Insecurities within yourself can have a negative impact on both your wellbeing and the relationships you have in your life. In episode 265, I received a question from an individual who has recognized that their own insecurities have often played a significant part in the breakdown of their relationships. In this post, I dive into this in more detail and talk about what you can do to start tackling those insecurities.
Hello, I am a 30 year old man dating women. I seem to inherently have insecurities in any relationship I am in. I have had several long-term relationships and they don’t always fall apart due to insecurities, however the most recent failure was in large part due to this. One thing I notice about myself is that early on in any relationship I am in, once we start to become serious and I have strong feelings for the other person, I start to get overly insecure. Many of the insecurities are unreasonable. Sometimes it’s about their sexual past, other times it’s about their male friends, or it’s about how I look and act. I don’t always bring them up with my partner but at times it will fester and change my mood. I don’t know why I am like this.
I have dated a fair bit and have a normal sexual history myself but this undoubtedly becomes an issue. My most recent relationship ended due to a lot of trust and insecurity issues. Some were certainly my own doing but other things were her repeatedly lying to me, which only magnified the issues. This problem doesn’t seem to be something that is going away with age or maturity. I hope that once I start dating again that I can manage this so it doesn’t undeniably lead to the same end. Thanks for your time.
I really appreciate you asking this question and trying to take some accountability. I hear a lot of personal responsibility here and not just an attempt to blame it on the woman that you have encountered in your life. Thank you for that. Insecurity is very common. You aren’t a broken person just because you feel insecure or jealous, but it is worth diving into. Both the reasons behind feeling so insecure and how you might react to that insecurity in a way that doesn’t wreck relationships and make you feel bad.
Therapy and thinking traps
First off, I’m going to throw the most obvious intervention out there, which is therapy. Not to change your behavior because you’re a terrible person or anything like that, but to dig into yourself a bit. There is a lot that can be done in therapy for the things you are talking about here. Firstly, if there is an identifiable source for your insecurities, that could be worth unpacking. For instance, if you came from a critical family of origin or you have had really hard experiences related to not being able to trust others, being cheated on, etc. during critical periods of your development. These can be worked with, better understood, and in some cases even interpreted through wiser eyes.
Jealousy also often comes from automatic assumptions that you may have. Thinking traps. These are things that can be learned about, tracked, and you can learn to challenge them. You can learn to recognize the signs of insecurity in your body and let that be a prompt for you to take a step back, look at your own thoughts, and be honest with yourself about why you are feeling this way. Something as simple as that can give you the pause you need to make a choice that is more in line with the person that you want to be.
Why do I feel so…
There is a very very simple exercise that I love doing, which is applicable here. You get a piece of paper or just process out loud and start with “why do I feel so…” In your case, this might be “why do I feel so insecure about how I look today?” or “why do I feel so angry when I think about her talking to Jake?” From there, you challenge yourself to really break it down. Don’t edit yourself necessarily. You don’t need to convince yourself that your thoughts are good or bad – just try to get real honest with yourself about why you are feeling that way. There may be some reasons that make sense like you have been cheated on in the past in similar ways. And there may be some that are less reasonable like “nobody could like someone who looks like me. she just pities me.” Whatever they are, just let it all out there.
This may not change the way you feel immediately, but it does help you do better understand it. It should help you to recognize the types of behaviors that would be more and less acceptable in response to the way you feel. You might still feel really jealous or insecure, but given that you recognize the real reasons behind it, you decide to approach the situation in a more productive way that doesn’t lead to sabotage of the relationship and the creation of problems that were not already there in the first place. It may also help to connect to a larger value or reason behind changing this tendency of yours. For instance, seeking out more influences that are feminist in nature may help you to feel more empathy for women’s struggle against things like purity culture and the double standards inherent in our society. If you can feel good about trying to do your part in dismantling the patriarchy, suddenly you have another source of reward and motivation outside of just maintaining your relationship, getting sex etc.
Take note of communication
There may be some communication issues at play as well. In the absence of good communication, we are forced to make assumptions about how the other person feels or what they are thinking. This can be dangerous when paired with the type of insecurity you are talking about. Where to intervene with the communication is difficult to say without knowing you better. Episode 217 might be a good starting place, which is the episode I did on active communication skills.
It could also be the case that you really aren’t making so much up in your head and it’s more about your history of picking people who don’t treat you well that is informing your current feelings. That’s something that would need to be explored with either a professional or friends that you can trust to provide an outside perspective to help you recognize patterns.
Feel and let be
I’ve talked about this a few times recently on the show for other questions, but there is possibly a little response prevention that needs to be done here. Rather than trying to eliminate all feelings of jealousy, suspicion, etc., what you might need to do is start to practice tolerating that uncertainty without doing something about it. You don’t always need to push to find answers. If you would like to be trusted and given the benefit of the doubt, you may need to practice a bit of that as well. So when you feel those feelings, try to get better at feeling them AND being good to yourself and your partner.
I know that I don’t have many direct solutions for you here, but hopefully these concepts help you out. I highly suspect that the more you pay attention and dig into this, the more clarity you will get about what needs to be worked on whether that is your own distress tolerance or your boundaries with people who are not good communicators.
Thank you for the question!
You can listen to this on Episode 265 of the podcast!
Thank you for the great question!
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