How Self-Esteem Affects Dating, Choice of a Mate and Our Relationship

How Self Esteem Affects DatingSelf-Esteem affects dating in a very basic way: The healthier self-esteem we have, the healthier mate we will attract. More importantly, the better we feel about ourselves, the healthier our relationship can be because we choose a mate with about the same degree of self-esteem as ours. We are more likely to choose well when we are emotionally healthy.

Relationships are a lot of work, therefore, the healthier we and our mate are, the easier we can function in the relationship. This means we can grow and enjoy each other in healthy ways over time. 

What Self-Esteem Looks Like in General  

  1. Self-Esteem is how we value ourselves, and if we view ourselves as competent, worthy of good things, and the ability to move forward in life with success.
  2. It is a belief in our strengths and value, and the expectation of the right people to also see those things in us.  
  3. Remember, self-esteem affects dating. Therefore, we tend to match our mate in degrees of self-esteem. The more we value ourselves in a healthy way, we attract healthier people to us. 
  4. The less positive self-esteem we have, the less healthy self-esteem we will attract in a mate.
  5. How we act in our relationship depends upon our self-esteem. For example, being generous, critical, speaking up or avoiding the expression of what we want.  
  6. The healthier we are emotionally, the healthier our relationship will be.

Some Examples of Healthy Self-Esteem 

  • Overall, we believe in our capacity to do well in life and in our worth.
  • We believe in our abilities and talents and appreciate this about ourselves.
  • Again, our self-esteem affects dating. Therefore, when we are healthy we attract other healthy people in our life.
  • We are comfortable trying new things we have not done before because we believe in our capability to do so. This makes a person more interesting to others.
  • When things don’t go well, as happens to everyone sometimes, we believe we can move forward and learn from our mistakes without judgment.
  • We treat ourselves and others with respect and value.
  • Who we are attracted to relates to how we see ourselves and what we truly think we deserve in life.
  • Emotionally healthy people set good boundaries and ask for what they want.
  • People with healthy self-esteem value themselves but also value others.

Examples of Unhealthy Self-Esteem

  • Avoiding trying new things in life for fear we will fail 
  • Not allowing ourself to learn from our mistakes
  • Not trusting our own judgment in decisions
  • Self-hatred and often devaluing ourself
  • Often being highly critical of others 
  • Being irresponsible and continuing to make poor decisions
  • Believing there are not enough good things in the world
  •  Often feeling angry without an identified reason

Below are samples of unhealthy behaviors. This is not a complete list.

Unhealthy Self-Esteem Affects Dating and Relationships Behaviorally

  • Feeling defensive and being “on guard” to defend oneself: This makes it difficult to talk through disagreements which then erodes intimacy.
  • Fear of growing emotionally, especially in romantic relationships: When people feel emotionally safe in a relationship it allows them to be more open with their mate. 
  • Often needing to be “right”: This shuts down any possibility of talking through things with your mate.
  • Ongoing fear of losing one’s mate:  People can act out because of fear, shut down to any productive communication, or 
  • Possessiveness and jealousy in the relationship: This causes their mate to feel they are mistrusted and will always need to defend themselves, even when they have done nothing wrong.
  • Being unfaithful to their partner: Completely breaks trust which makes intimacy and closeness unsafe for the person. Once someone “cheats” it is statistically more likely to repeat.
  • Not speaking up or sharing one’s feelings: This makes it very difficult to feel truly valued and connected to one another. Also, it prevents issues to be resolved, which builds intimacy/closeness in the relationship.
  • Not accepting responsibility for one’s actions: This causes frustration for the mate and the fear of never feeling emotionally safe with their partner. It also makes it almost impossible to thoroughly talk things out with each other.
  • Relying on drugs or alcohol to feel “better”: This creates not only a problem for the person who is using, but adds a whole other layer to the partner building trust in their mate. It also can deeply affect their finances.

Final Thoughts

By now, you understand how our Self-Esteem affects dating. Relationships can be wonderfully fulfilling when we feel good about ourselves and are with a healthy person we deeply care about. But when our emotional health and self-esteem are not in place relationships most often don’t work. And to add more challenges, the mate of our choosing tends to have the same degree of emotional health as we do. Therefore, the relationship becomes much more challenging than it is with people who are emotionally healthy.

Remember, schools rarely teach students how to have good self-esteem. So often “we don’t know what we don’t know”. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Actually, it demonstrates inner strength to ask for help. 

If you believe you are not attracting healthy partners then maybe it is time to examine your own emotional health. Don’t be afraid to see a therapist who can help you build healthy self-esteem. Ask them how they do this to make sure it is a good fit for you. A good fit with a therapist makes doing the work much easier. You can do this!

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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