Stop Emotional Insecurity From Destroying Relationships

How neediness and emotional insecurity destroy relationships

by Mark Tyrrell

emotional-insecurity-in-your-relationshipEmotional insecurity in any relationship is a huge problem. That’s because emotional insecurity occurs on a deep, unconscious level. In order to recover and escape the misery of your own haunting thoughts,  it will require a process that is also deep.

Your health, your sense of wellbeing, your general happiness are all affected by your relationships. Relationships are the most important factor in living a satisfying and complete life.  And your closest and most intimate relationships are the biggest factor of all.

The good news is that you can help yourself . And by doing so your current relationships can begin to heal and new ones will be healthy and satisfying to all.

The insecure person isn’t the only one who suffers

The feeling of being emotionally insecure in a relationship is terrible for the person that’s feeling insecure.  It’s a tremendous burden – the fears and obsessive thoughts, the feelings of powerlessness are overwhelming. And the awful awareness that haunts you; that the insecurity itself may be destroying the very relationship that you hold most dear. It simply can be too much to bear.

But the truth is that it’s also hard on the person that’s on the receiving end of all that insecurity. Let’s be honest,  being involved with a really insecure person can be a frustrating hell. No amount of reassurance can make them feel more secure in the relationship.

An article underscored what a common problem insecurity is

I wrote an article some time ago on overcoming insecurity in relationships.  I was surprised to be inundated with comments and questions from all around the world. The feedback from the article itself was just the tip of the iceberg. My inbox overflowed with hundreds more private emails from people wracked by feelings of relationship insecurity. Obviously, the subject ‘hit a nerve’.

That article, which explores the reasons for insecurity and offers practical tips to help overcome it, eventually became the springboard for developing  the new 10 steps to overcoming insecurity in relationships course. While the article was mostly addressed to people who are themselves feeling insecure in a relationship; I also received- and still get – hundreds of emails from people who have very insecure partners. A common recurring theme of these accounts is how isolating it can feel to find yourself in a relationship with someone who is deeply insecure. And this is one major reason why extreme insecurity can be so damaging.

Reassuring your insecure partner may almost be a lie

Anyone can say reassuring things. And because ‘reassurance’ is what insecure people want most, it’s all too easy for partners (and friends) to offer reassurances that everything is “really okay” in the relationship even when it isn’t.This is really a kind of denial. And – ironically – the reasons it might not be okay are often the product of the insecurity itself. So, you might say that reassuring the insecure person is actually adding fuel to a relationship that is already crashing and burning.

Sometimes the only genuine problem in a relationship is the emotional insecurity of one partner and the effect that has on the relationship as a whole. But it’s easy to fall into a pattern of always pretending everything is fine, even when the insecurity becomes really damaging. Such pretense becomes isolating and can drive partners further apart. This is how insecurity can damage or even destroy the relationship.

Relationships thrive on intimacy, and intimacy stems from feeling you can safely be yourself with your partner. So what does it feel like to be in a relationship with a very insecure partner?

Worrying about relationship breakup creates it

Insecurity stemming from a fear of losing intimacy can actually bring on that loss of intimacy. Jake, a former client, described it like this:

“I actually feel totally disconnected from Sara now. She doubts my every word, doesn’t believe me when I say I’ve been working, and constantly misinterprets what I say. It’s driving me nuts! And the angrier I get, the more insecure she gets. I can’t win! I’ve tried being sympathetic, but now everything has to be on her terms, I have to ask myself all the time – is this going to upset her or not?”

Jake told me how he had started to feel very lonely in his relationship, like he had no one to talk to, because “Talking to Sara is like walking on egg shells – will I say the wrong thing? Will she take it the wrong way?”

He, like many who are close to someone so insecure, found himself getting more and more emotionally distant from Sara. He felt less able to speak to her about how he felt, and less able to relax around her. Loneliness isn’t about being alone so much as feeling alone with others – because you feel misunderstood by them – and that’s how Jake now felt with Sara. He’d begun to feel trapped, finding it hard to be around her but also hard not to be around her, because he knew how painful it was for her to be wondering where he was or whom he was with.

The painful truth is that insecurity can lead to the death of intimacy in a relationship – the fear of losing something can actually bring about that loss. Trying to force intimacy or love – demanding to know how someone feels, what they are thinking, who they’ve been talking to, what they are doing – can just drive them further from you.

So what should you do if you are in a relationship with a really insecure person?

How to tell if you have a truly insecure partner

It’s important to understand if  the person you are with is genuinely excessively insecure. Some jealousy and insecurity is actually normal in most relationships from time to time – especially in the early stages. Insecure people are often insecure about their insecurity, because they instinctively know how damaging it can be. But if insecurity is a constant and central feature of the relationship then, yes, it is a problem and a potential cause of breakdown. Of course you can reassure your partner, reason with them, and be gentle and loving toward them, but it’s important not to make too many adaptations for them. This was the mistake Jake made. He had completely stopped spending any time with his friends without Sara. He rang her on the hour, every hour, when he had to work late. He told her he loved her so many times a day that it was more like a chore rather than a genuine expression of how he felt. And after a while the relationship no longer felt real to him.

If the relationship becomes all about reassuring and not upsetting the insecure partner, you and your needs get sidelined to the point that the relationship can start to feel meaningless for you. Jake and Sara’s relationship only improved once Sara herself addressed her insecurity, and learned to trust and relax more with not “having to know” what Jake was thinking or doing all the time. Her self esteem improved and, in turn, he then felt more valued, and no longer trapped or forced to behave in prescribed ways. At last he was being listened to and respected again.

If your insecure partner has enough insight to know they need to change, then you really can encourage them to make those changes that could make such a difference for both of you. Ultimately, no one should have to be constantly “on call” to their partner, or emotionally isolated by them. Good relationships are reciprocal, not one-sided. They flourish when partners trust each other, accept each other, give each other space, forgive each other for failings – and enjoy each other. You and your partner both deserve that. Read more about 10 Steps to Overcome Insecurity in Relationships by Mark Tyrrell


  1. See: Wikipedia entry: Exposure therapy
  2. See: Wikipedia entry: Flooding

10 Signs Of Emotional Insecurity

Physical appearance, financial capabilities and position are most often thought of when evaluating others. But there are emotional clues and nuances that can tell you far more about an individual. Ideally, in any type of relationship, emotional maturity should be the first and foremost quality to look for before taking serious steps. Consider the following signals of emotional insecurity and give them proper attention rather than ignoring them as being insignificant. If you’re already in an emotionally insecure relationship, take the 10 steps to make it better.

1. Inability to handle criticism

Not handling criticism well is one of the big signs of an emotionally insecure person. There is no such thing as constructive criticism to them because they lack the fortitude to admit and learn from their mistakes.

2. Perpetual need to prove their worth

Insecure people have a constant urge to prove themselves because they are extremely suspicious of how others perceive them. They hold the view that others are always analyzing their every move and one false step will prove to be their doom.

3. Low self-esteem

Insecure people are bound to suffer from low self-esteem. This inferiority complex of theirs prevents them from  dealing with the realities of life and can prevent them from achieving anything worthwhile.

4. Envy of others

Emotionally insecure individuals always consider other to be at on better footing than they are. They can feel envious and angry toward others – even those that they don’t know. An insecure person considers others lucky and and they look at the success of others with envy in their heart.

5. Poor communication skills

Emotional insecurity is a primary cause of bad communication skills. Such people stammer or stay silent because they are constantly afraid of faltering or sounding like foolish. No relationship can properly exist without the partners communicating with each other.

6. Constant suspicion of others

If your partner keeps an eye on you all the time and even accuses you of cheating, then it may be an indication of their emotional insecurity. They will always be worried that you will leave him for someone better.

7. Abusive nature

This directly follows from the suspicious nature mentioned above. Their distrusting ways often will lead them to sudden and abusive behavior for no apparent reason.

8. Attention seeking behavior

An emotionally insecure person will try to be the center of attraction in most situations. They use a variety of devices that may include constantly cracking silly jokes, being loud and other ways to attract attention to themselves.

9. Urge to show off

Emotionally insecure people are  generally very materialistic and they like to show off things. They will throw their wealth and whatever other  qualities that they perceive themselves to posses constantly at your face.

10. Dependence on others

Emotionally insecure people ask for the views of others and advice for the most insignificant of things. They seem incapable of making even the smallest of decisions for themselves. They constantly need someone else’s approval.

Now that you have 10 signs of an emotionally insecure partner, read about the 10 Steps to Overcome Insecurity In A Relationship

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