When you enter a relationship with someone who has been hurt in past relationships, that can bring difficulties. Being hurt in the past can cause a lot of insecurities that are then brought into the new relationship. An insecure partner may be shut down, more cautious, or more sensitive. You may struggle to know how to help and communicate with them. Here are some tips that can help you navigate your relationship when that is the case.
HOW TO NAVIGATE A RELATIONSHIP WITH AN INSECURE PARTNER
- Be supportive. Let them know that you are there for them. Allow them space to talk about their past relationship(s) and the insecurities that they may have created now. It can be tempting to just say “move on from the past,” and “I am not your ex.” However, that can be very invalidating and lead to them to want to shut down. It is important to be patient and allow them room to express these things.
- Express your feelings to them. At the same time, it is important that you don’t support them at the risk of your own needs. Make sure to communicate your feelings, needs, and insecurities with them. That can be difficult out of fear of tapping into their insecurities and causing conflict. However, it is important that you make sure to push through that and express your feelings. See below for the communication script.
- Compliment them. An insecure partner can have a powerful ear of being hurt. They may have a lot of worries in the relationship as a result of these insecurities. Therefore, it is important that you make sure to give positive reinforcement. Let them know what you like about them and the positive things your feel about the relationship. Unfortunately, positives can often go unsaid; don’t let that be the case for you.
- Ask them what they need. At the end of the day there is no one set thing every insecure partner needs. Every person is different and no-one is a mind reader. Let your partner know you understand they have been hurt and that you are there for them. Then ask what they need from your rather than assuming or being lost.
HOW TO COMMUNICATE MORE EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR PARTNER:
- Describe the facts of the situation from an objective viewpoint. Describe the facts without your perspective and feelings, that part comes later. Example: You said you would be home for dinner by 7 but then did not come home until midnight.
- Express what YOU feel. Now you add your feelings and how the situation and actions of the other person impacted you. Use I statements so that it does not seem as if you are attacking the other person. “I want or don’t want” vs. “you should or shouldn’t.” Stick to your feelings rather than judging the other person. “I feel hurt,” vs. “you are a bad boyfriend.” Example: When you come home much later than you said, I feel hurt and disrespected.
- Assert what outcome you would like, whether it’s an apology, a specific action, or a change. Example: I would appreciate it if, in the future, you will call me to let me know that you will be late.
- Negotiate and be willing to compromise. Think back on your needs and priorities and let go of smaller things for the sake of the ultimate goal. Offer other solutions. For example, if your request is for the person to call you when they are going to be late, they might say something like “I am busy working and don’t have time to call you.” In that case, you may suggest “how about you send me a text instead?” If the other person is not agreeing to any of the options, turn the tables, ask them what they think a good middle ground would be.
Relationships are about give and take. It is important to make sure your needs are being met while also being considerate of your partner’s needs. This is especially important when you are dealing with your partner’s insecurities. Finding a way to be supportive without compromising your needs is key. It’s not your job to fix things or help your partner get past their insecurities. You just need to be supportive and understanding. Effective communication will help balance that with your own needs.