Insecurities In Relationships: Everything You Need To Know

Insecurities in a relationship are feelings of uncertainty, self-doubt, or fear that can manifest in various ways, such as fearing the loss of a partner or questioning one’s self-worth or attractiveness. These insecurities can be deeply rooted in a person’s self-esteem and past experiences, and they can have a significant impact on the dynamics of a relationship.

Relationship insecurities can lead to various behaviors that can be detrimental to a relationship, such as jealousy, clinginess, or an excessive need for reassurance.

In the book Attached, Amir Levine and Rachel Heller explain that insecure attachment styles develop in childhood when a child’s needs for safety and security are not met. 

As adults, individuals with insecure attachment styles often have trust issues, a fear of abandonment, and/or high levels of anxiety.

insecure person thoughts

Individuals with insecure attachment styles can exhibit a variety of behaviors in their relationships and these behaviors can manifest in different ways.

Here are examples of behaviors that insecurely attached people may display in relationships:

Anxious attachment:

  • Seeking constant reassurance from their partners
  • Having intense fears of being abandoned
  • Being overly clingy
  • Overanalyzing their partner’s actions and words, looking for signs of rejection or disinterest
  • Feeling threatened by their partner’s interactions with others

Avoidant attachment:

  • Withdrawing from their partner, both emotionally and physically
  • Avoiding emotional intimacy
  • Struggling to share their true feelings and thoughts with their partner
  • Minimizing the importance of relationships
  • Avoiding long-term commitments

Disorganized attachment:

  • Hot-and-Cold behavior (alternating between seeking closeness and pushing their partner away)
  • Desiring emotional intimacy but also fearing it
  • Having difficulty trusting their partner’s intentions
  • Being quick to anger or defensiveness
  • Having unpredictable and intense emotional responses

What are the signs of an insecure relationship? 

Below are some common signs of an insecure relationship:

Signs of an Insecure Relationship

Lack of Trust

Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship. If trust is lacking, this can result in anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and resentment. Doubts about a partner’s honesty, intentions, or fidelity can undermine the foundation of the relationship.

Lack of trust in a relationship can manifest in a number of ways, including:

  • Constantly monitoring the other’s activities, such as checking their phone, emails, or social media accounts without permission
  • Regularly accusing your partner of deceit or infidelity without substantial evidence
  • Subjecting your partner to repeated questioning and scrutiny about their actions, whereabouts, or interactions with others
  • Having unfounded suspicions about a partner’s fidelity and honesty

Avoidance of Vulnerability

Partners may avoid vulnerability and emotional intimacy because they fear getting hurt.

If you struggle to connect with your partner on an emotional level, you may experience feelings of detachment and isolation. 

This lack of emotional connection can make it difficult to communicate effectively, understand each other’s needs, and give each other adequate support and intimacy.

Constant Need for Reassurance

Partners in insecure relationships may frequently seek validation and verbal affirmation of love, often feeling the need to hear “I love you” or “I’m committed to you” to feel secure.

Examples of this include:

  • Constantly fishing for compliments or validations
  • Checking in with your partner excessively throughout the day
  • Wanting to spend all of your time with your partner

This constant need for reassurance and approval can make you overly dependent on your partner for reassurance, which can be emotionally draining for both individuals.

Jealousy and Possessiveness

People who feel insecure are more likely to experience jealousy and exhibit possessiveness, often resulting in conflict and tension in a relationship.

Signs of jealousy and possessiveness include: monitoring your partner’s social media activity, tracking their movements, and limiting their contact with other people.

Insecure individuals can feel threatened by their partner’s interactions with friends, family members, or acquaintances. They may become jealous or anxious when their partner interacts with others at social gatherings, parties, or events, interpreting these interactions as a threat to the relationship.

Low Self-Esteem

Insecure relationships often involve one or both partners who experience feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Individuals with low self-esteem feel unworthy of love and acceptance, which affects their ability to trust and feel secure in a relationship. 

This can also manifest as a lack of self-worth and contribute to a negative self-image.

Withdrawal or Isolation

One or both partners may withdraw emotionally or physically from the relationship, creating distance as a defense mechanism against perceived threats.

When feeling insecure, it is common for individuals to withdraw from their partner emotionally, as they fear judgment or rejection. They may also feel unable to talk to anyone else about their relationship and feel like they have to keep their relationship problems a secret.

Control or Manipulation

In an attempt to gain a sense of security, insecure individuals often try to exert control over their partner’s actions, choices, and interactions. 

This can include monitoring their partner’s activities, controlling their finances, or using guilt to gain compliance.

Controlling behavior can stem from a desire to maintain power and dominance as individuals try to manage their fears.

Over-Reliance on the Relationship

Insecure individuals may overly depend on the relationship for validation, companionship, emotional well-being, or financial support.

Insecure individuals tend to rely excessively on their partner, feeling incomplete without their partner’s constant presence or validation.

This over-reliance can create an unhealthy relationship dynamic, hinder your personal growth and autonomy, and result in codependency.

Ineffective Communication

Insecure relationships often feature poor communication characterized by misinterpretations, defensiveness, and avoidance. Instead of addressing and resolving conflicts, partners in insecure relationships may repeatedly revisit the same issues without making progress.

This can hinder the resolution of conflicts, prevent emotional connection, and lead to exhaustion and frustration.

Why do I feel insecure? 

Feeling insecure is a common human experience, and the reasons for insecurity can vary widely from person to person.

Insecurity often arises from a combination of internal and external factors. Here are some common reasons why individuals may feel insecure:

Past Relationships

Negative experiences in the past, such as rejection, betrayal, or childhood adversity, can leave emotional scars that affect one’s sense of security.

Unresolved traumas or emotional baggage from past relationships can be projected onto new partners without valid justification. 

“Baggage” can include negative experiences (e.g., betrayal, abandonment, neglect) or positive experiences (e.g., high expectations, unrealistic beliefs about relationships).

Host of the Relationships Made Easy podcast Abby Medcalf explains that while past experiences help you understand your insecurities, your present thoughts and habits are what cause and maintain your insecurities. 

Attachment Styles

Attachment insecurity can have significant effects on how people think, feel, and behave in relationships, shaping their expectations, attitudes, and beliefs about romantic partners.

People with insecure attachment styles have maladaptive responses to stress in relationships, with avoidant individuals using distancing coping strategies and anxious individuals using hyper-activating coping strategies.

Anxiously attached individuals fear abandonment, excessively seek reassurance, and worry that their partner will find someone better.

Avoidant individuals struggle with intimacy and push their partners away, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Studies by Joshua Coleman, Ph.D. and Philip A. Cowan, Ph.D. found that “insecure attachment results in children—and later, adults—having difficulty controlling or modulating their emotions, knowing how to soothe themselves when distressed, or feeling relaxed and trusting with others.”

Low Self-Esteem

A lack of confidence in one’s abilities, appearance, or self-worth can contribute to insecurity, doubts, and fears. Self-critical and negative self-talk only serves to reinforce these feelings, as individuals internalize harmful beliefs about themselves.

Additionally, constantly comparing yourself to others, especially in terms of achievements, appearances, or social status, can create feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

Moreover, societal and cultural expectations, such as beauty standards and success benchmarks, can create even more pressure to conform and trigger feelings of insecurity.

Poor Communication Skills

When couples struggle to communicate effectively or openly, it can lead to misunderstandings, assumptions, and a lack of trust. 

Difficulty communicating your needs and feelings to your partner can make you feel misunderstood and resentful.

Insecurity often arises when partners feel that their needs, emotions, or concerns are not being heard or validated, leading to doubts about the stability of the relationship.

Relationship Issues

Conflicts or issues within current or past relationships, including trust issues, can lead to insecurity about one’s desirability or worthiness of love.

Furthermore, familial relationships can also impact one’s feelings of insecurity. For example, witnessing parental infidelity can increase the likelihood of being insecure in your adult relationships as this experience creates deep-rooted fears of betrayal and a lack of trust in romantic partners. 

Carrying these fears into your own relationships makes it difficult for you to fully trust your partner’s faithfulness.

Anxiety and Depression

Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can exacerbate feelings of insecurity, as they often involve negative thought patterns and self-doubt.

For example, social anxiety can make it difficult to feel secure in social settings, as individuals may fear judgment or negative evaluation by others.

Furthermore, concerns about one’s physical appearance, fueled by societal pressures and unrealistic beauty standards, can lead to body image insecurity.

How do insecurities affect relationships? 

Insecurities can have a significant negative impact on relationships (e.g., with partners, friends, children, co-workers), often leading to various challenges and dynamics that can strain the partnership.

insecure couple

Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, describes a case study about a woman named Sarah who was in a relationship with a man named Michael.

Sarah had a history of being cheated on in previous relationships, and she was constantly worried that Michael would cheat on her, too. 

She would often check his phone, ask him where he was going, and accuse him of being unfaithful. This behavior eventually led Michael to break up with Sarah because he felt like he couldn't trust her.

Another case study in Attached describes a man named John who was in a relationship with a woman named Jane.

John was insecure about his appearance, and he was always worried that Jane would find someone else who was more attractive. 

This insecurity led him to be controlling and jealous in his relationship. He would often criticize Jane's appearance and accuse her of flirting with other men. This behavior eventually led Jane to end the relationship because she felt like she couldn't be herself around him.

Insecure individuals may unintentionally create a negative cycle in the relationship, where their fears and behaviors reinforce each other, making it challenging to break free from negative patterns. Additionally, insecurity can limit personal growth and independence, as individuals may avoid pursuing their interests or goals to focus solely on the relationship.

It’s important to recognize that everyone has moments of insecurity from time to time, but chronic and pervasive insecurities can be damaging to a relationship.

How to overcome relationship insecurities

Overcoming relationship insecurities is a process that involves self-reflection, communication, and personal growth. Both partners in the relationship can play a role in addressing and working through these insecurities.

Here are some steps to help you overcome relationship insecurities:

Open Communication

Create a safe and non-judgmental space for open communication with your partner. Share your feelings and insecurities honestly, and encourage your partner to do the same.

Talking to your partner about your insecurities can help build trust and understanding. Be honest and open with your partner and be willing to listen to their perspective. 

It’s important to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for these conversations where both partners can actively listen and empathize with each other.

By expressing your fears and concerns, you allow your partner to provide reassurance and support. Sharing your insecurities can provide an opportunity to work together to find solutions. 

Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Insecurities often stem from distorted thinking patterns and irrational beliefs. By questioning the validity of these thoughts and challenging their accuracy, you can gain a more balanced and realistic perspective. 

Challenging your insecure thoughts and beliefs means asking yourself if there is any evidence to support or disprove them. Try to replace self-criticism with self-compassion and positive affirmations.

Cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as reframing and thought-stopping, are examples of strategies that can help replace unhelpful thoughts with more rational ones. 

Clinical psychologist Nick Wignall states that, “if you assume that every thought your mind throws at you is important and worth thinking more about, you’re quickly going to get lost in your own thoughts and feel even more uncertain and insecure about the relationship.”

Self-Reflect and Cultivate Individual Growth

Take time to reflect on the specific insecurities you’re experiencing. What triggers these feelings? Are they rooted in past experiences or personal insecurities?

Recognize that no one is perfect, and every relationship has its ups and downs.

Insecurities are usually fueled by excessive worrying and overthinking. In fact, worrying about the future is the most common reason for feeling insecure in a relationship.

Consider whether your worries are something that can be resolved or whether they are hypothetical. As you cannot control hypothetical worries, it is best to let them go.

Try the following strategies:

  • Remind yourself that you cannot control the future and focus on things you can control
  • Set aside dedicated “worry time” to address your concerns to prevent worries from overwhelming your daily life
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.
  • Engage in activities that promote self-care and help you focus on the present moment
  • Explore therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to address specific thought patterns and behaviors associated with insecurities

Practice Self-Compassion

Overcoming insecurities is hard work so having compassion for yourself is important.

Practicing self-compassion means:

  • Being kind and understanding with yourself rather than being self-critical when you are struggling
  • Forgiving yourself for your mistakes
  • Avoiding self-judgment
  • Cultivating positive self-talk
  • Challenging your inner critic
  • Surrounding yourself with people who support you and make you feel good about yourself
  • Engaging in activities that bring you joy
  • Making time for self-care (e.g., being in nature, exercising, meditating, journaling)
  • Listening to your body and mind when it tells you to take a break or slow down
  • Being patient with yourself as it takes time to overcome insecurities

Psychologist Kristin Neff provides three fundamental ways to develop self-compassion:

  • Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend–with gentleness, understanding, patience, empathy, and acceptance.
  • Focus on the similarities you share with others to reduce feelings of isolation. Recognize that everyone has insecurities and that it is normal to experience them. 
  • Practice mindfulness by focusing on the present moment. Acknowledge your pain without magnifying it with worries about the past or future.

Seek Professional Support

Consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor, either individually or as a couple. A trained professional can help you

  • Understand your insecurities
  • Explore the underlying causes of your insecurities
  • Develop personalized coping strategies to overcome insecurities
  • Provide guidance on how to address your insecurities
  • Process past experiences
  • Develop a secure attachment style
  • Improve your self-esteem

Meghan Laslocky, author of The Little Book of Heartbreak: Love Gone Wrong Through the Ages, was a “textbook case of anxious and avoidant” attachment:

“I was so crippled by fear of intimate relationships that I didn’t have anything even close to a boyfriend until I was 28. Even then, it took another eight years for me to pull off having a long-term, serious relationship, much as I wanted one.”

Meghan was able to overcome an insecure attachment style with the help of a trained therapist with expertise in attachment theory. Attachment-specific therapies include schema therapy or attachment-based therapy.

Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Recognize and appreciate the positive changes you make in yourself and your relationship.


Is it normal to feel insecure in a new relationship?

Experiencing some level of insecurity in a new relationship is normal and common. Starting a new relationship can be exciting, but it can also be accompanied by uncertainties and anxieties, especially if you’ve been hurt in past relationships or have had negative dating experiences.

Most people have a fear of rejection, and in a new relationship, there’s a natural concern about whether the other person will truly like and accept you.

Furthermore, building emotional intimacy requires vulnerability, and that can be intimidating. Opening up to someone new can trigger feelings of insecurity.

A new relationship represents uncharted territory. You’re getting to know a new person with their own quirks, preferences, and communication style, which can create uncertainty.

Feeling insecure in a new relationship is normal, but it’s essential to address these feelings constructively to ensure that they don’t negatively impact the development of a healthy and fulfilling partnership.

Can a relationship survive insecurities?

A relationship can survive and even thrive despite insecurities. Insecurities are a common part of human nature, and many individuals and couples work through them successfully.

However, if insecurities are left unchecked, they can damage a relationship.

Effective communication is key. Both partners should work on building trust through communicating openly, offering empathy and emotional support, and demonstrating reliability.

Couples can work together on shared goals and personal growth, reinforcing their connection and sense of partnership. Overcoming insecurities takes time, so it’s essential for both partners to be patient and committed to the process of healing and growth.

Can social media cause relationship insecurities? 

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can amplify feelings of insecurity in romantic relationships.

Social media often presents a curated version of people’s lives, highlighting the best moments, experiences, and appearances. Constant exposure to these idealized images can lead individuals to compare their own lives and relationships to what they see on social media, which can trigger feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

Moreover, social media can perpetuate the fear of missing out on exciting or glamorous experiences that others seem to be having. Individuals may feel that their own relationship is less exciting or fulfilling by comparison.

Seeing your partner’s online activity can also cause insecurity and distrust. Seeing them liking or commenting on someone else’s posts or photos can trigger jealousy and insecurity. It’s easy to misinterpret their online interactions as signs of interest or attraction.

Julia Simkus edited this article.


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Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Educator, Researcher

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

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Mental Health Writer, Medical Writer, Proofreader

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Miss Haddi Browne is a freelance mental health writer and proof-reader with over seven years of experience working as a professional researcher with a diverse range of clients across the lifespan, including young adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.