Regardless of how “perfect” someone may seem, we all have things about ourselves that we would change if given the chance. For the vast majority of people, having a few insecurities are a totally normal part of everyday life. For some people, however, dealing with very deep-seated insecurities can feel like a non-stop struggle. Being in healthy relationships with insecure people can be very difficult. Few things are sadder than loving someone who doesn’t love themselves, mostly because they simply can’t appreciate all of the truly amazing qualities that made you fall in love with them in the first place.
Fortunately, if you’re dating someone who isn’t so comfortable in their own skin, it doesn’t mean things are destined to fall apart. It may just mean that it will be up to both of you to ensure that each of you are getting what you need without draining the other.
If you’re not sure if the person you’re dating has deep-seated insecurities or is just working through a rough patch, dating coach Erika Ettin recommends being a bit more observant. “In any relationship, there should be a give and take. If you notice that your new partner is depending on you for his or her happiness, because it’s not present without someone, then this is something to note,” says Ettin.
Despite how great it can feel to be worshipped, if your partner seems way too clingy or falls into frequent low points if you’re not able to be around 24/7, then you shouldn’t let it slide. Although it’s not your job to counsel them like a professional, it helps to provide a safe space for them to open up – while not letting their instability affect your self-image.
1. Be Supportive
According to intimacy and sexuality coach Irene Fehr, those struggling with self-esteem are more often than not struggling with the fear of being rejected or judged, and this fear may lead them to hide their true needs, desires, and fears. It’s definitely expected that if you’re are dating someone who is working through these issues, it’s important to be supportive, even if they try to push you away.
2. Notice Their Patterns
Fehr also notes that it’s important to remain aware of how they behave. It’s not uncommon for people with low self-esteem to end up manipulating certain situations to avoid confronting their issues.
On one end of the spectrum, they might avoid showing themselves vulnerable by ignoring issues, saying they’re OK when they’re not, not asking for what they really want, avoiding conversations, and people pleasing while stuffing down their own desires and needs.
On the other end of the spectrum, [they] might manipulate the situation to avoid opportunities where [their insecurities] might be exposed, creating unnecessary drama to deflect attention away from themselves or forcing situations. They may come across as very needy, precisely because their basic human needs of feeling safe are not being met.
Although this type manipulation may not be done maliciously, it may become a running theme in the relationship, ultimately putting an unnecessary strain on the both of you.
3. Don’t Let Their Issues Become Your Issues
Ettin notes that the biggest risk of dating someone who is extremely insecure is that they will start making it your job to keep their self-esteem up. This can become a huge problem and, ultimately, a source of tension. Having to be someone’s non-stop cheerleader can not only be exhausting, but it can impact your ability to be your best self — which is unhealthy.
It’s important to realize that your partner’s insecurity has nothing to do with you, despite the fact that they may lash out at you in arguments and imply that are the problem, says Fehr.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
To avoid hitting major roadblocks in your relationship, there are several things you can do to help your partner improve. Both Ettin and Fehr believe it’s important to initiate judgment-free, vulnerable conversations by asking open-ended questions. This will hopefully encourage your partner to open up about their fears by communicating that you are someone who they can trust and be their honest self around.
“One of the most comforting things someone who struggles with self-esteem needs to hear is, ‘I get this topic affects/bothers you. I get this is hard for you. I am here to listen. I am not going to judge. I want to hear what’s going on for you,’” says Fehr.
It’s worth saying again that it’s super important that you don’t let your partner’s insecurities undermine your own needs and happiness. Even if they are insecure, the relationship should still feel like it’s feeding both of you. Fehr recommends taking some time to reconnect with your own desires, values, and most importantly, boundaries.
If things do not improve, Ettin suggests recommending your partner see a therapist. Despite the stigma many people still have toward therapy, it never hurts to have someone to unload on with the clarity of being outside the situation. But never feel like you have to stay in a relationship with someone who isn’t equipped to contribute to a loving, mutually enriching environment.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.