People with low self-esteem more likely to regret making sacrifices in their relationships

New research suggests that low self-esteem may be related to negative moods about past sacrifices.

The study, published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science, found evidence that there is a connection between a person experiencing low self-esteem and regretting some of the sacrifices they made in their romantic relationships.

The researchers sought to test how self-esteem influences whether people regret or praise themselves for sacrifices they made in the past. The researchers hoped to inform couples on how sacrifices and self-esteem are related to one another and how it could possibly present itself in their relationships.

In the study, the researchers had 130 couples take questionnaires and complete daily journals to measure the amount of life satisfaction and self-esteem felt based on the sacrifices made with their partner each day. The participants were then asked to complete a follow-up questionnaire 1 year after the study came to a close.

The researchers observed that regretting past sacrifices was partially related to having low self-esteem.

“Self-esteem is not related to the outcome of the decision (whether to sacrifice or not), but it is only related to the counterfactual thinking and the emotional reaction of this decision,” the researchers explained.

In other words, people with low self-esteem were just as likely as people with high self-esteem to report making sacrifices in their relationships. But people with low self-esteem were more likely to end up regretting the sacrifices.

The authors added, “Our work showed that one of the reasons why low self-esteem affects well-being is that low self-esteem people tend to regret their sacrifices, probably because they are fearful of having given too much in the relationship while not perceiving support from their partner after this prosocial behavior.”

There were limitations in this study. The cross-sectional nature of the research does not allow for conclusions about cause and effect. It is also a possibility that there are other factors that could have caused a person with low-self esteem to experience regret.

The study, “I Gave Too Much: Low Self-Esteem and the Regret of Sacrifices”, was authored by Francesca Righetti and Mariko Visserman.