In romantic relationships it is quite natural for partners to want each other to themselves and a bit jealous of other objects of attention. In fact taken in minute doses, a lack of security may even help partners to appreciate each other and prevent one from taking the other person for granted. However, when insecure reactions get out of proportion, the relationship may come under great strain. Here are a few ways to cope when your partner perpetually feels insecure about you.
It is not about you
As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In many cases, you may simply shrug off a little insecure behavior and purposely decide to live with it. He/she might be busy the whole day reading your mail or conducting a Google search with your username, but you need to understand that this is not really a reflection of the appropriateness of your activities. This is happening merely because your spouse’s perceptions, for whatever reason, are different from yours. Like for an emotionally mature person, speaking to a colleague after working hours might not seem a big thing, but for an insecure person, the action is indicates an attempt to hook up with a co-worker and perhaps even a budding office romance. And since you cannot fight with a person’s perceptions or tell them that they are wrong to feel that way, it is best to ignore such negative attitude. That won’t prevent you from encouraging your partner to address the underlying issues, but in the meantime it needn’t dominate your relationship.
Hear them out
However if you find that your partner’s sense of insecurity is leading to words and actions that cannot be ignored, make an effort to really listen to what he/she is saying. Instead of mentally switching off or reacting with counter-criticism, be patient and hear out your partner when he/she begins to complain about you are ignoring them or spending time with someone else. Most of the times giving an insecure person your undivided attention is enough to make him/her feel better. This will assure your partner that he or she can talk to you about his or her feelings that you will listen to a partner’s fears and anxieties and try to understand where such negative emotions are coming from. Maybe if your partner feels understood after talking about his/her problems in a supportive environment, he/she will be able to move beyond such feelings and worries more effectively.
Avoid getting defensive
It may severely try your patience to answer to yet another round of interrogation about who you met and what you did last evening, but try to listen calmly instead of getting defensive. Cutting off your spouse prematurely or reacting with an impatient gesture or tone of voice will only blow up the situation and give your partner another reason to sink into a morass of insecurity. Likewise, try not to dismiss or discount an insecure partner’s feelings. Coming up with phrases like “Not that again…” or “You are crazy to think like this…” will only serve to make that person feel more misunderstood and hardly help solve the problem. Rather give your partner an opportunity to be heard, so that they feel they have had their say and then you can either choose to ignore the complaints or give your side of the matter.
Try being more available
If your partner does not have some deep-seated psychological issues, you can try to be more emotionally responsive and available to your partner as way of combating his/her sense of insecurity. For instance pick up the phone when he/she calls instead of letting it ring. If you are going to put in some overtime at work, let your partner know where you will be and when you will come home. Try not to think of these acts as having to “explain” yourself. You may find that by knowing how and when to reach you, your partner will reel more assured in love and hence become less insecure in a relationship. Supplement these efforts by over-communicating with your partner. When an insecure person is forced to fill in the blanks, his or her assumptions are likely to be dominated by worry and doubt. Do your best to preempt that reflex. Again be generous with your affection, emotional and physical. As medical research has demonstrated for years, the power of touch is a tremendous aid in healing from all sorts of wounds, whether that of mind or body. If you find such these measures working even just a little, follow up by consistently reminding your partner that you love him or her, that you will be there and that you will work through problems together.
Consider your own actions
It may even be possible that some of your actions are leaving room for doubt. If you regularly take calls late at night or leave town unannounced, then your partner may only be reacting to such unconventional acts on your part. To you they may not seem worth kicking up a storm over, but to the other person, they may imply something else. The only way to solve this, is to bridge the communication gap by talking things through and assuring that you will be more transparent about your plans.
Have a chat
However if you find that your supportive behavior bears no fruit and on the contrary you are getting exhausted by constantly having to defend yourself or plump up your partner’s sense of self-worth, then it may be time to take a more direct approach. Find a suitable time and place to have a talk with your partner. Discuss how you are feeling tired of having to boost his/her self esteem all the time. Let your partner know that being constantly suspected no longer makes you want to try harder to please him/her – in fact it only makes you feel more discouraged and defensive about your privacy. Also point out that if this continues over time, your feelings of despair and hopelessness may even make it difficult for you to continue in the relationship. End the discussion by reaffirming your love for your spouse and your readiness to improve any aspect of your behavior which may be actually upsetting him/her. If talking face to face with your partner seems too hard, perhaps you could even write him/her a letter. Here too, couch concerns of your emotional well-being between affirmations of love and support for your spouse.
Finally if you remain unsuccessful after trying out all the above ways but still want to give your relationship a chance, the only thing left to do is take professional help. A counselor or therapist will not only be able to diagnose the cause of your partner’s deep-rooted sense of insecurity but also suggest ways of coping with it in a relationship. Sometimes an excessively insecure personality may not be about a mere sense of inadequacy but rooted in some past traumatic experience – like parental divorce or abandonment - or even perhaps due to a dysfunctional personality in which case it may not be possible for you and your partner to deal with the effects by yourselves.