Nothing interferes with the ability to have an authentic, reciprocal relationship like low self-esteem. If you can’t believe you’re good enough, how can you believe a loving partner could choose you? 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. That said, low self-esteem doesn’t always look the same way in relationships. The following are 10 of the many ways that low self-esteem can manifest in your romantic relationship.
When we were young, we created many of the patterns that control our adult lives. This can be especially true of relationships – what did you learn to expect in your earliest relationships? Do you expect emotional reciprocity and respect? Or do you expect to be disrespected and rejected? As an adult, it can be hard to break these patterns of expectation.
One pattern I see frequently in my practice is that of patients who, now or when younger, used sex to try to pull an emotionally distant person closer. This tactic, of course, is not to be confused with the kind of sex that helps to bring you and your partner closer or sex that is relaxed and fun. Instead, we’re talking here about the kind of sex that is meant to close a perceived power gap – this person has emotional power over you, and you want very much to even the playing field.
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