The Effects of Dating with Low Self-Esteem


I’m always analyzing dating because I hear so many people talking about how horrible dating is in 2019 is. In my heart of hearts, I really want to be the person that can help it not be so bad. To me, awareness is the key to breakthrough. Once we become aware of the causes and effects to certain problems we are facing, then we can figure out how to fix them. From my analyzing of the current climate of dating, I realized that one of the biggest reason that dating sucks is because the majority of people dating have very low self-esteem. But what is self-esteem?

Self-Esteem: a person’s ability to achieve goals that the individual deems as important (competence) as well as an attitude or feeling of being “good enough” or a sense of “worthiness”(self-worth). (Mruk, 2013)

The aspect of self-esteem that is effecting dating the most is self-worth. If you don’t think you’re “good enough”, dating for you will be very tough. I know because I lived most of my life feeling inadequate. I always felt like I wasn’t pretty enough, or funny enough, or couldn’t dress well enough. Instead of addressing these issues which most people fail to do, I learned to dysfunctionally function with this mindset. I could mask it with false confidence and cover it with jokes, cute hair, and nice makeup. But I couldn’t run from its effects in dating. It was very clear that my worth was low because of the things I experienced while dating with low self-esteem. If you think there aren’t effects to dating with a low sense of worth, you’re sadly mistaken. Here are the effects of dating with low self-esteem also known as low self-worth…

You try to fit in a box…

In my days of battling with low self-worth, any time I’d date a guy, I’d infatuate over who his ex was and/or his celebrity crushes or what kind of girls he preferred. I did this because I felt if I could be like the girl he dated before or the women he liked then I would have a better chance at getting him to choose me as a girlfriend. I wasn’t confident enough to just be myself because myself was never chosen so I tried to fit into whatever box I felt would help him choose me. This is never the answer because being someone else isn’t fun. Eventually, you just get tired of pretending and want to go back to being yourself. Most of the time, the guy will figure out you’re not the person you’re pretending to be so he still won’t choose you. It’s just a lose lose situation but when you date with low self-worth, you’re more likely to try to fit into whatever box you feel will get the guy.

You only attract what you feel you’re worth…

“You can say you can or you can’t, either way, you’re right”. I don’t know who first said this but it shows that life is all about perspective. Well the same goes for your perspective on dating. For a long time, I felt I could only get certain guys because the guys that I wanted didn’t like girls like me. My insecurities told me I had to be slimmer with longer hair and lighter eyes and I believed it. So for a long time, I only got approached by men who weren’t what I really wanted. I settled for them because that’s what I felt I could get. Later in life, I found out that the men I wanted were actually attracted to me but I had told myself they weren’t for so long that I blocked out all of their interests. I never would look their way because I felt what was the point in disappointing myself. We can find a way to support any belief our minds come up with, that’s why you will believe it’s true. I was listening to a sermon by Steven Furtick and he himself said we can come up with 10 reasons right now that support why we can’t lose weight before we even try. Same goes for this, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t get the man I wanted so to me, I was only attracting the men I didn’t want.

You compromise you standards…

You ever met someone you really liked on the surface but the more you talked to them, you realized that their values and/or morals contradicted your own? When I use the term values, I am talking about the deep rooted principles in your heart that have been instilled inside of you from birth. These are the wise words grand momma told you. Are you going to compromise your wisdom just because this person looks nice on the surface? Many will say no but in my days of low self-worth, I went against myself relentlessly just to keep a man around. I used to say I would never allow a man to live with me and I would never date a man who wasn’t a Christian. All that went out the window when my insecurities caused me to compromise my standards just to keep a guy around. When you have low self-esteem, you trick yourself into believing that going against what you know you don’t want is okay because having the man or woman is the priority. It’s this defective belief that this is your only shot at love so you have to compromise your standards in order to keep this person around. It’s all a lie. Once you start releasing your standards to embrace a new love interest, you start tearing away at your identity which will result in you losing yourself and your happiness.

You praise the bare minimum…

PSA: A man not cheating is NOT a luxury, it’s a requirement. A man taking you on a date is NOT a luxury, it’s a requirement. A man being a gentleman at all times, even when he is upset is NOT a luxury, it’s a requirement. A man not pressuring you for sex is NOT a luxury, it’s a requirement. A man making time for you and being consistent with communication is NOT a luxury, it’s a requirement. When you’re dating with low self-esteem, you have a tendency to see the bare minimum as above and beyond when it’s really just the base line. You tell your friends statements that begin with “At least he….” and your friends are looking at you like you’re crazy because that’s what a man interested in a woman is supposed to do.

Everything I named doesn’t deserve praise. Yes, it’s awesome if a man does this consistently but you shouldn’t feel like he’s giving you the world just because he’s doing these things. This is like your boss rewarding you with a raise just because you come to work on time, do your job, then go home when it’s time to clock out. That’s the requirement to keep your job, it is NOT special or praiseworthy.

You settle for comfort over happiness…

There is a difference between comfort and happiness but I don’t think people understand that or acknowledge it. Comfort is being accustomed to something, being attached to its convenience whereas happiness is a feeling of bliss that usually results in a spark in energy and a smile across your face. You can be uncomfortable and still be happy. For example, you can be on an airplane for a long period of time in an uncomfortable seat headed to your favorite place but have the biggest smile on your face because discomfort doesn’t always equal unhappy. The same goes vice versa, you can be extremely comfortable but still extremely unhappy. It’s like working at a job that you hate but you know exactly what you’re doing, you know how to leave early without being caught, you know you can call out whenever you want, and you know how to get a promotion if need be but you’re still unhappy. You see where I’m going with this? Most people with low self-esteem stay in unhappy relationships because they enjoy the comfort of having someone although they’re absolutely miserable. They know they’d be happier if they could just make themselves uncomfortable for a short time while getting over that person and creating distance but they just refuse to do it. When one has low self-worth, they feel emotionally unstable so they don’t want to risk the emotional turmoil of change so they would rather choose unhappiness and comfort over discomfort and happiness.

You run the risk of blaming others, failing to look inward…

After failing at dating over and over, you start to use statements like “All men cheat” or “All men are dogs” instead of stopping to look inward. Most people with low self-worth have an inability to be alone meaning that they refuse to just be completely single. They always have to have someone on the side. They do this because they are validated by men and external sources so when they don’t have anyone around, they get anxiety and start to feel extreme sadness. This is why they play the blame game. They can’t be alone long enough to assess what they may be doing wrong so to them, it’s everyone else. They refuse to point the finger at themselves because to them, they’re okay they just keep running into the wrong person. They don’t understand that how they feel about themselves effects who they attract as well as who they’re attracted to.

You begin to feel hopeless…

When dating with low self-esteem, you will most likely fail over and over and over again because you’re choosing the wrong people, you’re most likely moving way too fast, and instead of having fun you’re only focused on getting in the relationship or marriage. All of these factors result in multiple failed dating attempts. I know because I’m the pot calling the kettle black. I have been there and after each failed attempt, my confidence in finding the right one continued to decrease. Eventually, I felt a strong feeling of hopelessness because I just couldn’t get it right. It made me settle more because at one point, I really felt like a good guy just didn’t exist and if he did, he just didn’t want me. If you’re in a place where you feel that all hope is gone and you’ll never meet the right person, it could be because your self-esteem is shot and you need to take a step back from dating and re-up on your self-worth.

But how do you re-up on your self-worth? I asked myself that question a thousand times in my early 20s when the advice from most of my friends was “love yourself” or “know your worth, you’re too good for him”. But HOW SWAY?!!!

Everyone was saying I need to know my worth but no one was telling me how to increase it so I could stop all the behaviors I just listed. But one day, I could no longer live in that place of low self-worth. I couldn’t date another person at that level of self-esteem because I refused to continue to stay in the cycle. I had to find the answer to that question because I was so exhausted emotionally. I needed to feel happy being single. I needed to feel happy walking away from misery. I needed to feel happy just being myself. It was a process but I can finally say I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a unicorn and any man who can’t see it is just allergic to this pixy dust I’m drippin. (It’s not literal people, stay with me.)

Increasing my self-worth has allowed me to:

  • Attract better men
  • Be attracted to better men
  • Stop feeling pretty ONLY when I wear makeup and weave but embrace that I’m banging in with my curly fro and a fresh face
  • Kick these bare minimum fools to the curve
  • And stop idolizing the relationship and just have fun while dating

All of that is because I stopped dating with low self-worth and took time to focus on increasing it. I want you to feel the same level of freedom I feel.

At the end of the day, I just want you to become aware of the effects of dating while low in self-esteem. You may think it’s okay but it’s not. You owe yourself happiness and it’s very hard to get that if you aren’t even happy with yourself. Invest time and effort into increasing your self-love and self-worth. It sounds cheesy but it’s your only way to breaking the cycles you’re currently caught in that result in the behaviors named in the post. I’ve given you the tools, you just have to make the commitment to choose happiness over comfort.


Mruk, C. J. (2013). Self-Esteem and Positive Psychology, 4th Edition : Research, Theory, and Practice (Vol. 4th ed). New York: Springer Publishing Company.