Wright Foundation | May 20, 2015

Is Your Self-Esteem
Negatively Affecting
Your Relationship?

The term self-esteem in and of itself is based on you, so your relationships—both romantic and otherwise—are only as good as your own self-esteem. In fact, our relationships are a mirror of our own self-esteem.

You can learn a lot about how good you feel about yourself depending on well your relationship is going. However, this doesn’t mean you should depend on others to validate your self-esteem worries.

Self-Esteem Should Be Checked and Honestly Communicated

Focus on yourself and what you want, but don’t blame your partner if you don’t feel good in your relationship. You may need to recognize your own feelings instead of pushing off your bad feelings onto your partner. It’s not just about your partner’s reactions to you; you also have to be aware of your own “junk” and how you communicate within your relationship.

Being up front with yourself and your own insecurities can help you be more honest when communicating. The other person’s job isn’t to boost your self-esteem or change the way you feel, but open communication can help you reach a good place with your partner.

It happens to people in all stages of relationships: you may be concerned that being too open and offering advice may make your partner feel as if you’re trying to control or manage them. This fear—as with many insecurities—is common in newer relationships and needs to be addressed within yourself first.

However, asking directly for what you want from a partner can be even more nerve-wracking because they may not only react negatively but they also may not be willing to give what was requested. Remember that your relationship is a mirror of your own self-esteem and that a potential match should reflect the best parts of you—not the worst. Respect is worth a heck of a lot more than love itself.

Is Competition Between Couples Always a Bad Thing?

Whether it’s a rousing game of tennis on a Saturday morning or dueling career paths, partners do tend to compete with each other on some level. For example, imagine you’ve been a stay-at-home mom and your husband has been the primary breadwinner for years. Now, when you’re back in the workforce, you’re beginning to feel as though you have to prove yourself as a career-driven woman. This feeling may stem from an underlying insecurity about not feeling good enough or smart enough, mainly because you always stayed at home while your partner handled the business.

However, on the flip side, consider your husband’s feelings about how hard you worked while raising your children. There are often subconscious competitions in relationships surrounding the kids: maybe Mom got to spend more time with them and therefore Dad has feelings of guilt leading to competition for affection and adoration.

The main point: A little healthy competition is ok, but none of these aforementioned competitions work toward a positive goal—this type of behavior only rewards insecurities. Couples need to work to better themselves both alone and as a team and keep practice keeping lines of communication open and honest.

What about Competing for Attention?

Have you ever became jealous when your significant other starts talking with a friend of the opposite sex? All of a sudden the attention is off you and onto another person, which can cause much discomfort for many men and women alike. But unless your partner is actively engaged in flirtatious behavior, the issue here is the worry that this other person may be somehow superior to you—it reflects back on whether or not you’re still okay as you are.

This again comes back to self-esteem as it relates to how you see yourself. That validation has nothing to do with the mixed sex conversation—it needs to come from within. It will never be 100% possible to have your partner there to boost you up at all times, so it’s important to always keep checking in with yourself to keep your insecurities at bay.

Remember: it’s your self-esteem. You’re responsible for it.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.