How to Increase Self-Esteem in a Relationship
Replacing Stress with Passion

Written by Daniel Steingold on September 21, 2016

a man and women with high self esteem and in a relationship

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: you need to love yourself before anyone else can.

Loving yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you gush uncontrollably in the mirror over how smart or handsome you are. It does, however, mean that you need to be relatively comfortable with yourself— flaws and misgivings included— in order to be in a stable relationship with another person.

Self-esteem is perhaps the biggest factor in determining whether your relationship will succeed, particularly since it’s not something you can hide from a partner. Eventually, all of your fears and problems will come to light with your girlfriend or wife.

This post will explain ways to increase self-esteem in a relationship.

Learn Your Communication Style

Everyone communicates differently, so it’s important to understand how you express yourself, particularly in situations of conflict.

Learning your style of communication is an important first step; the next step is to inform your partner how you communicate and react in different situations, especially when under distress. For example, you may become clingy or needy when you run into problems, you may become detached, or you may demonstrate a mix of the two.

There is nothing wrong with any style of communication, so accepting how you communicate is a big first step on the path to bettering your self-esteem.

Make Amends with the Past

This, for me, has been particularly hard, although I’ve gradually been able to accept that I can’t change what happened in the past. Rather, I can only worry about what I do and how I behave or react in the future.

It’s important to look at past mistakes not as being failures, but instead as opportunities to grow. Looking at the past is all a matter of perspective, and furthermore, it is something we can personally control.

Ideally, you want to be able to firmly link the narrative of your past to the present. Many experts speak of a continuous "life story," which can be most easily explained as one’s interpretation of their life’s details. Life stories should create meaning for an individual, as they encompass everything that they’ve ever seen or known.

Once you’re able to understand why you are where you are, and how you got there, life begins to make more sense. You begin to understand your motives and reason for living, which helps tremendously when entering a relationship.

Ultimately, it liberates you from being defined exclusively by your past.

Take Care of Yourself

The basic theory behind this point is that if you can’t take care of yourself, it’ll be awfully difficult to care for a female partner.

While this applies to basic tasks— such as eating and drinking, exercising, and keeping clean— it also applies to more complicated or nuanced activities, including learning new skills and taking time to recharge and introspect.

Either way, if you don’t have the basics down, it’ll be extremely difficult to take on more responsibility. Many experts argue that unmet basic needs can serve as an obstacle when trying to meet higher-level needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory from the 1940s that first presented the notion of tiers of needs, so to speak, and it still carries its weight to this day. "Esteem", it turns out, is actually the last step prior to full-fledged "self-actualization."

Be Compassionate

Practicing compassion is essential for those looking to enter a committed relationship. You should try to be compassionate towards both yourself— self-compassion— and towards others.

Compassionate individuals are more accepting, and they are more aware, able, and willing to correct their interpersonal problems. One study found that men who are conscientious and practice self-compassion better handle interpersonal mistakes in relationships, while also developing better problem-solving skills.

Self-compassion allows us to grow as individuals, while compassion towards anyone else allows us to forgive others for their mistakes. After all, we will all experience problems internally and externally; it’s all about how we react.

Keep a Steady Perception of Yourself

Keeping a steady perception of yourself can be difficult, particularly in the age of ubiquitous social media.

It can be all too easy to allow a post or photo from a close friend to affect our mood, not to mention all the other inherent stresses that come with living life.

That’s why it’s exceptionally important to not allow your performance on anything to negatively influence your self-worth. This allows us to eliminate one major stressor.

As aforementioned, if you fail at something, it doesn’t matter. Pick yourself up, be compassionate towards yourself, and give whatever you’re trying to do another shot once you’ve been able to introspect and realize what you could do better next time.

It’s important to know what triggers any thoughts of negative self-worth, as this is essential with trying to overcome them. You should know in advance that you will never be able to completely eliminate your triggers, but they can be managed.

Absolutely tell your partner what triggers you, as this will allow them to be compassionate and understanding towards your Achilles’ heel(s).

All in all, a relationship should be seen as a way for you to grow as a person alongside someone else. Partners should be encouraging to one another, and not play the blame game when tensions arise.

With the tools mentioned in this post, you should be able to increase your perception of self-esteem within a relationship, and furthermore, your sense of control.

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