When someone is insecure in a relationship it can create arguments, uncertainty about the future, impact self-esteem and cause relationship dissatisfaction. There are three main ways an individuals’ relationship insecurity can manifest in their relationship:
1) Clinging tightly to their partner, with discomfort and reluctance to spend time apart. The individual may feel threatened that the relationship will end or their partner will cheat. When both people are insecure in this way, ‘co-dependence’ forms.
2) Pushing their partner away, and striving for independence. Discomfort with closeness.
3) A combination of 1 and 2, also described as a ‘push and pull’ way of relating – one minute, pulling their partner close, and the next, pushing them away.
These insecure ways of relating are common, so you are not alone if you (or your partner) experience this way of relating. That is not to say you are without heart ache, as relationship insecurity can be hurtful, lonely, exhausting, and anxiety-provoking (you can read how relationship insecurity may develop in Three Reasons why You may Feel Insecure in Your Relationship). In this post, we discuss ways to increase relationship security.
Be open about your needs. Tell your partner what you need, even if it makes you feel a little vulnerable. Ask for a hug, ask to hang out, ask about your future together if you are unsure.
Inclusion. Make sure to include your partner in your life by inviting them to family and friend catch-ups, sharing your interests, travelling together and collaborating on home improvement tasks.
Independence. Also maintain some independence in your relationship by sometimes catching up with your friends and family members without your partner. Make sure to independently enjoy some hobbies and interests. Strive for your own career and study goals. If you struggle with being independent, lock in plans with friends ahead of time.
Affection. Show and allow affection in your relationship, even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable. Discomfort with affection is normal when you feel insecure. Persevere with the discomfort, it will get easier. If affection is very uncomfortable, gradually try to increase the amount you show (and accept from) your partner.
Talking about the future. Likewise, even if it feels uncomfortable, talk about your relationship future. Perhaps you could talk about a potential holiday together or your ideal home together.
Share the effort. Be mindful to share the effort in your relationship. Sometimes one person in a relationship will do all the “work”, for example, planning things to do together. It’s important, however, to hold back a little (if you are doing all the “work”) or push yourself to do more (if you are sitting back) in your relationship.
Making plans. Make short term and long term plans in your relationship. Plan for the weekend and do not leave plans with your partner to last minute. Plan for the long term future, for example, when you will move in together.
Expressions of love. Say things that show your love, for example, point out your partners qualities that you like or how they make you feel. Tell your partner you love them, if you do.
Be honest. Dishonesty creates insecurity and distrust.
Consistency. Be consistent. Inconsistency = unpredictability = insecurity. With all of the above behaviours, remain consistent and avoid being hot and cold.
Strive for good self-esteem. Good self-esteem gives you a sense of worth in your relationships; allowing you to be yourself and ask for what you need in your relationships. Good self-esteem also helps you feel secure and express your love. If you have low self-esteem you may find it helpful to read blog post Tips on How to Improve Your Self-esteem in Your Relationship or to see a psychologist (reading How to Find a Good Psychologist in Melbourne may be of some use).
How Peaceful Mind Psychology approaches relationship insecurity?
We are a team of Melbourne-based psychologists who are experienced and trained in helping individuals improve their relationship security and address their relationship difficulties. We use evidence-based techniques from Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy to help you experience healthy relationships.