Your level of self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence are equally important factors to consider when entering into a relationship. The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for the relationship you can and want to have with another person.

Self-worth is the internal sense of being good enough and worthy of love and belonging from others. Human beings have inherent worth and oftentimes due to life events or interactions with others, we question that worth.

You are the only one who can determine your self-worth. If you believe you are worthy and valuable, you are worthy and valuable. Even if you don’t believe you are worthy and valuable, guess what—you still are worthy and valuable!

You can change your life and recreate narratives you have about yourself that are much more positive. Healthy self-worth means you don’t feel the urge to measure your value based on things outside of yourself such as your job, what other people think of you, or yes, your relationship status.

A key step in increasing self-worth is being able to identify, challenge, and externalize your critical inner voice. You are an adult now. You have the responsibility and ability to change your inner critic into an inner cheerleader. You can cultivate your inner cheerleader by talking to yourself as you would to your best friend or a child, filtering out which thoughts are true and which ones are not, practicing self-compassion, and doing shadow work.

Characteristics of low self-worth in relationships

  • Difficulty establishing healthy boundaries or setting limits with people
  • Increased likelihood to become dependent on the will of another person or being controlled by how others think, feel about, and act towards you
  • Increased dependence on others for approval and recognition 
  • Fearful of rejection and conflict with others
  • Having the irrational need to have ‘perfect’ relationships, and as a result, they are often in competition for control with their partner to make their relationship the way they think they should be

Low self-worth is both an individual and a societal problem. Earlier media and now social media portray an unrealistic picture of how people should look, behave and relate to one another. If we are not taught to love ourselves unconditionally through building positive self-worth by valuing ourselves, our beliefs, and our unique contribution to the world then we often find ourselves in relationships that reflect our confusion and low self-worth.

Self-esteem can be defined as confidence in one’s value as a human being is a precious psychological resource and generally a highly positive factor in life; it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive relationships and situations.

This excerpt explains how self-esteem starts from childhood, “Self-esteem suffers when you grow up in a dysfunctional family or with toxic parenting. Often you don’t have a voice. Your opinions and desires aren’t taken seriously. Parents usually have low self-esteem and are unhappy with each other. They themselves neither have nor model good relationship skills, including cooperation, healthy boundaries, assertiveness, and conflict resolution. They may be abusive or just indifferent, preoccupied, controlling, interfering, manipulative, or inconsistent. Their children’s feelings and personal traits and needs tend to be shamed. As a result, a child feels emotionally abandoned and concludes that he or she is at fault–not good enough to be acceptable to both parents. This is how toxic shame becomes internalized. Children feel insecure, anxious, and/or angry. They don’t feel safe to be, to trust, and to like themselves. They grow up with low self-esteem and learn to hide their feelings, walk on eggshells, withdraw, and try to please or become aggressive.”

The goal in any relationship is to feel safe, supported, and respected. In intimate relationships, there is also the desire to be emotionally taken care of, wanted, unconditionally accepted, and loved just for existing. We want to feel part of something special and not alone. To be free to be who we are, rather than who we think we need to be for the other person. We want to experience forgiveness and being forgiven without revenge or reminders of past offenses. A healthy relationship encourages personal growth and supports individuality.

Everyone wants a solid partner, however, seemingly far fewer people are putting in the work (becoming the one) to be the solid partner. The paradox becomes for those who are doing the work, you might inadvertently attract or be attracted to those who haven’t quite done all the work needed.

Research shows that your preference for a specific partner is conditional based on your perception of yourself as a long-term partner. Similarly, you translate your perception of yourself on a given attribute into a comparable selectivity of preference for the same attribute in a mate. What does this mean in layman’s terms? If you don’t feel capable or competent, you’ll attract or be attracted to that. This is where shadow work comes in clutch.

Under or over-expressing your emotions will attract someone who also under or over-expresses their emotions, typically as a way to strike balance. Expressing your emotions in a healthy manner will attract someone who also expresses their emotions in a healthy manner.

It is your choice to make yourself a priority.

The person you’re dating, in a relationship or married to can also make you a priority or prioritize you amongst other priorities. Their choice to do so is based on multiple factors.

You can, and I can confidently say will, benefit from continuing to make yourself a priority even when another person is doing so, and especially when another person isn’t.

When you prioritize yourself, you set an example for how other people can treat you. 

When you set and enforce kind boundaries with others, you set an example for how people can and cannot treat you.

You can treat yourself with the same love, kindness, attention, affection, admiration and care that you expect/desire from someone else starting from this moment onward.

You don’t have to wait for someone to prioritize you. 

When you are with someone who isn’t prioritizing you, it can be a mirror to look in and realize where you may not be prioritizing yourself. 

It may also mean nothing negative or personal about you and it may be the phase of life they are at ie; they are prioritizing fun & adventure over a relationship. 

That’s okay. They are allowed to do that. 

There is nothing wrong with them doing that except when it is perceived as wrong because it contradicts your plans and your timing and you want them to be ready for something they aren’t ready for… yet.

If this is the case, it’s even more important to take a look in that mirror and be truthful with yourself, and potentially choose not to date someone who is in that phase of life.

What if instead of dating someone who isn’t the right fit, someone you didn’t have to “tweak” or “fix”, you actually dated someone who was a good fit? Someone who has all the characteristics in a partner that you desire.

Who would you have to become to be ready for that? How would your self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence have to be in order for that to become a reality?

Preparing for a relationship and being in a conscious relationship requires doing the deep inner work and meeting parts of yourself that you may not like in order to become someone you love. It starts with you.



Talia Bombola, The Confidence & Assertiveness Specialist™, is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and a Life & Relationship Mentor for Women. She works with centers her work around helping anxious, controlling women how to feel at ease & understood in their relationships. Talia works with women to heal their patterns of feeling “not enough” or “too much” and rewire beliefs about men and relationships so that they can enjoy the relationship they’re in. She makes sense of evolutionary and social psychology to help her clients, in modern-day, understand how men and women approach love and relationships differently. Like, extremely differently. She teaches you what makes us do what we do as women, and why we will be disappointed if we expect men to be like us. You will gain a better understanding of how to change the way you think and feel to experience less disappointment in your life and how to continuously attract your partner and keep your relationship fulfilling.

Talia Bombola The Confidence and Assertiveness Specialist™ Certified Psychodynamic LMFT & Mentor @taliabombola

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