Relationships: Low Self-Esteem Hurts

People with low self-esteem are apt to feel responsible for their partner's unhappiness, and to unwittingly sabotage their relationship as a result. Sandra Murray, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of New York at Buffalo, found that college students who scored low on measures of self-esteem were far more likely to feel rejected or hostile when presented with scenarios in which their partners were distraught, even when other factors--such as losing a court hearing--were implicated in the partners' moodiness.

In the journal Personal Relationships, Murray warns that overly sensitive and insecure partners may "read nonexistent meaning into their partners' ambiguous cues, thus leading their relationships to the outcome they wish to avoid." While misreading cues may seem to be a greater danger in nascent relationships, researchers have found that even after ten years of marriage, people with low self-esteem believe their partners love them far less than they actually do.

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