How Your Low Self-Esteem is Hurting Your Relationship

How Your Low Self-Esteem is Hurting Your Relationship

Everyone has faced self-esteem issues at some time or another in their life. Whether it was those awkward teenage years, at your first real job after college or when you met your future spouse and you felt like they were just too good for you, we’ve all been there and done that. But for a lot of people, low self-esteem is more than just a stage. It’s a constant struggle. And even though you wish you had a higher self-esteem, you think to yourself that it’s your own problem and it’s not hurting anybody but yourself. So you continue on your day to day life hoping nobody sees the internal struggle you have. But what many people with low self-esteem realize is that not only does low self-esteem hurt your own feelings about yourself, it also hurts your relationship, too.

Low Self Esteem Keeps Your Partner from Being Able to Fall in Love With You

When you have low self-esteem, you question your own adequacy. You question whether you’re a desirable person and you question whether your partner really loves you or not – or if they would love you if they knew all the things that you know about you. As a result, you try to put on a happy face when you’re not really happy and you go and do things that you don’t really want to do. And because your spouse wants to, you go along and pretend that you’re happy.

Every relationship has a little give and take. In other words, every spouse does things they don’t want to do for the sake of their spouse. And to some degree this is healthy in a relationship. But if you’re going along with things you don’t really want to do just to put on a show for your spouse so that they’ll love you this hurts your relationship on many levels.

For one, it doesn’t allow them to really love you. They love the person you’re pretending to be. At the core of this, you’re trying to be someone they want you to be so that you’ll be loved. And it’s giving them a false perception of who you really are and it’s giving them a false perception of their relationship – neither of which is fair to them…or you.

For two, these relationships seldom last. After a while, you’ll get tired of trying to be someone you’re not and they’ll get tired of you being inconsistent in what you like/don’t like and what do/don’t want to do. And either you’ll leave them or they’ll leave you. After all, who wants a relationship where you’re pressured to be someone you’re not and you’re not? And who wants to be in a relationship with someone who is unpredictable and unreliable?

Lastly, there’s just something mesmerizing about a partner who has unique likes, interests and talents. If you’re being a chameleon and only like what your partner likes or only has the same interests that your partner does, then you’re not a very mesmerizing partner. Eventually, your partner will get bored and eventually leave for someone more unique and exciting.

Low Self-Esteem Keeps you From Being Available to Your Partner

When you have low self-esteem, you’re often too wrapped up in your own head to really be available to your partner. Sure, you’re for them for the big things like when they win an award or when they’re going through a rough time at work. But on a more subtle level, a daily level, you’re not really available to them.

For example, a client I saw a while ago who had low self-esteem was so worried about not being a good enough wife, that she focused intensely on doing the things that “a good wife does” so as to ensure that her husband would love her. She hurried about her day making sure that the house clean, that dinner was ready on time, and that she looked nice whenever her husband came home. Well, she was so focused on “doing things a good wife does” so that her husband would love her, that she didn’t notice her husband’s unhappiness about not having fun in the relationship or having spontaneity. Because she was so focused on assuaging her own insecurities about “being a good wife”. She wasn’t in tune enough to see what her husband was really wanting in the relationship – she wasn’t being a “good wife” after all.

Low Self-Esteem Hurts Your Sex Life 


Because of your low self-esteem, your sex life is also struggling. Really great sex happens when two whole people make themselves available to each other in a sexual offer of connection, intimacy and passion. But when you have low self-esteem, it’s difficult to really be present in the bedroom. Instead of being in the moment with your partner, you’re wondering what’s going through their head. You wonder whether they think you’re doing a good enough job, if they’d rather be doing it in a different position, if they are turned off by the flab on your midsection, etc.

Because you’re always worried about what they’re thinking, you can’t really be present in the bedroom. Sure, sex will always be fun but when you’re not really connecting, you’re not really making love. And when you’re not making love, sex eventually becomes bland, boring and stale.

Your Low Self-Esteem Doesn’t Have to Stay Low

Thankfully, your low self-esteem is not something that is out of your control. There are ways to help yourself and your low self-esteem so that you can get out of your own head and get into your relationship. There are great books like Self-Compassion and humorous books like Self Affirmations from Stuart Smalley. For help in the bedroom, there’s also a great radio show called After Dark Radio by my friend Ande Lyons with tips to “get out of your head and get into bed”.

Even though your self-esteem doesn’t just hurt you, you’re the only one who is in control of it. And you’re the only one who can do anything about it. Tackling your low self-esteem is a liberating event that helps you not only feel better about yourself but helps your lover feel more in love with you, too.

9 Responses to How Your Low Self-Esteem is Hurting Your Relationship

  1. This is great! All of this is so true and some people don't realize how what they think of themselves impacts others. People who are confident get what they want more than the person who isn't. It's how maybe someone who isn't the prettiest or well-dressed can still pull the hottest person in the room.

  2. thanks for this, people like myself often don't figure out what the problem is until after they have figured out what is going on, (either from a partner bringing it to there attn., or just from observing his or her actions). this was a wonderful and educational post. thanks for it again.l

  3. My sister has very low self-esteem and is hostile and sarcastic to anyone she is jealous of. Unfortunately she is always making biting remarks to me and complains constantly. She pretends to go along with family plans but acts sullen & angry during the entire event. She is secretive, and full of rage and SO dishonest and exhausting.

  4. Thank you for the resources. Already using the “Self-Compassion” book by Kristen Neff and finding it very relevant.

  5. Hi Aaron,

    I couldn’t agree more with this post, and this is exactly why I suffered in my last relationship and that it didn’t work out. In order for any relationship to work, both of the individuals need a positive outlook, otherwise one is very positive and the other is negative, in which the two don’t mix very well.

    He was always happy and positive, whereas I almost always had a low self-esteem and I was worried that he would find someone better. I was worrying about relationship issues and problems before they even happened, which isn’t healthy for any relationship.

    I was delusional and for some odd reason, even thought he didn’t do anything wrong, I always imagined the worse (aka he will cheat on me).

    I just wanted to pop a quick comment to say thank you, I really appreciated this post, it helped me, and I do hope that in the future, my low self-esteem doesn’t ruin a relationship. Time for me to start he recovery I guess, I need to work on my self before hoping into another relationship. Thank Aaron x

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