- Four Ways to Stop Feeling Insecure in Your Relationships
- What You Really Need to Fix Insecurity in a Relationship Forever
- 1. Embrace Your Vulnerability
- 2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity
- 3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking
- Final Thoughts
- More Tips About Living Your True Self
- How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship
- Root Causes of Insecurity
- Types of Insecurities
- How Insecurity Can Ruin a Relationship
- How to Help Someone Feel More Secure
- How to Stop Being Insecure
Four Ways to Stop Feeling Insecure in Your Relationships
“What ruins relationships and causes most fights is insecurity” — Olivia Wilde
Insecurity is an inner feeling of being threatened and/or inadequate in some way. We’ve all felt it at one time or another.
But while it’s quite normal to have feelings of self-doubt once in a while, chronic insecurity can sabotage your success in life and can be particularly damaging to your intimate relationships.
Chronic insecurity robs you of your peace and prevents you from being able to engage with your partner in a relaxed and authentic way. The actions that come from insecurity—always asking for reassurance, jealousy, accusing, and snooping—erode trust, aren’t attractive, and can push a partner away.
While many people tend to think that insecurity comes from something their partner said or did, the reality is that most insecurity comes from inside ourselves. The feeling can start early in life with an insecure attachment to your parents, or can develop after being hurt or rejected by someone you care about.
Insecurities are maintained and built upon when you negatively compare yourself to other people and harshly judge yourself with critical inner dialogue.
The majority of relationship insecurity is irrational thoughts and fears—that you are not good enough, that you will not be OK without a partner, that you will never find anyone better, that you are not truly lovable.
When you start to notice that sinking feeling of insecurity there are a few things you can do:
1. Take stock of your value
When you feel insecure, you are often focused on something you feel is lacking about you. In most well-matched relationships, each partner brings different qualities and strengths that complement the other. It is possible to be equals in different ways.
To feel more secure in a relationship it helps to know what you have to offer to the other person. You don’t have to be rich or beautiful to offer something—personality characteristics are far more important to the overall quality of a relationship. Think about the traits you have as a person—you may be nice, trustworthy, funny, kind, or a good communicator.
These are traits most people value in a partner. And think about how you make the other person’s life better: Do you make them feel loved, supported, and happy? These are things everyone wants to feel in a relationship, but many often don’t. Focus on what you offer instead of what you feel you lack; this will change your perspective.
If the other person doesn’t appreciate what you have to offer, that’s his or her loss.
2. Build your self-esteem
Research shows that people with more relationship insecurity tend to have poorer self-esteem. When you aren’t feeling good about who you are on the inside, it is natural to want to look outside of yourself for validation. However, trying to feel good by getting approval from your partner is a losing situation for any relationship.
When your well-being depends on someone else, you give away all of your power. A healthy partner won’t want to carry this kind of burden and it can push him or her away. Feeling good about who you are is a win-win for the relationship.
You get to enjoy the sense of well-being that comes with genuinely liking yourself, and self-confidence is an attractive quality that makes your partner want to be closer to you.
Building your self-esteem isn't as difficult as it may seem. Building self-confidence comes with experience, but there are two steps you can take that will rapidly improve how you feel about yourself.
Learn to silence your inner critic and practice self-compassion, and retrain yourself to focus on the aspects of yourself you instead of the ones you don’t . (To learn how to silence your inner critic, click here.
For a simple 30-day exercise that trains your attention to focus on your positive qualities, click here.)
3. Keep your independence
A healthy relationship is comprised of two healthy people. Becoming overly enmeshed in a relationship can lead to poor boundaries and a diffuse sense of your own needs.
Maintaining your sense of self-identity and taking care of your needs for personal well-being are the keys to keeping a healthy balance in a relationship. When you aren't dependent on your relationship to fill all of your needs, you feel more secure about your life.
Being an independent person who has things going on outside of the relationship also makes you a more interesting and attractive partner.
Ways to maintain your independence include: Making time for your own friends, interests, and hobbies, maintaining financial independence, and having self-improvement goals that are separate from your relationship goals. In essence: Don’t forget to do you.
4. Trust in yourself
Feeling secure in a relationship depends on trusting the other person but, more importantly, on learning to trust yourself. Trust yourself to know that no matter what the other person does, you will take care of you.
Trust yourself to know that you won’t ignore your inner voice when it tells you that something isn’t right. Trust yourself not to hide your feelings, trust yourself to make sure your needs are met, and trust yourself that you won’t lose your sense of self-identity.
Trust yourself to know that if the relationship isn’t working, you will be able to leave and still be a wholly functioning individual. When you trust yourself, feeling secure is almost a guarantee.
If finding this kind of trust in yourself seems very difficult on your own, you may wish to work with a professional who can help you learn how to do this.
It's important to remember that no one is perfect—we all come with some baggage. But it isn’t necessary to be perfect to be in a happy, healthy, and secure relationship. When you take your attention off of what other people think and keep the focus on yourself, you can’t help become a better, more secure version of yourself.
What You Really Need to Fix Insecurity in a Relationship Forever
Last Updated on April 17, 2020
We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.
When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.
In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.
Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.
If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.
According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.” Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.
No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.
When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.
Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.
1. Embrace Your Vulnerability
When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.
Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.
When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.
Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.
In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.
It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.
You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.
Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.
What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?
You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.
That’s where we all should be.
So, answer me this:
How are you, really?
And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.
Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.
Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.
Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)
Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.
It’s taking control.
2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity
You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by staying true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.
You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.
In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.
Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.
You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…
Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’ When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.
But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?
It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.
In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You
It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.
Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:
Change will happen.
Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.
You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.
And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.
You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?
That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.
You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.
When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.
3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking
Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.
In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.
If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s you rise twice.
Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.
Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable. It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved. It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.
How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?
Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.
“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.
Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.
Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.
It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.
Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,
“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”
What would you do if you felt you were enough?
By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.
So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.
By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.
Staying true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.
When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.
You will find that making decisions what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!
More Tips About Living Your True Self
Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com
How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship
OVERCOMING INSECURITY | It’s not uncommon for both women and men to feel insecure in a relationship from time to time. We often see emotional insecurity as an underlying issue to address with couples who come to us for marriage counseling, couples therapy, premarital counseling and relationship coaching.
After all, when couples don’t feel completely emotionally safe and secure with each other it tends to create conflict and problems in many other areas of their partnership.
[For more on the importance of emotional safety and how it may be impacting YOUR relationship, access our free “How Healthy is Your Relationship” Quiz and my mini-couples coaching follow up video series.)
It’s especially true for people in new relationships to have some anxiety, but even people in long-term relationships can worry about their partner’s feelings for them sometimes. While very common, feeling insecure in your relationship can create problems — for both of you.
Root Causes of Insecurity
If insecurity is an issue in your relationship — either for you, or your partner — you might be speculating about the root causes of insecurity and how to heal them.
People can struggle to feel emotionally safe with their partner for a variety of reasons — sometimes due to their life experiences, but sometimes, due to things that have happened in the current relationship itself.
Insecurity After Infidelity: Certainly being let down or betrayed by your partner in the past can lead you to struggle with trust in the present moment.
Insecurity after infidelity or an emotional affair is very common. In these cases, the path to healing can be a long one.
The person who did the betraying often needs to work very hard, for a long time, to show (not tell, but show) their partners that they can trust them.
Anxiety After Being Let Down Repeatedly: However, insecurities can also start to emerge after less dramatic betrayals and disappointments. Even feeling that your partner has not been emotionally available for you, has not been consistently reliable, or was there for you in a time of need, it can lead you to question the strength of their commitment and love.
Trust is fragile: If your relationship has weathered storms, learning how to repair your sense of trust and security can be a vital part of healing. Often, couples need to go back into the past to discuss the emotional wounds they experienced with each other in order to truly restore the bond of safety and security. These conversations can be challenging, but necessary.
Insecurity Due to Having Been Hurt in the Past: Sometimes people who have had negative experiences in past relationships can feel insecure, due to having been traumatized by others. For some people, their very first relationships were with untrustworthy or inconsistent parents and that led to the development of insecure attachment styles.
This can lead them to feel apprehensive or protective with anyone who gets close. However, even people with loving parents and happy childhoods can carry scars of past relationships, particularly if they lived through a toxic relationship at some point in their lives.
It’s completely understandable: Having been burned by an Ex can make it harder to trust a new partner, due to fears of being hurt again.
Long Distance Relationships: Certain types of relationships can lead people to feel less secure than they’d to, simply due to the circumstances of the relationship itself. For example, you might feel more insecure if you’re in a long-distance relationship.
Not being able to connect with your partner or see them in person all the time can take a toll on even the strongest relationship. Couples in long-distance relationships should expect that they will have to work a little harder than couples who are together day-to-day, in order to help each person to feel secure and loved.
In these cases, carefully listening to each other about what both of you are needing to feel secure and loved is vital, as is being intentionally reliable and consistent.
Feeling Insecure When You’re Dating Someone New: And, as we all know, early-stage romantic love is a uniquely vulnerable experience and often fraught with anxiety. Dating someone new is exciting, but it can also be intensely anxiety-provoking.
In new (or new-ish) relationships where a commitment has not been established, not fully knowing where you stand with a new person that you really is emotionally intense.
If you’re dating, or involved in a new relationship, you may need to deliberately cultivate good self-soothing and calming skills in order to manage the emotional roller coaster that new love can unleash.
Feeling Insecure With a Withdrawn Partner: Interestingly, different types of relationship dynamics can lead to differences in how secure people feel. The same person can feel very secure and trusting in one relationship, but with a different person, feel suspicious, worried, and on pins and needles. Often this has to do with the relational dynamic of the couple.
For example, in relationships where one person has a tendency to withdraw, be less communicative, or is not good at verbalizing their feelings it can lead their partner to feel worried about what’s really going on inside of them.
This can turn into a pursue-withdraw dynamic that intensifies over time; one person becoming increasingly anxious and agitated about not being able to get through to their partner, and the withdrawn person clamping down a clam under assault by a hungry seagull.
However, when communication improves and couples learn how to show each other love and respect in the way they both need to feel safe and secure, trust is strengthened and emotional security is achieved.
Types of Insecurities
Emotional security (or lack of) is complex. In addition to having a variety of root causes, there are also different ways that insecurity manifests in people —and they all have an impact on your relationship.
As has been discussed in past articles on this blog, people who struggle with low self esteem may find it hard to feel safe in relationships because they are anticipating rejection.
The “insecure overachiever” may similarly struggle to feel secure in relationships if they’re not getting the validation and praise they thrive on.
For others, insecurity is linked to an overall struggle with vulnerability and perfectionism. People who feel they need to be perfect in order to be loved can — subconsciously or not — try to hide their flaws.
But, on a deep level, they know they’re not perfect (no one is) and so that knowledge can lead to feelings of apprehension when they let other people get close to them. In these cases, learning how to lean into authentic vulnerability can be the path of healing.
[More on this: “The Problem With Perfectionism”]
Sometimes people who are going through a particularly hard time in other parts of their lives can start to feel apprehensive about their standing in their relationship.
For example, people who aren’t feeling great about their career can often feel insecure when they’re around people who they perceive as being more successful or accomplished than they are. This insecurity is heightened in the case of a layoff or unexpected job loss.
If one partner in a relationship is killing it, and the other is feeling under-employed or they’re still finding their way, it can lead the person who feels dissatisfied with their current level of achievement to worry that their partner is dissatisfied with them too.
Insecurities can take many forms, and emerge for a variety of reasons. However, when insecurity is running rampant the biggest toll it takes is often on a relationship.
How Insecurity Can Ruin a Relationship
To be clear: Having feelings is 100% okay. Nothing bad is going to happen to you, or your relationship, or anyone else because you have feelings of anxiety or insecurity. The only time relationship problems occur as a result of feelings is when your feelings turn into behaviors.
If people who feel insecure, anxious, jealous or threatened don’t have strategies to soothe themselves and address their feelings openly with their partner (and have those conversations lead to positive changes in the relationship), the feelings can lead to behaviors that can harm the relationship.
Some people lash out in anger when they perceive themselves to be in emotional danger, or that their partner is being hurtful to them. Often, people who feel insecure will attempt to control their partner’s behaviors in efforts to reduce their own anxiety. Many insecure people will hound their partners for information about the situations they feel worried about.
Still others will withdraw, pre-emptively, as a way of protecting themselves from the rejection they anticipate.
While all of these strategies are adaptive when you are in a situation where hurtful things are happening, (more on toxic relationships here) problems occur when these defensive responses flare up in a neutral situation.
A common example of this is the scenario where one person repeatedly asks their partner if they’re cheating on them because they feel anxious, when their partner is actually 100% faithful to them and has done nothing wrong.
The insecure person might question their partner, attack their partner, check up on their partner, or be cold and distant due to their worries about being cheated on or betrayed — when nothing bad is actually happening.
This leaves the person on the other side feeling hurt, controlled, rejected, vilified… or simply exhausted.
If feelings of insecurity are leading to problematic behaviors in a relationship, over time, if unresolved, it can erode the foundation of your partnership.
How to Help Someone Feel More Secure
It’s not uncommon for partners of insecure people to seek support through therapy or life coaching, or couples counseling either for themselves or with their partners.
They ask, “How do I help my wife feel more secure,” or “How do I help my husband feel more secure.
” This is a great question; too often partners put the blame and responsibility for insecure feelings squarely on the shoulders of their already-anxious spouse or partner. This, as you can imagine, only makes things worse.
While creating trust in a relationship is a two-way street, taking deliberate and intentional action to help your partner feel emotionally safe with you in the ways that are most important to him or her is the cornerstone of helping your insecure girlfriend, insecure boyfriend, or insecure spouse feel confident in your love for them. The key here is consistency, and being willing to do things to help them feel emotionally secure even if you don’t totally get it. This is especially true of the origins of your partner’s worry stem from early experiences of being hurt or betrayed by someone else.
Tips to help your spouse feel more secure:
- Ask them what they need from you to feel emotionally safe and loved by you
- Give that to them (over and over again, without being asked every time)
- Rinse and repeat
How to Stop Being Insecure
Of course, it’s very frustrating to partners who feel they’re not just true-blue, but doing everything they feel they can to help someone feels safe and secure… and yet insecurities persist.
While partners of anxious people do need to try a little harder to help them feel secure, the person who struggles with insecurity needs to also take responsibility for their feelings and learn how to manage them effectively.
Note: This doesn’t mean not ever having worried or insecure feelings (feelings happen y’all), but rather, learning how to have feelings that don’t turn into relationship-damaging behaviors.
Without the ability to soothe yourself, become grounded in the here and now, and get your emotional needs met by your partner (or yourself), unbridled insecurity can put a major strain on a relationship. But how? How do you manage insecurity? That’s the million-dollar question, and that’s why I’ve made it the topic of the latest episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast!
If you’re struggling with insecurity in your relationship — either as the person who worries, or the one who’s trying to reassure them — you’ll definitely want to join me and my colleague Georgi Chizk, an Arkansas-based marriage counselor and family therapist who specializes in attachment therapy as we discuss this topic. We’re going deep into the topic of insecurity in relationships, and how to overcome it. Listen and learn more about:
- The root causes of insecurity
- The surprising ways insecurity can impact a relationship
- Practical strategies to help someone else feel more secure
- Actionable advice to help yourself feel less insecure
- How trust and security are healed and strengthened
- Concrete tools couples can use to banish insecurity from their relationship
We hope that this discussion helps you both overcome insecurity, and create the strong, happy relationship you deserve.
With love and respect,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby & Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT