What Are Relationships with Emotionally Insecure People Like?

Borges said that the worst sin isn't being happy. That's why we must understand what emotional relationships with insecure people are like. Relationships with people whose low self-esteem creates obsessive jealousy, which makes us captive to their fears and obsessive distrust.
What Are Relationships with Emotionally Insecure People Like?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Relationships with emotionally insecure people can be bitter, or even painful, experiences. These are people who live with constant self-doubt and a low self-esteem that eats away at them. They don’t believe the words “I love you“. Words aren’t enough, because what they prefer and need are some sort of proof of love and, above all, sacrifices.

When fear rules over our entire personal universe, everything goes adrift. We may not notice it today, we may not perceive it tomorrow, but insecurity gradually shapes great emotional internal snipers.

It defines people who are entrenched behind their shadows, their doubts, and their mistrust and look at the world from the sidelines. They don’t come out of the shadows, they don’t take risks, but they somehow expect others to adjust to their perspectives and needs.

That being said, we know that each one of us exhibits certain insecurities. This is quite normal. We all have rough edges to smooth, loose ends to adjust, and pieces to fit together, in order to become a little more solvent in our day to day lives. However, in matters of affection, insecurity can be tremendously dangerous.

Feeling, thinking, and acting through fear, lack of certainty, and low self-esteem can lead us to create really harmful bonds. It can also make us experience certain psychological disorders depending on our own personal characteristics.

A sad woman.

Relationships with emotionally insecure people: origin and characteristics

Israeli writer Jonathan Safran Foer said in his novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseI’m so afraid of losing what I love that I refuse to love anything”.

At first sight, this statement seems to be quite valid. It’ll always be better not to love than to subject the other person to the constant rule of fear and the fear of loss. However, the ideal thing is not to veto our feelings, not to deny our love and to work that broken fabric frayed by fears.

Thus, what are relationships with insecure people like? It’s true that there are always individual differences. However, if we leave them to one side, and accept the inaccuracies of generalizing, then we can say that the following characteristics are often present.

Think of me better than I think of myself

An insecure person isn’t looking for their partner to be their mirror. They need something else, something more Machiavellian, complex, and exhausting. The loved one has the obligation to be that focal point that enlarges and strengthens the virtues of the insecure person.

They depend on the other person to be their emotional support and they must nourish it daily with positive reinforcements and with images, words, and gestures that can fulfill the other person’s needs.

This routine can be followed for a few months, maybe even for a few years. However, such a task eventually becomes exhausting. Above all, because the person who strives to light up the other person’s life and enlarge their horizons in the end becomes emotionally exhausted and indifferent.

In emotional relationships with insecure people, two factors can emerge. The insecure person usually uses two tactics to control their partner.

  • The first is to victimize themselves. This gives the other person the impression that they aren’t doing enough, and that they’re failing. They’ll make them believe that they’re being selfish. They’ll twist any fact, word, or gesture to blame them for their unhappiness and discomfort.
  • The second tactic that those who suffer from a clear feeling of inferiority can make use of is to strive for superiority. This phenomenon was studied in his day by Alfred Adler. As this well-known social psychologist explained to us, the person suffers a clear division between their real (weak) self and their ideal (superior) self.
  • For this reason, they won’t hesitate to consider themselves as superior and “dwarf” their partner. By subduing, undervaluing, or despising their partner’s achievements and virtues, the insecure person acquires power and strength.
A sad man.

The origin of emotional insecurity

Studies such as the one conducted by Jeffry A. Simpson, from the University of Minnesota indicate that we can find the origin of emotional insecurity in poor childhood attachments.

This is undoubtedly a very recurrent theory that shows us the consequences an unhappy childhood can have on our personality. This can occur when our upbringing is based on rejection, neglect, and on our basic and emotional needs not being attended to.

This type of negative attachment ends up being sullied by fear, which is why this insecurity appears in adulthood – this constant need to feel the affirmation that one lacked during childhood.

What can you do when there’s insecurity in your relationship?

Relationships with emotionally insecure people aren’t easy. You may be in one right now. And you may even be the insecure person, afflicted by fears, with constant doubts, and the permanent sensation that you’re going to be abandoned.

Daniel J. Siegel, Ph.D. from Harvard University points out that a relationship is about making a fruit salad, but never a smoothie. What he’s saying here is that we should never give up our essential qualities to completely “dissolve” into the other person. We shouldn’t do it, and we shouldn’t ask our loved one to do it either.

Low self-esteem and insecurity must be addressed. You simply must address all those irrational ideas, distrust, and everything else that prevents your growth, psychological strength, and emotional solvency. But how? Well, you can achieve this through psychological therapy.

In love, one shouldn’t demand sacrifices; one should work on commitment. And to do so, you must be brave, mature, and determined. Think about it: love is always worthwhile. And, as Borges said, the worst sin of all is to leave this world without truly having been happy at some point.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.