The effects of low self-esteem on relationships can be severely damaging, and can often be to blame in a string of unsatisfying relationships. If a person has an unrealistically poor self-image, his or her entire life may be viewed through the lens of self-doubt, depression, and resulting hostility or defensiveness. Some of the most common effects of low self-esteem on relationships include the inability to choose appropriate or healthy partners, willingness to accept poor treatment or abuse, no sense of boundaries, and the opportunity for serious communication problems.
A person with low self-esteem is unable to maintain an objective picture of him or herself. Like blinders on a horse, a poor self-image can block out all of the positive qualities, leaving only regrets, doubts, and self-loathing in view. A person with poor self-image may believe the he or she is unworthy of love, that all bad things that occur in a relationship are his or her fault, and that a partner cannot be truly trusted to love him or her. Any relationships that fall in the pathway of this destructive mindset can be at risk.
One of the most dangerous effects of low self-esteem on relationships is the inability to find a good partner or friend at all. People with low self-esteem may be drawn to those who are initially flattering and complimentary, even if these words are followed with poor behavior. In the twisted logic of bad self-image, a person may even realize the toxicity of his or her partner, but feel that their poor behavior is deserved. Moreover, a person with an unhealthy image might be afraid to drop a toxic friend or partner, out of fear that they will never find anyone else.
Unfortunately, one of the worst side effects of poor partner-choosing skills is the potential for abusive relationships. People may be willing to suffer verbal, physical, and sexual abuse out of a lack of self-worth. In some tragic cases, the choice to stay in an abusive relationship due to self-esteem problems can be a fatal mistake.
Even in non-abusive situations, one of the more damaging effects of low self-esteem on relationships is the inability to be honest about boundaries. A person might feel so afraid of being abandoned by a relative, friend, or romantic partner, that they will lie about their needs in order to avoid conflict. This can lead to a chronically unsatisfying situation, where a partner is unhappy, depressed, or unfulfilled, but refuses to explain the root cause of the issue.
The inability or refusal to communicate needs or desires can be one of the most destructive effects of low self-esteem on relationships. The partner of a person with low self-esteem may find themselves unable to speak truthfully about problems, for fear of causing a further episode of depression or self-loathing. In turn, the person with a poor-self image may be too afraid to speak honestly, sure that it will ultimately lead to abandonment. Until the underlying issues of self-esteem are broached and managed, the cycle of miscommunication can lead to an unhappy end for all involved.