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‘I’m not good enough’: how to help an insecure partner and keep jealousy and doubt out of your relationship

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 3 days ago Luisa Tam luisa.tam@scmp.com
a person sitting at a table using a laptop computer: Dealing with an insecure partner can be tough. It’s important to find out what’s putting them in such a state in the first place. Photo: Shutterstock Dealing with an insecure partner can be tough. It’s important to find out what’s putting them in such a state in the first place. Photo: Shutterstock

Dealing with an insecure partner can be very emotionally draining. If it's not dealt with properly and allowed to spiral out of control, this kind of negativity could ultimately ruin a relationship.

When you are in a healthy relationship, everything comes together naturally and both of you seem to match seamlessly. You feel safe physically and emotionally together and there is no problem with trust, because you act as a team and are supportive of each other.

But if there is insecurity in a relationship, negative emotions like jealousy or paranoia could run rampant and threaten to destroy your partnership.

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If your partner is feeling insecure, you need to find out what's putting them in such a state. It could be something they experienced in the past; maybe their needs aren't met by your relationship; or it could simply be down to their character (i.e. they lack self-confidence and have a suspicious nature).

calendar: Doubting a partner's feelings and commitment is one of the most common insecurity issues in a relationship. Illustration: Marcelo Duhalde © Provided by South China Morning Post Doubting a partner's feelings and commitment is one of the most common insecurity issues in a relationship. Illustration: Marcelo Duhalde

To deal with an insecure partner effectively, you first need to understand what causes insecurity in a relationship. Christine Deschemin, a certified hypnotherapist and founder of the Hong Kong-based Renewed Edge Hypnotherapy Centre, says insecurity stems from deep-seated negative beliefs about oneself.

"These beliefs are clearly at play when your inner talk includes 'I am not good enough', 'I am worthless', or 'I am unlovable'. In other words, the root of insecurity is fear. The causes almost always predate the relationship and include negative experiences, rejection, social anxiety, and/or a critical parent or partner.

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"An insecure person will base their current fears on past fears that resulted from a previous instance that led to a lack of trust. As a result, this person tends to perceive threats or vulnerabilities in normal situations which most people see as innocuous."

The most common insecurity issues in a relationship often appear in the form of doubting a partner's feelings and commitment and worrying too much about losing the partner. "This person might need constant reassurance. Another issue might be to read too much into the actions and words of a partner," Deschemin says.

She points out some of the effects that insecurity could have on a relationship. "Insecurity can exacerbate the causes of insecurity like a lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence, and anxiety; eventually prolonged anxiety may lead to depression. Another possible consequence of insecurity is eating disorders."

a woman smiling for the camera: Christine Deschemin is a hypnotherapist certified by the US National Guild of Hypnotists, who practises in Hong Kong. Photo: Christine Deschemin © Provided by South China Morning Post Christine Deschemin is a hypnotherapist certified by the US National Guild of Hypnotists, who practises in Hong Kong. Photo: Christine Deschemin

And when a person is insecure and tries to compensate for their insecurity, that might result in bouts of jealousy, increased conflicts, and in some extreme cases bullying, she adds.

"The insecure person might check their partner's electronic devices and social media accounts. The person might even test the relationship and ultimately sabotage it by picking arguments. Or they might even try to change their partner," Deschemin warns.

Pay attention to their body language and behaviour; help them dissociate from these fears and understand where they might have come from
Christine Deschemin, a certified hypnotherapist

Deschemin offers advice to help a partner who is sexually insecure and is currently feeling inadequate in the bedroom.

"First, you cannot fix your partner. It's up to them to work on themselves. You should never take the responsibility of fixing another person. What you can do instead is to ensure that you are doing nothing that exacerbates the issue," she explains.

"You must also create an encouraging environment for your partner. You can highlight facts that change your insecure partner's biased vision of themselves and the world. And you can provide suggestions.

"In the same way that you would want to get honest feedback from the people you trust, you owe it to your partner to be truthful. The art lies in how to share that feedback. Everyone should work on getting better at providing negative feedback because it is a skill needed by everyone," she adds.

With a partner who feels insecure about their appearance, Deschemin explains that many of their fears stem from misconceptions.

"Do your best to understand where the insecurity comes from. Pay attention to their body language and behaviour; help them dissociate from these fears and understand where they might have come from. You can also encourage them to seek professional help."

a person sitting on a bed: Negative emotions like jealousy or paranoia can destroy a relationship. Photo: Shutterstock © Provided by South China Morning Post Negative emotions like jealousy or paranoia can destroy a relationship. Photo: Shutterstock

Most importantly, she says you can help by highlighting what you value most in them to reassure them.

She says hypnotherapy can definitely help because it can be a powerful aid when it comes to reframing beliefs about oneself.

"It's a wonderful therapeutic tool that can help ease conflicts and develop more self-confidence. The insecure person will be able to change the filters through which they see the world so that they can view their relationship in a different light. Then they will be able to trust themselves and in turn, value the independence of the other person," she says.

a person talking on a cell phone: In the end, you cannot fix your partner. It's up to them to work on themselves. Photo: Shutterstock © Provided by South China Morning Post In the end, you cannot fix your partner. It's up to them to work on themselves. Photo: Shutterstock

How to help an insecure partner

Dos:

Review your actions and words: is there anything you did or said that could be construed negatively?

Practise good communication: you can help the person see how their words can be heard as accusations. You need to provide reassurance while staying truthful and maintaining your identity

Highlight what you value in your partner: underline the traits that make them special to you

Help them become independent and to learn to trust themselves

Maintain boundaries (see first point below)

Don'ts:

Do not forget about yourself: Maintain your identity and set boundaries. To make this relationship work, you need to stay healthy and assert your independence by maintaining your circle of friends and hobbies

Do not be the saviour: You cannot make a person change unless they want to. You can offer help by supporting this person in their transformation

Luisa Tam is a correspondent at the Post

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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