Insecurities in a relationship are normal. We are human and we think negative things about ourselves sometimes.
I can be perfectionistic. When I feel like I’ve failed—like saying something socially awkward or skipping my work-out for the 243rd day in row—I internalize it and hold on to my discontent with myself. This creates absolutely unnecessary baggage called insecurity.
If we aren’t careful, our insecurities can bleed into secure parts of our relationships and turn them into sore spots.
To overcome insecurities in a relationship, we need to accept ourselves. Read 4 Reasons Why Self-Love is Essential in a Healthy Relationship to learn how self-acceptance can beautifully transform relationships.
But, that’s the simple answer. How do we actually stop being insecure? This post gives real steps you can take to confront your insecurities and work toward a place of self-acceptance.
So, how do you know if you are acting on your insecurities in a relationship? Here are 3 signs of insecurities in a relationship to help you find out.
3 Signs of Insecurities in a Relationship
1- You Project onto Your Partner
Projection is placing your own thoughts and feelings onto someone else, therefore perceiving that their thoughts and feelings are like your own. Just like a movie projector, we project what’s inside us onto someone else, watching our own movie on the rest of the world and denying that it’s ours.
We project to protect; we want to keep our egos undamaged, our insecurities unnoticed, and our weaknesses unknown.
Projection, at times, is very normal. It can be difficult to recognize in ourselves because it’s almost always subconscious. We subconsciously perceive, accuse, and criticize our partner of having our own undesired qualities or our own negative feelings towards us.
Examples of Projection:
- Accusing a partner of overreacting in an argument when you are feeling guilty about losing your temper
- Accusing a partner of lying when you are feeling guilty about keeping something from them
- Thinking your partner doesn’t find you attractive because you feel unattractive
Instead of accepting and confronting weaknesses and insecurities, we subconsciously push uncomfortable feelings away to the person whose opinion we care most about. Although we have good intentions for our relationship, pain and shame can blindside us and lead us to fall into the trap of projection.
Projection distorts reality. When you let insecurities take control of you, core issues are harder to address and a deeper connection is harder to cultivate. Blaming, criticizing, judging, and shaming your partner will most likely begin and end with self-discontent and resentment.
2- You Get Defensive Quickly
When we’re feeling insecure, we struggle to admit our flaws. We create an ideal image of ourselves because it’s too painful and shameful for us to accept certain parts of ourselves that we deem “imperfect”.
When a partner expresses that they’ve been hurt by you, an insecure person perceives this as a threat and paints a picture with excuses to explain how they did nothing wrong.
Sometimes we spend so much time trying to shift blame anywhere but on us, that we don’t realize how we are affecting our partner. It’s natural to want to protect ourselves, but refusing to admit your mistakes can damage your relationship.
A defensive attitude keeps us self-focused. Partners in a healthy relationship are connection focused. We miss out on kinder conversations when we spend all of our time trying to protect our self-esteem.
3- You Seek Constant Approval and Validation from Your Partner
When we’re feeling insecure, we’re often uncomfortable making our own decisions. It’s okay to need validation and ask for help, but relying on others to make us feel good about ourselves is not sustainable for a healthy relationship.
Sometimes we feel so unworthy of love that we trade our values for positive attention.
We willingly give up parts of ourselves until we feel empty and don’t recognize ourselves. And we don’t realize what we’re doing until we get to that point because we are blindsided by our insecurities and overwhelming desire to feel loved.
If you feel like you’ve lost yourself in your relationship, read How to Find Yourself Again in a Relationship—The 5 Dos and Don’ts.
If you frequently fish for approval on your decisions, fish for compliments, or do things you’re not comfortable with to feel wanted, then it’s time to confront and overcome your insecurities. This behavior doesn’t sustain a healthy relationship or a healthy you.
Note: If you struggle with these behaviors, you may also struggle with an anxious-attachment style. Learn how to manage anxiety in a relationship by reading 7 Steps to Deal with Anxiety in a Relationship.
How to Overcome Insecurities in a Relationship
If you can relate to any of these 3 signs of insecurities in a relationship, then these next 3 steps can help you.
Overcoming insecurities in a relationship takes intention and practice. Practicing these 3 steps on how to overcome insecurities in a relationship can help you work towards self-acceptance and cultivate a healthy relationship with your partner.
1- Be Mindful When You’re Feeling Insecure
Follow these 3 steps to uncover your hidden insecurities that fuel your unhealthy behaviors.
- Catch yourself when you start to blame or judge your partner.
- Ask yourself, “Is there something about this situation that reflects negative thoughts or emotions I have towards myself?”
- Recognize and vocalize your own insecurities and weaknesses
Acknowledge that your imperfections are normal and make you no less worthy of love. As we become more authentic, we can more clearly see we are lovable.
Dr. Brené Brown shares in The Gifts of Imperfection that “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
2- Take Responsibility for Your Feelings
In her book, Hold Me Tight Dr. Sue Johnson teaches us to “claim our own feelings”. Vulnerability with your partner can lead to uncovering and confronting insecurities. Claiming your feelings is an opportunity to move past projection and defensiveness, and reconnect with your partner.
- Express your feelings to your partner as your own. For example, “I felt embarrassed about what I said to your parents.”, instead of “You are embarrassed to be around me, aren’t you?”
- Recognize patterns to address core issues or insecurities with your partner. For example, consider, do you often feel nervous or embarrassed around your in-laws? Why might this be?
- Don’t make excuses. Don’t deny your feelings and accuse your partner. Take ownership of your feelings and actions.
Realizing and admitting an imperfection may feel world shattering, but this vulnerability is the first step to embracing our authentic selves.
Mindfulness and vulnerability take practice, but they will help you overcome insecurities in a relationship and have clear and sincere communication with your partner.
3- Accept Your Imperfections
Avoiding shame and insecurities reflects a limiting belief that flaws make us “bad”. Your weaknesses don’t make you a bad person, but refusing to admit them makes you hard to connect with.
Admitting our insecurities is difficult because we feel like the existence of an imperfection means we aren’t “good”. But imperfections are normal; they are actually a good thing! Our weaknesses teach us things we wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise.
Almost always it’s us, not our partner, who believes we are unworthy of love. This is what leads us to let insecurities control our relationship. Own your weaknesses and embrace your humanness.
Accepting your flaws does not lessen your worth, it only increases your power; your power to choose and change. As Brené Brown says, “Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.”
If we are vulnerable and acknowledge our imperfections, we will become more in tune with our true selves.