How Low Self-Worth is Destroying Your Relationships
It has been said before many times — how can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself first? Low self-worth is absolutely toxic to relationships, whether they are old or new, strong or on shaky ground. Our level of self-worth will correlate directly to whether or not we can have a healthy relationship.
The Irony of Seeking Healthy Relationships with Low Self-Worth
In order to find a stable self in adulthood, which is much harder than it seems for many people, we seek out stable elements in our life to cling to. For many people, stability can be found in healthy, long-term relationships such as marriage. However, for people suffering from low self-esteem, the negative self-perceptions that swirl around them may impact both their ability to find a healthy relationship and their ability to then navigate that relationship. A relationship requires trust, and when people are insecure, sometimes we may project that insecurity onto our partner in the form of jealousy or possessiveness.
Conversely, people with low self-esteem may self-sabotage their own relationships by cheating because they are so desperately seeking affirmation. Even when their partners do their best to affirm them, people with low self-esteem often cannot get enough romantic affirmation. As a result, they either shrink from their partner and consider themselves unlovable, or they seek out love wherever they can find it to the detriment of monogamous promises.
“I Deserve It”
Low self-esteem can be dangerous to us in more ways than one. More often than not, abusive people target those with low self-esteem because they know that they will be easier to control. If we already feel as though we are worthless and not deserving of love, a partner, once they have hooked us, could treat us poorly without us thinking we should leave. If a partner tells someone with low self-esteem, “no one will love you like I love you,” it is easy for the low self-esteem partner to believe that lie, because they already think themselves undeserving of love and happiness.
Abusive partners are not typically mean at first — instead, they will shower their potential partners with attention and compliments. This may be mesmerizing to a person with low self-esteem. Even if the abusive partner is not attractive in other ways, these compliments and attention-giving behaviors will make them attractive. For someone who does not believe they are worthy of love to be receiving such a shower of affection may feel like a dream. A dream they do not deserve, but a dream they want to hold on to because it holds the promise of stability. The stability that was hoped for is, of course, an illusion, since abusive relationships are volatile and chaotic. No one, no matter how they may feel about themselves, deserves abuse, and it is never the fault of the person who is being abused. The fault always lies with the abusive partner, who chooses to use power and control to emotionally and sometimes physically torture someone who is just trying to love them the best way they know how.
Low Self-Worth Causes Stress and Anxiety
Having low self-worth requires a lot of energy. It takes a lot of time and effort to continually put yourself down and thwart your own attempts at success because you do not believe in your own happiness. The anxiety that manifests as a result of low self-worth is due to a fear of failure or of disappointing those who love you. The irony is that oftentimes, it is your low self-worth itself that disappoints those who love you. They love you and they want you to see yourself for the wonderful person that you are — but you can’t see it. And so they are disappointed and they feel like they might not be doing enough to convince you. This cycle creates stress and anxiety in your life and in your partner’s life, and it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship. When people with low self-worth use their relationship as a life raft and the life raft begins to sink, they will either jump and self-sabotage or else go down with the ship, even if their partner is frantically bailing water.
Secrets and Misunderstandings
People with low self-worth do not believe that their true self is worth loving, so sometimes they will hide who they are or lie to cover up things they think would disappoint their partner. These secrets and misunderstandings will only cause stress and strife in their relationships, creating fights where there should not be fights, and where there would not be fights if both partners were honest and up front with each other. The desire to hide one’s true self is a recipe for an unhealthy relationship.
You are worthy of love, even if you cannot see it right now. People with low self-worth deserve good relationships too, and if you are not in a place where you can see that, I urge you to contact me or to see a doctor.