Introducing our series in partnership with therapy platform Alma. With their network of licensed professionals, we navigate sex and intimacy as it involves mental health and communication.
Your attachment style can have a big impact on the way you emotionally process and behave in your relationship. But they’re not quite as straightforward as you may have been led to believe, psychologist Lyndsey Masters says.
“Attachment styles in relationships highlight to us patterns of our self-esteem and how different dynamics impact our wellbeing,” she says—but attachment styles can shift between relationships. With one partner, you may feel more anxious than another—and that may mean that the relationship is bringing up certain insecurities about your self-worth. Recognizing these kinds of emotions is important, Masters says because it can help you to work towards maintaining healthy relationships. Here are a few steps that can help.
How to feel more secure in relationships
“Confront the insecurities with honesty and self-reflection. Name the insecurities and the critic, get to the root, and use a reality lense,” Masters says. Consider if something may be wrong, or if your insecurity may be stemming elsewhere. When you have these feelings don’t be afraid to share your emotional discoveries with your partner.
A good deal of introspection can help. Try to trace insecurities back to a specific root, and take plenty of time to recognize your strengths to improve your confidence. Fighting against negative self-talk can help, too. “Rewrite the narrative,” Masters says. “Turn ‘I’m so stupid,’ into ‘I did a silly thing, but I can come back from it.’” Don’t be afraid to ask for help, either. Ultimately, feelings of insecurity are very human moments.
How to support a partner who feels insecure in the relationship
If you want to be supportive, ask them how to do so—what makes them feel loved and cared for? That might mean getting better at recognizing the gestures that are most meaningful to them: “If a partner shares they feel cared for when you're present during meal times, make it a point to put the phone down, sit at the table without other distractions, and share about your day together. If they say gifts make them feel cared for, they're communicating that they like knowing you think about them when they're not with you, send them texts or photos throughout your day reminding them that you were reminded of them by something.”
Most of all, be sure not to invalidate any feelings of insecurity that your partner might be feeling. Instead, work together as a team to mutually strengthen your relationship.
How to feel secure in an old versus a new relationship
Insecurities can arise in long-term relationships just as they can in new relationships. Consistent communication in both scenarios can help. Talk about “the things that make you feel loved and cared for, and what things make you feel good, emotionally, physically, sexually,” Masters says. “We want to feel that our partners are connecting with us in meaningful and authentic ways, hearing us, and sharing with us their own vulnerabilities and desires.”