Insecurity in Relationships – How to manage it
When we enter an intimate relationship we can feel very emotionally vulnerable; especially if we have felt let down or hurt in previous relationships.
- Will they reject me?
- Have I done something to upset them?
- This is just too good to last!
- Will they let me down?
These are the typical thoughts and feelings of the chronically insecure partner. Being insecure is a whole lot of hard work. So what does it involve?
Seeing problems where none exist
When we become anxious about anything, we start looking for signs of things â€˜going wrongâ€™ (for example: nervous flyers look out for signs that the aircraft is in trouble). This is known as cognitive bias and, of course, we usually find what weâ€™re looking for, even if it isnâ€™t really there at all. Our thinking is predisposed to what we believe and we somehow shape reality to fit with this perception.
We perform constant monitoring: â€œDo they look fed up? Why did they say that? Whoâ€™s this other person theyâ€™ve mentioned? Should I feel threatened? Are they less attentive? Why did they pause after I suggested we meet up?â€ All this is exhausting.
At times, we can feel so insecure that we take the first step and end a relationship before the other person has a chance to. Walking away rather than risk the pain of feeling abandoned can seem the easiest thing to do. But we all need the comforts and support that intimacy can bring us. So what can you do if insecurity is blighting your relationships?
1) Stop confusing your thoughts with reality
Making stuff up and then believing it is a sure-fire way to self-torment. Always ask yourself where the evidences for your thinking. What have you based your thinking on?
The insecure flyer will hear the normal mechanism of the air conditioning and twist it within their imagination to signify impending doom via crash and burn. Theyâ€™ll imagine the bored look on an air stewardâ€™s face to be barely concealed terror because, â€œHe must know something we donâ€™t!â€ The anxious air passenger may even fantasize that the sound of the landing gear coming down is an engine falling from the plane. They scare themselves by assuming what they imagine represents reality.
There are normal â€˜mechanismsâ€™ to any relationship. There are ebbs and flows and mood changes, moments of intimacy and closeness and comfortable spaces. These ebbs and flows areÂ normal. Wanting to be absolutely close and intimate all the time is like wanting an aeroplane to never make a sound or a movement. This is unrealistic. Accept that life has its rhythms and learn to see the big picture and not react to every small bump along the way.
Next time you feel insecure, ask yourself what it is you areÂ imagining. Write it down on paper under, â€˜Stuff I am making up in my head.â€™ Being able to distinguish between what youÂ imagineÂ and what is actually happening is a massive step toward self-assurance.
2) Avoid Trying To Chase CertaintyÂ
Overcoming relationship insecurity is partly about becoming less controlling. This may sound strange, but feeling that: â€œThis relationship must be exactly as I think it should be!â€ is a form of over-control. A sign of insecurity in relationships is when the desire for certainty becomes too strong.
DemandingÂ to know whether your partner really loves you, having to know this or having to know that puts a lot of unnecessary strain and tension into the relationship. The fact is, we all have to live with uncertainty. Insecure people can still feel insecure even when they are told they are loved. Wanting what is not possible (complete and utter certainty in all and everything forever) is not possible because imagination can still make up doubts. So stop looking for certainty where it isn’t possible..
Self-assurance comes from starting toÂ relax with uncertainty.Â Wanting to know for certain that someone will be with you forever prevents you enjoying the here and now. Nothing in life is certain.
3) Give the relationship room to breathe – you both need space
When you plant a seed in the ground, you need to give it access to sunlight, water, and air; you need to give itÂ space to develop.Â Your relationship needs room to breathe. Schedule in some â€˜separate timeâ€™ and just see it for what it is. The developing flower needing space to grow isnâ€™t a sign that it is heading for collapse.
4)Stop â€˜mind readingâ€™
Constantly wondering what your partner is thinking is a quick route to anxiety. If they say one thing donâ€™t assume they mean another. If they say nothing donâ€™t assume that their silence is significant, either.
Many men relax byÂ notÂ talking. Constantly wondering and asking what someone is thinking is a dead end because even if theyÂ doÂ tell, will you believe them anyway?
â€˜Mind readingâ€™ happens when we assume we know what someone is thinking when we donâ€™t. When you stop doing it, you really begin to respect someoneâ€™s privacy because everyone deserves the right to have space to think their own thoughts. Constantly asking, â€œWhat are you thinking?â€ can make someone want to withdraw further.
5) Stop comparing current relationships to past ones
Have you ever taken an instant disliking/liking to someone merely because they reminded you of someone else who you disliked/liked? Some people do this with whole relationships. Because theyÂ wereÂ in a relationship with someone who was abusive, very critical or dishonest, or who left them, they respond to a new partner defensively or angrily when, in fact, the new partner is not really like the old one at all.
The extreme form of this â€˜sloppy comparisonâ€™ can lead to destructive over-generalizations such as, â€œAll men are lying bastards!â€ or â€œAll women are promiscuous money grabbers!â€
If you suspect you have been making faulty unfair comparisons between your current partner and a former one, then write a list of all the destructive traits of your former partner. Write next to this list all the ways your current partner is different and review this list regularly. This will help you to stop assuming that the future has to be like the past.
6)For security: SeekÂ self-assurance
Rather than always looking to the other person to make you feel secure in your relationship, get into the habit of reassuring yourself. Start to challenge your own fears and imaginings rather than just accepting them. Ask yourself: â€œHold on a second. What real evidence is there for this fear?â€ At the same time you can focus on the thought: â€œOkay, nothing in this life is certain and I can live with that. And even if this relationship did end, Iâ€™m strong enough to go through it and ride it and will have learnt things from it.â€ We all need to go with the flow in relationships. What we fear will be â€˜the end of the worldâ€™ if it happens never really is.
Sit down, close your eyes, and strongly imagine feeling relaxed and secure around your partner. This will train your brain to feel that â€œwhatever happens, Iâ€™ll be okay.â€
7) Focus on the good
Relationships are meant to be fun (at least some of the time). Insecure people look for signs of whatâ€™sÂ notÂ working. I want you to look for signs of whatÂ is.
Doing this will get you and your partner feeling naturally more positive.
No meaningful relationship will always totally work all the time. Being too black or white about relationships spells trouble. There are always some difficulties, but keep focusing on what is good.
This doesnâ€™t mean that you have to accept anyone who will accept you, even if they are obviously not right for you. But it does mean that if there are occasional problems, you donâ€™t have to â€˜throw the baby out with the bathwaterâ€™ and become so destructive that the relationship ends or so clingy that your partner ends it for you.
A good relationship is there for you to enjoy together, to share resources and develop together in healthy ways. If someone really does treat you badly or lies and cheats, then feeling insecure is a natural and justified response. However, if youâ€™re actually in a generally good relationship, then follow these tips because what you have is precious.
But possibly not as precious as the knowledge that whatever happens, you can relax because youâ€™ll be okay. Always believe that no matter what comes your way, you will find a way around it.