A PICTURE OF INSECURITY - Insecurity is no fun. It’s that nagging feeling of angst and anxiety, of being unsettled and worried. You feel helpless and that you don’t measure up to a person or situation, lacking a sense direction or confidence in how to approach things. Like in the initial stages of dating, a single gay man’s insecurity might look like…”Does he like me?” “Why hasn’t he called me like he said he would?” “Will he still be around even after we’ve had sex?”
These are pretty normal reactions; it becomes insecurity when the person becomes preoccupied and ruminates about the outcome, personalizing it and putting himself through a slow-torture of doubt and “what-if” thinking that distracts him from being centered and relaxed.
Gay men in relationships can struggle with insecurity as well; having a partner is no shield against it. In a relationship, insecurity might look like…”Am I still attractive to my partner after all this time?” “Does he think I’m a good lover?” “Why is he spending so much time away from home?” “Is he cheating on me?”
Again, there’s nothing abnormal with these thoughts—it has more to do with their extent and severity and how much they are interfering with one’s quality of life and relationship. This article will offer some suggestions for managing this harmful emotion so it doesn’t sabotage your relationship and cause undue stress for your well-being.
CULPRITS OF THE MADNESS - Insecurity can stem from many different sources and is highly individual. Maybe you were raised in a family who didn’t give enough positive strokes and you were made to feel “less than.” Maybe you have a history of abuse. Perhaps your experiences with men in the past have burned you and now you feel suspect and untrusting to let your guard down.
Low self-esteem plays a big role. Maybe you have attachment difficulties, fears of abandonment, commitment phobia…the faces of insecurity are diverse. There are, however, two particularly strong forces that can befriend insecurity that you should be aware of and intervene before too much havoc occurs.
Mindreading is a cognitive distortion in which you assume you know what your partner is thinking or doing without having any evidence to back up it up. Even though you may have lots of experience with your partner and could likely predict how he would respond to a given situation, there are always exceptions, and you must be very careful to avoid making decisions on the conclusions you create.
If your assumption is incorrect, you now have a whole host of other problems to contend with. Mindreading is a byproduct of insecurity and contributes to its madness. The solution is to always check things out with your partner to ensure you’re “on the same page.” Prioritize what’s most important and share your perception as an inquiry rather than a fact.
Projection is another causative factor to insecurity. This is a very complex defense mechanism, but basically is where you put out onto another person disowned aspects of yourself or unfinished business with other people or the past. For example, if you have fears of getting hurt by your partner, you could “project” onto him things that an ex-boyfriend did to you, particularly if both men exhibit similar characteristics or behaviors. Or maybe you feel guilty about something that you did, so you attack your partner for making a mistake about something.
The solution here is to identify any emotional wounds from childhood, the past, or previous relationships and learn to grieve them so the issues don’t keep getting displaced into the relationship with your current partner. Take responsibility for “stuff” that’s really your own. Remember that your partner is not your “ex”, for example; they are both very different individuals with unique personalities, philosophies, and values.
Learn how to cope with these triggers when they get activated and channel those feelings into more productive outlets: COPING STRATEGIES FOR TAMING INSECURITY - [ Part Two Tomorrow ]
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com