We all need a little reassurance sometimes, and there’s usually no one better to provide that reassurance than our partner. But what happens when you need constant reassurance in a relationship or if you don’t feel that you’re getting the reassurance you need?
In this article, we’re going to explore what reassurance looks like in a relationship, why you need it, and healthy ways to ask for the reassurance you need without causing problems in your relationship.
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Reassurance in a relationship is when your partner tells or shows you that they love you and that they want to be with you. They make you feel important, valued, worthwhile, and any number of other positive qualities.
We all have things that will make us feel insecure. That’s totally normal. We have anxieties, worries, and things that just linger in our minds. Sometimes, thoughts about those insecurities can start to intrude on our everyday lives, going over and over in our minds.
I like to call these thoughts “brain weasels.1” It feels like they find their way inside your mind and then run amok in there, causing chaos and diverting attention away from anything you actually want to focus on.
One of the main things that reassurance in a relationship does is calm those intrusive thoughts that come from our personal insecurities.
So, what does effective reassurance in a relationship look like? Here are some of the best ways that your partner can provide reassurance. Don’t forget that these will also be the way you can reassure them as well.
One of the most common ways for someone to provide you with reassurance that you are loved and valued in your relationship is that they show you physical affection. This can be as simple as holding your hand or cuddling up to you on the sofa when you’re watching a movie.
Physical affection, and especially sex, is often one of the big differences between our close friendships and the relationship we share with our partners2. If we’re in a relationship with someone, they’re usually (though not always) the only person we’re sexually intimate with.
If we don’t have that physical intimacy, we can start to feel insecure. We might worry that our partner isn’t interested in us anymore, that they don’t find us attractive, or even that they might be cheating on us. These are good examples of brain weasels.
Physical affection is often the reassurance you need to calm those brain weasels.
We will often also feel reassured when our partner pays attention to us when we’re out in public together. This counteracts some of the anxiety we might have about whether our partner really likes us or not.
When we are in private with our partner, it can be relatively easy to relax in their company. When we’re in public, we might start to worry that they enjoy being around other people more or that they are embarrassed by us.
If they pay attention to us when we’re in a big group, it shows that they’re actively choosing us. It’s not just that we’re there, or that we are the best they can do. They have lots of other people they could be paying attention to and they’re choosing us. That’s what makes it so reassuring.
You’ve probably heard of the 5 love languages, and specifically that words of affirmation are a really common one3. Having our partner tell us that they love us can be important in helping us to really feel loved.
Sometimes, it’s not them saying “I love you” that makes the difference. If they talk to you about your fears and insecurities, the fact that they are putting care and effort into reassuring you can be reassuring in and of itself.
When we have brain weasels, we often know that we’re not being rational. We can feel awkward and embarrassed about our feelings. We don’t feel as though we deserve reassurance, no matter how much we want it.
When our partner talks through our worries and tries to put our minds to rest, it proves to us that they’re not going to reject us because of our fears.
When we feel scared, vulnerable, or unworthy, it can feel as though everything good in our lives is temporary. In terms of our relationships, we worry that our partner isn’t really in for the long haul and that we’ll be left alone again soon.
If your partner talks to you about the future and makes plans with you for all the wonderful things you can do together, it helps you to believe that they really do care and that they do want to stick around long-term.
One of the nice things about this kind of reassurance is that it’s actually quite subtle. It doesn’t feel like they’re trying to offer us reassurance. Instead, it feels like a completely natural part of our relationship.
When someone makes a deliberate effort to be reassuring, our brain weasels can tell us that they’re just being nice. If they spontaneously do something that we find reassuring, we don’t have that concern.
Another thing we might worry about is whether we do enough for our partner, or whether they notice the things that we do for them. If you have low self-esteem, you might feel as though you have to “earn” your partner’s love and affection.
If your partner thanks you for the things you do for them and shows their appreciation, it helps you to feel more secure. You feel reassured that they value your overall contribution to the relationship. This can also help you to feel more equality and balance between you.
Another big insecurity lots of people have comes out when you have an argument or disagreement with your partner. The idea of conflict can be terrifying, especially if you’re not someone who feels comfortable with conflict and arguments.
When you and your partner have a disagreement, or even an argument, and you handle it in a calm, collaborative, loving way, that provides you with reassurance that arguments don’t have to end your relationship.
This kind of reassurance will usually need to be repeated multiple times before you make significant progress at quieting these particular brain weasels. That’s ok and normal.
Another way that your partner can provide you with reassurance is by choosing to spend their free time with you. Again, this helps to fight the brain weasels that tell you that you’re not interesting, important, or worthy.
Again, this isn’t something they deliberately do to try to reassure you. Instead, it’s a feature of your relationship that just happens to be deeply reassuring. In fact, if you have to ask them to do it for you, it can make it less reassuring than it would have been otherwise.
Although it’s totally normal to need reassurance in your relationship from time to time, if you need constant reassurance that can be a problem. It’s uncomfortable for you because you’re constantly feeling insecure and anxious but it’s also uncomfortable for your partner. So, what’s going on?
Wanting reassurance is part of your natural need for security and safety. It’s a completely natural urge and we will all seek it in our own way.
When you find yourself constantly seeking reassurance, it means that one of two things is happening. Either you’re not getting the reassurance you’re asking for or you find it difficult to accept and believe the reassurance you are being given.
Obviously, if your requests for reassurance are never being met, that’s a problem for your relationship. In that example, either your partner doesn’t understand that you’re asking for reassurance or they just don’t want to give it to you.
Either way, this is a problem that can only be resolved between you. You will need an open and frank discussion about times when you were asking for more reassurance and didn’t feel that you received it.
If you struggle to accept or believe reassurance when your partner tries to give it, that can be a sign of a deeper underlying problem. This often causes people to constantly ask for reassurance because the reassurance they receive doesn’t quiet their doubt or anxiety.
There are lots of reasons that you might struggle to accept reassurance when it is offered. You might have been betrayed by someone you trusted, which made it harder for you to trust now4.
This can also happen if you receive a sudden shock, such as someone you love dying unexpectedly. This gives you a sense of impermanence. You’re constantly aware that people can leave you, even if they don’t want to or mean to. Again, this makes it harder to trust their reassurance.
People with an anxious attachment style will also usually have a much greater need for external reassurance than other attachment styles5.
One of the worst things to do if you feel in need of reassurance is to hint or imply that you’re feeling insecure. All too often, the hints you drop get missed or ignored.
When this happens, you feel doubly rejected. From your perspective, your partner isn’t spontaneously giving you reassurance and they’re not even giving it when you ask for it. From their perspective, they don’t realize that you’re feeling insecure or anxious. When you become frustrated or upset, they’re surprised and confused.
Being more open about the times when you’re feeling insecure is challenging, but it’s essential if you want to build a stronger relationship with your partner.
One of the biggest things that you can do to reduce your need for reassurance is to learn to love yourself. This isn’t a quick fix or an easy solution. It’s a long, slow business of building your sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
In an ideal world, this would be something we would do before we got into a relationship with the guy of our dreams but life doesn’t always work out that way. Even if you’re already in a relationship, it’s still important to focus on yourself and to devote time and energy to healing old wounds.
Working on yourself and your sense of self-worth is hard. If you have a loving, supportive partner, lean on them through the process. Constant requests for reassurance can be frustrating, partly because it feels like a sign of distrust.
Being open about the work you’re doing on yourself and asking for support with it isn’t frustrating. It’s inspiring, and a great partner will love and respect you for it.
Much of our desire for reassurance comes from our desire to reduce or eliminate risk and uncertainty, but this is rarely successful6. We need to find other ways to deal with risk in our lives.
I wish I could tell you that there was something you could do that would take away your fear or eliminate uncertainty for you. Unfortunately, that’s simply not possible. Life is uncertain and none of us can ever promise that we will be with another person forever.
Rather than focusing on trying to eliminate the risk, try to learn to accept it. Often, this means learning that you will be ok no matter what happens.
Focusing on feeling more confident and competent can help you to feel less anxious in a wide variety of situations. Try asking yourself what you’re most afraid of when you need reassurance, and then work on building up the skills you need to deal with it.
This isn’t always about emotional skills. Your partner might take care of everything to do with your car. Learning how to do that for yourself doesn’t diminish how much you love your partner, but it can reduce your anxiety.
If you want reassurance from your partner, it’s not always enough to let them know when you want reassurance. You might also have to tell them how.
As we explained above, there are lots of different ways that your partner can try to reassure you. Some of those will be more effective for you than others.
They might also be better at helping with some problems than others. For example, physical affection is often more effective for reassuring you that they’re attracted to you than it is at reassuring you that arguments don’t mean the end of your relationship.
Explaining what you find reassuring, and maybe even why, can be helpful to ensure that you get the reassurance you need from your partner.
Your underlying attachment style can make it difficult for you to feel reassured, even when your partner is doing their very best to give you the support you need. Specifically, people with an anxious attachment style are most likely to have issues in this area7.
Like some of the other tips here, developing a more secure attachment style isn’t going to happen overnight. It will, however, bring lots of benefits as well as reduce how much reassurance you need from your partner.
Finally, you can try to increase the effect when your partner does offer you reassurance. This often comes down to learning to believe your partner when they try to help.
Ask yourself why you struggle to believe them when they say or do something reassuring. Is it because they have done something to damage your trust in the past, or is it because you just struggle to trust at all?
If they have damaged your trust in the past, you might need to work with them to deal with the hurt they’ve left behind. If this is difficult, you might want to try couples counseling.
If this is due to a more general problem with trust, it’s often helpful to look at ways that you can open up slightly to your partner to slowly build trust between you.
It is absolutely ok to express your needs in a relationship, including your need for reassurance. It only becomes a problem when you need constant reminders and reassurance that they love you, or if you struggle to believe them when they offer that reassurance.
Needing reassurance isn’t a red flag at all. In fact, if people can request reassurance openly and calmly, that’s a big green flag. It becomes worrying if someone needs constant reassurance or if they can’t be open about their needs.
There are lots of ways to seek reassurance from your partner, but the most effective one is to tell them that you’re feeling insecure and would like some reassurance. This allows them to understand what you need, without needing to guess.
Dating someone who needs constant reassurance can be draining. You feel as though you’re carrying an additional emotional burden. You can also feel as though they don’t believe you. Remember that this is a sign of their insecurity and doesn’t reflect your behavior.
Needing reassurance in a relationship is completely natural, but if you are constantly looking for more reassurance than you’re getting there might be a problem in your relationship. You might not have great communication or you could be struggling with self-esteem issues. Luckily, there are lots of ways to improve this situation.
What about you? What do you find reassuring in a relationship? How have you managed to find the reassurance you needed? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you share this with someone who is struggling with anxiety and insecurity.