Feeling insecure in your relationship can be really painful and upsetting. It can manifest itself in all kinds of ways. You might feel like your partner is about to break up with you all the time. You might have trouble trusting them to not cheat on you. Or you may feel like your connection has been getting weaker and weaker for a while, and that the foundations are beginning to fall away.
Feeling like this can make it really difficult to have much faith in your future together – and can sometimes leave you wondering whether the easiest solution would be to break up. It can also begin to have really negative effects in other areas of your life. Your self-esteem and confidence can become undermined and this can make it difficult to feel able to address any problems.
Where does insecurity come from?
A sense of insecurity in your relationship can stem from a number of different places.
If you and your partner haven’t been communicating effectively about issues or making an effort to maintain your connection, you might start to feel like you’re drifting apart.
Insecurity can also stem from changes in your relationship. For instance, if you’ve moved in together or recently married, you may be feeling all kinds of new strains and pressures. If you aren’t able to discuss these together, you can start to feel less confident in your ability to work as a team.
It can also come from issues surrounding self-image or self-esteem. For example, if you’re feeling particularly low after a series of disappointments in your work life or less happy with your physical appearance after putting on weight, this could make you worry about your relationship.
We can sometimes carry feelings from past relationships into our current one – including ones with family members. If we didn’t have very secure or loving relationships with our parents or primary caregivers when we were younger, we might carry this feeling with us as adults. Past romantic relationships where your trust was broken can make it difficult to trust someone else. You may find yourself looking for ‘patterns’ or assuming that history is going to repeat.
What can you do to address insecurity?
The first port of call is talking things over together. This, of course, can be tricky – particularly if you haven’t been talking properly for a while or you feel hurt or angry with your partner.
However, if you do feel able, you may find the following tips useful:
- Keep things relaxed. Hearing the words ‘we need to talk’ can make even the most laid back person feel defensive! Framing things more positively can get things off to a better start. You might like to try something like ‘I’d really like to talk about our relationship together when you have a chance’.
- Pick the right moment. Try to talk when things are going well, not badly. Bringing things up in the middle of an argument is only likely to create more conflict. If you introduce the topic when you’re both feeling good about the relationship, you’re more likely to move in a positive direction.
- Say how you feel, not how you think they make you feel. If you’re both simply trading blows and blaming each other for everything, you’re not likely to get anywhere. To keep things under control, it can useful to use ‘I’ phrases (‘I sometimes feel worried that…’) rather than ‘you’ phrases (‘you always make me feel worried because…’).
- Listen. Even if what your partner has to say is difficult to hear, try to stick with it. A conversation has to go both ways for it to work. Try to start by acknowledging their perspective may be different to yours.
- You could even plan. It might sound a little clinical, but it can be useful to think beforehand about what you want to say. That doesn’t mean preparing a shopping list of grievances, but just gathering your thoughts on what you want to talk about.
- Come back to it. These things are rarely solved in one chat. It takes time and effort to work on relationship issues, so you may need to revisit things in a month to see how you’re each getting on. After a while, this kind of conversation will seem much less scary!
How we can help
- If you feel like trying any of the above would do more harm than good, you might like to consider Relationship Counselling. A counsellor would take an objective view and help you both talk about things that you might find it difficult to express.