Talia Levy

May 9, 2023

feeling not good enough for your partner

A lot of people don’t feel good enough for their partners. They think the other person in the relationship is too good for them. And at the end of a relationship, finding “someone better” has become such a normal way for us to think, but I think describing people in this way does more harm than good.

Because what does “better” mean? What does it mean to be “good enough” for someone? Everyone would have different definitions, and I don’t think it’s right for those definitions to dictate a person’s worth. Because when you say you’re not good enough for someone, you’re describing your worth.

Sure, people can wish for certain traits in a partner, but those traits have to do with preferences and accomplishments, not their value as a person.

Your worth isn’t determined by your accomplishments or how you look and act. It’s innate, and you’re the only one who gets a say in your worth because it’s a feeling that comes from the inside—it’s not up for the discussions or opinions of others.

To say someone’s too good for another is calling them better overall, and I don’t think anyone can make that claim. Attempting to compare people based on their perceived worth can be very damaging.

One, it’s not a fun space for a person to be in, constantly feeling like their partner is better than them. They feel less than, day after day, which isn’t good for their confidence or self-esteem.

It’s also not a fun place for you to be in, if you’re constantly trying to reassure them that that’s not the case.

Helping people through moments of insecurity is fine, but when you’re having to constantly assure and convince someone of their value, attempting to shift their entire view of themselves, it can feel tiring and like you’re stuck, if their views remain unchanged.

Also, if they believe that some people are better than others, although they feel you’re too good for them now, there’s a chance that one day they may feel too good for you.

Say they do the work on themselves, but don’t switch this mindset of being “too good” for people. It is entirely possible they could do a 180 and now feel that way about you.

Imagine you help someone—you help build them up and make them feel validated, and then they leave you because now they feel they’re too good for you. That would hurt badly.

Also, when someone doesn’t feel good enough and is constantly in a space of talking down on their self worth, if they make a mistake, they’re more likely to attribute that mistake to not being good enough. They won’t take full accountability. Even if they verbally do, mentally, there’s a part of them that believes this mistake goes back to them not being a good enough partner.

Thinking about themselves in this way weakens their belief in their ability to change. And their motivation too. Because if this is about worth and there aren’t actionable steps one could take to change their worth, how could or why would they even try? Their accountability and power is given up when they attribute their mistakes to not being good enough.

They cheated? Ah, but they’re not good enough anyways, so how could you expect them to be better?

“I’ll try to change, but I’m not good enough for you, so I don’t know if I can or if a change can fully happen.”

Even if they don’t say those things outright, that’s what’s happening subconsciously when a person gives up this power. They give up the potential for initiative and taking responsibility for their actions, when they say something like “I’m not good enough for you.”

If someone tells you they’re not good enough for you, it can feel flattering in a weird way. You see it as them recognizing your value, and that they value it as highly by default because they value themselves as lower.

It can seem like they admire or look up to you, but don’t fall into the flattery trap. It will do you and them more harm than good.

And although it may be initially flattering, why would you want to continue to feel flattery over a perceived imbalance like that?

We can change the ways we feel about things with actions like affirmations, so even if it makes sense why we’d feel a certain way from the start, we don’t have to continue feeling that way.

If you want a partner who feels less than you, there’s work you need to do on yourself. There are things for you to uncover about your own insecurities. Feeling flattery over this is not ideal for that reason and for all the negatives that stem from comparing people based on perceived worth, which I just described that affect you and them.

If you don’t feel good enough for someone or if someone doesn’t feel good enough for you, there are reasons why you or they feel that way. Use those feelings as an opportunity to learn more about you both.

As it comes to your personal reflections, what you’ll learn is not that they’re somehow better or more valuable than you as a person; you will learn what areas in life they seem more successful at, that you’re measuring yourself up against and feeling like you’re falling short.

This isn’t to say that everything has to be a competition or that you need to be as good as or better than someone at a specific talent or job. 

But if something is making you feel insecure, you can use those feelings to decide one, whether you want to let it make you feel insecure and drive you to improve, and two, if that answer is yes, to do the work and improve.

If they have a successful career, and you’re insecure because you don’t have a job (and you’re okay with feeling that way), get a job.

But if they’re a talented singer and you feel less than because you’re not as good of one, if you don’t care to improve in singing, that’s an insecurity you can work to let go of.

So just remember, not everything you initially feel insecure about has to be acted on. You can decide that you don’t care to act on it and do mindset shifts around not feeling that insecurity, if you logically decide you don’t care to change.

But for changes you wish to make, make them. Use the feelings of insecurity not as evidence of you being “less than,” but as a way to see where you wish to improve from your insecurities and the drive to make those changes.

By doing so, you regain your power. You have the power to change in the ways you want to, and change is made much more possible by taking this viewpoint. Change is made possible by believing you can work on your insecurities, rather than your comparison to a partner being tied up in your “worth”, an abstract concept that doesn’t really show you how you can improve yourself and your life.

There’s nothing that has to do with how we’re born that makes someone better. Even if society doesn’t always treat us as equal, because of our skillsets, our job status, or whatnot, we are all equal at the end of the day. And we all can change and improve in the ways we’d like to.

You don’t necessarily have to change before being with the person; you can be with them as you’re improving because you both will be learning and improving throughout the entirety of your lives and relationship.

Also, it’s not up to you to decide what they deserve. If you don’t feel like what you can provide is good enough for them, it’s not your decision to make, whether it is or isn’t.

Because sometimes we don’t fully see our value or ourselves for as positive and great as we truly are. It can be frustrating for another person to see your value, like you, but experience you not wanting to pursue a relationship with them because you don’t think you’re good enough for them.

The one exception to you making that decision would be if you’re sure that because of your situation or habits, you would do them more harm than good by being with them, and if you feel they wouldn’t be able to leave you or see circumstances for what they truly are because of their own issues with attachment or judgement about people leaving their life.

Only if you’re very clear on that, might it be helpful for you to take a step back. If you think it’s better for the both of you and that the other person may feel the same way, but would have a hard time stepping back, I believe it’s okay to take the initiative to do so.

Doing this still doesn’t mean they’re better than you or that it has anything to do with your worth. You’re just looking out for the both of you during this current state of your life that you’re hopefully looking to improve so that it doesn’t get in the way of your future relationships.

But in general, it’s not up to you, but them, to decide whether they want you as their partner. Other people see your value in ways you don’t.

There’s no such thing as being better than someone, so there’s no such thing as being not good enough. We are the ones who define our worth and it can’t be measured against the worth of others. Use the feelings of insecurity as a way to improve and to continue building fulfilling relationships. Regain your power.

About Talia Levy

i write about relationships, self-help, & other random reflections i have. new posts every sunday.