You can invest a lot of time and effort building a stellar relationship, but if your girlfriend feels bad about herself, you may be fighting a losing battle. Even women with healthy levels of self-esteem benefit from a boost now and then. Helping your girlfriend feel confident and secure can be challenging, but the payoff of a solid and satisfying relationship is worth the effort.
Start a Covert Operation
A large scale study conducted by researchers at San Diego State and the University of Georgia, published in 2013 in the "Personality and Social Psychology Review," debunked a common myth that teenage girls regularly experience a drop in self-esteem during adolescence. The reality is that self-esteem for both genders typically rises throughout high school and college. At any age, overhearing a glowing discussion about your personality or your achievements carries a powerful, positive punch. Do a little bragging about your girlfriend to family members, friends, classmates or coworkers. When word eventually gets back to her -- and it often will -- not only will she feel better about herself, she will feel better about your relationship, as well.
Consider the Big Picture
Psychologist Celeste Gertsen has noted that self-esteem problems can develop at a very young age. Women who were abused as children and those whose parents divorced when they were young may be particularly vulnerable. Whether your girlfriend has low, moderate or high levels of self-esteem, always keep the lines of communication open. Consider asking your girlfriend directly how she feels about herself or share details about any self-esteem issues with which you have struggled. Assure her that your affection for her goes beyond what she looks like or what she can do. Let her know that you care about her as a person.
When offering compliments, be specific. Focus on highlighting aspects of her personality or behavior rather than physical beauty. For example, if your girlfriend looks particularly nice, rather than saying "Wow, you look hot in that dress," instead say "I love your fashion sense." Be careful to avoid speaking or behaving in ways that could lead her to believe that your love and affection are only available as rewards -- though this is a good practice in any relationship, it's especially important if your girlfriend has low self-esteem. When she has had a bad day or has failed to achieve a goal, assure her that you still believe in her; remind her of past successes and let her know you are proud of her.
Consider Professional Help
In some cases, you may need assistance to help your girlfriend feel good about herself. Some self-esteem issues arise from or exist concurrently with more severe problems. Women with eating and mood disorders, for example, very regularly suffer from issues with self-esteem. If your girlfriend suffers from a self-esteem problem which also involves serious physical, neurological or psychological difficulties, it is important to encourage her to see a professional. Assisting her in finding affordable professional help and offering to attend the appointment with her can give her the confidence necessary to take the next steps.
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