We all feel insecure from time to time in our relationships; it’s completely normal. However, some people feel like this most of the time, to the point where it becomes overly consuming for both partners. Knowing how to handle and manage insecurity in a relationship is something that can truly make a difference between a relationship’s flourish and failure.
Signs of Insecurity In a Relationship
Insecurity in a romantic relationship can feel like:
- The constant fear that your partner will leave you
- Feeling you don’t have enough to offer
- Ruminating about all the times in the relationship when you looked or behaved imperfectly
- Feeling like a fraud destined to be exposed
- Seeing yourself as boring, overweight, stupid, ugly…
- Feeling like you don’t deserve lasting love
- Experiencing guilt and shame often
- Being hungry for attention and reassurance, but even when you get it, it rarely seems convincing enough
- Switching between doubt, anxiety, anger, and guilt back and forth
- Consuming jealousy that leads to unhealthy thoughts and actions such as obsessively questioning your partner’s whereabouts, privacy violations, controlling behaviour, etc.
These feelings can especially exacerbate when we are in a relationship with someone we have intense feelings for. The more important the relationship is to us, the more we think we stand to lose. This is where our insecurities become super uncomfortable – they spike anxiety, fear, suspiciousness, anger, and other unpleasant and unhealthy emotions.
What Causes Insecurity In a Relationship?
At its core, insecurity usually comes from a deep sense of inadequacy. The frequent underlying belief is that we are not enough the way we are. That we are flawed, ugly, or unworthy of love. Often, this sense of “low worth” comes hand in hand with one or both of these unhealthy patterns – a harsh inner critic and the belief that others will love us only if we are behaving a certain way.
Acting strong, fun, compliant, agreeable, beautiful, hard-working, always there for others, whatever the set of criteria is, we may believe that it’s the only way to make our partner stay. Sometimes, this can even feel like tricking our partners into loving us. Maybe not explicitly, but somewhere between the lines, we may fear that the moment they discover our true colours, they will leave.
On the other hand, we may feel powerless before our inner critic that throws insults at us all the time. It may become so embedded in our daily self-talk that we are not even aware of how much of an impact it has on our overall self-esteem.
The Impact of Our Past to Our Current Relationships
All these beliefs are usually the product of our early experiences. They come from the ways we interpreted and incorporated those experiences into our belief system the best we could with the limited resources we had. Some examples of those early experiences may be:
- attachment styles we built with our primary caregivers, that we, later, transfer to our other relationships
- main messages we received from our environment that tailored deep beliefs about ourselves, other people, and life in general
- observing relationships around us and “learning” what we absolutely should and should not do to avoid ending up hurt
- hurtful experiences, like being rejected, neglected, or humiliated by someone we cared about
While it can be easy to blame our partner’s behaviours for our insecurities, the truth is, most of the time, insecurity in a relationship really comes from inside of ourselves. Indeed, being in a relationship with someone who regularly judges most of what we do can surely shake our confidence. Putting up with repeated criticism and rarely getting affection or appreciation from our partner can increase our self-doubt. But pay attention, the word is increase, not create. It may be good to remember that other people cannot make us feel or behave in a certain way. Only our thoughts and beliefs can.
Can Insecurity Damage a Relationship?
It is completely normal to feel insecure once in a while. In small amounts, it can even be beneficial at times, because it may motivate us to put more effort into our partnership. It is chronic self-doubt that can negatively impact our mental health and interfere with our relationships.
One of the key elements of successful romantic relationships is an authentic connection between partners. Deep connection comes from authenticity, and authenticity requires us to be open to showing our vulnerable side. To do that, we need to believe that, even with our vulnerabilities, we are still beautiful and worthy of love. In other words, we need to be comfortable with who we are, at least to a certain extent. Chronic insecurity can stand in the way of engaging with your partner in an authentic way by preventing you to be completely yourself.
Constant worry in a relationship can be mentally exhausting, robbing you of peace and happiness. Instead of enjoying the journey and having a good time with the person you love and care about, obsessive doubts can turn your head into a truly uncomfortable place to be. And like if that’s not enough of a pain, if you let your insecurities get out of hand and impact your behaviours, it can lead to a set of unhealthy interactions with your partner where you’re both unsatisfied and the relationship suffers.
We Fetch For Clues To Confirm Our Toxic Beliefs
For example, insecurity in a relationship can sometimes cause you to misinterpret some situations or to exaggerate problems. It may not sound intuitive but we, as humans, are constantly in search of clues to confirm our beliefs. This gives us a sense of structure and control. We have all kinds of beliefs, and most of them are accurate and help us organize and interpret information. However, some of these beliefs can be unhelpful and unhealthy. But our brains can be stubborn and instead of letting go, they seek to confirm those beliefs too.
In the context of relationships, this means that, if you believe your partner will hurt you, leave you, or betray you, there is a high chance that you will, consciously or unconsciously, try to find proof for your fears. This is a natural response to anxiety – you’re trying to feel prepared if the worst-case scenario happens. However, this causes your anxiety to spike up. Not only that, but this may even lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where you start behaving in a way that induces the exact reaction you wanted to avoid. Simply put, you may start finding problems where they don’t exist. This not only fuels your insecurities further, but also leads to unhealthy behaviours like putting your partner down, jealousy, accusations, and constantly asking for reassurance, just to name a few. All those behaviours push your partner away and disrupt intimacy and trust in a relationship.
How Do I Stop Being So Insecure?
Depending on where your self-doubts come from, there are several strategies and steps you can take to tackle them down.
1. Tame your inner self-critic
People with a strong inner critic know how hard it is to suppress the annoying voice that’s putting them down. Sometimes this little voice is so persistent and so convincing, that we accept it as our reality. Since it can be so loud sometimes, and so embedded in our thought patterns, the solution is not to shut it off; it’s often impossible. Instead, pay attention to what the voice is saying and then actively stand up for yourself. Treat your inner critic like a misbehaving child that you’re trying to teach how to be civilized and stop firing insults. This way, you’re becoming mindful of your self-diminishing thoughts, taking a step back, and then take an active effort to reframe them. It allows you to reject unhealthy attitudes toward yourself and accept a more realistic approach as an accurate reflection of who you are.
In the beginning, this kind of self-talk can feel a little bit unnatural, like you’re faking it. However, with persistence, it usually starts feeling less and less like labour, and more and more like something authentic.
2. Make a list of your strengths (short-term solution)
As an emergency boost to your self-esteem, it can be helpful to make a list of all your positive traits. This list represents what you bring on the table in a relationship. This is not the time to be modest – get creative and write down every positive detail you can think of. Maybe you have a gorgeous smile or you’re a good kisser. Maybe you don’t have a smokin’ hot body but you’re supportive and make your partner feel appreciated. Or maybe you’re not that funny but you’re trustworthy and, on top of that, a great cook. Nobody is perfect. But it’s important to know that it’s not necessary to be perfect to be loved. Imperfections are what make us human. Learn to love your uniqueness.
One important thing to have in mind is that this list does not represent the reason you deserve to be loved. It should just serve as a reminder of how many positive traits you have, because during the times of strong self-doubt, they are easy to forget. You, with all your quirks and experiences and scars and mannerisms, you as a unique human, are loveable. Let that sink in. Sometimes this is hard to accept.
3. Let go of conditions you imposed on yourself to deserve love
The underlying belief: “They will only love me if I am this or that” is what can often be seen behind insecurities in relationships and what fuels self-doubt further. On some level, when you hold this belief, you send yourself a message that you are not truly loveable at your core, for who you really are, but that you need to deserve love by doing certain things and behaving in certain ways. But you don’t. We choose our partners and our partners choose us.
Of course, you need to invest in a relationship for it to be healthy. It’s necessary to put work in your partnership to thrive. It’s good to do nice things for your partner, to show respect and affection, to build trust and make them feel safe and appreciated. But you don’t need to do certain things to be the person worthy of love. There is a difference between the two.
If we feel worthy of love only if we meet certain criteria, that feeling stands on an unstable ground simply because we will sometimes fail. Inevitably. Everybody does. This is why it’s important to start loving yourself for who you are and not for what you do. To recognize that you are enough. To realize that your partner is with you because of you (even if you’re super not sure about it right now). Self-compassion can be incredibly helpful with this!
4. Communicate with your partner openly and effectively
It’s important to get clear about what you and your partner both need in a relationship and discuss realistic and reasonable ways you can help each other fulfill them. Be aware that this kind of talk requires both partners to ditch defensiveness and assumptions, and be kind, honest, and open with each other. Intimate connection creates a safe environment in which you can work to overcome insecurities and meet each other halfway. Sometimes this is not easy, especially if there are perpetuating problems and frustrations in a relationship, but with mutual effort, it can be done.
Coping with insecurity in a relationship can be tough because it requires you to deal with your core beliefs and take an active effort to break the patterns that influenced your thinking for years. Still, with consistency, self-reflection, and effective communication with your partner, it is possible. And please remember that it doesn’t have to be a lonely battle. Support and help from someone you trust, like a friend or a therapist, can make it a lot more bearable. Learning to manage your insecurities will increase not only the quality of your mental health but the quality of your romantic relationships as well.
P.S. If you like this article or know someone who may find it useful, please don’t hesitate to share it on your social media.
“Successful relationships master the art of apology”
– The Gottman Institute
There is no such thing as a perfect partnership. However strong and stable your relationship may be, it inevitably stumbles from time to time. Disagreements happen, careless words might be said, anger might be expressed inappropriately, insensitivity manifested, or trust broken. Whatever it is, harm has been done and feelings got hurt.
Making mistakes is what makes us humans. But when you’ve hurt your partner, knowing the right way to apologize makes all the difference. True apologizes strengthen, not diminish your relationship.
Obviously, some mistakes are bigger than others, and sometimes saying sorry is not enough. Knowing you’ve hurt the one you love feels awful. You might become frustrated when it seems like whatever you do makes things worse. It is easy to feel hopeless when you simply don’t know what to do to fix things.
Apologizing to your partner and healing your relationship involves more than just saying “I’m sorry”. Let’s see what you can do to effectively start reconnecting again after you’ve hurt your partner.
Offer Sincere Apology
Okay, this sounds like an obvious one, but it’s important to highlight what an honest apology really is.
Genuine apology is directed toward your partner’s hurt and possibly healing the damage your actions have caused, not necessarily on getting forgiveness. If your main reason for saying sorry is to get things back to normal as soon as possible and enjoy the beauty of your relationship again, your apology is not sincere and might even make things worse. Chances are high that your partner will recognize your apology as manipulative, you will get frustrated pretty quickly and things will escalate again, damaging your relationship even further.
So, before you apologize, get honest with yourself about why you want to apologize. What are you genuinely sorry for? Try to see things from your partner’s perspective.
Acknowledge Their Hurt And Don’t Get Defensive
When you finally decide to go to your partner and apologize, prepare to get uncomfortable. Your partner might interrupt your apology by describing how much you’ve hurt them and what they are going through after your actions. In this case, it’s crucial to let them speak and not interrupt them with your view of the situation.
“Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand”
Apologizing can seem scary for some people because it puts them in a vulnerable position. Naturally, following the need to protect themselves from guilt, they get defensive. However, for the offended party, defending your behavior and giving explanations is seen as trying to get excused from the situation and avoiding to take responsibility for your actions.
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse”
When someone is hurt, the most important thing for them is to feel understood. You need to show your partner that you are aware of the pain that you have caused and address it in your apology. Take responsibility for hurtful things that you said or did. This means that you won’t blame your partner for how you behaved and that you will resist the temptation to get defensive. Don’t minimize their feelings or question their logic. Remember, your job here is not to be right, but to help your partner feel listened and cared for.
Express Willingness To Do Whatever It Takes
Tell your partner what have you learned from the incident and list the things that you will do or change to avoid repeating the same mistake again. It’s important, however, to really believe in this and to make it realistic. False promises will only damage your relationship even more.
We are all different people with a unique set of traits and different needs. Thus, what you think is helpful might not be what your partner actually wants so to feel better. Instead, find out what your partner needs from you in order to find a resolution. It shows to your partner that you respect them and that their feelings are important to you.
Sometimes, even the one that is hurt doesn’t know what exactly would make things better. That’s okay. As long as you show them that you are there for them, that you might don’t know how to make things better but you are willing to learn, it’s already healing.
Be Patient And Don’t Push For Forgiveness
It’s understandable that you want your relationship to get back on track as soon as possible. But, remember that your main objective was not to get forgiveness and be comfortable again quickly, but to make things easier for your partner and start building trust and connection again. Therefore, give your partner some space and time to process all those unpleasant emotions of anger, frustration, hurt, disappointment etc. Don’t rush them through this process or blame them for taking “too long” to forgive you.
After the apology, it’s important not to act like everything is back to normal and nothing happened. Forgiveness is a process, not an event. Even if things in your relationship seem ok shortly after the apology, wounds are probably still fresh and you need to be patient and gentle with your partner. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your commitment. Actively show through your actions that you are willing to invest your time and energy to make things better for your partner.
Knowing how to apologize properly and meaningfully is one of the keys to successful relationships. However, it’s important to know that apologizing is not about accepting the blame for something. It’s about acknowledging and responding to your partner’s emotional pain that your actions provoked. You can, and should be accountable, but everyone is responsible for their emotional reactions too. It is not acceptable for an upset partner to be abusive, physically or verbally.
It takes an active part from both partners to repair a situation.
We are human! Which also means, there’s no shortage of varying opinions, views, and thoughts on topics that we encounter every day. Politics, religion, how to raise kids, money, family – any of these topics, plus more, can have an influence on your interactions with others. But what happens when you disagree about topics with a romantic partner, or family member, or friend? Can you keep your point of view without offending or ruining the relationship?
Here are 3 strategies to disagreeing on certain issues while still maintaining a strong connection with your loved ones:
1. Ask Yourself Why
Sometimes people like to argue, for the sake of arguing. Maybe you grew up in a household where people disagreed often, or maybe you have strong opinions on most subjects. However, ask yourself, is having a strong point of view worth it in this relationship? If you feel strongly about a topic maybe it’s worth it to express your opinions in an open, assertive way. Using “I-Statements” is a healthy way to express opinions without offending or insulting those you’re conversing with.
Also, be conscious of your environment. A workplace or family gathering is not the place to have a heated debate. Sometimes taking a deep breath or two and waiting till later to express your views can help you with expressing assertively, rather than aggressively.
2. Practice Respect
It’s perfectly fine to express your thoughts and opinions, but doing so in a respectful way is a sure way to keep the peace, and keep your relationship. Sometimes, this can be difficult if you get worked up and feel heated about a particular subject, but expressing yourself assertively without name calling or bad language can be a sure way to disagree respectfully.
3. Take a Break
Sometimes, you will notice that the argument, or disagreement, keeps going around in circles. Are you disagreeing on the same thing you discussed 45-minutes ago? Agreeing on taking a break and putting the issue “aside” can help you calm down, feel more positive emotions, and gain a different perspective to help you come to common grounds with the person you’re disagreeing with. Give it a try – and don’t forget to practice deep breathing!
Disagreeing on important or tough issues can be done in a peaceful, productive way! Not every debate or argument needs to end with one person conforming to the other’s point of view. By using respectful language, keeping your emotions in check, and listening to and valuing the other person’s story, you can successfully agree to disagree. Remember, it takes two to tango!
Have you ever felt like others misunderstand your words and intentions? Do you find yourself getting in similar conflicts over and over? Do you find it hard communicating with certain persons? If you’re finding yourself in these statements, you’re not alone feeling like this. Whether you’re experiencing conflicts in your workplace, with your family or romantic partner, it’s extremely stressful.
A Way To Learn to Better Communicate and Resolve Conflicts
Alan Sharland, according to his webpage, has spent over 18 years as a Mediator and Trainer in Conflict management skills. As such, helped thousands of people to resolve conflicts successfully.
In his e-book, he writes about helping people create more effective ways of communicating. For example, as conflict can bring about emotional difficulties, he writes about helping people find more creative ways of responding within their conflicts. What Alan shares is what to consider and become aware of when communicating with others, whether the conflict gets resolved or not, so that we can continue on enjoying what relationships should bring to our lives.
How do you feel about conflicts in your life? Have you read Alan’s e-book? It might be useful for you, check it out.
If you would like to learn more about conflicts and successful communication, you might want to take a look at our article: “Disagreeing but Staying Cool”. You’ll find 3 strategies to disagreeing on certain issues while still maintaining a good connection with the person you’re disagreeing with.
How to bake a cake? Google it. What is a net-worth of some celebrity? Google it. Any statistical data, any solution for a concrete problem? Google it. Bur where and how to find yourself? Errr… there is no algorithm for that. Which does not mean Google can’t help with that too.
“Search Inside Yourself”
Google recently launched a free emotional-intelligence training called “Search Inside Yourself”. It is a mindfulness-based program that teaches Google employees practical ways to implement mindfulness into their work lives. In accordance, three basic skills that this useful, business-friendly training is covering are attention, self-knowledge (and self-mastery) and useful mental habits. The training received great reviews and woke up lots of interest which made this program one of the most demanding among Google employees.
One of the employees who took the course says:
“I’m definitely much more resilient as a leader,” he says. “I listen more carefully and with less reactivity in high-stakes meetings. I work with a lot of senior executives who can be very demanding, but that doesn’t faze me anymore. It’s almost an emotional and mental bank account; I’ve now got much more of a buffer there.”
More details about the course and its creator here: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/technology/google-course-asks-employees-to-take-a-deep-breath.html
My personal opinion on this particular program is that it’s a fantastic way to motivate employees and make a positive working environment. Since it’s based on mindfulness, it can help people create the calm head-space, which will lead to more relaxed, collaborative and warm climate in the workplace. Great job Google!
Countless couples complain about losing the spark in their relationship. There is no excitement anymore, butterflies are gone, and they’re just stuck in a rut that they don’t know how to get out from. Some of my clients are reporting they are becoming frustrated with their long-term partners, experience emotional distance, and problems in the bedroom. In situations like these, feeling of hopelessness, fear and boredom are completely normal. Not being able to answer where the spark has gone, why that happened, and will it ever come back is frustrating and confusing.
What is the SPARK and How to Keep It Alive?
First of all, to answer some of the above-mentioned questions, we need to define the SPARK.
“THE SPARK is the natural chemistry between two people creating desire, admiration, cooperation & respect. It’s maintained naturally between two people who resonate emotionally, mentally, physically & spiritually.”
Be careful though – the spark differs from lust in many ways. Simply put, lust gives you physical attraction and desire, but this is a just a small component of the spark.
But what to do when you find it hard to understand each other? What to do when you feel like you’re not emotionally compatible, and your bedroom is slowly dying? Well, fortunately, there is a solution. After numerous studies, scientists have found three main weapons that keep the spark alive and a long-term relationship successful.
1. Effective Communication
Talk to your partner! We all know that communication is a vital part of every relationship, but did you know that it also highly correlates with passion? Couples who find a way to communicate successfully and to understand each other without judging are more likely to sustain passion in their relationship. This happens because couples who have good strategies for communicating can openly discuss their sex life and their likes and dislikes in the bedroom, which leads to more freedom in exploring and fulfilling each other’s desires.
Research has shown that mindfulness is highly connected to relationship intimacy. In other words, couples who are constantly mindful about their relationship experience greater sexual desire toward each other. Being mindful about the relationship means setting aside time to spend some quality time with your partner and trying to constantly pay attention to partner’s emotional needs. Try it for a while and see how the spark slowly shows up again between you two.
Make your friendship a priority. When the life gets in the way it’s easy to forget all the good things you love doing together. Engage in the activities you both enjoy, laugh together and have fun. Remember that you’re friends in the first place, so appreciate the honest friendship within your relationship.
Every relationship takes work. However, it doesn’t have to be a hard work; just willingness to improve yourself and then your relationship can do wonders. Remeber, oftentimes the spark is not lost; it’s just hidden behind all the hustle and bustle you’re facing every day. It takes just a little attention and it will shine again.