April 18, 2019 |Gideon Hanekom

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We all have a basic human need for significance. To have a sense of value, importance, and self-worth. But some of us struggle to see or recognise our own worth. And so it becomes very difficult to be in a relationship with someone like that who has very low self-esteem. And any hope of creating a healthy and happy relationship comes down to knowing how to improve self-esteem in relationships and changing your partner’s sense of insignificance. 

How To Improve Self Esteem in Relationships

For some couples, knowing how to improve self-esteem in relationships is a crucial skill.

It can become very difficult being in a relationship where one person is constantly looking for validation of their own self-worth is value.

But what is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you feel about your abilities and limitations. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others.


The problem happens when a partner does not have good self-esteem.

When that happens they can become reliant on their significant other to constantly and continually prop them up it can become very taxing on that relationship over time.

Now, we all want to feel good from time to time.

We all want our partners to recognise our contributions, importance, efforts, actions and so on.

And there’s no problem with that.

The issue isn’t our human need for significance and wanting some validation from time to time.

The real issue is when our sense of significance, worth and self-esteem become reliant on external validation and recognition.

When that happens and we lose our inner sense of self-worth, we are potentially opening ourselves up for a lot of heartache and disappointment along the way.

And when our partners expect us to do it for them, it can very easily take the relationship hostage.

So it’s never a good idea to build your self-esteem and worth on something or someone outside of you.

But the reality is that many couples do that, unfortunately.

Many partners within relationships struggle with low self-esteem or very little self-worth and they rely on their partners to fill that void or make up the difference.

With devastating consequences from time to time.

It’s very difficult to create and sustain a happy, healthy, and intimate relationship when I’m little more than a crutch for my partner.

But, as I said, it is the reality for many.

So what can you do in a situation like that?

You have to start by understanding how to improve self-esteem in relationships.

And it doesn’t need to be overly complicated.

In fact, it never really is.

The simpler the better when it comes to relationships.

I think that we sometimes seriously overcomplicate things when it comes to our love lives.

People are actually very simple when it comes to love …

We want to be loved. We want to feel respected. We want to feel important. We want to be treated well. We want affection.

Not complicated.

But what if your partner needs a little bit more than usual?

Then there are a few things I would suggest.

You probably have to make a more concerted effort to strengthen your partner self-esteem.

More than usual.

And the main focus should be to demonstrate your love and affection with actions that help increase your partner’s positive feelings about themselves.

That’s the crux of it.

If you can focus on that, it will go a long way.

And below are six specific things you can do to improve self-esteem in relationships.

6 Ways How To Improve Self Esteem in Relationships

Notice The Little Things Your Partner Does For You.

Does he always open doors for you or pull out your chair when dining out?

Perhaps she consistently asks what you’d like to have for dinner.

Notice your partner’s efforts by saying something like, “Wow, I love it when you’re such a gentleman” or “I really appreciate a beautiful woman cooking and serving a meal for me” to boost your partner’s feelings about herself.

Noticing and making a BIG deal out of the LITTLE things your partner does for you goes a LONG way.

Take Delight In Your Partner’s Presence.

This is an issue some couples I’ve worked with recently struggled with.

She wants to feel that he’s thinking of her during his day and he wants her to understand that he’s too busy making money to give her the life he thinks she wants.

And both are missing the point and each other.

Our partners simply want to feel that they are the number one priority in our lives at all times regardless of the demands of life.

And nothing speaks more directly to that than our presence.

Even when we can’t be with our partners in person, just constantly checking in and letting them know we are thinking of them, goes a long way in making them feel good about themselves and us.

So, whatever you want to make of this, take this advice – even at the busiest, most hectic times, stop what you’re doing to acknowledge your partner by touching base.

And when physically together, greet and treat each other with love and care.

Have eyes for no one else.

Communicate your love through your eyes.

Your partner will feel great when you pay more attention to him or her than to anyone else in the room.

PS. And put your damn phone away!

Compliment Something They Do Well.

We all love to be complimented or recognised.

It makes us feel good.

Even when we say it doesn’t.

And it’s even truer in our love relationships.

But, unfortunately, we also get lazy in our relationships, don’t we?

We just kind of take things for granted after a while.

The key is to keep complimenting and acknowledging your partner.

Does she set the most beautiful table when guests are coming for dinner?

Does he always clean up dinner?

Don’t just accept them as normal – complement these gestures of love from your partner.

After all, not everyone husband or wife makes the same effort in their relationship as yours does.

So let your spouse know how much you appreciate him or her.

Notice When They Really Enjoy Doing A Task Or Other Activity.

For example, say something like, “I can tell that you had a great time helping Jack paint his house today. And you did a fantastic job!”

One way to improve self-esteem is by recognising and pointing out our partner’s strengths and good points.

So, ALL your positive comments to your partner about what you notice about them, serve to store up some extra self-esteem.

Plus, your remarks will cause your partner to reflect on what they were doing and recognise, “Hey, yeah, I really do enjoy doing that and I’m good at it! I’m going to make some plans to do it again soon.”

Show Consistent Support And Confidence.

Especially when your partner appears to be struggling with a particular issue.

If your partner is trying to lose some weight, for example, and has been disappointed with the results, let her know you see her efforts and that you believe they’ll pay off.

Comment, “Let’s take a 15-minute walk every day after work before dinner time” to demonstrate your strong support for her.

She’ll feel cherished to know you’re there for her and that you understand what she’s going through.

When she feels like she’s worth it and that you’ve got confidence in her, those feelings translate to self-esteem which in turn helps to strengthen your bond and relationship.

When Your Partner Makes A Change, Be Aware Of It.

Compliment the change.

For example, if he shaves off his beard or tries a different style of clothing, make comments such as, “You look so young without your beard” or “That colour of shirt complements the colour of your eyes very nicely. I think we should get you some more clothes in that shade.”

When we make a change in our life, it usually comes with a lot of uncertainty and even doubts.

So, having a partner who supports us by recognising our efforts to make a change or improve something really helps to increase our confidence and improve our self-esteem.

The opposite is equally true, however.

Making a big deal of our partner falling off the wagon after attempting to change, WILL crush their self-esteem and break trust in your relationship.

Not good if you want a happy relationship.

Take Away …

Listen, at the end of the day, knowing how to improve self-esteem in relationships comes down to ONE thing – always being there emotionally for your partner.

And using strategies that raise your partner’s self-esteem will strengthen your relationship and deepen the love and respect you feel for each other.

So keep practising these strategies to raise your partner’s self-esteem and your partner will appreciate you even more!

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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