Low Self Esteem in Relationships

How to Overcome Low Self Esteem in Relationships


Nov 7, 2023

Low self-esteem can be a significant challenge in any aspect of life. However, looking at relationships, it can be particularly debilitating and draining.

Sometimes when you doubt your self-worth, it can most of the time lead to feeling:

  • Insecure
  • Jealous
  • Experience issues with trust and communication

All these factors of which can put strain onto your relationship.

In fact research found 46% of adults in the UK struggle with self-confidence meanwhile 37% feel as though their self-belief levels are low.

However, it's important to remember that overcoming low self-esteem is both possible and essential for building and sustaining a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

In this blog, Head Agenda will explore what low self-esteem is as well as some steps to help you boost your self-esteem and nurture a strong, positive relationship.

First off let’s start off with understanding what we mean by low self-esteem.

What is low self esteem?

Self-esteem generally refers to how you view yourself, your worth, and your abilities. It's the foundation of your self-confidence and affects your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Low self-esteem refers to having a negative view on your self-esteem. This can involve a range of feeling, emotions and behaviours. Let’s take a look at some.

Low self-esteem symptoms

Sometimes when experiencing low self-esteem in relationships you may notice or feel or behave in the following ways:

  • Worthless
  • Hopeless
  • Over apologetic
  • Feeling like you can do nothing right.
  • You compare yourself to others a lot.
  • Putting pressure on yourself
  • Forcing affection/attention - You may start to try different things to get your partner’s attention and affection such as buying gifts for them or forcing/persuading them to want to settle down or take the next step.
  • Putting them on a pedestal in comparison to yourself or feeling like you’re not good enough.
  • Not putting your feelings first – always thinking about them and their needs before yours.
  • You can feel very defensive – sometimes this can result in you feeling like you’re settling for less than you deserve or equally can result in self-sabotage of being in a good and healthy relationship both resulting in you feeling down and uncomfortable in your relationship.
  • Feeling jealous – sometimes you begin to feel jealous or whoever your partner speaks to, or equally having the feeling that your partner may leave you. However, it is important to note here that this low-self-esteem you may be feeling, may lead to you sabotaging your relationship.

All these experiences and feelings can be detrimental to you, your mental health and impact your partner and your relationship.

Ways to overcome low self-esteem in a relationship

Here at Head Agenda, we are here to help and to begin let’s go through some ways in which you can overcome your low self-esteem in relationships.

1. Self-reflection and awareness

The first step in overcoming low self-esteem in a relationship is self-awareness. Take some time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about yourself.

From this, identify the negative self-ideas and patterns of thinking that contribute to your low self-esteem.

Some questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Are you overly critical of yourself?
  • Do you constantly compare yourself to others?

Understanding the root causes of your self-esteem issues is essential before you can address them effectively.

2. Practice self-compassion

Once you've identified the negative perceptions you may have of yourself, it's time to replace it with self-compassion – or also known as self-love.

Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding and love that you would offer to your partner, friend or loved one.

Let’s look at and example. When you make a mistake or face a setback, it is important to remember not to be too hard on yourself - remind yourself that nobody is perfect, and it's okay to have flaws. Believe in yourself and counter your low self-esteem with positive affirmations.

Self-compassion and self-love can help counteract those unwanted feelings of unworthiness.

3. Set realistic expectations.

Low self-esteem often can arise from unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves or simply overthinking.

In a relationship, it's important to understand that no one is flawless, and every partnership has its ups and downs.

No relationship is ever going to be forever smooth sailing. This is an example of an unrealistic expectation. Combining this idea of also not comparing your relationship to others. You only ever see a snippet of someone else’s relationship and never know the full story, so take a step back from looking at other relationships which give you unrealistic ideals of what the “perfect” or “ideal” relationship should look like.

Instead of expecting perfection, focus on personal growth and the growth of your relationship. Embrace the idea that both you and your partner are a work in progress.

4. Communication and trust is key

Effective communication is essential in any relationship, especially when dealing with low self-esteem.

Talk openly with your partner about your feelings and insecurities. Through this, sharing your struggles can foster understanding and empathy.

Your partner may also be able to offer support and reassurance. Additionally, encourage your partner to share their thoughts and feelings, creating a safe space for both of you to express yourselves.

Doing so can not only help relieve your insecurities but also build trust. When you build trust, it can help alleviate those feelings of jealousy and worthlessness.

5. Practice Self-Care

Taking care of your physical and emotional well-being is crucial for boosting self-esteem. Before anyone else can love you, take some time to learn to love yourself. So, engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself, whether it's exercising, pursuing a hobby, or spending time with friends and family.

Self-care helps you build a positive self-image and reminds you of your strengths and capabilities.

6. Challenge negative thoughts

As you work through your journey on improving your self-esteem, challenge and reframe negative thoughts when they arise.

To do this, when you catch yourself thinking, "I'm not good enough" or "I don't deserve love," replace those thoughts with more positive and realistic affirmations.

For example, "I am worthy of love and happiness" or "I have qualities that make me a valuable partner."

For more support on challenging your negative thoughts, we also provide CBT therapy to support your journey in overcoming low self-esteem, for more information, visit our CBT services page.

7. Set and celebrate achievable goals

Setting and achieving small, realistic goals can boost your self-esteem.  Whether it's a personal goal or a goal related to your relationship, celebrating your accomplishments can help you recognize your worth and capabilities.

These successes can become building blocks for your rebuilding your self-esteem.

8. Seek professional help

Sometimes your low self-esteem is deeply rooted which could be the cause affecting your relationship significantly, and so you may consider seeking professional help.

A therapist or counsellor can provide guidance, support, and strategies for improving your self-esteem.

Here at Head Agenda we can help you explore any underlying issues or traumas that may be contributing to your low self-esteem or tackle the deeper rooted problems that can stem from trauma, anxiety and depression, all conditions we can offer our services to.

Ready to get help today?

Overcoming low self-esteem in a relationship is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and commitment.

Remember that building healthy self-esteem takes time, but the effort is worth it for the sake of your well-being and the success of your relationship.

By practicing the steps above and getting the help you need, you can develop the self-esteem necessary to nurture a strong, loving, and lasting partnership.

To enquire about our services on getting couples counselling, please click the button below and start your journey to a better self with Head Agenda today.

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