How to Deal With Feeling Insecure In Your Relationship
Insecurity in relationships might be common, but it’s something that’s temporary. It’s particularly evident during its infancy — about 4 to 6 months into dating someone — around the time you get comfortable and let your guard down.
According to Dr. Nancy Irwin, a clinical psychologist, this is also the time in a relationship where couples reveal their individual “attachment styles,” of which there are two: secure attachment and insecure attachment.
About half of us fall under the insecure attachment style, where our lack of self-confidence often leads toward anxious or avoidant behaviors. Think being overly clingy, emotionally avoidant or a combination of the two.
“That means 50 percent of us were fortunate to be raised in an environment where they trust others,” notes Irwin, believing that our attachment style is formed by the relationships we have with our parents. “Those with the secure attachment style are the type who can bounce back in due time after a break up.”
While not all of us fall under this preferred attachment style, Irwin says insecure attachment styles can be repaired as long as the individual is willing to listen and open to learning to bond in a healthy manner.
AskMen spoke with Dr. Irwin, as well as a few other educated professionals, to offer tips on how individuals can better work through their insecurities in a relationship.
How to Deal With Feeling Insecure In Your Relationship
Take Time to Learn Your Attachment Style
By understanding your relationship patterns and learning your attachment style, you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to feel secure in a relationship. In order to do this, Irwin recommends you create a “relationship history” document, writing down all of the relationships you’ve had with information such as how long they lasted, who ended ‘em and why.
“Knowing your pattern is the first step in changing your pattern,” says Irwin, suggesting you contact your past partners, if appropriate, to gain clarity. These conversations may be difficult, but they’re worth it.
“When untreated, heartbreak festers like a wound and has residual effects,” states Dr. Logan Jones, psychologist and founder of NYC THERAPY + WELLNESS. “By confronting the multitude of small heartbreaks you’ve endured, you can slowly but surely dissolve the pain and be unburdened. It’s when you learn to honor your heartbreak as valid, trust your own life experience and be curious about your narrative that you’ll be able to rework it and make new decisions.”
If creating this document leads you to catch a pattern of questionable or insecure behaviors, you have to make an effort to change to avoid causing strain in your current (or future) relationships.
Understand That You Are Not Alone
How you let your insecurities affect you is something else to examine. Sure, breakups suck and they can hurt real bad, but you’ve got to move on.
“You’re not alone in your heartbreak, and because of this, you’re not alone in being insecure — everyone carries with them some degree of fear of loss or being left,” says Jones. “The sooner you learn to come to peace with loss, the better you’ll feel.”
While there might be some comfort in playing the victim, it’s the worst thing you can do as the habit of blaming others will limit your growth for future healthy relationships. Once you decide to let go of a victim’s mindset, you become less likely to engage in self-defeating behaviors.
“Instead of being angry with the person or situation that hurt you, learn to sit with your fear and disappointment, communicate your anxiety if you can [to your current partner, family or friends] and soothe yourself through the pain.”
Our insecurities stem from all sorts of things – addiction, poor body image, unhealthy past relationships and so on. In order to repair them, you have to change what you can and learn to accept the rest.
“We all have insecurities. The difference is, secure people just accept their insecurities,” explains Jones. “Any self-condemning stories about your relationship history you’re rehearsing in your mind, shame you’re holding onto about past relationship failures or relationship drama you’re recycling from the past are likely keeping you from forming healthy attachments in the present.”
In letting go of a shame-based identity, you can start to create new relationship experiences.
Have An Honest Conversation With Your Partner
If you eventually discover that your partner’s behavior is the source of that insecurity, it’s time you have an honest conversation about how their actions are affecting your emotional state.
“It is essential not to blame your partner when broaching the topic,” says Brandy McCarron, relationship coach at You Are Deserving. “Your partner may be entirely unaware of how their actions are perceived. Remember, the goal of the conversation is to bring you closer and not further away.”
If your insecurity is the result of more internal sources, communication with your partner is still key in this situation.
“It is vital to make sure you’re not making your present partner pay for the crimes of your exes,” notes McCarron. “You have the opportunity to talk about your previous pain, explain the past is still haunting you and begin the healing process.”
By approaching it this way, your partner gets both the chance to know you on a more intimate level, as well as the chance to be present to the issues you are currently experiencing.
Decide What Kind Of Relationship You Want (Or Need) Moving Forward
After examining yourself, your past relationships and communicating your insecurities with your partner, you should have a clearer picture of what it will take for you to feel more secure in your relationship.
What you have to do next? Aim to achieve that.
“What you affirm is likely to become true for you,” says Jones. “If you can be clear about what you want and what you need to have healthy relationships, the more likely you are to attract those relationships and be receptive when they finally do come your way.”
Decide If You’re Better Off Alone
If your relationship still hasn’t gotten better with all the work you’ve put in, that’s the time to get real with yourself. If the relationship is making you insecure, maybe you’re just better off without it.
This is common among those with an insecure attachment style, as they have a tendency to become codependent.
“People who wrestle with codependency often look to their partner for validation and a sense of purpose,” says Jones. “While it’s normal to desire connection and be gratified by our relationships, we have to be sure we can stand on our own. The more you can affirm within yourself that you are whole and complete just as you are, the less likely you’ll feel insecure and act out your abandonment drama.”
According to McCarron, a clear sign of codependency involves you putting the needs of your partner above your own.
“Their emotions are your emotions, your feelings are dependent on their actions and their problems are yours to solve,” she says. “You feel unappreciated and resentment when your unsolicited advice isn’t used. You make all of these sacrifices and efforts, expecting others to love you in return. You fear you are unlovable.”
What you need here is interdependence: The ability to relate to and connect with other people while maintaining a fortified sense of your own identity and self.
“It means being able to sit with the possibility of loss and stand on your own while also being emotionally available, maintaining appropriate boundaries and having mutually meaningful relationships that aren’t clingy,” explains Jones.
To find this interdependence, which will lead to a better sense of self and security, you need to decide if this is better done with your partner or solo.
Unfortunately, that’s something the experts can’t speak to – it’s something you’re going to have to decide for yourself.