Insecurity rears its head in various areas of our lives, regardless of how successful or happy we appear. The world tends to revolve around hierarchies that give rise to an entire list of insecurities we must battle. Not even our personal lives are safe from these anxieties. There are various types of insecurities in a relationship that can weaken your bond and prey on your mind constantly.
I, for one, can vouch for childhood trauma and dysfunctional past relationships as the two most valid reasons for being insecure in a relationship. When you have been told all along by your dear family that you are absolutely worthless, there is nothing you do that ever holds any practical value in life, you naturally seek constant validation from your partner to make sure they don’t feel the same way about you.
Another common insecurity in a relationship is a consequence of the trauma gifted to you by an old lover. If they have manipulated your every step with the threat of breaking up, naturally in your present relationship also, you will live with the fear of your partner leaving you at any moment.
We came up with a list of insecurities that might plague your relationship and how they affect you with the help of counselor Manjari Saboo (Masters in Applied Psychology and Post-Graduate Diploma in Family Therapy and Child Care Counseling), founder of Maitree Counselling, an initiative dedicated to the emotional well-being of families and children. Let’s discuss relationship insecurities examples with their root causes to help you identify the pattern in your relationship and take a step forward to find a solution.
What Are The 7 Types Of Insecurities In A Relationship?
Insecurity is rooted in a feeling of being inadequate, of constantly thinking, “I’m not enough” or “I’m not good enough”. Constantly nursing such feelings can cause dating anxiety, and low self-esteem and make you rely far too much on external validation, rather than building up your own confidence and knowing your worth.
It’s possible that personal insecurities about your work or the way you look have spilled over in your relationship. Or, it could be that you or your partner entered the relationship with your respective emotional baggage, and the relationship itself is the root cause of a lot of insecurity.
“What happens when insecurities are lying dormant within you,” explains Manjari, “is that you never get to define your true self. Usually, an individual is not ready to accept the insecurities lying within them. All it needs is an understanding that these insecurities are simply a feeling giving them stress, fear, incompleteness, self-doubt, jealousy, weakness, and dependency.
“Relationship insecurities make a person take things for granted, neglect the feelings, and nurture thoughts of supremacy over his/her partner. It is also true that every relationship gets stronger when the insecurity of any spouse is understood and given full respect by the other half.”
Types of insecurities in a relationship are manifold and it’s important to deduce the insecurity meaning in a relationship so that you spot the signs and can take steps to rectify them. We’ve listed out the 7 most common insecurities your relationship could face and signs that they’re affecting you and your partner more than you’d like.
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1. Emotional insecurity
Emotional insecurity is an umbrella term and often means a general feeling of unease and inadequacy over one’s feelings. Symptoms could include an encounter with depression, avoidance of interpersonal contact, and fear of articulating your feelings or asserting yourself in situations.
Conditions such as post-natal or postpartum depression also make the list of emotional insecurities, with fatigue, irritability, and insomnia being some common symptoms. Chronic worry over the future is another symptom since it gives you an illusion of control, thereby compensating for your insecurity.
“I came from a home where emotional violence was common,” says Diana, 34, “I didn’t think it had affected me too much – I went away to college and haven’t really been back home much since. But then I got married, and I realized just how much my past trauma was showing up in my own relationship. I avoided conflict like the plague, I couldn’t stand my ground in an argument and I’d hate myself for it later.”
Since emotional strength is a major characteristic of any healthy relationship, your personal insecurities spilling over into your relationship will cause issues. People with emotional insecurity often have trouble establishing healthy relationship boundaries and tend to ruminate excessively over the smallest things, which means major fights over petty issues. Introspection is the key to deal with emotional insecurity and therapy for insecurity in relationships could also be a good idea for you and your relationship.
“Emotional insecurity arises when there is a lack of love and faith in one’s own feelings. When you have doubts about your reaction to an unwanted situation, you become emotionally weak. Emotional weakness can fail to lead you to a worthy decision which may result in regrets later,” Manjari says.
She adds, “For an emotionally safe and strong relationship, partners should always encourage each other to express their feelings openly, and then both should meet whatever situation they are facing together. Self-doubting any reaction should be discussed by listing out all the pros and cons of the outcome. Always listen and respect each other’s wishes.”
2. Attachment insecurity
This definitely makes the list of insecurities as far as affecting your relationship goes. Insecure attachment style, as the name suggests, would mean you have issues forming secure attachments and making stable emotional connections with others. It’s possible you avoid getting too close to people or leave them before they have a chance to leave you.
Like most forms of insecurity, attachment issues have their roots in childhood. If, as a child, the love and affection you received were unpredictable, fractured, or dependent on certain achievements, you probably grew up distrusting attachment or assuming real human connections don’t exist. Alternatively, you could become an excessively clingy girlfriend or boyfriend in existing relationships, expecting one person to be your whole world and cater to your every emotional need.
A strong emotional connection, as well as healthy emotional independence, form the base of any lasting romantic relationship, so it goes without saying that attachment insecurity would affect your relationship. If your parents or your primary childhood caregivers were unable to meet your needs when you were a child, it’s possible you take all of those unfulfilled needs and transfer them to your partner.
Or, you become unnecessarily aggressive or irritable toward them for no reason, because that’s all you know, because that’s the only way you can protect yourself. Either way, attachment insecurity will make its presence felt in your relationship. Out of many relationship insecurities examples, this particular one would require you to dive deep into the past traumas, identify why and how you have behaved in a certain manner as an impact of them, and make an attempt to break the pattern slowly.
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3. Physical insecurity
Does being insecure affect a relationship? It bloody well does especially when a person is dealing with body shaming issues their whole life. It’s easy to get insecure about our looks when we’re being bombarded with images of what a ‘perfect’ body or the ideal bone structure looks like. The internet is also forever selling us skincare, clothing and lingerie, weight-loss methods, and more, assuring that these will make us way more attractive, and take us closer to that ‘ideal.’
Body shaming and its ilk are constant reminders that we are, in fact, less than perfect. This definitely manifests in signs of insecurity in a woman, though men aren’t wholly immune to them either. So, if you’re wondering what are the different types of insecurities that could affect your relationship, physical insecurity definitely makes the list. My friend Linda always took a step back before the relationship was about to get physical because her stretch marks never let her be confident in her own skin. Isn’t that just sad after all the fight we put in to spread awareness of body positivity?
“I’ve always been a little overweight,” says Darcy, 29. “My fiancé, John, never said anything about it; in fact, he would go out of his way to show his appreciation for my shape. But I was never convinced.” Darcy tried a variety of diets, exercises, and pills. Some helped, but she grew rapidly more upset that she wasn’t hitting her target weight faster. She would blame John if he brought home food, or even if he ate French fries around her. It didn’t help that John was one of those annoyingly skinny people who ate everything they wanted and never gained an ounce.
“Honestly, I’ve always been embarrassed about how skinny I am and it’s definitely on my list of insecurities,” John says. “I’d like to bulk up a little, work on my muscles. When Darcy snapped at me, I’d snap right back, yelling, “It’s not so easy being skinny either!” It got to a point where every conversation we had turned into a shouting match over our appearance and weight.”
Constant worry over your weight or skin or general appearance can invite the warning signs of a toxic relationship. Again, physical insecurity comes from a need to know that you appear attractive to your partner, and to the world. When it becomes your sole focus, when you start obsessively watching every morsel you eat and cry because you ‘cheated’ and ate some bread, your partner could end up feeling utterly helpless and exhausted, along with you.
4. Financial insecurity
We’d love to tell you that all those rom-com starring the rich-girl-poor-boy couples were true. Unfortunately, financial insecurity is a reality that can wreck a romance faster than you forget your ATM PIN. Imbalanced financial strength could be a reason for being insecure in a relationship more when two partners are sharing expenses.
Whether it’s because one partner comes from a financially constrained background and is therefore obsessed with saving, or because one partner can’t stand that the other earns more, love and money can make for strange and uneasy bedfellows. Financial insecurity can mean you are always worrying over money, regardless of your level of earnings. This could make you penny-pinch to obsessive lengths, denying yourself small pleasures and eventually making you miserable.
Another facet of financial insecurity in a relationship is when your partner and you aren’t at the same earning level. This could lead to jealousy, a feeling of inadequacy, and fear that you’re not contributing enough to the relationship. Every time you go out, they would pick the fanciest of the restaurants, and order food without even looking at the right column of the menu. Perhaps they are happy to pay for you both but it makes you feel so small inside.
Maybe they keep showering you with presents and flowers and you can’t always afford to reciprocate. Maybe you’ve started resenting the way they always pick up the check for dinner and pay all the bills. Or, maybe you’re tired of always being the economical one and doing the financial planning, while your partner’s spending habits are flashier. Whichever way it goes, financial insecurity eats away at your happiness and your relationship, causing you to question your own self-worth and the extensive role that money plays in your love affair.
Manjari says, “For a relationship to move forward and grow, it needs to be financially secure. Now, being financially secure does not necessarily mean that both partners need to be earning the same and supporting the income status of the family. Healthy financial security for a healthy relationship refers to each partner doing their share of financial management, with the responsibility being discussed and divided mutually.”
“It’s not about how much money, but about how it’s managed. If it was about the amount coming in, every wealthy person would be in a happy relationship, but that’s not true. Basically, both partners in a relationship should be committed to and supportive of the idea of financial management.”
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5. Professional insecurity
Inequality persists in relationships and can be the root of a lot of forms of insecurity. Of all the types of insecurities in a relationship, a lack of equality or equal acknowledgment in two partners’ professional lives would rank among the 7 most common insecurities.
According to a study, women spend two to ten times as much time as men on unpaid care work. This includes time spent cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, the sick, and the elderly, etc. Aside from the prevailing gender pay gap, where women continue to earn less, the lack of appreciation for work done is a major factor in breeding professional insecurity, and resentment in a relationship.
“I’d been a marketing manager before I had kids,” says Jenny, “When I was going back to work after a few years, I realized I wasn’t the same person. Yes, I had drive and intelligence but I also wanted to be with my kids. It made me deeply insecure in my relationship and also about who I was outside of being a mom, about whether I had what it takes to work full-time again. My list of insecurities isn’t very long, but professional insecurity was very much there.”
Rejoining work after having a child is a mental dilemma itself. On one hand, you cannot give up on your hard-earned career. On the other hand, your motherly instincts hold you back from abandoning your child in the daycare. Jenny’s partner, Rob, was making a huge success of his medical practice. While Jenny was proud of him, there were constant niggles that he was doing better than her, that maybe going back to work had been a test and she had failed.
So, if you ask, “Does being insecure affect a relationship?” Yes, professional insecurity for sure can cause major friction in a relationship. You might find yourself being snarky and hurtful when your partner mentions a major deal they closed. Or rolling your eyes when they get yet another promotion and you are struggling to be financially independent as a married woman. If you’re between jobs, or unhappy at your own job, their success will begin to sting and you could even start seeing them as competition, rather than a spouse or partner.
6. Insecurity over basic needs
Psychologists outline basic needs for humans as access to food, shelter, rest, safety, hygiene, and healthcare. Having these needs fulfilled is one of the first steps toward feeling secure. Therefore, if there was any point in your life where you had to scramble to maintain these needs, that insecurity would probably remain with you for a long time and affect your behavior and your relationships. When questioning, “What are the different types of insecurities?”, insecurity over basic needs might not be the first thing you look at, but it certainly plays a part.
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“I grew up as one of five siblings with a single mom,” says Austin, 34. “My mom worked two or three jobs at a time and we were constantly scrambling to make ends meet. We had to move a lot because the rent was sometimes a problem. There were six of us constantly crammed into a two-room apartment.”
Austin is a lawyer now and married to Alison. They have two children and every security they need. But it’s tough for Austin to shake off his childhood fears. “I make sure my kids know how lucky they are. Sometimes, I’m harsh on them because I think they’re taking things for granted. Also, I barely take vacations and I work almost every weekend because I’m afraid it’ll all get taken away from me,” Austin says. Their marriage nearly ended in divorce because Austin’s fears were stronger than his love for his family. He is in therapy now, and Alison hopes he will emerge stronger and healed.
Insecurity over basic needs can lead to a list of emotional insecurities that deeply affect a relationship. When you’ve known the terror of having to hustle for a meal or to pay rent, you’ll bring that terror into your relationship. You may constantly feel your partner doesn’t appreciate what they have or burn yourself out working, constantly afraid of regressing into your difficult childhood circumstances.
Manjari elaborates, “When we think about primitive basic needs which give us happiness, peace, love, and satisfaction, we think of food, water, air, shelter, and satisfactory sex life as the most important needs, which could then give rise to very significant insecurities. Insecurities about these basic needs arise because of always wanting more, comparisons, relationship jealousy, lust, lack of satisfaction, and always seeing out mistakes in self and others.”
7. Social insecurity
Sometimes, it feels as though a giant chunk of our lives is a performance on which society must give its mark of approval. So, it’s no wonder that social insecurity creeps upon us all the time as one of the most common insecurities in a relationship. The pressure of appearing a certain way, wondering whether your social circle will be accepting of you or not can eat away at a person’s self-esteem.
In this case, it’s not just about physical appearance, but being seen at the right places, knowing the right people, and having a certain status conferred upon you that says, “You’ve arrived.” It’s a constant struggle to keep up with all of this, especially in the age of social media, and when you feel you’re falling short, it’s enough to plunge you into deep insecurity.
In relationships, this could manifest as being insecure around your partner’s family or circle of friends. In your head, you’ll be wondering what they really think of you and whether you’re good enough to be included as one of them. As this picture builds in your head, you could start imagining them making fun of you or slighting you, at which point you’ll start reacting badly and accusing your partner of not supporting you around their friends. Obviously, none of this is a sign of a healthy relationship; in fact, it could sound like a death knell if it becomes a constant.
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Insecurity in a relationship doesn’t mean all hope is lost. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find a relationship where all parties are perfectly secure in their skin and their bond. It is key to be able to identify your insecurities and how they affect your relationship before you set about tackling them.
Therapy for insecurity in relationships is a great way to go about it, especially if you’re suffering from depression or other strong symptoms. You could opt for couple’s counseling, too, to figure out how to navigate insecurity together. Feel free to visit the Bonobology counseling panel any time to consult our team of skilled and experienced counselors and psychologists.
Signs of insecurity in a woman or in a man are not to be ignored or dismissed, and certainly shouldn’t be belittled. Be kind to yourself as far as possible, maintain boundaries, love your partner the best way you know, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
“Some insecurities in a relationship make you more supportive, caring, understanding, and loving, but when they give your partner the power to take decisions on your behalf, then they become relationship red flags. That being said, insecurities in a partner should always be looked at with faith, love, and support,” concludes Manjari.
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