According to a new Canadian study published in Health Psychology, people who feel insecure in their relationships may be at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and other health problems. In fact, according to the United States National Co-Morbidity Survey of Replication, those who feel insecure in relationships or avoid getting close to others appear to have an increased risk of developing several chronic illnesses.
Research was done on 5,646 adults between the ages of 18 and 60 years. They found an association between “avoidant attachments” and chronic pain, such as severe headaches. If you feel unable to get close to people or have people depend on you, then you may become stressed because you do not share problems or feelings that you may have. Carrying this burden alone not only stresses people psychologically, but also physically. People who felt insecure about their current relationships were further stressed with “anxious attachment.” These people reported feeling overly needy and found that others were reluctant to get close to them. These feelings were associated with several health problems, including heart-related problems, hypertension, strokes, ulcers and chronic pain.
Most of us have experienced the upset stomach and headaches that go along with being in an insecure relationship. You may have an insecure relationship if you cannot count on the person, if you feel they are lying to you, or if you feel “clingy.” If you feel this way and you have children, many times they will experience headaches and tummy aches or complain they are not feeling well. Your insecurity is transferred to them, and they become insecure about you and their other parent. With a divorce rate above fifty percent, we see stress not only among spouses, but also among children, who are experiencing stress-related illnesses.
If you are feeling insecure in your relationship, here are a few suggestions that may make you feel stronger:
1. Being clingy is never attractive. It feels terrible to the person experiencing it, and the spouse who has to deal with it may move further away. A better tactic is to create boundaries for you. Instead of calling your spouse ten times a day, have a set time and ask them to call you. Explain to them that you are working on becoming less dependent.
2. Stop comparing your spouse to past relationships that did not work out. Instead, focus on allowing your partner to be free to prove themselves to you.
3. Make dates with your friends or go out with your family instead of demanding all of your partner’s time. Friends are important to all of us. If your spouse wants you to join him or her while they are out with their friends, they will ask you. If you begin inviting yourself to your spouse’s outings, you will become a nuisance. Couples need friends they share, and they also need friends that are exclusive to them.
4. If your partner has children from another marriage, don’t insist that you go out with them every time they are together. They were a family before you came along. They will love you more if you understand and encourage their time together.
5. When your partner has hurt you, talk about it. Tell them while you were hurt. When hurt feelings are ignored, they usually remain in our heads as tapes. When we are feeling insecure, they play very loud. The replaying of old tapes makes us cling more.
6. Make your relationship one of transparency. Many couples get jealous and insecure when things are left open with ambiguity. When you are asked a question, don’t skirt around the issue. Be direct and say it like it is.
7. Listen to your partner, and try to see things from their point of view. It doesn’t have to be your way and needing it to be so makes people move further from you rather than closer.
8. Make a rule not to communicate with old lovers from the past. Women and men have a vivid imagination, and when they feel threatened from your past, they become more dependent and controlling.
9. Don’t cheat. The most insecure relationships I see are the ones where two cheaters married each other. If you know your partner cheated in the past, it is difficult to believe they won’t cheat on you. If you cheated in the past, you know lies can disguise the truth all too well.
10. Work on yourself. Usually, when we feel insecure in a relationship, it is because we doubt our own assets. Explore and be curious about yourself. Get to know all the wonderful things about you.
We all know the importance of being healthy. We try to eat right, exercise, and live a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes we forget the health of our relationships. Working on your relationships not only improves your marriage and family; it could save your life.
–Mary Jo Rapini
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