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Insecure Love Interest

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And she's actually even more insecure than him!

"No matter what I do, I feel like I'll never become worthy of being by your side."
Kaoru Sugimura, Nana & Kaoru

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. If the love interest finds out about it, this is likely to segue into You Are Better Than You Think You Are.

Related to I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. Also compare I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me. A case of this on both sides may lead to Mutual Pining. If this causes a breakup, they may say It's Not You, It's Me (and really mean it). Contrast Better Partner Assertion, where characters argue their superiority to their love interest. May result in an Imaginary Love Triangle.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess:
    • Belldandy 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.
  • Matsuri of Ayakashi Triangle has dedicated his life to protecting Suzu, but puts her on such a pedestal that he won't even consider the idea that he loves her, much less deserves to be loved by her. Their Gender-Bender Friendship makes Matsuri see Suzu more familiarly and have a Love Epiphany, but even then he's worried her obvious signs of affection are just the same compassion she shows to everyone. He also assumes Suzu has no interest in his female form, when the audience sees she does, even if she's not completely comfortable with it. Part of this is Matsuri's low self-esteem making him a Clueless Chick-Magnet in a general sense, as Soga observes and experiences first-hand.
  • Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost: In spite of Beast's rudeness, Belle falls in love with him because he saved her life multiple times and puts himself in the harm's way for the sake of the others; but she has no hope of having her feelings returned because he has a beautiful fiancée. Worse, this woman's name is Belle too, so (the first) Belle thinks this is the only reason why Beast was good to her.
  • Annie Brighton from Candy♡Candy is this to Archie Cornwall, which isn't helped by his crush on the titular Candy and how Annie, despite her and Candy's Pseudo-Romantic Friendship, is also jealous of her. However, Archie soon realises that Annie is the one he actually loves, and they stay together.
  • In Case Closed:
    • 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.
  • As someone who doesn't excel at anything, Hajime Hinata in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School has a massive inferiority complex that makes him feel unworthy to be around Chiaki Nanami, one of the top elite. Despite her constant reassurances that she likes him as he is and he doesn't need talent, he still wrestles with thinking he doesn't deserve to stand by her side. He's sadly unable to overcome this and turns himself over to human experimentation, hoping to be made into someone "better". He gets the talent, and loses everything else.
  • Both Kyotaro Ichikawa and Anna Yamada from The Dangers in My Heart.
  • Krillin in Dragon Ball. Even after he married 18, he still wonders why she chose him and still worries if he is worthy of her.
  • 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. All this in spite of the fact that he was Brainwashed and Crazy at the age of eleven.
    • Juvia becomes this after she takes down the Necromancer Keyes, by extension killing Gray's father. Instead of getting angry, Gray holds her and tearfully thanks her for freeing his father.
    • By Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, Gray himself has developed a case of this, revealing that he returns Juvia's feelings, but still feels guilty for trying to kill her while Brainwashed and Crazy by Invel's mind control during the Alvarez Empire arc, and as a result believes that he needs to become a better man before he truly deserves to be with her.
  • In Fruits Basket, even after he realizes he's in love with Tohru, Kyo avoids getting too close to her because a lifetime of abuse and ostracization from the Sohma family has left him viewing himself as a monster who will never deserve real love from anyone, especially an amazingly kind person like Tohru, and because he knows his fate as the Cat is to spend the rest of his life after high school locked up in a cage, so he believes pursuing a romance with Tohru will only cause her pain. He also blames himself for the death of Tohru's mother and sees this as proof that he has no right to be loved by Tohru.
  • Tatsuki from Gals! sometimes feels that he's not good enough for the exceedingly popular Ran, and at multiple points in the series worries about her on-going friendship with Otohata and feels that she's better of with him.
  • Both of the lead characters of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War apply, though for different reasons.
    • Kaguya, for all her riches, intelligence, looks, and popularity, has a naturally acerbic personality which makes her feel unworthy of being in love with the kindhearted Shirogane. She has a history of accidentally hurting the people closest to her and is terrified that if she confesses first it'll happen again and ruin their relationship.
    • Shirogane feels inferior to Kaguya but wants to stand beside her as an equal. He studies desperately so that he can outdo her in at least one field but is very worried that she'll beat him one day. It's also the very reason he wants to have her confess to him: if he confesses and she ends up rejecting him, he feels that he'll never end up closing the already wide gap between them. His self-esteem was already shot because of his mother abandoning him thus he feels that no one can love him for who he truly is.
    • Kaguya (Ice) is worse compared to regular Kaguya, given the fact that she's the mental representation of everything that Kaguya hates about herself. The only reason her complete lack of self-esteem isn't obvious at first glance is that she's an Ice Queen.
  • In Kaitou Saint Tail, it turns out that being a vigilante hero comes with nasty side effects thanks to all of the secret-keeping, resulting in Meimi becoming increasingly emotionally repressed and secretive with an inferiority complex compared to her overly idealized hero persona. As such, she convinces herself that Asuka Jr. would never be interested in her the way he is in Saint Tail, and if he were to find out her identity, his honest personality would make her deception such a Berserk Button that he'd despise her on the spot. In actuality, it's Meimi he's in love with; his current obsession with Saint Tail is because he suspects they're the same person and is worried about what kinds of burdens Meimi must be shouldering under there. Not only would he gladly break all of his own standards for her sake, his real Berserk Button is actually the idea of losing her in any way. Even after he confesses his love to Meimi (and not Saint Tail) and forgives her for hiding her identity, she's still convinced he must have preferred Saint Tail in a bonus manga chapter, and he has to pull a dramatic Say My Name in public to prove otherwise.
  • Kimagure Orange Road: Main character Kyosuke is in love with Madoka, but he thinks he isn't and will never be good enough for her. He thinks that she's beautiful, intelligent, mature... and compared to her, he looks like a kid.
  • Mametarou from Massugu ni Ikou is a mutt. After learning his girlfriend is a purebred Kishu, he starts feeling insecure in himself due to "just" being a cross.
  • Snow gives hints of this in MÄR. Aside from the occasional jealousy, it doesn't go anywhere. It's heavily implied she hooks up with Ginta at the end anyway.
  • My Dress-Up Darling: Male lead Wakana Gojo has this. It's very much clear he's attracted to Marin's looks and cheery personality, but he considers her so out of his league that, whenever someone suggests they may be dating, he quickly denies it. It also crosses with Oblivious to Love because Marin isn't exactly subtle about her attraction to him, yet somehow he can fathom why a girl like her would be interested in someone like him (no matter that he's given her plenty of reasons to do so).
  • Both halves of My Love Story!!'s main couple experience this. Takeo primarily before their Relationship Upgrade, Yamato after:
    • Pre-upgrade, Takeo has spent his entire life up to that point seeing the girls he likes prefer his Bishōnen best friend, Suna. So, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, it never occurs to him Yamato might reciprocate his growing feelings and he instead tries to play The Matchmaker with her and Suna. This persists until Suna engineers a confession out of Yamato with Takeo in earshot. He's much better afterward, but self-aware enough of his faults that he's hesitant to make any big moves without first consulting Suna.
    • Post-Upgrade, Yamato worries about being good enough for Takeo. Takeo's more old-fashioned values and putting Yamato on a pedestal cause her to worry that he will reject her because she desires to move their relationship forward; even with something as simple as holding hands. She also experiences some low-key possessiveness because she can not comprehend that the Gonky Takeo isn't typically popular with girls and frets about having to fight for him. Fortunately, once he's aware of these issues himself, Takeo assures her he'll be glad to move faster if that's what Yamato wants and that he loves her and only her.
  • My Monster Secret: Initially, Youko is merely oblivious to the fact that Asahi has any deeper feelings for her than friendship. When the idea finally crosses her mind, she instantly shoots it down, convincing herself that Asahi is that nice to all his friends and that he's far too polite to say that being her Secret-Keeper is a pain in the ass. While Youko and Asahi do end up getting together, it takes another 40 chapters to happen, and not before they both go through some pretty painful emotional torment.
    • The trope gets discussed after the Relationship Upgrade, when Trickster Mentor Akane calls Youko out on her uneasiness, saying "You're not thinking something stupid like 'I'm not good enough for him', are you? What's done is done, just go with it and be happy."
  • Naruto:
    • While Naruto never gets into a romantic relationship with Sakura, he stated to Sai that he couldn't tell her he had a crush on her if he couldn't keep his promise to her, so he seemed to imply that he was unworthy of her. However, after Chapter 469, he completely stopped being like this to her.
    • Hinata is this to Naruto. She has been in love with him since they were children, but her crippling shyness and severe self-esteem issues prevented her from ever pursuing him.
    • Naruto himself is this to Hinata. In Chapter 611, Kiba implies that this is the reason why Naruto tries to act tough in front of her. This is confirmed in the Canon movie The Last: Naruto the Movie. Part of why Naruto never noticed Hinata's love for him in the main series is because deep down, he felt he was unworthy of being loved by someone as kind and beautiful as Hinata. This is made explicitly clear twice: First, when Sakura tells Naruto that Hinata is "almost too good" for him, he does not disagree with hernote . Then, when Naruto makes his Heroic Vow to save Hinata from Toneri and properly return her love, he says "You always loved me for the way I am" or "You've loved someone like me forever and ever," depending on the translation.
    • In Konoha Hiden: The Perfect Day for a Wedding, when Temari mistakenly believes Shikamaru is asking for her hand in marriage, she reveals that she doesn't find herself attractive enough for marriage.
  • Setsuna from Negima! Magister Negi Magi spends a considerable amount of time angsting over how she feels unworthy of her Ojou-sama Konoka. In fact, most of the girls in this series are pretty insecure towards their crushes in some way.
  • Played for Laughs in one chapter of Ojojojo when Tsurezure tries Meditating Under a Waterfall because he doesn't feel that he's handsome enough to be Haru's boyfriend.
  • Sayaka Miki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She has a crush on Kyousuke Kamijou but Cannot Spit It Out, especially once it is revealed that becoming a Magical Girl means effectively becoming a sparkly lich. Sayaka feels she can't ask for Kyousuke's love because she now considers herself a zombie, and the realization that she made her supposedly selfless wish for selfish reasons along with her good friend Hitomi pushing the issue by giving her a one-day headstart on confessing (which she balks at) doesn't end well.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: The quintuplet who'd eventually become Fuutarou's bride in the Flash Forwards is eventually revealed to be this. Turns out that Yotsuba was the girl that Fuutarou met five years ago and took a photo with, and with whom he made the promise to become top-grade students. She's still in love with him, but she Cannot Spit It Out because she feels guilty for not being able to live up to the promise they made like he did. Adding to it is the fact that several of her sisters have also developed feelings for Fuutarou, and she wants to step aside to give them a chance, as a way to make up for having been so selfish and competitive in the past. It gets to the point that, when Fuutarou reveals that he chose her, she's so shocked she runs off crying in shame.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Both protagonist of Tokyo Marble Chocolate feel like this about each other: Yuudai thinks he's a coward and lazy guy that doesn't deserve Chizuru, while Chiruzu becomes really clumsy when she starts to fall in love and she fears that this will scare Yuudai away. Compound this with their previous bad experiences with romance.

    Comic Books 
  • Anya's Ghost: Deconstruction. Elizabeth Standard is one of the prettiest, most athletic girls in school, dating one of the more popular boys, Sean. Everything about her seems to be perfect, and despite how jealous Anya and the other girls are of her she appears to be a nice and carefree girl. Then at a party, Anya learns that Sean is a creep who sleeps around with other girls (even his friend's girlfriend) with Elizabeth not only knowing but keeping watch; Anya, who come to the party to steal Sean from Elizabeth, couldn't bring herself to sleep with Sean and hurt Elizabeth. Before Anya leaves the party, she asks Elizabeth why she lets Sean treat her like that, and Elizabeth tells her that while she appears happy, she really is miserable and insecure, and the only person that makes her really happy is Sean. Because she loves him, or as she admits, thinks she loves him, she's willing to do anything to keep him in her life, even though his cheating and her covering for his cheating is hurting her.
  • Batgirl: Barbara Gordon alias Batgirl/Oracle 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.
  • DC: Love is a Battlefield: Steve admits to Wonder Woman that he thinks she's only with him because he's the first man she saw.
  • Grandville: Billie in the matters of love. She is pretty, intelligent and quick on her feet, but also feels that as a prostitute, no respectable man would ever want her. This makes her both fully surrender to the idea of short-term flings with no commitment as the peak of her options in romance, and become verbally violent whenever someone suggests that finding a husband who would truly love her is actually within her reach.
  • Hitman: Tommy Monoghan 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.
  • Mini Monsters: Frank Einstein Jr. is this to Henrietta, 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 that 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.
  • Sabretooth: Sabretooth was shown to be this in Sabretooth: Mary Shelley Overdrive. This was one of many instances where his insecurity shows. He meets & saves Bonnie from strange soldiers who want to kill her. Bonding over sex for hours, the two become very attached to each other & Creed takes her someplace safe while trying to get answers on why she's being hunted. When he calls to check on her, she asks if they can just go away & leave everything behind. This shocks Creed, who's surprised & confused that she'd want to be with him.
  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson are this to each other. For Spider-Man, MJ is an incredibly beautiful, charismatic, and talented young woman who is incredibly out of his league and would be far better off if she wasn't with him. For Mary Jane, Spider-Man is a selfless and brave superhero with amazing abilities, and that Peter is a funny, kind, and intelligent man who deserves better than her. They each believe they aren't good enough for the other, and that they are dragging the other person down. This stems heavily from their parallel but flipped childhoods; Peter was bullied at school for being a nerd and still has insecurities about it while also having a Guilt Complex as he blames himself for his many failures, while MJ was verbally abused by her father and suffered Slut-Shaming by girls at her school, so she thinks of herself as worthless while having Commitment Issues.
  • Superman: Superman often sees himself as this. Although many women regard him as a hunky dreamboat and some kind of paragon, he sees himself as an ordinary man with exceptional skills or -depending on the era- an alien outcast. In Krypton No More, he doesn't get why his female co-workers like him since he thinks he is an outcast who is unable to have a healthy relationship with a woman. Regardless, he thinks his main love interests -Lana Lang, Lois Lane- are too good for him.
  • The Walking Dead: Dale is always insecure about his relationship with Andrea, due to the fact that he is twice as old as her. Andrea shows a few small shades of this, mostly whenever Dale mentions his late wife. It ultimately works out until Dale's death, and Andrea is able to move on and be with Rick.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts characters have two basic ways to deal with Unrequited Love: being too intense pursuing the one they're in love with while totally ignoring that they're not interested, or paralyzing insecurity that keeps them from acting about their love at all:
    • Charlie Brown himself is the biggest offender, and might even be the Trope Codifier to Western audiences. He's usually too absorbed by his own insecurity to even make a decision about love most days: most iconically with the Little Red-Haired Girl, who he can barely even talk to. Though he briefly gets a little more confident with Peggy Jean (which didn't end well).
    • Peppermint Patty is a mix of the two: she flirts endlessly with Charlie Brown, but she occasionally makes it clear that despite her seeming confidence, she's actually too insecure about her own flaws to do anything but play games. Upon seeing the Little Red-Haired Girl for the first time, she breaks down into tears, believing it impossible that anyone would love herself in comparison.
    • Marcie is also this, to a lesser extent: she makes it clear she's "very fond" of Charlie Brown, but also barely does anything about it because she thinks he'd never love a girl with glasses.

    Fan Works 
  • All Things Probable Series: In A Friend In Darkness, Kim's Vision Quest to rescue Ron from the Spirit World dredges up uncomfortable memories of times she'd been thoughtless and condescending toward him. She decides that he deserves better and breaks up with him until the end of the story.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: True Purpose;
    • Carol Danvers’ crush on Spider-Man motivates her to join the Unity Squad to protect him, but at the same time she feels that she can’t compete with his more established relationships.
    • For all her apparent confidence, Felicia Hardy is this to the initial ‘triad’ of herself, Peter and Mary Jane, feeling that Peter is so good and Mary Jane is such a better fit for him that Felicia can’t really understand what they both see in someone as flawed as her.
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan:
    • Nova Shine lets his Heroic Self-Deprecation get to him on more than one occasion as a reason for why Twilight deserves better than him, but without fail, she's always able to talk sense into him. It comes to a head during a date, in which Nova can't help but wonder exactly why Twilight would want him out of everyone else, and she dismantles every self-criticism he has in one long You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech.
    • Later, once Nova has finally confronted and admitted his feelings for Twilight, the roles are flipped, with Twilight wondering why Nova would come back for her when she refused to hear him out after some meddling from their enemy. Nova showcases his own growth and deconstructs all of Twilight's self-criticism. This marks the moment where they become a true couple within the fic.
  • Avenger Goddess: Jane Foster immediately feels jealous when Diana shows up and Thor recognises her, even though Jane hasn't known Thor that long.
  • The Beast Of Gusu: Wei Wuxian initially isn’t sure if Lan Wangji will reject him on account of his shifter status. In Chapter 3 of “Unstoppable”, after he regains his memories and returns, Wei Wuxian asks Lan Wangji if he regrets marrying him, feeling that he’s caused too much pain and trouble for him; Lan Wangji responds that he doesn’t regret marrying him, loving him or knowing him.
  • The Black Sheep Dog Series:
    • Sirius Black to Colette Battancourt. He's clearly in love with her, but while he's incredibly protective of her and wants to rescue her from an unhappy Arranged Marriage her parents want her to have with Rabastan Lestrange, but never makes any explicit advances towards her himself (despite his usual reputation of being The Casanova), because he thinks she deserves someone better than him.
    • Orion as well. His marriage to Walburga is an Arranged Marriage, and while he is already in love with her from the start, he doesn't think that she feels the same way, and believes that she'd rather marry someone else, especially since she initially rejected his proposal for being an Extreme Doormat.
  • Blue Moon features an interesting inversion of Bella and Edward's usual dynamic; after Bella has spent so long in canon wondering why Edward loves her, after Bella becomes a vampire slayer, a confrontation with the Volturi results in Edward becoming human after he accidentally drinks the blood of a Mohra demon, and he immediately wonders if Bella will stay with him now that he has seemingly nothing to offer her, prompting an angry Bella to affirm that she loves Edward because of who he is, not what he is.
  • Calamity Jane Meets Doctor Isles is a Western AU of Rizzoli & Isles that sees Maura move out to the town of Hollow Creek to be with her fiance, only to break off the engagement as she becomes closer to Jane. Jane in particular is often struck by the scale of what Maura would be giving up to be with her, such as the opportunity to have her own children, and sometimes can't believe Maura considers that a price worth paying to be with Jane.
  • Subverted in Cat's Paw in that Jaune only pretends to be insecure as part of a revenge gambit. Tired of Weiss constantly calling him a dunce, he admits to her and Pyrhha that he actually likes the latter, but makes the both of them believe that Weiss' constant rejections have made him insecure and convinced that Pyrrha would never go out with him, so he shouldn't bother. Cue Pyrrha pulling Weiss aside to privately "talk" to her.
  • Cross Ange The Knight Of Hilda When Hilda realizes she's developed feelings for Rio, she attempts to push Rio away, worrying that he'll abandon her just like her mother once he finds out about all the terrible things she did in Arzenal to survive.
  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean fic "The Curse of the White Sword", Will briefly leaves Port Royal because he's convinced that Elizabeth has fallen for the newly-arrived Sir Reginald Hamilton and doesn't want to make things awkward for her by staying, when in reality Elizabeth loathed Sir Reginald's arrogance and only put up with him because her father insisted before she learned what was really going on. When she finally catches up with Will with the aid of the Black Pearl, she immediately slaps Will and spends some time yelling at him for his lack of faith in her, with Jack observing to Will "You deserved that, mate".
  • In Daphne Greengrass and the Boy Who Lived, even before Daphne acknowledges her feelings for Harry, she is often concerned that she’ll be abandoned for being a Slytherin. Her vision in the Mirror of Erised is being publically accepted by her parents for her friendships at a point when she feared rejection, and her boggart in third year is Harry cruelly dismissing the idea that he would ever be friends with her.
  • Ryou Bakura feels this way about Tea Gardner in Deserted Distractions. Not only is he so used to being ignored and abandoned that he has a hard time believing he has the chance with beautiful, popular Tea who has several other romantic interests, but the perpetual taint of the Spirit of the Ring causes him to feel weak and unworthy of her love when she offers it to him. The Spirit's feelings for Tea also mean that being with Ryou puts her in constant danger.
  • The Flower Princess and the Alchemist: Edward, surprisingly. It's heavily implied that part of the reason he remains so in denial about his feelings for Orihime is because he feels incredibly insecure around her, and that he deems himself second best to Ichigo, Orihime's First Love.
    • A Monster of the Week villainess even tries to exploit this to make him do a Face–Heel Turn. Fortunately, it doesn't work.
    • Orihime is beginning to feel this way towards Ed, and is heavily implied to have felt this way towards Ichigo, which is what prevented her from confessing her feelings to the latter. Orihime believes she is unworthy to date Ed until she can train herself to be the "perfect" girlfriend. And even then, believes that if they do end up dating, it wouldn't last long.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Played straight with Japan whenever he saw the moments Germany and Italy had with each other. Italy was this to both Germany and Japan as he saw himself unfit for the both of them with him hiding his insecurities with bright smiles.
  • Similar to Hajime Hinata, Makoto Naegi has a lot of insecurity regarding his relationship with Kyoko Kirigiri in How I Met Your Mother (And How I Met Your Father), not only because he got in Hope's Peak through luck, but also his own issues, including being Older Than They Look, and that he's weak, scrawny, and prone to sickness. He also has a lot of worry about how Kyoko thinks of him, and during a Christmas shopping trip, he gets severe cold feet when he wears a fuzzy sweater and is convinced she'll laugh at him or be disappointed in him. Even after being labelled the Ultimate Hope, Kyoko's grandfather Fuhito is very much able to pick at his old wounds in disapproving their eventual marriage, leaving him a broken mess afterwards. While they continue to marry and eventually have four children, it is definitely indicated that Makoto still feels unworthy of being with Kyoko at times.
    • Ironically, Kyoko has her own doubts of being worthy of Makoto, mostly stemming from her abandoning him in the fifth trial, and her guilt weighs on her heavily, leaving her wondering why he still refuses to get upset at her and still choose her.
  • How the Light Gets In features a rare mutual example. Dean and Laurel are completely in love with each other, think the other person "saved them", and see one another as the perfect parent; and, due to long-standing insecurities and self-loathing, they see themselves as wholly unworthy of the other's love, and as a mediocre (at best) parent.
  • Justified in I Reincarnated As A Minor Villainess And Survived Past My Death Scene, as Duo transmigrated as the extremely abusive Duchess of Yuy and believes you shouldn't stay with a spouse who blatantly cheats on you, insults your mother for being a commoner and pretends you don't even exist but dump their ass as soon as possible. He's utterly baffled when the Duke insists he's in love with the Duchess and doesn't want anyone else.
  • The Last Adventure: Both Fluttershy and Discord are this towards each other, partly because none of them wants to spoil their friendship, partly because of Fluttershy's usual unsureness, but mainly because Discord is still a pariah among most ponies. Discord, in particular, feels unworthy of her because of all his mistakes, and he also fears to have his heart broken when she'll grow old and die on him, since he is immortal.
  • Mendacity: After her hidden nature puts Lyra in danger, Bon Bon is convinced Lyra will be better off without her.
  • Mended Hearts: Oliver (as in canon) is this to Laurel. Eventually played with, in that while he's convinced he doesn't deserve her, he also realizes that she deserves to be happy. "If that happiness included him, how could he keep depriving her of that just to feel he was being appropriately punished for all the terrible things he had done in his past? All he’d ended up doing was hurting them both and seeking solace with a woman he truly hadn’t known as well as he’d thought he did."
  • A Mid-Sinnoh Night's Dream: Hilbert tells Dawn that he doesn't think he deserves that sort of love. He tries to ignore his feelings for the sake of team cohesion, invoking No Hugging, No Kissing at first. Even when he eventually does get into a relationship with her, he's still averse to making any progress. The context of the Relationship Upgrade was hypothermia and a private lodge where There Is Only One Bed. He only got into the bed when he remembered that sleeping in snow-soaked clothes wouldn't be the best idea.
  • More than Meets the Eye: The reason why Ash rejected Misty's Love Confession, despite returning her feelings, was because he felt he wasn't good enough to make her happy, mixed with a dash of I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship. It takes having to save her from her fiancé who plans to marry her just to take over her Gym for him to confess why he felt that way.
  • My Huntsman Academia: Izuku has trouble believing that he somehow won Yang over and is constantly worrying about messing up and pushing her away. He promises that he'll "get better" at it as fast as he can, even as she assures him that they'll go at a pace he's comfortable with. He's self-conscious about how rough and calloused his hands are compared to hers and he nearly has a panic attack while thinking about his first-ever date.
    Izuku: So yeah, better to just argue logistics with yourself over whether or not your first date was actually your first date rather than to ruminate on it and let your own embarrassment and nerves potentially ruin this day out, yeah? Y-You mean... imagine if you ruined your first date with a girl ever. Imagine if it went badly! Would Yang break up with you? Would she tell everyone how terrible of a boyfriend you were?! WOULD YOU BE SINGLE FOREVER?! HOLY WOAH YOU DIDN'T-
  • The Danganronpa fanfic series The Naekawa Project has Toko Fukawa taking this role. Because of how she's been mistreated in the past, she is shown to be confused by what her boyfriend and eventual husband Makoto Naegi sees in her, viewing herself as ugly. This is something that Makoto works hard on to help her with throughout the series, reassuring her that he loves her and she's beautiful to him. Ironically, Makoto himself feels unworthy of Toko when he learns of her Abusive Parents, feeling that he failed to protect her, and Toko finds herself working to reassure him that he's done enough to help her in her eyes.
  • Extremely common in Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfics that have a romance between Shinji and Asuka, as it would be perfectly in-character for Shinji to feel this way if he ever did get into a relationship and the fact Asuka has her own self-esteem issues do tend to make things a bit more complicated:
    • Advice and Trust: Shinji thought he wasn't good enough for Asuka before and after hooking up with her. However, Asuka disagrees and she always replies he's the only man good enough for her.
      • Ritsuko also feels unworthy of Maya's love since she had been involved in Gendo's plan for Third Impact less than 24 hours before hooking up with her. Rei has told her under no uncertain terms that she's entirely justified in thinking that way, but it doesn't mean that she can't become someone worthy of her affection.
    • In Children of an Elder God, Shinji didn't think that Asuka liked him because he was only a wimpy kid and she was beautiful and smart.
    • Ghosts of Evangelion: Asuka can't understand why Shinji loves someone like her. She never figured it out, even though they were together for six decades. In a deleted chapter, Asuka tells Kaworu that Shinji is an idiot for loving her.
    • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Shinji is shy, insecure, and he thinks that Asuka hates him, she'll never like him back, and he’s damaged their relationship beyond repair.
    • In Neon Metathesis Evangelion, Shinji initially feels quite bad when he discovers he has feelings for both Asuka and Rei. He thinks that shows that he is just an immature pathetic boy who will latch to anyone showing him a bit of friendliness. He is proven wrong when Mana tries to kiss him. Even though she has been very nice to him, it feels all wrong to him because it isn't with Rei or Asuka.
    • Deconstructed in Once More with Feeling. Shinji thinks he isn’t good enough for Asuka after he missed all of her hints, never helped her, and let her die. However, Kaji warned him that attitude would hurt Asuka rather than helping her.
    • Thousand Shinji: Touji was frightened of asking Hikari out, even after Shinji showed him that Hikari liked him back.
  • The Night Unfurls: Played With. Kyril Sutherland shuns romance, but he knows what his female admirers want from him (making him the Love Interest), as if they haven't made it clear to him. Yharnam has left him so broken that he would laugh at the possibility of having the affections of another good, or even better person. The "insecure" part also extends to non-romantic relationships as well, from how Kyril outright says the laconic version of this trope to the Doll, word for word.
  • Coppermane in Nordryd's My Little Pony: Equestria Girls works. He is not unsure that he is in love with Fluttershy, but having been bullied and friendless for most of his life, he feels unworthy of Fluttershy in their relationship, seeing himself as inferior to her. It also doesn't help that, as revealed in Before You, the first time he fell in love with a girl and tried to confess his feelings, he ended up humiliated and rejected, so he worried Fluttershy was thinking about leaving him after encountering his first crush.
  • In Overwatch fanfics this is very common with both Hanzo and Junkrat, especially Jesse/Hanzo and Lucio/Junkrat works. While Hanzo makes some sense given his canon status as The Atoner who in-universe feels he crossed a Moral Event Horizon by killing Genji and thus might well have weak self-esteem, Junkrat's is more based in his own rough background and more self-awareness than Junkrat usually displays in canon.
  • This is pretty much Severus Snape's defining trait in The Peace Not Promised. He's single-mindedly devoted to Lily's safety and welfare, and craves her company and friendship, but is constantly aware of how, in his first life, his terrible choices drove her away and got her killed.
  • Jessie and James shift this role back and forth for the first half of Cori Falls's series of Pokémon fanfics. Either Jessie thinks she's too mean, bitchy, and coldhearted for someone as sweet as James, or James thinks he's too weak, stupid, and clumsy for someone as strong as Jessie. It gets pretty repetitive after the first five or so times.
  • Discussed but defied in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. During their Shared Dream in Chapter 54, Ash asks Belladonna for some advice about romantic relationships, and one of the things she tells him is that he should never fall into this trope, since it's up to the other person to decide who is worthy or not of their affection.
  • In Pokemon: Shadow of Time, the main reason Ash avoids possible romance with his travelling companions is that he worries about being like his father, who abandoned his family when Ash was young, and is convinced the girls deserve better, even though Ash privately confirms that he had feelings for Misty, May, Dawn, Iris and Serena.
  • In The Power of Seven, while the spiritual bond between Harry and his seven lovers prevent any of them from feeling like Harry doesn't care about them, Fleur in particular notes that she was sometimes responsible for provoking these insecurities among her friends at school even if she didn't want to do so.
  • In an untitled fic set after Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, Homura becomes this trope. note  She's spent so long hating herself that she can't imagine anyone not hating her.
    Madoka: I will say it again and again for all eternity if I have to, Homura-chan, until you get it. You are you and I will always save you.
  • Downplayed in Queen of Diamonds; once Aladdin learns of Jasmine’s real history, he wonders why she lied to him and abandoned him after his arrest, and even after he learns that she thought he was dead, he is still uncertain if he deserves to be her husband given his lack of prince-related experience. Despite his wondering, he's not going to walk away from her after he learns that Jasmine's only alternative choices for a husband are Prince Achmed and Jafar.
  • The Reading Rainbowverse has Lyra breaking up with Bonbon because she's unsure if she feels the same way about their relationship as Bonbon does and doesn't want to lead her on. This is almost universally regarded as a poor decision.
  • Cinderella is this in The Rose and the Crown as a result of the abuse inflicted on her by her stepmother when she was growing up, believing that it was her fault that she 'lost' the love of her stepfamily, and terrified that she will do something to cause Eugene to hate her in the same way.
  • Very common in RWBY fics. Jaune/Pyrrha are probably the most common, but Blake/Yang are a close second, and it certainly shows up in other pairings.
    • at least it was here: Jaune can't believe that Pyrrha would ever care for him as more than a friend, and Pyrrha assumes that since Jaune has never said anything he just sees her as a friend. They even believe this while they are in the middle of a very hot and heavy Friends with Benefits relationship. Nora, the only one who knows about their relationship, facepalms repeatedly over this. Everyone knows they're in love with each other, but no one wants to interfere.
    • Used darkly in Flame's Shade when Weiss can't fathom Pyrrha's feelings for her. Years of self-hatred and emotional abuse has left her thinking she's not worthy of someone else's love.
    • Lampshaded in OTP Addiction, when Pyrrha refuses to leave Jaune to his death.
      Mercury sighed and shook his head. "Trust me, there'll be other guys out there, ones actually worth your time."
      Pyrrha smiled at Jaune. "I...I never met anyone...worth more to me than you."
    • Jaune in Pyrrha(c) Victory is Obfuscating Stupidity about Pyrrha's crush and actually reciprocates those feelings. He only acts that way because he believes that she can do better and is waiting for her to realize it and stop pursuing him. Ren reveals this information to Pyrrha halfway through the story, at which point the plot shifts gears from Pyrrha trying to get him to notice her romantically to her (and the rest of their friends) trying to convince him that he's being ridiculous about this.
    • Weiss Reacts: Jaune is sure that he isn't worth Pyrrha's attention because he himself isn't a badass. Yang, his dad and Pyrrha herself point out that this is absurd and there are other reasons apart from being a badass that she might like him.
  • The first story in the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series has two, though they're insecure for very different reasons. One sees himself as a broken thing, and he doesn't want the woman he loves to pity him or think she has to fix him. The other, who manages to keep his feelings an extremely well-hidden secret for a long time, blames himself (not unreasonably) for a tremendous misfortune that has befallen his love interest. While the rest of the cast are sympathetic with the two, they also make that clear that keeping up with this trope will not help their Love Interests in the long run.
  • The Subtle Art of Denial further explores Kim and Ron's thoughts on their relationship after the Moodulator incident and before Junior Prom. While Ron's insecurities are obvious, Kim in turn finds herself wondering if Ron rejecting her before he knew about the Moodulator is a sign that there's something wrong with Kim herself that stops her attracting other people.
  • In Teachers Outside of the Classroom, Libby is this towards Molly due to her being a Shrinking Violet and not knowing if she's into girls. Fortunately, Mrs. Roop helps her to gain the courage to ask her out on a date and become a couple.
  • The Arrow fic These Foolish Things features a rare example of this where the insecure one in the relationship is presented as being in the wrong. When Felicity learns that Laurel still has a sweater Oliver gave her when they were dating- and even then he only gave it to Laurel in the sense that he let her put it on when she was cold during a date and never asked for it back- Felicity swiftly becomes so concerned about what it says about Laurel and Oliver's relationship that she goes through his bank statements going back to his prom so that she can try and determine what expensive gifts Oliver might have given Laurel. When Felicity just goes to Laurel's flat to ask for all those gifts back, Laurel makes it clear that she isn't going to humour Felicity's demands. As Laurel and Thea point out, it's not unreasonable for Laurel to keep gifts even if they were from an ex-boyfriend, and most of Felicity's issues with this trace back to the fact that Oliver never gave her a gift himself for various plausible reasons (they weren't in a conventional relationship for some time, he didn't have the money to get her many things, etc.). When Felicity tries to make Oliver choose between her or Laurel and Thea, Oliver notes that it isn't a choice, as Thea is literally family and Laurel has been a part of his life for years, to say nothing of how they both respected other peoples' privacy.
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: Cody was this to Heather for what is implied to be years. However, he has grown out of it, though ironically Heather has shades of this from time to time. Jasmine and Sammy both have this towards each other, Jasmine for not taking action to help sooner while Sammy has this more out of habit due to her background.
  • The 2 Broke Girls fic Unexpected has Max and Caroline meet before the Channings lose their money, and Max spends most of the time beating herself up for being "an idiot who hadn't been able to not fall in love with Caroline's perfect everything", even after such moments as Max being the only friend who called Caroline to offer help after her father's arrest, when even Caroline's then-boyfriend wouldn't take her calls.
  • In Vigilantes' Dawn, Oliver is this just as he was in canon. Laurel actually deconstructs the idea, calling it toxic; according to her, love isn't a "prize" to be "won" for being virtuous.
  • Evelyn and Solas in Walking in Circles are this toward each other. For Evelyn, once the canon events start and they’re officially together, she often displays doubt about herself due to her experience as a Tranquil, not being able to control her emotions or use her magic. She also sees herself as physically unattractive, being extremely underweight due to not being able to take care of her health properly for two years. Solas always quickly assures her that he still finds her very desirable and that any hesitation on his part is only out of concern that he may hurt her.
    • Solas, at least in the beginning, often tells her that she should run away to find a quiet and safe place to live and let him deal with everything, as he doesn’t want her to suffer for his mistakes. Even when they’re together and he’s accepted that she’s not going anywhere or leaving him alone, Solas still believes that Evelyn could have a better and simpler life without him.
  • Derpy in We're Gonna Get There Soon. Her klutziness, eye condition, and her poor relationship with her parents result in a mare who is very surprised when Thunderlane is interested in pursuing a relationship with her.
  • You'll Get No Answers from the Blue Sea Star: Once Seteth actually starts responding to her advances, Jo's inferiority complex kicks in a couple of times; she realizes that her smart mouth and libido are poor substitutes for actual experience with romantic relationships and either babbles uncomfortably or just shuts down.
  • In the sidestory to YuyaVision, Seraph of Synchro, Kiryu and Yusei are shown to be this for each other. Kiryu believes he hasn't done enough for the angel who saved him while Yusei feels like he must sacrifice himself to save those he loves. Interestingly enough, the title of the story is based off the song from 35MM: A Musical Exhibition, "The Seraph", in which the singer feels unsure why their lover is so good to them.

    Films — Animation 
  • The titular character in Aladdin. He doesn't believe Jasmine could ever love the real him and disguises himself as a Prince to become worthy of her.
  • Anastasia: Dimitri is rather secure in realizing his growing feelings for Anya; however, the moment he realizes she's actually the Anastasia, lost Grand Duchess, he becomes incredibly insecure, lowers himself beneath her, and pushes her away with plans on going back to Russia and never seeing her again.
  • In Barbie of Swan Lake, Odette has doubts when the Fairy Queen and forest dwellers discuss the possibility of her and Prince Daniel falling in love to break the curse because she doesn't think she's special enough to win Daniel's heart, especially as he's a prince while she's a baker's daughter and a "nobody". The Fairy Queen proceeds to list her virtues to prove otherwise, and it's made pretty obvious Daniel is already smitten with her.
  • In Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia, Nori feels that Nalu will never love her because of class differences. She vents these feelings by bitching at Elina, who she thinks is dating him. (Unusually for the trope, Nori resolves these feelings before starting a relationship with Nalu.)
  • The Beast in Beauty and the Beast can't believe that Belle would ever love a creature like him. This is why he can't bring himself to confess his feelings, even after the iconic Dance of Romance they share, and why he falls into a Heroic BSoD after he lets Belle go to save her father, certain that she'll never come back.
  • Implied with Xibalba in The Book of Life. In the end, when he apologizes to La Muerte for all the trouble he caused, he adds that "you [La Muerte] deserve better than me". Gutierrez stated that the reason Xibalba wanted to make it look like he was cheating on her was out of insecurity.
  • 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, and 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.
  • In The Incredibles, Violet is initially too shy and lacking confidence to even talk to her crush Tony Rydinger, turning invisible when he looks in her direction. She grows out of it, and organises a movie date with him at the end of the film.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Sally is extremely shy and insecure towards Jack Skellington, probably due the physical and emotional abuse she received from her creator. In her number "Sally's Song," she admits she hasn't much hope to be noticed by him, because "she is not the one".
  • The titular character in Robin Hood (1973) believes he cannot offer his childhood love Maid Marian anything because he is a homeless, lawless outlaw.
  • In Shrek 2, Shrek believes that Fiona can't love him because of how ugly he is and therefore steals a fairy potion to make himself handsome and after being upstaged by Charming thinks that if he loves Fiona he has to let her go.
  • In Strange Magic, when his use of a love potion goes badly, the Bog King becomes convinced that he is so hideous that even a magic can't make him lovable. It turns out that the object of his affections was already in love - the one thing that makes someone immune to the potion's power. Bog is still fairly insecure when it comes to his fairy beauty second love.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • In The Charge at Feather River, Anne thinks that Miles cannot possibly be interested in her because she believes she has been Defiled Forever by her treatment at the hands of the The Savage Indians. Her sister Jennie does not help her insecurity by telling her that Miles is only showing interest in her because they are in the wilderness, and once back in civilisation, he won't look twice at her.
  • In Forrest Gump, it's heavily implied that Jenny doesn't return Forrest's affections because she doesn't consider herself worthy of him. The closest the film comes to spelling it out is when Forrest proposes to her, and she replies, "You don't want to marry me." Ironically, Forrest has an overly idealized view of Jenny, essentially regarding her as his Hero's Muse.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen believes that she doesn't deserve the love of someone like Peeta. Haymitch agrees with her.
  • This is why Audrey doesn't consider leaving the abusive "semi-sadist" Orin for her Nice Guy coworker Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors; she likes Seymour, but she considers herself too dirty and worthless to be with him.
  • In Marriage Blue, Vika is young and spectacularly sexy. Gun-ho is somewhat doughy and 18 years older than she is. This causes him anxiety and insecurity, which undermines their relationship.
  • Middle of the Night: Jerry, a 56-year-old man, starts stressing out when the reality of marrying Betty (24 years old, spectacularly gorgeous) hits home.
    Jerry I'm jealous. I'm afraid of every young man I see!
  • 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 encourages him or actively attempts to sabotage things out of jealousy.
  • 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 façade to win her heart, but she stays with him anyway.

  • Very much Arthur of Along The Winding Road. Crippling social anxiety will do that, as will being the cause of the apocalypse.
  • In Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts 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.
  • Both Jerin and Cira/Princess Halley in A Brother's Price, though for different reasons.
  • In Caliphate, Petra feels this way towards John because she believes herself to be "used goods" after being raped and enslaved as a prostitute and doesn't think he has any interest beyond her body. For his part, John doesn't think she is "ruined" and is only concerned with dating someone with such age disparity between them (she is 17 while he is at least middle-aged). At the end of the book, he asks her hand in marriage.
  • 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.
  • In Doctrine of Labyrinths, Mildmay always projects his self-loathing and abandonment issues onto his girlfriends - he assumes every relationship is doomed from the start, and can't accept anyone genuinely wanting him. Albeit he does have the Freudian Excuse of a horrible childhood - after being abandoned, sold into slavery, forced to kill people, permanently disfigured, emotionally traumatised and sexually abused all before the age of fifteen, it's actually sort of impressive he isn't more unstable.
  • Razz in Don't Call Me Ishmael!. While he is usually self-confident, he is this to Sally, believing that she is 'too everything' for him.
  • Lieselotte in Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte is convinced that she isn't lovable like Fiene. Even though she loves Siegwald from the bottom of her heart, she believes that any compliments that he gives her are part of his responsibilities as her fiancè.
  • In the Sword Art Online midquel series Progressive, the protagonist Kirito quickly falls in love with his partner Asuna, the female lead character who will become his girlfriend (and in-game wife) in the main series. But, during their time together in this series, Kirito just can't believe that such a beautiful and smart girl coming from a rich and high class family could ever love an asocial dork who never had any friend like him and so he can't spit out his feelings for her, even though pretty much anyone who met them didn't take long to realize that he loves her (even an NPC like Kizmel or a villain like Morte who barely spend time with them aside from trying to kill them).
  • The Queen in Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen was the daughter of a simple (albeit world-renown) mirror maker. When the King begins courting her, she's shocked and confused about why he would like an "ugly" woman like her.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, Louise continues to worry that Saito is only with her because he's her familiar, in spite of the multiple times he tells her that he loves her. To be fair to her, though, Saito can be rather easily distracted by the other girls in his harem.
  • Felse Investigatesby Ellis Peters: In the romantic subplot of Fallen Into the Pit, Chad Wedderburn is a former soldier with PTSD issues who won't pursue his love interest because he thinks she deserves someone less damaged. They get together in the end.
  • 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 the last two Harry Potter books, 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.
    • In the last book, this turns out to be a big part of Ron's problem: with his low self-esteem, he's convinced (among other things) that Hermione would never pick him over Harry. While it was heavily hinted at in the previous book through Ron's jealousy, carrying around an Artifact of Doom that could give him a constant mental "The Reason You Suck" Speech just brought all those issues to a head.
    • While more subtle, Hermione herself is this to Ron. While she never blatantly displays Ron's levels of insecurity, she never takes it well when other girls are interested in Ron and shows it through fits of sadness and frustrations. This may explain why they need counseling in the future per Word of God since neither of them is very good at voicing their feelings — Ron takes Stiff Upper Lip to a T when it comes to his softer emotions, while Hermione fails to realize that her words tend to hurt Ron's feelings.
  • High School D×D deconstructs this trope with the relationship between Issei and Rias. Despite their love being blatantly reciprocated, Issei was - for quite some time - resigned to the mindset that she, a bonafide Ms. Fanservice and a Nice Girl with a noble heritage, deserves better than a perverted guy like him. This, however, causes Rias to remain heartbroken when Issei answered her question on what she really is to him: he said she's nothing more than the president of the Occult Research Club and his master. It took the support of the other girls to let Issei battle with his inferiority complex - caused by the trauma involving being killed on his first date by his ex-GF for being boring - and successfully hook up with Rias.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Lucas is certain that Amber’s going to trade up from him at any moment. He refused to get into a relationship with her at Hive Futura because he was certain that as soon as she met her Strike Team, she'd lose all interest in him. Meeting Atticus and finding out that Amber dated him a couple times had him fully convinced she was going to dump him.
  • The Hunger Games: 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Missus, Alessia is deeply insecure about whether Maxim truly loves her or if she's enough for him, especially after realising the extent of his playboy behaviour, which he was still cheerfully indulging in up until he began dating her about a month or two ago. She is uncomfortable around and/or suspicious of his ex-lovers (of which there are many) and even gets upset by the thought of her and Maxim Sleeping Single after someone merely makes a hypothetical joke about it. Anatoli, her ex-fiance, also plants seeds of doubt in her mind regarding her marriage right before her wedding, saying Alessia will never be able to fit into Maxim's world and that his family and peers will never accept someone like her marrying an earl. It's worsened by the fact Maxim's mother, sister and sister-in-law (the latter of whom is also another ex-lover) do look down on Alessia and make her feel like an outsider, despite Maxim defending her.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: 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.
    • In Wax and Wayne, Steris is this for Waxillium. As Crazy-Prepared as she is in every other respect, none of her plans include the possibility that someone would actually love her and not just be with her for political convenience. She includes in her marriage contract provisions for mistresses, under the assumption that Wax won't want to be intimate with her for any longer than it takes to produce an heir. Later, after Wax spends more time with Steris and learns more about her, he consistently compliments her better qualities and tells her that she's a delight to be around, but she continually downplays his comments. Wax eventually resolves to get Steris to stop belittling herself.
  • Lauchlan Huxley, the main character of Mix Beer With Liquor And You Will Get Sicker has some self-esteem issues. And self-confidence issues. And self-image issues. He just has a lot of issues, period, and is a Nervous Wreck as a result. When confronted with the possibility of a real, meaningful relationship, he's terrified, and honestly doesn't believe that he deserves to be in a relationship at all.
  • Jin from The Pet Girl of Sakurasou 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.
  • 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.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: As a normally brash Action Girl, Nanao Hibiya doesn't usually let on, but she has a body image issue over being Covered in Scars, as well as a possessive streak towards her Love Interest Oliver Horn. When they finally become a couple in volume 10, he brushes off her "I Am Not Pretty" comment with the reassurance that she's dazzling to him.
  • Seventh: Protagonist Lyle Walt starts the series getting disinherited by his family in favor of his Enfant Terrible younger sister Ceres, only for his now-ex-fiancee Novem Fuchs to leave her family to reattach herself to him at the hip and insist on bankrolling the start of their career as adventurers. He can't understand why she would go so far for him, and she has to spell it out to him that she always loved him for himself, not his former title.
  • Watson is this toward Mary Morstan in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four, the second Sherlock Holmes story. 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.
  • 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.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs:
    • The reason Leon never made a move on Olivia or Angelica was because he feels that he isn't worthy to be the partner of the future Saintess or a Duke's daughter even after getting confessed to. The girls actually notice this so they decide to corner him about it.
    • Olivia initially cannot see herself as worthy for Leon because she is a commoner, thinking that Angelica is a better match than her.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lennier never admits he loves Delenn until the fifth season of Babylon 5.
  • Better Call Saul features a particularly tragic instance between Kim and Jimmy. Chuck's earlier betrayal of Jimmy leaves him deeply insecure, constantly worried that he is bad for the people around him and won't be able to change that no matter what he does. This comes to the forefront after he realizes his marriage to Kim means that she's just as involved in the criminal underworld as he is; at one point he timidly asks her if he's bad for her. Despite all of this, their relationship remains strong, until their scam to smear Howard as a drug addict ends with his death. Jimmy & Kim are forced to continue the lie and destroy his legacy to conceal their involvement, and the strain becomes too much for her to bear. She tearfully breaks off the relationship, telling Jimmy that they are bad influences on each other, and that their relationship is destructive to the people around them. It's not Kim's intention, but aside from breaking Jimmy's heart, she confirms all of his worst insecurities, and completely breaks 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.
    • Spike in Season 7 and the comics. He doesn't think Buffy will love him after everything that's happened between them and even responds to her Love Confession by stating that she doesn't love him, but that he's grateful she said it regardless. Beyond that, he tries several times to keep his feelings to himself, pushing her towards "normal" human men instead. In season 7, he encouraged her to get with Wood (although dropped it after the whole attempted-murder thing), then Detective Dowling in season 9. She proves him wrong and they get back together in season 10...only for Spike to pull this again when they have to call on Angel to help with a Big Bad, and once again later, when he starts doubting a relationship between them could ever work. Buffy tells him off for it, and they stay together through both season 10 and 11.
  • Chuck The central relationship has both halves spending time thinking they're not good enough for the other.
    • Chuck learns in the first episode that the gorgeous woman who sweetly flirted with him at work is actually a spy who was trying to get information from him, and was probably not interested in him personally (ouch!). Then he learns that her boyfriend was his very own former best friend, the womanizing Bryce. Even after she reveals that she has feelings for him, she firmly tells him that there can be no real relationship as long as he's an asset. Then over the course of several seasons' worth of missions, he's reminded of the vast spectrum of men attracted to her (from fellow agents - all of whom are more macho than he - to sleazy wealthy criminals). He often thinks that Sarah can do better than him. Only when they're truly together in season 3 does his insecurities fade.
    • Sarah doesn't have it much better. Eventually she reveals that she fell for Chuck right off the bat, but was blocked from doing anything about it by her job. While pretending to be his cover girlfriend, she became part of Chuck's wholesome family -complete with holiday dinners and concerned family members- a dynamic she can only pretend to fit in with. She then has to endure watching normal women interact with Chuck and a few of them really liking him - all of whom could possibly offer him a real relationship, with some like Jill and Hannah bonding with Chuck over shared interests and hobbies (while super-spy Sarah is a bit of a pop-culture dunce). She gets better once they're officially together.
  • Doctor Who: Occurred particularly between some of the companions.
    • Rory 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.
    • Clara and Danny grow fond of each other very quickly, but their own personal insecurities (often caused by trauma from the past) tend to hold them back or have them fall into awkward conversations and situations. This is not helped by Clara trying hard to keep her adventures with the Doctor and her ordinary life as a schoolteacher and Danny's girlfriend separate, only for the effort to get out of hand. Later on, it does look like she and Danny will be able to resolve their grievances, and even the grumpy Twelfth Doctor grows to respect their relationship. This is cut short when Danny dies in an accident, and though he and Clara make peace before his, Clara's clearly heartbroken that she lost him just as they were beginning to really understand each other and what pained them both.
    • The Doctor himself feels this way about most of his major love interests, given that he leads a dangerous life, is a centuries-old space alien, and (particularly after the Time War) generally hates himself. As a general tendency, he's very quick to leave them to find the happiness he can't give them elsewhere.
  • Forever: Henry spends the first ten years of his relationship with Abigail thinking he's not worthy of her, that he's not the right man for her. It takes Gloria Carlyle in "The Art of Murder" to talk some sense into him.
  • Friends: Chandler is genuinely smart, funny, good-looking, has a very successful career, and a very kind personality. However, he's had a traumatic childhood, bad luck with women, and commitment phobia, making this a recurrent thing for him:
    • In "The One with Phoebe's Uterus", Chandler is apprehensive about sleeping with his current Love Interest Kathy, because she used to date Joey (who is a Sex God) and Chandler fears the inevitable comparison since he knows he's no good. By the end, he manages to gain enough confidence to do it when Rachel and Monica give him some tips on how to be a better lover.
    • When he pairs up with Monica, the gang constantly jokes that Monica 'can do better'. He also feels intimidated by the memory of Richard, whom the gang had idolised and whom Monica had truly loved. An alternate universe episode reveals that even when Monica is a fat 30-year-old virgin with an extremely boring boyfriend, Chandler still thinks he's not good enough for her. Fortunately, he and Monica are Opposites Attract; he stabilises her neuroses while she builds his confidence.
  • Gossip Girl (2007) 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.
  • 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.
  • Nip/Tuck has Christian break up with Natasha because he thinks she deserves better than The Casanova like him.
  • 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.
  • Played for laughs at the end of the Jonathan Creek episode "Satan's Chimney", when Carla storms into the theatre Jonathan is working at demanding to know why he hasn't contacted her after their adventure:
    Carla: [Imperiously] Before you say it, Jonathan, you needn't say it. Clearly, I was expecting too much, but I did just think you might have taken the trouble to ring me, you know? God knows it must have been obvious I wanted to hear from you! With your astute mind, you must have figured that one out. [Jonathan tries to interject] And don't try to pretend I'm so repellent! Cause... I mean... I'm bright. I'm fun to be with. And well up to your speed. And plus! I did actually save your life if you remember! So I don't think it would have killed you to get in touch! Just to say hello or see how I was! After everything we went through together?
    Jonathan: ... It only happened last night. It's only twelve o'clock now. I thought you'd be glad of some rest—
    Carla: [In the exact same tone] Yes. Well. That's the other thing. I'm also deeply insecure. And emotionally vulnerable. And frequently prone to irrational outbursts. So, now you know the whole picture, it's up to you whether you want to see me again or not.
    Jonathan: Okay then, let's say tonight. Have a bite to eat or something?
    Carla: I'll let you know if I'm free. [Storms off]
  • Arrow
    • The main reason why Oliver Queen and his estranged fiancee Laurel Lance never got back together (despite heavy implications Oliver is still and will always be in love with her) is that Oliver honestly believed that he wasn't good enough for her and wasn't deserving of her love, which he outright tells the "Laurel" in the fantasy produced by the Lotus-Eater Machine during the Season Five crossover (as the real Laurel was Killed Off for Real in Season Four). It's implied that these feelings stem from before the island, hence his philandering ways — in Oliver's eyes, he was only speeding up what he perceived to be inevitable. After Oliver came back from the island, he supported her relationship with Tommy Merlyn because he genuinely wanted her to be happy and felt he was incapable of giving her the life she originally wanted with him, no matter how much they loved each other.
      Oliver: I'm sorry. The person you fell in love with, that's not me. And I never deserved that love...and you always deserved better.
    • Sara Lance carries a lot of guilt due to her work for the League of Assassins, and for this reason she breaks up with Oliver (and later tries to with Ava Sharpe in Legends of Tomorrow) convinced she will drag them into the darkness with her.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Dean, to the point it becomes his Fatal Flaw from season 2 onwards. He thinks Rory is the absolute perfect girl and that he's not smart enough for her, developing all his Crazy Jealous Guy tendencies as a result. In season 5, he ends up dumping Rory because he feels he doesn't belong to Rory's glamorous world. In his last appearance, he tries to make Luke insecure as well, telling him that both Gilmore girls want more than a simple Start Hollow guy.
    • In the Season 3 episode "Swan Song", when Luke gives Jess advice about his relationship with Rory, Jess reveals that he is this to her.
      Luke: She picked you.
      Jess: God knows why.
      Luke: She knows, that's all that matters.
  • Daredevil (2015) and The Defenders (2017): A lot of the tension in Matt and Karen's relationship stems from them each feeling the other is too good for them, due to their secrets (that Matt's Daredevil and Karen killed James Wesley and accidentally killed her brother) causing them to put on a metaphorical mask where they hide their darker side around each other. Somewhat lampshaded when Matt is grabbing Karen from her office at the Bulletin to move her into police protection with Foggy and the others.
    Matt Murdock: You deserve better, Karen.
    Karen Page: [turns around and gives him a small smile] So do you.
  • The Big Bang Theory deconstructs the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife trope with Leonard and Penny. Leonard developed a crush on Penny the first time they met but never asked her out (until the season one finale) because he felt that she was out of his league. They eventually do get together, and it turns out that Penny is also insecure because Leonard is a genius and makes her feel like a Brainless Beauty. These insecurities cause them to break up and rekindle several times and even after they get married, they never fully shed these insecurities. Leonard always gets jealous when a better-looking man so much as looks at Penny and Penny often feels like she brings nothing to the table other than her looks.
  • Gossip Girl (2021):
    • Zoya. During the Season 1 Thanksgiving Episode shows to be insecure about Obie as she thinks he still has feelings for Julien her half-sister. At the end of the episode, she breaks up with him after learning they had an affair.
    • Max as well during Season 1 part 2. After he had threesomes with Aki and Audrey and developed feelings for both as a result he has doubts about dating both of them because they're longer together and he has never been in a relationship before. In the season finale , he's finally agree to date both of them equally.

  • The Don Williams song "Amanda" has the line "Fate should have made you a gentleman's wife".
  • The James Ingram song "I Don't Have The Heart" shows a man who clearly cares about his woman but feels that he is not good enough for her.
  • Seems to be the main theme of "She's Like the Wind" by Patrick Swayze.
    I feel her breath in my face
    Her body close to me
    Can't look in her eyes
    She's out of my league.
  • Love interest in Jessica Simpson's "Sweet Kisses" suffers from this.
    Couldn't look me in the eye
    He apologises
    He didn't make enough to take me out tonight.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • The narrator of Flyleaf's There For You is a self-described "selfish fake" who has requited feelings for a friend.
    You speak the unspeakable thought-
    I love you too...
  • "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" is basically a song about a man telling a woman that he's a no-good cheating rake and she's better off without him. Played with depending on the version: Marvin Gaye's is a quite up-tempo, as if the man is more matter-of-fact about it, whereas Paul Young's version is slower and melancholy as if the man's genuinely in love with the woman but believes he can't make her happy.
  • Deconstructed by "Sorry" by Halsey, in which the singer admits she doesn't believe anyone could ever really love her as she is, so she runs away whenever things are actually good. The song is her apologizing to her ex-lover for not realizing how much they loved her, with the singer admitting that she blew it and ended their relationship for no reason at all.
    Someone will love you. But "someone" isn't me.
  • This trope shows up in Avril Lavigne's gentler songs such as "Things I'll Never Say":
    (Cause) I’m feeling nervous
    Trying to be so perfect
    Cause I know you’re worth it
  • "No Light, No Light" by Florence + the Machine.
    Would you leave me,
    If I told you what I've done?
    And would you need me,
    If I told you what I've become?
  • Evanescence:
    • "Good Enough" asks, "Am I good enough for you to love me too?"
    • "All That I'm Living For":
      Guess I thought I had to change the world to make you see me
      To be the one
  • Radiohead's "Creep." "You're so fucking special / I wish I was special." Stalkers can be insecure, too.
  • Joe Iconis's "Lisa" has the singer list his faults while acing bewildered that his titular love interest still likes him so much, and doubting that she's not just lying about it all.
    I try and I try to change myself
    But my backs against a wall
    And I don't deserve all the coolness of her
    I don't deserve Lisa at all
  • A recurring theme in songs by Will Wood, showing up in songs like "Outliars and Hyppocrates: a fun fact about apples" (where believing himself a poor fit for his lover is included with larger issues with feeling human), "Um, It's Kind of a Lot" (about how terrified he is to be in love), and "Against the Kitchen Floor" (about a man with severe self-loathing who desperately wants to be better for his partner, but cannot fathom himself being worth anything despite both his best efforts and his lover's reassurance).

  • In Cyrano de Bergerac the title character feels that, due to his large nose, he is unworthy of Roxane, whom he is very much attracted to.
  • 35MM: A Musical Exhibition:
    • "Make Me Happy" is mostly a love duet that's Played for Laughs, but near the end both of the singers drop their hilariously abrasive tones to admit that they know they're not easy to live with, and they appreciate their partner accepting them and putting up with their flaws, before promising to work on themselves so they can both be worthy of the other.
    • The song "The Seraph" is narrated by The Sinner, who views his lover as an angel who saved him and made him a better man, and has no idea what his lover sees in him. The final verse has the lover, The Savior, sing the chorus with him, revealing the sentiment is mutual.
      Angel, lead me onward and hold watch as I sleep
      I don't know why you think I've got a soul to keep
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Agnes tells Jasper she loves him, but he believes that his life is too much of a mess for them to be together.
    Jasper: Agnes has everything. Perfect family. Famous doctor for a father… Beautiful stepmom… Agnes is too good for anyone… Me? I have a cheating mother and a drug addict for a father… How could she possibly love me?
  • Mutual example in South Pacific. Nellie fears she'd bore Emile, due to being less cultured than him. Emile, meanwhile, thinks he's probably too old for Nellie.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • 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, Pirate Girl Isabela is convinced the two of them no longer have anything in common. The codex notes that after telling Hawke that they were the only reason she came back, she runs away for two years.
      • DLC character Sebastian is the least self-flagellating, possibly because he outranks Hawke socially rather than vice versa.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition follows suit:
      • Beneath his confident and arrogant exterior, Dorian has a lot of issues. He constantly reminds the Inquisitor that their relationship will not be seen well, as he is a mage from the Tevinter Imperium, and it could cost the Inquisitor goodwill. He's especially unhappy when the Inquisitor uses his influence to help Dorian get an amulet back, as he's afraid people will assume Dorian's merely cozied up to him to use his power for himself.
      • Warden Blackwall doesn't believe he's worthy of the Inquisitor and is also worried about their respective obligations and the fact that he's ultimately another soldier in her army. The biggest reason turns out to be that he's a former war criminal trying to atone.
      • Cullen also shows signs of this; he has trouble believing that the Inquisitor would be serious about pursuing a relationship, especially if she's seen him in withdrawal.
  • Fake Happy End: Mishika lost weight in the past, but found that people who snubbed her for her figure in the past are now hitting on her, showing that these relationships would turn out shallow. This causes her to worry that she can't maintain a relationship with the protagonist, so she relies on an unhelpful dating tips book for her date event.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout: New Vegas: The Stealth Suit Mark II is not an insecure love interest (it's a suit of armour with an A.I. personality and a female voice) but it talks like one:
      Will you love me if I help you hide?
      Do you like me?
      Don't you like me anymore?
      No one can go as un-noticed as me.
    • In Fallout 4, should you pursue a romance with Danse, once you tell him that you're in love with him after the quest Blind Betrayal, he's absolutely floored since the events of Blind Betrayal revealed to the both of you that Danse is a synth. The Brotherhood of Steel abhors synths as abominations and wants to wipe them all out, and upon learning that he's a synth, Danse became suicidal — he only survives if you convince him that he deserves to live and then stand up to Maxson to make him spare Danse's life. When you confess your feelings, he expresses disbelief that you could ever love a being such as him, "a machine" — you promise him that you don't care that he's a synth, and that the fact that he has these insecurities and emotions means that he's more human than many others.
  • Ninian in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade 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 an unwilling catalyst in his father's death. Eliwood uses their A support to reassure her that he loves her no matter what.
    • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, Badass Bookworm Laurent becomes this if he falls in love with Lucina. In his own words during their S support:
      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!"
      • Lon'qu feels this way towards all his love interests, as his gynophobia makes it hard for him to get as close to them as he would like. A stand-out is in his S-Support with Maribelle, where he admits it's shameful he can barely bring himself to hold her despite his feelings for her and that he has no right to ask for her hand.
      • The male Avatar can become this for Tiki. Justified in that Tiki is the daughter of an actual goddess and the only other man she has ever shown anything resembling interest in was the Hero-King Marth, a legendary King Arthur-like figure by the time of the events in Awakening.
    • In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Prince Berkut and Lady Rinea are this for each other. From Berkut's part, he loves and trusts Rinea deeply but he feels that she genuinely deserves the power and status of an empress, which does not mix well with his severe self-worth issues; from Rinea's, since she's from an Impoverished Patrician background while Berkut is the nephew and heir apparent to Emperor Rudolf, she frets about whether she's a suitable girlfriend to him or not. It ends badly. When Berkut finds out Alm's the true heir to the throne he starts suffering Sanity Slippage, wondering Was It All a Lie?. When Rinea confesses that she doesn't even want to be empress, he misinterprets that to mean that she was in on the lie, and sacrifices her to Duma. At least she forgives him as they go to be Together in Death.
    • In Echoes too, the White Magician Girl Tatiana is constantly worried that her Amnesiac Lover Zeke will remember his old life and leave her, even though he assures her that will not be the case even if he does regain his memories. When she explains herself to Alm, she confesses that she feels horribly selfish for it and immediately adds that if Zeke did turn out to have a girlfriend and still loved her, she'd let him return to her.
  • Knight Bewitched: Gwen originally placed a More than Mind Control curse on Ruth as a precaution in case the latter tried to kill her upon recovering from Bog Fever. However, she doesn't lift the curse for most of the game because she desperately wants someone who loves her, and isn't sure she can make the relationship work if she removes the curse from Ruth.
  • Another central characteristic of the Yandere in the H-game Koikatsu. Despite falling in love with the player character, she constantly worries that she is not good enough for him, and she begs him not to come to hate her whenever she messes up even in the slightest.
  • By The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, Alisa ends up becoming this trope even if a player imports a previous save file from Cold Steel III with her being a romantic partner due to the events that happen at the climax of III. As a result, she tries to distance herself from Rean.
  • Anju from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, who seems plenty insecure to begin with. Her fiance, Kafei, has been missing for quite a while, and she's beginning to think that he ran off because he didn't really love her after all. This is not helped by her mother, who seems convinced that Kafei hooked up with Anju's best friend instead. As part of the game's most elaborate sidequest, Link must give her proof of Kafei's love for her, otherwise, the poor girl will give up on him completely.
  • Mipha in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is revealed in "The Champion's Ballad" to have some angst over her and Link's biological differences, as well as some jealousy that Link and Princess Zelda have been spending a lot of time together. She had multiple opportunities where she could have confessed but was never able to. Sadly for Mipha, she died before she was able to tell Link.
  • 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. When you meet up with her again in the third game she's much more confident and this trope becomes averted.
    • Garrus counts for slightly different reasons. He gets that you like him, but isn't quite sure how to go about a relationship with a human. He's also tired of losing people.
    • Jack realizes (if you tell her you're not just interested in sex) that she's got a boatload of issues and expects you to walk away.
    • Thane Krios is a Dead Man Walking and hasn't been close to anyone - friendship or otherwise - since the death of his wife.
  • Vetra from Mass Effect: Andromeda continues the trend, she has to ask if you were really flirting with her and is genuinely surprised if you tell her you like her. Hell, her second romance scene is made up almost entirely of the poor girl being anxious over somehow messing everything up. She seems to get a bit better about this as her romance goes on, though.
    • As does Dr. Suvi Anwar. Her belief Sara might be not be serious evaporates the minute they kiss.
  • Jerry, the Little Carpenter from Night of the Full Moon has been in love with Little Red ever since they were children, when she was his Only Friend who would stand up for and protect him from the bullies who tormented him. Unfortunately he can't confess his feelings for her because of his Dark Secret, namely that he's a werewolf, and he fears that she wouldn't want to associate with him if she knew. In the game's Golden Ending, Red actually discovers his secret and, realising that he's not the one responsible for kidnapping her grandma, seems willing to accept him when he jumps in to save her life from a pack of wolves- but in the end he dies saving her life by shielding her and her grandma from the explosion of the corrupted Nature Spirit at the heart of the Dark Forest, leaving Red to mourn his death.
  • All four female party members in Persona 3 go through this if the P3 Hero romances them.
    • Yukari, for all her popularity, is well aware that she has heavy emotional baggage and personality issues that would cause most boys to leave her without a second thought. Towards the end of her Social Link, she asks the P3 Hero if he would've preferred to go out with a girl who has fewer strings attached.
    • Fuuka is painfully aware that she's the least interesting of the four (her cooking doesn't help matters), flat-out says that she's not worth the P3 Hero's time, and is honestly surprised if he prioritizes her over the others.
    • Aigis, being a Robot Girl, is self-conscious about being unable to offer the same kind of physical and emotional comfort that a human girl would have no problem with. She also knows that even if her feelings were requited, a relationship between her and the P3 Hero will eventually suffer from Mayfly–December Romance.
    • Mitsuru is less concerned about whether or not she's "good enough", and more about whether her romantic prospects will survive the ups and downs that come with life. After all, if the P3 Hero romances her, he'd either have to accept the heavy responsibilities that come with being the spouse of a rich heiress, or they'd elope, and possibly have a failed relationship.
  • The female party members of Persona 4 also have this going for them, with the added bonus of the player being able to completely validate their concerns by being unfaithful.
    • Chie is insecure about being seen as One of the Boys because she thinks it means she's not attractive at all. She also constantly compares herself to Yukiko, Rise, and Naoto, who she thinks has more of a chance of winning over the P4 Hero than she does, which is why she can hardly believe it if he shows interest in her.
    • Yukiko sees herself as an Extreme Doormat incapable of normal social interaction, and the personality she keeps to herself would be considered weird when applied to someone with her reputation, leaving her resigned to never having self-esteem or personal happiness. If romanced by the P4 Hero, she mentions that it sometimes feels too good to be true.
    • For all her confidence in her crush on the P4 Hero, Rise hints that she might have gotten scared and run away had he not taken the time to help her work through her post-idol burnout.
    • Naoto has zero experience in romance, and has pretended to be a guy most of her life, so she gets extremely worried about how the P4 Hero sees her on the way to her romance route.
  • It's all but outright stated that Bob Zanotto from Psychonauts 2 is this. In his mind, a mental construct of Otto says that the Psychic Six thought his husband Helmut was handsome and charismatic, and they only bothered keeping Bob around because he was a "package deal" with Helmut.
  • Radiant Arc: Richard flirts with other women because he feels that he isn't good enough for Carrie. At the same time, his flirting causes Carrie to think he's only being her friend out of pity. Fortunately, they open up to each other about this if the party visits Ansel.
  • 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.
  • Odette from Rune Factory Tides Of Destiny has a scene where she's looking for a foundation that will hide her small facial and upper arm scars because she's worried that Aden doesn't find them attractive. Either option the player can pick leads to reassure her that her scars are not detrimental to her attractiveness.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens to both Kotone and Rindo in his route in Cafe Enchante.
    • Due to an Age-Gap Romance, Kotone feels Rindo is far more mature and adult compared to her and worries that he sees her more as a little kid or a little sister rather than as a woman. Though Rindo at first did not consider Kotone as a partner, it was less about seeing her as a child or sister and more about his own insecurities that stopped him from realizing his feelings for her.
    • After becoming non-human to save his life, Rindo feels underserving of Kotone's love and even tells her that she should be with someone else other than him, believing he isn't "normal" enough for Kotone. Kotone quickly reassures him that she loves him for him, even doing a "Shut Up" Kiss to convince him otherwise. Even prior to that, there were indications that Rindo felt he didn't deserve to be happy with anyone after the incident where he was forced to almost kill his little sister.
  • 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.
  • Collar × Malice:
    • Shirashi wrestles with thinking he is not worth having someone like Ichika and has even suggested to her that she would be better matched to someone else.
    • Yanagi doesn't understand why Ichika would want to be with him after their Forgotten First Meeting where he rescued her as a child but traumatized her with his actions, as well as living with the guilt that the kidnapper he had beaten up is now in a coma.
  • Double Homework:
    • Lauren is like this. Whenever she asks the protagonist if she wants to spend time with her early in the story, she’s afraid that he’ll turn her down.
    • Johanna is like this as well, though it’s justified in her case due to the taboo nature of her attraction.
      • Tamara averts this, however. She knows exactly what she wants, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
  • Melody:
    • Melody and the protagonist are this way toward each other.
    • Exaggerated with Becca, what with how much she talks down to herself.
  • Kotonoha of School Days doesn't believe herself worthy of Makoto's affections, an impression not helped by his tendency to sleep with other girls behind her back (should the player make him do so). For worse, Kotonoha already had self-esteem problems due to the severe bullying she's been subjected to... often coming from another prospective love rival, Makoto's childhood friend Otome. In some paths, this drives her to start using her body to keep Makoto interested in her, while in other paths it drives her to get the competition out of the way, and in at least one she'll be Spurned into Suicide if she loses.
  • 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.
  • In Asagao Academy: Normal Boots Club, Hana often feels this way towards Jirard during his route.
  • Princess Evangile has Mitsuki and Marika. The former's insecurities stem from an inferiority complex and overall envy of her friend Rise, while Marika's stems mostly out of guilt for previously wronging Masaya. Part of their Character Development in their respective routes has Masaya help them to overcome these issues.
    • In Tamie's route, it's inverted. She's fine with pursuing Masaya, but he's not, mostly because he's unsure if her feelings for him post-Easy Amnesia are really hers or are a result of her memory loss.
  • Galaxy Angel has a bit of this in the first game on Milfeulle's route. She was worried about Tact getting close to her, as it would mean putting himself at risk whenever her luck strikes and causes a disaster, so she was trying to keep her distance. Only when Tact assures her that he doesn't care about the risks, so long as he can be with her, does she finally accept him.

  • Beast of Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast, for other reasons besides his animalistic appearnce. First, he imprisoned Beauty and separated her from her family (although he was forced to, differently from the original fairy tale and adaptations); second, the sef-hatred deeply rooted in him, caused by the emotional abuse and rejections he suffered in the past.
  • 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 because she's convinced he's still pining for Faye, despite both of them saying that's never going to happen. Dora's insecurity contributes to them eventually breaking up.
  • Furry webcomic Nip and Tuck has Thelma Possum, Tuck's girlfriend. Long regarded as one of the homeliest girls in Malarkey County due to her Age-Inappropriate Dress, with Tuck rejecting her advances throughout puberty, she initially has severe issues about how she looks and is prone to putting herself down. Tuck hates this self-loathing aspect of her and helps her grow and learn to stop being so critical of herself.
  • Just like in the Comic Strip folder above, Charlie Brown is this in Peanuts Untold, even though Lila directly refers to herself as his girlfriend. He even asks her if she meant that he liked him as a friend, and she made it clear she does like him in that way.
  • My Deepest Secret: In a twist, Emma, the main character, is this to her boyfriend, Elios. Even after dating for a few months, she still has issues grasping the fact that he agreed to go out with her. It worsens after Elios explains his values system to her. She begins to fear that if she weren't his girlfriend, she'd have no value to him whatsoever.
  • Gwendolyn and Frederick from Cursed Princess Club are this to each other.
    • For Gwen, it doesn't help that he called her ugly shortly after first meeting her, essentially causing the start of her insecurities in the first place. She becomes comfortable with being Just Friends with him despite clearly still being attracted to him.
    • In Frederick's case, due to regret over his initial rejection of their marriage upon realizing just how sweet Gwen really is and due to his own general insecurities from being The Un Favourite, when he finally starts developing feelings for her he feels like he has no right for her to reciprocate.
      Frederick: ...I- I'm so confused about everything right now... But I feel like I don't want her to walk away with [Lord Leopold]... I also feel like I have no right to stop her though...
  • Brawl in the Family did this twice with Kirby and Jigglypuff.
    • The strip "Exercise" has Kirby and Jigglypuff afraid that the other will leave them because of their Waddling Head physiques. So they exercise until they've gained attractive humanoid bodies and happily think about how the other will be so surprised... only to see the other did the same out of insecurity as well. Jigglypuff and Kirby then realize that they didn't need to change and return to the way they were before.
    • "Jigglypuff & Kirby" (the final strip before the Meet Me At Final Destination arc) has Jigglypuff reminiscing on all the good times she's had with Kirby, believing their love was not genuine because she knew the move Attract, so she forgets the move. Kirby comes over to see her and still acts affectionate and caring, revealing their love was genuine.
  • Archipelago: When Raven, the former evil mook turned The Lancer for Credenza realises his feelings towards the heroine are more romantic in nature than normally expected, the first thing he does is panic. Afterwards he wavers between adoring her from afar and "love from a thing like me has no meaning", even when she starts reciprocating and telling him You Are Better Than You Think You Are. Finally they end up as the Official Couple.

    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.
  • Whateley Universe: Sahar, having had a Heel Realization after falling in love with Zenith, broke off their relationship because she felt she didn't deserve someone as wonderful as Zoe. This led to a great deal of pain for both of them, leading Zoe, who thought it had been due to her Gender Bender transformation, to herself become insecure and somewhat bitter over the relationship. It took an intervention led by Chaka to get them back together, after which Semiramis set out to make amends for her previous Fille Fatale behavior.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls has this with Robbie Valentino. One of the reasons he's hostile to protagonist Dipper Pines is because he sees him as a threat to his relationship with Wendy, the girl they both like... despite Dipper being a young boy just starting puberty while he and Wendy are teenagers. Speaking of, Dipper does prove to be the reason why Wendy breaks up with him; not because she's interested in him, but because Dipper managed to discover another reason to end a relationship with someone she was already on the fence being with (she was going to break up with Robbie at the beginning of the episode for being a bad boyfriend, but gave him another chance). So ultimately, it was Robbie's own behavior that led to the failure.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Marinette Dupain-Cheng has this with Adrien, explaining why she is so shy in his presence and Cannot Spit It Out. Later, very impressed by her rival Kagami (because of her riches, abilities in fencing, and bold attitude), Marinette back out first. When she learns Kagami and Adrien had quickly broken-up, Marinette vainly tries to reconcile Adrien with this "perfect girl". It takes Kagami, of all people, to assure Marinette that she is the perfect match for Adrien.
    • Juleka is a shy, pallid girl with a speech impediment that makes it hard for her to express herself clearly. Her girlfriend Rose is a massive extrovert and Cloud Cuckoolander who has little difficulty making friends. In "Reflekdoll", Juleka's insecurities about her relationship with Rose (and her anger when her friends bench her from a photoshoot because of her anxiety) causes her to get akumatized into Reflekta again, in which form she tries to turn Rose into a copy of her for the explicit reason that she thinks this will make them more compatible.
  • Wirt from Over the Garden Wall believes that he can't compete for the affections of his Love Interest Sara with rival Jason Funderberker, who he says is "the total package" and "has his act together." This is revealed to be entirely in his head when the audience actually meets Jason, who while certainly more self-confident than Wirt, is more awkward and socially inept. Sara is as friendly toward Jason as she is everyone else, but it's blatantly communicated that she's much more interested in Wirt in a manner that everyone in their group can pick up on. Everyone except Wirt himself.
  • Connie Maheswaran, the Implied Love Interest of the titular Steven Universe, doesn't understand how Steven, a boy with magic powers and an epic destiny awaiting him, would be interested in a completely normal and mundane girl like her. The insecurity goes both ways, however, as Steven admits at one point he doesn't understand why someone as smart as her would like hanging out with him when he — from his viewpoint — just keeps messing everything up. They grow out of this mindset by the second season, though, and are dating by the time of Future.
  • In Regular Show, a large part of the reason why CJ and Mordecai have relationship troubles is that despite Mordecai constantly trying to prove his dedication to her, she is afraid that he still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend Margaret. Seeing the two together causes her to jump to conclusions, which isn't helped by the fact that they regularly find themselves in Not What It Looks Like scenarios when they hang out, and that Mordecai and Margaret do still have feelings for each other. Mordecai admitting this (while giving a speech at someone's wedding no else), leads to CJ dumping him before he can reveal he's decided to give up on Margaret in favor of her.
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga G. Pataki is madly in love with Arnold, but is too shy and insecure to tell him because she's afraid he'll reject her. So she resorts to bullying him instead.
  • In The Owl House episode "Enchanting Grom Fright", Amity Blight's biggest fear is revealed to be getting rejected by her crush Luz, as shown when a Supernatural Fear Inducer takes on their form and rips up the note she had written to ask them out to the school dance. This even continues in the episode after they start dating, as the emotional abuse she's suffered from her parents has left her believing that love is something transactional that must be continuously earned if you don't want to lose it. As such, she spends the entire episode trying to prove that she's an "awesome girlfriend" (much to Eda's annoyance).
  • The Looney Tunes Show has Daffy think Tina is insane for willingly being his girlfriend in "You've Got Hate Mail", Daffy calling Tina a psychopath turns heartwarming once it's revealed that he just thinks that anyone as wonderful as her would have to be crazy to love him... until you realize what this implies about Daffy's self-esteem.
  • Wakfu: A source of angst for Yugo over the course of Season 3 is the fact that he feels he shouldn't pursue a romance with Amalia (despite knowing she feels the same way) because despite almost being the same chronological age, Amalia very much looks her age while Yugo still has the appearance of a young child and he knows that his extended lifespan and slowed aging will only increase this with time and that he'll likely outlive her (possibly before he even begins to look her current age). He eventually gets over it.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson, frequently, to Marge. In "Milhouse of Sand and Fog," he believes Luann Van Houten when she reports her mistaken belief that Marge cheated on him, and confronts Marge about it, nearly causing Marge to break up with him because she's so offended by what she sees as his lack of faith in her. As he'll admit later, it's not Marge he doesn't trust but his own good luck.
    Homer: The only thing I can't believe is that a woman as great as you would be married to me.


Video Example(s):



This is one of the reasons why Blu gets into a argument with Jewel (with the other reason being that Blu is unhappy about parting ways with her) as he feels he is not good enough for her due to being unable to fly.

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Main / InsecureLoveInterest

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