Nav: Home

Low self-esteem partners create their own regret in relationship sacrifices

May 18, 2017

Low self-esteem partners can feel vulnerable in their relationship, including feeling insecure about their partner's support and love. In a series of studies, social psychologists in the Netherlands show that people with low self-esteem end up regretting sacrifices they make in relationships because they do not feel appreciated or supported by their partner. The results appear in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"Low self-esteem partners desire strong interpersonal connections like everybody else but they are very sensitive to rejection and interpersonal threats," says lead author Francesca Righetti (VU University Amsterdam). "They underestimate how positively they are viewed by their partner and how much their partner loves and cares for them. They also tend to think that others are not there for them, not available to provide support when in need."

These doubts can influence mood, stress, and life satisfaction.

The researchers tested the idea that when low self-esteem individuals decide to sacrifice personal preferences for their relationship, they come to regret those actions, with further consequences for their wellbeing.

130 couples in the Netherlands participated in the study, first filling out emotional assessments every 2 hours for eight days and a daily dairy at the end of the day, and were then contacted a year later. The couples spoke Dutch, had no children and had been together at least 4 months. Most weren't married.

The results showed that low self-esteem is related to greater regret of past sacrifices, which in turn, affects negative mood, stress and life satisfaction. "Further analyses revealed that low self-esteem individuals feel less supported by the partner after they sacrifice which helps explain why they come to regret their sacrifices," says Righetti.

Based on their research, the issue isn't how much or how often they sacrifice, "People with low self-esteem sacrifice in their relationship as much as people high in self-esteem," says Righetti. "However, they are more likely to regret those sacrifices and this leads them to experience more negative mood, greater stress and lower life satisfaction, even over time."

Righetti's advice, "If you have a low self-esteem partner, try to show much appreciation and gratitude after s/he sacrificed. S/he needs reassurance that you have noticed and appreciated the efforts. If you are low in self-esteem yourself, try not to assume that your partner did not notice what you have done for the relationship. Perhaps, talk together (in a constructive manner!) about what you have done for him/her and what it has entailed for you."
-end-


Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Related Stress Articles:

Captive meerkats at risk of stress
Small groups of meerkats -- such as those commonly seen in zoos and safari parks -- are at greater risk of chronic stress, new research suggests.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away
Eating three to four servings of vegetables daily is associated with a lower incidence of psychological stress, new research by University of Sydney scholars reveals.
Prebiotics may help to cope with stress
Probiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics are less well understood.
Building stress-resistant memories
Though it's widely assumed that stress zaps a person's ability to recall memory, it doesn't have that effect when memory is tested immediately after a taxing event, and when subjects have engaged in a highly effective learning technique, a new study reports.
Stress during pregnancy
The environment the unborn child is exposed to inside the womb can have a major effect on her or his development and future health.
New insights into how the brain adapts to stress
New research led by the University of Bristol has found that genes in the brain that play a crucial role in behavioural adaptation to stressful challenges are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms.
Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain
Knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will definitely be shocked.
Stress could help activate brown fat
Mild stress stimulates the activity and heat production by brown fat associated with raised cortisol, according to a study published today in Experimental Physiology.
Experiencing major stress makes some older adults better able to handle daily stress
Dealing with a major stressful event appears to make some older adults better able to cope with the ups and downs of day-to-day stress.

Related Stress Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".