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A Subtle Sign of Insecurity Can Kill a Relationship Silently

A Subtle Sign of Insecurity Can Kill a Relationship Silently

When you’re in a relationship, you can develop some funny habits with the person you’re with. It could be constant sharing of an inside joke, the expectation that they will always finish your meal at a restaurant, or something less cutesy. For instance, I have a friend who used to ask her boyfriend to say, “I love you” to her 3 times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and before she went to sleep.

Maybe at first you’re thinking, okay? So what? But this need for validation was coming from an unhealthy place. When you’re dating someone, especially long-term, you should want to hear sweet words like that, but you should also be able to trust their feelings. Even if they don’t verbalize them frequently.

My friend had a strong desire for her partner’s love and attention. She looked to her partner to provide a sense of completeness in her life. This can also be a red flag. Your partner should absolutely add value to your life, but he/she shouldn’t define you as a whole person.

Sometimes her boyfriend would be too busy at work and forget to do it once or twice. Rather than understanding he couldn’t drop what he was doing to call or text her, she would get very upset – even angry. She felt that forgetting about her “simple request” is a sign of him neglecting her, or wanting to leave her. She has trust issues with her partner.

The relationship lasted for only a few months. It didn’t end well because my friend was very upset and her partner felt exhausted.

Insecurity in a relationship is not obvious most of the times.

While reading that example seems like a clear example of why insecurity can wreck a relationship, it’s important to realize that it’s only that obvious to us reading it. See, for my friend and her boyfriend, her insecurity caused big arguments about why he didn’t care about her, and the fact that he wouldn’t do simple things for her.

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Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for insecurity to exist with no obvious signs. You or your partner can feel insecure without voicing, or even realizing it. It’s that sick feeling in your stomach you can’t explain when the person you’re seeing doesn’t text you back right away or show up to hang out on time.

The need for proof of love prevents a relationship from reaching the next level.

Needing to be approved, or needing to see proof of love and self-worth prevents building an authentic relationship. You know the old saying, “actions speak louder than words”? It’s especially true when it comes to creating a long-lasting romance.

When you’ve been with someone, especially for a long time, little things really show they love you and only you. Maybe they did the laundry for you because they knew you had a ton of work to get done and wouldn’t have the time. Maybe they surprised you with your favorite thing from a nearby restaurant ‘just because’. In either of these examples, they didn’t have to say, “I love you and only you and you can trust me!” But you knew it.

Behaviors caused by insecurity wreak havoc all too quickly. If you’re always asking for reassurance, dealing with jealousy, accusing, and even snooping, you’re eroding trust.

Such behaviors are not attractive, and can push a partner away.

Most people tackle insecurity in a way that makes the relationship worse.

People handle insecurity in different ways, trying to make themselves feel better in the relationship. Yet they don’t realize the way they try to fix their insecurity issues is worsening their relationship.

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Some fiercely seek security.

Security in a relationship isn’t something tangible, but some people want to hold on to it. To feel secure all the times, they seek some kind of solid reassurance. In this case, a person will demand security from their partner by asking them to do something to prove their love. This tactic is not much different from peer pressure amongst teenagers.

But if you’re asking your partner to say I love you a certain number of times, or asking them to do favors constantly, things can get out of hand. And if you’re desperate enough to ask them to reply to you immediately when you text, things are going downhill fast.

When a partner is overwhelmed by ridiculous requests, he or she will be unable to perform perfectly 100% of the time. The problem of insecurity cannot be fixed this way. Actions do speak louder than words; but when they’re actions requested by the insecure party, they’re inauthentic and exhausting at best.

Some show insecurity in a subtle way.

These people tend to believe that it’s weak to admit feeling insecure, but also secretly hope to be cared by their partner. However, when the partner doesn’t pick up on what’s going on, it can cause more fights and insecurity.

They’ll give subtle signs and say things like, “I’m okay. Don’t worry,” or “Go ahead do what you want,” but then ignore their partner. While this is meant to show they are bothered by the action, it isn’t effective.

Assuming that couples should understand each other well, even without talking about things, is unrealistic. Even if you’re embarrassed about how insecure you feel, or you can’t explain the reasoning behind it, it’s still important to let it be known.

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When an insecure person relies on subtle clues and actions, their partner won’t understand what they really think and take their actions personally. This causes a lot of miscommunication because one of the partners has to always be guessing what the other is thinking, and it’s not likely that they can guess it right all the time. The passive aggressive behaviors such as ignoring a partner or throwing temper-tantrums can also hurt the partner’s feelings, and even anger them.

Some act like they are secure.

Some people choose to suppress their real feelings out of fear or embarrassment. While they may intend well because they don’t want their insecurity to affect another person or affect the relationship, they are only making things worse.

It may seem to work at first because whenever they meet their significant other, the happy time together can temporary make them forget about the insecure feelings. But because of trying so hard to suppress their feelings, they may tend to take in all the sadness.

Not letting out of the negative emotions or sharing them with anyone, these people are likely to overthink (about bad things that may not happen). This prolonged sadness may even lead to anxiety or depression.

In the long-run, the relationship is not healthy. Despite how much these people try to pretend nothing is going wrong, their partner will eventually feel the negative vibe and the relationship will not last.

The only way to fix insecurity is to be vulnerable.

Being insecure is not a mistake. Having insecurity issues doesn’t make one a weak person.

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Once you realize you feel insecure, reflect and determine where these feelings are coming from. It could be from past experience. Maybe you lacked attention or gained too much attention from your parents when you were small? Maybe you were in a relationship with an insecure partner? Maybe you lack confidence in yourself? Shift the focus from blaming your partner to digging into your inner thoughts.

After you have found out why you are feeling what you’re feeling, share it with your partner. Talk about the emotions you feel. Tell him/her how you feel when he/she does something, and why you feel such way. Share with him/her the reason why you think these things trigger you those feelings.

Figure out together with your partner what to do to make both people stay aware of the issue. Both partners need to work on certain aspects to minimize and fix insecurity together. For instance, if you ask your partner to text you immediately, take baby steps to stop that. Maybe he/she can agree to text you when he/she gets to work and let you know he/she’s going to have a busy day and may not be able to reach out until his/her lunch break.

No matter how you two agree to take steps to resolve the issue, it’s vital you have the discussion. Otherwise, things will never get better. Whether it’s nightly conversations about how you felt that day or something more personal like journalling, you have to make an effort to realize the issue and resolve it. Remember to be patient with yourself and your partner. It takes two people to make a relationship work, especially when overcoming a challenge.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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