Dating a Man with Low Self-Esteem

The number of men suffering from self-esteem issues might surprise you. This is due, in part, to the male tendency to mask “signs of weakness” for fear of looking less masculine and because men with low self-esteem tend to behave differently from their female counterparts. It’s true that women more frequently suffer from self-esteem issues than men and that self-esteem increases with age after adolescence but childhood trauma and abuse, school-age bullying, social media-driven body image issues and, even the current pandemic have led to more and more men reporting issues with confidence and self-esteem. In one recent study, 58% of the men polled showed signs of low self-esteem.

Dating a man with low self-esteem is a journey through very rough terrain. As one relationship specialist described it; “A man can’t love you more than he hates himself,” and, as much as we’d like to fix him, we can’t. Only he can take the steps necessary to improve his self-image. For some men, the first step; admitting the problem, is something they just aren’t comfortable doing.

What are the signs of low self-esteem in men?

A man with low self-esteem may appear to have an inflated ego. He describes himself as superior to others and needs to be the alpha male. He boasts about his every achievement and frequently describes himself as unique, special, and possessing talents that other men just don’t have. This posturing is a form of self-protection.

Men with self-esteem issues often develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, (OCD) because they suffer from anxiety and distress. He will engage in compulsive and repetitive behavior.

He likely suffers from psychological escapism. When things get uncomfortable, he disconnects from them mentally. This trait combined with his tendency toward OCD often leads to addiction.

Dating him may feel like dating a child. He wants to be pampered, fed and provided with all of your attention when you’re together and may throw a tantrum if he isn’t the center of your universe.

He likes to play the victim card. When things go wrong in his life he turns to self-pity saying things like, “Why does this always happen to me?”, “Why am I so unlucky,” etc…

He is likely to have difficulty committing to a relationship. His need for external validation is too great for one person to fill. He may also feel unworthy of your love and avoid committing for fear of being hurt.

Though he will expect to have your complete attention and act jealous and insecure about your relationships with others, he will likely have a wandering eye and will flirt with other women. He has a need to seek attention from other women as a means of validation and the more, the better because external validation is a weak substitute for self-love and can only temporarily fill the void.

If you’re dating a man with low self-esteem, it’s important to understand that you can’t fix him. You can offer realistic compliments and reassure him but you won’t convince him that he’s good enough. He will need to come to terms with his problem and work through the root cause. This generally requires some form of professional counseling.

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