10 signs a woman has low self-esteem in a relationship

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You’ve been dating your partner for a while but have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right.

She has difficulty expressing her needs, gets jealous quickly, and doesn’t take initiative in anything you do.

In other words, her self-confidence could use some serious work.

Here are 10 signs a woman has low self-esteem in a relationship.

Does your girlfriend fit the criteria?

1) She has a string of crappy exes

I’ve been struggling with low self-esteem for years, and I’ll be the first to admit that lack of confidence was a big reason I stayed in relationships past their expiration date.

When you don’t have a great opinion of yourself, it’s hard to believe that another person will recognize your worth.

So, when someone gives you attention, you cling to them, even when that’s unhealthy.

People with low self-esteem stay in crappy relationships for a variety of reasons:

  • They fear rejection or being alone
  • They believe they don’t deserve to be treated well
  • They doubt they have many options when it comes to dating
  • They crave their partner’s approval
  • They may have a higher tolerance for being mistreated

If you’ve been dating your girlfriend for a while, you probably had the ex-talk.

Were her past relationships fulfilling?

If she admits she has a pattern of committing to bad boyfriends or that she regrets not leaving previous relationships sooner, she may be dealing with self-esteem issues.

2) She needs constant validation

A woman with low confidence will seek your opinion at every turn.

She doesn’t have a strong sense of self, so she relies on others to validate her choices, with her partner in particular saddled with feeding this incessant need for approval.

Since she doubts her capabilities, she requires reassurance for everything from the way she looks to how she dresses to how she conducts herself.

Additionally, she may frequently ask you if you’re still into her or express fears of being left or replaced.

You’ll also notice that she second-guesses her decisions, big or small.

Living inside her brain is no picnic.

3) She can’t take a compliment

Despite needing external validation, women with low self-esteem have trouble accepting compliments.

Instead of thanking you, they feel undeserving of praise, so they either reject the compliment or act like it’s not a big deal.

Next time you tell your girlfriend she looks beautiful, pay attention to how she reacts.

Does she smile and plant a big kiss on your lips?

Or does she downplay it, saying she hasn’t washed her hair in three days?

If it’s the latter, her confidence is probably on the low side.  

4) She compares herself to other women

Women with low self-esteem see themselves as “less than.” This makes them compare themselves to others, usually unfavorably.

She may question why you are with her when you have more attractive options to choose from.

Furthermore, she can get jealous and possessive whenever you hang out with other women, even when she has nothing to worry about.

If you think being in your shoes is exhausting, so is feeling like you’re never good enough.

5) She gets defensive

It’s natural to want to offer constructive criticism to your partner.

After all, you want to see them improve and become the best version of themselves.

When you date someone with low self-esteem, however, doing this can have the opposite effect of what you were going for.

Women with low self-esteem have a hard time handling constructive criticism, so they may react defensively or become overly upset when you do it.

I’m what you would call a couch potato, not particularly keen to hit the gym or sweat profusely during a home workout.

One of my exes was active, and he would encourage me to exercise more.

In his mind, he was being helpful. He knew that endorphins would have a positive effect on my life.

In my mind, he was suggesting it because he no longer found me attractive and thought that my getting ripped would help.  

I would reject his advice and sulk about it. He wouldn’t understand why.

Fun!

6) She tries to please you

Wanting to make your partner happy is a positive aspect of a relationship… until it becomes a harmful habit that makes you neglect your own well-being.

Women with low self-esteem often worry that if they don’t please their partner, they will be rejected or abandoned.

Consequently, if your girl has confidence issues, she likely does everything in her power to make sure that you’re content:

  • She avoids disagreements by going along with whatever you want without putting up much of a fight
  • She never brings up your shortcomings or mistakes to prevent conflict
  • She puts your needs and desires above her own
  • She apologizes even for things that aren’t her fault, just to maintain the peace
  • She goes to great lengths to express her affection for you and reassure you of her commitment

7) She tests you

If a woman has low self-esteem in a relationship, she’ll test you to convince herself of your loyalty.

She can do this subconsciously, her insecurities pushing her to check that you still care.

She may create drama to get your attention, especially if you’re acting distant or haven’t seen her for a few days.

Moreover, she may play hard to get by responding late to your messages and canceling plans at the last minute just to see how you react.

Or, she brings up hypothetical scenarios that leave you flabbergasted.

Think, “What would you do if an ex wanted to get back together?” and “Would you still love me if [insert fake scenario here]?”

8) She rarely challenges herself

People with low self-esteem tend to shy away from challenges due to their self-doubt and fear of failure.

Your girlfriend might procrastinate going after her goals or making any sort of changes in her life because she doesn’t believe she has what it takes to be successful.

As a result, she might be resistant when you suggest she ask for a promotion at work, sign up for a fitness challenge, or try a new hobby.  

If a woman has confidence issues, she is fond of her comfort zone.

Stepping out of it and dealing with uncertainty feels stressful.

Not only that, but being complacent for too long can have repercussions on her mindset.

Which brings me to my next point.

9) She has a pessimistic outlook on life

Low self-esteem shapes someone’s perception of themselves and their abilities. It can also influence their view of the world.

When your girlfriend holds on to negative beliefs about herself, they can affect her future expectations.

She may believe that you’re constantly on the verge of breaking up or that you’ll surely ditch her once you meet someone better.  

Similarly, this negativity extends to all areas of her life.

She likely doesn’t trust that she can have a successful career or a strong support system because she’s used to talking down to herself.

10) She sabotages the relationship

Finally, a woman with low self-esteem might sabotage the relationship, even if she cares for you and wants things to work out.

See, having confidence issues sometimes makes you engage in destructive behaviors.

When you think things are too good to be true, you always wait for the other shoe to drop.

This waiting game causes anxiety, so you do something dumb to speed up the process.

Things go sideways, reinforcing the negative beliefs that you don’t deserve happiness or are unworthy of love.

But, hey – at least the anxiety is gone.

Final thoughts

Dating a woman with low self-esteem is challenging.

With a bit of help on your part, however, she can learn to avoid patterns of low self-esteem in the relationship and become more self-assured.

Celebrate her accomplishments, remind her of how much you care for her, and encourage her to take risks that will (hopefully) pay off.

Be patient and understanding.

Watching her blossom into a more confident version of herself is worth the time.  

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Take the free quiz here to be matched with the perfect coach for you.

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Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Pleșa is a freelance writer obsessed with television, self-development, and thriller books. Former journalist, current pop culture junkie. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraplesa.

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