How Self-Pity Wrecks Romance and How to Overcome It

February is romance month. All those hearts! All that sugar! Rebecca and I wanted to write something a little Valentine-ish, but February 14th came and went so fast we missed it. But it’s still February, and as I was pondering the romance angle, I came up with something a little different. I thought about something that hinders romance in a relationship. Self-pity.

Sadly, self-pity doesn’t draw people to us. It repels them. It doesn’t make the object of our desire want us more. It makes them want to run.

Self-pity is often a mechanism for manipulation. We hide, hoping someone will seek us. Did you have a friend when you were young that always left the group to sit on the sidelines, hoping you would come over and beg her to come back?

I did.

Odds are that person is doing the same in her marriage. In her relationship with her children. Her boss. Self-pity is a habit. Thankfully, it’s a habit that can be broken with our loving Father’s help.

Tears are a part of relationships. We hurt one another. We cry. We heal. That’s good.

But when tears are used to manipulate, they don’t have the same affect. They’re not cleansing, because they’re meant to guilt, and guilting doesn’t bring anything good.

Another self-pity manipulation is disparaging ourselves.

“I guess I’m just not good enough. I’m worthless. I can never do anything right.”

I don’t think we mean that for a minute. We’re usually just trying to make the other person feel guilty enough to contradict us.

Self-pity is not attractive. Not at all. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, because you’re already in pain. But self-pity will wreck that romance you’re craving.

It’s the side of the magnet that pushes people away instead of drawing them close. We all want to be held close to the heart we love. Self-pity can make a beautiful woman ugly. A kind-hearted woman comfortable in her own skin is beautiful no matter what she looks like.

I think it’s safe to say that self-pity and “neediness” are close cousins.

Needy people need to be reassured constantly that they are valued. They tend to have a victim mindset. They take offense when no offense was meant. What’s the first part of the compound word we’re talking about? Self. They are mostly about them: How people are mistreating them, ignoring them, hurting them. It’s heartbreaking to watch. God wants better for us.

I’ve been talking about how self-pity wrecks romance, so now let’s talk about something that enhances romance.

I’m going to use an example in the Bible that might make you all cringe.  The Proverbs 31 woman. Oh, my goodness. Just the mention of this woman is like scratching a chalkboard with your fingernails. She’s that woman we love to hate because she’s just so perfect and we’re just so–not.

But there’s some surprises in this chapter.

The Proverbs 31 woman is a very self-sufficient person. She’s not needy. Self-sufficiency in a woman can be very attractive.

The Proverbs 31 woman deals in real estate. She knows when to buy and sell, so she studies the market and watches for deals she can make a profit on. She’s the modern day house flipper!

She has a clothing line and she sells her product to the shops. An Amazon seller!

She has broad interests. She can plant a vineyard and design her own clothes.

She’s up early in the morning because she has a lot to do before the sun goes down.

Proverbs 31:24 says “She is strong and graceful, as well as cheerful about the future.”

What’s not to love about that?

In Proverbs 31:29 her husband says, “There are many good women, but you are the best.”

Wouldn’t we all love to hear that more often. Or ever.

Being cheerful is a hard one.

I have to admit that I’m less cheerful than I should be. I’m a thinker and my thoughts sometimes show on my face. A couple posts ago, I recommended reading our article 3 Things You Can Do to Get the God-joy Back. There’s a story in it about my husband watching me come out of Walmart with a frown on my face. It’s funny, so if you didn’t read it last time, you might want to check it out.

I may not smile enough, but I am cheerful about the future.

I have confidence in God’s love and His power. I don’t doubt that He has my best interest at heart. I’m excited about the good things God is doing and will do in my life. But I need to get that assurance on my face!

I truly believe that the way to get out of the self-pity cycle, is to find out who you are in Christ. Sometimes we just can’t help but be hurt by the people we love. But how we react to it is up to us. If we decide to sink into self-pity, we’ll drown. If we refuse to believe the lie of the enemy, then we can be happy under any circumstance, and happiness can cover more flaws than Cover Girl ever could!

We need joy. We want joy. But we have to engage the enemy to keep our joy.

Rebecca’s got something to say that you’re going to love.


Great topic for women! Now let’s talk about self-pity and neediness  in men, because we know women don’t have a corner on the market on this subject!

My husband, Doug, has gone through an amazing transformation in this area.

When I think about self-pity or excessive neediness, I immediately think of void. There’s a void in the hearts of those who constantly feel sorry for themselves  or display needy behavior. They constantly need to be reassured that they’re loved. And no matter how many times you try to reassure them, it’s never enough. To the person on the other end of this behavior, it’s like being held hostage. It’s suffocating. The needy person doesn’t usually realize what they’re doing until their loved one starts to pull away and tries to find a way to escape.

Persevering WomenI experienced these feelings for much of my 32 years of marriage. I tried multiple techniques and marriage tips. I read so many books, went to marriage conferences, constantly trying to find out how to be everything my husband needed me to be.

It was exhausting to say the least. 

It all came to a head when I realized that I would never be enough. No one would. No one could.

No one but Jesus!

My husband’s desperate need to be loved could only be satisfied by finding an intimate relationship with the one who loved him best. His Creator. I’m so grateful we both found help through a therapist and a godly community who were able to help us identify that we were on a crazy train and how to get off.

It’s amazing to see the restoration that Doug has experienced and the newfound assurance that he has, knowing he is fully loved by God.

Mom and I want you all to find the assurance that you are fully loved as well. Please, don’t give up on your marriage. A breakthrough may be just around the corner.


Marilyn and Rebecca