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Anxiety and Insecurity: How They Kill Relationships and What to Do

Anxiety and insecurity in relationships can kill relationships. Learn signs, worries, and behaviors in insecure, anxious relationships. Read how to fix them on HealthyPlace.

Anxiety and insecurity are a combination detrimental to relationships. Together, they can kill a relationship. The irony is that partners do care about each other, but anxiety and insecurity in the relationship can cause the very thing that the anxious partner is desperately trying to prevent: a break up.

The mix of anxiety and insecurity causes distinct worries and behaviors that can end a relationship. Exploring them can help you avoid them in your own relationships.

Signs of Insecurity and Anxiety in Relationships

One partner’s anxiety and insecurity are usually directed toward both themselves and their partner. Signs that someone has insecure thoughts and emotions include:

  • Giving up their own values and ideas to defer to those of their partner
  • Difficulty regulating their own emotions when someone else is showing emotion
  • Developing over-attachment to their partner
  • Displaying a constant need for approval
  • Occasionally distancing themselves from the partner in an attempt to strengthen their sense of self, but this is brief due to separation anxiety caused by over-attachment

Anxiety and Insecurity in Relationships: Types of Worries

The signs of insecurity cause significant relationship worries. These worries can be sorted into three primary categories:

  1. the relationship
  2. the people in it
  3. imagined terrible things that might happen

Insecurity can make someone afraid of being hurt. The type of hurt that causes excessive fear in relationships is the thought of the relationship ending. Worry that their partner might leave them causes significant distress and heightened anxiety.

One reason for the fear of the relationship ending is an overwhelming sense of inadequacy reinforcing the insecurity. Anxiety convinces people that they aren’t good enough for anything—and especially not for a relationship with their partner. Often, low self-esteem makes people fear that they’re a burden, which fuels the fear of abandonment.

Fears and anxieties join insecurity to invade thoughts. Imagined situations and worst-case scenarios can plague someone day and night. Fear of not being good enough and of the relationship ending cause anxious thoughts and “what ifs” in someone’s mind. The scenarios always end disastrously.

All these worries can lead to behaviors that exacerbate problems in a relationship.

Anxious Behaviors Caused by Insecurity in Relationships

Feelings of anxiety brought on by insecurity (or, conversely, feelings of insecurity resulting from anxiety) impact behaviors. To avoid breakup and ensure their partner approves of and accepts them, people with anxiety in a relationship try to take measures to please their partner. Someone might use unhealthy coping skills like these:

  • Constantly asking for reassurance
  • Texting or calling too frequently
  • Being hypervigilant for any sign of partner’s disapproval and apologetically asking for acceptance and approval
  • Avoiding conflict and uncomfortable conversations
  • Acting and feeling possessive, jealous, and worried that their partner likes everyone else better than them
  • Unfortunately, these behaviors create more problems than they solve. That doesn’t mean, though, that there’s no solution to a relationship suffering because of anxiety and self-doubt.

What to Do About Anxiety and Insecurity in Relationships

Improving self-esteem is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, your partner, and the relationship between you. Give yourself time to explore your own unique interests, strengths, and values. What makes you feel vibrant? What can you do to pursue these things? Create opportunities to do things on your own and with a friend. Additionally, you and your partner can discuss and decide on things to enjoy together as a couple. Take care to avoid deferring to your partner’s wishes. Chances are, they’ll want to hear from you. Sharing your thoughts will boost your self-esteem and strengthen your relationship.

As effective as these things are in building self-assurance, they’re not easy to do when you’re not used to thinking and acting without anxiety stopping you. For this reason, working with a therapist can be extremely helpful. With professional guidance, you can reduce anxiety and self-doubt and develop relationship skills. Self-help books can offer value as well. Both therapy and work on your own can cultivate your sense of self and belief in your worth. Additionally, they can help you strengthen your relationship by reducing behaviors that are ineffective and replace them with beneficial new ones.

Work with your partner to nurture healthy attention, affection, intimacy, and communication. Anxiety and insecurity can kill a relationship for many reasons. You and your partner can revive it.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, April 17). Anxiety and Insecurity: How They Kill Relationships and What to Do, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/relationships/anxiety-and-insecurity-how-they-kill-relationships-and-what-to-do

Last Updated: May 15, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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