4 Ways to Overcome Insecurity in Romantic Relationships
The moment you fall in love, this anxiety goes into full effect.
Posted Dec 08, 2020
Anxiety and insecurity are potent, defeating forces in romantic relationships. They have the power to undermine or entirely thwart developing true emotional intimacy with your partner. If you can’t be at ease with yourself and your partner then it becomes hard to be yourself. You second guess, and doubt yourself. You are self-critical. You become paranoid about your partner, and what they may or may not be doing. Conflict abounds and closeness evaporates.
Unfortunately, for some the moment they fall in love is the moment this anxiety goes into full effect. You want the euphoric feelings of love to continue and you feel vulnerable knowing that you can’t fully control the person you’re in love with. You are entirely invested and at the same time afraid, if not terrified, of the relationship not working out. Instead of directly addressing these feelings, you walk around in a hypervigilant state— waiting for the other shoe to drop and in this process, you bring less and less of your authentic self to the relationship.
Some reenact this pattern over and over again bringing themselves further and further away from what they truly crave— a relationship where they feel safe and loved for their real self.
Here are four ways to get out of this toxic pattern and find the path to an emotionally secure partnership:
1. Build in Rituals of Attachment: There is perhaps no better way to fight the impact of conflict, jealousy, and anxiety in relationships than to simply add more positive experiences together. Even when you have rough spots, you will remain connected through these experiences. When the bank is full of good experiences the hardships aren’t as hard and you don’t experience a deficit. Start developing daily rituals that help you to feel close and connected to your partner. Good examples include regular physical touch, even hugging and handholding, exercise, and creating hobbies you engage together, such as cooking, reading the same book and discussing, going to concerts, travel, movies, art museums etc.
2. Decrease “Fight or Flight:” Anxiety is first and foremost a physical feeling. You feel on edge, keyed up, thoughts racing, heart beating fast, hard to relax or to feel at ease. The physical feelings are related to worry thoughts, what if thoughts, paranoid thoughts . . . “Why hasn’t he called?” “He’s probably with someone else,” “She doesn’t want to be with me anymore,” “What if he doesn’t like me as much as I like him” . . . It is essential that you develop a daily habit for yourself to take the edge off and gain control of the onslaught of worried thoughts and physiological arousal. One basic and extremely effective way to do this is to meditate for 10 minutes every day. All this means is sit quietly, set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes, and breathe in and out. Each time your thoughts drift, gently redirect your attention back to the breathing sensation or of your chest rising and falling with each breath.
3. Increase Self-Esteem: As hard as it is to tolerate, you will become liberated from romantic insecurity as you accept that this relationship may or may not work out and that you will be okay. You can have a happy life regardless of what happens with your partner. To this end, work on building up your life separate from your partner— your career/school ambitions, your friendships, your positive activities and experiences. Work to notice your internal critic, that little voice in your head that is doubting you, making you question yourself, or is downright bashing you for every little perceived flaw or inadequacy. Learn to train the voice in your head to be on your team, to take care of you, to help you feel better not worse about yourself, to accept yourself— flaws and all.
4. Open Communication: Anxiety thrives in an environment of low communication. Instead of turning to your partner, you internalize your fears or worries. As a result, you don’t get any new data to help you to make sense of these concerns or even to alleviate them entirely. Learn to own your fears and to directly voice them to your partner. This is the only way to discover if your partner can soothe you and help you to feel better or if you just walk away feeling worse. If it is the latter then you might be signing up for a life time of unease, lack of intimacy, and a feeling that you are perpetually on egg shells. Even if it means ending this relationship, it is worth waiting to find the person with whom you feel at peace and loved for your true self. For more strategies on healthy attachment, check out my book Toxic Love.