Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

Can Low Self-Esteem Ruin Your Relationship?


Learn how low self-esteem can cause problems in your relationship.

The simple answer is "Yes". Low self-esteem can definitely impact your relationship and cause what appear to be 'relationship problems' when in fact, these problems may be attributed to the effects of low self-esteem. If this isn't addressed, then it can spell the end of the relationship.

Having low self-esteem may be one of those things you have learned to live with. You try to hide it from others, but inside you believe that you are not good enough, or not attractive enough and you are always trying to fake it to appear as though you are alright.

As a counesllor specialising in both relationships and self-esteem, I frequently see how low self-esteem can harm an otherwise good relationship. These are some of the typical problems I see with couples or individuals suffering with low self-esteem.

Being Overly Promiscuous

Often women with low self-esteem will be desperate to have a real relationship, a boyfriend who will stick around and not just want them for sex. Because the don't value themselves, they feel the best way to get this, is to give men what they think they want straight away, for fear of losing them.

So, they meet a man, sleep with him, and then wonder why he doesn't stick around. This just confirms the belief about themselves that they are not good enough and they move onto the next man to try and get some validation. And so the cycle continues.

Not Trusting a Partner

Women who have low self-esteem and are in a committed relationship, often wonder why their partner is with them, and how soon it will be before he finds someone else that is better than them. So, they start to get 'clingy' and ask a lot of questions to try and get constant reassurance. Over time, this becomes draining for the man and he may get fed up and in fact leave. Again, this confirms the woman's view that she is not good enough.

Judgemental of Others

Often people with low self-esteem can be really judgemental of others. They have such a critical view of themselves, that they reflect this onto other people too. They may constantly point out the negatives about others. To a man, this may come across as negative and cruel, not a trait he is looking for in a partner.

If you find yourself constantly judging others, their looks, their behaviour or choices, stop and think if you are really happy with yourself.

Anxious to Please

When you have low self-esteem, you may be so concerned that you will upset your partner and they will reject you, that you become anxious to please them, often at your own expense. You rarely speak about your true feelings and thoughts in case it will cause a confrontation. This means that the relationship can't be balanced. It will soon become hard work for your partner, or you will end up so resentful that you aren't getting your needs met in the relationship, that you start to become angry and sabotage the relationship without realising it.

Always Hear the Negative

Partners of people with low self-esteem often feel that they have to weigh every word they say for fear of it being heard in a negative way. Typically, when we communicate, the message we intend to send, can be heard in a number of different ways. For those with low self-esteem, if a negative can be taken from a comment, then it usually will.

For example, a woman asks her partner if the dress she is wearing looks ok. He responds that is does but he prefers the previous one she tried. A woman with good self-esteem would simply appreciate the honesty and make her choice. A woman with low self-esteem is likely to hear that her partner doesn't like what she wears and doesn't like her in that dress and she may react negatively.

This leaves men feeling like they can't win no matter what they say.

Never Good Enough

People with low self-esteem are so sure of how they are not good enough, that they expect that everyone else must really think the same of them. This means they are constantly asking for reassurance from their partner. They may need constant praise on how they look or how good they are. While a healthy relationship does need lots of praise, this is usually taken to a whole different level.

For the man, he clearly thinks you are great or he wouldn't be there. But as he learns that he constantly needs to tell you how great you are (and usually this is then pushed back at him), he grows tired of the effort required to assure you he is being honest and may give up and leave.

Stay in an Unhealthy Relationship

If you have good self-esteem and a relationship is not healthy for you, then generally you eventually leave. For those people with low self-esteem, they tend to believe that they have someone now and nobody else will want them, so they had better hang onto them regardless of how good or bad it is. Or, they simply believe they deserve the treatment they get.

They will put up with behaviour from a partner that most people would consider inappropriate, or at times, even abusive.

Do you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself or your relationship? If you do, check out your self-esteem, if you feel it is low, then try and focus on that part of your life and not on changing your relationship for now. Until you get your self-esteem to a healthy place, it is unlikely your relationship can be that amazing bond you are searching for.


Explore YourTango