If you’re someone who needs constant reassurance in your relationship, don’t worry — you’re not alone. This is a very common need, and there are several reasons why it might occur.
But sometimes, this need can feel a bit overwhelming, and it can be hard to understand why we feel this way.
According to experts, here are reasons why we need constant reassurance in a relationship and what you can do to address the issue.
Coach and Speaker | Author, “Girl, You Deserve More“
There can be a few reasons why someone needs constant reassurance in a relationship. It may have to do with their self-esteem as a person or how their partner makes them feel. It is almost always a combination of both.
You have a weak sense of self
If you don’t feel great about yourself, you need constant approval from the outside world. Typically, supportive parents make their children feel unconditional love. This is how someone develops into an emotionally healthy adult.
But without this unconditional love from family, you’re prone to seek approval from others. This can put too much emphasis on how others treat you. Even if you are doing everything right, you need others to let you know that.
This can drive you and others crazy. Sometimes other people are having a bad day, and you’ll think it’s about you. Realize that people’s actions are almost always about themselves, not you. Focusing so much on others’ actions can lead to misinterpretation and unnecessary pain.
Your partner doesn’t express their love the same way you would
There are many different ways to show affection to a partner. A simple illustration of this is Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages.
The five love languages include:
- Physical touch
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time together
If you don’t share the same love language with your partner, you’ll express love differently. A different language will also make you feel loved. So if you are expressing love to each other using different languages, you may need to make an effort to speak each other’s love language.
Maybe you like to share food or belongings with your partner, and they don’t reciprocate. Perhaps you think of them first and always get extra for them. But they don’t do the same for you. This can leave you feeling like they don’t care about you.
Consider that this may not be how they were raised. This may change if you grow together. Eventually, most couples adapt to each other’s styles.
Similarly, if your partner doesn’t show the same level of affection as you, you may not feel loved. Maybe your partner is more reserved and needs more alone time. But perhaps you want to be around them and need to feel loved all the time.
If this is the case, ask why you need this level of affection or reassurance. It’s also worth asking yourself if your partner is purposely withholding affection. Withholding love can be a form of abuse.
Often the withholding partner will say you are too needy and claim to be the normal one. Ask yourself which one is actually true.
Your partner is doing shady behaviors
Your partner is doing shady behaviors that make you feel self-conscious or undesired. This one is more tricky. There’s a fine line between being needlessly jealous and having a real reason to be suspicious.
Is your partner actually cheating or purposely making you feel bad?
Related: Warning Signs Your Partner Could Be Cheating
Decipher the difference between real and imagined shady behaviors
Especially if you’ve had toxic past partners in the past, this could make you very sensitive to your current partner’s behaviors:
- Is your partner meeting up with other potential partners behind your back?
- Are they complimenting other attractive people in front of you while criticizing your looks?
- Do they have an active profile on a dating app where they’re still flirting with others?
Even if your partner jokes about cheating or how attractive other people are, this isn’t cool. They could be testing the waters to see what they can get away with in the future. If you show insecurity about this, a dishonest partner has you right where they want you.
- If you’ve had a toxic or cheating partner in the past, don’t punish your current partner for it.
- Try not to be overly suspicious of your partner.
- Don’t get upset or jealous when they look at, text, or speak to another attractive person.
- You need to differentiate whether they are actually doing something wrong or if one of their behaviors just reminds you of a past partner.
Figure out which one of these may be the problem
It may be a combination. Address the problem by thinking deeply about it first. You can also confide in a trusted friend, therapist, or coach. This will help you determine the best course of action.
If you change your perspective, you may not even need to discuss it with your partner. If you try to shift your attitude or behavior and it doesn’t work, you’ll need to discuss it with your partner.
Bring the topic up gently
Bring the topic up gently, in a non-accusatory manner. Sometimes their response will tell you everything you need to know. If they make fun of you or minimize your feelings, this is not a good sign.
See if they make changes going forward
If not, ask yourself if an attitude adjustment on your part is good enough to stay in the relationship. A person with a strong sense of self wouldn’t stay in a relationship like this as it stands.
A confident person knows they deserve good treatment and they know when someone isn’t cutting it. They aren’t afraid to tell someone goodbye and lose a partner who isn’t a good match.
At the same time, a confident person knows when they have a good partner they can compromise with. Every partner may do something that you don’t like once in a while, even a good one.
It’s key to know how to communicate with a good partner and compromise. You don’t want to lose someone who was otherwise great for you over a minor issue.
If you need help with this, consider reading more books on toxic partners, toxic family systems, and self-confidence. Consider hiring a coach or therapist to help you navigate this. Having a professional on your side can speed up your growth process and help you know what action to take next.
Clinical Psychologist & Couples Therapist
You have your needs as a human
There is a common and confusing fear of being too “needy” in a romantic relationship. However, the more we understand psychology, the more we can give freedom to the fact that humans have needs. And those needs are allowed in our partnership.
Related: How to Stop Being Needy and Clingy in a Relationship?
However, when is it too much? And what does it mean to need constant reassurance from your partner?
You are coping with the fear of abandonment
First, let’s break down where this comes from. We don’t yet have a developed nervous system when we are born and as children.
This means that our emotions are managed through our primary caretakers, mostly our mothers, but also our parents, family, and other supportive people in our life.
When a baby cries or screams, they express their emotions and needs. It’s the only way they have to express what is happening inside them. The response that baby needs is full body presence and attention from their mother.
This means, in an ideal world, that baby would have a present and attuned caretaker that has their full attention and will respond positively to the child’s emotions with loving words, open body language, smiles, and positive facial expressions — aka encouragement and support.
That would help the baby calm down and feel their feelings while knowing they are supported and loved. While thinking and knowing, “The people who love and care for me will always be here for me, never leave me, and always give me love.”
However, real life is much more nuanced. Sometimes parents are busy, tired, stressed, or simply misinformed about the healthy ways to parent.
And what happens in this scenario is if your parents sometimes show up and respond in consoling and nurturing ways, but sometimes they don’t, then you learn that being louder is the way to get their attention.
Imagine this scene: baby cries, and usually, mom goes toward the crib and caries them. But this time, mom is tired and hungry and is eating a super late dinner she’s been waiting all afternoon for. She lets the baby cry.
The baby then feels stressed, wonders where mommy is, and cries louder. Then starts screaming with more panic. Then mom realizes that baby is crying louder, something might be wrong and goes to check on the baby.
Related: 9 Great Books for Busy Parents
You feel panic and fear that the people you love might leave
In Relationship styles, this is called Anxious Attachment Style. This means that in childhood, sometimes your caretakers would respond and show up when you needed support, but sometimes they wouldn’t.
So this creates uncertainty, a lack of predictable support, and a feeling of needing to speak loudly for what you need.
This uncertainty in adult relationships feels like panic and fear that the people you love might leave or might not show up for you. Like you’re not entirely sure that they want to be with you and that they will stay.
There is a deep wound, which can look like low self-esteem, feeling insecure about your appearance, and worried that you need to keep earning your partner’s love so they stay.
Related: How to Stop Being Insecure About Yourself?
Therefore, needing reassurance is an intelligent strategy. If you keep checking in and getting validation from your partner that they love you and that your relationship is okay, the fears and anxiety calm down at that moment. The problem is its short-term relief, as the same fears pop right back up!
People with Anxious Attachment deeply desire connection and safety in their relationship. They long to feel secure but often will get in their own way because, deep down, they carry a big fear that their partner will leave them/ or not want to be with them.
So they often have a part in creating drama inside the relationship, resulting in the very thing they fear: distance or disconnect.
You feel lonely and want to get your partner’s attention
For example, when feeling lonely, one woman criticizes their partner’s behavior and picks a fight to get their attention. This then creates a defensive reaction in her partner, resulting in a disconnect.
So the thing to learn is Emotional Regulation: how to identify, feel and calm all emotions, especially big ones like loneliness or anxiety, so that you don’t rely on your partner to calm all your emotions, but you can hold them yourself.
When things are calm, your partner can help support you with that. But when there is conflict, your partner has their own emotions, which is why overly relying on them to be your savior is not just impossible; it’s not fair either.
Healing is rewiring your attachment styles so that you have more flexibility in the ways you can show up for your own emotions, but also in the way you communicate your needs to your partner.
You could request attention by saying:
- “Hey honey, I’m feeling needy for you! Can we spend some time together right now?”
- “I miss you, honey. Could you hold me right now?”
That’s why healing those deeper insecurities is the gateway to deeper self-worth, connection and the most transformational way to build relationships that feel peaceful and secure.
Licensed Professional Counselor
You have persistent anxiety about disclosing struggles in relationships
I could go on a tangent with this one, but anxiety plays into a lot of other subconscious things going on inside of us. It’s essential to recognize where the anxiety is actually coming from and what other maladaptive things it’s attaching itself to.
It’s not unusual for clients with persistent anxiety to:
- Disclose struggles in relationships.
- Constantly seeking approval/validation from others.
- Never being given tasks or allowed to make their own decisions as children.
- Learning behaviors from parents/upbringing.
Talk about the past and understand the ways anxiety impacts you
Recognizing “how you got this way” goes a long way in helping overcome anxiety.
It’s important to talk about the past in this context and understand all of the ways anxiety impacts you:
- Did you have a mother who wouldn’t let you drive at night, and now you’re scared of driving in the dark as an adult?
- Did you ever get to be involved in family decisions such as where to eat, what movie to see, or which game to play?
- Did you get criticized or overlooked for the decisions/suggestions you made?
All of these things attach themselves to your inner psyche and help the anxiety infiltrate your behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs about yourself. You can begin the healing process by processing through and understanding how these things have affected you.
Below are some common themes or things clients have disclosed to me that helps to understand where a need for reassurance or validation is coming from:
- “I wasn’t allowed to pick out my own clothes because my mom didn’t want me dressing like a slut.”
- “My husband always asks me where I want to go for dinner, but when I make a suggestion, he says he doesn’t want that, and we end up going where he wants to go.”
- I’ve always asked my dad’s opinion on everything. I don’t feel I can really make a good decision without getting his input.”
- “I’m always afraid I’m going to look stupid, so I always ask my friends how I look.”
- “I wanted to take French class, but my parents said Spanish was a better language to learn.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Frequently, we become so accustomed to needing validation, seeking approval, or not trusting the decision-making process that we struggle with everyday life. This manifests as anxiety over making the wrong decision, doing the wrong thing, or something bad happening.
Again, the anxiety feeds on these things and becomes a cycle. We can begin the healing process by recognizing and understanding how these pieces fit together.
It’s associated with validation and feelings of low self-worth/self-esteem
The need for reassurance is associated with validation and feelings of low self-worth/self-esteem. As stated above, it happens when we learn, typically as children but also in adult relationships, that our voices/opinions/ideas don’t matter, at least not as much as others.
Reassurance stems from an anxious attachment style, which is a fancy way of saying we rely on another person for our own happiness and we’re constantly in fear of abandonment, so we need them to consistently tell us we’re “okay.”
This is the person who’s always asking, “Did I do something wrong?” “Are you mad at me?” These people seek reassurance and validation because they believe everything that goes wrong, even things out of their control, will cause the people in their lives to leave them.
So, in turn, they latch on as hard as they can and consistently seek validation and reassurance.
So what is attachment theory?
Basically, it’s how we form attachments from a young age, starting with our mothers and progressing through life. There’s a lot of research on this and a lot of theory on how attachments form (or don’t).
Cliff’s notes version is those who have safe, secure attachments had parents who doted on them appropriately — a fair amount of love, and affection, attending to their needs with immediacy, but also given autonomy to learn new skills and encouragement.
Anxious attachment arises from early relationships in which babies/kids were taught security wasn’t guaranteed. Parents were “checked out” or didn’t always attend to them when they cried.
They learned to seek out attention (i.e., reassurance) as a way to get their parents to “check in,” and this becomes a pattern in adulthood. Anxious attachment is often hand-in-hand with codependency, which I describe to clients as, “I’m okay if you’re okay, but I’m not really okay.”
Spiritual Mentor | Relationship and Leadership Coach
You want more safety and comfort
Is it me? Is it them? Is it us? What a heartbreaking dilemma. You have found someone wonderful to connect with, perhaps in a romantic relationship or even a deep friendship.
You have invested your heart in this bond, and now you find that you are anxious and always want more reassurance, validation, safety, and comfort, which is supposed to be the reward of connecting with one another.
You don’t feel joyfully relaxed in your partnership
Let’s focus on romantic relationships, as this is where this issue happens the most. You have found each other, the spark has been lit, and now you are “in a relationship.”
The challenge is you don’t feel at ease, confident, or joyfully relaxed in your connection and partnership.
There are pretty much only three reasons that this happens.
You are not solidly grounded in your relationship with yourself
It is a self-connection, self-support, and self-esteem issue. There are beliefs and probably wounds of not being worthy, wanted, deserving, and quite likely, love has never been a place where you felt safe and able to relax.
Thus, there is an “inside job” that needs to be done. Finding a support person who can help you heal and learn excellent self-care and self-affirming practices will lead you to a place where you are filled up from the inside.
Related: How to Build a Personal and Family Support System
You have the love and reassurance you need already, and you know how to give it to yourself, and you also know how to take care of the part of you who tends to hang out in wounded land, so when they surface, you are ready to care for them and help them climb down from their fear-based ledge.
Your partner doesn’t know how or doesn’t choose to be engaged in the relationship
You are with someone who does not know how or does not choose to be fully engaged in the relationship. This can show up in many ways. One of the most anxiety-producing kinds of connection is one in which there is intermittent reinforcement.
There are sweet, beautiful love and connection-filled moments, followed by distance, avoidance, and sometimes downright aggression or conflict. This is crazy-making!
It is impossible to feel safe and assured in this kind of relationship dynamic. And guess what, if you have reassurance issues and your partner has avoidance issues, you are a match made in a relationship hell.
The resolution is for you and your partner to do the inner healing work to resolve what makes you need reassurance and them to need an unhealthy level of space.
In a healthy relationship, both these needs are honored in both people, and you learn the dance of who needs what when and it becomes the way you love yourselves and each other.
It is no longer a problem to be fixed but a beautiful honoring of the two seemingly opposite needs in our human nature, space for individuation, and time for connection that builds safety and reassurance.
The relationship is not a good match
The third possible reason for your ongoing need for reassurance is that the relationship is not a good match. Sometimes we get stuck trying to make it work with someone who is not a good match for us.
We may not be at the same relationship skill or personal development level. We may be connected through chemistry but not true intimacy based on vulnerability, mutual respect, and commitment to building trust and safety.
Related: Trust Building Exercises for Couples
If this is the case, you can try to feel ok but deep down inside, some part of you knows you are forcing a fit that would not continue if you faced the truth and let go.
We all deserve to feel good about ourselves, which is mostly something we need to learn to develop in our relationship with ourselves. We also deserve and need to feel safe if we are to thrive with another, especially in an intimate relationship.
Learning how to grow together and discover the balance between space and togetherness, honoring each other’s ways of feeling loved, and providing the behaviors that help you and your partner deeply relax are the skills and practices of a conscious relationship.
With a mutual dedication to learning and applying these gifts of growth and loving yourself and each other, you are well on your way to a deeply fulfilling relationship experience.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | California LCSW | Florida Telehealth Provider
You’ve experienced pain in relationships before
Chances are, the relationship you’re currently in isn’t the first relationship you’ve been in, which means you’ve experienced pain and loss in at least one relationship before.
Even if this is your very first relationship, you’ve probably witnessed pain in relationships, whether with your parents, in your family, or in the media, and the thought of getting hurt is scary.
So you seek constant reassurance that you’re okay and that your partner is still happy with you because you think that will help you prevent getting hurt.
You’ve learned to doubt yourself and your perceptions of things
Past pain and trauma can make us feel like we can’t trust ourselves to really know what’s going on, which contributes to needing to seek constant reassurance that things are okay.
Maybe you’ve had a past relationship end when you thought things were going well or had a partner cheat when you thought they were happy in the relationship.
Getting blindsided definitely rocks a person’s confidence in their perception of the situation, so if you’ve been blindsided before, you may feel like you need reassurance that things really are as okay in the relationship as you think they are.
You have a negative bias against yourself
Because we as humans often have a negative bias against ourselves, when those traumatic relationship events happen, we put a lot of the responsibility on ourselves for why things went wrong and can quickly get stuck in the space of asking, “What’s wrong with me that _______ happened?”
This makes a person enter the next relationship already thinking, “there’s something wrong with me.” If you already think there’s something wrong with you, you’re likely going to be seeking reassurance that things are okay.
You haven’t truly healed from your past relationship trauma yet
The relationship pain, heartache, and trauma we’ve experienced in our past help us understand why we do the things that we do in relationships, including seeking constant reassurance from our partner.
But it doesn’t mean that we need to be stuck feeling dependent on that constant reassurance to feel secure. You’ve learned that you can’t trust yourself or your situation to stay safe, so you look to your partner for constant reassurance.
And while the reassurance from your partner may cover the emotional wound for a little bit, it doesn’t truly heal it and help you trust in yourself that you are now, and will be, okay.
Work with a licensed therapist specializing in trauma
Working with a licensed therapist specializing in trauma, relationships, and personal growth can help you heal your past trauma, develop confidence in your strength and resilience, and create new and healthy patterns of interacting with yourself and your partner.
And when you get to that place of healing, hearing from your partner that they are happy on their journey with you will still feel amazing.
But you will no longer feel the constant need to be reassured because you will be able to trust that how you perceive things is accurate, and if something unexpected and painful happens, you have the strength within and around you to be okay.
Rachel Ann Dine, MA, LPC, LMHC
Licensed Professional Counselor & Forensic Mental Health Evaluator, Humanitas Counseling and Consulting, LLC
It could indicate that relationship anxiety is present
If you find that you are constantly seeking reassurance in your relationship, this could be an indication that relationship anxiety is present.
Constantly seeking reassurance can manifest itself in the following ways:
- Asking your partner if they still love you despite not behaving in any way would indicate they don’t still love you.
- Feeling insecure if an appropriately extended period of time (i.e., work day) goes by and you have not heard from your other half.
- Feeling anxious when you enter into a relationship and feel as if you are waiting for the other shoe to drop, almost predicting that your significant other is going to leave you at any time.
Related: Why Are People Insecure?
Why does relationship anxiety happen?
- A person does not necessarily receive stable or consistent validation
Relationship anxiety can surface when a person does not necessarily receive stable or consistent validation while growing up.
If you had emotionally or physically absent parents, felt as if your needs/interests were not nurtured, or verbal abuse occurred, these early childhood and adolescent experiences can shape the level of anxiety — that can show up as reassurance seeking — as an adult.
As a result of receiving inconsistent or nonexistent validation as a child, this desire for reassurance can become placed on a romantic partner or even a friend.
- If an individual has a poor sense of self
The constant need for reassurance in relationships can also occur if an individual has a poor sense of self or is lacking in their own sense of self-confidence.
When you’re not confident in who you are, many times, there becomes a heavy external focus on other people to validate you in some cases, even define who you are for yourself. This creates a very slippery and inconsistent source of reassurance/validation because people are fallible.
Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?
When we consistently place our need for self-validation on others, it can re-create a cycle of perpetual anxiety (maybe even create a cycle that started in childhood!).
How do I stop looking for reassurance and validation from others and look within?
Take time to get to know yourself. Even on a very basic level, take time to find out:
- What do you like.
- What you don’t like.
- What your boundaries are.
- What your triggers are for feeling anxious.
Journaling this out can be helpful, as well as tracking your mood over the course of a few days or weeks, and identifying triggers for mood changes can assist in increasing your sense of self-awareness.
Go to therapy to learn coping strategies for anxiety
If you’ve noticed that looking to others for constant reassurance has been a pattern for you, therapy can be pretty helpful to understand the root cause origin and even learn coping strategies for anxiety.
The good news is that learning to increase your sense of self-validation can absolutely be done. It just takes a level of self-awareness and motivation to work through the need for external validation and reassurance seeking.
Charese L. Josie, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Owner and Founder, CJ Counseling and Consulting Services
You’re afraid to be alone and seek closeness and intimacy
The way we love in a relationship all relates to our attachment style.
There are four types of attachment styles which are:
- Disorganized (fearful-avoidant)
Our attachment styles are formed in infancy and are determined based on how our caregivers respond when we are in emotional distress. The need for constant reassurance in a relationship falls under the anxious attachment style.
This can look like the need for close connection where someone may be afraid of being alone and seek closeness and intimacy where they depend on the other person. This makes having a healthy emotional and physical balance in the relationship challenging as it impacts mood and boundaries.
What does it mean to need constant reassurance?
To need constant reassurance means that someone is worried or in some type of emotional distress and needs validation, closeness, or some other connection with another person.
This is often unpredictable with an unknown determination of duration or intensity. Due to the person needing this in what is perceived as a critical state, there is a hyper state of urgency (the appearance of a crisis).
Therefore, the person giving the response may be confused about whether to give an emotional, behavioral, or both for support.
Should you need reassurance in a relationship?
Absolutely. When we’re in any type of relationship, especially a committed relationship, we need to know that we’re valued, needed and appreciated.
What is too much “constant reassurance?”
Constant reassurance can become problematic when an identified person is expected to provide constant reassurance without the other person having other ways to cope.
As mentioned above, because this is an anxious attachment style, the need appears imminent, which reduces the opportunity to communicate the specific need, the desired outcome, and how this person can be a support.
Without these boundaries, the person is expected to “fix” the emotion or feeling as opposed to supporting it.
What can you do if this is impacting your relationship?
- Seek therapy to learn more about anxious attachment styles and the patterns that have developed in your relationships.
- Establish boundaries for yourself as opposed to expecting your partner to do that for you. For example, engage in a self-care routine that does not involve your partner to reduce anxious feelings.
- Negotiate available times with your partner for connection and support.
- List and explore at least five things you enjoy doing that does not involve your partner.
- Openly communicate to your partner what you are feeling, what you will do to help yourself and how your partner can support you.
Certified Professional Life Coach, Good Together | Author, “Good Together: A Journey Through Relationships“
Is constant reassurance a need or a want? This question is essential because there is a difference between the two. Too often, we confuse our needs and our wants.
When we misidentify our needs and wants, we complicate the situation and create problems for ourselves in the process. We can all agree that the last thing we need is more problems.
What does it mean to need? Needs are something required, necessary. We need to eat; however, we want to eat certain foods, not others. Needs tend to be objective. Therefore, they can be fulfilled by several different items.
What does it mean to want? Wants are something desired, not required. We want to drive a particular car, but if we just need to get from point A to point B, any car will do that. Wants tend to be subjective. Therefore, they can only be fulfilled by a select few items.
What did you expect?
I fasten needs and wants together to define expectations. An essential element in relationships is managing expectations, both ours and those of others.
When we need what we want, we are more relaxed, in tune, or in a zone. Our resources are being expended wisely. Our actions are mellifluous, smooth flowing like honey. We see the things we need as producing the things we want. These are reasonable and rational expectations.
When we need what we don’t want, we become uncomfortable and frustrated. We fight against our own best interests. We feel that we have no choice but to take specific actions, even though we don’t want to. We need to eat our vegetables, but we don’t want to eat our vegetables. These are disappointments or unwelcome expectations.
When we don’t need what we want, we become misaligned with reality. This creates an unsustainable condition. It is a kind of fantasyland where we end up wasting our resources.
We begin chasing windmills and rainbows while not getting anything of value in return. We set ourselves up for failure. These are unrealistic, unreasonable, and irrational expectations, more commonly referred to as false expectations.
In relationships, I would rather be wanted than needed. If you want me, then it is me who you want. If you need me, then anyone with the necessary assets could take my place.
You’re more likely to get what you give
Reassurance is only one form of feedback. Feedback is necessary for us to make proper decisions. We need to understand, “is what we are doing beneficial?” Are we helping or hurting the situation?
If you aren’t giving any sort of feedback, including reassurance, you probably won’t be getting any, either.
Of course, as with everything, there are limits and boundaries. We must work towards understanding the acceptable amounts and types of acceptable feedback.
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde
Constant anything becomes a “hard habit to break.” – Chicago
Where does a need for reassurances come from?
There are questions that you should be asking yourself. Is it you, or is it them? And how much is too much?
From your perspective, what is it that you need to be reassured about? Reassurance is used to alleviate fears. These are fears of shortcomings.
“Fear is a lack of confidence.” – Jerry Brook
All fear stems from this base. The more confident one is, in a particular setting, the less fear one has in that setting. It is unlikely that you need to be reassured that you can, walk, talk, eat, or sleep.
That is because you are confident, that comfortable, in performing those tasks. We express our confidence, and others perceive our confidence based on our comfort level.
A lack of confidence can come from negative past experiences or present negative events. Each of these conditions can create low self-esteem. We aren’t getting positive feedback on what to do; we are getting negative feedback on only what not to do. That is criticism.
We then overcompensate by needing excessive reassurance that our actions are correct. At some point, however, we need to learn from the reassurances we are getting. As we are adequately reassured, we should need less of that specific feedback.
If we aren’t getting any feedback, or if the feedback that we are getting isn’t helpful to us, then our needs aren’t being met. We are looking for something we aren’t getting out of the relationship.
Your relationship partner may not be invested in the relationship
Likewise, they may not be willing or able to express the feedback we need to learn from and feel valued. By the same token, if your partner doesn’t want your feedback or reassurances, they may not be connected to you in this relationship.
They may take you for granted or aren’t dedicated to the relationship and therefore aren’t concerned with your opinions. Feedback is a necessary part of a healthy communication process. We are not and should not be expected to read minds.
Don’t accept those who would use the requirement for positive communications and reassurances against you.
Too often, people will focus on the negative aspects of the “need for constant reassurance” to squash the legitimate characteristics of “want of periodic” reassurances.
Your partner spends time on other things
I was sitting on the far end of the couch, pretending to read a book. In reality, I was watching my husband clanking away on his phone playing a video game. This was how most of our evenings were spent.
I wondered why he preferred to spend his precious downtime with a device rather than with me. I remember moping on the couch, wishing he would make me feel special and desirable.
I analyzed his actions and interpreted them as evidence that revealed my worth. I often thought that maybe if I were prettier, funnier, or more interesting, he would put his phone down and whisk me off on a romantic adventure.
Sitting on the couch one day feeling pretty low, I decided something had to change, so I began my journey toward finding what had gone wrong in my relationship. What I learned was not what I had expected.
You feel rejected and damage your self-worth
Today, I am a relationship coach and have had the opportunity to hear many women talk about sharing similar experiences. In fact, it seems to be very common for us to attach our beliefs about ourselves to what our partners do (or don’t do).
We are social beings designed to crave the approval and acceptance of our community. We are wired to care deeply about how we are seen by those around us.
We often rely heavily on our partner, who is supposed to know us best, for clues that will cue us into how well we are “doing” as people. Feeling rejected can be extremely damaging to one’s feelings of self-worth.
For example, I have heard women talk about how a sexless marriage can completely destroy their self-confidence. We put a lot of weight on how we think our partner perceives us and how that makes us feel about ourselves.
You tell yourself painful stories about what you think you see
The thing is, our partner should never be used as a mirror to reveal our self-worth. Far too often, we misinterpret the reflection and tell ourselves painful stories about what we think we see.
When I stopped analyzing my husband’s every move and trying to determine what each move spoke about me, my self-confidence began to rise.
Do what makes you feel excited and passionate
I stopped sitting on the far end of the couch with my sad questions and got busy doing what made me feel excited and passionate. I began writing, jogging and painting again.
I became stronger, began to stand up straighter, smiled wider, and laughed much more often. And what happened with my husband? The energy and enthusiasm I radiated drew him out of his phone and closer to me.
Today, my husband still plays video games in the evenings, but I don’t let that ruin my experience or make me question my worth. I believe it is because I am happier with myself and confident in who I am that my marriage is more connected and intimate than ever.
There is fear that your partner isn’t as committed as you
Seeking constant reassurance in an adult romantic relationship usually means there is fear that the other person isn’t as committed or in the relationship as the other, which can be a sign of early-life relationship distress.
Attachment theory has shown that the way our caregivers care for us and relate to us in our early life creates the map in our brains for relating to partners in the future.
The way we are nurtured, responded to, and developed in our first five years of life leaves an imprint for the remainder of our life. (The good news is a phenomenon called neuroplasticity which means our brains can change even late into adulthood.)
So when we find ourselves in adulthood, constantly seeking reassurance from a partner, the main question is: “is this fear about the past or the present (or a little both)?” So we need to look at the past and the present, ideally with an objective third party like a therapist.
Do an honest evaluation of the past
This means an honest examination of how your parents raised you. You probably won’t remember your first five years of life, but anything before 15 may give you a good indicator of how it was.
This isn’t about blaming parents; it’s about curiously considering when and how fear of losing another person’s interest or love became a part of your experience.
Where is this recent experience located in the past? When have I felt anxious about someone, including a caregiver or parent, not responding to or giving me enough attention?
Did I bid for connection from family/friends and get shut down? Did I learn that my needs won’t always be responded to? When did I become afraid of being rejected or left?
Examine the relationship
Once we’ve done an honest evaluation of the past and can see some connections between our current fear and past experiences, it’s time to examine the relationship.
We want to differentiate between what we’re afraid of, which is intensified from past experiences, and what is actually happening in the present moment between two adults, which means we need to have realistic expectations about what needs a partner can and can’t meet.
Adult partners aren’t supposed to re-parent us. Yet, some basic needs like emotional availability, responsiveness, validation, and repairing when harm is done are all necessary for a healthy adult relationship and might contribute to needing reassurance when they’re lacking.
So you might need to ask:
- How responsive is my partner?
- How open are they to my feedback?
- Do their behaviors match their words?
- Do they follow through?
- Are they emotionally available?
- Is my partner actually withdrawing, and if so, is that a pattern or is it occasional?
- Does my partner apologize when they’re hurtful?
- And lastly, which requires humility, does my constant bidding for reassurance push my partner away?
If that happens, it might create a self-fulfilling prophecy because as you bid for reassurance, they get annoyed that the first five times weren’t trusted and withdraw as a result, which causes more fear and desire to ask for reassurance — what a mess!
So then, how might I get reassurance that I’m loved and worthy outside this relationship?
Regardless of the source of the fear, we all need ways to handle our own fear. Partners might be able to soothe some of it, especially by correcting unhelpful behaviors.
Still, it is ultimately up to us to find ways to soothe our fear, which often means healing from past experiences that inform the present-day fear.
There’s no shame in having fear and needing reassurance, but it’s also unfortunately true that humans are not unlimited in their ability to withstand constant bids for attention, especially if they are offering support and love in the present moment that isn’t able to be received by the fearful partner whose fear is informed by past relationships.
John F. Tholen
Retired Psychologist | Author, “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind“
You doubt yourself
Although an excessive need for reassurance from a relationship partner might appear to reflect a lack of trust in them, it more strongly signifies doubt about oneself.
Seeking confirmation that we are loved and wanted implies that we feel somehow inadequate — that we doubt our value as a relationship partner or our ability to stand strong as an independent adult should be the relationship founder.
A healthy level of self-esteem allows us to feel both lovable and resilient enough to tolerate a breakup.
How is an excessive need for reassurance best managed?
The key to building greater security in a relationship is to find and employ a good strategy. In the case of excessive need for reassurance, the best strategy involves behavioral and cognitive elements.
Begin acting as though we belong
The first step is to begin acting as though we belong. Excessively expressing a desire for reassurance can “backfire” by creating an impression of undesirable “neediness.”
To preserve the relationship while bolstering self-esteem, it is generally best to avoid asking for reassurances.
At the same time, it is almost always best to address unreasonable behavior by a partner with responsible assertiveness—expressing our honest feelings and wishes without aggression, threat, insult, or disrespect.
When uncertain whether actions are reasonable or not, consult trusted others who have as little connection to the partner as possible.
Identify and challenge the thoughts
The second step is to identify and challenge the thoughts that underlie the excessive need for reassurance. Our automatic thoughts about ourselves are determined by a complex interaction between our inherited biology and early life experience.
Through no fault of our own, many of us are exposed to trauma or toxic circumstances sufficiently intense to cause us to become either cynical about life or excessively self-doubtful.
And when we have been left with excessive self-doubt, our spontaneous thoughts tend to be dysfunctional—causing distress without inspiring constructive action.
Although it seems that our emotions and motivations result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter in life, they are instead reactions to our self-talk — the internal monologue that streams through our waking consciousness, interpreting our every experience and creating our perspective (also called “mindset” or “script”).
When dysfunctional thoughts are allowed to occupy the focus of our attention, they invade our self-talk and provoke anxiety and inhibition — even though they are almost always incomplete, unreasonable, or completely wrong.
Our best response to any negative emotional state is to employ the closest thing we have to a “superpower,” our ability at any moment to shift the focus of our attention to a more functional thought.
When addressing our excessive need for reassurance, we are likely to benefit from reviewing thoughts such as:
- My excessive need for reassurance results from unfortunate biology and early-life circumstances — neither of which was within my control and cannot define me if I refuse to allow it and employ good strategy to improve my self-esteem.
- I’m likely to find happiness by just trying to do the next right thing.
- By displaying integrity and compassion, I make myself worthy of understanding and decency.
- By understanding that life is uncertain for everyone and gradually taking on reasonable risks, I can enhance my self-confidence and range of self-assertion.
- Like all humans, I have hidden strengths, untapped potential, and the ability to grow in profound ways.
- We all have illusions about ourselves that we can learn to overlook in favor of more balanced, reasonable, and functional thoughts.
- My sense of security is likely to increase if I attempt to express my feelings and wishes as much as possible respectfully.
- Despite my desire for reassurance, I feel grateful for that.
- Life is complicated, and none of us always get to sit right. Like everyone, I deserve decency, respect, and further chances.
Katie Ziskind, BS, MA, MFT, LMFT
Licensed Holistic Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling
Some people find they need constant reassurance in their relationship. The need for constant reassurance can come from several different reasons that your therapist can help you decipher and identify.
You have a high anxiety level
For one, a person may need constant reassurance if they have a high anxiety level or an anxious attachment style. Someone with an anxious attachment style and low self-worth fears that their partner will abandon or leave them and may wonder if they are even a good romantic partner back.
You are afraid they will abandon you
Needing a high level of reassurance can be a sign that your partner has an anxious attachment style. A caregiver or parent in childhood may have abandoned you, so now, in your current romantic and intimate partnership, you are afraid they will abandon you.
Anxious attachment styles are often rooted in childhood trauma and loss. Having compassion for your partner if they have an anxious attachment style can be a helpful way to promote a more secure attachment in adulthood.
You have been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused in the past
A person might require more reassurance in a romantic relationship if they have been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused in a past romantic relationship.
If the person you are with was verbally criticized or verbally abused regularly, they might need more reassurance that you are not going to yell at them or bite their head off if they do something wrong or make a mistake.
Experiences of verbal and emotional abuse in a past romantic relationship, like being yelled at if dinner was cooked the “wrong” way. It can mean your partner needs a little extra verbal comfort to know they are doing things right with you.
If your romantic partner is afraid that if they cook dinner the wrong way again, they will be yelled at, reassurance can help build a secure relationship.
Work with a therapist to gain trauma coping skills
It can feel overwhelming if your partner needs constant reassurance, so working with a couples therapist or relationship counselor can help your partner feel reassured by a professional and gain self-confidence.
It’s normal for someone to have low self-worth and low self-esteem after exiting an emotionally abusive relationship, so a couple of therapists can teach self-confidence skills so your partner can reassure themselves and talk positively to themselves over time.
I highly recommend working with a therapist to gain trauma coping skills and emotional confidence.
Amanda Kruger, LPC
Licensed Professional Counseling, Copper Well Counseling
It might be your attachment style
If you need frequent validation and reassurance in relationships, this is a sign of Anxious Attachment. From the beginning of our lives, we start to develop what is called our Attachment Style. This is how we learn to function in relationships, especially the primary ones in our lives.
When we are babies and toddlers, the way we are cared for by our primary caregivers influences our ability to attach and bond to others.
When our caregivers are misattuned to our physical and emotional needs or meet them inconsistently, this can cause us to develop an Anxious Attachment Style. Though this can be healed, it will influence many relationships throughout your life.
Anxious Attachment in adults can show up as:
- Difficulty trusting others
- Craving intimacy
- Low self-worth
- Fear of abandonment
- Frequent need for reassurance
If you suspect you have an Anxious Attachment Style or need constant reassurance, there are steps you can take to move towards a Secure Attachment Style (the healthiest one).
Reflect on your past primary relationships
Try to recognize patterns and consider how your needs were met or neglected.
Recognize that this was in no way your fault
Recognize that this was in no way your fault, and there is nothing inherently wrong with you. It was simply a shortcoming on your caregivers’ part. Even if they were doing their absolute best, it doesn’t mean your needs were met.
Learn skills to regulate your emotions
Self-soothing skills that calm your mind and your nervous system can help you get through painful but temporary discomfort that arises when attachment wounds are triggered, including feeling insecure, unworthy, or needing reassurance.
Talk to your partner or other important people in your life
Talk to your partner or other important people in your life about your Attachment Styles and discuss how you can support each other. Research shows these attachment wounds heal themselves after consistent time in a healthy, loving, supportive relationship.
Meet with an understanding therapist consistently
In my practice, I use techniques called EMDR and DBT to support my clients in healing attachment wounds. These and other techniques are highly effective. In fact, research shows simply meeting with an understanding therapist consistently helps to heal these wounds.
Colleen Wenner-Foy, MA. LCMHC-S, LPC, MCAP
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Clinical Director, New Heights Counseling and Consulting LLC
You want to know you’re safe
We constantly look for signs that tell us if we’re safe or not. Validation from others, both verbal (e.g., “I agree with you”) and non-verbal (e.g., shaking of hands), does this. Reassurance from another person can help us feel better because it tells our brains everything is okay.
We don’t need to worry about what might come next. When we feel unsafe, however, the brain searches for ways to make sense of everything. It’s a survival mechanism.
Related: How to Stop Worrying about Everything
You are afraid of being alone
Loneliness is an unpleasant experience, and most people don’t really enjoy being by themselves for extended periods. It makes us focus on ourselves and think about how much we miss others.
With this understanding, a person who constantly seeks reassurance is trying to escape feelings of loneliness. We fear being alone because we need external validation from others to feel good about ourselves. We may become isolated, nervous, and depressed if we don’t receive enough.
You want to know you’re loved
Receiving reassurance from the people we love most helps us feel loved and cared for. This feeling of security allows us to relax, which makes us more open to new experiences. If we don’t get this reassurance, we might begin to question ourselves, and our self-worth takes a hit.
We begin to doubt our worthiness, looking for reasons why we’re not good enough. This leads to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Everyone needs to feel loved and cared for.
Kara Nassour, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor, Shaded Bough Counseling
You may be dealing with low confidence, anxiety, or guilt
If you need constant reassurance from your partner, you may be dealing with low confidence, anxiety, or guilt. It may also be a trauma response if you’ve had very painful relationships with family or partners before. These challenges can look similar, but they aren’t the same.
If you feel unsure of your ability to handle a relationship, to be a good partner, or to be desirable, your problem is likely a lack of confidence.
For most people, this problem improves as they get to know their partner better and get more experience in relationships. Challenge yourself and learn from your experiences, and confidence will come.
If you have anxiety or frequent intrusive thoughts, these can turn into anxiety about the relationship. Some forms of OCD and codependency look like this.
If it’s distressing you or straining the relationship, consider therapy to help you get to the root of your anxiety and overcome it.
You may feel like a burden to your partner
Some people seek reassurance because they feel like a burden on their partners or feel guilty about past mistakes. Seeking reassurance will not solve this guilt. You have to forgive yourself and trust your partner to speak up if they feel unhappy.
It can be a symptom of trauma
Finally, frequently seeking reassurance can be a symptom of trauma. It is a natural impulse if you’ve been hurt by loved ones before.
Give yourself plenty of time to heal, find people you can talk to about it, and study what healthy relationships look like so you can get a better sense of what’s normal and when to be concerned.
Dr. Ketan Parmar
Forensic Psychiatrist & Psychologist, ClinicSpots
You want to know that your partner likes you
Reassurance is all about checking and rechecking whether you are on the right path. You keep asking yourself if your choice is good or not, if you are making the right decisions or not, and so on.
You want to know that your partner likes you and that you are important to them. You want to be sure that your relationship is going in the right direction and that you are the right person for them. You might also ask them if they love you and how long they plan to be with you.
There are many people who have a constant need for reassurance in a relationship. This is not natural and is often caused by a few reasons.
Let’s first understand why people need constant reassurance in a relationship in the first place. When you start dating someone, you are expected to be comfortable enough to let them into your life.
You are not comfortable enough to let your partner in
You don’t have to wear a mask and pretend to be someone you are not. You can be your real self. So, if you constantly ask your partner to reassure you, you are not comfortable enough to let them in.
When you keep asking them to reassure you, you are basically trying to find a way to keep them at a distance. There are various reasons why someone needs constant reassurance in a relationship, but we will get to that in a bit.
You don’t feel worthy of a relationship
If you don’t feel worthy of love, you will keep asking for constant reassurance that your partner loves you because you don’t believe they do.
You are in love with the idea of love
You have fallen in love with the idea of being in love. You have high expectations from the relationship that you are in, but you don’t have enough love and care for yourself to keep the relationship going.
You are addicted to love and want it all the time. You crave someone to love you, but you don’t love yourself enough to let them in.
You might be a toxic person
If you constantly need reassurance, you might be a toxic person. You might constantly be looking to suck your partner’s energy and love out.
You might be someone who constantly needs to be reassured because you lack self-confidence. You might be someone who is toxic to be in a relationship with.
Three ways to stop the need for constant reassurance in a relationship
This is where it all starts. You must be comfortable with yourself before you can be in a healthy relationship. You have to love yourself before you can love someone else. If you don’t love yourself, you will seek someone else’s love.
You have to accept who you are, what you like, and what you don’t like. Only then will you be able to accept a partner for who they are.
Make sure you are ready for a relationship
You need to be sure that you are ready for a relationship. You shouldn’t be dating multiple people simultaneously and still ask for constant reassurance that they like you. You should be dating one person at a time, and be sure you are ready for a relationship.
You have to be self-aware and know when you are trying to suck the energy out of your partner. You must know when you are constantly looking for reassurance because that is not normal. You have to know when you are a toxic person because that is not healthy for anyone.
Gabrielle Montana, MS LPC SAC-IT
Licensed Professional Counselor, Fortitude Counseling Services LLC
You are experiencing an attachment injury
Seeking constant reassurance from your partner can be a sign of having an anxious attachment style.
If we have previously experienced inconsistent attunement, availability, and responsiveness from attachment figures, such as parents or past romantic partners, we are left with what is known as an attachment injury.
This means in a time of need, we experience physical and/or emotional neglect and abandonment from the person we believed would nurture us.
Past attachment injuries can leave us questioning the safety and security of our current relationship. Because we experienced inconsistency in the past, we expect our partner to change their mind about us at any moment.
This leaves us on edge, and seeking constant reassurance that our partnership continues to love, value, and want to be with us is our way of calming attachment anxiety.
Your partner has an avoidant attachment style
You might need constant reassurance because your partner isn’t providing any! If your partner is emotionally distant, avoidant, and neglectful, it is natural that this would instill self-doubt and anxieties about the safety of the relationship.
Avoidant attachment styles develop when our attachment figures are distant, rigid, unresponsive, and unavailable. This forces us into a position of self-reliance and depending only on what we know we can secure for ourselves.
If your partner has an avoidant attachment style, they may perceive emotional intimacy, such as providing words of affirmation and expressing their love for you, as a threat to their independence and, therefore, a threat to their greatest armor.
Jason Tuma, MA, LCMHCA
Mental Health Therapist, Real Solutions Wellness | Author, “Anxious About Anxiety: A Workbook for Managing Anxiety“
You contend with core beliefs
Core beliefs determine our thoughts. They influence how we interpret situations and lead to our emotions. A common core belief that leads to reassurance is incompetence.
When we have this core belief, we can have thoughts that lead to anxiety and cause us to seek reassurance from our partners, such as:
- “He/she doesn’t like me.”
- “I am not good enough.”
- “I can’t do anything right.”
In order to change our core beliefs, we need to focus on the opposite information. For example, when changing the core belief of incompetence, try to identify and write down ways you were competent throughout the day. This shift in attention will reduce the feeling of incompetence.
You engage in safety behavior
When we are anxious, we engage in safety behaviors. These are behaviors that help reduce our anxiety. For example, when people are nervous, they may talk fast, not make eye contact, or fidget.
These behaviors all help reduce anxiety. Reassurance is a safety behavior. It helps reduce our anxiety with our partner.
The problem with safety behaviors is that they reduce our anxiety in the short term but increase it in the long term. Our anxiety actually gets worse. Therefore, people may end up increasing their need to seek reassurance.
A good metaphor for understanding why this happens is the dog at the dinner table. When you are eating dinner, a dog is begging you for food. It is crying and scratching you. You get fed up, so you end up giving the dog a scrap.
However, instead of going away, it starts begging for more food. Why did this happen? Well, the dog enjoyed the food, so it kept coming back. It’s the same thing with reassurance. We enjoy the feeling (which reduces our anxiety), so we keep asking for more.
However, if we had continued to ignore the dog, it would have eventually moved on. Likewise, with reassurance, if we stopped asking, we would also move on.
Silvi Saxena, MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C
Licensed Social Worker | Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Choosing Therapy
You want to be reminded that you are valued and loved
We all need reassurance in relationships from time to time. As humans, we want to know, feel, and be reminded that we are valued and loved.
When we need constant reassurance, it may be a sign that you are dealing with insecure attachment or have other underlying issues pertaining to romantic relationships which keep you from fully believing what is happening.
Your relationship may be a bit inconsistent
It may also indicate that your relationship may be a bit inconsistent, so needing reassurance after a period of time where you weren’t feeling your needs were being met is also a possibility.
It’s best to talk to a therapist to figure out where this comes from and work through it individually or potentially as a couple.
It can be a sign that you need to work on your self-confidence
If you are feeling a chronic need for reassurance, it’s essential to dig deep inside and think about where this may be coming from. It can be a sign that you need to work on your self-confidence and remember your worth.
Healing that part of yourself is just as important as healing any other aspect of your body. Understanding that reassurance is nice, we should be able to reassure ourselves internally, without external validation.
Dr. Erika Vivyan
Licensed Psychologist, Brave Young Minds
Many people find themselves asking for reassurance in their relationships, but when this reassurance starts to interfere with their daily functioning, it may indicate a bigger mental health concern.
If you cannot sleep, eat, work, attend school, and/or enjoy a night out because you’re so caught up in asking for reassurance, you should consult a mental health professional.
You might be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder
For example, individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) feel intense, uncontrollable anxiety more days than not. Many people with GAD try to reduce this feeling of anxiety by seeking reassurance (e.g., “Am I going to be okay?”).
Folks with Separation Anxiety Disorder might ask for reassurance when they are separated from their partner or family member (e.g., “When will you be home?” “Exactly how long will you be away?”).
You might be showing an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptom
When this reassurance seeking becomes repetitive, compulsive, and highly distressing, this may be an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptom.
In some instances, you might seek reassurance that you still love your partner or feel attracted to them; this could be a symptom of a subtype of OCD called relationship OCD.
If any of these symptoms sound like you or your loved one, contact a mental health professional to see if anxiety and/or OCD might be the culprit.
Associate Marriage & Family Therapist
As a couple’s therapist, my clients’ frequent need for reassurance within their relationship is a common theme. And I’d be quite surprised if it wasn’t!
Usually, our partners mean more than anything else in the world to us, and because we’re biologically wired to bond and attach to our loved ones, it makes sense that you would react strongly at even the tiniest hint of a threat.
You carry loads of the previous history into your relationship
On top of it, we normally carry loads of the previous history into our relationships that get easily triggered if not worked through. Perhaps you were abandoned by a parent or cheated on in the past.
In a split second, all these fears can come up and overwhelm your ability to see the current relationship as different from the past.
But a constant need for reassurance usually also reflects something about the more significant relationship dynamic itself. Oftentimes these bids get dismissed as “needy” or “annoying.”
Rather than really seeing the pain and fear you feel and reaching out to actually reassure you and help the fear soften, your partner may become frustrated and defensive and end up withholding the genuine sense of reassurance you need.
This response usually leaves you feeling even less secure, and your need escalates even more.
While it’s often helpful to do your own work to separate past from present when it comes to the security of your current relationship, in healthy relationships, we also rely on our partners to co-regulate in these very moments and receive support and reassurance in a non-defensive way is often one way of doing just that.
Usually, the more these small moments add up. The more deeply we feel seen and connected, our relationship feels safe and secure, and the less “constant” reassurance we’ll need.
Life Coach & Somatic Coach, Heather Jones Coaching
You know that feeling in a relationship when you think things are going well, but suddenly you’re not so sure your partner feels that way? So, what do you do? You seek reassurance.
The reality is that it’s good to check in with your partner to ensure you’re on the same page. But what about when the need for reassurance becomes constant? If you’re wondering why you’re feeling a constant need to be reassured by your partner, let me shed some light.
Your self-esteem is shaky and you need a confidence boost
The truth is that it comes down to self-esteem. When your self-esteem is shaky, it’s common to look outside of yourself for a confidence boost. When you get that dose of confidence in return, it feels great, and it makes sense to look for another injection when the need hits.
The problem is that the boost is always short-lived, so it becomes a cycle. The constant need for an outside source of esteem boosting becomes your go-to. Imagine how exhausting that can be for both people involved.
The party being asked for reassurance can start to feel like their partner lacks trust in them. Ouch!
So, what’s the fix for this? Self-esteem work! The assurance needs to come from inside of yourself in order to break that cycle. It takes work, but imagine looking yourself in the mirror and thinking, “I’m a freaking amazing partner.”
What’s more, even if your partner doesn’t see it that way, your self-esteem can take a hit.
Susanne M. Alexander
Relationship and Marriage Coach, Marriage Transformation | Co-Author, “Couple Vitality: Connecting with Character”
There have been disrupting experiences in your past
If someone had parents who died or were divorced, people often need reassurance that their partner won’t leave them in a similar way. They seek words and physical gestures of affection that help them to feel deeply connected to someone in the present.
A similar dynamic can arise if someone doesn’t bond securely with a mother when very young, such as when there is severe postpartum depression.
There are trust-breaking incidents that have happened in the current relationship
If trust-breaking incidents have happened in the current relationship, such as infidelity, regular pornography use, or breaking commitments, it is natural for a partner to feel insecure. When feeling insecure, individuals seek evidence that it’s okay to trust again.
However, to feel genuinely reassured that the relationship is viable, there must be evidence of sincere efforts and progress with new behaviors. As trust rebuilds, the need for reassurance lessens.
Michelle Hobson, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Hobson Therapy
You feel like the relationship is failing or might end
Reassurance seeking is a common behavior in anxiety disorders or poorly attached individuals. We seek reassurance to calm our bodies when we feel agitated, disconnected, or upset.
We seek reassurance from our partners when we feel insecurely attached, or sense danger, like the relationship is failing or might end. Then, we reach out for a bit of connection and feel better.
The problem is that reassurance-seeking provides only temporary relief, especially when we are activated. This is why we return for more reassurance. The cycle continues on and on from here.
Addressing the anxiety and the attachment in the relationship is the best way to stop this behavior, especially if it is becoming too cumbersome for your partner.
The good news is that with the proper support, you can learn to desensitize to the agitating stimuli and settle your body without reassurance. It just takes practice and a shift in your internal dialogue.
A therapist trained in stuck thinking patterns and attachment disorders would help challenge this behavior.
Relationship Expert, Battling Mental Illness Alone | Speaker | Author, “Journey of the Self-Memoir of an Artist“
You need to feel connected in the relationship
There are many reasons why one needs constant reassurance from their partner:
- A prior damaging relationship.
- Suspected spouse cheating.
- Compromised trust.
- The need for a happy state of mind.
- Feelings of inadequacy.
- A need to feel connected.
We are bombarded by people daily (work, commuting, the gym, etc.) sifting through the complexities of this modern world, often presenting opportunities to engage the stranger facing the temptation to cheat on one’s partner.
As strong as a relationship might be, one requires reassurance with affection and reaching out with the language of love, seeking approval of one’s actions.
Many of us harbor insecurities, coming into the relationship with personal problems and different coping strategies and family history to address stress. Comforting words from one’s partner can be uplifting, knowing they are there, through thick and thin, and accepting of one’s inadequacies.
Counselor and Adventure Lead, The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center
You are not happy in the relationship
A person who has anxiety may need reassurance. They may worry that their partner will leave them or isn’t happy in the relationship. This could also stem from early relationships.
You have an insecure attachment
If a person has insecure attachment early in life, they may have an anxious attachment style, which makes them more anxious in relationships. If this is happening with your partner, it’s crucial to discuss your feelings with them.
You and your partner may have different needs
You and your partner may have different needs regarding what you need in a relationship. Maybe your partner needs more attention or affection. If this is the case, it’s best to sit down and converse with your partner.
Let them know what you need in a relationship. Find out what they need. Determine if you can come to a compromise somewhere in the middle. If you cannot, then it might be a good idea to meet with a therapist.
Lauren Handel Zander
Relationship Expert | Co-Founder, La Vette Social Club
You are confused about whether your partner is fully aligned in the relationship
The need for constant assurance in a relationship often relates to insecurity about the relationship itself. This usually comes from fear or confusion around whether the other person is fully aligned in the relationship as you see and want it.
Why? Because very few people are ever completely honest and upfront with what they want (out loud!), and instead try to “let it unfold naturally,” which leads to secret agendas and guessing, and ultimately — insecurity.
The cure? Be brave, honest, and upfront. Lean into vulnerability and truth as a strength.
It’s surprisingly sexy when someone is willing to claim their desires out loud! If the truth is that there isn’t genuine alignment, it is better to know now than to remain in a relationship where you are constantly second-guessing and seeking reassurance.
And more importantly, if your desires align, you can use that as a secure foundation to build a strong, secure relationship that both people believe in and trust.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is constant reassurance in a relationship?
Constant reassurance refers to the need for continuous validation and confirmation from your partner in a relationship. This can take many forms, such as seeking approval for decisions, asking for compliments, or asking for frequent displays of affection.
Is the need for constant reassurance a sign of an unhealthy relationship?
Not necessarily. While building a foundation of trust and security in a relationship is important, each person has different needs and communication styles. It’s possible for two people to have different needs for reassurance and still have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
However, if one partner feels constantly drained and unable to meet the other’s needs, it may be a sign of an imbalance in the relationship that needs to be addressed.
How can I tell if my need for reassurance is unhealthy?
It’s important to pay attention to how your need for reassurance is affecting your daily life and relationships. Here are some signs that your need for reassurance may be unhealthy:
• Your need for reassurance causes anxiety or stress when it’s not met
• You feel like you can’t function without your partner’s constant reassurance
• You become clingy or overly dependent on your partner
• You become jealous or possessive of your partner
If you notice any of these signs, it may be helpful to seek out the support of a therapist or counselor who can help you work through these feelings.
What can I do if my partner needs constant reassurance?
It’s important to be supportive of your partner’s needs and work together to establish a healthy balance. Here are some tips on how you can support a partner who needs constant reassurance:
• Be patient and understanding of your partner’s needs and try not to dismiss or belittle them
• Encourage open communication so your partner feels comfortable expressing their feelings and needs
• Find ways to affirm your partner that they’re worth loving, such as through physical affection or verbal affirmation
• Set boundaries when you feel overwhelmed or drained by your partner’s needs and work together to find a compromise that works for both of you
Can constant reassurance be harmful to a relationship?
Yes. When one partner feels overwhelmed or drained by the other’s constant need for reassurance, it can lead to an unhealthy imbalance in the relationship. It’s important that both partners communicate their feelings and needs effectively and work together to create a healthy balance.
Can therapy help with my need for reassurance in a relationship?
Yes, therapy can be a helpful resource for people struggling with anxiety, attachment issues, or low self-esteem. A therapist can help you identify the root causes of your need for reassurance and develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with these feelings.
Is it possible to have a healthy relationship without needing constant reassurance?
Yes, it’s possible to maintain a healthy relationship without needing constant reassurance. A healthy relationship is based on mutual trust, respect, and communication.
When both partners feel secure in their relationship and have confidence in themselves, there is less need for constant reassurance. However, occasional reassurance and validation can still be important and useful in maintaining a healthy relationship.
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