I dated someone once with a very fragile self-esteem. Life with them was like walking on eggshells all the time. But, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t terrible.
Why? Because having a fragile self-esteem is different from having low self-esteem.
When your self-esteem is fragile, you have some confidence in yourself. You just have more wobbles than most people!
Whereas a low self-esteem is low all the time. Being a friend or partner to someone with one of these can be exhausting and kind of heartbreaking to witness…
Think you might have a friend or partner with a fragile self-esteem? Or have this trait yourself? Here are 9 tell-tale behaviors that give you away!
1) They doubt themselves
I think we all doubt ourselves sometimes. It’s a pretty normal thing to do, especially when you’ve just made a big decision!
I remember debating if I’d made the right choice when I applied for college. And when I was on my flight about to travel Europe for four months (a bit late, I know!).
But when you have a fragile self-esteem, you doubt yourself all the time – about the little things as well as the big things.
You doubt whether you should buy that new top. You doubt whether you should wear that outfit tomorrow. You even doubt whether you should text a friend about grabbing dinner next week!
Basically, you doubt yourself all the time. No decision is safe from your worries. And even the smallest of choices can leave you pondering for hours about whether it was the “right” choice to make…
2) They need opinions on everything
We all need validation sometimes. I love getting my friend’s thoughts on what I should do next with my hair color or nail art!
But seeking advice occasionally is one thing. Needing other people’s opinions (or should I say, agreements!) before you do stuff is another thing entirely.
The latter is something people with a fragile self-esteem do. They need other people to agree with them.
They can still make decisions for themselves, but they don’t like it very much.
They worry (a lot!) about whether they’re making the right choice. And if someone gives the slightest indication that they don’t agree, they might back out entirely…
3) They go along with the status quo
When you have a fragile self-esteem, speaking up (or against) something just isn’t your thing.
Even if you feel confident in your own views and opinions, sharing them is a different matter. It takes strength and the ability to hold your own should you be challenged. It also comes with the risk of being judged…
Which is why some people prefer to stay quiet and go along with the status quo!
Even if they don’t agree with the way forward or the opinions being shared by the group, they won’t necessarily say anything against them.
Confrontation just isn’t their thing, mostly because they know the slightest of judgments can knock them for six!
4) They get jealous over small things
I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a little jealous streak! I only realized I had one when I met my current partner. It must be love…
But most people don’t act on their jealous feelings. It’s a little more like envy and it’s perfectly manageable.
Yet if you have a fragile self-esteem, you might get jealous over lots of little things – more frequently than you know you should!
Like a friend of mine. She’d never get jealous if someone got engaged or bought a house. But she’d get jealous over little things, like when our friends went for coffee.
It was just because she worried that she wasn’t good enough compared to everyone else. She never got jealous enough to cry, say nasty things, or be obviously unhappy for her friends!
But it was just enough that it was noticeable. And it was (as I’m sure she’d admit) because her self-esteem was a little fragile when it came to her friendships.
5) They get sensitive
Some people are just more sensitive than others. I’m definitely guilty of taking things more personally than I should sometimes!
But getting upset about the slightest of things can also signal a fragile self-esteem. When you have a strong sense of self, few things get to you.
You can brush off people’s criticisms or opinions (even when they’re quite hurtful) relatively easily, without letting them get you down.
Yet if you’re a bit fragile in this area, people’s comments can play on your mind. You can overthink them (big time!) and read into them so much that you convince yourself they’re more sinister than they perhaps were.
But sometimes, it can be a tiny, tiny problem…
6) They think you’re always mad at them
People with a fragile self-esteem might think their friends are mad at them all the time. Remember when I said I dated a guy with fragile self-worth? He did this, too.
If I looked at him a “certain way” when we were out with friends, he’d think I was mad. If I didn’t reply to his text for more than 30 minutes, he’d also think I was mad.
I suppose he had a bit of an anxious attachment style in relationships, too. Either way, all it took was a little reassurance to make him feel better.
Which is the difference, once again, between a fragile self-esteem and a low self-esteem! When it’s just a little fragile, a bit of reassurance can make things right as rain in no time.
But when it’s low, all the reassurance in the world doesn’t seem to help…
7) They get FOMO
Fear of missing out is what FOMO means, if you didn’t already know!
And it basically means you worry about missing out when you choose not to go to an event you’re invited to.
Lots of people get FOMO. And lots of people joke about getting it! It’s quite normal, really. Which is why I hate to say that it’s a sign your self-esteem is a little fragile when you genuinely get FOMO!
Why? Because a person who’s confident in themselves doesn’t worry about missing out. They know they have a reason to decline. They also feel confident in their decision to decline. And ultimately, the decision to not go won’t eat them up inside…
I know having FOMO is just a fun thing most people say. But if you’re being really honest with yourself, your self-esteem might be a tiny bit fragile if you genuinely get FOMO!
8) They criticize others
Not everyone with a fragile self-esteem will do this. But you best believe some will!
A primary sign of insecurity is when you put others down to make yourself feel better. Especially if you think others are “better” than you are.
For example, a guy I used to know would always criticize the other climbers at the gym. These climbers had fantastic technique and were clearly very strong.
I’m still 99% sure he only criticized them because they were better climbers (and could lift heavier weights) than he could.
When your self-esteem is a bit fragile, you might do this, too. Your criticisms might not be anything too harsh. And in your head, you might try to justify them.
But when you really analyze what you’re saying, you might realize that your critical comments are coming from a place of insecurity…
9) They have a negative inner critic
Our final behavior of someone with a fragile self-esteem won’t be noticeable from the outside. The only person who knows it exists is the person who has it.
When your self-esteem is a little fragile, you won’t shout about your insecurities all the time. You won’t openly criticize yourself in front of others, either.
For example, you won’t tell people, “I’m not good enough for that” or “I’m just rubbish at everything”. If you did, that wouldn’t be a fragile self-esteem. It’d be a low one.
When yours is just a little fragile, you’ll have these thoughts inside your head instead. And sadly, these are the reasons why you come across as sensitive, jealous, or full of FOMO sometimes.
Because when you have bad thoughts about yourself going around in your head all the time, it only takes a small thing to happen to set you off in real life…
Having a fragile self-esteem isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s usually a sign that someone has built up their self-esteem from being very low. And that they’re still working on it.
Which is incredibly admirable!
If your self-esteem is a little fragile, I’m sure you already know you have a little way to go before you start feeling more secure in yourself.
So if you haven’t already, give yourself some credit for how far you’ve come! And if you want to take things a step further, perhaps working on the things on this list is your best next step…