endearing and cute and it's one of the things I like about him, yet when i make a comment like that Bruce either becomes silent and broody, or he becomes defensive and denies being a nerd altogether.
2) When we were together towards the end of our relationship Bruce and I didn't get to see much of each other. When he would miss me he would send me a text message saying he missed me and he loved me. When I returned the favor though Bruce would become upset. He would make comments like "oh well". He would accuse me of being clingy, needy, and whiny. He accused me of making him feel bad, and making him feel like a bad boyfriend. Of course NONE of that was intended! I was just telling the man that I loved that I loved him and missed him. It was as if Bruce didn't think anyone could possibly love him or miss him.
3) Whenever someone shares one of their accomplishments with Bruce he has to "one up it". If I told him for instance about avoiding a car accident in my car by making a difficult turning maneuver, Bruce would respond by telling me how he made that maneuver 12 times last week and that he could do that in his sleep! Anytime anyone share something with Bruce that he can't "one up" he will simply state that he "doesn't care about that" and try to change the subject. It is as if he has a constant need to prove himself and to impress people.
4) Bruce has a nasty scar on his stomach from when he had surgery. Someone at his work once told him that it was disgusting, and ever since he has felt the need to hide it by keeping his upper body covered at ALL times.
5) Bruce used to be a little on the chubby side. He was never really fat, but rather chubby. A few years ago he started working out and cutting back on drinking soda. He dropped weight shockingly fast, so fast that his best friend and mother were concerned for his health. By the time that he stopped losing weight he was skinny enough to fit into his 16 year old sisters pants. Bruce has made comments towards me about how he doesn't understand why I find him attractive, that I wouldn't like him if he was still "fat" and he often times seems ashamed of the way he looked back then.
6) Anytime a girl hits on him it makes him uncomfortable. It is almost as if he doesn't comprehend why a woman would want to have sex with him. He responds by asking her why she likes him, why him, and any number of other similar questions.
Taking all of this into account, and knowing what I know about Bruce and about psychology, I am fairly certain that Bruce has low self esteem. I don't think that he thinks that he is "worth it" and I find this incredibly disturbing as it is a self fulfilling prophecy for Bruce. The minute he starts to think that he's not worth it he starts to lose respect for the woman who likes him simply BECAUSE she likes him. This leads him to lose interest in the relationship and behave like someone who ISN'T worth it. Bruce and I may have our issues, but at the end of the day he is a good person who deserves some happiness! I just hope he figures that out sooner rather than later.