Boyfriend low self esteem

When You Love a Man With Low Self-Esteem - 9 Things to Keep in Mind

by Paul Graves



So you love a guy with low self-esteem. Sucks to be you. I’m saying that as a dude who used to hate himself. Who still kind of does. I know the crap you deal with. He must drive you nuts.

I was in a relationship with an angel, let’s call her Mary. Mary was such a pure, beautiful soul. We connected. Looking into her eyes filled me with comfort and calmed my fears. Mary loved me so much, and I loved her too. But I hated myself even more. Long story short – I ran away from her love. The love I felt unworthy of. I sought validation and distraction in women, alcohol and career moves. And in many other dark ways I won’t mention.

Low self-esteem is easy to explain yet hard to understand for some. It’s feeling shameful about who you are. Feeling guilty or embarrassed about who you are, deep in your core. You feel ‘different’. Damaged or flawed in fundamental, irreversible ways. You don’t love yourself. Your man may never admit it outright – but he wishes he were someone else.

Alas, there’s no return policy in life. We’re stuck in this skin forever, and the hate, the self-pity – it gets us nowhere. But here’s the rub:

When a man is dealing with low self-esteem, he’ll make mistakes. Big mistakes. My shame and low self-esteem led me to become reckless. I felt a constant, nearly unbearable background anxiety. I had to make myself feel different. I had to escape. Luckily, there were several reliable methods: nonstop partying, irresponsible sex, starting businesses, spending lots of money, exotic traveling. My worst nightmare was being alone, in a quiet room. I couldn’t stand my own company. Maybe your man feels the same way, I pray he doesn’t. But my feelings aren’t unique.

The mistakes I made led to more shame and guilt. And then more mistakes made running away from those feelings. The cycle continues. This leads to what I like to call the 9th dimension of shame. The hole can get so deep. The spiral of pain seems unstoppable.

Your man’s low self-esteem can manifest in a variety of ways. Every guy will act out in his own way. Some pull back and hide, some flee and seek experiences. Others party and rage, or try to prove themselves at work.  It’s troublesome for both the sufferer and the poor individual who loves them so much. Low self-esteem is tricky; the sufferer can distract himself or run away from it for years. He may not even realize that the darkness he feels is low self-esteem. And it’s f*cking heartbreaking.

If you love him, he will need you to get through it. You may be able to show him the light. Don’t give up on him, he needs you. Many times it will be confusing, and he may hurt you without wanting to. (Trust me, he doesn’t want to hurt you. He hurts enough just being himself.)

Here are some important things to remember: a cheat sheet to get you through tough times. And maybe to help him see the truth of his ways.

  1.  He loves you so much, but hates himself even more.

    He’s lost. You two may have such an obvious, beautiful opportunity for love but he squanders it. He only sees his own shortcomings. His pain and depression is like a dark, heavy, thick blanket that he just can’t shake. But like I said above, he may not even realize it. He’s not trying to mess with your head. He’s not unreachable. However he is in a state of constant anxiety, always wishing he could be someone HE loves. If you say ‘I love you’, he probably thinks: ‘Why would you? You can’t. You’re wrong’.

    He yearns to love himself, and the struggle to do that can ruin your relationship. This should be a good thing, right? Not all men act out this feeling in healthy ways. It will be hard but think about their perspective. If they don’t love themselves maybe you can do something to help them. If you love him, do what you can to help his HEART. Buy him books on spirituality, ask him how he feels about himself. Listen, and if required seek the help of a licensed therapist or psychologist.

    A book I recommend is No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover. It was a wake-up call, and helped launch my wild journey of transformation. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s a book about shame, self-worth and learning to accept yourself. It’s a powerful starting point, buy it now.

  2. He may seek attention outside the relationship, or activities without you.

    This was a huge factor in my relationship ending. My low self-esteem led me to crave attention from other potential partners. I was addicted to approval and validation from other women.

    Maybe he likes attention from others, flirtation and come-hither looks. I hope you haven’t caught him on dating sites or apps. That was another thing I would do – I craved the attention so much. Maybe he also yearns for people to tell him how cool he is, how great he dresses, or what a sweet job he has. Point is, he’s just crazy for attention.

    He seeks attention and approval from other people – but what about you? Self-esteem is a real b*tch. He thinks that he has to either prove to himself that he’s worthy, or look for evidence of it anywhere he can. ‘If other people tell me I’m great, then that must mean I’m great.’

    It may be common sense to you – that we should all love and respect ourselves as human beings. But to a sufferer of low self-esteem, this isn’t the case. Having low self-esteem is like being in a courtroom. And you’re guilty until proven innocent. He’s shameful at the core of his being. His soul appears blackened, damaged and irreparable. He craves escapes from reality.

    Try to talk with him about this. ‘I think you act like this because you like how it makes you feel, right? Why do you need to feel this way?  Can’t you just be yourself, how you feel now?’ ‘Why aren’t I enough?’ ‘Do you need help learning to love yourself?’

    If your man can’t handle this conversation, consider moving on. He’s not ready. It must be him who makes the changes necessary to heal. It is NEVER on your shoulders to do this for him.

  3. He believes he must have ‘got lucky’. He feels unworthy of you.

    At first he cherished you. You were his prize. He held you close, showed you off to the world. It was intoxicating and intense. But soon, he knew he ‘had you’ and started looking around. The high that you and the new relationship gave him faded. The drug wore off, so he’s seeking fresh supply. He needs more intense intoxicating experiences to feel okay about himself.

    I had an amazing partner in Mary, but I didn’t believe I was worthy. She could see the man I was, beyond the shit-storm that was my life. She saw through my shame and self-hatred but I couldn’t buy it. I was too deep in my own trance.

    I thought I’d got lucky, that I’d fooled her somehow. So I needed to prove that I could be worthy of someone amazing. Does that sound stupid or what? I wanted to be able to ‘earn someone’ who everyone else wanted, to prove to myself that I was a valuable man. Then I could love myself.

    Remember that this isn’t about you – this is about a hole he has in his heart. He needs to know that he didn’t just ‘get lucky’ when he landed you. Don’t let him feel that way! Please, tell him you love him. Tell him everything you think is unique and enticing about him. Don’t make it only about appearance either. If he feels like he fooled you, he will not treat the relationship with the respect. This is an important point.

  4. He may be restless, or always trying to prove something to the world or himself.

    Some call it ‘hustle’ or ambition. Maybe he has grand ideas or entrepreneurial zeal up the wazoo. He wants to create something that will change the world. That’s wonderful, but in his case it may be a cover-up: a distraction from voices in his head. The voices that say, ‘you’re not enough’. He’s trying to create a life that will prove his worth.

    He doesn’t want a life without you. His big dreams or grandiose desires get him out of his head. They give him hope that maybe one day, just maybe he will be able to like the man he is. After he does all this awesome stuff.

    There is nothing wrong with drive and initiative. But why is he so driven? Why does he desire so much?  If we bothered to ask ourselves ‘why’ we want the things we do, we could save ourselves much heartbreak. We’d stop running after so many shiny red balls. We could live with more purpose. Your man should ask himself why he wants to accomplish so much.

    To bring him down to earth, remind him how much life there is to live right now, in this moment. This moment, between the two of you. Kiss his lips, hold his head in your hands. Tousle that hair and look deep into those eyes you love so much. Say, ‘I love you for exactly who you are, right now’. Tell him he is enough.

    The point isn’t to make him an aimless, lazy ass. It’s to make sure he has his motivation and priorities in the right place.

  5. He can be extremely jealous or insecure about other men.

    My ex, Mary, had to think that I was perfect and wonderful at all times. She was my entire support system, and my source of confidence and security. She was my everything. (And yet I treated her awfully – aren’t men the greatest?)

    If I felt threatened or not #1 importance in her life, I would start to lose my sh*t. The low self-esteem inside your man creates an enormous hole. He filled it with you, and sprinkles in other things like vices and attention from others. When you threaten to leave them empty again they go crazy or become irrational.

    He doesn’t want you to suffer. Nor does he want to dominate you. He doesn’t know why he feels this way, but it’s because he hates who he is. In effect it’s self-defense, your actions hurt him. It’s painful enough just being who he is – when you threaten to make him feel even worse about himself … he lashes out or gets uncomfortable.

    Nothing about this is okay. I’m only telling it like it is.

  6. It can be near impossible to get him living ‘in the moment’.

    Many guys with low self-esteem are living in the past. He may be guilt-ridden and woeful over opportunities he failed to seize. Maybe he regrets not doing better in school, or choosing a better college. He might feel like a failure and disappointment to his family. Who knows, the point is he rides himself down all the time.

    Alternately, he’s living in the future. He dreams of a day when he can ‘be happy’. You may feel sad because it seems all he cares about is making lots of money, accomplishments or fame. Or making his family proud. He may seem to leave you out of his utopian vision of the future. But he probably just feels he’ll only worthy of you once he conquers the world. He feels he’s unworthy of happiness until he proves himself. These thoughts consume him and he’s desperate for that sweet moment of relief when he’s ‘made it’.  Problem: it’s never coming.

    You love him exactly as he is, right? Tell him that right now.

  7. True commitment scares the sh*t out of him – but not for the reason you think.

    In my relationship, I was afraid because I didn’t know who the hell I was. The only parts of myself I knew were sh*t. I didn’t feel like a good person, so who would want to be with me? I convinced myself that I was helping by not giving her marriage or children. By not giving her 100% true commitment I was doing her a favor.

    I didn’t believe in myself. I had no faith in my own goodness or potential. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the hard times that would come.  My feelings were ‘everything I touch turns to sh*t, so why would I waste her time? It’s doomed from the start, and I do not want to hurt her’.

    No advice here, no matter what he’s going to give you the ‘deer in the headlights’ look. Knowing this may help you understand the complexity of a man. He needs to learn to love himself through the hard times before he can love you through the hard times.

  8. He may enjoy seeing you in pain or suffering for the relationship.

    Sick, huh? Hate me if you want, I don’t care. I come in truth. This is a tough one to talk about. Self-esteem can get so low that a man gets validation from seeing his partner suffer. Seeing a person go through hell for us, feel pain caused by us – can actually give us pride.

    It’s a dose of the ‘I’m worthy’ drug … ‘Look at how this person goes crazy for me, I must be worthy’.

    Enough said, it’s time to leave the relationship. Hurt never justifies hurt.

  9. He adores you – but he needs to learn how to love himself.

    Your guy has to learn to love himself. This includes all the deepest and darkest parts too, the parts that scare him to death. The unfaced and unfelt parts of our psyche are the source of all neurosis and suffering. Carl Jung said that, not me.

    If he only loves a certain part of himself like his looks, the rest of him will just go on undeveloped. In many ways I was like a child before. I avoided pain or sacrifice every chance I could, and I turned into a big man-child. If this is happening to your man, you must stop it right away.

In the end, you can get over this together. The bond between you will be unbreakable, and he will love you forever. He’ll never forget that you were the girl who helped him discover the greatest love in the universe. His love for himself. Stick in there, but develop a plan right away. Not only is he suffering, you are as well. Take action now. If he refuses to draw a line in the sand and change his life, it may be time to walk away.

About the Author: Paul Graves

Paul Graves writes about pain, shame, and better living through self-acceptance at He lives in Ohio with his 7-year old daughter and two cats. 

Paul is on Twitter and Instagram.

10 Things to Expect When You Love a Man With Low Self-Esteem

It is well-known that sustaining a long-term romantic relationship, whether you’re married or unmarried, takes work. Love takes work.

It isn’t always going to be full of passion and attraction. But, what about loving a man who has low self-esteem?

It’s difficult to figure out if your man has low self-esteem. He may be incredibly handsome and successful, yet, a few weeks or months in, you may discover pertinent character flaws in him.

Men with low self-esteem can be very difficult to love. Simply put, falling in love isn’t the difficult part, sustaining a relationship or dating someone with low self-esteem is the challenge.

You may be here exactly for that reason. You may be wondering how to deal with men with low self-esteem ? How to deal with low self-esteem in relationships?

Don’t worry, this article will help shed some light on this matter.

Just take a long, deep breath, exhale, and continue reading.

What is low self-esteem in a man

To figure out the signs of low self-esteem in a man, it is imperative you know what low self-esteem means.

What is self-esteem? It is basically how a person evaluates their worth. So, low self-esteem means that your man may be viewing himself as less worthy.

He may be feeling shameful about himself, his potential, his characteristics, and so on. He may be looking down upon himself. He may be lacking confidence in himself. men with low self-esteem do not like themselves.

When it comes to men with low self-esteem, they are capable of loving someone else but are incapable of loving themselves. Low self-esteem in men manifests as feeling damaged in basic or fundamental ways.

You must understand that your man may not admit it directly, but he may be wishing on the inside that he was like someone else.

The concept of self-love is sort of alien to such men. You may be feeling upset and sympathetic for your man after knowing all this.

It’s okay, it happens. Your head may be flooded with questions like how to help a man with low self-esteem ?

Well, to help out your man, you first need to know what you may be in for. What to expect?

How does low self-esteem impact your man? Don’t worry, just read the next section to understand the effects of low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem: The effects on a man

Men with low self-esteem show certain signs of the same. To understand whether you’re dating a man with low self-esteem, you need to know about these signs.

Why? It’s because these signs are the manifestations of the effect of low-self-esteem.

Here are some of the ways in which low self-esteem may have impacted your man:

Men with low self-esteem will have a generally negative outlook towards life. It’s true and it’s sad. They lack positivity and optimism.

They’re not even pragmatic. They may be downright negative. And the thing is, this negative attitude can be there about several things- the big and small things.

This is another general characteristic in men with low self-esteem. They may be wary about an upcoming promotion at work. Your man may love pets but is very unsure about getting one for himself.

He may be wary about cleaning his apartment. There are many such signs to understand this impact.

  • Low self-confidence

This is probably one of the simplest impacts that you can observe in your man. Does he not feel great about his skill set or his looks or his success? It may be because he has very little confidence in himself.

This is one of those characteristics of a man with low self-esteem that can have a major impact on his quality of life.

  • Addictive behavior

This is one of the more subtle signs of poor self-esteem. Low self-esteem can make a person prone to becoming addicted to substances such as alcohol, nicotine, hard drugs, pornography, and so on.

Now that you know about the impact of low self-esteem in men, let’s move on to what you can expect from men with low self-esteem in relationships.

10 things to expect when you love a man with low self-esteem

You may consider expecting the following things if you happen to have fallen in love with a man who has low self-esteem:

1. His hatred for himself may exceed his love for you

Now, this one might probably be the biggest pill to swallow as a partner. Yes, it’s true, men with low self-esteem may be struggling to love you more than he dislikes himself.

Unfortunately, guys with low self-esteem are lost. They can go through times when they fail to see the beauty of the relationship they have with their significant others.

Why? It’s because they’re engrossed in hating themselves. If you say you love him, he may be busy wondering why you do because he may feel unworthy of you.

Also Try: Does My Husband Hate Me Quiz

2. He may be prone to seeking validation through activities that do not involve you

This one is quite tricky to grasp. If your boyfriend has low self-esteem, he may have a wandering eye. This means he may be quite flirtatious with other people.

Why does he do this? He does this because it’s his way of feeling validated, wanted, and worthy. This is one of the things that you must be very careful and aware of.

3. He may feel unworthy of your love and presence in his life

Yes, this can happen. Why? Your man may think that the reason you two are together is that he somehow got lucky just this once.

Initially, he probably cherished you. It’s as if you were his prize. This happened in that initial phase of intense attraction and infatuation.

But when that phase is over, he’ll try to find ways to prove that he is worthy of your commitment and love. When it comes to learning how to deal with a man with low self-esteem, always remember this.

Also Try: Do I Deserve Love Quiz

4. He may be quite restless

One of the things that may have initially drawn you to your boyfriend might have been his love for hard work or his ambition.

But this comes from a place of restlessness and desire to prove to the world that he is worthy. That’s why men with low self-esteem may often be very restless.

5. He may be highly competitive, even with you

You might, unfortunately, learn about this aspect of dating men with low self-esteem the hard way. You do not want to tap into their competitive side.

You might discover this characteristic through simple things like playing board games with him. You may even experience this when you experience major success in life.

Say you’ve bagged that big promotion. men with low self-esteem won’t take this the right way. To your man, he may see this as another evidence of the fact that he is not enough.

He may therefore behave competitively with you.

Also Try: Why Am I Single Quiz for Male

6. He may be quite insecure and suspicious

Jealousy, insecurity, and suspicion come easy for men with low self-esteem. As a partner, you will essentially become the source of your man’s confidence and worth.

That gaping hole inside of him is filled with validation from you. So, it’s very easy for such men to feel threatened or jealous by the presence of other male figures in your life such as your close friend, your cousin brother, your coworker, etc.

7. The victim card will be used very often

When it comes to men with self-esteem issues, be prepared to witness the “woe is me” mindset. Such men have an external locus of control. So, if anything unfortunate happens to them, they are sure to blame it on others.

He’s not well? It’s because his colleague forced him to party too hard the night before. Meeting didn’t go well? It’s all because of his co-workers.

Everything is somebody else’s fault. Are you ready to deal with this?

Related Reading: Self-Esteem Makes Successful Relationships

8. He may be very scared to commit to you

Commitment is a tough one for him. Committing to you is very scary for him. It’s not because he doesn’t love you. It may be because he loathes himself and thinks he is protecting you from misfortune by not committing to you.

Sounds twisted, right? Well, it is a distorted way of thinking.

9. He may get a kick out of hurting you

This may sound really harsh but it’s true. Low self-esteem in males may manifest itself through hurting you.

Men with low self-esteem have such a high need for external validation to feel worthy that they can sort of like hurting your feelings.

Seeing you feel upset or cry over them is one of the ways in which they feel worthy in your eyes.

Also Try: Why Am I Scared of Relationships Quiz

10. He may behave like a child very often

Men who have self-esteem issues often have this overbearing need to be pampered by their partners. They can get really clingy sometimes. Such men want their girlfriends to be their mothers.

You may find yourself having to take care of his food, clothing, medications, and so on.

Here’s how dating a man with low self-esteem feels like:


When it comes to loving men with low self-esteem, just remind yourself that it’s not your doing. It’s on them.

Loving such a man can be challenging but through active listening and empathy, accepting hai defensive nature, healthy coping mechanisms, and encouraging him, you can navigate your way through this.

Signs of a man with low self-esteem. The actions of a person with problematic self-esteem

A man's self-esteem affects all aspects of his life: relationships with the second half and others, career, behavior in everyday life. A guy with normal self-esteem has a solid core and principles that he will never step over. You can recognize such a man by what he will never do even in a difficult situation.

Compete with your woman

Let's remember Nestor Petrovich Severov from the film "Big Break", who, due to pride, breaks off relations with his girlfriend, who went to graduate school instead of him. Or Gosh from the movie “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” - having learned that Catherine is a big boss, he leaves in his hearts. If they had normal self-esteem, they would only be glad for their beloved and her successes. Nestor would have critically assessed his mistakes and would have worked even harder on scientific research. And Gosha would hardly have said that "if the wife receives more, this is no longer a family."

A self-confident man will not try to "overcome" his woman

Limit her communication with friends

If a man adequately evaluates himself, he will not try to "attach" a woman by isolating her from friendly communication. This does not mean that jealousy is alien to him, but trust is above all for him. No matter how much a woman loves her chosen one, she must have personal space. Only men with low self-esteem do not understand this, who are worried that it is worth giving their beloved a little more freedom, and she will immediately go into the foggy distance, finding someone better. And trying to limit communication with other people is a clear sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Does the man begin to oppose communication with friends? Is he afraid of losing you, is he jealous? But the problem is solved by a heart-to-heart talk, and not by prohibitions and insults. You are two adults, talk about problems! His arguments against your counterarguments. And not "I forbid, I don't like it." Swimming, we know. Anna, 30 years old

Projecting their failures onto a woman

Losers with low self-esteem tend to blame anyone but themselves for their failures. The easiest way is to blame your mistakes on your loved one in order to subconsciously avoid criticism in your address: “I overslept my work and got a reprimand. It was you who didn’t wake me up in time!”, “It’s not my fault that I scratched the car. it was you who rearranged the mirrors and didn't tell me!" A person who adequately assesses himself draws conclusions from what happened and tries to change the situation for the better.

A person with low self-esteem projects failures on the closest person

Blame others for everything

Surely you have met men who will never admit their guilt. To justify oneself at the expense of another is a typical model of behavior of a person with high self-esteem. Blaming his misfortunes on others, he exalts himself in his own eyes. However, there are no infallible people. Healthy self-criticism is the best indicator of normal male self-esteem.

How is low self-esteem formed? Emotional trauma. Psychologist's advice

To be upset by other people's successes and rejoice in failures

When a man is not able to appreciate someone else's achievement and sympathize with the grief of his neighbor, he dooms himself to inner loneliness. Such spiritual callousness gradually repels acquaintances from him, spoils personal relationships. If a guy is characterized by empathy, he will always be interesting to friends and the opposite sex.

Rejoicing in other people's mistakes is a sure sign of low self-esteem

Quit business at the first difficulties

When a man has everything in order with self-esteem, he judges his abilities soberly. If the task exceeds his strength, he will not pursue the unattainable. He takes on any business only after a weighted calculation. After that, he will not give up his plan when obstacles arise, but will purposefully work in a given direction. He lives by the motto: "The more difficult the task, the more interesting it is to complete it."

provoke pity

Pity towards him is disgusting for a man with adequate self-esteem (but do not confuse pity with sympathy). A person with low self-esteem, on the other hand, likes to be unhappy and makes it clear to others. The mask of the victim gives the right to surrender to difficulties, all problems can be shifted to another person.

How self-esteem and self-confidence affect relationships in couples

Even if you recognize your loved one or even yourself here, it doesn't matter. Self-esteem can and should be worked on. We wrote in detail in this material about how to correct low self-esteem.

It won't work: how to identify a man with low self-esteem - 7 main signs

Relationships with a man who has low self-esteem are not only bleak, but also quite toxic. They affect a woman's mental health and interfere with her personal growth. How to calculate such a man? It is often quite difficult to recognize the “silent destroyer”, because sometimes he behaves ambiguously.

He engages in constant self-flagellation

Adequate self-criticism and constant self-flagellation are two different concepts. In the first case, a person can objectively look at his mistakes, in the second case, he can belittle himself in every conceivable way. For example, a man constantly tells his chosen one that he is not worthy of her.

If you repeat these words too often, over time a woman can really think about why she should live life with a uniform loser. From such an approach of the two sides, relations will only lose.

He humiliates you

As a rule, men with low self-esteem love to humiliate their chosen ones in order to feel at least some superiority. This position is a balm for their ego.

Humiliation is not always direct. Often they are veiled, for example, "something you look rumpled today." Often insults are hidden behind imaginary concern - "you should eat less buns, otherwise I'm afraid for your figure." From such a caring person, it is better to run with all your might.

He tries to be perfect

Perfect people just don't exist. If a man goes out of his way to show that he is the best, richest and coolest, his inner insecurity is to blame. People with adequate self-esteem do not need to constantly show others signs of their success.

If a man is literally obsessed with a beautiful picture around him, then he (no, no, not ambitious) is simply not confident in himself. Usually such people do not let those around them relax for a minute - "fit or leave. "

He sees only minuses

People who see only minuses in this world are terribly insecure individuals. They tend to focus on bad moments, which is very annoying. If you do not want to turn into a neurotic, it is better to say goodbye to a desperate pessimist. It is unlikely that he will be able to change his life principles ( read also : Eternal sacrifice: how to communicate with people who always have everything bad).

He does not want to share you with anyone

It is no coincidence that they say that jealousy is for the weak. Indeed, would a self-confident person feverishly check your phone at night and look for some secret sign in the smile of the seller? A man with low self-esteem has no choice but to try to control his chosen one and make unreasonable claims to her so as not to relax.

He is always right

People are always wrong. That's the way the world works. Those who consider themselves right in life are notorious individuals.

Learn more