How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: Juniore, “Panique”
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.
Insecurity affects more people than you think. Many of the couples who come to us searching for life coaching and personal growth discover that insecurity was one of the main issues in their relationship. Insecurity isn’t always obvious at first. It might even look like your relationship issues aren’t related to insecurity at all. That’s because 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 typical for people in new relationships to have some anxiety, but even people in long-term relationships sometimes worry about their partner’s feelings for them. While very common, feelings of insecurity 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. Here are six of the most common causes of insecurity, and some tips on how to address them.
Insecurity After Infidelity
If you’ve been betrayed by a partner in the past, it’s completely natural to struggle to feel secure in your present relationship. Feelings of insecurity after an experience with infidelity or an emotional affair are 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 again.
Anxiety After Being Let Down Repeatedly
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, 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 to 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 they are necessary.
Insecurity Due to Past Trauma
Sometimes people who were traumatized in past relationships can struggle to feel secure with their present partner. For some people, their very first relationships were with untrustworthy or inconsistent parents, which led them to develop insecure attachment styles, which make them feel apprehensive or protective when anyone gets too close. However, even people with loving parents and happy childhoods can carry scars of past relationships, particularly if they’ve been through a toxic relationship at some point in their lives. It’s completely understandable: Being burned by an ex can make it harder to trust a new partner, because you fear being hurt again.
Long Distance Relationships
Sometimes, insecurity has more to do with the circumstances of the relationship than the people who are in it. 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 need to feel secure and loved is vital, as is being intentional, reliable, and consistent.
Feeling Insecure When You’re Dating Someone New
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 like is emotionally intense. If you’re 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
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, they might feel suspicious, worried, or like they’re 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, their partner may feel worried about what’s really going on in the other person’s head. 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 like 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 thereof) 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. People who struggle with low self esteem may find it hard to feel safe in relationships because they always anticipate rejection. The “insecure overachiever” may similarly struggle to feel secure in relationships if they’re not getting the validation and praise that they thrive on.
For others, insecurity is linked to an overall struggle with vulnerability and perfectionism. People who feel like 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 their lives can start to feel apprehensive about where they stand in their relationship. For example, people who don’t feel 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 like 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, then their feelings can lead to behaviors that can harm the relationship. Some people lash out in anger when they perceive emotional danger, or if they think 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, preemptively, 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 Your Partner Feel More Secure In Your Relationship
It’s not uncommon for partners of insecure people to seek support through therapy, 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 a willingness to do things to help them feel emotionally secure — even if you don’t totally get it. This is especially true if your partner’s insecurity stems from past trauma or betrayal.
Tips to help your spouse feel more secure in your relationship
- 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
While the partners of anxious people do need to try a little harder to help their loved ones feel secure, the person struggling with insecurity also needs to take responsibility for their feelings and learn how to manage them effectively.
[For more information of how to uncover your hidden obstacles, check out this article]
Note: This doesn’t mean never worrying or feeling insecure (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 C., 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 to heal and strengthen trust and security
- Concrete tools couples can use to banish insecurity from their relationship
We hope that this discussion helps you overcome insecurity and create the strong, happy relationship you deserve.
With love and respect,
P.S. Pro Tip: Once you listen to this podcast, consider sharing it with your partner. Doing so can be an easy, low-key way to start an important, and necessary conversation about how to increase the emotional safety and security you both feel in your relationship. xo, LMB
P.P.S. We have so much more support for you here! To access other podcasts and articles on this topic, like “How to Deal With Trust Issues,” please visit our Emotional Wellness Collection, our Growing Together Collection, our Relationship Repair Collection, and more. It’s all there for you. — LMB
Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast
How to Feel More Secure in Your Relationship
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: Juniore, “Panique”
- How Insecurity Can Ruin A Relationship
- A relationship can reveal sides of you that you may not know about.
- The more experience you have, the more open with your partner you should be.
- If you don’t feel secure in your relationship, you will be more distant
- Root Causes of Anxiety
- ‘Attachment injuries’ can cause anxiety.
- Affairs, whether by yourself or by your partner, can cause anxiety.
- Be true to your feelings fortress anxi
- How to Help Yourself Feel More Secure
- Find something that makes you feel fulfilled
- Understand your uniqueness
- Work with a professional
- How to Help Your Partner Feel More Secure
- Listen to your partner
- Do not be immediately defensive
- What Couples Can Do
- Be each other’s support
- Try our relationship quizzes!
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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