Ah, it has come to this, the relationship mistakes that are made when low self-esteem is a concern. I need to be clear that I really (really, truly) believe that we can all have our moments of weakness, our relationship with our self-esteem is a continuous process.
It’s a journey, not a destination if you will. And this low self-esteem struggle bus is a journey I truly do not wish on anybody. So if this list resonates, know that patterns can be broken and change is possible if only we seek it.
So with all of that said, here are some mistakes that women make in relationships when they experience low self-esteem:
1. Letting overthinking win
Overthinking is a nasty habit that a lot of us share. It’s repetitive, intrusive, and (sometimes) has no basis. It weighs us down with the constant barrage of thought that is very distracting and unending.
Very rarely is overthinking good, it’s like you’re constantly hanging by a thread and like the walls are persistently closing in. There you are, turning a problem over and over, preparing yourself for all that could go wrong, the inevitable fallout. Or worse, worrying over a problem that’s not even there or very unlikely to come to be.
Do I think all overthinking is completely without basis? No, not really. I reckon there are cases that the overthinking comes from being aware of previous patterns. In these cases, I think overthinking becomes a coping mechanism to not get caught off guard, or be ready in case the fallout happens.
This is especially true in romantic relationships. Is it healthy? No. Does it work? Some would argue that it does (although therapists might disagree).
The issue with overthinking though is that it just leaves you in a loop of self-destruction, confusion, and helplessness and it makes it difficult to be present because you’re constantly chasing what went wrong and what could go wrong.
2. The “getting jealous easily”
Look, jealousy is not uncommon in relationships; and while it’s not a very pleasant feeling, it does redirect one’s attention to something that can jeopardize the relationship.
But when someone operates under the idea that their partners are settling for them, trust becomes shaky at best, otherwise it’s almost non-existent. When the idea of “Why would they choose me when they could have anybody else?” takes centerstage, everyone then becomes a threat.
Jealousy then arrives and it persists.
3. The people-pleasing tendencies
People with low self-esteem are prone to people-pleasing, it’s due to the constant need for external validation mixed with the fear of rejection and the fear of being abandoned.
Similar to the statement from the previous point, “Why would they choose me if they could have anybody else?” becomes the driving force. So, they then accommodate their partners, sometimes at the cost of their well-being.
4. The codependency
Psychology Today defines Codependency as, “…a dysfunctional relationship dynamic where one person assumes the role of “the giver,” sacrificing their own needs and well-being for the sake of the other, “the taker.”
I think in this case, a person with low self-esteem can both be the giver and the taker, but in unhealthy proportions, as you would probably notice on this list.
5. The “enduring bad situations”
When you feel like you won’t ever find another person who will love you again, chances are, you do EVERYTHING to stay in that relationship—including staying in it despite bad situations.
Narcissists and manipulators often go for people with low self-esteem because they’re easily influenced and dare I say, easy to control.
Emotional manipulation also comes in so many forms (here’s an article to see how you can spot them), some of which are done incrementally for long periods. It’s enough to chip away at anyone, much less someone with a fragile sense of self.
6. Poor communication
Again operating under fear and connected to the previous number, someone with low self-esteem will not communicate properly. This could be from fear of rejection, fear of shaking the status quo, or fear of being too much.
Low self-esteem can make people afraid of going after their desires. Self-worth comes into question and often the scales are tipped against them in their heads (belief is a scary thing, no?)
So they stay quiet, they don’t speak up when they’re unhappy or when they need something in a relationship. Problems also escalate because they remain unaddressed. Needs are unmet, desires are essentially ignored.
7. The over-idealization of their partners
#7 and #8 are closely tied together; they’re opposite ends of the same unhealthy and toxic spectrum. The first end is the over-idealization of partners, the building of pedestals so high, the other end of it can only be near the earth’s core.
When someone has low self-esteem, there’s a tendency to feel as though their partner is acting out of pity. Again, going back to that “Why would they ever stay with me when they could have anybody else?” statement for this.
“Oh, they’re so nice for staying with me.” or “They chose me because they have no one else to pick.” are harmful statements that further push someone with low self-esteem even lower. To deify their partners because genuine love just seems so out of their grasp.
When this happens, they start to believe that their partners can do no wrong. And so when it happens (and it will happen!), it seems so devastating, which brings me to…
8. The villainization of their partners or exes
On the flip side, villainization of their partners is also possible. For example, if their partners don’t do so-and-so or do not say so-and-so or if their partners act outside of the pedestal they didn’t ask to be on in the first place, this will further their belief that they are not worthy of love and care.
They might feel like a victim of the circumstance or of a perceived slight. They will take their partner’s imperfections personally instead of just human beings being imperfect human beings.
If a relationship ends, they might even see this as confirmation of their unworthiness for love instead of it being just an ending to a relationship.
9. The obsessiveness & possessiveness
No boundaries, spying, excessive amounts of communication or attempts to, closely monitoring their social media or who they talk to, hindering them from making plans with other people, not allowing them to see their family or friends, interrogating them at every turn, and intense jealousy are just some of the actions done by someone obsessive and possessive.
The fear of losing the other person is what drives this. The need to own and possess is strong. They control every aspect, they overthink every possibility. They want to be the one and only in everything.
There is selfishness, arrogance, and fear of loss in this. In toxic and unhealthy amounts.
10. The settling
Finally, the settling. Similar to #5 but it doesn’t always have to be a bad situation, just an unhappy one. An unfulfilling love.
People with low self-esteem rarely believe they deserve more than what they have. So they settle, believing it’s the best they’re gonna get. No growth, no progress, no striving for something better.
So… what now?
It is bittersweet to end this list with the possibility that this resonated with someone; some of these rang true for me as well. And it is not a pleasant feeling, so I don’t wish this on anybody. However, like I said at the start, our relationship with our self-esteem is a continuous process.
Today, someone might realize that they’re exhibiting some of these unhealthy actions but this could very well be the push they’d need to address the problem, change, or seek help. At the end of the day, what all of us require is some grace and someone in our corner cheering us on.
And if you can make it so that that person cheering you on is yourself, then even better.