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When A Guy Says “I Don’t Deserve You” – 12 Things It Might Mean

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“I don’t deserve you.”

Why would a guy say that and what does it even mean?

Does it mean he doesn’t like you and doesn’t want to be with you?

Or is he trying to say the complete opposite?

What has happened to make him feel as though he isn’t worthy of you or what you offer him.

What does this mean for your relationship?

These are questions only he can answer. But what you do need to understand from him is where this sort of comment leaves the both of you and where your relationship is heading from here.

Telling you he feels like he doesn’t deserve you could be a cry for help with his insecurities about your relationship, a declaration of his love for you, or a way to manipulate you into feeling sorry for him.

There are a whole number of reasons a guy might be feeling unworthy of your love and attention. But saying simply that he doesn’t deserve you shows that he’s struggling to articulate what he’s really feeling about you.

As much as you don’t want to be kept in the dark about what he’s really feeling, you won’t truly know what’s behind this statement until he’s ready to share it himself.

In the meantime, here are some of the reasons a guy might tell you he doesn’t deserve you. They should hopefully help you on your way to understanding what your situation might be.

1. He’s looking for reassurance in your relationship.

If you’re seeing a guy who is new to the dating game or hasn’t been in a relationship before and he’s saying he doesn’t deserve you, it could be a sign that he needs reassurance from you that he’s doing ok.

With not much to compare this experience to, he may just need to be told that he’s doing the right things to make you happy and be a good partner.

When things are going well, we don’t always feel the need to say that they are, but this vocal reassurance could be what he’s missing.

It’s a backwards way of going about things, and it would make the situation simpler if he just asked whether or not you were happy with him. It’s healthy to check in with how your partner is feeling as you get into a relationship to make sure you’re on the same page.

Heck, you might want to do it even once you’re in a more serious relationship, to make sure that both of you are still getting what you want out of it.

But if he doesn’t have the confidence to ask you outright, he may be thinking the worst unless you say otherwise.

As obvious as it might feel to you that you’re both happy or in love, it may not be as obvious to him, especially without physical or vocal cues that he’s making you happy.

Try to be more openly affectionate with him when you can and see if his confidence in your relationship grows and comments like this one stop.

2. He’s never been told he’s good enough.

If a guy tells you he doesn’t deserve you, he might genuinely believe that because he doesn’t believe he’s good enough for anything.

This lack of confidence in himself and the love he deserves may have been the result of never hearing or feeling that he was loved or always needing to prove himself worthy to receive anything good in return.

This attitude could have developed from childhood neglect or trauma, or just growing up in a family that doesn’t choose to express their emotions.

He may not be used to the idea that someone can care about him just for who he is, and this lack of confidence in himself is now having an effect on how he sees himself in your relationship.

Addressing the problem will take effort on both of your parts to help him reframe the way he sees himself and his relationships with others.

It may be beneficial for him to see a therapist or for you to go to couples counseling (or both) to try to get to the root of where his feelings of inadequacy come from.

Only then may he be able to see that he doesn’t need to ‘deserve’ your love when he already has it.

3. He’s been in toxic relationships in the past.

Past relationships can have a huge impact on both your self-esteem and how you react towards a new partner.

If a guy has been part of a toxic relationship in the past, perhaps being manipulated or gaslighted by an ex, then he could be left with some unresolved emotions he needs to work through before he’s able to fully commit to you.

Saying that he doesn’t deserve you could be an indication that he has been with abusive partners or in difficult relationships that left him believing that he wasn’t enough to make his ex or exes happy.

If he hasn’t been able to work through these feelings and put the trauma of those relationships behind him, he’ll be carrying this anxiety into the partnership he’s building with you and repeat much of the same behaviors.

You might try talking to him about his past relationships and reminding him that this relationship isn’t like those he’s experienced before. But he has to be the one to let go of his past and trust that his future doesn’t have to be the same. Again, therapy can help him with this.

4. He’s scared of letting you down.

Feeling as though he doesn’t deserve you could be a sign of his fear that something is inevitably going to go wrong in your relationship.

He’s putting the blame on himself before anything bad has even happened between you, certain that what you have is too good to be true.

The pressure of how much he cares about you could be overwhelming for him, making him worry that somehow he’s not good enough for you because he’s pre-empting his part in causing this relationship to fail.

He wants you to have the love you deserve, but he’s scared that he can’t live up to that and will end up the villain in this story. Only he can move past these thoughts and learn not to ruin the present by worrying about a future he can’t control.

5. He’s worried he can’t live up to your standards.

You may not intentionally be setting the bar high, but this guy saying that he doesn’t deserve you could be his way of telling you that he’s not sure he can live up to the standards you set.

It may be entirely down to his insecurities and fear of being a bad partner rather than your expectations of him, but he’s pre-empting a disaster that hasn’t happened yet.

He may just need reassurance that the pressure he’s putting on himself is in his head rather than a demand from you. Initiating a conversation about how each other is feeling about your roles in this partnership is a good place to start.

6. He’s never been in love before.

Love is unconditional. It’s an all-consuming commitment to someone that you care about; every part that makes them who they are, the good and the bad.

If a guy has never been in love before, this concept can be a lot to wrap his head around. Being in love yourself or having someone love you for the first time is an overwhelming thing, and feeling loved by you is making him question what he’s done to deserve it.

Love isn’t justified or earned. Accepting that, for someone who hasn’t felt it before, can be a lot to rationalize. His feeling of unworthiness for your love is him trying to accept and understand this new emotion he’s experiencing and the potential it has.

7. He’s insecure about your relationship.

Have you ever imagined the worst before it happens in the hope that if it does, it won’t feel as bad?

If this guy is insecure about your relationship and is worried that you’ll leave him for someone else, he could be telling you he doesn’t deserve you to prepare himself for a breakup.

You may not be giving him any indication that you don’t want to be with him, but if he’s fallen hard for you, he could be so scared of getting hurt that he’s convincing himself it’s all going to end in tears.

Think about how your actions could be influencing how he’s feeling, how you may be able to communicate more clearly or reassure him that you aren’t going anywhere.

No one knows exactly what’s going to happen in the future, but you don’t want him sabotaging your relationship out of the fear of something that hasn’t happened yet and may never happen.

Try to encourage him to live in the moment, to enjoy what you have for what it is without worrying about what it may or may not turn into.

8. He genuinely appreciates everything you do for him.

Saying that he doesn’t deserve you could be this guy’s way of telling you just how grateful he is for all you do.

He’s not necessarily meaning what he says in the literal sense that he’s undeserving, but he could just be taking a moment to acknowledge the thoughtful and helpful things you do for him to make his life better, and how amazing you are because of that.

It could be a way of him trying to say that he understands all that you do in going above and beyond to make your relationship the best it can be – whether that be organizing romantic dates, making sure you look your best for him, or even just being there for him when he needs you to be.

He might be joking around saying that he doesn’t deserve you, but he’s also aware of how lucky he is to be with someone that has chosen to care about him the way you do.

9. He’s not going to leave you.

If a guy is telling you he doesn’t deserve you, then he might be saying it because he can’t believe how good he’s got it by being in a relationship with you.

He’s amazed at the person you are and the relationship you have together and is shocked at how happy he is. When a guy can’t quite believe his luck in having you as a partner, you can feel pretty secure that he’s not going to leave you for anyone else.

He may be feeling as though he doesn’t deserve you, but as long as you want to be with him, he’s going to do everything he can to keep it that way.

10. He’s putting you on a pedestal.

Feeling as though your partner is something better than you are can be a sign of infatuation and a feeling of disbelief that this person is interested in you romantically.

He may think that you’re more physically attractive or more successful than him and that you’re out of his league. That people look at the both of you and wonder why someone like you would want to be with him. This could have turned into an irrational obsession for you, as the more he falls for you, the more he convinces himself that you could do no wrong.

It’s nice to feel like your partner adores you, as long as this feeling remains rational. There shouldn’t be one side of the couple that feels as though they are inferior to the other; you should be a team who are of equal standing and importance in your relationship.

If this man is in awe of you and putting you on a pedestal in his head, these irrational feelings could lead to him becoming insecure, jealous, or lacking in self-confidence, preventing him from ever relaxing in the relationship and trusting that you truly want to be with him.

11. He knows he needs to do better.

If you’ve been struggling with trust issues in your relationship and feeling let down by your partner, telling you that he doesn’t deserve you might be his way of apologizing for his mistakes.

If a relationship has its problems, nothing will improve if you don’t both acknowledge your part in its breakdown and decide to change for the better.

Him admitting to you that he doesn’t deserve you is an acknowledgement of the wrong he’s done and that he knows you deserve so much more than he’s been giving you.

If he is genuine about wanting to make a change, then acknowledging that you deserve more from him is the first step in the process and hopefully the beginning of something better.

12. He genuinely doesn’t deserve you.

If a guy is telling you that he doesn’t deserve you then you might want to listen.

If he’s saying it a lot and acting out of character when he does, then it’s worth taking note of. As much as you don’t want to think the worst, him telling you that he doesn’t deserve you could be an admission of guilt.

In the worst-case scenario, he may have cheated on you or done something he knows would really disappoint you. But it could also be a sign that he needs to talk to you about an issue in your relationship but doesn’t know how.

Making himself the problem in the relationship could be his way of trying to let you down gently before the final breakup comes, using the classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ line to try to save you from hurt and him from having to explain himself.


One thing you know for certain when a guy says that he doesn’t deserve you is that there’s more to what he’s feeling than he’s telling you.

You can try to look for other signs that may confirm or deny some of the points on this list to better narrow down the reasons why he is telling you he doesn’t deserve you.

But ultimately, your best bet is to talk openly and honestly about what he is saying and why he is saying it. Only he knows for sure what’s going on inside his head.

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