Dealing with someone with low self-esteem can be tricky at times, but dating someone who suffers from it can bring its own set of challenges.
Therefore, you might find yourself wondering, is it okay to date someone with low self-esteem? The answer is yes, it’s totally okay, but there are some factors you should be aware of before committing to a relationship.
In our guide below, we cover some common characteristics of men and women with low self-esteem and behaviors they often exhibit in relationships. We’ve also provided some advice on how to deal with low self-esteem in a relationship in the modern dating world.
Characteristics of low-self esteem in men and women
Low self-esteem can present itself in a lot of ways, but those who experience it often suffer from a distorted view of themselves and feelings of inadequacy. They likely lack confidence, engage in negative self-talk, and don’t believe they are deserving or worthy of love. What’s more, they may desperately seek validation or, on the flip side, admittedly refuse compliments.
This constant self-criticism can lead to stress, sadness, worry, and doubt—all of which can negatively impact their relationships. And though they may already struggle with their self-confidence, their feelings of insecurity can also be compounded by certain factors of their relationship, like if they’re shorter than their partner or make less money than them.
Dating someone with low self-esteem
Although those with low self-esteem face an internal battle with themselves, these negative feelings and mindset can tarnish their connections with others. So, how does someone with low self-esteem act in a relationship? The following are a few tendencies or behaviors you might notice:
They might self-sabotage the relationship
Even if you’re perfectly happy in your relationship and think it’s going well, if your partner has low self-esteem, they may see it differently. In fact, they may assume the worst and believe your relationship is destined for failure.
For instance, they might think your relationship is doomed for no reason, question whether you really love them, test your intentions, or purposefully drive you away.
You see, when your partner doesn’t think they’re worthy of your love, they’ll act out in ways that confirm their beliefs, which can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. They may criticize you, make you second guess yourself, get increasingly jealous, and even cheat on you to prove they do not deserve you or your relationship.
They may have a negative attitude
With low self-esteem often comes a pessimistic outlook. After all, those who suffer from it can’t see themselves in a good light, so they often fail to see the positives in other aspects of life.
Suppose you’re dating a man with low-self esteem. In that case, you may notice him projecting his negativity into your relationship, whether that’s constantly complaining, expecting the worst, or downplaying anything good that happens. What’s worse, he may even get satisfaction out of tearing you or others down or pinpointing the flaws in perfectly fine situations.
Of course, this can be challenging if everything in your relationship feels like a dark cloud of negative energy is constantly following it.
They may have jealous tendencies
Jealousy and low self-esteem often go hand in hand. And this jealousy can present itself in a variety of ways. For example, because of your partner’s own insecurities, they might feel jealous of your attractive coworker or envious of your bubbly and confident friend. Or worse, they could start feeling jealous of you for your own accomplishments or positive characteristics.
They could cause you to question your own self-esteem
Dating someone with low self-esteem can do a number on your own sense of self-worth. In some cases, it can almost feel contagious as you watch and pick up on your partner’s own insecurities and negativity. In other cases, your partner might criticize you to bring you down to their level. The way they see it is if they don’t feel great about themselves, why should you? Even if you come to the relationship with boatloads of your own self-confidence, you may begin to feel it falter after spending time with them.
How to handle low self-esteem in a relationship
So, how do you date someone with self-esteem issues? Well, it may require a little extra patience and understanding. The following are a few tips for maintaining a healthy relationship.
Whether you’re dating a man or a woman with low self-esteem, motivating them to love and accept themselves is a good idea. While you can tell them how much you love them all you want, they need to believe it for themselves in order for them to increase their self-esteem. Encourage them to find new hobbies they enjoy, spend time with their loved ones, journal about their feelings, and maybe even speak with a therapist.
Remember, you can support and encourage their path toward self-love, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be the one that has to put in the work.
Support and compliment them
If you want to know how to win a man over with low self-esteem, compliments can go a long way. But don’t just compliment him for the sake of complimenting him. Instead, be intentional and sincere about your compliments, finding ways to boost his self-confidence and promote his journey toward self-love.
That said, it’s not your responsibility to constantly compliment him, which can easily become exhausting. If you’re spending more time building him up than enjoying his company, then you may want to reconsider whether this relationship is fulfilling your own needs.
Don’t let their negativity get you down
Regardless of whether you’re dating a man with low self-esteem or a woman struggling with similar issues, it’s crucial to separate your feelings from theirs.
Just because they’re living with a constant cloud overhead doesn’t mean you can’t experience sunshine and rainbows in your own life. Even if your partner doesn’t share your feelings or outlook on life, it’s okay to feel your own sense of self-confidence and positivity.
However, if you feel like their negativity is dimming your internal light, you might need to decide if this relationship is healthy.
Understand that you can’t change them
While you can certainly encourage them to love themselves and help boost their self-confidence, it’s important to realize that may not be enough to change them. Only your partner can change themselves, which could require years of self-work and therapy.
With that in mind, avoid going into the relationship thinking you can solve their problems. Ask yourself whether you’ll be happy and fulfilled in this relationship if your partner stays exactly the same way. Are you willing to accept everything they bring—both good and bad—into your relationship?
Practice open communication
Communication is important when dealing with low self-esteem in a relationship because if you’re not careful, you might begin to feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells.
If your partner is feeling insecure or jealous, talk about it. Or if you’re feeling emotionally drained by their negativity, talk about it. Whatever the situation, be honest and open about how it’s impacting your relationship because not talking about it will only intensify the situation.
The existence of low self-esteem doesn’t necessarily have to mean the demise of your relationship, but it is important to carefully consider whether you’re happy or not with your partner. As long as you find joy and fulfillment, despite the implications of low self-esteem, then there’s no reason your relationship can’t thrive and survive!