How do you know your worth in a relationship?

What is self-worth based on?

And exactly how worthy are you?

Imagine you are shopping in a departmental store now. You see something you really like… let’s say a shirt, a dress, or a pair of shoes. You look at the price tag and the item costs $100.

Some of us might go, “Oh gosh, this is too expensive. I can’t afford it.” While others might think, “Wow, this is so cheap. I have to buy it.” It might appear that the second group of people is richer than the first group of people. But this might not be true.

What differentiates the two responses is our perception of worthiness.  

The people in the first group might have the money to buy the item but they don’t seem that it’s worth a $100. They love the item but the item might only be worth at most $50 to them. They would rather spend this money on other things that they perceive to have a greater value.

On the other hand, the second group buys the item because they value it at more than $100. If they were to value it as less than $100, they wouldn’t think it’s a good buy.

This is the same as self-worth, especially when it comes to love relationship.

What is Self-Worth and What Does It Mean to Be Worthy?

Worthiness is a peculiar concept that only we humans use to judge ourselves, others, and everything around us. Animals don’t do that. Even though we don’t put a price tag on things and people or measure our worth per se, our mind has a tendency to evaluate all the time.

For example, you won’t be in a relationship with someone unless you think or feel that the other person is worth your time and attention. Even if you are in a crappy relationship, there must be something that makes you believe that staying in this relationship is worthwhile.

It could also be that your sense of self-worth is too low. Subconsciously, you believe you only deserve a partner who doesn’t treat you well. Just like the shopping example at the start of this post. $30 can only be traded for a $30 product. If your partner prices you at $30, but you value yourself at $100. There wouldn’t have been an exchange.

On the flip side, if you value yourself at $30 and your partner values at $100, being in this relationship will eventually make you feel insecure. You will find it hard to live up to your partner’s expectations and worried that he or she will leave you one day.

Your self-worth is not determined by others.

I can tell you how good you are all day long and give you tons of affirmations but you might still feel unworthy. That’s because what I’m sharing with you is how much I value you. But that’s just my perception of how worthy you are; I can’t help you perceive your worth. Only you can determine your own worth.

As mentioned in my book, Empty Your Cup, low self-esteem is a perception problem. We are all responsible for our own perception. In love, we try to make our partner or potential partner realize our worth. But what we don’t understand is no matter what we do or how hard we try, we have no control over their perception. We only have control of ours.

To be worthy means you are able to see your own worth. If the other person can’t see your worth, so be it. Find a partner who can.

The Importance of Self-Worth: How to Feel Worthy of Love?

Self-worth is important in a relationship. If you don’t value and respect yourself, no matter how loving your partner is, you will still not be able to feel it. You will only doubt your partner’s love for you and feel more insecure. You will be thinking: Why would someone love a person like me? and you end up reading too much into their actions and misinterpret what they do.

The concept of worthiness is subjective. You can’t measure your worth objectively. Yet, most of us think that by achieving success, earning a certain amount of money, making ourselves more desirable in terms of our appearances, and improve our positive traits, we will be worthy of love.

The truth is everyone deserves love.

Regardless if a person is healthy or sick, young or old, good or bad, everyone needs love and everyone deserves to be loved. The reason why we feel unworthy of love is that we have put love on a pedestal. We think we need to be someone extraordinary or to reach a certain level of external desirability to be considered worthy.

But that’s not true. A newborn doesn’t have to do anything but yet he or she receives a lot of love and attention from people. Love is simple. Love doesn’t discriminate. And in essence, we are love.

We can provide ourselves the love we desire.  Everyone has something or a part of us that we don’t like or love about ourselves. It’s really up to us to discover, care and love the parts of us that feels unloved and undeserving. When we can do that for ourselves, we naturally feel worthy of love.

How to Know Your Worth in a Relationship

“Two things you will never have to chase: True friends & true love.” Mandy Hale

Sometimes, it’s hard to see your own worth in a relationship. When we get so close to another person, we might put the other person’s needs before ours and constantly seek their approval unintentionally.

It’s easy to forget your worth in a relationship.

When we shift all our energy and attention from ourselves to our partner, our personal boundaries collapse. We become so focused on giving love to our partner that we forget about self-love and self-care.

Below are a few ways to help you remember, find, and get back your self-worth in a relationship.

1. Always see yourself as an equal to your partner.

As per Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, “True love is capable of generating joy for yourself and for the other person.” Your partner has to be happy and you have to be happy. If not, it’s not true love.

For a relationship to be fulfilling, there must be both self-respect and mutual respect. Valuing our partner as better or worse off than us is not good for the relationship. It’s difficult to communicate with each another when you and your partner are of the different level.

Most relationships begin with admiration for the other person.

However, most relationships begin with admiration, isn’t it? Usually, when people “fall in love”, we value the other person slightly or considerably more than ourselves. We idealize the other person. It appears to be a good bargain because we are dating someone who is more than our own perceived worth. If the other party also put us on a pedestal, it can make us feel really good, worthy and needed too in the beginning.

Everything is okay until one party start to realize their partner’s flaws and lower their valuation of their partner. Suddenly, you don’t feel so loved and appreciated anymore. If you continue to perceive your partner’s needs as more important than your own, then you will suffer. Not only isn’t your partner taking care of your need adequately, you are sacrificing your needs for your partner.

So it’s important to be constantly aware of how we value ourselves in relation to our partner, even when we are dating. Anytime, you catch yourself valuing you and your partner’s worth differently, adjust and bring your valuations back to the same level.

2. Recognize what you bring to the relationship.

When you feel unworthy of love, recognize what you provide and contribute in a relationship. You will naturally feel more confident and less insecure about your relationship.

When you are always focusing on what you get out of a relationship, then whenever your partner is having a bad day, is not able to give you the love you need or need time alone, this will make you feel empty and unloved.

A relationship is about taking turns to lean on each other.

Being aware of what you bring to the relationship doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice yourself or your needs completely. It’s not to make your partner become dependent on you so that you feel needed. This is codependency; this is not true love.

All of us experienced times when we were vulnerable and needed support. A healthy relationship is where both parties work as a team and take turns to support each other. You encourage your partner when they are down and give them space when they need it. And when you hit rock bottom, your partner do the same for you. It’s not a one man or one woman show. 

Each person has a different role in the relationship and each of us supports the other where they are weak. Both people are valuable in a relationship.

3. Work on your low self-esteem issues.

If you can’t recognize your contribution in a relationship, realize that this a perception issue. Most of the time, we are so fixated that we are unworthy, we can’t see another point of view.

Once your mind has decided that you are not good enough or not worthy enough, only you can change the beliefs. You literally have to be “open-minded” and open yourself to new perspectives. Otherwise, you will be stuck with the same perspective forever.

If you really can’t see another perspective by yourself, talk to someone who can or read books on self-esteem to widen your views.

We are always looking for someone to fill the hole that is within us.

But what if the only person who can fill up this hole is none other than ourselves? Our partner cannot do the inner work for us; we have to do it ourselves. Our partner can only temporarily resolve our discomfort but they can’t help us remove our deep sense of lack and unworthiness. Only we can and it starts with awareness.

Whenever you realize you feel insecure or undeserving of love, notice the triggers and recognize your unhealthy relationship patterns. Dig deeper to uncover the false, outdated beliefs you have about yourself and challenge them.

4. Stop evaluating and just be.

Our mind needs to evaluate, judge and analyze everything including our relationships and our worth. But we don’t have to. We don’t have to listen to the judgment that our mind makes.

The mind usually judges our worthiness based on our past. It reminds us of what we have done or not done in the past and rationalize how deserving we are. Alternatively, it compares us to some distant future. It compares us with the ideal image or goals it wants us to achieve and that makes us feel unworthy.

Instead of evaluating how worthy you are, be worthy.

Instead of judging how deserving of love you are, be loving. Being requires you to gather all the resources you have at this moment and embrace the good qualities that already exist within you. You don’t evaluate yourself based on something from the past or the future. You get in touch of the now and whatever that you have now.

Being is a choice that is given to us at every moment. If you think you have done something unforgivable in the past that makes you unworthy of love, choose to be the best version of yourself now. You can never change what you have done in the past. But at this moment, you do have a choice.

Whenever you think you had chosen wrongly, choose again.


Featured Photo Credit: Two people standing on the pier / freestocks.org

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