If you ever find yourself fixating on the little things your partner does (or doesn't do), and it feels like you can't stop worrying, it could be a sign your relationship lacks security. You might bite your nails when they don't text back, or wonder what it means if you don't see each other for a few days. And while it may seem like you're making a big deal out of nothing, small worries like these can actually stem from a larger issue.
"A person fixates or feels insecure because their intuition is telling them that something doesn't feel right," Jennifer L. McBride McNamara, MA, LAMFT, a licensed associate marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "The fixation becomes the guidepost for where the relationship lacks security." For example, if you're hung up on their texting habits, it may mean you don't trust your partner, or that you need to communicate more.
By recognizing these worries, and talking about them with your partner, you can start to create a greater sense of security within your relationship, McNamara says. It's best to be honest, validate each other's feelings, and keep a conversation going in order to establish trust.
From there, it'll be easier to feel secure, no matter what happens. "Trust takes time and it takes the accumulation of lots of little not-broken trusts," McNamara says. "It requires consistently doing what you say you're going to do, being where you say you're going to be, talking about subjects that need to be addressed, and being vulnerable with feelings." Here are a few things you might fixate on, if security is an issue in your relationship.
Who Does The Chores
"Many people who are insecure in a relationship will 'keep score' on issues like money and chores, getting resentful if there isn’t total equality," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. And while this can occur in any relationship, it's way more likely to happen if you feel like partner doesn't appreciate you, or as if they aren't fully committed.
It may help to keep in mind that, "while each partner needs to be fully invested in the relationship and contribute, there are times where one partner might pick up more of the slack in certain circumstances," Bennett says. And try to let it go.
But if this has become an ongoing concern, think about why you keep score, and why you get upset over chores or money. There may be a lack of security in your relationship, that's been lurking beneath the surface.
What Your Partner Is Doing On Social Media
If you ever find yourself worrying about what your partner is posting online, or who they are interacting with, take note. "Constantly checking up on your partner’s social media can be a sign of insecurity, especially if you’re always looking for signs that your partner is acting inappropriately," Bennett says.
If you've had breaches of trust in the past, you might be on the lookout for signs your partner is doing it again, and crossing boundaries within your relationship. And if your connection could still use a little work, this type of vigilance may feel all the more necessary.
That said, if you create a relationship that's secure, you won't feel the need to monitor each other's lives, Bennett says. So work on ways to build trust, possibly by talking about boundaries again, and always making each other a priority.
What They Do When They're Away
"It’s normal to spend time apart in a relationship," Bennett says, as you'll want to see friends, go away on a vacation with family, have a few solo hobbies, and come back to tell the tale.
And yet, if the relationship lacks security, these everyday things can start to feel really intimidating. "This can stem from a fear in the insecure partner that time spent apart could lead to eventual abandonment," Bennett says.
By assessing the health of relationship, as well as what happened in the past, you may be able to pinpoint where this insecurity came from. If your partner doesn't prioritize your relationship, for example, it might be worth it to bring that to their attention, so they can make a few changes.
Your Partner's Friends
It's not uncommon that, with a lack of security in a relationship, your partner's friends may begin to feel like a threat. And while we often write this type of behavior off as 'jealous' or 'controlling,' "the inherent issue here is really an insecurity towards [your partner] leaving and the relationship ending prematurely," Chantalle Sawision, BA, JD, a family lawyer and relationship expert, tells Bustle.
If you've been through issues in the past, like infidelity, that's completely understandable. But for the sake of the relationship, it'll be important to move past these insecurities as a couple, and possibly even call in reinforcements. While it'll take commitment on both sides, it never hurts to chat with a therapist about these types of concerns, and figure out how to overcome them.
What They Do On Their Phone
"Focusing on what your partner is doing on the phone constantly is a sign of insecurities," Bennett says, especially if you're trying to catch them in something or demanding to see their texts.
The thing is, some concerns may be warranted, while others will be blown out of proportion, or based in old insecurities. "Like with social media, a secure relationship requires a relatively hands off approach to the phone," Bennett says.
So if you find yourself worrying, you'll want to get to the bottom of the issue ASAP. This is way better than wondering, or worrying for no reason. And can be a step in the right direction towards establishing more trust.
Your Partner's Needs
If you aren't 100% sure your relationship is stable and secure, you might begin to focus on creating happiness for your partner, McNamara says, instead of speaking up and saying what you need.
"This is a sign of insecurity because one person is afraid that the other will get angry or leave if they don't get their way," she says. "It tells me that the person accommodating the other partner's wishes doesn't feel like they can have a say."
Of course, it's always OK to do nice things and make each other a priority, but it shouldn't be at the expense of your own happiness. So if you always come second, consider how a lack of security might be playing a role, and what you and your partner can do to create more of it — and work on building a stable, fair, and strong relationship.