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Guide to Fixing Insecurities in a Relationship
Relationship Advice

Guide to Fixing Insecurities in a Relationship

Fixing insecurities in a relationship is no easy task. Get a grasp of insecurity signs, causes, and remedies in committed relationships to build trust and intimacy.

Together Team
February 14, 2022

Insecurity in a relationship feels like an imminent catastrophe is just around the corner. You may doubt your self-worth, question your partner’s faithfulness, and feel uncomfortable with intimacy. 

A relationship should be a safe haven. Read further to find out:

  • What does insecurity mean?
  • Common signs of insecure relationships
  • What causes insecurities in a relationship
  • 5 steps to deal with insecurities in a relationship

How do Insecurities in a Relationship Develop?

According to the American Psychological Association, insecurity is defined as: “a feeling of inadequacy, lack of self-confidence, and inability to cope, accompanied by general uncertainty and anxiety about one’s goals, abilities, or relationships with others.”

Relationship insecurity can be set in motion by personal insecurities, hurtful past experiences, an insecure attachment style, or specific dynamics in the current relationship. 

You may compare yourself with your partner a lot, you feel like a fraud around them, or you have a hard time trusting them. Insecurities in a relationship are dangerous because they diminish intimacy, trust, and connection. And, very often, they lack a foundation in reality.  

While self-doubt is a natural and even a positive mechanism of self-growth, chronic insecurities can ruin an otherwise very good relationship. Insecurity could make it seem like your relationship is entirely wrong and create problems to confirm it to you.

3 Signs of an Insecure Relationship

Some conflicts and difficulties can appear as red flags in your relationship. Here are some hints to know that you are dealing with insecurity and not with actual relationship dysfunctions:

  1. Unmotivated jealousy
  2. The constant need for reassurance
  3. Fear of commitment

Unmotivated jealousy

Even when there are no objective reasons for you to worry, you find yourself thinking your partner may be cheating on you. Every time they are late, stay on their phone longer, or do something slightly unusual, your first thought is: “They are seeing someone new” or “They’ve found someone better.” This could cause you a lot of internal tension and even lead you to start unnecessary conflicts. 

Jumping to the worst-case scenario as a knee-jerk reaction can be a sign of an insecure attachment, formed in your childhood or over multiple unhealthy relationships. If you see this in yourself or your partner, insecurities may have found their way into your relationship.

The constant need for reassurance

You may feel like your partner is secretly fed up with you or can lose interest in you at any moment. You could enter a semi-panic mode if they are not explicitly declaring their love for a longer period. This can trigger a storm of anxious thoughts, which can only be calmed by compliments, hugs, gifts, or a loving look.

Needing reassurance that you are loved is often a sign of abandonment anxiety. You may fear losing your partner’s appreciation and may tend to question your value in other areas of your life too. If you or your partner experience this, your relationship could be insecure. 

Fear of commitment

You may be at the beginning of a new relationship and you may feel a sense of unease when you feel vulnerable, or when your significant other is getting emotionally intimate with you. Sensing your relationship going to another level can feel like your freedom is threatened, you develop a fear of commitment.

Insecure connection makes vulnerability and intimacy feel uncomfortable, leading you to withdraw, and avoid emotionally-charged moments. If this happens with you or your significant other, you may want to discover more about feelings of insecurity in your relationship.

What Causes Insecurities in a Relationship?

Relationship insecurity is linked to our attachment styles and attachment issues, which are rooted in our upbringing and life experience. An insecure attachment is, actually, one of the main causes of insecurities in a relationship. 

There are 4 attachment styles, described by John Bowlby in the ’50s as forms of emotional bonding. Attachment is a complex subject, but, in short, attachment styles may look like this:

  • Secure attachment: is formed in families where children are listened to and consulted in everyday decisions; adults with secure attachment are self-confident, trusting, optimistic, both independent and partnership-oriented.
  • Avoidant attachment: is formed in families where children are shamed for showing emotions and vulnerabilities; adults with this attachment are highly independent, shallow in relationships, career-oriented, and fearful of intimacy.
  • Anxious attachment: is formed in families where children are overprotected and dependent; adults with anxious attachment are easily panicked, connection-oriented, could sacrifice their needs for the other, need reassurance, and question their abilities.
  • Disorganized attachment: is formed in inconsistent families, where children could have been overstressed or abused. Adults with disorganized attachment are searching for intimacy, but also fear it, and may put up walls.

Attachment styles are developed from our early childhood and they impact our adult relationships in a significant way. 

Not only can your history with your parents promote insecurities in a relationship, but hurtful life events and dysfunctional previous relationships can also feed insecurities in your relationship, adding to your current doubts and fears, a study finds.

We tend to feel more attracted to people with a similar attachment style. 

Research states that relationships between two avoidant or two anxious partners are more likely to be unfulfilling for them. Similarly, combinations between the 3 insecure attachment styles (avoidant, anxious, disorganized) could lead to more insecurities in a relationship.

While a dose of doubt is natural in any relationship, a highly insecure attachment can affect your relational health. It creates frustration in you and your partner, blocks the deeper connection, and that can reduce your relational satisfaction over time. 

The good news is that insecurities in a relationship can be worked through.

5 Steps for Fixing Insecurities in a Relationship

Fixing insecurities in a relationship is a complex process that can start with these 5 steps:

  1. Observe your triggers
  2. Pay attention to self-talk
  3. Journaling
  4. Talk to your partner
  5. See a good couples therapist

1. Observe your triggers

Let’s say your partner is beginning to have a blooming career, earn more money, and have a richer social life. They are enthusiastic and share every bit of their happiness with you. But, deep down, you feel bad. Why? Because you feel like you are not good enough for them and they should not settle for you. 

Sometimes this feeling of uncertainty and low self-worth can become overwhelming and alter your perception. Give yourself some space to calm down. Then, proceed to identify what provokes a reaction in you: Is it when they talk about other people? Is it when they give you constructive feedback? Is it when they seem to have had a good day even without you? 

All of these triggers could tell you more about what you fear and how previous relationships may have eroded your trust. This will help you see some difficult moments just as they are: triggers for past emotional baggage.

2. Pay attention to self-talk

Our brain works with algorithms and labels. This means that you can automatically label yourself as “not good enough” or “unattractive”, not based on the actual context, but internalized talk. 

Start by noticing any negative self-talk and the frequency of it. If you think about it, it’s quite unnatural for someone to talk badly about themselves. So, what could have tricked you into using sentences like “I am so lazy” or “I am no good” when talking about yourself?

Taking a look at how you talk to yourself will provide you with a better view of your insecurities and help you build self-awareness. You could find out that no one else is saying those things about you, but your inner critic alone.

3. Journaling

If you start by doing the first two steps, you’ll see this one comes quite easy. You can write down the triggers that you observe and the negative self-talk that happens around your relationship. Oftentimes, those in couple’s therapy can even see patterns of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.

After having your own mental habits put under the lens, revisit your negative self-talk and consider more resilient alternative answers to triggering situations, as well as methods for self-soothing. 

4. Talk to your partner

When you are having insecurities, your partner may feel misunderstood or unfairly accused. Express your feelings and discuss with them certain situations in which insecurities arise. You may find out that they are dealing with similar concerns about the relationship or themselves.

If you’ve tried the previous steps before engaging in a heartfelt conversation, it may be clearer to you what your insecurities are, when they activate, and where they could have come from. 

You can go further and talk with your partner about what they can do to help you deal with insecurities in the relationship. 

This step will build trust and intimacy between you two. If you fall into the avoidant attachment category, this may be a little more challenging for you. An initial talk about intimacy and trust could be useful though, to better understand what you can expect from your partner.

5. See a good couples therapist

Insecurities in a relationship are a complex issue and they can go deep into the attachment history of a partner. If you feel like doubts and self-sabotage are ruining your relationship, it may be better to see a couple’s therapy specialist or start a personal process. 

It can help you clear out attachment wounds, gain better self-esteem, become more autonomous, and enhance intimacy in your relationship. 

Insecurities in a Relationship: Final Thoughts

Couples are often dealing with insecurities in their relationship and they are not always bad news. It is only when they affect connection, trust, and the quality of the time spent together that insecurities become tricky. 

Insecurities in a relationship can be overcome with proper communication, introspection, and professional guidance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Together Team

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