11 Ways Low Self-Esteem Affects Your Relationship

A huge part of being in a relationship is the willingness to share yourself with another person. This means opening up, talking about concerns, and being your fullest self. But this is also precisely why low self-esteem can affect your relationship in such a negative way, as it pretty much makes all of the above feel entirely impossible.

If you have low self-esteem, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. But it can go so much further than that. As psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, says in an email to Bustle, low self-esteem can cause you to worry about what others think of you, it can make you feel like you have nothing of value to add to the world, and it can cause you to not believe any positive feedback. "[People with low self-esteem] do not feel good about how they look, often having a distorted view, and they often get in relationships that are not as good as they deserve, because they do not believe they deserve better," Martinez says.

And if you don't feel worthy of a healthy relationship, then it's often incredibly difficult to have one. If that sounds familiar, then you might be interested in the following ways low self-esteem can affect your relationship. But keep in mind, it is possible to boost your self-esteem, and have healthy, happy relationships. It just may take a bit of work.

1. You Constantly Test Your SO

Low self-esteem often means living with a pretty annoying fear of abandonment. When that's the case, you may put your SO through rigorous tests to see if they'll leave. "Below the surface these insecurities guide your emotions and actions," said Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D., on Psychology Today. "You may even sabotage the relationship because you know your partner will inevitably leave anyway." It can be incredibly trying for all involved.

2. You Have A Fear Of Intimacy

In the same vein, you might have an intense fear of opening up to your partner, caring too much, or letting them care about you. As noted in an article on, "These distancing behaviors may reduce our anxiety about being too close to someone, but they come at a great cost." Namely, perpetuating your low self-esteem, as well as potentially ruining an otherwise good relationship.

3. You're Weirdly Resilient

People with low self-esteem go through a lot — confidence issues, anxiety, you name it. So it's totally normal to come out feeling resilient AF. As a result, you might feel like nothing can break you down, including your relationship. "Resilience enables women to be more measured in their approach to [relationships]," Lachmann said. In other words, you are probably a super chill, incredibly understanding partner.

4. You Don't Speak Up

If something's wrong, you may find it incredibly difficult to voice your concerns. Again, this has pretty much everything to do with low self-esteem. According to an article on, research suggests that people with low self-esteem may believe that they cannot speak up without risking rejection from their partner and damage to their relationship. As you can probably guess, this can lead to some major dissatisfaction in your relationship.

5. You Look For Love In The Wrong Places

Constantly find yourself with distant, cold, or unavailable partners? A lack of confidence may be to blame. As dating expert Bonny Albo said on, "... a nasty side effect of having low self-esteem is the uncanny ability to find love in all the wrong ways and places. Think about it: How many times have you given your time and energy to another in the hopes that they'd love you in return?" It's not ideal, and yet entirely common.

6. You Go Absolutely Love Crazy

Most of us have one goal in life, and that's to be loved. While totally reasonable, it does have a way of getting to your head — especially if you have low self-esteem. As Lachmann said, "... because you don’t see yourself as naturally lovable, you feel like you have to fight and claw and strive for a mate ... this can make you obsessed, consumed and infatuated with your object of affection in a way that ruins the ability to have a viable trajectory."

7. You May End Up In A Bad Relationship

It's pretty well known that there's a correlation between low self-esteem and bad relationships. That's because without self-esteem, you will lack the belief that you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, thus staying with someone who gives you neither. You'll also tolerate hurtful behavior from others too often and for too long because you don't feel you can or should do better, according to Shirley McNeal, Ph.D, and relationship coach Nancy Philpott on And that's really a recipe for disaster.

8. You Probably Have Many A Misunderstanding

Because you can't and don't express your needs, misunderstandings will likely crop up at every turn. As McNeal and Philpott said, "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."

9. You Have Zero Trust

A lack of trust can rear its ugly head for any number of reasons, but it usually comes from low self-esteem brought on by past hurt. As Martinez says, "People with low self-esteem struggle with trust in their relationships, and this has more to do with how they feel about themselves, and how a partner would treat them." Real or imagined, it's not fun at all.

10. You May Have A Hard Time Connecting

Part of being in a relationship is sharing yourself, your thoughts, and your insecurities. But hiding away due to insecurity can quickly lead to communication problems. That's why it's way better to be open and honest, even if you don't think your SO will want to help. The right person will, so share away.

11. Your SO May Not Want To Stick Around

This one is sad, but true. As Martinez says, if your partner constantly struggles to prove they can be trusted, it can eventually lead to the end of the relationship. That's because constant accusations may wear them down and force them to leave. It's a sort of sad, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remember, it is possible to have a healthy relationship that's totally worth it — as long as you're (both) willing to work on yourself.

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