Insecurity is a feeling of inadequacy due to lack of self-confidence. It makes you doubt your abilities, instincts, and relationships, making it difficult for you to believe in yourself and trust others.
Insecurity can be a painful and difficult emotion to experience. It may affect your mental health and relationships.
This article explores the signs, causes, and consequences of insecurity in relationships, and suggests strategies to help you cope.
Signs of insecurity in the relationship
In a relationship, insecurity can drive you to unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, including:
- If you are not around, keep checking your partner to determine their whereabouts
- Don’t believe your partner will be loyal to you, and constantly worry that they are cheating you
- Envy all the other people in their lives, hate other people close to them
- Don’t trust your partner, but want to verify everything they tell you
- I feel that your partner may break up with you at any time
- Seek compliments and verifications to try and feel safer
According to Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University in New York City, these behaviors can actually drive your partner away.
Reasons for insecure relationships
Romanov believes that these are some of the underlying causes of insecurity in the relationship.
An unhappy previous relationship
Those in unhealthy relationships whose partners are not trustworthy or treat them poorly may retain these emotions and bring them into a new relationship.
This often happens when people are not emotionally processing and dealing with their reactions to these relationships. Instead, they jumped into another relationship. These people often project their unresolved trauma or emotional baggage onto their new partner without good reason.
People who lack self-confidence may feel insecure in relationships because they may not believe that they are worthy of their partner’s love or support.
The experience of being bullied, teased, or abused by a caregiver can convey a message that you are different or not good enough. These experiences can affect your confidence and affect your relationship with your current partner.
Insecurity is like a self-fulfilling prophecy, because your fear of losing your partner will cause you to act defensively and drive them away.
Neglect or abuse
People who have suffered long-term neglect or abuse often feel insecure in their relationships because their needs are rarely fully met.
When they do find a fulfilling and healthy relationship, this may trigger their fear of loss, because they have never been guaranteed or given for free in the past.
Although many people experience a certain degree of social anxiety in situations such as meetings, parties, dates, and large gatherings, some people have a more serious form that affects their self-confidence in interpersonal relationships.
Social anxiety can cause you to be too critical of yourself and make it difficult for you to believe your partner’s behavior and intentions.
Fear of rejection
Fear of rejection can cause people to experience insecurity in their relationships. Lack of self-confidence can make some people more sensitive to rejection. Even minor setbacks or perceived contempt can trigger their worst fears and insecurity. On the other hand, persisting in the experience of failure helps to build confidence and reduce insecurity.
The impact of insecurity
Below, Romanov explains how insecurity affects your mental health and your relationship with your partner.
Impact on mental health
Insecurity can affect your mental health, because fundamentally, you don’t think you are worth it or worth it. This will affect your romantic relationships and your relationships with friends, colleagues, children and family.
Because you constantly question your own self-worth, you may accept bad or abusive treatment from others, which will strengthen your belief that based on your relationships, you are not worthy.
Impact on relationship
Insecurity can cause imbalances and affect your relationship. You become more focused on what your partner does not provide, and instead ask for assurance or recognition of your insecurities.
You begin to see your partner as the object of managing insecurities, instead of contacting them on an equal footing.
Strategies to reduce insecurity
Romanov has proposed some strategies that can help you cope and feel safer in relationships.
- Identify your triggers: Know yourself better about the situations that trigger your insecurities. Keep track of the topics or areas that cause insecurities so that you can begin to identify the issues that need to be addressed.
- Communicate with your partner: Communicate more openly about your insecurities, how they appear in your relationship, and the ways you can begin to solve these problems.
- Express your feelings: aim to share your feelings with your partner, not to blame them. For example, instead of saying “You pressure me because of…”, it is better to say “I feel pressure sometimes because of…”
- Listen to your partner: Try to listen to your partner with an open mind so that you can also understand their point of view.
- Try to keep a diary: it is helpful to keep a diary. When you feel insecure, write down your thoughts. This exercise can help you identify situations that trigger your insecurities. You can even practice couple journaling to help build trust between you and your partner.
- Consider consulting a therapist: Although insight and open communication are essential, sometimes you need to obtain perspectives from well-trained external sources to fully understand the connection between your insecurities and more complex dynamics. In turn, your therapist can work with you to deal with your insecurities.
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Living in a sense of insecurity can be painful and nerve-wracking. This can make it difficult for you to believe that you deserve to be loved and cared for, and it is difficult for you to play a role in a relationship. Distrusting your partner and your relationship may lead you to engage in unhealthy behaviors, which may damage your relationship.
Taking time to understand your fears, communicating your feelings candidly with your partner, and seeking professional help when needed can help you fight insecurities and build healthier relationship dynamics.