Five Tips for Overcoming Insecurity in Relationships

Conflict between man and womanInsecurity is one of the trickiest relationship issues because it tends to create a self-perpetuating cycle. Insecure people frequently cling to their partners, which causes their partners to pull away, worsening the insecurity.

Feelings of insecurity often begin with family-of-origin issues or unhealthy early relationships. In many people, these experiences may interfere with their ability to choose good partners; some insecure people may choose partners who make the insecurity worse. There’s no quick fix for anxiety, and some people need therapy to move past anxiety in relationships, but there are several steps you can take to reduce it:

Determine the Cause

Not all insecurity is unwarranted. Objectively examine the behavior of your partner. Is he or she honest? Does he or she respond to your basic needs? Does he or she seem concerned about your feelings?

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If you’re not getting what you need in your relationship, your insecurity might be the other person’s problem, not yours. But this doesn’t mean you can force your partner to fix it. If your partner refuses to meet reasonable emotional needs, you can either end the relationship or find other ways to meet your needs, perhaps by taking up a hobby, expanding your circle of friends, or finding fulfillment in your work.

Negotiate Relationship Rules

Every relationship serves as a sort of mini-government that establishes its own rules and standards of behavior. Something that’s OK in your relationship might not be OK in another person’s relationship.
Talk to your partner about how you want your relationship to function and how each of you can get your needs met. You might, for example, agree that you need a lot of verbal reassurance, while your partner benefits more from favors and nice gestures.

When insecurity is a chronic problem, you should talk openly and honestly about it so that your partner knows you might need extra reassurance. If you have a disagreement about what constitutes a fundamental need, you might need to get out of the relationship or find another way to meet your needs.

Avoid Mind Reading

No two people think exactly alike, and what might mean absolute rejection to you could just be an oversight or misstatement by your partner.
Mind reading can contribute to insecurity when you make assumptions about your partner’s thoughts rather than asking him or her about them. If you’re feeling unsure of something, express this to your partner and ask for clarification.

Quit the Comparison Game

Almost any relationship, no matter how troubled, can look perfect from the outside looking in. Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s relationships, and avoid comparing your current partner to past partners.
It’s easy to find your partner’s weaknesses and assume that he or she doesn’t love you, and when you compare relationships, you’re much less likely to compare your partner’s positive traits to other people’s negative traits. Accept your partner for who he or she is and work on your relationship where it is rather than aspiring to emulate a relationship that might not even be real.

Look for the Positive

Confirmation bias is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to look for evidence of what they already believe to be true. If you’re convinced that your partner doesn’t love you, you might see his or her failure to say he/she loves you on the phone as irrefutable evidence that love has died.
But when you look for confirmation of the positive aspects of your relationship, you’re also more likely to find these. Focus on your partner’s positive traits, and interpret ambiguous statements and actions as positively as possible. In minor cases of insecurity, this can be all it takes to move past anxiety.

References:

  1. 20 ways to beat relationship insecurity. (n.d.). YourTango. Retrieved from http://www.yourtango.com/200948412/how-beat-relationship-insecurity
  2. Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P. R. (1999). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

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Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org. The preceding article was solely written by the author name above. The view and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • jacqueline

    March 26th, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    “avoid mind reading” is such an important piece of advice! my boyfriend had this insecurity building up inside him and so to him every action of mine seemed like I was going away from him! when I finally did find out about it I was pretty furious. but I’m happy to have dealt with it in a calm way. i told him all he had to do was talk.communication instead of mind reading can help so much! please practice this people, don’t just go mind reading. it may well lead to the sudden demise of what is otherwise a beautiful relationship!

  • Clay

    March 27th, 2013 at 3:51 AM

    I need a woman who is strong and confident. There are so many women like this available why do I need to waste my time on someone who is so insecure that I can’t leave the room without her wondering who I am talking to and what I am doing I have had girlfriends like that before, and it ain’t fun. I swore that the next time I get involved I want a woman who knows herself and doesn’t need me to make her feel good about herself.

  • Jane Ilene Cohen

    March 27th, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Good tips in your article. I would add that it’s important to not lean on a relationship in order to feel whole. That creates a co-dependent relationship. Relationships can’t be a way to avoid the challenges of life, but as a way to gain strength and depth and becoming more of who you really are.

  • Irina

    March 27th, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    hate it when my boyfriend says I’m insecure. well maybe I am but it all started when he cheated on me a year ago. I did forgive him but that fear probably never went away.

    I don’t want to hold on to that.After all insecurity is not a nice feeling at all.but it just makes me so mad to hear that because he was in fact the reason for it. how do I cope with it an yet not show my insecurity? please help.

  • sharon

    April 11th, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    I was reading your blog on how you feel so uncomfortable when women feel insecure. I can truly understand this feeling for I have been on both sides of the fence and either side is not comfortable. As Jacqueline says/stated I too use to have that mind reading and it can drive a person crazy for sometime one person can be right on target (women’s gut) if this may be the same thing, not sure. From experience if 2 people can make each other feel good about themselves then I can see no reason why one would feel they need to stay

  • Jon

    May 16th, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    What if there has been a little infidelity in the past with your partners previous relationship. This cause some anxiety in the new one if something seems out of sorts. I get all the attn and love I beleive she has but I have recently came across a very flirty email from a past classmate. It could be nothing but it was very flirty. The way I came across it was becasue I happen to be snooping while this is wrong I know but how do you handle this?

  • Ellen

    March 6th, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    I’m right there with u Irina my boyfriend n I fight about me being insecure and jealous all the time. I cnt prove that hes cheated but there’s been some kind of cheating prior n hes also n alcoholic/addict who started drinking again almost 1 yr ago. I wish I knew how to let go of these thoughts n feelings but I’m hear to listen.

  • darling

    May 14th, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    So, at dinner I happen to lean over his shoulder and I see a text from a girl. Now I’m insucure because he was texting this girl. I called her and she said she lived out of state and there’s nothing to worry about, mind you I had a ex-husband that was a cheater while I was pregnant. Was I wrong to look at his cell phone? I do love this guy.

  • Colby

    October 5th, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    This is a good article, I just told my boyfriend of 2 years we cannot jerk each other around and if he ever wants to step out on me be fair and let me go first or when either of us have any thoughts or feelings for another we need to talk about it…..BEFORE any cheating (which can be various forms) happens.

  • johnisa

    November 12th, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    I have a boyfriend we been together for two years. My insecurity is driving him crazy and I want to stop this. I really love him alot. I read the article and it made sense. I want him my life for a long time. This insecurity is driving us apart what can I do to rebuild trust and show im secure with this relationship. Help

  • mel

    January 9th, 2015 at 12:13 AM

    My man likes his porn sites..i am very insecure, feel like im not good enough..that im not sexy or sexual enough to meet his desires. help

  • Angela

    May 18th, 2015 at 12:26 AM

    Before My boyfriend was the insecure one. I wasn’t the clingy type of person and I didn’t worry too much about my relationship because I felt secure. I would hangout with friends I basically was independent. But this would bother my boyfriend because he would think that I just wanted to be single and I didn’t want to be with him. So I started to change I spent more time with him and I stopped going out with friends, but then I guess this became too much for him and he started to become distant, and he still had that anger against me for not trying at the beginning of our relationship. We broke up for a while and I was completely devestated the whole time. And keep in mind I was living completely alone. It was very hard I would try to speak to him and all we would do was fight. We did get back together but things are not the same he doesn’t put the same effort as he use to, for example he didn’t do anything for my birthday or Valentine’s Day when before he use to give me roses every month, he always wants to hang out with his friends, and he doesn’t make our relationship a priority anymore. He says it has a lot to do with my insecurity. I will be honest I have become more clingy I constantly want reassurance but I never believe anything he says because I just feel that he says it just because I want to hear it and just because I tell him to say it. I also feel like I’m always forcing him to do things with me and spend time with me and I feel that he rather be doing something else. We argue every single day and I end up crying everyday because of something he said or didn’t say. I started to become more insecure during our break up and because I found out he was getting to know someone else. Although he always tells me that It was never anything more than just exchanging messages it still hurt to find out that he could move on when we were apart. My insecurities have really taken a toll on our relationship and I have tried to change them but it’s so hard getting out of the habit when I feel that he doesn’t care. Advice is welcome on how to work in insecurities!

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