Feelings of insecurity can be painful to deal with, perhaps even causing you to question certain aspects of your relationship.
Here, we’ll look at what’s going on and some of the things you can do to try to improve matters.
Feeling insecure or under-confident in your relationship is common. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. If you notice your partner becoming more distant you might be inclined to worry that something’s going on. Perhaps they are spending more time out of the house or they’re not responding in the way you would like when you try to initiate sex. Whatever the cause, once you start to have doubts about the commitment of your romantic partner, it can begin to eat away at you.
In the short term, you might find excuses: “they’re tired,” “they’re not feeling well” or “they’re just busy”. But as time goes on and this pattern of behavior continues, it can be hard to keep the negative emotions at bay. For some people, feelings of rejection can become so overwhelming the emotional distress begins to impact daily life, while for others, anger and resentment will bubble to the surface, threatening to spill out at any moment.
The problem is that what insecure people need most is reassurance. But if your partner is not in the right place to provide that reassurance, or simply hasn’t noticed it’s needed, your relationship insecurities will only intensify. In trying to push for more intimacy, you might find yourself criticizing your partner, accusing them of not giving you what you need. But that will only make them withdraw all the more. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to a toxic relationship filled with niggling disagreements and hurt.
Unless you take steps to understand and address the underlying issues.
Even the most confident of souls will begin to feel anxious if their current partner suddenly appears to lose interest or to find them less attractive. After all, it’s hard not to take it personally when there are only two of you in the relationship. But it’s worth exploring some of the reasons you might be responding in the way you are.
If you’ve experienced a traumatic event in a previous relationship, it may be that this has impacted your attachment style. We all have a particular attachment style, which may change or shift over time. A secure attachment style is most common in healthy relationships. If you’re securely attached you’re less likely to suffer with anxiety and you’ll feel well connected to your partner. However, any kind of infidelity or dishonesty that has happened in the past can result in an insecure attachment or even a traumatic stress reaction. And trust issues or jealousy in relationships can be pretty tough to overcome.
But what about if there really is an underlying issue with your partner? There could be a psychological or even physical reason that they’re not keen to have sex. Many people find it incredibly difficult to talk to their partner about sex. So your partner’s withdrawal could be a warning sign of a problem rather than any reflection on you.
As sex therapists, we often find ourselves saying (or writing) the words, ‘don’t worry, this is completely normal’. Because, where possible, we like to reassure people that their feelings around sex and relationships are not something to be alarmed about. Relationship insecurities, however, are not normal. They are common, yes, but they are not normal. And you should not try to simply bury them or put up with them. Chronic insecurity can lead to very real mental health issues if you don’t do something to make things better.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can try.
Firstly, don’t expect your partner’s insecurity (or yours for that matter) to suddenly disappear just because you’ve recognised the feelings and given them a name. Yes, this is the first step, but it may take time and patience to work through. That’s why it’s important to start slowly, to not try to run before you can walk. Dip your toe in, test the waters and begin to develop a basic sense of security. One that can act as a foundation on which to build. Look for the opportunity to express your own vulnerability and monitor your partner’s reaction. If their response is supportive, positive and accepting, take it as a good sign. And take it a bit further. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Open the lines of communication with your partner. If you’re noticing an issue, it’s likely they are too. But whether they feel comfortable talking about it is another matter. Try to approach the conversation calmly and with empathy, keeping the intense emotions in check. Don’t express anger or blame but explain to your partner that you’re feeling insecure and need their help to resolve that. Discuss some things that might help you feel more secure, but remember these need to be things that feel doable for your partner, too.
Sometimes, simply getting everything out in the open and overcoming any communication issues around the subject can make things feel a little better immediately.
If your partner is struggling with the idea of intimacy or even intercourse and seems unwilling to discuss it, you may feel frustrated and upset. Try not to lash out, you’ll only make things worse. Instead, try to approach the situation with empathy. Be present, show interest and perhaps come up with some creative and spontaneous ways to prove you care.
This might feel difficult if you’re struggling with trust issues or feel resentment towards your partner, but often it takes one of you to make the first move and break the cycle of negative emotions. And unless you have strong evidence to suspect anything is actually going on, try to eliminate episodes of jealousy because they’re likely to be a recipe for disaster.
If there is a chance your partner’s lack of desire is due to a medical or psychological reason, this is something that is worth exploring.
If they experience pain during sex, consider speaking to a healthcare professional. There are many potential causes, but the good news is there is usually something you can do to help make things more comfortable again.
If there is no pain, but lack of libido seems to be an issue, consider whether FSIAD (Female Sexual Interest / Arousal Disorder) might be a contributor. FSIAD may be diagnosed when a woman experiences little or no interest in sex. They may get little pleasure from the act of sex and potentially reduced sensation in the genital area, all of which leads to reduced desire and arousal. In fact, many women with FSIAD report thinking about sex very little at all.
FSIAD can be caused by mental health issues, stress or any number of physiological problems. But with a bit of support it’s usually possible to identify and treat the underlying cause.
If you’re keen to work on restoring the intimacy in your relationship, sex therapy could be really helpful. Alongside a relationship expert you’ll be able to explore your thoughts and feelings around sex as well as establish what a healthy and happy relationship could look like for both of you.
If face-to-face therapy feels like a step too far, or you are looking for more affordable therapy options, try the Blueheart app. We’ve taken a science-backed therapy technique, sensate focus, aimed at reducing anxiety around sex, and we’ve created an app that can be tailored to your needs. Working at your own pace, you’ll be able to take it back to basics and learn the art of sexual mindfulness and the beauty, pleasure and simplicity of touch.
Blueheart could be the perfect thing to focus on together, to break the negative cycle of insecurity, rebuild that deep connection and show each other how much you care. After just two weeks, 70% our app users report feeling more physically connected.
Now, doesn’t that sound good?