What Does Healthy Self-Esteem in Relationships Do For You?

March 14, 2018 Sam Woolfe

The health of your self-esteem in relationships can make or break it. Find out how low self-esteem could be jeopardizing your relationship at HealthyPlace. You don't need self-esteem to be loved, but healthy self-esteem in relationships frees you to make the most of them. Learn how.

Building self-esteem in relationships requires effort. People may wonder, therefore, what they will actually gain by digesting all of this information and advice on building self-esteem and changing their habits of thought and behavior. Of course, we should promote healthy self-esteem not just because it changes how you see yourself but also because it can drastically improve your life in so many ways. Let’s focus on self-esteem in relationships as an example.

Low Self-Esteem in Relationships

Having low self-esteem doesn’t mean you can’t be in a relationship or that no one else can love you. Many of us struggle with low-esteem to varying degrees, from subtle self-criticism to persistent and intense self-hatred. Yet while low self-esteem won’t necessarily exclude us from romantic love, it can certainly act as a barrier to a healthy, flourishing relationship.

This can become a negative cycle. Low self-esteem affects the relationship, which in turn can lower self-esteem. For example, I have sometimes thought that I am not "man enough" in a relationship since I judge my qualities as falling short of the masculine ideal in some way. When I would criticise myself in this way, it would diminish my confidence and make me feel that I’m inadequate (Rethink What It Means to be a Man to Raise Your Self-Esteem).

Again, not feeling confident in oneself might not necessarily lead to the breakdown of a relationship but it can certainly happen. When low self-esteem is left unaddressed and continues for so long, it can certainly lead to strain in the relationship, especially if the partner has to bear the brunt of projection and anger, as well as if low self-esteem affects sex in the relationship.

A loving partner can help work through these issues with you but it can’t be expected that every loving partner will want to stay if the relationship becomes unhealthy. Insecurities, jealousy, and anxiety can all stem from low self-esteem and they are roadblocks to a truly satisfying relationship. Heidi Riggio, a social psychologist teaching at California State University in Los Angeles, says:

"You may be afraid that your partner will leave you, or you panic over other things that others wouldn't think twice about. This can lead to panic attacks or extreme jealousy."

Low self-esteem can lead to a distorted perception of your partner and your relationship. Steven Graham, associate professor of psychology at the New College of Florida in Sarasota, underscores:

"If my views of you are changing very quickly, thinking very positively about you one minute and negatively the next, that could make the other person feel insecure."

Healthy Self-Esteem in Relationships

Having healthy self-esteem in a relationship tells a completely different story. When you disengage from negative self-talk and build and maintain a realistic view of yourself, this will translate into a more balanced and less black-and-white perception of your relationship. Negative self-talk is the endless loop of critical, judgemental chatter that plays in our heads. But we can reverse negative self-talk. When we tell ourselves we’re unlovable, unattractive or not good enough, it’s crucial to – first of all – realize that this way of thinking is a distortion and then – secondly – to talk to yourself in a positive way.

When you feel more secure in yourself, this will allow both you and your partner to feel more secure about the relationship. In a similar vein, healthy self-esteem goes hand in hand with self-confidence, and feeling confident about yourself as a partner and the relationship, in general, will translate into a stronger, more stable, and more satisfying relationship.


1 Kathleen Doheny. (2016, May 17). How Low Self-Esteem Affects Your Relationships. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from Everyday Health.

APA Reference
Woolfe, S. (2018, March 14). What Does Healthy Self-Esteem in Relationships Do For You?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 29 from

Author: Sam Woolfe

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