I have never met anyone who jumped with joy and ecstasy when they were faced with uncertainty in a relationship, in fact, quite the opposite. The feeling of uncertainty is no fun. It brings out anxiety and impatience in the person experiencing it. It’s a difficult feeling to deal with.
Let’s take two scenarios, one is a fairly new relationship where both the partners are still getting to know each other and how they want their relationship to be. The second is a long-term relationship where both the partners have been together for years and have gone through thick and thin.
Which scenario do you think would have more uncertainties? Where do you think, if uncertainties are present, the partners would be more cautious about them? Let’s discuss this in detail while exploring what uncertainty in a relationship means, and also reflect on whether you are uncertain about your relationship or not.
What Does Uncertainty In A Relationship Mean?
Uncertainty in a relationship means that you have doubts, you are unsure of the relationship, where is it going, and what the future of the relationship holds. When a partnership isn’t accepting enough for you to feel safe and secure, it might make you feel uncertain. Not feeling supported can also bring uncertainty to a relationship.
Let’s revisit the two scenarios we talked about. The new relationship is more likely to have relationship uncertainty than the long-term one since it’s still in its navigation stage where almost everything is yet to be decided.
You might feel some amount of uncertainty about your relationship even in the long term, but in this case, it could be a source of unresolved problems and would need your urgent attention. It can be frustrating to feel relationship uncertainty, of course. You want some stability and certainty with your partner.
This uncertainty can be both ways, maybe your partner is ambivalent or maybe it’s you who is pondering over whether you should stay or go. Either way, it causes anxiety and feelings of unsettlement. Some form of relationship uncertainty also comes with vulnerability in a relationship.
As Brené Brown puts it, “I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice…”
Uncertainty is clearly a sign of courage and vulnerability which makes the core of any human relationship. We trust even when we fear, and we hope even when we are unsure. Understanding uncertainty becomes important then.
Related Reading: 9 Things That Happen When A Man Is Vulnerable With A Woman
Do You Feel The Fear Of Uncertainty?
Not knowing what can or will happen is scary, it’s meant to be scary. It’s basic evolutionary science. You live your life in certainties – you have your routines and habits which are so doable because they are predictable and certain. Our brains are wired to find patterns and complete the picture. Uncertainties are scary because finding patterns is difficult in such a situation.
For the same reasons, uncertainty in a relationship can be terrifying as well, and you can feel the fear of uncertainty in vivid ways. Another reason that uncertainty in a relationship is scary is because vulnerability is scary. That makes it difficult to make a relationship work.
As we discussed, one form of uncertainty is also the emotional vulnerability one feels. It means putting yourself out there. You feel seen by your partner when you finally show them a part of yourself that you’ve always felt sensitive about. But it’s daunting to take the first step toward being so vulnerable, right?
This anxiety can also make you feel the fear of uncertainty. The ‘what ifs’ and ‘how comes’ can be pretty tiring and instigate a lot of dread. Sometimes, knowing where the uncertainty is coming from can help you deal with the fear that it comes with.
So where does the uncertainty in a relationship come from? It can emerge from vulnerability, lack of trust, past experiences, low self-esteem, and other unique places for each individual. It’s important to dive inward and explore the reasons.
How To Deal With Uncertainty In A Relationship
No matter how natural or normal uncertainty in a relationship is, it can still develop walls between the partners and push them apart. Oftentimes, we’d rather walk away than face heads on what the relationship uncertainty is about.
Learning how to deal with uncertainty is important for the very same reason. You love your partner and there’s unconditional love in the relationship but doubts and questions might be coming in the way. That can be so tiring in itself. Dealing with it can bring you closer to each other. Understanding uncertainty, its source, and navigating it together will also reduce the friction that might have erupted between you two.
You can start by exploring how exactly you are feeling, where those feelings are coming from, and the ways they are showing up in your behavior and in the relationship. Listening to your partner about what they think of your feelings and how this situation makes them feel is also important in dealing with uncertainty in a relationship.
Something that helps is by making your dynamic a safe space. No physical place is safe as it is, you make it one by putting in things that you feel comfortable being around. So make your relationship a safe place too, where you can unfold your legs and take a deep breath in.
Tips To Overcome Uncertainty In A Relationship
While some levels of uncertainty in a relationship are natural and to an extent, inevitable, the anxiety and fear it causes can still get overwhelming. Even when your relationship is strong and happy, you might still find yourself battling with this roller coaster ride.
It is important that you do things to cope with it before it all spirals out of control. However, no matter how much you want to control the uncertainty in a relationship and life in general, remember that all you can control is yourself.
So here are a few tips you can make use of to cope with and overcome uncertainty. These will not make the unpredictability of a relationship go away, but they’ll help you navigate those uncertainties in a way that doesn’t engulf you.
Related Reading: How To Fix Lack Of Communication In A Relationship – 15 Expert Tips
1. Be open to communicate
Communication is the single most powerful key to a healthy relationship. Communication is about connecting and using your verbal skills to fulfill your and your partner’s needs. To make the relationship work, it’s important to build mutual trust and be able to open up with your partner.
Communication issues in your relationship can be a huge source of anxiety and uncertainty. The only way you can minimize it is by talking it out. Share your fears and doubts. Be vulnerable and open with your partner. Only when you have put it out there can you both work on the issues together.
No one masters communication skills overnight, and it also is a collaborative process in a relationship. Give yourself and your partner time to build the practice of clear communication.
2. Give in to trust
Remember that trust exercise where you fall, trusting that the person behind you will catch you? It’s almost like that. Trusting your partner sometimes looks like you are ready to fall on your back because they are there to catch you. Give in to that trust every now and then. This is another way in which you can overcome uncertainty or sail through it better.
It’s hard to build that kind of trust and every relationship goes through phases of trust issues. The more you build on it, the more trust there is, the more vulnerable you can be, and the more room you’ll have to navigate the uncertainties that might come your way.
Trusting your partner means that you both walk through the uncertainties together, holding hands. It also gives way to honest conversations which eventually means you both start to reflect on each other’s love languages and use them. This would substantially bring down insecurity and relationship anxiety.
3. Self-care is a must
Uncertainties or no uncertainties, self-care should always be a priority. It isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. When you have taken care of yourself, only then can you show up better in your relationship. It also reduces the dependency that you might have on your partner to make you feel good.
Taking care and loving yourself helps you understand yourself and your needs better. This gives you answers to the uncertainties that might arise in your relationship. It also helps you get in touch with your feelings and emotions, increasing your self-awareness, which again helps with reducing the intensity of the uncertainty in a relationship.
Self-care is more than just hot tea or a candlelight bath, it is also hard work. It involves you investing in therapy, setting boundaries, making lifestyle changes, self-management, and more.
4. Reflect on your feelings
Self-reflection gives you a way of looking at yourself with interest and curiosity. We start to explore our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Once we have dived deep inward, we realize where the relationship uncertainty is coming from. Is it coming from a place of relationship insecurity or from a place of you being vulnerable or a place of feeling misunderstood and not accepted in the relationship?
Reflecting on your feelings also gives way to embracing the inevitable uncertainty in a relationship. Even when uncertainties feel like foes, they don’t necessarily have to be.
They can often give way to exploration and a stronger bond between the partners.
You can practice self-reflection by asking yourself deep questions, labeling your emotions, creating your own goals, writing a journal, and many more ways that you can come up with which suit you best. Start small, maybe reflect once a day, and be easy on yourself while you do that.
5. Check-ins every now and then
It’s exactly what it sounds like – having a regular check on where you and your partner are and discussing what’s going on in your lives and also showing affection to your partner. Also, discuss the relationship and how it makes you feel. Maybe drop them a text now and then but also have a time set out for daily or weekly check-ins.
Prioritizing the check-ins is very important since it reduces chances of miscommunication, opens the way to transparency, creates a safe space, and strengthens the bond. Simply put, it’s about making each other feel relaxed and comfortable. Remember, check-ins with yourself are paramount as well to reduce the uncertainty in a relationship.
The check-ins should ideally include love and appreciation, active and reflective listening, support in a relationship, emotional attention, and prioritization of your relationship.
Related Reading: 8 Habits Of Couples In Strong And Healthy Relationships
Never shy away from taking the help you deserve. Turn to your close ones and your support system to share what you are going through and how you are feeling. Your support system can include your friends, your family, colleagues, or a therapist.
Remember, you are not alone in this. Your support system will provide you with care and respect. There will be no judgments, only acceptance. If the overwhelming feelings get a lot to handle, reach out to a mental health professional, they are trained to help you get through this. At Bonobology, we offer professional help through our panel of licensed advisors who can help you embark on a path toward recovery.
Taking support is an act of self-care and when you take care of yourself this way, you are inviting lesser uncertainties and preparing yourself to get through them if they show up at the doorstep of your relationship.
Even if it sounds like these tips are linear and easy, they might not be. It takes time to cope with uncertainty in a relationship. While we have mastered how to control a lot of things such as physical health or work, relationships can be tough to crack and relationships are hard. It’s not something you can measure and mold however you like – it’s honest human interaction.
There is a lot to learn about your and your partner’s uncertainties, needs, feelings, behaviors, and wants out of the relationship, and from oneself. You can use these to grow in your romantic bond.
Some unpredictability is only expected when we engage with human beings, we are not linear or par for the course, we are dynamic and uncertain beings. Having said this, it’s important to strike a balance. A little bit of uncertainty is inescapable but when it gets overwhelming, do turn toward support and self-care.
Yes, it is completely normal to have uncertainty in a relationship. It may come up now and then and that is okay even if it leaves you anxious. But when the feeling of uncertainties is very common in the relationship, it might be a good idea to pay more attention to them and see where they are coming from.
Even when it’s normal, it’s still frustrating when you can’t control the uncertainties. All you can control is yourself when there is uncertainty in a relationship and when you are the one uncertain about your relationship.
There can be a lot of causes of uncertainty in a relationship. Some of these relationship challenges that lead to uncertainty can be feeling insecure or afraid of expressing oneself, or because there is a lot of ambiguity in a relationship which is especially the case in newly-formed partnerships.
There could also be a lot of impatience from one partner. Or the relationship just doesn’t feel safe and the sense of security that a relationship should hold is missing.
Talk to your partner about how they feel and what they are going through. Be mindful to not clog them. Give them some space to process the conversations and navigate their feelings. Give them time. Sometimes, all an individual needs is some time to be sure of their feelings through self-reflection.
It’s normal to have doubts about your relationship at times and it can very well be a phase that your partner is going through. However, if they have made up their mind, there’s very little you can do about it apart from slowly accepting their decision.