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Insecure Love Interest
''I love you and want to be with you, but I'm weak, greedy and selfish...I'm not good enough for you!''

A form of Heroic Self-Deprecation where a character thinks they're not good enough for their Love Interest. They may think this while they're actually in a relationship with said person (in which case they may break it off "for the other person's good"), or they may avoid pursuing them in the first place.

Done well, it can provide conflict, as well as maybe Character Development. Done badly, it can come across as Wangst, especially if the character has no reason to feel like this, or worse, is seen as disingenuously fishing for compliments.

Related to I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. Also compare I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me. If this causes a breakup, they may say It's Not You, It's Me (and really mean it).

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess is this way towards Keiichi Morisato. Numerous times things happen that make it seem as if he's losing interest in, or cheating on her, and she more or less ends up asking if she's good enough. And every single time, he promises her that she is, considering the wish he made to her in the first episode/chapter ("for a girl like her to stay with him forever" after being rejected by another woman), he doesn't intend to betray her trust.
    • Keiichi himself is probably an even better example of this, particularly in the anime. He's quite aware that he is � especially in the beginning � an unattractive loser, and that by staying with him, Bell is taking a big step down. He often feels guilty for tethering her to him when he knows she could find someone better. The fact that both sides in this relationship are like this is one of the major contributors to the series' infamous Cannot Spit It Out dynamic.
    • Belldandy also believes that she doesn't deserve Keiichi because she has been aware from day one of their relationship that Heaven messed with Keiichi's mind to keep him from consummating their relationship.
  • In Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu despite how much he may deny feelings for and run away from Shouko and her advances on a frequent basis, when Yuuji actually talks about his relationship with her, he makes it out like it's all his fault that she's fallen in love with a worthless guy like him.
    Yuuji: I want to set her free.
    • Which hilariously backfires and only causes her to fall in love with him even more anytime he tries to convince her that she deserves a better guy than him.
  • In Mayo Chiki!, due to the nature of her situation, Subaru, who is a girl disguised as a boy, is constantly worried that she either isn't good enough for Jiro, or that he's either dating, or likes someone else. Despite that, Jiro always tries to reassure her.
  • Snow gives hints of this in MR. Aside from the occasional jealousy, it doesn't go anywhere. It's heavily implied she hooks up with Ginta at the end anyway.
  • Naruto in Naruto seems to display this trope to an extent. While not in a romantic relationship with Sakura, he states to Sai that he could not tell her how he feels because he couldn't keep his promise to her in bringing back Sasuke, implying that he feels unworthy of her. Though he's more of a I Want My Beloved to Be Happy character.
    • Ironically, Sakura herself possibly displays this with Naruto as well, depending on your interpretation of her feelings for him. After hearing the weight of promise from Sai and how much Naruto loves her, Sakura thinks to herself that she caused him the most pain and made the serious statement "The fool's in love with me", indicating she feels unworthy of his love.
  • This trope almost defines Kisa Shouta's angst and feelings toward Yukina Kou in Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi.
  • In Sekirei, Minato is plagued by the feeling that he isn't good enough for his Balanced Harem. He calls himself "unreliable", and worries that he's a worthless guy because of his failure to get into university twice, as well as being an Extreme Doormat. Rather than allow this to consume him or damage their relationships, he resolves to become someone worthy of their love and trust, someone that will believe in himself enough to fully return their feelings. He declares this to them, and asks them to wait for him until then.
  • Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin ofter wonders if he's good enough for his girlfriend Kaoru. It's rather justified in his case due to his Dark and Troubled Past.
  • In Fairy Tail Jellal, after his Heel-Face Turn, firmly believes that he has no right to be with Erza after what he's done, and even goes out of his way to lie about having a fiance to get around the fact that she's in love with him.
  • Setsuna from Mahou Sensei Negima! spends a considerable amount of time angsting over how she feels unworthy of her Ojou-sama Konoka.
  • In Detective Conan:
    • Yumi's ex-boyfriend Haneda is still in love with her, but believes that he is unworthy of Yumi until he can win all seven professional shogi title tournaments.
    • Takagi sometimes shows shades of this trope towards his girlfriend Sato. At some point he's seen in tears due to this, thinking of how he believes himself to not have what it takes to make her happy. And then he's kidnapped and put in a Death Trap. And one of the persons who saves him is Sato herself.
  • Jin from Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo feels he's not worthy enough to be with his beloved childhood friend Misaki, due to her talents, such as in animation, and feels he would just weigh her down if he tried to have a serious relationship with her. This despite the obvious signs that Misaki really wants to be with him.

Comic Books
  • Tommy Monoghan of the Hitman comic book ends his relationship with Tiegel once and for all by pretty much telling her outright that he's a scumbag, and if they stay together he'd just keep letting her down and screwing up. He's saying it because it's true, but he's ALSO saying it because he's about to take on a pretty good sized chunk of the CIA and doesn't want her around for it. Whether or not a reader thinks he would have said/done it if not for the whole CIA thing varies.
  • Barbara Gordon of Batgirl/Oracle fame sometimes felt as though Dick was only in love with the memory of the girl she had once been, rather than the woman she had become.
  • Frank Einstein Jr. is this to Henrietta in Minimonsters, specifically in the second album. He falls for her at first sight, but his feelings of being rejected and his own inferiority complex towards his physical appearance; made him create an invention who makes people physically perfect. But that became dangerous because of Henrietta's extreme bipolar disorder. After that, he's still very much in love with her, and Henrietta starts feeling the same for him, although they can't tell their own feelings for each other.

Fan Fiction

Film
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason does this with the protagonist playing this role.
    Bridget: I read that you should never go out with someone if you can think of three reasons why you shouldn't.
    Mark: And can you think of three?
    Bridget: Yes.
    Mark: Which are?
    Bridget: First off, I embarrass you. I can't ski, I can't ride, I can't speak Latin , my legs only come up to here and yes I will always be just a little bit fat.
  • This is why Audrey doesn't consider leaving the abusive "semi-sadist" Orin for her Adorkable Nice Guy coworker Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors; she likes Seymour, but she considers herself too dirty and worthless to be with him.
  • She's Out of My League is from the perspective of one of these; it's about a man who has found a very attractive girlfriend who really likes him, but he considers her way out of his league, leading him to sabotage things. It doesn't help that almost everyone around him appears to be an incredibly petty and spiteful person who either encourage him or actively attempt to sabotage things out of jealousy.
  • In An Extremely Goofy Movie, PJ is in this role. Bobby is willing to flirt with Beret Girl, PJ is not. He says a grand total of zero words to her, being visibly stunned speechless each time, until she decides to take the initiative and start flirting with him. At this point, PJ responds by reciting a poem about how nobody notices fat people no matter how they act. Beret Girl is both impressed and sympathetic, asks, "How could anyone overlook this bundle of yes-ness?" and asks him to dance. This is the catalyst for PJ's Character Development: he immediately becomes a lot happier, less insecure, and more confident.
  • At the end of Some Like It Hot, Sugar decides to run away with Joe. He tells her that she deserves better than The Casanova who put on a faade to win her heart, but she stays with him anyway.

Literature
  • This is a constant problem for Georgina in the Georgina Kincaid series. She thinks she's not good enough for Seth and is going to end up hurting him, because she's hurt people in the past. That and she's a succubus, whereas he's a reserved and virtuous man.
  • In New Moon of the Twilight series, Edward leaves Bella because of this, resulting in much Wangst from both of them.
    • Although in this case it's less "I'm not good enough for you" and more "I'm finding it very difficult not to eat you."
  • In the last two Harry Potter book, Lupin has this problem with Tonks—he turns her down because a.) he's quite a bit (12 years) older than her, b.) he has no steady means of support, and c.) he's a werewolf, with all the danger and Fantastic Racism that includes. They wind up eloping sometime between the last two books, but he's so sure that this was a mistake that he tries to leave her (and their unborn child) until Harry gives him a What the Hell, Hero? speech.
  • Vin and Elend provide a double example, Vin thinks she's too Book Dumb and violent for Elend, Elend feels he's too much of a passive screwup for Vin.
  • Watson to Mary Morstan in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four. As a wounded retiree from the Afghan army with little income, he feels that he has no right to even think about her, and things get worse when it turns out that she stands to gain a large sum of money.
  • Katniss Everdeen feels that she doesn't deserve the unconditional love of a Nice Guy like Peeta. Haymitch agrees with her.
    Haymitch: You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know.
  • Both Jerin and Cira/ Princess Halley in A Brother's Price, though for different reasons.
  • Michael of The Traitor Game is a platonic (or not) version of this trope for Francis, constantly feeling insecure about their friendship. This is because Michael has trust issues after being bullied at his previous school, and finds it difficult to accept that Francis - who is "cool", "posh" and "handsome" - would genuinely want to be friends with him. This leads to disastrous consequences.
  • Both Michael and Mia in The Princess Diaries, Michael because of feeling the constant need to prove himself "worthy" of dating a princess, Mia due to her low self esteem for dating an attractive genius who is her best friend's brother.
  • This is par for the course in Catherine Anderson's novels, but Molly Sterling, Laura Townsend, Natalie Patterson and Bethany Coulter are the biggest examples.

Live-Action TV
  • Nip/Tuck has Christian break up with Natasha because he thinks she deserves better than The Casanova like him.
  • In Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is Angel's reasoning for ending his relationship with Buffy before he moves to LA. He wants her to have a relatively normal life and he feels that her being with him would make that more difficult.
  • Lennier never admits he loves Delenn until the fifth season of Babylon 5.
  • Rachel of Suits displays signs of this when Mike breaks it off. Despite all her explanations of how important she is to the firm, she still believes he looks down on her for never passing the LSATs and remaining a paralegal.
  • In New Girl's season 1 finale, Schmidt ends things with Cece because he's convinced she's too out of his league for him to ever make her happy.
  • Gossip Girl Chuck Bass runs on this trope regarding Blair for most of the show's duration. It doesn't help that Blair goes back and forth between reinforcing this belief and telling him he's the best man she's ever known and all that she's ever wanted.
  • Rory of Doctor Who thinks he's not good enough for Amy. So much so that he was too certain of rejection to ask her out, and is constantly surprised whenever she demonstrates her affection for him. This gets a lot better though, and by the end of the series, he's thrown it off.
    • This also happens to Amy herself. In series 7 Amy almost gets a divorce because she's infertile and she knows Rory's always wanted children. Since Amy's bad at dealing with feelings, she never told him why she wanted a divorce. Of course, it turns out Rory doesn't care and in an unshot scene we find out that they adopted a child.
  • Friends: The insecure Chandler sometimes feels this way concerning Monica, his girlfriend and later wife. This is despite him being genuinely smart, funny, good-looking, a very successful career and a very kind personality. It's caused, in part, by his traumatic childhood, bad luck with women, commitment phobia, one previous boyfriend the gang had idolised at the time and whom she had truly loved, and their friend's jokes that Monica 'can do better'. Fortunately, he and Monica have an Opposites Attract thing going on, so while he's very good at stabilising her neuroses, she's very good at building his confidence.
    • One of the most telling moments is in an alternate universe episode when he falls for Monica who is fat, a virgin and dating an incredibly boring guy. Despite all this Chandler still thinks she wouldn't want to date him and he isn't good enough. Yeah, it doesn't matter about the circumstances, this guy has major insecurity issues.

Music
  • Basically the premise to the Tal Bachman song "She's so High."
    What could a guy like me ever really offer?
    She's perfect as she can be, why should I even bother?
  • Seems to be the main theme of "She's Like the Wind"
    I feel her breath in my face
    Her body close to me
    Can't look in her eyes
    She's out of my league.
  • The song Amanda has the line "Fate should have made you a gentleman's wife".
  • Found in the Anna Nalick song "Sort of Delilah."
    Once you were a tower, and given the power, how did I become the wrecking ball?
    Didn't wanna hurt you, didn't deserve you, I'm usually the victim after all.

Video Games
  • Mass Effect:
    • Nice Guy Jacob feels this way towards both Miranda and female Shepard (if you romance him).
    • Tali'Zorah feels this way if male Shepard pursues a relationship with her. See the entry on I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
    • Through similar reasons as Tali, Garrus may count as as well.
  • Almost every love interest in Dragon Age II. Most of them have self-esteem issues to begin with, but romancing them tends to bring it to the forefront.
    • Anders is a mage living outside the Circle who has to look over his shoulder for Templars. He's also possessed by a very angry Spirit of Justice that may or may not have become a full-on demon, and by the end of the game, he's plotting to blow up the Chantry. He's the most vocal about not having anything to offer, especially once supporting apostates is declared a hanging offense.
    • Between being an elf, a blood mage and a Fish out of Water, Merrill refuses to believe Hawke feels romantic affection towards her until Hawke specifically tells her s/he does. Even after they've just had sex.
    • Fenris is an amnesiac fugitive ex-slave whose former master is heavily implied to have sexually abused him. After his first time with Hawke, he has a rush of memories from his old life and panics, feeling like a fool for thinking he could be with someone.
    • By the time Hawke's named Champion of the city, Isabela is convinced the two of them no longer have anything in common. Having been sold into a loveless marriage by her own mother, she's wary of getting tied down to begin with.
    • DLC character Sebastian is the least self-flagellating, possibly because he outranks Hawke socially rather than vice versa.
  • Raven from Rune Factory 3. If you marry her, much of your dialog with her consists of her being reassured that you love her and wanted to marry her.
  • Ninian in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword loves Eliwood, but feels she isn't worthy of him due to her secret heritage as a half-Dragon and her guilt over having been a catalyst in his father's death. Eliwood uses their A support to reassure her that he loves her no matter what.
    Laurent: "I was not worried about whether I was fit to support the army� I was worried I was unfit to support you. Thoughts of how I might better aid you and you alone consumed me! That was my true distraction from watching over the others (...) You're Chrom's daughter, and in your veins runs the blood of exalts and heroes. ... So how could a common man such as I ever be worthy of you?"
    • Sumia can be this for a male Avatar until their S support, where she decides to stop hiding behind her books and learn to love herself as she is. She actually shows traces of this towards all of her possible boyfriends; one of her event tiles with a lover has her openly ask him how come he hasn't found a prettier girl than her.
    • Brady is implied to be this for a female Avatar, as in his Love Confession he tells her "I'll become a guy worthy of your love!"

Visual Novels
  • In CLANNAD, Nagisa initially acts like this when she and Tomoya start dating. Tomoya gets fed up with it pretty quickly and tells her to have more confidence in herself. He doesn't like anyone insulting his girlfriend, including herself.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Jessica Ushiromiya is in love with Kanon, one of the Ushiromiya family servants. Kanon does love her back, but he believes he isn't worthy of her love due to his insistence that he's "furniture". As the story continues, it becomes clear that this isn't just Wangst and the real reason he's so insecure is quite complicated and tragic.
  • Seizh of Under The Moon is very hesitant in his pure love paths, and requires a lot of convincing on the point that, yes, the heroine really is in love with him. Justifiably so, since he knows she was head over heels for his brother until she was wind-wiped.

Web Comics
  • Dora of Questionable Content may well be the Trope Codifier for webcomics. She's a ball of neuroses who is constantly worried that Marten, the first decent male she's ever dated - is going to leave her because of her hangups. And also because she's convinced he's still pining for Faye, despite both of them saying that's never going to happen. It does eventually split them up.

Web Original
  • Parodied with the psychotic Ask That Guy with the Glasses. Even though the Love Martyr narrator tells him how amazing he is constantly, he'd rather be abused and told he's worthless.


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