What To Expect When You Love A Man With Low Self-Esteem

Love and Romance | | , Communications Expert & Blogger
Updated On: February 6, 2024
when you love a man with low self-esteem

He could be six feet tall, he could have the best abs in the whole world and he could even be in a profession that entails taking life risks. But even with all these seeming perfections, he may still think he’s not good enough. That’s because he is a man with very low self-esteem. Sounds strange right? But unless you know him really well, you wouldn’t really know that you are dating a man with low self-esteem.

There will be serious character flaws that you will always have to deal with. But let us warn you from the beginning, loving a man with low self-esteem is not easy. Sometimes it takes a couple of years and sometimes even a decade to really know and understand that you are dating a man with low self-esteem.

There may be many flaws in your man, but the one that is least detectable is his low self-esteem. This is one trait that is behavioral and gets masked by characteristics like bravado, a superiority complex, or even by a strong, brooding personality. So what can you do in such a situation? First and foremost, you need to identify the signs of low self-esteem to understand what you’re dealing with and then hash out a plan to deal with this aspect of your partner’s personality.

What Are The Signs Of Low Self-Esteem In A Man?

So you’re here because you think you could be dating a man with low self-esteem. And if you read this article, then you will actually understand why he behaves the way he does. But first, it’s important to understand what causes low self-esteem in men.

A study conducted in 2016 on 116,356 men shows some noteworthy things with regards to low self-esteem in men. According to the study, 40% of men reported feeling low self-esteem because of their body image. Apart from their issues with body image, the other causes of low self-esteem in men could be as varied as toxic parenting, erectile dysfunction, a sense of insecurity, low levels of education or skills.

When you love a man with low self-esteem, he will show these particular signs in your relationship. Read on to find out.

1. A misplaced sense of superiority

It is said that people who are always trying to prove that they are superior to others are actually the ones who feel inferior inside. In other words, we also call this a superiority complex. It may seem on the outside that he is some kind of an alpha male, but in reality, this is one of the characteristics of a man with low self-esteem.

Austrian Psychologist Alfred Adler who is the founder of the school of “Individual psychology” talked about the superiority complex as a defense mechanism for feelings of inadequacy that we all struggle with.

One of the things never to say to men with low self-esteem is telling them that they have made a mistake. He could be your colleague, your classmate or the love of your life, but you could end up unleashing the monster in him if you tell him he is wrong. He cannot accept it. He has an exaggerated sense of self and loves to throw his weight around. He always believes he is better than others.

Related Reading: Dealing With A Cranky Husband -Tips That Work

2. Men with low self-esteem are escapists

If there is any kind of trouble in his life, instead of resolving the issue, he is always looking for a way out of it. Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist based in California, says that there are people who avoid reality at all costs and this is called “escapism psychology”. They are incapable of taking the bull by the horn and prefer to escape the situation mentally.

So if you are dating a man with low self-esteem and you realize that to make ends meet you need to keep three part-time jobs, be sure that when you come home, he won’t exactly be doing the dishes for you. Don’t even expect him to make you a cup of tea. You will probably find him hanging out on the couch watching football.

In such a case, try to talk to him about the financial situation and that he needs to pull up his socks. This escapism is not going to work in your house. On the flip side, it could be the other way round too. He could be a workaholic and find his escape in the workplace while you will keep grappling with other responsibilities mainly at home. People with low self-esteem also find their escape in food, drugs and travel.

3. A man with low self-esteem has an inflated ego

When you love a man with low self-esteem, you will always see his ego issues as the root cause of your relationship problems. His ego comes from his low self-esteem and that’s why he has to always chase goals, always achieve and always show that he is the best. He is not the kind who can really relax and have a good time with his date.

His mind would always be on the go, wondering how to prove he is the best. He could behave like the alpha male and you would have to deal with it. Don’t be surprised if your date nights typically involve him giving a monologue and you listening. He has to keep attesting to the fact that he is an achiever, a superstar and you have to keep clapping and cheering him on, telling him he’s the best.

4. Low self-esteem in men makes them competitive

low self-esteem in men
He has a fiercely competitive side that he could bring into the relationship too

How to love a man with low self-esteem? Never step on his competitive toes. He has a fiercely competitive side that he could bring into the relationship too. If you get a promotion, don’t be surprised if he ends up sulking instead of rejoicing with you. Because instead of looking at your achievement as an individual effort, he instantly gets competitive and starts to analyze if you are moving ahead of him. 

So you have to keep pampering his hyper-competitive ego and tell him that you are nowhere near him when it comes to achievements. If you love a man with low self-esteem, one of the ways to handle him would be to keep your ambitions and achievements to yourself. Stay in his shadow and he will love you with all his heart. Sounds like a toxic relationship, doesn’t it?

5. A man with low self-esteem often may have OCD

This is one of the most overlooked signs of low self-esteem in a man. So pay close attention to this one. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not only about repeated washing of hands. It can raise its ugly head in different areas of life. OCD comes from fear and people with low self-esteem often develop OCD because they suffer from anxiety and distress.

They indulge in compulsive and repetitive behavior. They want order around them and can get severely distressed if plans suddenly change and or there is an emergency meeting in the workplace. He could have irrational fears about safety or extreme fear of contamination, could be a hoarder and you would find 20-year-old newspapers in his house, or he could just keep fiddling with the cutlery to ensure that the alignment is right.

How to help a man with low self-esteem and OCD? You have to be extremely patient. Sometimes counseling and therapy can help bring him back on track and deal with his life better.

Related Reading: Dealing with an insecure boyfriend – 15 coping tips

6. He is suspicious and insecure

Dating a man with low self-esteem could be tough because he will certainly be overly suspicious of you and the things you do. You could go to the next-door neighbor to get a cup of milk and that’s enough to get him thinking that the neighbor is hitting on you. He also has serious trust issues so don’t be surprised if in his mind you have already run away with the neighbor.

He is always paranoid that you will find someone more interesting than him and would therefore keep a silent watch over your phone. He could even go through your texts, insist on having your social media passwords, and don’t be surprised if one fine day you get to know he has even cloned your phone data.

If you are dating a man with low self-esteem be aware that he has no idea of healthy relationship boundaries, and if you try to create emotional boundaries, you will be met with extreme resistance. You might find his controlling nature really loathsome, but if you love a man with low self-esteem you might have to tread very carefully to handle his temper.

7. He acts like a baby sometimes

When you love a man with low self-esteem, sometimes being with him is going to feel like you are raising a child. Dating a man with low self-esteem could be like dating a man child where you have to keep pampering him like you would a baby. He might throw temper tantrums if he feels ignored so you have to give him constant attention. 

He could become clingy in the relationship and want you to mother him all the time. Since he has some lazy traits as well, he would want you to take care of his wardrobe, his food, his bills, and pretty much, everything else. Initially, his possessiveness could be flattering, but over time, it will get suffocating. He could also have some tendencies to self-sabotage the relationship so there might be times you could end up breaking up with a man with low self-esteem.

Related Reading: 12 Signs Of Insecure Women And How To Avoid Them

8. Beware of his roving eye

Low self-esteem in men manifests itself in different ways. Here is one. If you are in love with a man with low self-esteem, then better be aware that he could be flirting with others on the side. Even though he hold on tight to his woman, it does not deter him from letting his attention rove.

He flirts because he constantly needs validation that he is attractive, charismatic and desirable, all because of his low self-esteem. This is the real downside of having a man like this in your life because while he would want you to be exclusive, he wouldn’t think twice before flirting with his eyes with that girl in the red dress at a party.

Loving a man with low self-esteem is hard but if you love him dearly, you end up accepting most of his negative traits. But when it comes to his need for senseless flirting most women can’t take it and that’s when the breakups happen.

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9. He will always play the victim card with you

When things go wrong like a depression in the economy causing his business to go down or ill-health, or even if he feels he is being ignored by his own siblings, he would use that to rush into a tirade of self-pity. Why is this happening to me? Why is my life so sad? And so on and so forth. He would then sulk constantly about it. This is one of the characteristics of a man with low self-esteem that most women can vouch for.

Loving a man with low self-esteem can prove to be hard when he keeps wallowing in self-pity and blaming others for everything that happened. Trust us when we tell you that it can get really exasperating after a point. You have to assure him, mollycoddle him and make him believe all is well. Phew! That’s a lot of hard work in a relationship.

10. He is extremely pessimistic

When you love a man with low self-esteem, know that your life isn’t going to be all sunshine and happy vibes. When you are out on a movie date and he is driving the car, he’s going to start grumbling that inevitably he won’t find a single parking spot at the multiplex. We know this drives you insane and all you want to do is whack him for his constant negativity.

But that’s how pessimistic a man with low self-esteem can get. Another thing is that he could be extremely God-fearing or superstitious and believe in specific rituals and prayers to bring him good luck.

Related Reading: 11 Tips To Deal With A Narcissist Boyfriend Smartly

What To Expect When You Love A Man With Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem in the man you love is one of the lesser evils and can be managed by applying tender loving care to his inner child. Make him feel well-loved, pay him sincere compliments and never, ever beat him down on any issue that you may be discussing.

A man with low self-esteem could throw temper tantrums, be depressed or run to you for a shoulder to cry on, but it is unlikely he would be abusive or would indulge in things like gaslighting. Breaking up with a man with low self-esteem is an easy option but if you are thinking about how to love a man with low self-esteem or how to help a man with low self-esteem, then you can take some positive steps.

characteristics of a man with low self esteem
Treat a man with low self-esteem with love and affection

It is important that you help him see reason gently. Also when your friends’ circle sees how well you care for him, they will stay away from taking potshots at him. Another important point to remember is that all men like to be needed, no matter how independent they may be. So this man is no exception that way.

That being said, before you embark on this journey of how to treat a man with low self-esteem, here are some things you should expect and know.

1. He loves you, but he hates himself

It’s going to be very easy for you to misunderstand him. When he cancels plans, shows up on a date in the worst mood ever or is often saying negative things, you might be inclined to think that he actually does not love you at all. But that, in fact, is just not true.

This is one of the characteristics of a man with low self-esteem. Because of his internal frustrations, it might seem like he is not interested in you when in reality, he is actually too busy feeling conscious and angry with himself. So expect him to behave in bizarre ways that probably have nothing to do with you. It won’t be easy to watch him crumble like that, so suggest that he get the help he might need as there are many benefits of counseling.

2. He will always tell you that he doesn’t deserve you

He will praise you more than you want, shower you with the nicest compliments, and then punctuate all those with, “I don’t even deserve you”. Low self-esteem in men makes them feel like they don’t deserve you or that they were just lucky to have found you. He might even tell you things such as, “You’re way out of my league” or “What do you even see in me?”

This can start to get frustrating for you as a woman, because you don’t understand where any of these remarks are coming from. You love him irrevocably for the man he is and it will sadden you that he cannot see himself with the same lens.

Related Reading: 21 Signs That A Man Is Pursuing You

3. Men with low self-esteem fear commitment

When you love a man with low self-esteem, don’t expect him to get down on one knee soon or give you the world each day. It’s not that he doesn’t care about you, he absolutely does, but he is also a bit of a commitment-phobe. This supposed phobia of committing to you (or anyone else for that matter) stems from his own feelings of worthlessness. He finds it hard to believe that he is lovable and thus cannot make any big leaps in his relationship.

Clearly, he has a lot of his own baggage to work upon before he can put both feet into his relationship with you. He wants to be the best man for you and wants to give you what you deserve. This is why he finds it hard to commit to you since he is so unsure of himself.

With that, we conclude this list of signs of low self-esteem in a man and what you should expect from him. Dating such a man is not easy but at the same time, this is not an excuse to stop holding his hand and walk away from him. If you love him truly, reciprocate by being there for him and dragging him out of this quicksand that is ruining your relationship. If you can’t do it all on your own, Bonobology has a skilled panel of therapists that are only a click away.

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Readers Comments On “What To Expect When You Love A Man With Low Self-Esteem”

  1. Okay, I agree the woman is super strong and she is managing it well but I object as to why? Why she is not leaving the man? Maybe the fact that this is what relationships teach us.

  2. Great!!! The girl who everyday faces this but still has no complaints, rather she makes her husband feel like king of her heart, she is simply amazing!

    So, girl, you are doing great and don’t let this bond break. Stick in there and develop some plan if possible to raise your husband’s self-esteem. He will love you more than himself once he discovers that it was you who changed him for the betterment.

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