It’s a vicious cycle. Insecurity leads to relationship-threatening behaviors such as jealousy, neediness, and a lack of self-respect.
In turn, the connection suffers. This fuels more insecurity, and the resulting behaviors become even more troublesome. Often the whole cycle comes to an end when the insecurity becomes too much for the relationship to bear.
This rejection leads to – you guessed it – more insecurity.
It’s natural to look to external measures to increase our sense of personal security and self-esteem. We may engage in fitness, intellectualism, or beauty treatments to build our sense of self-worth. We may try to tear others down or to push them away. Unfortunately, external work – whether productive or unkind – cannot fix an internal problem.
To create and maintain a sense of stability and self-worth, we must build ourselves up from the soul outward.
Here are five ways to do that:
1. End your search for perfection.
There is no perfect relationship. There is no perfect partner. There are only human beings who may or may not have a shot at something wonderful together. Expecting perfection from your partner – or from yourself – creates the kind of pressure-filled environment insecurity thrives in. Let it go, and make an effort to embrace your partner’s unique flaws. More importantly, learn to embrace your own. As Jodi Picoult wrote, “You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”
2. Stop reading your partner’s mind.
While you’re at it, stop expecting them to read yours. The most damaging relationship problems tend to come from poor communication, and nothing fuels this quite like mind-reading. If you are upset with your partner, tell them so. If you sense a disconnect on their end, ask them why. This sounds simple, but it’s actually a difficult and courageous act.
3. Respect your partner’s boundaries unconditionally.
If your partner tells you that something you do is making them uncomfortable, it is important to listen – even if you think the request is a silly one. To you, asking “What are you thinking?” may be a benign way to connect. To them, it may feel like an attack on their mental privacy. Respecting these preferences without teasing or judgement will create a safer space for your partner to open up.
4. Accept that the problems in your relationship are probably not all on you.
As such, you cannot fix them on your own – and that’s okay. We often feel insecure as a result of blame that we don’t need to own. Have an honest conversation with yourself about the relationship’s problems. Own what is yours. Leave the rest. You can only take responsibility for your own actions.
5. Leave the past where it belongs.
Did your ex write you beautiful poetry and play the guitar? That doesn’t obligate your current partner to do the same. Did they cheat on you compulsively? That’s terrible, but it shouldn’t condemn your current partner to a life of scrutiny and jealous actions. Give your partner a clean slate, and treat them as the individual they are. This may require some conscious effort, or even therapeutic work to deal with past trauma. This one also isn’t easy, but you’re worth it.
As with many of my articles on relationships, I will end this one with my favorite quote about love.
“To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.”
― Criss Jami,
We don’t find a perfect love by chance. We certainly don’t worry it into existence. We create one with compassion, understanding, and lots of hard work.