Is Low Self-Esteem Hurting Your Relationship?

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woman with poor body image looking in funhouse mirror
It's hard to accept love in a relationship if you don't love yourself first.

Your relationship with your "self" is one of the most critical relationships you'll be in over the course of your life.

How you feel, and what you believe to be true about your self, your body, your mind and your spirit translates into your collective self image often called your self-esteem. Positive, loving beliefs appear to inspire loving actions and a loving relationship with your self.  Similarly, negative, mistaken beliefs often inspire an abusive and a mistrusting relationship with your self.


Because relationships with other people are created using our own frame of the world, how we feel about ourselves has a direct impact on our relationships. This isn't to say that people with poor self images can't have successful relationships, but they will battle with the incongruity between how they see themselves and how their partner sees them, and that can be a real challenge.

Consider this, your partner says, "you look beautiful" and you don't believe that to be true. In your mind you're having a bad hair day, your makeup's smeared, you're wearing the wrong clothes, which don't really fit anyway because you're "fat." Suddenly there are a lot of questions about the honesty, validity and trustworthiness of your partner. How can she not see the real you? Does he even know you at all?

On the other hand, if you do believe him/her, then the questions about honesty turn inward; you now have the challenge of questioning your beliefs about yourself. In healthy relationships, when someone sees something wonderful about us that we have missed, it's like being given a gift. A gift of clarity and a gift of love. If we're brave enough to accept it, and believe it, over time it can help to transform a negative self image into something more positive.  But that doesn't happen without taking some time to get to know the "new you"; the one who has come to light out of the loving lens of your partner's eyes.

So the message here is that your body image does have an impact on your relationships, good or bad. The next questions are to what extent—and is it harming your chances of finding (and keeping love)?

There are three areas in the body image arena that strike coaches and counselors as red flags. If you've found yourself "obsessing" about them or if reading this hits that pit of your stomach, it may be a good sign that it's time to take a deeper look inward to try and discover where this message about yourself has come from.

Red flag #1: Hiding Your Body
One common sign that a person isn't in a loving relationship with their body is when they constantly hide it from others. Big, baggy, formless clothing is the uniform of many people who believe they're too fat or ugly for "pretty things."

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Melanie Gorman

Business Coach

Melanie Gorman, M.A.

SR. VP YourTango Experts

Phone: 410-923-6905

Location: Crownsville, MD
Credentials: MA
Specialties: Career, Communication Problems, Empowering Women
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