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Unhappy Relationships Perpetuated by Low Self-Esteem

Update Date: Feb 27, 2015 08:06 PM EST

Having a low self-esteem increases a person's risk of putting up with an unhappy relationship.

And because they fear rejection, people with low self-esteem are significantly less likely to voice relationship complaints.

"There is a perception that people with low self-esteem tend to be more negative and complain a lot more," lead researcher Megan McCarthy, a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology of the University of Waterloo, said in a news release. "While that may be the case in some social situations, our study suggests that in romantic relationships, the partner with low self-esteem resists addressing problems."

Researchers said that the latest findings highlight the importance of intimate partner communication.

"If your significant other is not engaging in open and honest conversation about the relationship it may not be that they don't care, but rather that they feel insecure and are afraid of being hurt," McCarthy said.

"We've found that people with a more negative self-concept often have doubts and anxieties about the extent to which other people care about them," she added. "This can drive low self-esteem people toward defensive, self-protective behavior, such as avoiding confrontation."

"We may think that staying quiet, in a 'forgive and forget' kind of way, is constructive, and certainly it can be when we feel minor annoyances," said McCarthy. "But when we have a serious issue in a relationship, failing to address those issues directly can actually be destructive."

"We all know that close relationships can sometimes be difficult," McCarthy concluded. "The key issue, then, is how we choose to deal with it when we feel dissatisfied with a partner."

The latest findings were presented this week in California at The Society for Personality and Social Psychology's 16th Annual Meeting.

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