“What ruins relationships and causes most fights is insecurity” – Olivia Wilde, American actress and filmmaker. We can’t think of a better way to describe the extent of damage insecurity can cause to a relationship. When you feel insecure in a relationship, it inhibits your ability to truly connect with your partner. Insecurity invariably gives way to trust issues, and when trust is on shaky ground, you can neither wholly commit to your significant other nor believe that they’re committed to you. Your entire dynamic is reduced to waiting for the other shoe to drop.
If that’s where you’re at in your relationship, it’s important to inspect, “Why does my significant other make me feel insecure?” More often than not there are problematic behavior patterns that trigger insecurity in a relationship, these patterns can be your partner’s, yours, or a mix of both. Take the example of Dia, who has developed a compulsive habit of checking her phone every few minutes after sending a message to her partner Shaun.
She was not at peace till she received a reply. Asking him where he was going, and with whom, was a habit that caused considerable friction in the relationship. Dia constantly feared that Shaun would cheat on her. This was because he tended to flirt a little with other women while being his ‘charming self’.
Whenever they fought her thoughts turned in a catastrophic direction – Were they going to break up? Why did Dia feel this way? She finally acknowledged to a therapist: “My partner makes me feel insecure”. Insecurity in a relationship involves feeling inadequate or threatened. It causes unhealthy behavior like being overly suspicious and snooping that will only drive your partner away.
To be able to deal with feelings of insecurity, it’s vital to put your relationship under the microscope and ask some tough questions. What causes insecurity in a relationship? How can you stop feeling insecure in a relationship? We give you some suggestions along with expert insights from senior psychologist Dr. Prashant Bhimani (Ph.D., BAMS), who specializes in relationship counseling and hypnotherapy. Let’s begin by exploring the causes of insecurity and whether it’s possible for a partner to make you feel insecure.
Can Your Partner Make You Feel Insecure?
While you may accept and even tell your friends: “My partner makes me feel insecure”, you may wonder why you are feeling this way. “Why am I so insecure in my relationship?” “Why does my boyfriend/husband make me feel insecure?” Why do I feel so insecure about my girlfriend/wife?” These questions are bound to come up if you’re dealing with relationship insecurity.
So, first and foremost, let’s explore what causes insecurity in a relationship. Certain behaviors on your partner’s part may be a trigger for insecurity in a romantic relationship. Some of the common ones are flirting, body shaming, mocking, being secretive, being unreliable, dodging commitment, or simply being insensitive to your needs, whether it is sex or empathy.
“Lack of self-love and low self-esteem may also contribute to feelings of insecurity in a relationship. If you have not had a loving, secure relationship with your parents or have been let down in the past in a romantic relationship, it can make you vulnerable to insecurity,” says Dr. Bhimani. Financial dependence on your partner can also give you a feeling of insecurity. Sometimes, the success of your partner in any sphere, especially the professional one, can also be the underlying cause for insecurities in the relationship.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explores how a partner’s success can impact a person’s self-esteem. A partner’s success could lead to an increase in self-esteem (because you are basking in reflected glory). On the other hand, a partner’s success could lead to a decrease in self-esteem if we interpret “my partner is successful” as “my partner is more successful than me”. The study revealed that men’s self-esteem was more likely to be negatively affected by their partner’s success.
Related Reading: 9 Reasons You’re So Insecure In Your Relationship
5 Signs Your Partner Makes You Insecure
We’ve already touched upon what makes a woman insecure in a relationship and why men feel insecure with their partners. The root cause of insecurity may either lie within you or may originate from your partner. So then, how do you know if the insecurity you feel in your relationship is caused by your partner? Here are five signs of insecurity that indicate so:
1. You are constantly seeking validation
You constantly seek reassurance and validation from your partner. For instance, you expect frequent compliments about your qualities (appearance or intelligence) and abilities (driving or cooking skills) and when your partner does not offer you the validation you seek (either consciously or subconsciously), it can trigger feelings of insecurity.
This tendency is especially pronounced in women who may be dealing with underlying body image issues. Very often, comments about appearance are what make a woman insecure in a relationship. This may leave you ruing, “My boyfriend makes me feel insecure about my looks.”
Violet was on the plump side. Whenever she wore a sleeveless dress, her boyfriend Rob would go: “Hey, please put on a jacket. Your arms look fat.” Such remarks only made her feel unattractive and miserable. She confided in a close friend: “I feel insecure around my boyfriend.” Likewise, remarks about professional success, performance in bed or constant comparisons with a former partner can make men insecure in a relationship.
2. You need your partner’s attention all the time
You find yourself wanting your partner’s attention and feeling uncomfortable when you are left on your own. Being needy and clingy is a clear sign of emotional insecurity. It can have its roots in childhood neglect and abandonment. It is also possible that this need for attention and consequent insecurity when that need is unmet is stemming from your partner’s disregard for your emotional needs in the relationship.
“When a partner not only disregards your needs for greater emotional intimacy but also mocks or rebukes you for having those needs, it is only natural for you to feel insecure about the future of your relationship,” says Dr. Bhimani. If that’s what you’ve been experiencing in your relationship, you’re not wrong in asking, “Why does my significant other make me feel insecure?”
3. You are terrified of losing them
You may feel that you are not satisfying your partner in some way. Perhaps, they haven’t introduced you to their family. Even after being together for several years, they have not made a commitment of any kind to indicate that they see a future with you. This can make you keep thinking that the relationship may end at any time, thus making you insecure.
When you enter a relationship with the expectation or hope that it will blossom into a deep, meaningful, long-term connection but your significant other isn’t prepared to meet you halfway or you feel that they don’t necessarily have the same view of the future as you, the uncertainty can rake up a lot of anxious feelings. These anxious feelings translate into “my girlfriend/my boyfriend makes me feel insecure”.
4. You keep asking about their schedule
If you keep asking your partner where they will be during the time they are away from you, and with whom, you are displaying classic signs of relationship insecurity. This could well be because your partner may have lied to you in the past or at the very least not been completely transparent about the goings-on in their life. In turn, this has affected the trust in the relationship, turning you into an insecure partner.
If all your energies go into worrying about what your partner is doing, whether they’re going to leave, or are they really in love with you, there is no denying that insecurity has taken a deep hold in your relationship. And if it’s your partner’s disconnected or emotionally withdrawn behavior that triggers these feelings, you need to look deeper into “why does my significant other make me feel insecure?”
5. You tend to snoop
If you are in the habit of checking your partner’s phone or computer regularly, it is a sign of deep insecurity. You may justify your actions by telling yourself: “I am doing this because I feel insecure around my boyfriend.” But such behavior is a strict no-no as it violates his privacy.
Again, the underlying reason for this tendency could well be in your relationship dynamics. For instance, if you’ve found your partner stalking an ex on social media or flirting with a coworker, you may feel insecure that they’d stray. In such cases, the answer to “why am I so insecure in my relationship” may, in fact, lie largely with the way your partner behaves in the relationship. However, this does not mean that your own emotional baggage doesn’t have a part to play here.
“Feelings of insecurity are almost always rooted in one’s own psyche and emotional health. Yes, your partner’s attitude or behavior may be triggering your insecurity but the fact that this is happening at all indicates that there already were latent insecurities somewhere in your mind frame,” says Dr. Bhimani. That’s why, when trying to understand what causes insecurity in a relationship, it’s vital to introspect and understand your own emotional responses and behavior patterns.
Related Reading: Dealing With An Insecure Boyfriend? Here Are 15 Coping Tips
How To Deal With A Partner Who Makes You Feel Insecure
It is one thing to admit: “My partner makes me feel insecure”. And quite another to deal with it the right way. In fact, when you ask the question, “Why am I so insecure in my relationship?”, placing the blame squarely on the other person and seeing yourself as the victim is a lot easier than admitting that you too could be contributing to the insecurity in your relationship and taking proactive measures to break problematic behavior patterns.
Looking within and understanding what steps you can take to weed out insecurity from your relationship may be hard but it’s not impossible. With the right guidance and self-awareness, you can steer your relationship on to a more secure and fulfilling path. To that end, here are some suggestions to manage or even overcome insecurity in a relationship:
1. Love and appreciate yourself
If you don’t love yourself, you will not believe anyone else can love you. Think about all your positive characteristics – your kindness, sense of fun and reliability. Take heart from thoughts that you make your partner happy – that you give them love and support and that they know and appreciate it.
“There may be a critical voice in your head that focuses on your negative traits. Do not let it take over. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Accept yourself for what you are – warts and all. That’s the only way to not let disparaging remarks made by your partner or spouse hurt your feelings or self-worth,” says Dr. Bhimani.
If you’re able to achieve such healthy levels of self-love, thoughts like “My husband makes me feel insecure about my body” or “my wife makes me feel inadequate” won’t take a toll on your peace of mind. Once you practice and master the art of self-love, the need for validation from your partner will automatically go down as well, and with it, your feelings of insecurity.
2. Boost your self-esteem
As we’ve said before, instead of looking at your partner for appreciation and validation, develop your self-confidence. Your sense of self-esteem and well-being should not depend on them. Focus on advancing yourself professionally, take an online course to develop your skillset, or work toward becoming healthier and fitter (if that is what will make you feel confident).
If you have body image issues, and often find yourself cringing at the thought, “I feel insecure about my body around my boyfriend/my husband”, work on recalibrating the way to look at yourself and embracing body positivity. Your partner’s words or actions often only trigger pre-existing insecurities and not induce them. So, to stop being insecure in your relationship, you need to get to the root cause of your insecurity and eliminate it.
3. Tell your partner how you are feeling
Imagine if, in front of friends, your partner teased you for being a terrible cook, or mocked your lack of knowledge of current affairs! Whether it is true or not, his perception would hurt and you are bound to complain, “My partner makes me feel insecure.” Insensitive comments or being a butt of jokes can make you feel disrespected and unvalued by your partner, and it’s essential that they know exactly how you feel.
Communicate your insecurities to your partner effectively. Pick a moment when you are both feeling harmonious to discuss the matter. If you are open about the words or actions that make you insecure, and there is love in the relationship, your partner will definitely try to change their behavior. They will stop mocking and teasing you once you overcome the communication barriers and express your feelings honestly.
Dr. Bhimani says, “You need to communicate in a clear-cut manner. Instead of imagining all sorts of things, talk to your partner upfront. Find out why your partner is behaving in a certain way. Ask them, “Do I have anything to worry about?” Clear-cut communication will give you definite relief.”
4. Express what you want
Also, it is important to explicitly state the change you want. If you are disturbed by your partner’s negative comments, tell them so. “You don’t have to fight. You can just be frank and tell them, “Can you please change your behavior as I am feeling insecure?” That should do the trick,” Dr. Bhimani explains.
The first step toward learning how to not be insecure in your relationship is practicing clear, concise, and conflict-free communication with your significant other. Do not beat around the bush or resort to passive-aggressive behavior to convey your displeasure at something your partner may have done. Lay it out as it is, without judgment or placing blame.
5. Understand your partner’s motives
Dr. Bhimani says, “Your partner may be deliberately making you feel insecure because they need more attention. In other words, they may be flirting with others to make you jealous. This may well be their way of conveying their unmet needs in the relationship, albeit in an unhealthy manner. If that is the case, you can eliminate insecurity from your connection by making sure your partner’s needs and expectations are met. For instance, if they’re feeling neglected or unloved. pay more attention to them, make them feel loved.”
However, the answer to “why does my significant other make me feel insecure” may not always be so plain and straightforward. If done consciously and with the intent of exercising control, making a partner feel insecure can be a romantic manipulation technique. Your partner may be targeting your vulnerabilities to make sure they have you eating out of their hand while putting minimal effort into the relationship. How you respond to or deal with feeling insecure in your relationship depends on the motive behind it, so make sure you get to the bottom of it.
Related Reading: 12 Signs Of Insecure Women And How To Avoid Them
6. Reignite the spark in your relationship
After some years of marriage or being in a long-term relationship, you may become too caught up with shouldering the responsibilities of your home and career to prioritize your connection with your SO. Your partner is likely to feel neglected and may act out. This may make you feel insecure.
Understand where their behavior is coming from and try to schedule a time when both of you can connect like a carefree couple and keep the spark alive in your relationship. Make an effort to make your partner happy. Regularly reinventing your connection as you grow and evolve, individually and as a couple, can help keep insecurities at bay.
7. Create comforting rituals
How to not be insecure in a relationship? Or how to be less insecure in a relationship? You can effect change and begin weeding out insecurities, or at least learn to manage them effectively, by making your relationship a safe and happy place for both yourself and your partner. When you find solace and comfort with one another, you will naturally feel more secure in each other’s presence.
To that end, consciously develop certain rituals to bond with your partner every single day. Go for a morning walk, cook a meal together, watch a television show regularly, display your affection physically by touching and hugging each other or join a hobby class like art or music together which will give you something to share.
8. Break old patterns
Each one of us carries our emotional baggage along with us and also brings it to our relationships. This baggage determines how we connect with our partners and behave in our relationships. An awareness of this baggage can help you change old, negative patterns, which goes a long way in reducing insecurity. School yourself to think and behave differently from the way you did in a previous failed relationship.
Doing this may not be easy but can be the most effective answer to how to not be insecure. It is challenging for most people to embark on this journey of self-exploration and self-awareness by themselves. Working with a therapist or a counselor can be immensely beneficial in this endeavor. If your insecurities are deep-seated and have begun impacting the quality of your relationship, consider seeking professional help. Experienced and skilled counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.
9. Stop overthinking
Your thoughts affect your emotions and both these affect your behavior, and ultimately your relationship. If you keep analyzing every word or action of your partner, you will end up perpetually disturbed. And, you will keep thinking: “She or he makes me feel insecure on purpose.”
But is it really so? Maybe your partner just needs some alone time. That’s why he or she is maintaining a distance from you. Keep a healthy and positive perspective, and make a conscious effort to not start painting worst-case scenarios in your head if things don’t happen as per your hopes and expectations. That will help you to stop feeling insecure in a relationship.
10. Don’t compare
How to not be insecure in your relationship? Steer clear of the comparison trap at all costs. It is common to look at other couples and compare your situation with theirs. Think of a relationship as an iceberg. What you see is just the tip, there may be many many more layers that you have no idea about.
“Don’t compare your relationship with other couples. Just because a friend is dealing with a cheating partner, it may not be the case with you,” advises Dr. Bhimani. Likewise, don’t feel inadequate about your relationship just because your friend posts pictures on weekly date nights with their spouse of 14 years or you know a couple who goes hiking every Sunday.
11. Give your partner breathing space
Giving your partner freedom in the relationship is vital. Trying to control your partner’s actions will only backfire. “Accept that he/she may be different from you, and may have different opinions or experience different emotions. That does not mean they do not care for you,” says Dr. Bhimani.
The right amount of space in the relationship can help you both thrive as individuals as well as a couple. Do not go into an overthinking spiral if your partner wants to spend a Saturday with their friends instead of you or if they hang up a call without saying, “I love you”. Give them room to be their own person and assert the same kind of space for yourself as well. This will allow you to appreciate each other for who you are instead of feeling insecure about your partner not living up to your version of who they ought to be.
12. Ask yourself certain questions
What do I really like about my partner? Am I getting what I deserve in the relationship? Overall, am I more often happy or miserable in the relationship? Would it be okay if I break up? Do I find it difficult to trust my significant other? Is the problem that my husband/boyfriend makes me feel insecure about my body?
And, finally, is there a real reason for me to feel insecure? Has my partner lied to me or have I seen texts on their phone that indicate that they’re cheating? The answers to these questions may help you discover why you can’t shake off the “my partner makes me feel insecure” feeling.
13. Aim to be independent
Take care of yourself and seek to be independent – physically, mentally and emotionally. Self-love and self-care will banish insecurity. If your life revolves around your partner, you are bound to feel insecure. Trust yourself and tell yourself that you can take care of yourself.
Having few anchors in your life other than your relationship can make you insecure. That’s why it is important to think of all the things that make you happy – your work, friends, regular exercise, your hobbies, and other self-improvement goals – and focus on them more.
14. Nurture other relationships
The absence of other fulfilling relationships in your life – say, with parents, siblings, or friends – may make you overly dependent on your partner. And, you have this voice in your head that keeps telling you “she or he makes me feel insecure”. The key to how to not be insecure is building a well-rounded life for yourself where your partner isn’t your only source of happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.
So, instead of fretting over” my spouse/my girlfriend/my boyfriend makes me feel insecure”, channel your energies into nurturing other relationships and goals in your life. When your relationship isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of your life, you may begin feeling less insecure about it.
Being insecure in a relationship is a big hurdle to intimacy. It may make you unreasonably jealous. It may make you try to control your partner, which is an unhealthy trait. By getting rid of insecurity you can enjoy a more joyous and fulfilling relationship. We hope that now that you’ve understood what causes insecurity in a relationship and how to not be insecure about your partner, you will be able to break your old patterns and learn to engage with your SO in a healthier, more holistic way.