How Low Self-Esteem Could Be Destroying Your Relationship

Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC 

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Picture: Jackson David 

You might already be aware of how low self-esteem affects your life. You might struggle to see yourself as worthy, have a fear of failure, lack of control, or even poor confidence. These things can all signal that you don’t see yourself as the strong, worthwhile, and loved individual that you are. 

However, what you may be less aware of is how low self-esteem can destroy relationships. Sometimes, it’s not only you that you’re hurting. If you don’t believe your relationship with your significant other is as strong as it could be, and you think your relationship with yourself might be to blame, the following information may confirm it. You can then make a plan for what to do next. 

You Hold Yourself Responsible

Many people enter couple’s therapy with the belief that they alone are to blame for the failings within the relationship. You might even think to yourself, ‘does couple counseling workwhen you’re holding so firmly onto the idea that it can’t be fixed and that you’re responsible for every single failing. 

While some blame may lie with you due to shared accountability, that doesn’t mean it all lies with you. When you have low self-esteem, it’s easy to be held responsible by yourself and others for anything that goes wrong. You can also end up as a ‘soft target,’ with others being able to influence your choices and dictate your feelings and actions. 

You’re Not Making Yourself Heard

In the mind of someone who doesn’t feel worthy, it can be much easier to let someone else make decisions for you. They may not be your wishes or within your best interest, but you would rather let someone else make the rules since you don’t love yourself enough to be heard. 

Aside from the immediate consequences of this, which is not getting what you truly want deep down, it can also significantly impact your relationship. Your partner can’t know what you want for your future if you don’t say it aloud. Instead, they get used to making decisions for you without always realizing you have your own voice that needs a helping hand to come out. 

You Don’t Feel Attractive

You might be the most beautiful person inside and out, but that doesn’t mean you feel like you are. No matter how many times your partner tells you how beautiful, kind, loving, caring, and funny you are, your low self-esteem may make you struggle to believe what they’re telling you. While this in itself is not something that can directly lead to a failed relationship, it can undoubtedly contribute to it. 

It is also inevitable that sometimes breakups occur and recovering from a breakup is vital for your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself.

You Guard Yourself

The love of your life is someone who gets to see the real you. They see and love your flaws, adore you completely, and want you to be entirely open and honest with them about everything in your life. 

If you have low self-esteem, it’s not always easy to show your partner the real you, even if you love them with all your heart. There might be a piece of you that’s always on guard to protect yourself because you believe they will cause you pain and leave you. 

While you might think you’re doing your future self a favor, you may be sabotaging your relationship in the process. If you’re not allowing yourself to be completely loved, you may inevitably end up not giving your partner all the love they need, as well. 

You Settle

When you don’t feel worthy, you likely won’t seek out a partner who is worthy of you. Instead, you may believe the first person to show interest in you is someone you should be with, purely because you don’t see yourself attracting anyone else. 

The problem with this action is that person may not be suitable for you. You might be willing to put up with more than you should simply because you don’t believe you’re worth any more than that. 

You’re Afraid of Intimacy

Many factors contribute to a successful relationship, such as honesty, communication, and trust. However, of equal importance is intimacy. If this is lacking, seeking help from a couple’s counselor may be necessary so you can work out whether low self-esteem is contributing to the problem. 

In many situations, it can be. You may be uncomfortable with intimacy and connection if you never received it growing up, and you may now fear a deep, authentic connection because it doesn’t feel genuine. 

Out of discomfort, fear, and a lack of confidence, you may think that your only option to feel protected is to back away from that connection and shut down any potential chance of intimacy. 

Signs Your Partner Is Destroying Your Self-Esteem

Sometimes, your self-esteem and self-confidence moving into a relationship can be perfectly fine. You might believe in yourself, practice self-love, and know you’re worthy. However, just as a partner can build up your self-esteem, they can also knock it down. The signs aren’t always clear, but here are just a few that could indicate it might be happening to you. 

They Make All the Decisions for You

While your low self-esteem can mean you’re not making yourself heard, a partner can also take the lead more than you need. They may make decisions on your behalf and even take away all the decision powers you have. 

Sometimes, these decisions can be minor, such as choosing the restaurant you’re dining at or deciding what time you’re leaving to go on vacation in the morning. However, they can soon become much more forceful, such as determining what you’ll eat in that restaurant and where you’ll go on vacation. 

Before long, you may start believing that you’re not worthy enough to ask and that your opinions don’t matter. 

Interrupts You While You Speak

Excitement and general rudeness can cause people to interrupt others while they speak. While acceptable in conversation from time to time, continuous interruptions by your partner can take their toll when you’ve worked so hard to build up your self-esteem

Over time, you might start to believe that you aren’t worth listening to and that what you have to say isn’t important. Eventually, you may engage in conversations less and less because you simply don’t think you’re worth talking to. 

Uses Negative Body Language

Even though oral language can be a strong weapon, so can body language. Your partner may be destroying your self-esteem with the use of negative body language. This can be anything from rolling their eyes when you speak to giving all their attention to their phone while you’re speaking to them. When you experience enough of this negative body language, you may start to feel like your opinions don’t matter. 

They Talk Down to You

Being treated as an equal is a fundamental right in a relationship. However, when your significant other talks down to you and belittles you in public and in private, this may begin to impact your self-esteem. It may be something they’re entirely aware of or even something they didn’t know they were doing. In either case, it can result in you feeling worthless and not getting the respect you deserve as an equal partner. 


Your sense of worth is one of your most valuable assets, and it’s important to protect it at all costs. If you’re experiencing low self-esteem and it’s affecting your relationship, there are steps you can take to help you see how worthy you are. It can also be worth being aware of the signs that someone else is responsible for destroying it in the first place. 

Website Author and Your Guide

Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.