Coping With Insecurity in a Relationship

Shot of a young couple having a disagreement at home

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Insecurity is a feeling of inadequacy that is born out of a lack of self-confidence. It can cause you to doubt your abilities, instincts, and relationships, making it difficult for you to believe in yourself and trust others.

Insecurity can be a painful and difficult emotion to experience. It can take a toll on your mental health as well as your relationships.

This article explores the signs, causes, and consequences of insecurity in relationships and suggests strategies to help you cope.

Signs of Insecurity in Relationships

In romantic relationships, insecurity can drive you to unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, which can include:

  • Incessantly checking up on your partner if you’re not with them to determine their whereabouts
  • Not trusting your partner to stay faithful to you and constantly worrying that they’re cheating on you
  • Feeling jealous of all the other people in their life and resenting the other people they are close to
  • Not taking your partner at their word and wanting to verify everything they tell you
  • Feeling like your partner may break up with you at any time
  • Fishing for compliments and validation to try and feel more secure

According to Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University in New York City, these behaviors can, in fact, drive your partner away.

Causes of Insecurity in Relationships

These are some of the potential causes of insecurity in relationships, according to Romanoff.

An Unpleasant Previous Relationship

People who have been in unhealthy relationships where their partner was untrustworthy or treated them poorly might hold onto those emotions and carry them into their new relationships.

This tends to occur when people do not emotionally process and work through their reactions to these relationships on their own. Instead, they jump into another relationship. These people often project their unresolved trauma or emotional baggage onto their new partner without adequate justification.

Low Self-Confidence

People with low self-confidence may experience insecurity in their relationships because they may not believe they are worthy of the love or support of their partner. 

Experiences like being bullied, teased, or abused by caregivers can send the message that you are different or not good enough. These experiences can affect your confidence and impact your relationship with your current partner.

Insecurity works like a self-fulfilling prophecy because your fear of losing your partner can cause you to behave defensively and drive them away.

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Neglect or Mistreatment

People who have chronic experiences of neglect or mistreatment tend to have insecurities in their relationships because they have had few occasions where their needs have been adequately met. 

When they do find fulfilling and healthy relationships, this might spark their fear of loss because it was never guaranteed or freely given in the past.

Social Anxiety

While many people experience some degree of social anxiety in situations like meetings, parties, dates, and large gatherings, some people have more severe forms that can affect their self-confidence in relationships.

Social anxiety can cause you to be overly critical of yourself and make it difficult for you to trust your partner’s actions and intentions.

Fear of Rejection

Fear of rejection can cause people to experience insecurity in a relationship. Having low self-confidence can make some people more sensitive to rejection. Even minor setbacks or perceived slights can trigger their worst fears and insecurities. On the other hand, persevering through an experience of failure can help build confidence and reduce insecurity.

Impact of Insecurity

Below, Romanoff explains how insecurity can affect your mental health as well as your relationship with your partner. 

Impact on Mental Health

Insecurity impacts your mental health because, at the core, you believe you are not worthy or deserving. This will affect your romantic relationships and your relationships with friends, co-workers, children, and family members. 

Because you are constantly questioning your self-worth, you might accept poor or abusive treatment from others, which reinforces your belief that you are unworthy based on your relationships.

Impact on Relationships

Insecurity impacts your relationship by creating an imbalance. You become more preoccupied with what your partner is not providing and instead demand reassurance or validation for your insecurities. 

You start thinking of your partner as an object to manage your feelings of insecurity instead of connecting with them as an equal. 

Strategies to Reduce Insecurity

Romanoff suggests some strategies that can help you cope and feel more secure in your relationships.

  • Identify your triggers: Become more self-aware about situations that trigger your insecurity. Track topics or areas that prompt feelings of insecurity so you can begin to identify the problems you need to work on.
  • Communicate with your partner: Engage in more open communication about your insecurities, how they arise in your relationship, and ways you can begin to work on them.
  • Express how you feel: Aim to share your feelings with your partner without blaming them. For instance, instead of saying “You stress me out because...” say “I sometimes get stressed because...”
  • Listen to your partner: Make an effort to listen to your partner with an open mind, so you can understand their perspective as well.
  • Try journaling: It can be helpful to maintain a journal where you write down your thoughts when you feel insecure. The exercise can help you identify situations that trigger your insecurity. You could even undertake a couples journaling exercise, to help build trust between you and your partner.
  • Consider going to a therapist: While insight and open communication are essential, sometimes you need perspective from a trained outside source to fully grasp how your insecurity is linked to more complex dynamics. In turn, your therapist can work with you to cope with your insecurity.

A Word From Verywell

Living with insecurity can be painful and nerve-wracking. It can make it difficult for you to believe you are worthy of love and care and make it hard to function in a relationship. Not trusting your partner and your relationship can cause you to engage in unhealthy behaviors that could cost you your relationship.

Taking the time to understand your fears, communicating openly with your partner about your feelings, and seeking professional help if needed can help you combat insecurity and build a healthier relationship dynamic.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychology Association. Insecurity. Dictionary of Psychology.

  2. Weber S, Petriglieri G. To overcome your insecurity, recognize where it really comes from. Harvard Business Review.

  3. Lo CKM, Chan KL, Ip P. Insecure adult attachment and child maltreatment: a meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 2019;20(5):706-719. doi:10.1177/1524838017730579

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.