“Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.” – Louise Hart
Ask yourself honestly: how do you feel about yourself? Could your self-esteem be a little better? All of us struggle with self-esteem issues every once in a while. Unfortunately, some of us have it worse than others when it comes to having low self-esteem. You may feel like your self-esteem only affects you.
After all, it is called self-esteem! But the fact of the matter is, your self-esteem can affect your relationships with other people.
“Low self-esteem can make you test or sabotage relationships that have potential, or settle for relationships in which you’re treated in a way that matches your beliefs about yourself,” says clinical psychologist Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D.
However, there are ways to turn it around. If you’re feeling like your low self-esteem could be affecting your relationships, check the signs and see how to turn it around.
10 Ways Your Self-Esteem Destroys Your Relationship And How To Avoid It
1. You start having limited relationships
When you have low self-esteem, you’re not very confident. This can make it harder for you to approach other people, and for other people to approach you. What happens then?
“You’re willing to commit yourself to the person who expresses interest in you. You become much less discriminating about who you choose. You may even be willing to put up with behavior that doesn’t satisfy you, because you feel lucky to have anyone at all, even though you are aware you are not happy,” adds Dr. Lachmann.
When you work on feeling better about yourself and having more confidence, your relationships will branch out. You’ll have more friends and work relationships, as well as romantic ones.
2. You suffer from lack of confidence
The lack of confidence when it comes to low-self-esteem means that you may allow people to walk all over you. You’re not confident enough to assert your boundaries and “you will be unable to ask for what you want or set limits on what you don’t want,” adds relationship coach Deborah Roth.
Learning better communication skills will help turn your confidence around. When your confidence is better, so is your self-esteem. Then, you’ll be able to have relationships with other people without feeling as if you’re being taken advantage of.
3. Self-expression becomes a challenge
When you have low self-esteem, you may have a harder time expressing yourself. When you’re not able to say the things you want to say, and be truthful about your thoughts and feelings, your relationships suffer. Learn how to better express your thoughts and feelings, even if you have to take baby steps to do it. Writing letters or emails can help bolster your confidence in saying what you mean.
4. You’re constantly taken for granted
When you have low self-esteem, people tend to take you for granted. This is because your low self-esteem makes it harder for you to stand up for yourself. Learn how to say “No” and assert your boundaries. It may take some effort, but in the long run you’ll be able to avoid the bad and abusive relationships with people who are looking for someone with low self-esteem to control.
5. Not enough energy into your relationships
When you have low self-esteem, it may cause you to make mistakes in your relationships. One of these mistakes is not putting enough energy or effort into your relationship, because you feel like it doesn’t matter anyway.
“You may take on a victim mentality. This means you will blame everyone and everything for how you feel. You will not be able to relate to others well because you will act like a victim rather than an equal,” says life coach Karl Perera.
Learning to build up your self-esteem means that you’ll be able to put the same time and energy into relationships that you deserve to get back. Sometimes, just putting in the effort will help bolster your self-esteem.
6. You have low self-acceptance
Having low self-esteem means that you also have low self-acceptance. If you’re unable to accept yourself, then you won’t be able to be accepted in your relationships, either. Learn to accept your flaws and shortcomings, instead of beating yourself up for things that you can’t control. When you learn to let go, you can learn to accept yourself for who you are.
7. Perception is a mind game
What you believe to be true is often what you perceive. Low self-esteem can make your perception of the world around you way off. If you feel poorly about yourself, you may start to believe other people feel poorly about you as well. Learn to accept what the people around you say, and believe them for what it’s worth. If someone tells you they like you, learn to believe them.
8. Misunderstandings arise in relationships
When you lack self-esteem, you lack confidence, and without confidence, you may be prone to more misunderstandings in your relationships. You may allow people to believe something that isn’t true because you lack the self-esteem to correct them.
“It’s important in any relationship to be able to express what you need … If you don’t share those needs because you’re afraid of your partner’s response, you’ll become increasingly frustrated and [they’ll] just feel hurt or confused,” say Shirley McNeal, Ph.D, and relationship coach Nancy Philpott.
Building up your confidence will allow you to correct misunderstandings before they cause rifts in your relationships.
9. Drama becomes inevitable
A lack of self-esteem can also cause drama in a relationship. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings, exhausting arguments … all of these things can stem from one’s low self-esteem. When you’re able to confront the source of the drama, the drama is more easily dealt with. When focusing on building your self-esteem, you’re also able to focus on making sure your relationships stay drama-free.
10. Lack of fun
You may find that you don’t go out as often as you would like, or turn down invitations to have fun with your friends. Low self-esteem can make it so that you’re not having as much fun as you could. A good way to deal with this is to go anyway. Even if you’re feeling low, getting out and being around people who care about you can be a great help.
Low self-esteem can be frustrating for anyone to deal with. You may not notice at first, but your relationships can suffer when it comes to low self-esteem. It may even be something that can end a relationship altogether.
Bolstering your self-esteem will make dealing with it easier, as well as repairing your relationships. Talking to a trusted friend, family member or therapist can also help put your self-esteem back on the right track.
“When you notice yourself thinking you’re not lovable, or that no one will ever find you attractive, you need to stop and talk back to yourself in a positive way. Tell yourself that the negative talk is not realistic, but just a distortion,” says social psychologist Heidi Riggio, PhD.
Opening up to people can be just the thing you need to work through whatever it is that’s keeping your self-esteem low, and bring it back up so you can enjoy and experience life.