Jenny Block tackles insecurity: How your doubts can tank a relationship
Thinking there’s trouble in paradise can actually cause trouble in paradise.
It starts out innocently enough. That’s what makes it so insidious — its subtlety. You ask your partner, “Is everything OK?” even when there’s nothing other than your own insecurity causing you to ask. You ask if your partner still loves you even though she hasn’t given you any reason to believe she doesn’t. You find yourself looking for signs, wondering who she’s texting, listening in on phone calls.
She’ll start to feel your insecurity, and it will feel like a weight. She’ll assure you that nothing is wrong — that, of course, she still loves you, that you have nothing to worry about. But assuring you will begin to eat at her … and therein lies the real problem. When we behave insecurely, the message we are sending to our partners is that they don’t love us enough or are not expressing their love clearly or strongly enough.
Don’t get me wrong: If there really is something wrong — if things really have changed, and your partner’s phone habits have taken an unusual, new turn — maybe you do have cause to worry … and you have both the right and responsibility to address that. What I’m talking about here are personal doubts that manifest as false insecurity in a relationship.
If your relationship is as it has always been — accounting for the fact that relationships change and grow, and once the “honeymoon” is over, reality sets in — there will likely be fewer flames and more embers. That’s when behaving insecurely is actually hurtful to your partner.
It might seem counterintuitive that behaving insecurely in your relationship could actually hurt your partner’s feelings and make her feel like she’s doing something wrong. But think about it. If your partner said to you, “Do you still love me?” wouldn’t you think you don’t say I love you enough? If your partner says, “Is everything OK?” wouldn’t you think you had done something that made her feel not OK? If your partner asks, “Who’s that?” every time someone texts or calls, wouldn’t you feel mistrusted?
We have two responsibilities in a relationship: to love our partner in the ways that make them feel loved and to accept the love that is given to us without letting personal insecurities, past stories or non-related outside influences cause us to behave insecurely.
What makes this so problematic is that it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if you keep asking if something is wrong, your partner may well start thinking something is wrong. If you keep asking if she still loves you, she might start thinking that maybe she doesn’t. If she feels as if you don’t trust her, she may, at least sub-consciously, feel compelled to do something that deserves your mistrust.
Being happy in a relationship can be scary, especially if you’ve been burned in the past. Things are happily humming along and then all of the sudden, it seems KAPOW!… she’s out. That can make it scary to feel safe in a new relationship. But there are a few things that are vital to ask yourself:
• Was it really KAPOW! or did you know the end was near and you simply didn’t want to face it?
• Did your insecurity in the relationship play at least some part in her leaving?
• Are you happy and safe now with no reason for doubt?
We have to trust. We have to. It’s the only way to live and it is the only way to love. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard and it doesn’t mean we won’t get hurt. But it does mean we will have the opportunity to love and be loved and the most profound way possible.
Relationships evolve. They must, because we as people are always evolving. When that evolution occurs, it can be unsettling. It can be even more unsettling if our past has left us feeling unsafe. But when the changes come, we have to look at them not with the eyes of someone who is expecting the worst. But instead with the eyes of someone who knows they deserve the best.
The past is the past. The only thing we have is the now, is the opportunity to create and build the kind of relationship that makes us feel as is if we have found our way home. Remembering how our insecurity affects our partner is vital. If you don’t feel loved, check in with yourself. If there’s an issue, by all means address it. But if it’s simply nagging thoughts with no grounding in reality, spend time with a friend, take your furry best friend for a walk, hit the yoga mat. Heal yourself before hurting the person you love.
We live within the world we create and I have chosen to weave a space of safety and security and love. It’s not always easy and it doesn’t always come naturally. But once I did it, that space of safety and security and love was exactly, and happily, where I landed.
Block is the author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, foreword by Betty Dodson.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2016.