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30 Signs of Low Self-Esteem in a Woman that Reveal a Need for Self-Love

Confidence is a difficult thing. Sometimes it’s high, other times it’s low. Learn the signs of low self-esteem in a woman and check your own levels. 

signs of low self-esteem in a woman

It is important to know the signs of low self-esteem in a woman, both personally and for those who are important to us, so that we can help in any way we can.

Whether you are a teenager, young adult, or in your forties or fifties, we all face issues with self-esteem. Often we recognize it. We have a bad hair day, we wake up with a zit, or we just have a blah day.

But sometimes, we fool ourselves into believing our self-esteem is at its peak when in fact, we show signs of low self-esteem.

It is important to be self-aware so that we can fight back and regain our confidence. [Read: How to build your self-esteem and love your life]

Low self-esteem in a woman

Low self-esteem is a lack of belief in yourself. And that can be for one aspect of your life or every one of them. Someone may be full of confidence at work but second guess themselves regarding relationships or vice versa.

Think back to your awkward years, perhaps in grade school. Maybe you had braces, bad skin, or wore your sibling’s old clothes. That time period may be something you look back on and see your low self-esteem waving like a flag.

But as you mature, low self-esteem becomes a bit more difficult to spot.

We grow in certain aspects of our lives and build up faith that we will be successful. And if we don’t, we at least act as if we do to get through the workweek.

That is why identifying low self-esteem in a woman can be difficult. We are taught not to show it, and it can actually come off as if we are conceited rather than struggling with our self-confidence. [Read: How to be happy in life and live it to the fullest]

Why do women get low self-esteem?

Just like teenagers, women get low self-esteem from both internal and external factors. Bullying, family drama, a dysfunctional relationship, and of course, mental illness like anxiety and depression surge low self-esteem as well.

You may struggle with thinking you are unlovable if you have had nothing but bad relationships. You might have low self-esteem if you had a strained relationship with your parents. And childhood bullying can bring up a lot of confidence issues, even for a strong and independent career woman. [Read: Am I unlovable? What you need to know when you feel unloved]

It’s true that the world isn’t easy for anyone. There’s a lot of judgment on what’s right and what’s wrong, and it certainly doesn’t work in our favor. To some degree, everyone has low self-esteem.

Some people have low self-esteem on specific things. Whereas others struggle with almost everything that comes along their path.

When we’re single, we sometimes ignore our low self-esteem issues or simply don’t see them because we’re in our comfort zone. But when we’re in a relationship, our insecurities are magnified.

When you’re insecure, your partner can help you greatly to work through those self-esteem issues. But at the same time, low self-esteem can sabotage your relationship. That’s why it’s important to look for the signs of low self-esteem in a woman and do something about it. [Read: How your self-respect in a relationship affects you and your love life]

The signs of low self-esteem in a woman

But, what does low self-esteem look like? Sure, it can be obvious. A woman may be down and question herself in every aspect of life. She may hate shopping, not put effort into her appearance, or try to set goals in her career.

Often, signs of low self-esteem in a woman are quite a bit more subtle.

1. A need for attention

Many women with low self-esteem crave attention in any way they can. That can be through the affection of men, stealing someone’s ideas at work, or crying at every office party.

We know it doesn’t sound good. Low self-esteem can lead to very neurotic behavior that is hard to describe. You may think someone who doesn’t think highly of themselves would simply change. It is not so easy. [Read: The signs you’re an attention seeker and don’t even know it]

2. A pessimistic attitude

Yes, some women with low self-esteem will crave attention. Others will dwell on the negatives of every situation. Instead of looking at the bright side, they will always consider the worst possible outcome.

They will go on a date thinking it will end badly. Or they have a negative attitude towards an interviewer because they doubt they have a chance at the job they want, and they will likely try to bring you down with them.

If you are going on a date, instead of saying “I’m excited for you,” they may say, “Good luck, hope you don’t have to sneak out of the bathroom window.” [Read: How to deal with the Negative Nancy in your life]

3. A lack of drive

Many women with high self-esteem always have new goals to reach. They graduate college, head to grad school, and land a great job, but their eyes are on a better one in a few years.

Someone with low self-esteem may stay in a low-paying job beneath their abilities simply because they don’t have the guts or belief that they can do more. [Read: What should I do with my life to make it better? 16 steps to design your ideal life]

4. A follower’s attitude

A sign of low self-esteem in a woman is following. A woman with low self-esteem may struggle to make her own choices. She will shop based on what someone she looks up to is wearing.

She will mimic others to try to better herself rather than owning who she is.

5. Self-sabotage

Low self-esteem is a tricky thing. It sounds easy to follow your life’s direction and appreciate any good things that come along. But someone with low self-esteem may unintentionally sabotage their own happiness.

Say a woman with low self-esteem is in a healthy relationship. She may subconsciously be afraid that her partner will leave her. So instead of talking to him about it or even looking at the facts, she may cause a fight or break up with him before he can hurt her. [Read: The many ways people sabotage their happiness and ruin their own lives]

6. Blame

Those with low self-esteem do not always realize that that is what they are struggling with. In fact, they may be in denial. Instead, they blame others for any struggles in their life.

They may blame their parents for not having a better education, their spouse for their happiness, their kids for their career, etc.

7. Low standards

You’ve seen this all the time in movies. A girl puts up with a bunch of crappy boyfriends because she didn’t realize she deserved a guy who would respect her and appreciate her.

Her self-esteem was low, so she put up with crumbs when she deserves a stack of freshly baked cookies. You’d notice this same pattern in your own life as well. [Read: Why lowering your standards will only bring you crappy relationships]

8. Bullying

Ahhh… the sucker of all signs of low self-esteem in a woman, bullying. Sometimes high school never ends. Some women struggling with self-esteem issues take it out on others.

It could be women they are jealous of, women they see themselves in, or really anyone they feel they can get away with putting down.

This is nothing new. We always hear that bullies put others down to make themselves feel better. Of course, it is immature, childish, and not effective, but it still happens like it or not. [Read: Am I toxic? How to tell if you’re the toxic one and not everyone else]

9. Laziness

Some people assume that women who put effort into their appearance must be struggling with low self-esteem. But, that is not always the case. Many women who wear makeup, are interested in fashion, etc., have a fair amount of confidence and let these interests show that off.

However, a sign of low self-esteem in a woman is laziness about her appearance. Of course, some women just don’t care or simply don’t have the time to, but low self-esteem can make you question why you should bother with things like makeup or fancy clothes.

10. Guilt

Saying “I’m sorry” is common for many women, especially women with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem can make you feel unwanted and unneeded.

If you interrupt a meeting to ask a question and apologize, you may be struggling with low self-esteem. Your question was likely very insightful, but for some reason, you felt the need to apologize for your place in that meeting. [Read: 20 signs of insecurity people can’t hide when they feel insecure]

11. A desire for sympathy

Who has it worse?

Competing over who has it worse to gain sympathy is not just about discussing who is more stressed but about gaining attention through sorrow and pity.

12. Spoiling and overcompensating

Low self-esteem can be about acceptance and when that’s hard to come by, some women start to spoil others or overcompensate. The problem is that they often do good things for people who don’t deserve it.

For instance, she might start to bake cookies for her colleagues at work, even though they do nothing but drag her down all day long. Or she might volunteer for every single project, just so she can look good in their eyes. [Read: Why am I so insecure? 20 reasons why you care much more than others]

13. Withdrawal

Yes, sometimes at a party, you just feel like chilling in the corner with the host’s puppy, but if you or a friend consistently withdraw from socializing, you may have low self-esteem.

One of the signs of low self-esteem in a woman is the feeling of not fitting in, and instead of trying, you just stay back on your own. You may even tell yourself that if you deserve attention or if these people want to hang out with you, they will seek you out.

14. Bragging

Much like bullying, bragging is a way people with low self-esteem temporarily boost their ego. They brag about their new car, cool stereo system, or gorgeous baby, but they are likely struggling with a lot you don’t know about.

People who are happy with their lives and themselves don’t feel the need to brag. [Read: Your guide to not giving a fuck and having more laughs]

15. Agreeable

Being a pushover is a sign of low self-esteem in a woman. Going along with the group and never speaking up or sharing your opinion is a way those struggling with confidence remain unseen.

Someone with low self-esteem doesn’t want to make a big deal. They don’t want to ruffle feathers or break from the status quo. So by agreeing with where everyone wants to go to dinner, where your partner wants to move, or that your boss promoted your less qualified coworker, you put yourself down.

16. Negative self-talk

When you look in the mirror, do you point out your flaws before anything else? Do you put more attention on the things you’d like to fix than the things you’re proud of yourself for? Maybe you can’t accept a compliment.

A sign of low self-esteem in a woman is the inability to speak positively about oneself. Instead, you focus only on what you don’t like about yourself. [Read: How to master positive self-talk and banish negativity]

17. Sensitivity

You can’t accept criticism, even when it is fair. Instead of accepting that you can work on something, you take every note of your work as a personal attack. You have trouble letting go of the slightest comments and let them eat away at you.

18. Shame

You feel constant and intense shame from failure, even when it wasn’t your fault. When things go wrong around you, you tend to blame yourself and feel responsible.

This can really damage your psyche and make your low self-esteem even lower. [Read: Is negative thinking ruining your life?]

19. Fatigue

Low self-esteem can manifest into more severe issues like depression and anxiety or can come from them. These can show themselves through physical ailments. You may feel exhausted, disinterested, have a lack an appetite, or feel weak.

In this case, low self-esteem needs more than your own attention and work. The help of a therapist can work wonders if you’re open to it.

20. Acting guarded

Even if they’ve been dating for a long time, they still can’t totally open up to their partner. Sound familiar? This is one of the signs of low self-esteem in a woman.

It’s usually down to some nasty experience in the past but sometimes it can be for no reason whatsoever.

Low self-esteem is the driving force behind this and they’re constantly afraid of being abandoned if they open up completely. [Read: What insecure people can’t hide when they feel insecure] 

21. Testing others

In the beginning, when you’re dating, it’s normal for people to test each other in specific situations. But when you’re in a relationship you shouldn’t have to test your partner. Women with low self-esteem tend to do this a lot.

It’s usually because in the back of their mind they’re wondering whether he really loves her or if he could really be with someone like her.

These thoughts push in a specific direction and a woman will start to test her partner to show her value. It’s toxic in so many ways, both for your relationship and your self-esteem. [Read: The 11 biggest tests girls put you through in a relationship]

22. Doing things you don’t want to do

Naturally, when we’re in a relationship, there are things that we do because our partner would like to do it. Do we like it? No, but we do it because of them and that’s okay.

But, if a woman is always doing this, even if she really doesn’t want to do something, it’s not a good sign. [Read: 20 signs she’s a people pleaser even if she doesn’t realize it]

23. Difficult accepting compliments

A woman can receive the best compliments out there but she will just blush and reject them. Someone who loves themselves will take the compliment and thank you for it.

But a woman with low self-esteem simply doesn’t accept what she’s being told.

24. Hiding during sex

A common sign is that a woman refuses to have the lights on or to be on top during sex. These may not seem like a big deal but this underlines a major self-esteem issue.

It’s problematic because it stops her enjoying sex and instead, she’s focusing entirely on her perceived flaws.

25. Indecisiveness

Whether it’s picking a restaurant or a beach to go to, you can never make a decision. This is because women with low self-esteem are unable to make decisions and they constantly change their minds.

The driver behind it is being concerned about the other person not liking their choice rather than making a choice. [Read: The best ways to deal with an indecisive partner]

26. A preoccupation with luck

Whether luck exists or not, a person with low self-esteem will never assume that something happened to them because they worked hard or deserved it.

Instead, they’ll tell you that they’re lucky. In reality, there was a lot of hard work that went into the achievement. This is one of the biggest signs of low self-esteem in a woman because it shows she doesn’t believe in herself.

27. Materialism

Surprisingly, many studies have shown that there is a correlation between materialism and low self-esteem.

People with low self-esteem turn to short-term pleasure, thinking that it’ll make them feel better, however, that’s not the case. Though they think that buying new things will give them worth, they’re wrong. [Read: 13 happy things everyone needs for a really happy life]

28. Conflict avoidance

When someone doesn’t like something, they voice their opinion. But a woman with low self-esteem will stay far away from conflict. In fact, she’ll probably agree just to keep the peace. It’s likely that she’s scared of speaking her truth because she doesn’t want to handle the consequences.

29. Comfort zone

You may be overqualified for a promotion at work but instead, you decide not to take it. This is because of low self-esteem and a fear of failing. Women that don’t believe in themselves don’t push themselves forward.

30. An obsession with the success of others

Because of insecurity, a woman with low self-esteem isn’t going to push themselves forward. Instead, they focus on making sure other people push themselves forward.

Now, this support isn’t bad, but they do this because they’re scared of their own success. They would go one million miles for others, but they never do anything for themselves. [Read: 10 steps to helping your partner drop their unhealthy habits]

Your feelings are valid

Remember, if you do struggle with low self-esteem, your feelings are valid. We all have crappy days. And no one is 100% confident all the time.

But you deserve to believe in yourself. You deserve to try your hardest. You deserve to be treated better and have friends that truly care.

If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or severely low self-esteem, reach out to a trained professional for guidance and therapy. You can live your life to the fullest and truly have faith in yourself.

[Read: How to empower and take care of yourself as a woman]

If you display these signs of low self-esteem in a woman, you can grow and gain more confidence. Or if you recognize these signs in a woman you know, a kind gesture or just a simple compliment will help.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...