Is your husband, boyfriend, or male partner struggling with low self-esteem? Do you feel stuck with someone who doesn’t know their worth? Do you feel like you don’t have a clue on how to help a man with low self esteem?
You’re not alone!
Being in a relationship with a man with low self-esteem can be quite challenging, particularly since he is expected to contribute significantly to the family.
A man with low self-esteem constantly puts himself down, makes grievous mistakes, lets opportunities slide, and generally performs considerably lower than he is actually capable of.
The good news is that what’s causing all of these flaws is in his mind – it is nothing real.
I know that’s kind of counterintuitive, but it is true. How people perceive themselves is all in their minds; it has nothing to do with their true worth.
Understanding this fact makes it easier to help your man or male friend with low self-esteem to develop a more healthy and helpful self-concept.
In this quick post, I’ll show you everything you should know about how to help a man with low self esteem. But first, what exactly is low self-esteem, and how does it present?
Low Self-Esteem and How it Manifests
It is important to identify the problem before addressing your partner’s issues.
In a nutshell, low self-esteem is the belief that a person lacks the skills and talents to achieve success. A man with low self-esteem has one question on auto-repeat in his mind: “Do I measure up?”
Unfortunately, the inner critic in his mind responds with a resounding “no!” every time the question pops up.
Low self-worth is a similar self-concept issue that’s easy to confuse that with a low self esteem issue. A man with low self-worth believes he is utterly useless and fundamentally worthless.
Not sure if your man has low self-esteem? Here are some of the ways it manifests:
External Signs of Low Self-Esteem in Men
- Has difficulty setting and maintaining personal boundaries in relationships.
- Finds it extremely difficult to say no to anyone. Instead, he has a people-pleasing behavior, making him say “yes” to everyone and everything.
- Depends a lot on his existing friends and has a tough time making new ones.
- Shies away from conflict at all costs, making it difficult for him to speak up for himself.
- Has social anxiety and may experience social withdrawal.
- Does not handle criticism well, particularly negative criticism, and may consider it a direct attack on their character.
- Maintains limited eye contact, walks with slumped shoulders, and uses other less confident body language.
- Difficulty asking for what he wants or going after what he wants.
- Trouble trying new things or learning new skills, particularly if those things are considered difficult.
- Finds it difficult to admit his mistakes but is quick to blame them on others.
- May exhibit sexual coerciveness and can become jealous easily.
- Constantly criticizes others who appear more successful.
Internal Signs of Low Self-Esteem
- Persistent negative self-talk
- Constant self-doubt
- Feeling unwanted, unloved, and of little value
- Feeling as if they are a burden to others
- Unrealistic fear of failure
- Feeling out of place or doubting whether they deserve accolades (imposter syndrome)
- Feeling undeserving of good things or thinking of their accomplishments and successes as flukes.
Regardless of how low self-esteem manifests in your man, it is important to understand that the issue is not a diagnosis. Instead, it is merely a grouping of perceptions, feelings, and internal habits.
That means you can help your man change these perceptions, and here’s how.
6 Tips for How to Help a Man With Low Self Esteem
First things first: take care of yourself.
It may sound counterintuitive, but you simply can’t offer what you don’t have. You won’t be much help if you burn yourself out trying to help another person.
If anything, ignoring your wants and needs can result in resentment, which does not do you or your partner any good.
For this reason, make sure you are supporting yourself in every way that’s important to you before attempting to address your partner’s issue.
Never give up your dreams and interests or put your life on hold just because you want to help a struggling partner.
Once you are grounded and are sure that your self-esteem level is healthy enough, that’s the right time to support someone else with poor self esteem.
Validate Your Man’s Feelings
Trying to talk a man out of his feelings is the last thing you want to do if he struggles with poor self esteem and negative self talk.
Attempting to talk your partner out of their feelings or argue with them won’t change anything. In fact, you may worsen the situation and make him feel more insecure if you come off as harsh.
A more productive approach is to validate their emotions.
Listen to their fears or worries, no matter how irrational they sound to you, and accept them as their reality. Your patience can help them open up more to change.
Allow Them to Seek External Support
As tempting as it may be, it is best to resist the urge to find external support systems for a partner struggling with low self-esteem.
Of course, outside support can be of immense benefit for anyone with self-confidence issues, but going out of your way to seek external support for them may not be a good move.
It is like forcing a solution on them when they are not ready for it.
After all, no one can truly benefit from a therapist if he doesn’t think he has a behavioral problem.
Allow them to seek outside help when they are ready. Keep in mind that you are not in a relationship to “fix” your partner. He can only develop a decent level of self-esteem if he does things that he truly wants to do and not what he is coerced into doing.
In the meantime, it won’t hurt to have a talk with your man about the possibility of getting outside assistance. This discussion will give you an insight into what he actually thinks of his low self-esteem issue.
Avoid False Praises
Flippant compliments or overcompensation will not help your man’s confidence, especially if he struggles with insecurity.
Just because your partner has low self-esteem issues doesn’t mean false praise won’t be obvious to him. Avoid false praises by all means because it will do more damage.
Here’s what it does:
- First, it confirms to your partner that his feeling of unworthiness is valid. If he is truly valuable, you wouldn’t be showering him with false praises.
- Secondly, it tells your partner in more ways than any words can convey that you don’t believe in him.
Here’s an example.
A man who feels unworthy of you will see through a flippant compliment like, “Any woman will want to be with you.”
The truth is that many men feel extremely “lucky” to have angels as their partners. And while that’s generally a good thing, men with low self-esteem think and feel they are unworthy of having such beautiful partners in their lives.
But you won’t help a man’s self-confidence by coddling him. Instead, focus on giving him honest feedback while keeping it as loving as possible.
Address the Self-Esteem Issue and Not Your Partner
It can be tricky to separate a man’s behavior from his identity, especially if the behavior is hurting your relationship.
Yet, the most effective way to help a man with low self-esteem is to strictly address how his behavior is negatively affecting your relationship. Avoid being judgmental because that will mean attacking his identity.
Let your partner know how much you value him as a person and enjoy being in a relationship with him. But tell him how things can get even better in the relationship if he is willing to take baby steps toward becoming more self-confident.
It is okay to be the shoulder your partner needs to lean on – that’s one of the beauties of being in a relationship.
However, it is important to be compassionate and firm at the same time. This will encourage your partner to be more independent.
Set and maintain clear boundaries. Let your partner know that you are always there for them, but they must be willing to put some time and effort into growth work.
Let your partner know that you will be supportive but won’t be responsible for their work, and not doing their internal growth work can have a negative impact on your relationship.
A man with low self-esteem has struggled with negative self-talk and negative thinking for a long time – usually several years.
It is nearly impossible to get this type of person to adjust his behavior overnight. In other words, knowing how to help a man with low self esteem takes a lot of patience, love, and commitment.