Building Self-Confidence in a Relationship

Written by Rhiann McNally
Artwork by Haley Kigbo

Everyone struggles with self-confidence issues at some point in their life. It doesn’t matter if you have found your soul mate, low self-esteem can still find a way to gnaw at you, and make you feel like you’re not good enough. When you’re with someone, low confidence can put a strain on your relationship. In the cherished words of the almighty queen, Rupaul, “If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Relationship expert Melissa Ferrari tells Neutral.Love, “Our partner plays a big role in how confident we are.”

“This is why couples need to take care of each other and what is said or done because we do play a role in boosting each other’s self esteem.”

She explains that attraction is about safety, rather than fear. “Attraction has more to do with how we feel in the presence of our partner.”

“If we can feel safe and secure in the relationship with our significant other we will be more confident in ourselves.”


How is Self-Confidence Lowered in a Relationship

There are many reasons couples lose their confidence. Sometimes our partners can take us for granted, sometimes we feel ignored.

“All kinds of vulnerabilities can emerge when we don’t feel loved.” Melissa says this feeling can create self-doubt and worry. Feeling confident is difficult when you are dealing with pent-up anxieties. “Confidence comes from feeling all is well in the world.”

If you’re feeling under-appreciated or unloved, it can do a number on your self-esteem.

Gender Has Nothing to Do With It

Don’t be fooled by the stereotypes, men can definitely have as little confidence as women. (Yay! Equality!) Melissa doesn’t see big differences between men’s and women’s low confidence levels.

“I think how we are shaped psychologically, genetics and the environment we grew up in has a great influence on self esteem.”

While women show their vulnerabilities more forthrightly, Melissa says “I believe young boys and men are conditioned to hide their feelings and such vulnerabilities.”

 She explains “If we have felt nurtured, safe and secure during our developmental years we will more than likely be a more confident adult.”


How to Build Self-Confidence in a Relationship

According to Melissa, the best ways to improve your and your partner’s confidence levels is to be loving towards each other. “Help your partner feel safe and secure. Kind words, spending time, gifts or affection are always going to help in this area.”

It’s also important to know your partners vulnerabilities, and taking care of them can help greatly here as well. Helping you partner feel ok is going to go a long way.” Melissa gave us seven tips to help you and your partner get confident.

The 7-Step Guide to Boosting Self-Confidence in your Relationship

1.       Compliment each other, particularly if you have shared a great time together in the bedroom.

2.       Set long term goals that consider each other’s needs.

3.       Sort out differences and disputes together.

4.       Doing things together where you have to rely on each other for support, for instance, dancing or rock climbing.

5.       Be vulnerable together.

6.       Share loving looks and gestures daily between the two of you. 

7.       Cook for each other and do the chores together.


Get Help if You Need It

If you need more help, or you’re really struggling, there is no shame in getting professional help. “Therapy can help increase a couple’s confidence greatly because the aim of therapy is to help a couple feel "good" about their relationship.”

Melissa says “Couple therapy helps couples become more attuned to each other and become experts on each other.”

“When couples feel they know each other they can predict more and therefore this builds confidence between the two.” Check out our previous article on Couples therapy to learn more about how it can help you.