Unhealthy Relationships & Self-Esteem

Written by Dr. RJ

  |  Reviewed by Jen Bell

Conflict, unhealthy feelings & behavior

An unsupportive family, bullying, an abusive relationship, and negative partnerships and friendships can also greatly influence an individual’s self-esteem and confidence. If a preteen or teen experiences negative behavior where they are consistently put down, ridiculed, made to feel like they do not belong or have worth in the partnership, or are treated like they cannot perform tasks adequately compared to others this will lead to insecurity and a low sense of self-confidence.

Relationships can be difficult at times, especially if you or your friend/partner are experiencing low self-esteem. Insecurity can create feelings of anger, jealousy, and envy that can greatly affect how someone acts and treats others.

Common feelings and behaviors someone with low self-esteem may exhibit include some of the following:

  • Acts of jealousy that may present with aggression, frustration, or conflict
  • Acts of manipulation to coerce their friends or partners not to spend time with others
  • Feelings of insecurity in their relationships (partners and friendships)/Thoughts that their friends do not want to spend time with them or frequently feel left out
  • Acts of infidelity or searching for attention to justify self-worth
  • Feeling that their partner is attracted to someone else or not attracted to them
  • Frequently feeling criticized, hurt, or attacked
  • Not wanting to admit or own up when a mistake is made
  • Perceiving that others do not believe in their abilities
  • Feeling unsuccessful at school
  • May try to put others down,  talk about others or bully others to make themselves feel better or more worthy
  • Lashing out or being violent to others, as a way of trying to protect themselves/If we believe we will be attacked or criticized, we may feel that we need to attack the person or people who are judging us (or who we imagine to be judging us)
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or loneliness that arise when worried about rejection in friendships or other relationships
  • Feelings of insecurity, shame, or embarrassment when teased or bullied about appearance
  • Feel anxious or nervous in social situations/worried that others may not like them or they will say the wrong things

In order to achieve a successful, healthy relationship with others, one must recognize their own self-worth and self-love first. Loving yourself and keeping true to the things that you love to do will develop a healthy path to successful relationships.

Remember, there are many ways to counter the external challenges you will face in your journey to develop a healthy body image and self-esteem. Since Day 1, you’ve had everything you need within yourself – don’t let the world convince you that you do not. Know that YOU are inherently worthy and have the power to love yourself in the way you desire by making small choices and commitments to yourself everyday. Remind yourself of this truth daily. With practice it will get easier and you will likely start to notice a difference in the way you feel.

To learn more about relationships, visit BLOOM’s Relationships section of the hub.