Dating someone with low self-esteem (A comprehensive guide)

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This blog explores the complexities involved when you are dating someone with low self-esteem both in behavioural and psychological components functioning under the behaviours.

What can you expect when you are dating someone with   self-esteem?

 If you are dating someone with low self-esteem, then you may encounter some of the following scenarios or behaviours exhibited by your partner.

  •  Inability to accept disagreement
  • Lack of assertiveness and inability to freely express one’s view when challenged
  • Inability to cope with uncertainty and unknowns (easily giving into fear)
  • Lack of communication and over compensatory behaviours
  • Engagement is negative self-talk and self- sabotaging behaviours
  • Inability to accept one’s own and other’s flaws
  •  Lack of confidence and Constant need for validation  

In this blog, we are going to cover the importance of having healthy self-esteem, how we can recognise signs of low self-esteem, what happens when you are dating someone with low self-esteem and finally exploring how solutions like couple’s therapy and understanding each other’s love language  can help in  bringing stability to some behaviours and patterns exhibited by the partner who has low self-esteem.

 Importance of having a healthy self-esteem

Self-Esteem in simple words refers to the value we have towards ourselves as people. Rosenberg, one of the notable psychologists in the area of self-esteem defined self-esteem as “one’s positive or negative attitude toward oneself and one’s evaluation of one’s own thoughts and feelings overall in relation to oneself.” 

It goes without saying having a healthy self-esteem is important as it signifies self-respect and a healthy perception of oneself. So, a high self-esteem reflects respect for one self and a healthy perception of oneself and vice versa. 

The positive outcome of having a healthy self-esteem can be penned down as:

  • Ability to accept disagreement :someone with a healthy self-esteem understands disagreements are normal and arises in any relationship.
  • Ability to be assertive and freely express one’s view when challenged:  someone with a healthy self-esteem is able to express his or her opinion in a straightforward manner without aggression.
  • Better acceptance of uncertainty and unknowns without giving into fear: someone with a healthy self-esteem is able to retain a positive mindset while dealing with the unknown or unchartered territories.
  • Optimistically approach challenges: someone with a healthy self-esteem is self -assured and thus able to optimistically approach challenges.
  • Improved Resilience and Reduction in need for validation:  someone with a healthy self esteem will feel assured within him/herself and not require constant validation from other people. They would also have a sense of resilience within themselves that they would be able to bounce back from any situation.
  • Ability to accept one’s own and other’s flaws: Someone with a healthy self-esteem will understand that flaws are a natural part of human nature.

   How do we recognise signs of low self-esteem?

   An individual with low self-esteem may exhibit the following signs:             

  • He/she has very little confidence in him/herself and is always second guessing him/her self -worth and abilities: Someone with insufficient self -esteem or self-worth will always perceive themselves as not enough and lacking and will always doubt themselves without logic or reason
  • Lack of ability to assert oneself and expression of fear or timid behaviour: They fail to communicate themselves and do not possess the confidence to be assertive.  As a result, they may exhibit a timid persona.
  • Feeling that their authentic self is not sufficient and expression of fake grandeur: As mentioned above, they don’t value themselves enough and as a result may be driven to portray themselves in an exaggerated manner.
  • Indecisive behaviour: They fail to effectively make decisions due to the lack of assertiveness and confidence in their abilities.
  • A constant need for rebellion: they may be unhappy with their life and as a result act out to mask their insecurities.

What happens when you are dating someone with  low self-esteem?

Now on the surface level, some may perceive that the self-esteem of a person is the problem or the benefit of the individual alone, depending on which line of the spectrum it may lie but in actuality, it is much deeper than that.

Relationships indirectly influence the quality of life of an individual. The deeper the relationship, the stronger it’s effect. If someone is in a relationship with a toxic partner, they may be made to feel constantly frustrated, miserable and devalued. 

This in turn affects their psychological health which in turn also affects their physiological health and quality of life. The ways in which self-esteem plays a part in a relationship can be through:

Inability to accept disagreement

 when you are dating someone with low self-esteem, you may find that your partner has difficulties accepting disagreements

 In a relationship, disagreements are a natural part of the process. if one or both parties are not able to mutually accept disagreements then  it would be really difficult to move on and find a solution to the disagreement, in such instances one would either ignore the problem or let it fester which can turn the relationship toxic.

Lack of assertiveness and inability to freely express one’s view when challenged

 when you are dating someone with low self-esteem, you may find that your partner either makes a big deal out of little situations or blindly goes along with everything you say without really openly expressing him/herself.

If one is not able to be assertive and straightforward with one’s honest feelings and thoughts, like for instance an individual with low self-esteem might apologise too quickly to avoid conflict or just find it difficult to communicate openly or just be uncomfortable with conflicts. Ultimately it leads to lags in communication which leads to misunderstandings.

Inability to cope with uncertainty and unknowns (easily giving into fear)

 When you are dating someone with low self-esteem, you may find that your partner is easily rattled with every new challenge the relationship may face or has a likelihood to face.

Change is inevitable in a relationship as it goes through various phases. Inability to accept changes and fixation on a particular phase is detrimental to growth. Someone who is unsure of him/herself generally will feel unsure in every relationship. This in turn makes them act impulsively or trigger fear in them which they may take out or act out on their partner.

  • Pessimistic outlook towards the relationship

If you are dating someone with low self-esteem, then he/she may behave in a way as if they are always unsure about the relationship and as if your future together looks bleak even if everything is going great. In such instances, rest assured that the problem is not you but them. 

The reason for this is because someone with low self-esteem generally has a pessimistic attitude towards themselves and that reflects on every aspect of their lives which includes romantic relationships.

Lack of communication and over compensatory behaviours

If you are dating someone with low self-esteem then communication may not always be a strength in your relationship. Effective communication is critical in any relationship but it can be more challenging for someone who has problems with self esteem.

 Those with low self esteem may not only struggle to communicate but may also engage in over compensatory behaviours like excessively buying gifts, project grandeur behaviours, overcompensate in intimate acts instead of honestly communicating themselves

 Engagement is negative self-talk and self- sabotaging behaviours

 If you are dating someone with low self-esteem, you may find that your partner often looks defeated  no matter how many times you reassure him/her. 

The reason for this is, despite your positive boost, he/she may have a habit of knocking him/herself down by negative self talk. It can be just a fleeting thought like ‘oh that’s amazing’ or an internal dialogue which can be considered a form of self-sabotaging behaviour.

An example of this might include ‘he/she is out of my league’ which can even turn to ‘so why is this person with me? Am I enough? He/she will probably leave…….and so on and so on.

The negative self-talk may often lead to self-sabotaging behaviours like them trying to pick a fight when things are getting serious is one of many such behaviours they may engage in.

  •  Questioning one’s own worth

  Individuals with low self-esteem may not be toxic people but the intensity of self-esteem can at times influence toxic traits. For instance, someone with low self-esteem can tend to self- sabotage as they may perceive themselves as non- deserving and may not be able to fully accept when good things happen to them.

 Inability to accept one’s own and other’s flaws


If you are dating someone with low-self esteem, then you may notice that your partner may tend to be very harsh towards him/herself as well as you for the minute details. They not only catch on to the minute details but fixate on it. 

The reason for this is their inability to accept flaws be it someone else’s or his/her own. The ability to accept one’s own and the partner’s flaws is a sure sign of a mature and healthy relationship. This enables the people in the relationship to be comfortable and open with each other. This leads to an honest relationship where both work with each other rather than against each other.

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 Lack of confidence

If you are dating someone with low self-esteem then one of the most common hurdles you will face is your partner’s struggle with confidence. Confidence is a very attractive quality so lack of confidence can be a turn off for most people.

Our confidence and train of thoughts plays a crucial role in how we approach the world around us. Our level of confidence, perception, body image, negative thoughts, our ability to take care of ourselves indirectly affects our partner as it determines how we approach them. 

An individual with a positive mindset and regard for self has a better understanding of self and is less likely to behave in a defensive or reactive way.

The lack of confidence may also make them behave in ways that may not display their authentic selves such as always apologising even if there is nothing to apologise for, constantly lying, engaging in acts of grandeur and showing off to impress your friends and family even if certain lines are crossed.

  •   Constant need for validation

 When you are dating someone with low-self esteem, you may notice that your partner finds it difficult to be self assured and constantly requires validation be it from you towards the way they look or regarding the way they look or any other aspect.

  The problem is that it doesn’t stop there and they may constantly seek out validation from others regarding your relationship instead of feeling confident and self assured in it.


 Measures to solution

Once you identified the problems you might face while being in a relationship or dating someone with low self-worth, then you have a choice to either call it off or stay. 

The following suggestions can be very beneficial if you decide to carry the relationship forward.

Couples Therapy and the role it plays

Couple therapies give a safe space for a couple to openly discuss their problems under the supervision of a neutral and trained professional. If the parties involved are able to address their problem, then they are one step closer in resolving them.

under the guidance of a professional therapist, the couple can explore a safe place to open up about their concerns while being free from judgement.

Understanding each other’s love language

 A simple but underrated technique can be understanding each other’s love language as it will enable both parties involved to understand how the other person express and receive love which is key to any relationship


This blog thus explored the complexities involved when you are dating someone with low self-esteem both in behavioural and psychological components functioning under the behaviours. It was aimed at providing insight into the situation and in the minds of the reader.

 It also aimed at reminding the readers that, much like any other problem, there are solutions to this one as well.

If you find yourself in this situation in either parties or may know of someone who might be in the same, then please feel free to leave a comment as well as your valuable feedback.

What we recommend for Relationship issues

Professional relationship counselling

If you are suffering from relationship issues then ongoing professional relationship counselling could be what you need. Relationship Counselling can be done individually or with one or more partners.

Relationship counselling helps you regain the amazing elements of your relationship and provides you with the techniques needed to avoid conflicts, misunderstandings and the most common issues most relationships struggle with.

FAQs: Dating someone with low self-esteem

How do I deal with low self-esteem?

You don’t deal with low self-esteem. Dealing with something gives an impression of adjusting to it or going along with it. If you feel that you don’t have a healthy self-esteem, then you must work on improving it and ask for help when required. You need not be alone in the healing process. seek help from a professional or a support system. 

If you are dating someone with low self-esteem then understand that there are solutions and ways to boost self-esteem but it will mostly if not completely require efforts from your partner.

What are the symptoms and characteristics of having low self-esteem?

There are many symptoms and characteristics of low self-esteem. Feelings of victimhood and a sense of everyone is against me, anxiety in the face of any conflict or challenge, repetitive negative thoughts, defensiveness and impulsiveness, feelings of powerlessness and inability to accept change are some common ones. If you find that the one you are dating may exhibit the following symptoms, then you might need to pay attention to patterns.

Would you date a guy with lesser friends?

Having lesser or limited friends may not implicate a sense of low self-esteem. It can simply just mean that he is an introvert or a loner. It entirely depends on personal choice at this point.

This need not necessarily be a disadvantage, it can also imply he knows whom he wants to prioritise. 

Broke up and now BF threatens to kill himself. What do I do?

This is by far one of the most sensitive and complex situations one can be put in. He may just be trying to emotionally blackmail you into staying but one can never be too careful. Make sure you don’t stay alone in the situation. Notify one of his close friends or family whom he trusts and let him down easy.

When a man is dealing with low self-esteem?

Anyone be it a man or woman or any other gender can have self-worth issues. The primary thing to remember is that it doesn’t reflect on you but you must also keep in mind that he/she is going through his/her own challenges which is not easy either. 

What is a relationship with low-self esteem?

Dating someone with low self-esteem is very challenging but every relationship has its challenges. watch out for the signs as being aware of the situation is extremely helpful before taking a call on the matter.


What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

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