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A Relationship Will Not Increase Your Self-Esteem – That's Up to You

By: Leah Hovey

couple watching the sunset on a mountain

It seems that wherever I turn, I am bombarded with couples around me. I can’t look at social media and not see photos of couples or a new engagement pop up. It can be overwhelming to view, and make individuals who are not in a relationship feel the pressure of finding a companion.

There are many people in my life that are in this exact situation. They feel the pressure of having to find a partner. They feel incomplete or behind because they do not have a significant other beside them. There are some individuals whose self-esteem completely depends on whether they have a partner or not. They do not feel good about themselves unless they are in a relationship. With your peers around you finding their person, it is completely understandable to feel poorly about yourself. However, if you have the mindset of needing to find a partner (for the sake of just being in a relationship), you are not going to find the right person.

There is an age old quote which states that “the more you search for something, the less likely you are to obtain it.” This can be said for relationships as well. The more consumed you are with finding the perfect partner, the less likely it will be that you find the right one for you. When individuals are looking for a relationship, they may overlook the issues or flaws that a person may have. This is because when one is so consumed with a relationship, their priority is about having that relationship, not about finding the best partner. People are willing to overlook very obvious red-flags because they just want the benefits or the title of the relationship.

This is why pining for a boyfriend or girlfriend can either push people away or attract the wrong individuals into your life. Dr. Margaret Paul, a relationship therapist and psychologist, speaks very openly about why individuals may be looking for a relationship. She states that there are two main influencing reasons why one may get into a relationship. The first influence has to do with self-worthiness. Someone who is looking for a relationship based on improving their own self-worth may say they are looking for a relationship to feel loved, to feel good about themselves, to be spoiled, shown off, to not be lonely anymore, or because all they want is to get married and start a family.

The second influence has to do with equality and companionship within relationships. Someone searching for a relationship for this reason may say they know they have love to give, they want to learn and grow with a person, and they enjoy having someone to share their experiences with (Paul, 2012). If you find you are looking for a relationship mainly for the first set of reasons, you may want to reevaluate what a relationship truly means to you. Are you getting involved with someone because you want a relationship? Or are you getting involved with someone because you want a companionship with that person?

Wanting to be with someone to increase your self-worth is not only unfair to the other person, but it will hold you back from truly improving your own self-esteem. Other people cannot give you self-worth; you have to have that within yourself. When you have a solid sense of who you are, it teaches you what to expect from a partner, it will help you rid yourself of toxic relationships because you know what you deserve, and you will not rely on your partner as part of your identity.

Research has proven that having a strong sense of self-esteem is beneficial for relationships (Erol & Orth, 2017). In fact, in a specific study, it was discovered that men with a high sense of self-esteem looked for relationships with more stability, and women with a higher sense of self-worth are less likely to engage in a love style focused on insincerity (Zeigler et al., 2015). This study also proved that those with a lower sense of self-esteem were more likely to be in relationships that are focused on self-protection. Relationships are about equality and you cannot find that if you are focused on protecting yourself or filling the empty space within you.

A person does not have to have the best self-image in order to find a partner, but searching for someone solely to gain self-esteem is unfair to the other individual as well as to yourself. Discovering who you are and realizing what you deserve and need from a relationship (and from yourself) will not only benefit you in the long run, but it will help you attract the best partner for you. Everyone deserves to feel loved by their significant other, but loving yourself first is key to realizing what you deserve.


Erol, R. Y., & Orth, U. (2017). Self-esteem and the quality of romantic relationships. European Psychologist.

Zeigler-Hill, V., Britton, M., Holden, C. J., & Besser, A. (2015). How will I love you? Self-esteem instability moderates the association between self-esteem level and romantic love styles. Self and Identity, 14(1), 118-134.

Paul, M., & Paul, M. (2012, December 09). Are You In A Relationship For The Right Reasons? Retrieved from

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