You're Not Enough Like Me


  • Author Bruce Wilson
  • Published July 7, 2022
  • Word count 630

You’re Not Enough Like Me

Bruce Wilson, PhD

Couples counselling has some special challenges. Two individuals rarely see the same experiences the same. Their different realities are not a fault but rather should be expected. Individuals with different backgrounds and life experiences have natural impediments to mutual agreement.

What else complicates these oppositional views? Probably it is ego. We know that ego involves our feelings of self-importance. Identity issues involving one’s ego may become problematic when searching for commonality. Your sense of self-importance may intrude on my sense of self-importance. This is why I often see the main issue between people in couples counselling not to be about financials, family, political affiliation, or sex but something totally removed from these issues. I believe incompatibility in couples and in most relationships is more about: “You’re not enough like me.”

“Not everything is about you," Clary said furiously.

"Possibly," Jace said, "but you do have to admit that the majority of things are.”

― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass


When individuals clash over their self-importance, several negative qualities leach into the relationship. A person may be construed as being arrogant or a know-it-all. When you know-it-all what is left for me to know? Closely aligned with arrogance is immodesty, which reinforces a lack of humility and says: “my way or the highway.” Eventually this attitude evolves into a person who is viewed as overbearing. Notice how the distance between partners may be increasing due to the exaggeration of one’s self-importance.

Strangely, the more self-importance is challenged the more it is likely to escalate. Many a difference of opinion can suddenly change into a heated defence of one’s sense of identity. And just as bizarre, this emotional and cognitive turmoil occurs simultaneously in both the sender and the receiver. The need to maintain one’s self-importance turns into an unstated expression of you’re not enough like me. The longer the aggression lasts the more your relationship closeness will be affected.

Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem increases the probability that you will feel a greater need to protect your identity even more often. Individuals may resort to avoidance strategies as an option to escape the challenges of new thinking. Being filled with self-doubt one may be triggered by their partners who insist they are right and you are wrong.

Low self-esteem can also feed into low self-confidence and feelings of depression, unhappiness, and anxiety, additional by-products of low-self-esteem. Anxiety plants the seed for a negative view of self, which can sometimes create a perceived need for a pseudo-self.

The pseudo-self is an attempt to over-compensate for negative feelings of self by appearing to be arrogant and overbearing. This is a compensatory response in an attempt to inflate one’s self-esteem. Through this approach the person is seeking to have more control. Seeking to be more in control may include controlling others, especially in close relationships. Ultimately, the desire is to change the other person into someone more like me, because you’re not enough like me.

High Self-Esteem

High self-esteem is not inflated. Some of the benefits of high self-esteem include being able to be yourself without the fear of being judged and a readiness to accept new challenges. You will not be searching for approval from other people because you have a desire to learn new things. Also, you accept that you do not know everything and can tolerate criticism.

People who have high self-esteem have enhanced initiatives and pleasant feelings and they are more pleasant to be around. Having high self-esteem equates to having high levels of self-respect, which precludes respect for others, even when you are not in total agreement. Agreement becomes a bonus not a requirement. It is okay that you are not like me.


Dr. Bruce Wilson is a psychologist with 25 years of experience. He enjoys sharing his ramblings with friends and colleagues. He is currently in private practice at Mind Health Care in Geelong, Australia. This article is solely his work.

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