Uncertainty in relationships can create feelings of anxiety. You may not know where you stand with your significant other, and you may constantly be wondering how they truly feel about you.
Relationship uncertainty can also lead you to question whether your relationship is right for you and whether you want to be with your significant other. Unfortunately, being unsure about a relationship can lead you to push potential partners away because you may feel the need to protect yourself from being hurt.
If you have been dealing with relationship uncertainty, you can take steps to manage the situation and feel more comfortable effectively.
Working through relationship uncertainty can also help you to determine whether the relationship is meant to weather the storms you face or if perhaps it is not the right matchup for you.
What does relationship uncertainty mean?
Uncertainty in relationships can be described as a state where you have mixed feelings.
You might also question whether the relationship is right and whether you are happy with your significant other. In addition, you may worry about where the relationship will head in the future, whether or not it will last, and whether your partner cares about you.
This uncertainty can lead you to become obsessive and analyze every interaction you have with your significant other because you are unsure of how they are feeling. You’re attempting to have more control over the relationship.
Is relationship uncertainty normal?
We’ve all been nervous about our relationships from time to time. After all, most of us want to settle down in a happy, successful relationship, and our fear of being hurt can lead us to question whether someone we’re with is committed to us.
That being said, some degree of uncertainty in relationships is average. You cannot control another person’s heart or be sure of how they will act in any given situation, so that you might feel unsure on occasion.
Furthermore, life is constantly changing, which is something you can be sure of at any moment. You cannot predict what roadblocks you and your significant other will encounter in the future, nor can you predict exactly how the relationship will play out over time.
Given these facts, having uncertainty or being unsure about a relationship is just a part of life. While some degree of uncertainty is customary and even expected, what is not typical is when you have so much uncertainty that you cannot develop connections with people.
If you have such strong feelings of uncertainty, you constantly push new partners away or find that you are consumed with anxiety in your relationships. There is probably an underlying issue, such as unresolved trauma from childhood or past relationships, that you are bringing to the table.
What causes uncertainty in relationships?
Uncertainty in relationships is partly a natural reaction that comes from our desire to protect ourselves.
Most people are so focused on achieving a successful relationship that they have some anxiety in relationships, as they are always worried that their current relationship will fail. They will never find “the one.”
In some cases, relationship uncertainty can be extreme and come from severe insecurities. For example, some people may have an insecure attachment, which can cause fear of abandonment and a feeling that a relationship is destined for failure any time a minor issue presents itself.
An insecure attachment style can develop due to child abuse and neglect or inconsistent care from parents or other caretakers during childhood.
Uncertainty can also result from any of the following:
You perceive that your partner just isn’t supportive of you.
Your partner behaves in ways that you don’t like.
There may be key differences between you and your partner.
You may have issues, such as unrealistic expectations, that you bring to the table.
15 Ways how to cope with uncertainty in relationships
Feeling the fear of uncertainty may be expected in relationships, at least to a degree, but having anxiety surrounding the feeling of uncertainty can be problematic.
If you experience constant uncertainty in relationships, consider the following ways of how to deal with uncertainty in a relationship:
It may be that the feelings of anxiety are simply from a misunderstanding that can be resolved through a conversation. If you hide your feelings, you may build resentment, and the issue will never be resolved.
Sometimes uncertainty in relationships can be worsened by a need for control. Giving up the need to be in control can help you cope with some of these feelings.
If you let things unfold naturally, you may find that some of your anxiety dissipates.
3. Get in touch with your feelings
In some instances, relationship uncertainty can come from difficulty identifying your true feelings, and you may resolve the uncertainty if you get better at identifying what you’re feeling.
Perhaps you feel sad about something, or maybe you’re feeling tension because anger is building up.
Often, emotions are associated with physical sensations, and research has even shown that people with depression may struggle to identify these physical sensations in the body.
If you’re feeling uncertain about your relationship, you might consider if something else is going on.
4. Avoid criticisms of your partner
When you’re feeling uncertain in a relationship, you may project your feelings onto your partner and accuse them of certain things. This only drives a wedge between the two of you and makes you feel even more uncertain.
Avoid telling your partner, “You never pay attention to me!” or making an accusation like, “You always ignore my feelings!” and instead use “I statements.”
For example, you might share a feeling like, “ I feel as if my feelings have not been acknowledged lately.”
As relationships progress, partners may naturally begin to grow apart as the excitement of a new relationship wears off.
If you find yourself constantly making plans without your partner or failing to include them in your daily life, it may be time to make some changes.
Becoming more involved with each other can erase some of the feelings of uncertainty you have. Invite them to work out with you, come to dinner with your friends, or try a new hobby together, and be sure to keep them updated about your day.
6. Try to learn your partner’s love language
Sometimes a disconnect between partners and feelings of uncertainty in relationships result from two people speaking different love languages. Dr. Gary Chapman developed the five love languages, which describe ways that people prefer to be loved.
For example, your love language may be physical touch, whereas your partner feels loved through acts of service or you doing nice things for them.
If you are trying to communicate with your partner in a way that is not best for them, uncertainty can crop up in the relationship. Try learning about your partner’s preferred love language, so you can meet each other’s needs better and eliminate some of the uncertainty.
9. Evaluate where the feelings of uncertainty are coming from
Sometimes you may feel uncertain in relationships because your partner has values that seem to be wildly different from your own.
For instance, you might prefer a typical 9 to 5 work schedule and the structure that such a life provides, whereas your partner may be working from home and setting their schedule with less consistency.
If there are critical differences between you that have resulted in feeling unsure about your relationship, evaluate whether these are deal-breakers or things you can come to terms with.
10. Accept that not all relationships work
You might have to let go of being upset about feelings of uncertainty and instead learn to embrace them.
Acknowledge that the relationship might not work out, and understand that whether it does or not, life will go on, and you can still find a way to be happy.
11. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
If you think you need an ideal relationship to be happy, think again. If you’re placing all of your happiness in whether or not the relationship works out, any issues that come up will lead to relationship uncertainty.
Instead, accept that your relationship is not the only thing you have going for you, and learn to find happiness in your hobbies, friendships, and life aspirations.
12. Address your fears
We all have past relationships, some of which can involve serious baggage. If you experience chronic uncertainty in relationships, it may be time to evaluate whether these
If you find yourself wondering, “Are doubts in a relationship normal?” you might turn to a friend to discuss your concerns.
They may provide a fresh perspective on whether your feelings are normal or a bigger issue that needs to be resolved. In cases where you just can’t seem to shake your feelings of uncertainty, you may even benefit from seeing a therapist work through your feelings.
15. Consider if your feelings are red flags
Some uncertainty in relationships can be expected, but if you get the sinking feeling that your relationship just isn’t right, your body may be trying to warn you that the relationship is not the one for you.
For example, if you find that you are often sad around your partner or fearful of expressing your feelings, you may be experiencing more than uncertainty. You might be in a situation that could become toxic.
Settling down with a lifelong partner is a serious matter, so it is normal to have some feelings of uncertainty in relationships.
When you find yourself feeling uncertain, it is important to reflect upon your feelings. They might be a natural reaction to problems that come up within a relationship, or they could be coming from your insecurities.
Whatever the case, there are steps you can take to relieve your feelings of uncertainty and determine whether the relationship is right for you.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Read more Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.
(Jenni Jacobsen is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Ashland)
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