Low self-esteem can damage relationships because it is not a positive feel-good thing. It can be very destructive and soul-destroying. Low self-esteem has fear and lack of confidence at the heart of it and affects three main areas of one's life: perception, aspiration and personal worth. In time, directly or indirectly, they begin to affect a partner and, ultimately, the relationship itself.
When self-esteem is low, how we see the world is based around fear. Everything we do is dominated by the fear of doing it. There is nothing encouraging or uplifting for ourselves or others with such a viewpoint. It means that when we are communicating with spouses in a relationship that communication will not be a confident, trusting one, but a fearful, mistrustful and negative connection. We are likely to expect the worst from a partner, or to be dependent upon them to boost that esteem, and so the relationship becomes progressivly more one-sided because there will be far more taking than there is giving between the couple.
Low self-esteem blocks all positive pathways in perception so that we tend to see the negative in the other person first instead of the positives; we are more prone to fault-finding and criticism; we show less gratitude for what might be done for us. Worst of all, no one can ever really please us because we have no belief or faith in our own resources. We are always seeking outside what we lack within us and never really finding it. This leaves us feeling unhappy and resentful. Partners are likely to find it pretty hard going after a time when their honest efforts continually fail to please.
Relationships become damaged through a mismatch in personal aspirations. If two people get together, one very confident and one low in esteem, over time the one lacking in esteem will kill the motivation and aspiration of the confident person. The one with low self-esteem will lack the ability to see things in the positive way of their partner. Low self-esteem kills aspiration. It affects what we want in our future, whether we think we are good enough to achieve it and our belief in bringing our dreams to life. At the core of low self-esteem is a personal feeling of inadequacy, of not being as good as others or as competent as they they are. That kind of negative attitude simply destroys hopes and dreams so that the other partner will always find it tough going trying to convince someone of low esteem that anything is possible. The person with low confidence will always see hazards, obstacles and barriers before they see any possibilities. Not having the self-belief to fulfil their dreams, nothing will convince them otherwise. However, the worst part is that the low self-belief pulls down the dreams of the other partner too which can lead to resentment and frustration for the couple.
The worst thing about low self-eteem is that the person has very low feelings of self worth. They are likely to think they are crap. Worst still, they believe others are crap too, so they won't have a high opinion of their spouse, no matter what they do, and will always try to pull them down in some way. If not, low esteem people tend to go the opposite way and put their partners on a pedestal, as much better, more intelligent and higher than they are. There are no normal shades of grey for people with low confidence. They are either being hyper-critical of themselves and others or fawning over their partners and those they believe are much better than they are. Low esteem people feel constantly unworthy, not as adequate as others and not as significant in the scheme of life. That perception then affects everything they do, all of their interactions, which then influences how they are treated both by partners and others.
In a nutshell, it is very frustrating dealing with someone of low self-esteem in a relationship because they see things in a completely negative light than people with greater confidence. They have little self belief and very little trust in themselves or others. That makes for quite a frustrating friendship all round trying to cope with such predictable negativity and self defeat. Relationships then stand little chance of any success because of this focus on fear and inadequacy.
Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH)
Emotional Health Adviser
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"