The thing about having low self-worth or low self-esteem is that these emotional states often come with a hefty amount of baggage.
And the latter can manifest in a relationship in a ton of subtle ways, some of which can be very damaging.
So, it’s best to pick up on these habits before they get out of hand.
The difficult part is that some men are very good at hiding their feelings. It can be a challenge to read them, particularly when you’ve just started dating.
In this article, I’ll take you through the textbook signs of a man who has low self-worth in a relationship.
Once you have a thorough idea of the signs, you can work towards solutions.
Let’s jump in!
1) He constantly seeks validation
Instead of taking the inevitable relationship squabble in stride, the man with low self-worth might begin to panic, believing his significant other has changed their fundamental feelings towards him.
He might frequently seek reassurance instead of giving their partner space, badgering them relentlessly on whether they still love him or not.
Of course, this behavior will typically backfire.
What could have been an easily solvable situation becomes an exacerbated and aggravated one.
He wants answers and validation and wants it now, needing to hear it from their partner firsthand.
If you’re dating someone like this, the truth is, it isn’t really fair that you’re their sole source of affirmation.
They have to develop internally, and you are under no obligation to stick around if there are no improvements.
Constantly needing validation is a textbook indication of low self-worth. And so is overapologizing…
2) He’s an over-apologizer
Here’s the thing: The man with self-worth may believe he’s perpetually in the wrong, even though this is hardly the case.
In the context of a relationship, they’re easily manipulated into thinking that they’re to blame–which only reinforces their dire self-esteem levels.
Hence, they’ll often resort to over-apologizing, even when they don’t have to, which can further enable their partner’s bad behaviors.
They will say excess “sorry’s” for two main reasons: they’re scared of upsetting you and therefore compromising the standing of the relationship; or, as stated, they constantly believe they’re to blame.
Either way, both can be traced to low self-worth.
During my first real relationship, I often found myself over-apologizing, hoping to patch things up quickly after a fight.
Even though I often knew I wasn’t at fault, and therefore was under no obligation to express regret, my ex would somehow convince me I was.
I was too naive, too lacking in experience (and self-worth) to pick up on the manipulation.
So I’d end up saying ‘sorry’ in confrontations that she started or caused, taking my dignity along with me.
3) He avoids confrontation
In the iconic words of Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) in the 1992 drama A Few Good Men, the man with self-worth can’t handle the truth.
He may be aware subconsciously or not, that there are some deeply embedded issues in your relationship but instead of dealing with them, he takes the passive option of sweeping them under the proverbial rug.
He’s inherently afraid of rejection and/or conflict, therefore almost always opts for the path of least resistance, even when it’s ultimately detrimental to your union.
4) He engages in negative self-talk
I mentioned earlier that some men are good at hiding their low self-worth.
But not all men, some can be pretty open about it–and not necessarily in a good way.
He may be so conditioned to believe that he’s a failure, that he’ll occasionally blurt out things like “I’m not good enough” or “There’s something wrong with me,” verbally fortifying his poor self-image.
Maybe, he’ll make a mundane, human mistake, like taking the wrong route in traffic or forgetting to buy an ingredient in the grocery, instead of brushing it off, he’ll be a bit too harsh towards himself.
And if he has a partner who also tends to belittle him, his tendency for negative self-talk will be inflamed significantly.
5) He is reluctant to set boundaries
Having boundaries in life is essential.
Without setting boundaries, you’re effectively letting others walk all over you.
This is something the man with low self-worth struggles with.
He often has a difficult time putting his foot down and asserting himself.
This is because deep down he doesn’t believe he deserves any better, afraid of upsetting people by not being incessantly agreeable.
The sad reality of the world is when people sense they can take advantage, they often have minimal hesitation in doing so.
So, if they’ve used you once before and got away with it, they’ll keep trying until you make it clear you will adamantly no longer take their sh*t.
Just the other evening, my business partner was calling and texting me non-stop to meet him out for a drink.
He was at a bar, seemingly having a blast, while I had already retired to bed (I’m in my mid-thirties.)
He had given me no prior indication he wanted to meet–yet regardless, he had become demanding, quite aggressively ordering me to partake in the revelry.
I said a firm “no”, to which he first expressed his dismay, then seemed to ramp up the intensity of his invitations to make me come out.
Long story short, I had to turn my phone off.
Old, people-pleasing me would have gone out to meet him in a heartbeat, not wanting to upset.
But these days, I’ve learned to set boundaries, which means valuing self-respect.
And speaking of respecting others…
6) He tends to be jealous and possessive
Real talk: The partner who is secure in themself will respect their other half’s individuality and autonomy as a person.
But for the man with low self-worth, instead of encouraging independence in his partner, he will feel threatened by it.
These are manifestations of deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, or unworthiness.
They’re so fearful of being abandoned that they become overly possessive, jealous, and needy.
Their foundations are so flimsy, that in their book, any innocuous interaction their partner has with another has hidden meaning–and therefore, they become uneasy and upset
This type of behavior when prolonged will invariably turn the other party off–leading to disharmony and possibly even a breakup.
7) He has a reluctance to pursue personal goals
I’ve encountered so many fellow men in life who actively choose to stay unhappy by not going after what they want.
Due to a lack of self-belief, they’ll maintain the status quo and take minimal risks, even though it eats away at them.
They’ll stay in unhappy relationships or not chase their dreams and aspirations for fear of the unknown, of leaving their comfort zone.
So instead of constantly moving forward, they’ll stay put, stagnant, resentful of themselves and others–the type of sentiment that over time carries over to their relationships too.
No man wants to have low self-worth.
And, typically, it really isn’t their fault. Maybe they grew up in a critical household; lived through trauma; or had especially abusive past relationships.
Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to change.
With enough dedication, commitment, and will, your confidence will return–slowly but surely.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others or seek professional help. Remember, no man is an island.
And if you’re dating someone with self-worth issues and genuinely care about him, you’ll support him through it all, providing encouragement and focus where needed.
And as mentioned, if there are no palpable improvements, nobody will fault you for moving on.