Dealing with insecurities
I have been dating my girlfriend for 9 months now, and we seem to fight a lot about stupid things because we are both really insecure. Recently it has gotten better and better and we fight less, but I have begun to question whether I'm too insecure to be in a relationship. Every time she goes out at night to party I always worry and think she is going to cheat on me, or do something that will really hurt me. Even when she goes to a party with just girls, my mind always comes up with crazy ideas that I stupidly believe. They're just stuck in my head and I can't escape them. This really seems to drag me down, making me tired, upset, hurt etc. Lately I've been questioning if it's really worth going through all of that. I mean, I want to be with her and I love her more than anything and she has changed me as a person, but it's just really hard for me to worry 24/7.
Am I too insecure to be in a relationship?
Everyone is in some ways insecure. Life has no guarantees. Love is scary; we can so easily be hurt and rejected. You are young and have, as you said, worked on your relationship with your girlfriend and have changed as a person. Now perhaps is the time to take one more step, to continue to work on yourself rather than let fear dominate your decisions.
You write that you fear you are too insecure to be in a relationship - but what is insecurity? What does it really mean? It is only a word, after all. First, look at the opposite. What does it mean to feel secure? One usually thinks of secure as being safe, able to rely and trust oneself and/or someone else. Think about times when you feel secure. Are you secure at work (knowing you will not be fired, that you can do your job)? Insecurity could be described as the fear of losing something we feel we need for our survival. We feel that we are in danger and do not have confidence in our ability to cope with that danger. So insecurity is kind of a combination of fear and sense of powerlessness. How does this all apply to you?
First step is to look at the sense of danger you feel when you say you are insecure (in contrast to say, being insecure about money, you fear losing your girlfriend). You are fearful of what, exactly? The danger can be in the present or future. And how does this danger affect you? You think will not be loved? And lastly, how do you defend yourself when you feel you are in danger? Is worrying your defense?
I always tell clients that symptoms (such as worrying all the time) mean something. It is an attempt to accomplish something, to protect oneself, and may have been efficient in childhood - but is no longer constructive. It is important to not judge but understand, and try and see what the symptom (example worrying, jealousy) means. What is its aim? Worrying can be a way to cope with danger. Parents do it all the time but it is limited and they usually have control over the situation. They worry, think of ways to handle the problems, implement them and then relax (e.g., they move their belongings around to make the house baby-proof.) How much control do you feel you have in life? Look back to your childhood and see how you dealt with problems and how much control you had (e.g. did your parents listen to you?). As you can see, worrying about your girlfriend is not simply insecurity but can mean many things. Working on empowerment can help with your insecurity.
Again, to the sense of danger, what do you fear most? Try to use your imagination and write down the worst thing that can happen. Do you fear losing your girlfriend? Never being loved? Did you feel loved as a child? For a child, not being loved is difficult to handle, as they are dependent. But grown-ups can survive and learn how to love themselves.
At this stage, you may need to work on your self-esteem. There are many self-help books on the subject that offer good workbooks. Believe in yourself, that you have the right to be loved, and that you are able to defend yourself.
This question was answered by Rivkah Horowitz M.S.W. She is a Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Ottawa, Canada. She uses a combination of Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and relaxation techniques in her therapeutic approach. Issues that are dealt with vary from emotional problems stemming from childhood traumas to crises stemming from recent events (e.g. divorce). Telephone and face-to-face counseling are provided.For more information visit: http://www.caringtelecounseling.com/