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When we talk about bad relationships, a lot of times we give our counterparts the blame. We emphasize the way they “treated us” without taking a moment to digest how we treat ourselves.

Low self-esteem can lead us to both accept bad behavior or participate in bad behavior ourselves that can lead to a relationship’s demise.

Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, told Psychology Today that the trickle down effects of low self-worth makes its way into even the most mundane moments of life.

A study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explained that people with low self-esteem tend to seek attention through sulking, whining or showing sadness. These indirect expressions of their inner turmoil can lead them to retaliate against their partner’s behavior before even expressing their needs.

Morin gives the example of someone with a partner who wants to go out with their friends. Instead of the person with low self-esteem saying they’d like to spend more time with their significant other, they passive aggressively sulk, complain or accuse their partner of “not caring about them.” That type of cyclical behavior would ultimately push away a romantic partner.

The first steps are to identify how your self-esteem is manifesting itself in your relationships. Are you placing blame before you express your needs? Are you making your partner the ultimate deciding factor in your self-worth?

“If you have low self-esteem it’s important to recognize the ways in which you might be inadvertently sabotaging yourself,” Morin explains.

“Some of your short-term strategies that are meant to protect you from pain may actually cause you more distress in the long-term.”

I don’t think the journey to confidence in your self ever ends, it’s an evolving part of our lives as people. But I do think that affirming your own value, independent of how the world around you functions, can help you have more healthy interactions in relationships.


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