6 Signs You're Trying To Prove Your Worth To A Man (& How To Stop)

"If you find yourself trying to constantly prove your worth to someone, you've already forgotten your value."—Unknown

Love & Relationships

I wouldn't be surprised in the least if some of y'all read the title to this and already got a little triggered (check out "Gaslighting, Love Bombing & 5 Other Triggers To Call Out In Your Relationships", if that is indeed the case). Out of all of the past relationship (and situationship) mistakes (or conscious redundant choices) that I've made—and trust me, there have been many—I would have to say that being so unaware of my worth, that I kept trying to prove my value, is right up there in the top three.

What changed me? I won't lie. Spending some time being single (and abstinent) definitely played a huge role. Sometimes, when you're always dealing with some dude, you can find yourself so caught up in their wants and needs that you find yourself tossing yours to the side. Another thing that helped was really letting the definition of the word "prove" sink into my soul and spirit. One is "to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument". Another is "to subject to a test, experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.". While I do truly believe that there is something to be said for taking the time to "establish the truth and genuineness" and "test" someone's character, in a healthy dynamic, no one should be out here trying to prove their worth.

You being God's child, you being a woman, you being truly one of a kind and someone who can bring something to this world in a way that no one else ever has or ever will all play a role in you being of extreme value—with absolutely nothing to prove. It's a given. Please let that sink in.

Good men know this. But some guys out here, oftentimes because they don't love themselves enough, they look for women who act like they don't have a clue about what I just said. As a result, they will take advantage of the ignorance. That's why I'm totally down with quotes like, "Know your worth. Know the difference between what you're getting and what you deserve" (Unknown) and "Love yourself so much that when someone treats you wrong, you recognize it" (Rena Rose). They are reminders that while it isn't cool that some people don't treat others with the honor and respect that they should, that's karma's business. What we need to focus on is lifting our mind, body and spirit up enough that folks like that can't reach us even if they tried.

A great starting point is to check out the following six signs; ones that can help you to see if you've got a little more self-esteem work to do in this area when it comes to how you're (currently) rolling with the man in your life.

1. You’re Trying to Convince Him of What He Should Be Striving to Confirm


I've said in other articles that, upon a significant amount of self-reflection (and journaling), when it comes to most of the men that I've been with, there is a one-liner they each left behind that I still apply to my life to this day. When it comes to my fourth "baby daddy", something he once said that truly resonated was, "Shellie, your problem is that you treat compliments like they're revelations when they should actually be confirmations." Indeed…indeed. It took me YEARS (that is capitalized on purpose because I can't emphasize this point enough) before I realized—and then accepted—that a healthy relationship consists of two people who really and truly see each other. Once they do, it becomes natural for both parties to support their partner through their weaknesses while affirming and even celebrating their strengths. If you're with someone who you're doing both of these things for, but you feel as if you're constantly going out of your way to try and get them to do the same for you, that's low-key toxic.

When you're with your right man, you're not gonna have to try and make him take notice of your beauty, your accomplishments or your overall value. Matter of fact, he will oftentimes notice some bomb things about you that you never really thought about before. Why? Because he feels so blessed to have you in his life that he wants to praise your Creator and His creation as much as possible. He won't have to force it either; it will come naturally to him.

If all of what I just said sounds unrealistic or totally unrelatable, you already have the confirmation you need that you are with someone who doesn't see your worth. In my opinion that also means he doesn't really deserve you either; at least, not right now. But that's just me.

2. The More You Do, the Less He Does


I don't know what it is about a lot of us—and by us, I don't mean "women"; I mean, the human race—that makes us want to go above and beyond for people who tend to not do the same for us in return. It's like there is something within our very being that thinks if we give or love enough, it will miraculously make someone want to be all that we need. The real truth? It's a harsh reality so brace yourself. The truth is if they truly cared about us, it would actually bother them if we were doing more work than they were in the relationship. I know women who always pay for dates, who always come out of pocket to spend time with their men (especially if it's a long-distance relationship) and who even spend money they don't have to pay their man's bills, all the while justifying their actions as "loving someone", when really all they are doing is being used. I mean, who wouldn't turn down a free dinner and a movie, sex on the weekends when they don't have to come out of pocket, or assistance from a person who is willing to help out with their cell phone and cable expenses? Don't mistake someone taking what you're offering for someone truly caring about you as a person. The two are very different.

Money isn't everything. I am a firm believer of that. But if you are the only one putting forth the resources to make a relationship work or last, that's a really high price to pay. Whether you realize it or not, what you're saying is you're not worth someone using their own time, effort, energy and ends in order to spend time with you and get to know you better. You are actually paying someone to be with you. That doesn't prove your worth. That only proves that you're being totally taken for granted (ouch). Oh, and that you're allowing it to happen (bigger ouch).

3. You Find Yourself Compromising Morals, Standards and Principles to Keep Him


If you want to wait until marriage to have sex, you should. If you want to date in order to be courted (you can read more about the differences between the two here), you should. If you want to be with someone who is academically, professionally or financially "on your level", you should. These are just three examples off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure you can tell where I am going with this. One of the reasons why it's so important to embrace a season of singleness before getting into anything "deep" with someone is so you can get clear about who you are and what you want—not just in a relationship but out of life, in general (check out "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'" and "10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single"). That way, it will be so much easier to spot who will be a good complement for you and your world.

If you don't make doing this a priority, well…let's just say that there are a lot of men and women out here who, since they have no clue who they are and what they truly desire (let alone what they truly deserve), find themselves doing whatever someone else wants in order to keep that person happy; even if that requires them compromising the core of who they are to the point of suffering or even degrading themselves. Nothing about that is healthy, right or beneficial. Absolutely nothing.

4. You Tend to Focus More on What He Brings to Your Life Than What You Bring to His


There is a consistent theme that transpires, whenever I try to get someone to see that they are in a relationship that is toxic or, at least one that is causing them to settle (which, if they stick around long enough, it tends to become one and the same). Whenever I ask them what's good about their dynamic, they go on and on about all of what the individual they are so caught up in brings into their life. Once I listen to them provide about 10 things, I typically interrupt and ask, "So, how do you benefit theirs?" When I tell you that oftentimes they are completely stumped, it's almost tragic. It's like they are sooooo grateful to be with somebody that they haven't even taken out the time to process that the feeling should be 100 percent mutual. This should so much be the case that they should be able to immediately rattle off a dozen ways they are a blessing because the person they are with makes sure that they know it.

Be careful, sis. If you are only focused on how some guy is making you feel or adding to your life that you don't notice what you're doing for him (or you can't recall him bringing how you bless him to your attention), you could find yourself feeling so indebted that you'll tolerate all kinds of BS. And if he's not worthy of you, he'll let you do it.

5. It’s Been For-e-ver Yet It Seems Like Nothing’s Happening


Several months back, I wrote an article about how long a couple should date before getting married (if marriage is what they ultimately desire to do). According to the experts, it should be no longer than around two years or so. While this conclusion may not be an exact "science" (after all, every couple is different), what shouldn't be up for debate is the undeniable fact that stagnation is a sign of true dysfunction in a relationship. You know what else is? Being the only one who is putting forth the effort to move a relationship forward. Humans are designed to live progressively, in every area of their life. That's why, if you are with someone who is beyond comfortable—to the point of pretty much being complacent—with things not really going anywhere while you keep trying to persuade them that they should, this is another telling sign that you are striving to prove your worth.

I know a lot of different men who have all sorts of goals and aspirations. One thing that every single one has in common is, what they want, they are willing to work their asses off to get and to keep. I'm not sharing this so that you'll play mind games and heart trips on a brotha. I'm saying this to simply remind you that when a man sees value in something or someone, when he truly wants it or them to be a part of his life, he's going to figure out how to make it happen. If he's not doing much at all, well, you know what they say—"Indecision is decision."

6. You Are Liking (and Loving) Yourself Less and Less


Let's end here. A very telling—and extremely underrated—way to know if you're in a good thing with someone else is how you feel about yourself while you're in the relationship. Push past the butterflies you might experience whenever you're with them or even how good the sex may be. Instead, focus on your entire sense of being. Does that person make you feel more capable and confident? Have you found yourself taking more life chances and risks? Have you accomplished more as an individual? Are you emotionally maturing and spiritually evolving? Also, can you honestly say that if the relationship ended today, while it might hurt, you know that all of the growth that has transpired will remain because the experience has made you a better person overall? If you can nod your head "yes", I say "kudos" and "bravo" to you.

But if you actually feel like you've lost a sense of who you are, that you are unhappy—or at least, uncomfortable—more than you are delighted and at peace, but you keep talking yourself into staying anyway, I have to ask you if you are not only trying to prove your worth to ole' boy, but to yourself too.

I don't care if it's a man, a friendship or even a job—if it's good for you, it's going to make you feel good about you. If that's not what's going on, what you're in is way too expensive because it is costing you way too much. Let it go, sis. Let it go…so that you can spend time discovering what you deserve…so that next time, you won't put yourself in the position of having to prove a damn thing.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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