In any relationship, no two people's confidence will ever match to perfection. But successful couples tend to share part of a confidence continuum, usually the positive end, which increases the level of tolerance in each individual, thus prolonging the union. Where confidence is highly mismatched, which affects a high proportion of relationships, one partner is likely to grow in esteem as he/she settles into the union and achieves his/her own goals, while the other will noticeably lag behind, more than likely feeling insecure and inadequate.
In such cases it is difficult to be mutually supportive because the confident party would be keen to get on while the other would be more cautious, fearful or even resentful. As expectations won't be met, frustrations soon become apparent, strangling enthusiasm and effort, while competition or apathy sets in. The seeds for a breakdown would already be in place. In fact, one could almost predict the development of a relationship from the individual scores of a good confidence quiz administered during courtship!
Difficult to Please
People with low esteem are also very self-conscious in appearance, being difficult to please and to reach, because of their defensive barriers. They tend to be overtly superficial, mean with appreciation and often inspire little faith in, or respect from, others. You will rarely hear the words 'I love you', 'I admire you', 'You look great', 'Wonderful to have you in my life', or 'You're so clever' from low-confidence partners because they want such praise too and, not getting it from anywhere, they cannot reciprocate. Instead, they adopt a superior attitude and partners are likely to be treated as though they should be grateful for any affection or attention they receive.
However, being low in self-worth, and also with an insatiable need for reinforcement to boost their own egos, those of poor esteem are always expecting others to affirm them, to love them and to value what they do continuously. They tend to believe their more positive partners are never doing enough to appreciate them – a situation which is likely to become wearisome for that partner because of the one-way nature of the relationship. We have to love ourselves first before we can understand that love and then pass it back to others.
Low-confidence people also find it hard to solve personal difficulties. Being too ready to blame others for their own misfortune, they expect scapegoats to provide the answers, often refusing to believe that any solution lies within themselves. Blaming others becomes a handy crutch for doing nothing. Sadly, it also maintains their low self-acceptance and reduces their personal value and appeal.
Dragged Down by Negativity
The trouble with having extremes of confidence competing in a relationship is that, sooner or later, the positive person will be dragged down by the negativity of the other, be severely limited by her, be demoralised by his inevitable criticism and carping or, alternatively, be suffocated by her fawning, whingeing or marked lack of respect for personal space. Males with low self-esteem tend to be controllers in relationships, always keen to control their environment excessively, like wardens in a prison, and to point out blunders and errors. They tend to feel insecure if they are not in charge. Such men often seem quiet, retiring and competent to others, but are likely to behave like bullies at home, especially towards their family – the captive audience.
Characterised by weakness and dependency, females with low esteem tend to behave like doormats, always trying to please, even at their own expense. They are usually the last to appreciate their negative circumstances which many others can easily see. Often they take their treatment without a whimper, no matter how degrading, violent and brutal, in return for the continuing attention, approval and self-reinforcement they crave. In time, for both men and women, they lose their self-respect entirely, their friends gradually disappear and they become dependent upon their job as workaholics, upon friends or relatives, or upon each other, especially for self-reinforcement and validation. Such relationships are likely to exclude others, becoming increasingly limiting, claustrophobic and destructive in the end.