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10 Signs He Thinks He's Not Good Enough (& What To Do)

If you find your boyfriend nagging about his position in your life way too many times, you might want to know what’s wrong! Lack of self-esteem can be rooted in childhood traumatic incidents or body image issues. And in most cases, you can help him out with adequate love and care. Featured Image of Signs He Thinks He's Not Good Enough

We all grow up with a host of insecurities and vulnerabilities which we later attempt to hide from the world. Unfortunately, these negative ideas that we entertain form an overall image of who we think we are - inside our own minds.

You and I both know from our own experiences that just because someone appears to be strong and optimistic on the outside does not mean they are not dealing with their own demons on the inside. 

Some of us grew up feeling like we were not caring enough - others were taught to believe it was always their fault when something went wrong. These continuous and automatic thought processes together come to form what is known as 'schemas' - built-in thought patterns through which we view ourselves and others.

Now, your boyfriend has similar negative thoughts and doubts that often occur to him, admittedly at times without any external prompting. Why does he keep saying he is not good enough for you? Does this mean he doesn't want you? Is he trying to manipulate you into pitying him? Let's dive deeper into it. 

Signs he thinks he is not good enough 

Some boys are able to tell their girlfriends how they feel about their role in a relationship. Your boyfriend might come to you and tell you in his vulnerable moment that he feels like he is not enough for you - or he might not. There are men out there who simply cannot vocalize such emotional sentences. So, how do you know if he really thinks he is not good enough for you? 

#1 He is always criticizing himself

Do you feel like your boyfriend has become more critical of himself ever since he has come into a relationship with you? This does not mean you are not good enough for him, but maybe he is not happy with the way he has conducted himself all this time and is very aware of the fact that he needs to do better. This is a wonderful thing, but it can also give rise to not-so-pleasant feelings of being insufficient for the girl he loves. 

If you find your partner constantly criticizing his habits, ideals, and the way he handles certain situations around you, this might be a sign that he thinks he is not enough for you. 

Another common feeling of guilt that men often go through is the guilt of not resolving fights properly, not planning important dates properly, etc. If this has been an issue in your relationship in the past, you might see him criticizing himself for those mistakes and feeling low every time the topic comes up.

#2 He is constantly afraid of exposing his vulnerabilities and shortcomings

Many men try to appear powerful and emotionless just so they don't have to expose their vulnerabilities and shortcomings in front of the women whom they like. This ideology stems from a childhood experience where the boy learns that his human flaws make him 'less of a man.' 

It might also be that other women who were involved with him in the past are very critical of his flawed side. Therefore he feels as long as you only see the perfect version of him, you will not realize that he is actually not good enough for you!

You can take time to show him how getting to know every version of him is what you aspire to do - this however needs to be done very carefully. 

He needs to understand deep in his heart that your desire to know him better comes from the excitement of connecting with him and not out of any suspicion that you might have formed about his personality. Men who think they are not good enough for their girlfriends are usually very sensitive to concepts like trust, empathy, childishness, etc.

#3 He runs away from making commitments 

If he truly wants you and you alone but does not want to commit - there can be two major reasons for this. 

Firstly, he might think you are not good enough for him. Alternatively, he might think he is not good enough for you. How do you know which one of these is applicable to you? Pay close attention to how he behaves around other women. 

Does he often comment about how some women in his life or in his surroundings are very attractive and seductive? Or does he spend more time telling you that you are a lot more than you think of yourself? If he is not trying to seek out other people but still wants to keep things casual, chances are he is trying to resolve his own demons rather than keeping you as a simple backup plan.

In such a case, when he is running away from commitment, he is secretly hoping that you will stick around for long enough. However, always remember that this is not fair to you, and you need to set clear boundaries about what kind of commitment you require for the well-being of your mental and emotional health.

#4 He quickly becomes defensive or retreats during arguments

If your boyfriend becomes extremely defensive or avoids arguments, he is afraid that you will find out how many mistakes he can usually make and how insufficient he is for you. He is subconsciously trying to win arguments and trap you in emotional bonds so that you stop looking at his mistakes square in the eye. 

This may sound cute at first, knowing how much he cares for you, but if you don't draw attention to this behavior, it can become extremely toxic over time. 

Anger is often the first emotional mechanism we use to hide away our feelings of guilt and fear. By showing anger, your boyfriend is trying to shut the conversation down before it can reach a point where he has to admit to the fact that he believes in - that you are not getting the treatment that you deserve in this relationship. 

This means somewhere deep inside; he is also aware that he is hurting you. You need to be assertive in such a situation and wave the anger away so that the rest of your emotions can flow outwards.

#5 He is secretive about every aspect and does not show openness 

An annoying way in which boyfriends try to escape from the fact that they constantly feel insufficient is by trying to be secretive. In their mind, this is a good plan - “if she doesn't know about my life, she cannot decide who I am, right?”

If your boyfriend is someone who has a high chance of doing this, it is time to revise your relationship and ask yourself if you really want to be with someone who thinks in such an immature manner. 

If you still think your boyfriend has the capability of being a great partner, talk to him about how his being secretive about his life is bothering you and how you want to get to know about the actual person he is behind that outward mask. Tell him this is not because you don't trust him but because you want to be respected by him enough. You deserve truth and openness in every relationship you are in.

#6 He is not satisfied with his appearance 

Men suffer just as much as we do with body issues and aesthetic insufficiencies - however, they do so silently and often subconsciously because the beauty issues of men are not talked about freely in today's generation. 

Most men simply believe that building a good physique is all they can do to improve their appearance. Since the physical appearance factor in the well-being of men is often overlooked, many women forget to compliment their boyfriends enough and don't spend enough time giving them reassurance. 

In such situations, the boyfriend develops a wrong notion that they are not, in fact, their girlfriend's type. This combines with existing insecurities about physical appearance and leads them to feel like they are not in the 'same league' as their girlfriend.

#7 He shows jealousy when you talk to other men

Jealousy almost always stems from insecurities that tell men that they are not good enough for their girlfriends, and any other guy with better prospects can come and sweep their girlfriend off her feet. 

A major reason behind the unnecessary toxic behavior that men show as they get aggressive towards their girlfriends or their male friends is simply this. So he may not be telling you that he is jealous because the other guy is quite admirable - and he may not do so because such thought processes, unfortunately, operate on a relatively unconscious level for most guys.

Yes, the best way to approach this situation is to help your boyfriend boost his confidence and look at things a lot more clearly. However, this does not mean in any form or way that you need to put up with his jealous and irrational behavior.

#8 He does not take care of himself

If he does not take care of himself and shows multiple signs that he believes he is not good enough for you, this can be an indication of something much more serious. Your boyfriend, depending on the overall outline of his life and of recent events, has found himself in a depressive period of his life and does not feel like putting in any effort himself anymore. 

Has he given up on himself? While that might be a possible conclusion, he might also have been going through so many struggles in his professional life that it has left him completely exhausted and pessimistic about life itself. He looks around himself and sees all other people achieve everything he wants in life, and he believes he lacks something fundamental which makes him a person less worthy than those around him.

Basic hygiene and taking an interest in one's own personality and appearance are a sign of decent mental health. Talk to him about how he is feeling as soon as possible, and if required, seek out the help of a professional without any delay.

#9 He attempts to control every aspect of your life 

When we talk of jealous and irrational behavior, chances are an overprotective and over-possessive boyfriend is what first comes to your mind. When he is trying to control you, your life is basically trying to decide for you what kind of experience you are going to have. 

By limiting your chances of having extraordinary experience, he is trying to limit the chances of you finding out how he is not good enough for you. He feels if you find out how much more you can get in a relationship, you are going to leave him for someone else who, in his eyes, is the kind of person he would possibly have liked to become.

Having someone else control your life, especially a partner, can have damaging consequences on the health of any woman. Very soon, you will find yourself trapped in the same vicious cycle of negative thoughts that he himself is feeling. Don't let anyone decide what you can or cannot do!

#10 He does not want to meet your friends or colleagues 

Our society has taught a lot of young boys that they need to achieve certain milestones in order to be able to 'provide for' and 'protect' the women in their life.

You might find your boyfriend acting weird when he sees someone that your friend or sibling is dating and who is able to provide these women that you cherish a lot more than he can do for you at present - feelings of not being a good enough man arise. Maybe he has been feeling recently that people in your life don't appreciate him being with you and that everybody is secretly pointing out how you can do a lot better than him.

If this is true, default lies as much as with you as your friends and family. No guy that you have shown interest in you deserves to feel like who they are is unlikable to the people important to you. Try to present him in a more likeable light, and at the same time, assure him that everybody in your life thinks very highly of his physical and intellectual capabilities. 

It will take time to make him comfortable around your family and friends, especially if he has already been nurturing feelings of resentment towards them. But it can still be done!

Why and how low self-esteem develops in men in a relationship?

Men and women have been socially constructed and brought up to have drastically different experiences. Recently, there have been many social conversations happening around how these toxic behaviors that parents often show toward young boys and girls can have a long-lasting impact on their psyche

Many people of our generation, however, still suffer from the consequences of being brought up in a harsh, judgemental family and society. Adult experiences further contribute to making them feel like they have to achieve an impossible standard in order to be a worthy individual. 

Let’s take a look at some of the root causes that lead men to develop low self-esteem that directly impacts their romantic relationships.

#1 Past relationships and emotional patterns

When relationships start breaking up, two partners who once valued each other very highly start pointing out many, many flaws in each other. Some of these flaws hit deep and change how we think of ourselves. 

For example, if your boyfriend's ex always told him he was a coward, your boyfriend will always feel pressure to act masculine and aggressive in public around you so that you don't also start thinking that he does not have the courage to stand up for his girl. 

It is important to break the negative insecurities associated with past relationships - because he has already learned what he had to learn, and it is now time to learn alongside you. 

He needs to give up who he was in the past so that he can become whatever he wants with you by his side.

#2 Poor communication skills

Poor communication skill is a major reason for feeling like someone is not good enough. This is because when someone is conscious that they are unable to communicate properly, they are also conscious of the fact that there are many things they have not said, many beautiful emotions on special days that they have not been able to express. 

When you both have a fight, your boyfriend, due to his lack of proper communication skills, will be unable to express his side of the story to you. Instead, he will be left alone with the wounds of his inexplicable behavior as well as the terrible things that you might have said to him while misunderstanding his intentions.

#3 Fear of rejection or abandonment

Society has told young boys that it is very hard to get a good woman - this is not true in any form or way, and we all know this! 

Even then, many men live in constant fear that their partners will abandon them after spending a considerable amount of time with them. This fear partly also stems from the wrong notion that women find it much easier than men to move on. It is important to remember and recognize that the fear of rejection is not gender specific - deep inside, you fear being left too! 

When faced constructively and when faced together, this fear of rejection and breakup can become a strong foundation over which a relationship of sincerity and understanding is built. Help your boyfriend understand this so that he finds it easier to open up!

#4 Avoidance of difficult conversations

Does your boyfriend have a habit of avoiding difficult conversations and only focusing on happy memories? Regardless of where this habit has originated, it can be a major cause behind the lack of proper confidence. 

What this avoidance basically does is create an unconscious doubt in the mind of the guy that his girl might not be completely happy with him. But as he is also avoiding the conversation at the same time, he is unable to talk out the situation and respond to the actual problem properly. 

This is a vicious cycle that both men and women face in a relationship where they completely shut down after a difficult conversation and then start behaving like it never happened.

#5 Body image issues 

Body image issues have existed since time immemorial, but the advent of popular social media platforms has only magnified this issue tenfold. It is so easy nowadays to compare yourself to the celebrities you admire, the friends and colleagues your girlfriend hangs out with, and even stalk her ex! 

What does all of this lead to? This constant nagging thought that if I looked a certain way - if I was in shape, if I had clear skin, if I had the physical capability of joining my girlfriend on that rock climbing trip she always wanted to go to - if I did all of these things, perhaps I would be enough for her. 

Without being his best version, your boyfriend might feel like he does not deserve your love.

Best ways to improve your boyfriend's self-esteem 

The good news is you can indeed do a number of things to slowly improve your boyfriend's self-esteem and help him become a better individual as you both learn and grow together! Here are some of the best steps you can take to develop his self-esteem and your relationship at the same time. 

#1 Keep appreciating their effort, however small it is

Make it a point to deliberately take notice of every effort they make to impress you or improve themselves. Appreciate these efforts in an original and sincere way. The best thing you can do is to join him on his self-improvement journeys and constantly comment on how he is making the correct life choices and helping you become a better person too!

When he does something really sweet to impress you, mimic that effort and do something for him. When he asks, tell him you learned it all from him. 

Go a bit further and try to appreciate his thoughts and feelings as well. Comment on how lovely it is that he is so open, so compassionate, and so caring when he shows these characteristics. Have meaningful conversations with him and spend time thinking of the things he said so that you can bring up this conversation later on and let him know how deeply his words have impacted you.

#2 Lend them an ear and support their thoughts 

Always be there whenever your boyfriend wants to talk. In fact, if he is not the type to open up naturally, do your best to inculcate this habit in your relationship. Be vulnerable with him and softly encourage him to be vulnerable in return. 

Even when you cannot understand or agree with what they are saying, make it clear that you're putting in every possible effort and that you support them no matter what. You will see that once your boyfriend gets in the habit of having personal conversations with you, your ability to understand each other will develop, and your relationship will grow in beautiful ways. 

Even when you have busy days, make it a point to set some time aside where you can have uninterrupted conversations with your partner.

#3 Assist in goal setting

One of the most constructive ways in which you can deal with feelings of insecurities and not being good enough is by setting certain goals which will bring you closer to the person you aspire to become. 

This is a journey that you and your boyfriend can start together. If you are serious about this person, such short to long-term goal settings will set a precedent for you both to plan your lives together later on as well. Goal setting with your partner will help you understand who they are as core individuals and at what levels you might have to compromise to keep your relationship going. 

On an individual level, it will help you become who you always wanted to be, and you will know that the person you love the most is cheering for you day and night!

#4 Keep negative comments and criticism at bay

Being his girlfriend, it is your unspoken duty to protect your boyfriend from those unnecessarily harsh comments and destructive criticisms that people throw his way. But the external process of keeping him safe is much easier compared to the internal process. 

Internally you have to prepare yourself in such a way that you eradicate all negative thoughts regarding your boyfriend from your mind. Replace these thoughts with realistic, specific thinking, which will help you point out in what directions your relationship can improve and what contributions your boyfriend can make towards such an improvement. 

Instead of blaming him all the time, help you to become more specific about the main problem in the relationship and how to fix it.

#5 Celebrate his achievements, however big or small they are! 

Celebration is the biggest form of showing appreciation. Celebrate your boyfriend's achievements by bringing him flowers, gifts, throwing parties, etc. Show him that he does not need to play the role of the provider all the time, and he can relax and focus on his self-development journey as well! 

At the same time, celebrations make us feel like we are special and loved. They make us feel significant and make us think, 'if my girlfriend has put so much effort into making me happy, I must really mean a lot to her!' Thoughts like these play an additional role in boosting his self-esteem. 


There is absolutely nothing wrong with doubting yourself once in a while. But if your boyfriend is constantly spiraling down a hellhole of self-criticism and helplessness, he really needs your intervention, that too, as soon as possible! You finding fault in everything he does is not going to help the situation. 

Self-doubt can turn a wonderful person into somebody you cannot even recognize. At the same time, you cannot do everything for him, and he needs to recognize the issue himself so that he can take all the necessary steps that will lead to his personal recovery and healing.

Tanurima Mitra

Weekend Writer

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