Low self-esteem can result in people selling themselves short and expecting very little from their relationships. It can also result in the balance of power in a relationship being tipped in the favor of the more confident individual. If that person is loving and kind, they can help their partner heal and increase self-esteem. If, on the other hand they take advantage of their situation it’s likely that only negative results will be produced for the partner who doesn’t stand-up for themselves and is overshadowed by the others needs and wants.
Low self-esteem can affect a relationship in several ways. The result can be that a kind, gentle partner steps up to the mark and assumes responsibility for helping the individual with low self-esteem cope. However, in many cases the opposite is true, as shy people have a tendency to attract partners who want to feel powerful, and what better way to achieve their goal than by having a relationship with someone who is compliant and quiet.
There are times however, when low self-esteem affects an individual in other ways than making them shy and meek. Some become aggressive and defensive. This makes it difficult for a healthy, balanced relationship to take place and intimacy to be achieved. The result can be poor communication and frequent arguments bought on by the less than confident individual trying to battle against feelings of inferiority, or having difficulty in saying how they feel and being understood.
It can also happen that an individual with self-esteem issues attracts a partner with similar problems. It can be hard for them to identify that this is so, as one person may be quiet and shy while the other is defensive and aggressive. Their problems stem from the same source however, feelings of inadequacy.
When a relationship between two people who have low self-esteem is established, they automatically play out an attempted healing process unconsciously. It is human nature to battle to become whole and heal. The great humanist Carl Rogers once said that even potatoes in a darkened room struggle to grow towards any chink of light available. Like this example, couples who need to improve self-esteem bounce problems off each other in an attempt to achieve wholeness and work through issues.
The results of such a match can vary. The defensive partner may begin by assuming power in the relationship until the quiet individual pushes forward and begins to stand-up for themselves. The defensive one may then back off and go into crisis mode, not knowing how to behave as a result. If they have a strong relationship this shift of the balance of power can go back and forth until both have inadvertently helped each other learn how to be strong and back off when appropriate.
The healthiest of relationships occur between two people who have good self-esteem. This allows them to communicate and achieve intimacy. However, all relationships reflect something important about the people in them. Where one person has low self-esteem and the other a need for power, they both need to gain confidence. The way they behave and treat each other can be a symptom of their needs.