Self-Esteem and Love

Most people know the famous Groucho Marx joke that he would never join a club that would have him for a member.  This is exactly the principle that some people with low self-esteem apply to their love life.  They tell themselves: “If you love me, obviously you are not good enough for me.  Only someone who will reject me is an acceptable object of my devotion.”

It is not difficult to see the importance of self-esteem to success with respect to intimate relationships.  There is no greater barrier to romantic happiness than the fear that you are undeserving of love and destined to be hurt.  Such fears give birth to self-fulfilling prophecies.

Young Couple Smiling

We have all heard the observation, “If you do not love yourself, you will be unable to love others.”  Less well understood is the other half of the story:  If you do not love yourself, it is difficult to believe that anyone else loves you.  If you do not love and accept yourself, how can you accept someone else’s love?

People with low self-esteem feel confused whenever anyone shows them warmth and devotion.  It confounds their self-concept, because they believe themselves to be unlovable.  Any feelings to the contrary cannot possibly be real, reliable or lasting.

Even if you consciously disown any feelings of being unlovable – even if you insist that you are “wonderful” – your poor self-concept lurks just under the surface, ready to undermine any attempt at a lasting relationship.  Unwittingly, you become a saboteur of love.

You may attempt to fall in love but the foundation of inner security is not there.  Instead, there is the secret fear that you are destined only for pain, leading you to pick someone who inevitably will reject or abandon you.  Or, if you pick someone with whom happiness might be possible, you subvert the relationship and find ways to reject your partner before they can reject you.

If you enjoy a fundamental sense of efficacy and believe yourself to be lovable, you have a solid foundation on which to build a relationship.  Love, benevolence and caring feel natural.  You have something to give, and do not wallow in misery or fears of inadequacy.