Love, Heartbreak

Why Low Self-Esteem Keeps You Dating Losers — And How To Fix It For Good

Why Low Self-Esteem Keeps You Dating Losers — And How To Fix It For Good

When you have a pattern of toxic love and unhealthy relationships, a lack of confidence and low self-esteem may be the culprits.

If you often feel "slimed" after leaving a date or feel like you always pick the "wrong guy" to be in a relationship with, it’s time to take an inventory of your self-confidence.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Stop Tying Your Self-Esteem To Your Relationship Status

Something needs fixing.

To find true love and a healthy relationship, you need to figure out why you pick unhealthy guys.

Everything we do has a purpose behind it. Once you figure out what the attraction is really about, you can change direction and avoid being in a toxic relationship again.

Now, in all fairness, it works both ways. This concept also applies to guys picking the wrong women and involves the same dynamic. We tend to choose people to date who have about the same self-esteem as do we.

There may be some other reasons involved, but overall, it comes back around to how we feel about ourselves inside.

How we see our own worth tells us what we believe we can attract. It’s the same in friendships as it is in dating. It just may look different to us.

If you want to know how to stop dating the wrong guys, you need to know why you're always picking the wrong person.

What exactly creates that attraction? 

We attract what we believe is our same worth or value. The better we feel about ourselves, the healthier the people we attract and seek out.

Sometimes we pick the wrong person because we feel "blah" and not very interesting to others. You may feel bored and living a "lackluster" life, so you want more excitement in your routine.

If we attract a popular, good-looking mate, others will see us as more inviting, interesting, or attractive than we see ourselves. However, being attractive and popular doesn’t necessarily equal healthy.

Our self-esteem level approximately matches who we date and befriend.

Have you ever noticed this in the people around you?

For example, how confident our friends or dates are is about how much they truly value themselves. Cockiness is a lack of healthy self-esteem.

Confident people don’t need to toot their own horn or put others down.

Sometimes friends are very nice, but they don’t value themselves very much. They are unassertive and most often don’t speak up or ask for what they want.

Other times the wrong guy we attract is someone who controls people and needs things their way. Or we may hang out with "friends" or dates who are more daring than are we.

Decide if this truly feels healthy for you.

Do those you date or befriend have about the same degree of self-worth or esteem as you, even if it comes out in different ways? Most often, this is the case.

Self-esteem is shaped early in life.

Often, our degree of self-worth and self-love come from early childhood experiences.

For example, the more we felt loved by our parents, the more comfortable we were in being ourselves. The more hurtful emotionally malnourished our early family experiences were, the less likely we were to have a healthy view of ourselves.

Remember, we don’t get to pick our parents.

Therefore, you need to realize that self-esteem is generational in that our parents, and their parents, and parents before them, were never taught about what healthy self-esteem looks like, nor did they know how to improve it.

How would they even recognize healthy self-esteem if they didn't have it themselves?

Try not to blame here.

Abusive parenting comes from abusive childhoods, whether it was from parents, relatives, or negative school experiences, or both. It will never mean it was okay to mistreat you, but is more about understanding how the behavior came about.

Even worse, sometimes, our view of self comes from being sexually or physically abused. The child had no way of understanding that it was more about the adults or perpetrators at any age, and not the innocent child.

But, very often, the child believes they were participants. And therefore, they see themselves as "twisted" or bad. This view of the self as a child is not the case and is very inaccurate.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Attract Quality Men & Have More Confidence Dating, Too

When I was in elementary school, for some reason I was popular, active, and, at times, a leader. However, that changed in junior high.

On one of the very first days of middle school, three girls bullied me. I never knew why they chose me, but from then on, I went "underground." This meant that I was no longer as outgoing as I had been in elementary school.

My real self didn’t resurface until well into adulthood when I was fed up with unhealthy romantic relationships. I no longer cared about being other than who I really was.

I was tired of holding back my real personality just to please people. Also, I was prepared to be alone mostly, and was going to be happy just getting a dog. This decision seemed way easier than my dating experiences back then.

Then I met my husband. Somehow, he saw through my guardedness and seemed to appreciate me without me trying very hard naturally. I now attract only those people who already value what they see in me.

Are you ready to make some positive changes to how you feel about yourself?

Do an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Be accurate, but don’t be too modest. Be honest about your strengths and those things that need to improve. What do you most like about yourself and what are those things that need to change?

Notice the patterns of your choices in your behaviors, experiences, and who you choose as friends. Do you need to make positive changes?

Think about if your actions are positive experiences or negative and unhealthy. Do they even make you happy, or are you just going through the motions?

Figure out if some of your relationships can improve if you set better boundaries. If people around you don’t accept you valuing yourself, they are the wrong people.

Figure out if there are particular relationships where you feel valued and enjoy being around. Consciously make more plans with them. See what happens.

Ask those healthier friends about the things they really like and admire in you. You can do that for them as well. It can’t hurt because it’s only positive things!

Decide what you need to do about unhealthy relationships. It doesn’t have to happen right away. It’s better to be clear about a plan of action. You can make small changes over time.

Once you change your patterns and learn how to build self-esteem and self-confidence, you'll see the improvement in your life!

Try to think about those things that you value about yourself. Allow the good things to sink in, whether they come from you or your more positive friends.

Look for those people who demonstrate a genuine interest in you. They are more likely to value you over time. Then, actively practice those healthy qualities you value in yourself.

Over time, they will become more natural for you.

Psychotherapists can help you learn how to improve self-esteem so you can develop a more positive and accurate view of yourself.

The healthier you are, the healthier your relationships will be. You don't have to pick the wrong guy ever again!


RELATED: 4 Real People Explain How Dating Themselves Has Made Them Happier (Plus Self-Date Ideas)

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counsels couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image, and living the life you love, in California and remotely via secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website,, and

This article was originally published at Life and Relationships 101. Reprinted with permission from the author.