So, you love someone who’s got low self-esteem. You see him for who he really is: a great guy! The issue is that he doesn’t see himself that way – and it’s slowly but surely ruining things between the two of you.
As much as you try to understand what goes on in his mind, it proves to be quite a challenge. It’s probably driving you crazy, as nothing you say to him is enough to reassure him that he’s good enough.
He could be a real angel on earth, but his lack of confidence is undermining the entire relationship. Maybe you love him a lot, but he feels really complex and messy – and you get the feeling that he won’t be with you for a long time.
Keep reading for some tips on how you can date a guy with low self-esteem.
What is Low Self-Esteem?
First and foremost, low self-esteem might not have a strong scientific base, but it’s definitely psychological – and it’s a lot more common than you might think. You probably can think of at least one friend who exhibits low self-esteem characteristics. Here are the main differences:
People with healthy self-esteem have the following characteristics:
- They appreciate who they are and are able to truly appreciate others for who they are.
- They can accept constructive criticism without getting defensive, emotional, or vindictive.
- They accept failure and use it to better themselves.
- They take responsibility for their actions.
- They have healthy relationships that go beyond romantic ones.
- They are better at handling stress and disappointment.
- They can live in the present moment and appreciate what they have.
On the other hand, people with low self-esteem are likely to:
- Lack confidence in multiple life situations
- Stress about little things
- Be unable to live in the present and have high expectations about the future
- Have big regrets about their past
- Engage in self-destructive behavior and substance abuse
- Struggle to maintain long-lasting or healthy romantic relationships and friendships
- Struggle with mental health issues, anxiety, and mood swings.
Self-esteem is formed from an early age and is mainly based on how the parents or primary caregivers interacted with the child.
If the messaging was predominantly negative, the child could grow up with the feeling that he isn’t good enough. If the messages were mainly positive, the child grows with healthy beliefs about oneself.
A man whose parents were critical of him is likely to have internalized this negativity and struggles to see himself in a new, more positive light. The child then becomes a man who suffers from low confidence, anxiety, and the feeling of being unworthy.
What He’s Like in a Relationship: 6 Things You Should Know
The real issue begins when you can’t understand what’s actually going on in his head, which is totally normal. But don’t expect that your relationship will last if you simply can’t get it. Keep reading to learn more about what it’s like to date a guy with low self-esteem.
1. He feels unworthy of your love.
No matter how much you love him, if he feels unworthy of your love, he’ll question your feelings, analyze the relationship, and be terrified that he’ll get “found out”.
He thinks one day you’ll wake up and realize he’s not great at all – and it’ll be a matter of time before you leave him for good, which will cause him immeasurable pain. This anxiety makes him act awkward, weird, agitated, and cranky. It feels like he’s always on the lookout.
Low self-esteem is straightforward to explain but so hard to understand – especially by someone who doesn’t feel the same way. The guy you’re with feels guilty or embarrassed about who he is – right to his very core.
He feels different, unworthy, flawed, and damaged – in a way that isn’t worthy of love. He feels like a fraud since he’s got it so nice being with a great woman like you – but it’s only a matter of time until you “find it all out”.
2. Other relationship issues may arise as a result.
He probably doesn’t feel great in his skin at all, which can lead to all sorts of issues, including:
- Commitment issues
- Fear of abandonment
- Intimacy issues
- Sexual frustration.
He might not feel like being intimate with you because he’s afraid he’ll make mistakes or disappoint you. His low self-esteem may also be expressed in various other ways, like:
- Excessive spending
- Non-stop partying
- The inability to be alone
- Drinking and drugs
Then, any new mistakes he makes leads to more guilt and shame – so it becomes a vicious circle he can’t get out of.
3. He always needs attention and validation.
He feels so lucky that he has a woman like you in his life. Your relationship probably started with him cherishing you as if you were the biggest prize in his life. It felt great to feel so loved and needed by someone.
He wanted to be with you all the time. He held you close and he showed you off. It felt intense and strong – and you really felt loved and special – but the high of the beginning of the relationship started to wear off, and now he seems to be looking around.
He needs constant attention and validation to satisfy his low self-esteem, so just being with you doesn’t feel like enough anymore. He needs more intense intoxicating relationships in order to feel alive and to feel less anxious about himself.
One day you might realize that he has emotionally, physically, and mentally moved on from you – and he might even ghost you and not feel bad about it at all. It can be really heart-breaking to date someone like that because you just know it won’t work out in the end, and yet you hold onto hope.
4. He might seek “fun” outside the relationship.
Slowly but gradually, he starts to show signs that your relationship isn’t enough anymore – and ultimately, he seeks fun and validation outside of it. Literally, any and all activities that are new, fun, and different are more than welcome.
You want him to commit to you, but all he wants to do is feel good about himself – and if he isn’t getting that with you, he starts to look elsewhere. You can get angry about it, but it won’t do much to solidify your relationship.
He may be addicted to approval and validation from other women and there’s little you can do to change that. Unless he addresses his confidence issues with a professional, he’ll constantly be seeking those temporary excitements and he won’t care that it’s just a temporary fix.
If you really want to be with him, you need to ask him some bold questions, like:
Why do you need to feel this way?
Aren’t I enough?
Can I help you learn to love yourself?
Some guys with low self-esteem will welcome the opportunity to express honestly and openly how it feels to be them – but if he isn’t ready to handle that conversation, you should probably consider moving on.
He has to be ready, and he has to want to change. If he doesn’t, you’re probably wasting your breath.
5. He can be insecure about other men.
One of the huge issues with dating someone with low self-esteem is that he can be extremely jealous of other men – to the extent where he gets paranoid and irrational if he feels threatened.
If he believes there’s danger approaching the relationship, he tends to act clingy, possessive and controlling. Even if you aren’t giving him reasons to be jealous, his low confidence is making him feel all sorts of insecure.
He feels unworthy – so any great guy who’s in your company is a direct threat.
6. He lives in the past.
No matter how much you reassure him, he still worries about everything – and it can be nearly impossible to get him to live in the moment, enjoy life, and not worry. He’s stuck in the past and has multiple regrets – about his school, about travelling, about a job, and pretty much every decision he’s made.
Then, there’s his fixation on the future. He fixates on the days when he will “be happier” when everything will be better. He’ll have the perfect job, the perfect home, and the perfect life.
He can’t appreciate the present and doesn’t feel like it’s good enough to live in the moment. If you love him exactly the way he is at this very moment, then tell him. It is good enough!
While some men can boost their confidence by changing negative self-talk, practicing gratitude, embracing failure and imperfections, and changing their habits, not every man will be capable of doing that. Here are a few ways to help him through it:
He’ll need a lot of support from you, and at times, it may feel like a losing battle. You can support him by giving him space to channel his feelings and emotions. Listen to him talk about his insecurities without feeling the need to invalidate them, by saying things like:
Don’t be silly! That’s not true!
But you look great!
No, you’re an amazing lover – trust me!
Why do you think that?
Truly Listen to Him
Just listen for as long as he needs to talk, and make sure you share what it is that you love, appreciate, and respect about him the most. This is the new perspective that he needs to hear, and the only true way for him to change his perception of himself.
Make sure you don’t treat him like a project that needs fixing. You’re either in it because you love him, or out. The worst thing you can do is set some deadlines and rules that he’s unable to meet.
Allow him to express himself and do the work he needs to do in order to grow and be in a healthier place. That might be with you by his side – or without you. Either way, if you truly love him, you’ll be able to accept that.
Know What to Say (If Anything at All)
There’s little you can say that will magically reassure him that he’s worthy of your love, or that of others – but you have to try anyway, and you need to be consistent with your messaging! You can be his daily reminder that he’s loved and worthy of respect, admiration, and friendship.
If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for himself too!
Show Him You’re There for Him
You may actually have to become his best friend! Help him see when he’s being too hard on himself or having unrealistic expectations of others. Show him that you’re there for him, no matter how dark some moments get. You love him for who he is, and you aren’t going away!
If he’s in a state of constant anxiety, he may be acting jealous or moody around you – so it’s important to address it kindly. Don’t use blame language and don’t call him crazy. Simply, show him he can trust you and that there’s nothing to worry about.
Be mindful of continuously walking on eggshells around him, as this isn’t a healthy place to be in. Call him out if you need to, as that’s the only way to find out if you can help him at all.
The Bottom Line
If you want to build solid relationship foundations, make sure to give him space to work on his issues, even if that’s separately from you.
Just like you’d work on your issues and goals, and not have an expectation of co-dependence – he should too. Then, you can come together to embark on your relationship from a healthy place.