The shy and awkward guy you met at a party last week has called and asked you for a date. While you find yourself attracted to his vulnerability, you worry that his low self-esteem could create problems in a relationship. Though he may just be shy and nothing more, keeping an eye on his insecurity -- and any jealous or possessive behaviors -- is advisable.
Mild or Severe
A man who has mild self-esteem issues may simply need help to boost his confidence. On the other hand, someone who needs constant reassurance or approval, needs to be constantly at your side, appears jealous or possessive, or is distrustful or suspicious, may suffer with severe insecurity that could hamper a future relationship, writes psychologist Joseph Nowinski, in the "Psychology Today" article, "Is It Love, or Is It Insecurity?" If you see any of these behaviors in a man you are dating, know that he may have deep emotional issues beyond a simple lack of self-confidence.
A man who suffers with a severe lack of self-confidence may seek to reassure himself by controlling you. He might try to restrict the people you spend time with, control the type of clothing that you wear and check up on you night and day. Don't feed his insecurity by changing yourself to meet his unreasonable expectations, warns Nowinski. Instead, maintain your usual behavior and show him that you are a person he can trust.
If a man is lacking confidence but is not overly insecure, be supportive and find ways to bring him out of his shell. Watch him do something at which he excels, suggests psychologist Diane Kirschner, on her Love in 90 Days website. For example, if he is a competitive runner, be there at the finish line to cheer on his success. Offer him genuine and sincere compliments, such as "You looked strong and powerful during that race." Give a boost to his self-esteem by asking for help with something -- such as choosing a gift for a mutual friend.
Be supportive and tell him that you appreciate his vulnerable side. Tell him that you are willing to do things to help him feel more secure -- within reason. For example, you might negotiate at least one daily phone call to help him feel connected and less anxious. Making small compromises are what relationships are all about. As long as you are not changing who you are, there is no reason why you can't offer him a reasonable amount of support and reassurance.
- Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images