There was a time when I was so insecure in my relationships, I nearly went crazy when a call or text from me would go unanswered.
My mind would start thinking the worst “Why isn’t he calling back? What is he doing? Who is he with?”
And inevitably I would start blaming myself. “I shouldn’t have said this,” “I shouldn’t have said that…”
And this was even before I had found evidence that my boyfriend at the time was cheating on me.
Feeling insecure made it extremely difficult to trust, connect and feel good in my relationship.
And feeling insecure is common, especially in high stakes or complicated relationships such as if you’re dating a single dad or recently divorced or divorcing man.
When you’re enduring the ups and downs of being in a relationship with someone who is undergoing a huge transition, feeling insecure can make those ups and downs feel like you’re stuck on a scary roller coaster.
What Insecurity Really Is
I want to demystify insecurity a bit because when we take a closer look at insecurity, it’s really not so scary.
All insecurity is is FEAR.
It’s a SIGNAL.
It’s simply a signal in our mind and body that we’re being threatened.
The key is, we need to determine whether that perceived threat is REAL or IMAGINED.
If you are feeling insecure, it’s because you are experiencing an issue in your relationship.
And whenever we experience issues in our relationship, it always points to a need or requirement that we have that is not being met.
Needs and relationship requirements are the things that you must have in a relationship in order for the relationship to work for you.
So, for example, if your boyfriend is not timely with his responses to your texts or calls, you might have a need for reciprocal communication in order to have a functional relationship.
All needs are valid.
If you’re feeling insecure, I encourage you to take a look at the issues in your relationship and identify the specific need that is not being met and then communicate your concerns to your significant other (and I encourage you to use “I” language in your communication so that you avoid (or can try to avoid) putting him on the defensive).
I talk a bit about “I” language in the article When You feel Second to His Ex-Wife.
Identifying the Real Threat
I know it is really hard, sometimes anxiety-inducing feeling insecure.
But remember, insecurity is really a signal.
Whenever we feel insecure, something has triggered our sense of fear and it means we don’t feel SAFE for some reason; either we are feeling like our relationship is being threatened or we’re feeling like our self is being threatened.
So if you are feeling insecure, I encourage you think about:
When do you feel most insecure? Is it when he talks with his ex? Is it when he doesn’t call you back? Try to pin point when.
Get really clear on what you think the threat is. What are you afraid of? What is the threat that you are sensing or fearing?
Is he really cozy with his ex and you’re worried they might reconcile? Is he not answering your texts or phone calls and you’re worried that he’s not that into you? What fears are coming up?
Determine whether the threat is IMAGINED or REAL. Is it all in your head or do you really have something to worry about?
For example, if you know your boyfriend is hiding things and lying by omission, then it’s normal to feel a sense of fear and insecurity because we naturally fear the unknown if you don’t know what he’s hiding or why.
Getting Rid of Insecurity
So what would make the fear and insecurity go away?
It would require removing the threat.
But HOW you remove the threat depends on whether it is real or perceived.
How do you know if the threat is real or perceived.
It’s sometimes hard to tell because an imagined threat can make you feel just as hurt and insecure as a real threat.
But your body doesn’t know whether the danger you perceive is real or imagined; you’re going to feel fear and anxiety either way.
The important thing to do is examine the facts.
What really happened? What were the events?
For example, did his ex-wife send you 100 texts in day harassing you but your significant other has yet to call her out on his ex’s inappropriate behavior?
A real threat can be defined by facts. The facts, in this case, are that his ex-wife was harassing you and your significant other hasn’t communicated to her that it’s inappropriate.
Maybe you’re feeling threatened because you feel like he’s not setting appropriate boundaries for the sake of your relationship. The threat here is real because it’s something that is actually happening.
Are You Imagining the Threat?
But what if your significant other did tell his ex to knock it off and what if he did set clear boundaries with his ex? What if she was no longer harassing you?
And what if you’re still feeling distrust and insecurity despite the action he has taken to reassure you and to deal with the problem?
If a sense of insecurity persists even when there doesn’t appear to be a real live threat, it may mean there are other factors at play that need to be addressed that are making you feel unsafe.
For example, if you feel insecure or are having trust issues, but there’s no real reason to distrust, consider the possibility that you may be perceiving the threat but the threat isn’t real.
In other words, you might be feeling worried and insecure because something in your relationship is triggering a sense of fear and insecurity (for example, were you cheated on in a previous relationship and automatically think the worst?), even if the threat may not be real.
If that is the case, I encourage you to look into gaining skills for managing your triggers. I go into how to do this in my free audio Dealing with Baggage.
Is It a Red Flag?
Red flags are serious issues in a relationship.
They’re the kind of issues that jeopardize or undermine a relationship’s long term viability.
So, for example, if your man is putting you down, insulting you or lying to you compulsively, these could be signs of serious behavioral issues that could make you feel insecure and also serve as red flags.
Or, for example, if he blames you and calls you names when you want to talk about issues in the relationship, this is not a constructive way on his part to communicate. Even if he is angry, he needs to respect you. You are always deserving of respect.
Red flags are real threats, not imagined, since they are events that are really happening and not a “story” you’re telling yourself.
I list some common red flags here in my article 7 MORE Relationship Red Flags for Dating a Divorced Man.
Not All Relationships with Exes Are Dysfunctional
Having a functional relationship between your significant other and his ex is possible.
But requires a high level of emotional maturity from everyone involved.
A functional relationship really requires people to rise above their emotions and treat people with respect, even when you’re not feeling like being kind.
This is why dating a single dad or dating a recently divorced man often requires a strong sense of self and a thick skin because the complexities of the relationship can often get messy and a thick skin will be able to help you weather the storms and protect yourself emotionally.
My husband and his ex, thankfully, have a friendly relationship.
They communicate when it comes to the kids.
But sometimes they also talk about work or extended family; they were married for 15 years and are still good friends with each other’s extended families.
They have an amicable relationship that is not strained.
Sometimes she’ll even call him over to help her move furniture in the house or bring her garbage cans in if she is traveling away from home.
She lives less than a mile from us so it is convenient anyway.
In the very beginning of our relationship, I did feel a bit uneasy. But got over it when I saw there was really nothing to worry about.
It doesn’t bother me that they talk or that he does those favors for her; I don’t feel threatened.
In fact, I think we are fortunate that there is no drama. Some exes have that kind of relationship.
But if you are feeling insecure despite there being no drama, it could be your triggers (in which case, I encourage you to take a look at the Dealing with Baggage audio).
Or, if they are “too” friendly, it could be that he is not completely over his ex and still has some unresolved feelings for her.
If that is the case, you might have some decisions to make about whether or not this relationship is a good fit for you right now.