Developing Emotional Security in a Relationship
While it’s normal to feel insecure from time to time, chronic insecurity can slowly poison an otherwise healthy relationship. Some people make the mistake of assuming that their partner is the key to finding security. The truth, however, is that feeling secure in a relationship has more to do with you than it does with your partner. Although exceptions can be made for people who are in toxic or unhealthy relationships, most insecurities stem from negative thought patterns that can be altered with some conscious effort. You might even find that making an effort to feel more secure in your relationship is easier and requires less energy than it does to get carried away by insecurity.
Check Your Baggage at the Door
Everyone has some type of baggage or emotional wounds from previous relationships and experiences. You might think that carrying baggage from your last relationship into your current one will help protect you from being hurt again in the same way, but chances are you will only hurt yourself by setting the new relationship up for failure. Maybe you have been cheated on or lied to by a partner in the past. Recognize that these experiences are in the past, and that you can’t reasonably punish your new partner for the mistakes of your former ones. If your current partner has not treated you poorly, it is not fair for you to assume that he will simply because the ones before him did. The first step in feeling more secure is to recognize that every person and each relationship are unique and deserve a clean slate.
Stop Confusing Imagination With Reality
Most of what makes you feel insecure may exist more in your mind than in the real world. Maybe you constantly worry that your partner is getting sick of you or that you are annoying him. Perhaps your partner is tired after a long day, so he doesn’t want to go out. But you take it personally and assume he just doesn’t want to hang out with you. Fabricating unfounded interpretations of what your partner says or does is a surefire way to let insecurity jeopardize the relationship. When you start to doubt his feelings or his motives for doing certain things, take a moment to determine if your fears are based in reality or in your imagination. Resist the urge to invent problems where they do not exist. When you stop obsessing over what might be, you can shift your focus to what is actually happening.
Stop Trying to Read His Mind
No matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you can, you cannot read your partner’s mind. Don’t make assumptions about what he is thinking or feeling. If he says he is simply too tired to go out, accept that as truth rather than twisting it to reflect something about you when it likely has nothing to do with you. Talk to your partner before jumping to conclusions about how he feels. If he is being quieter than usual, ask him if he is feeling OK instead of assuming that it has something to do with you.
If you expect perfection, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. No person or relationship will ever be perfect. Recognize that both you and he will have days when you are cranky or less patient than usual and that a bad day is not the same thing as a bad relationship. Make a conscious effort to focus on and celebrate the positive aspects of your relationship. Instead of harping on things your partner does that drive you crazy, shift your attention to the little things he does that make you smile. The more realistic you are in your expectations for the relationship, the more satisfaction you will derive from it.
Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University. She is happily married, works full-time as a public school teacher and enjoys mothering her 5-year-old daughter and 14-year-old stepson. She has also fostered several children and loves writing about parenting, families, education and relationships on WorkingMother.com and TheClassroom.com.