The 6 Best Ways To Love Someone Who Doesn't Love Themselves

There are good & bad ways to love someone with self-esteem issues. Which are you doing?

brown haired man looks away while red-haired woman hugs him dekazigzag / shutterstock

If you are reading this, you're likely falling for (or already involved with) someone who doesn’t love themselves. Or maybe you love someone that suffers from low self-esteem.

I am glad you're here. Too many relationships end in frustration because one member isn’t doing as well, and the other feels inadequate and burdened.

With a few useful tools, you can be more supportive and avoid feeling overwhelmed. 


Before we open our hearts to the one who doesn't love themselves, let’s consider where that individual's brokenness originated. Attachment theorists since the 1950s believe that it is the inadequate bonding in childhood that led to such insecurity.

In other words, likely, they did not experience the needed caregiver regard in their earliest years and now navigate life desperate for attention — yours and others — and show it in various ways that are not always positive.

Ask yourself what they are doing to annoy or upset you — and how do you cope?

RELATED: 3 Wrong Ways To Love Yourself (And How To Do It Right)


Here are six ways to help someone see they are worthy to love and be loved.

1. Show unconditional positive regard.

You are not responsible for your partner, but your acceptance and empathy will contribute to their personal growth and happiness in a way that nothing else can and will. More than anything, your attention, care, and respect have the potential to shape their self-concept and nurture self-esteem.

There will be times when this is not as easy or simple to do, and it is then that I suggest you do this focus exercise I have found so useful.


2. Focus on their strengths.

It can be tiring to support someone who isn't cheerleading themselves. So get a stash of index cards, and list their strengths, contributions, assets, and improvements as they appear.

Then, like a detective, make notes and occasionally share. Your partner will beam when you say: You are really good at making people feel special, or I can’t thank you enough for helping me with my resume.

Consistently highlighting their positives and modeling yours will go a long way.

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways To Become A Better Version Of Yourself

3. Be a self-esteem mirror.

It is hard to resist being self-positive when the person around you consistently treats themselves and others well. So speak highly of yourself, stay hopeful when life takes a nose dive, and flood them with examples of encouraging others.


Don’t stop there. Show them what self-care, life balance, and self-compassion look like. When this is consistent and authentic, there will be room for you to speak out when their behavior affects you negatively.

4. Speak up and avoid criticism.

A relationship can’t flourish without honesty, and you won’t be happy if you have to tiptoe around all the time. The question is, how do you speak your mind without wounding?

It isn’t as hard as you think, but there are a few rules. The good news is that learning and following these rules will improve any relationship. And we all should be observing these.

Rule 1: You can’t complain daily (one in seven is enough) and never in “brutal honesty.”


Rule 2: Be direct and focus only on a single issue. You can say,“ Please clean all the dirty dishes when it is your turn.” Or “Let’s talk about keeping the kitchen clean.”

What you can’t say is, “You never clean up after yourself.” Can you feel the difference?

Rule 3: Your body language and facial expression must be relaxed and conversational. Don’t let your body say that your words are untrue.

You may be wondering, what happens when speaking up does not result in changed behavior. Healthy boundaries will demonstrate your limits.

RELATED: If One Of You Believes These 2 Things, Your Relationship Won't Last

5. Know and apply your boundaries.

Some people have brick wall boundaries, while others draw a line in drifting sand. Make sure your boundaries are reasonable and well thought out. It is very confusing for your SO when your limits are ever-changing.


Before you set them, be clear that you will stand by them. Boundaries help you love your SO and get what you need in the relationship. But accepting abuse won’t.

6. Never tolerate abuse.

Where boundaries say no to negative behavior, tolerating abuse says yes to those behaviors. Your commitment to love someone who doesn't love themselves will fail if you excuse any form of abuse.

Have you heard the expression, ”Hurt people hurt people?” More recently, this was Will Smith’s excuse for slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Academy Awards. Do not risk the hurt person in your life escalating to hurt you.

This is especially dangerous in a love relationship. You can wholeheartedly love the one who doesn't love themselves by keeping these simple rules in mind.


RELATED: How A Good Marriage Can Heal Even The Deepest Personal Wounds

Reta Walker is a therapist who specializes in healing relationships. She offers one-on-one sessions, couples retreats, and courses to help couples get back on track.