Have you been struggling to maintain a healthy, stable relationship? Do you keep meeting these potential partners in hopes that they could be the one? But then have the scenario play out where you become needy, clingy, and a little emotionally unstable, causing the relationship to plummet? You don’t understand why, because when you’re single you’re independent and feeling strong on your own two feet.
Love-Angst is the term I use for women (and men too) who enter a relationship and suddenly become sensitive to every move of their partner. You become unsure of yourself, questioning your every emotion and upset that arises in the relationship. You begin feeling triggered by this new partner in ways you don’t quite understand and start acting like a small child. You feel anxious. Anxious to see them, anxious when they’re out with other people, anxious when they don’t text or call you in a day. It’s as if suddenly you’ve lost yourself since entering the relationship.
Love-Angst is a real thing, especially for women who have struggled in maintaining a strong sense of self. What do I mean by that? I mean, you have a history of always doubting yourself, you look up to others for their opinions and advice, you believe the voices in your head, and you subconsciously seek out acknowledgement with your every action, hoping to hear that you’ve done a great job and that people like you. What I’m really referring to here is when one struggles with self-esteem.
How do you know if you struggle with Low Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is how we see ourselves and our worth in relation to the world; it’s how we regard our own significance and value. It’s a question of at what level do we love and appreciate ourselves and how we treat ourselves when life doesn’t go according to plan? Self-esteem is, at its core, your belief in and love for yourself.
We get opportunities to test our self-esteem simply by looking at how we show up in uncomfortable situations. When you’re learning a new skill, are you patient with yourself and thinking encouraging thoughts as you fumble through the beginning stage? When you’re put on the spot, are you able to handle the sudden stress of it in a grounded manner? When your partner brings up with you something you did that they did not like, do you respond with openness to hear their side? Or are you suddenly on the defense?
Until you start looking at your behavior and your tendencies through all your past relationships and friendships (because they show up in both), you won’t recognize that you’ve been hiding behind low self-esteem.
How Your Self-Esteem is Getting in the Way of Love
Being able to receive love all comes back to our relationship to ourselves.
If you struggle to accept yourself just as you are, how can you possibly accept another for all that they are?
If you are constantly criticizing yourself, it eventually will start showing up in criticizing your partner.
If you struggle to say no to yourself and set clear boundaries, this too will show up in your relationships as allowing things you don’t actually want to happen. This is slowly growing ticking time bomb. You build up resentment towards your partner, when in reality, you never set clear guidelines for what you’re willing and not willing to accept in the relationship. Here are some more examples of what low self-esteem looks like in a relationship:
Self-Esteem issues, if left unattended to, can and usually do eventually sabotage connection and intimacy with your partner. It becomes a who did what, who said what, which we know is a recipe for a failed relationship.
If you recognize that you are showing several or more signs from this list, fear not. You can overcome this. It will take some more commitment to working on your self-love and self-reliance systems to build up your self-esteem to a healthy level.
Relationships Wound Us, and then They Heal Us
Many times when we enter a relationship, we can get caught up in someone else’s world. We begin forgetting our own needs, who we are, and what is important to us in order to fulfill our deeper need of getting love. Very commonly, we’re seeking out a relationship to fulfill some deep unmet needs from childhood. It’s definitely not an obvious thing on the surface, but once you do the inner work of learning what your core wound is, you’ll become more aware of how your actions have an underlying motive to get this love on some level from others. Whether that’s to be seen and acknowledged, loved and included, to feel worthy…
Until then, we keep entering relationships with a subconscious agenda, looking for a partner that can fill what’s missing inside. When this happens, the relationship becomes a sort of invisible contract of getting needs filled instead of two people cultivating and nurturing a safe space to give and receive love, to grow, and to connect.
Our childhood wounds were created in relationship with others, and so the way to heal these wounds is to get back to the source: relationships. A healthy relationship is when two people can work out their pain parts together and rely on each other with a healthy interdependence.
We Learn, We Grow
Relationships are a wonderful tool for self-discovery and personal growth. Similar to how the quality of your outer world reflects the quality of your inner world, relationships reflect back to you what relational wounds sitting inside unhealed, awaiting your tender loving care. In order to create happy, healthy relationships, you first must be happy and have a healthy relationship with yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you must wait until you’ve healed all your wounds before you can be open for love. Two people who struggle with low self-esteem can still have a happy and healthy relationship. It just means that the two of them must be willing to practise open communication about their triggers, core wounds, and be able to gently express to each other their pain points and their needs without dropping all responsibility and blame on their partner.
Stay tuned for Part II, when we discuss how you can overcome the low self-esteem tendencies and start building more love and connection in your life through your relationships.