Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal


Although low self-esteem (LSE) refers to possessing primarily negative self-views, individuals with low self-esteem (LSEs) may have specific self-views that are positive. In the context of romantic relationships, LSEs often engage in destructive relationship behaviours, such as devaluing their partners and frequently checking for signs of rejection. However, there is evidence that romantic relationships can positively influence LSEs, as these relationships provide access to ongoing positive social feedback and emotional support. This article reviews literature surrounding the relationship between self-esteem and romantic relationships in order to understand how LSEs may perceive themselves as adding value to their romantic relationships. Based on the findings from the literature review, LSEs may value their (a) perceived attentiveness to relationship obstacles, (b) avoidance of conflict, (c) unique behaviours that increase partner dependence, and (d) traits that are shared with romantic partners. The paper calls for empirical work on this topic, including identifying other traits that LSEs perceive as valuable, understanding what LSEs’ partners value about them, and tracking changes in LSEs’ self-views over the course of a relationship. Possible practical applications of these findings include the development of new interventions to improve self-esteem and relationship quality by building on LSEs’ perceived positive qualities.

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