Feeling insecure is part of being human. While it doesn’t feel good, we all struggle with it at times, in our career, in our friendships, or in life, in general.
But when insecurity shows up in your romantic relationship, it can feel very unsettling and cause you to question both yourself and your partner.
Everyone has their moments. In a secure relationship, partners can help alleviate each other’s fears.
However, in a fundamentally insecure relationship, these bad feelings can distort the relationship and prevent communication and growth. One thing to keep in mind is that the feeling of security in a relationship comes from within and a lack of security is often projected outwards.
Personal insecurity does not have to lead to relationship insecurity, but often they feed each other to create a toxic cocktail of projection, miscommunication, and frustration. While this may seem unsettling, there is good news! You have control over these feelings and this experience.
So, are you tired of feeling insecure in your relationship? Do you really want to cultivate a secure, fulfilling partnership? It starts with looking within.
What is security in a relationship?
Security in a relationship is an essential part, but it can be hard to define what it actually is.
Having a more definitive understanding of what a secure relationship feels like is important to help you build one. If you can identify what your ideal relationship would look like, you can identify where your current relationship is meeting your needs and where it is failing.
Insecurity in the relationship is basically uncertainty and inadequacy that you feel towards your partner or in the relationship, in general.
It is okay to feel insecure at times. Everybody deals with not feeling secure in a relationship at one point in the relationship. However, constant insecurity can play havoc and make the relationship unhealthy.
That is why couples should work together to fix the situation.
There could be many causes of insecurity in the relationship:
Is your relationship secure? Find out if you are sharing a secure relationship with your partner with the following signs:
1. There’s no jealousy
If you and your partner do not feel jealous or raise unnecessary questions out of such jealousy, this is a clear sign of a secure relationship or a secure attachment style.
2. Your relationship is not chaotic
An unhealthy or insecure relationship is often chaotic and unpredictable because of the lack of certainty. Such an uncertain relationship often has a bad effect on the relationship. This, in turn, reflects negatively on the relationship. A secure relationship is certain, secure, and sound, with a lack of unnecessary fights.
3. You don’t fight because you both are on the same side
People in mature and secure relationships don’t fight because they know the arguments are not against each other. It is actually the couple, as a team against the problem. Therefore, the heated discussions are also carried out empathetically.
4. There’s a fair compromise
In an unhealthy relationship, one partner might feel overburdened or could be compromising or adjusting to a great degree. It could be one of the biggest signs of insecurity too. However, in a secure relationship, the partners share the load and ensure they are taking care of each other.
5. There are respectful boundaries
Couples in a healthy relationship know their boundaries beyond which a relationship turns unhealthy or ugly. So, they discuss the space whenever they need it and don’t act pushy.
How to overcome insecurities in a relationship? Where do you begin?
Addressing deep issues in your relationship might seem overwhelming— and yes, it’s a long haul! But it’s a series of simple steps that starts with your own development and ends with a happier you.
Feeling insecure in your life does not have to affect your relationship!
While you may be putting up a valiant fight to prove yourself to your partner, based on words and actions, it will ultimately fail if change doesn’t come from within.
And this goes for your partner too. They must change from within in order to bring relationship security with you!
1. Remain authentic
There’s no need to use tricks to appease your partner, make them like you, or get them to stay for feeling secure in a relationship. No matter how hard you try, you can’t fake it!
A good journal and an honest inventory are vital upon embarking on the journey to feel more secure. You will need to examine your thoughts and feelings, and the best ways to do that are writing them down and speaking them aloud.
2. Focus on yourself
The first step is to be mindful of all your insecurities.
List them and be aware of them as you feel them throughout the day. Don’t judge them but witness them. Then be curious about how these insecurities are showing up in your relationships. Again, use your journal to bring them to your awareness and notice them without judgment.
3. Being honest with ourselves is critical
If we are not honest with ourselves, we tend to deny impulses or qualities about ourselves that we are insecure about and see them in our partners.
You might become disinterested in or highly critical of your partner when they show traits that you have but don’t want to acknowledge. This is called “projective identification” or, most commonly, “projection.”
Often, we do not realize when and why we are projecting, leading us to act irrationally based on an unexamined fear. This can range from minor to major.
For example, if you are unfulfilled in your friendships, you might find yourself criticizing your partner’s friends and resenting your partner for wanting to spend time with their friends. Or, if you cheated in your relationship, you might constantly accuse your partner of infidelity.
By identifying places of insecurity and looking at your behavior with them in mind, you can recognize your part of the conflict and the degree of control you have over the situation.
4. Mind your parts
Think of yourself as possessing many parts— sad parts, critical parts, perfectionist parts, eager parts, curious parts, controlling parts, and more. None of these are inherently bad, just different, and many of our parts are in need of more love and attention.
A part may feel insecure about your partner’s lack of attention to you, but that’s not all of you. Instead, all your parts come together to form your full complex self. We are all composed of dark and light; we work best when we acknowledge and accept all parts.
Each separate part of ourselves can show up in separate situations, especially in relationships. If you dig deeper, you can learn about where each part comes from and what it needs to heal.
Does your avoidant part show up with your partner, but not with anyone else? Does your angry part only show up at home?
Use your journal to help identify which parts are showing up with your partner and how these parts are trying to heal or protect you!
By noticing our parts:
We can discern their root cause and start to address them.
You start to see your relationship insecurities as signs of something deeper inside of you, not necessarily faults in your partner or yourself.
Accepting all of your parts allows you to feel secure. Instead of trying to push away your sad part, own and sit with it, be curious and accept it. Share these parts with your partner. Openness and vulnerability are vital for a secure relationship.
By owning all of your parts, you won’t feel the need to hide or overcompensate. Instead, you can communicate your parts and needs with your partner and support each other when insecurities appear.
There is no greater security in a relationship than two people meeting in authenticity. Take your masks and personas down and show up as who you are at your core.
Be honest & vulnerable
By being honest and vulnerable, you allow your partner to do the same and create an environment that fosters communication and security in a relationship (it also doesn’t hurt to be on time, be kind, and do an extra chore here or there, either.)
The video below discusses ways of being vulnerable in a relationship like listening to your partner’s needs, letting go of control, and so forth. Know more:
Check your attachment style
Do you still find yourself chasing your partner? Are you constantly afraid that they might leave? Do you constantly worry that they might be cheating?
In these cases, there might be something about you or your partner that is causing these feelings.
To understand how you act in relationships, take a look at your attachment style and your relationship patterns to shed some light on your current insecurities.
Is your partner avoidant, tending to be overly independent?
If this is the case, communicating with your partner about their avoidant attachment style can help you better understand each other and address why you feel like you’re always chasing them.
Perhaps you unconsciously seek people who tend to run away from intimacy. Do you repeatedly find yourself with avoidant partners? In this case, ask yourself what you are seeking and try to break the pattern.
Trust your gut feeling
Still feel like your partner can’t be trusted? Maybe they can’t. Your intuition is your greatest gift, so trust it.
If you work on yourself and try to have patience with your partner, yet the relationship still feels insecure, it might be out of your hands. Reassess the relationship dynamics and make bigger decisions about whether or not it’s a relationship that is serving you.
A good therapist can go a long way when you are feeling stuck and need to make big decisions.
What strategies do you use to feel more secure in your relationships?
There is no quick fix to feeling more secure. But with practice, you can feel more secure in yourself and in your relationships.
By noticing your moments of insecurity, you can cultivate habits to prevent them from taking over. Implemented strategies repeatedly will eventually make them second nature.
Try to notice and flag your feelings of security in a relationship throughout your day. Do you feel secure at work? When your partner hugs you? When you pet your dog?
When you notice the feeling, appreciate it for however long it lasts, even if it’s only for seconds.
Additionally, notice when you are feeling insecure. Do your best not to judge your experience. Just acknowledge its existence. Then you can choose to let go of it. If it comes up again, that’s okay! Again, notice it without judgment and choose to let go.
Then, write it down. Keeping a journal is vital to self-healing. You can better appreciate your thoughts and feelings when they are written down.
Journaling helps you appreciate your emotional growth and thereby builds emotional security in relationships. You can reflect on your feelings as they change. What made you happy? What habits coincided with your best days? Your worst? Your reflections will give you insight into your actions and your mood.
Affirmations are keys to changing your thinking! Many people think affirmations are hippy-dippy exercises that don’t work, but a psychologist created the use of affirmations, and there is a fundamental basis for why they work.
Your self-talk creates your beliefs, which then affect your mood and feelings. Affirmations help shift your self-talk from negative to positive.
The best affirmations are simple, positive sentences, such as: “I feel secure.” Always keep them focused on the positive —what you want to feel rather than what you don’t want.
Any time you find yourself feeling insecure, automatically insert the affirmation “I feel secure.” It may feel unnatural at first, but with practice, you will see how your self-talk colors your life and feelings.
In the end, your security in a relationship is an outward reflection of the security you and your partner feel in your lives.
By addressing your insecurities at your core and cultivating habits to stop them from becoming destructive, you are well on your way to feeling more secure in your relationship and your life in general.
The most important thing to remember is that there are no tricks or shortcuts. Long-term security in a relationship means introspection and vulnerability, committing to showing up as your full self. You and your relationship will be happier for it.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Dr. Marissa Tunis is a licensed psychologist, dating coach and happily divorced single person. For more than 15 years, she has helped people transform their lives through healing traumas, shifting problematic thinking, bolstering confidence and improving relationship dynamics. In her work and through personal experience, Dr. Marissa witnessed the struggle of daters in the age of apps and made it her mission to support single people in finding more joy and connection in their dating lives. As a dating coach, she applies cognitive-behavioral principles to the spiritual journey of finding love, with a peppering of practical advice and tips along the way.
Dr. Marissa served as the in-house therapist at The Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City, gave talks and facilitated support groups for employees at The New York Times and moderated panels on the intersection of social justice issues and mental health. She enjoys speaking on the topics of relationships, self-care and finding love any chance she gets!
She provides dating coaching through Datefully, a dating coaching service she founded in 2020. In addition, she treats individuals and couples who reside in New York and California in her psychotherapy private practice. All of her sessions are virtual.