People with low self-esteem are more likely stay in unhappy relationships but this could do more harm then good.

Sufferers of low self-esteem do not tend to voice relationship complaints with their partners because they fear rejection.

"Our study suggests that in romantic relationships, the partner with low self-esteem resists addressing problems," said study author Megan McCarthy from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Researchers found that people with a more negative self-concept often have doubts and anxieties about the extent to which other people care about them.

Sufferers believe that they cannot speak up without risking rejection from their partner and damage to their relationship, resulting in greater overall dissatisfaction in the relationship.

"This can drive low self-esteem people towards defensive, self-protective behaviour, such as avoiding confrontation," McCarthy added.

The study is important for understanding how intimate partner communication can help improve the love lives of people around the world. The findings were presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology's 16th annual meeting in California recently.

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