I suffer from a total lack of self esteem. It is very difficult for me to accept praise or compliments, because I genuinely do not believe that I am worth anything. Whenever somebody says something nice about me, I find a way to write it off that makes sense to me. Most often, my rationalization is that they're just being nice or lying to spare my feelings - simple expressions like 'good job' or 'nice work' are more than trivial to dismiss as "just kind words you say to people so they don't feel shit about themselves". Other times, my justifications for dismissal are slightly more sinister and verging on paranoia. If someone is being nice to me I'll just assume that they want something, like money, or a favour, or sex, and then I just feel bad for being used, and on top of that I feel guilty for having these thoughts. The guilt and confliction is by far the worst part; being unable to accept that somebody might feel that they like me, and at the same time feeling horrible for mentally accusing them of being dishonest and a user. It's kind of a catch-22: I have no self-esteem, and I'm unable to accept any praise that might lift me up and help me build some sense of self worth, and I really don't know how to break the cycle. When it's impossible for me to figure out why anybody would want to be with me, or attracted to me, it's really difficult to ever get close to someone. There's only so long I can suppress your insecurities and if they don't abate the pressure builds up. I start to convince myself that they don't need me like I need them, that they'd be better off without me, that they should move on, that I couldn't ever hope to keep them happy.. So I distance myself, and break it off. Out of some twisted sense of self preservation I consistently shoot down every chance I have to maybe be happy. The crux of it is if I don't like myself, how could I ever understand that somebody else might like me? This cycle has repeated itself a number of times over the last few years, through relationships with people I met online that got steadily more serious but never really manifested into meeting up. I keep letting myself do it even though I know how it's going to end.. I don't want to hurt anyone, but I think I do more often than not... I don't know what to do.. part of me thinks "keep trying, maybe the next time will be different" but when it goes wrong everybody ends up getting hurt. I think maybe I should stay away from people until I fix my life out but it's like an addiction. I don't even know. I think I need to stop. These things happen so organically that I hardly notice it at first. I think maybe I should show this spiel to somebody before things start to get serious, as a warning, so that they know what they're getting into? It's so hard..