4 Tiny Ways Insecure People Drive Partners Away

Stop dwelling in the past and worrying about the future.

Woman hugging partner, looking insecure in their relationship Toni Frost | Unsplash, Julia Pomodoro | Canva 

As a psychologist, I’ve heard my fair share of stories from people who want to stop feeling insecure in a relationship. Unfortunately, many people get discouraged about ever getting over their relationship insecurities because it’s starting to become a pattern. So they assume it must be some core part of their personality that’s causing the trouble. But here’s the thing: Feeling insecure is about your habits, not your personality.


RELATED: 20 Ways To Stop Being So Insecure In Your Relationship

Here are 4 tiny ways insecure people drive partners away:

1. They worry too much about the future of the relationship

In my experience, the single biggest and most common reason for feeling insecure in a relationship is this: You’ll never be truly present if you’re always worrying about the future. No relationship can thrive and grow if both people aren’t genuinely present and attentive to how the relationship is going in the moment. The trouble is it’s really hard to be genuinely present and available for what’s going on in the moment if your mind habitually is lost in worries about the future.


For example: Let’s say you need to have a tough conversation with your partner about taking the next step in your relationship. But as soon as you start thinking about that conversation, you get lost in worries about what might happen if the relationship doesn’t improve. As a result, you get hit with tons of anxiety and stress, which leads to one of two outcomes, neither of which is good for your confidence in the relationship.

  1. You avoid that important conversation altogether because it causes you so much anxiety and stress.
  2. You have the conversation, but you’re so anxious during the conversation (because of your worry habit) that it’s hard to be present and focused and say what you need to say (much less listen attentively to what they’re saying).

If you want to stop feeling insecure in a relationship, you need to get a handle on your habit of worry.

RELATED: 13 Ways To Stop Overthinking Your Relationship, According To Experts

2. They dwell on past relationship mistakes

Dwelling on the past is just the flip side of worrying about the future. When you waste your mental energy dwelling on past mistakes and failures, you have that much less to invest in the present.




And if you are chronically not investing quality time and attention to your relationship in the present, why wouldn’t you start to feel insecure? I mean, relationship insecurities aren’t always irrational. For many people, feeling insecure in a relationship is a perfectly valid message from your brain that you’re not cultivating the relationship well — in this case because you’re stuck in the past.

Also, keep in mind that while the past is often a predictor of the present, that’s far from a guarantee. Just because you made some big mistake in a previous relationship doesn’t mean you’re doomed to repeat it in your current relationship.

That said, keep this in mind: Dwelling on past relationship mistakes can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you spend all your time and energy ruminating on past relationship mistakes, that’s all time and energy not going toward investing in your present relationship. And if you don’t invest enough into the present relationship, it could end up failing.


It’s important to reflect on past relationship mistakes and learn from them. But don’t confuse that with unhelpful dwelling on them. The first will improve your relationship and your confidence in it; the second will leave you feeling insecure and your relationship less strong.

3. They don't practice self-compassion

As a therapist, I often heard a lot of very sad stories…

  • Stories of terrible abuse or trauma
  • Stories about giving up on dreams and aspirations
  • Stories about terrifying panic attacks or bouts of depression

But you know what was worse, even, than hearing those stories themselves: Hearing people criticize and judge themselves for struggling. And this is true of feeling insecure in a relationship as much as anything.

For example:

  • You feel anxious that your girlfriend isn’t as “into” the relationship as you are. But then you spend hours per day criticizing yourself for feeling anxious about the relationship and being “too neurotic.” Now you feel ashamed on top of anxious and insecure.
  • Or maybe you feel sad and regretful because of some mistakes you made early in the relationship and you worry that your partner might not ever truly forgive you and be able to move on. That’s hard, for sure. But on top of that sadness, regret, and fear, you’ve developed the habit of judging yourself as being “too emotional” and spinning stories in your mind about how no one would want to be with someone who’s “emotionally high maintenance.” Now you’re feeling bad about feeling bad, which — as I’m sure I don’t need to explain — leads to a whole other level of feeling bad and insecure.

The point is simply this: Feeling bad is hard enough without feeling bad about feeling bad. When you get into the habit of being self-critical and judgmental of yourself for how you feel, you cause yourself to feel bad about feeling bad, which is a key factor that causes and maintains feelings of insecurity and low self-confidence.

To counteract this habit, work on building a habit of self-compassion. Self-compassion just means being kind and understanding with yourself when you’re struggling rather than being harsh and judgmental. And luckily, it’s probably a skill you already have… In my experience, most people who struggle with self-compassion are perfectly good at being compassionate toward others… friends, family, coworkers, etc. The trick is to just apply the same standard of compassion to yourself as you do to other people.

I guarantee you that you are not going to be criticized for feeling more secure in your relationship. But you just might compassion yourself into it.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Practice Self-Compassion That Will Help You Start Treating Yourself The Way You Deserve


4. They ask for reassurance too often.

It’s perfectly natural to want to feel reassured when you’re feeling anxious or insecure in your relationship:

  • You’re worried about whether your partner still finds you attractive, so you constantly ask them for feedback on everything from the way you do your hair to the color of your shoes. When they reply that you look nice, you feel relieved (for now…)
  • You feel anxious about your sexual performance, so you compulsively pepper your spouse with questions about “how it went,” which — obviously — kinda kills the mood afterward. But it makes you feel reassured (for now…)
  • You’re nervous that you’re not smart enough or interesting enough for your partner, so you routinely bring up thoughts that they’ve told you they do find you interesting. And each time they say it’s not an issue, you feel a little better (for now…)

As my not-so-subtle “for now…s” suggest, even though reassurance-seeking makes you feel better in the moment, whether it’s a good long-term strategy in the long-term is more questionable. Reassurance-seeking is very definitely unhelpful in the long run. Here’s why: Feeling insecure and then asking for reassurance is a vicious cycle that leads to more insecurity on your part and more resentment on your partner.

The problem with reassurance-seeking is that you’re training yourself to depend on your partner to feel good. And by extension, it absolutely killsyour ability to feel good and get on with things on your own.


In other words, each time you ask for reassurance, it’s a vote of no confidence in yourself.

And your brain is paying attention. So while it might briefly make you feel relieved, you’re going to feel even more anxious the next time that fear shows up, which is going to make you even more likely to ask for reassurance. See where this is going? Yeah, a major lack of confidence in yourself and your ability to manage your fears and insecurities. But it’s not just your own confidence that’s suffering when you habitually ask for reassurance.

Whether they admit it or not, chronic reassurance-seeking leads to resentment in your partner. Which makes total sense because you are using them. And no one likes to feel used.


Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s bad to ask your partner what they think about things. Or disclose to them that you’re feeling anxious or afraid about some aspect of your relationship. The problem is when this reassurance-seeking becomes chronic and habitual, even compulsive and addictive.

Ultimately, your fears and insecurities are your responsibility. And while there’s nothing wrong with asking your partner for help, relying on them to be your emotional support person isn’t good for either of you in the long run.

If you want to stop feeling insecure in a relationship, remember these 4 things:

  1. Stop worrying about the future of the relationship
  2. Don’t dwell on past relationship mistakes
  3. Practices self-compassion
  4. Stop asking for reassurance

RELATED: The One Specific Question You Should Never Ever (Seriously, Never) Ask Your Partner


Nick Wignall is a psychologist and founder of The Friendly Mind. He loves to write and teach about emotional health and well-being in a way that's clear and helpful.