If you’ve ever experienced insecurities in a relationship, you know firsthand how they can take a toll on your relationship.
Everyone deserves to feel secure in their relationship, and like they belong with their partner, but feelings of insecurity can often get in the way. Insecurity can wreak havoc on your relationship because they make you constantly question your self-worth and whether you deserve to be with your partner.
“The most common insecurities people experience in relationships is the feeling of whether or not they’re enough for the other person,” explains Lena Suarez-Angelino, a therapist at Choosing Therapy.
Feeling insecure in a relationship isn’t uncommon, and many people experience insecurities in a relationship in one way or another.
You might worry that you’re not attractive enough, that you’re not meeting your partner’s needs, or that they’re too good for you and will leave you for some “better” — and no one wants to live in a constant state of anxiety like that.
Insecurity can be caused by so many different factors that it can be hard to pinpoint what is causing these feelings. To help make more sense of it all, keep reading to learn about the different types of insecurities in a relationship.
Insecurities in a relationship can manifest in different ways, including:
Comparing your relationship to others or feeling jealous of other people’s relationships.
Isolating or withdrawing yourself.
Doubting yourself and questioning your worth in the relationship.
Not trusting your partner, or accusing your partner of doing something they haven’t done.
Feeling like your partner will break up with you at any point.
“Some of the most common insecurities and relationships include emotional insecurity, attachment insecurity, physical insecurity, financial insecurity, professional insecurity, and social insecurity,” explains LaTonya P. Washington, a therapist at Choosing Therapy.
“Someone who’s emotionally insecure may have a difficult time articulating their feelings or being assertive in various situations,” Washington explains. “They may also experience constant worry regarding the future and whether or not their partner will continue to love them. It may also clue a fear of abandonment.”
Emotional insecurity often makes partners feel like they’re a “burden”, making them avoid confrontation or stop bringing up issues within the relationship. Having tough conversations with your partner is never easy, but knowing how to talk about difficult feelings is crucial for a relationship to succeed.
“Attachment insecurity often has roots and childhood and the type of attachment one experiences with their family,” says Washington. “Someone who experienced unpredictable, strained, inconsistent, or complete absence of connection, love, or affection may develop insecure attachment styles.”
When one cannot rely on their parents for love, affection, support, or basic needs it makes it difficult to trust others. “Sometimes this manifests in anxiety in relationships that may contribute to excessive neediness and demands for constant attention from one’s partner,” says Washington.
Moreover, having an insecure attachment style might lead a person to develop feelings or emotional attachments with a partner more quickly. “Consequently, when attachments are formed quickly, it may result in one-sided relationships, where one’s needs are not met,” Washington adds.
“It becomes the self-fulfilling prophecy of never being enough to be loved, wanted, or accepted, amplifying the fear of abandonment.”
Physical insecurity can look like not feeling attractive enough for your partner. Signs of physical insecurity may include constantly comparing your look to your partner’s exes, celebrities, or people on social media.
“Those who have experienced body shaming, insecurities about their weight, height, or other aspects of their physical appearance are especially susceptible to experiencing physical insecurities in relationships,” explains Washington. That’s right, poor body image can impact your relationship, too.
Money is one of the main causes of conflict in a relationship, so it’s unsurprising that it can show up as a source of insecurity — whether it’s because one partner earns more than the other, or because one is more financially responsible than the other.
“While it’s not uncommon for both men and women to experience insecurities related to finances, they may manifest differently among them,” explains Washington.
“For instance, a woman who is financially insecure may fear appearing as if she is overly reliant on her partner, and may exude excessive independence to the point where she is unwilling or unable to ask for help even if needed. Whereas men oftentimes feel insecure in relationships where their partners out-earn them. This can often create distance, emotional strain, and a difficult power dynamic that results in competition between partners.”
“Similarly one may experience professional insecurities in their relationships if they feel that their partner has achieved more success, is on a higher level, or is more well-educated,” Washington explains.
Professional insecurity can make someone feel like they’re “less than” their partner. “Sometimes this may result in one, not being supportive of their partners, professional endeavors, or accomplishments,” says Washington.
“For instance, the husband of a successful woman with a demanding career may not want to support her by taking on more responsibility at home. In fact, he may make unreasonable demands that she does more than her fair share of childcare or household chores.”
Research has found that even when women earn more, they’re still likely todo more housework than their male partners — and that housework gap increases the more female partner earns.
“Social insecurity often stems from one’s beliefs that they have little or no importance or value in the eyes of others,” says Washington. “Those with a history of strained or otherwise unhealthy family relationships, a lack of friends, or support outside of their significant other are more likely to experience social insecurity.”
Experiencing social insecurity might make you excessively demanding of your partner's attention and validation.
Overcoming insecurities takes time and effort, but it’s not impossible. “The most effective thing you can do to overcome these insecurities in a relationship is to communicate them with your partner,” says Suarez-Angelino.
“While this is the last thing you most likely want to do, it’s the one that is going to help you overcome your insecurities to better understand them and work on them both as an individual and within the partnership,” she adds.
“It’s equally important you keep in mind that your partners are not in charge of ‘fixing’ these insecurities, but rather creating a safe space for you to overcome these insecurities,” she adds.
“It’s vital that the partner who is experiencing insecurities accepts responsibility for what they’re feeling, takes ownership, and learns how to assert the need for support to their partner,” adds Washington.
Suarez-Angelino also recommends journaling your feelings to identify any common themes within or patterns, whether your insecurities are related to intimacy, finances, attractiveness, or something else within your relationship.
“You can then work with a therapist to learn strategies such as self-talk, self-compassion, and challenging negative thoughts in order to overcome these insecurities,” she says.