Expecting Your Partner to Boost Your Ego to Assuage Your Insecurity: Realistic or No?
This hub has been written in response to the question, "If you are insecure, is it unrealistic to expect your partner to boost your ego?" The simple answer is yes, it is unrealistic. While it's nice when a partner will say something nice that helps us feel better about ourselves, it's also true that you make your own happiness. You can't rely on anyone else to provide the mindset for you.
Sound a little too pat and easy, or maybe a little cliché? I thought so too for a long time. I thought that if I found the right relationship, got into the perfect situation in life, or if things just went my way then I'd be happy. I thought if I could just succeed at this, hit that earnings goal for the month, or lose that other 30 pounds I don't like, then my ego would have the necessary strokes it needed. Here's what my experience has been so far, and how expecting something or someone to create my happiness ended up being exactly the wrong way to go about it.
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Past relationships, expectations, and abject failure
The failure of my first marriage, in large part, resulted because my ex-husband couldn't get over the idea that I couldn't make him happy. There was this constant expectation that my words or actions would somehow be the magic that got him over deep-rooted insecurity and self-loathing. It got in the way of true connection, and created a lot of strain and resentment when, in fact, work my charms and fix all that's wrong with the world.
Not surprisingly, the expectation that I could invent a good self-image for someone else eventually resulted in the breakup of the relationship. He started looking to other people to provide the happiness that I'd failed to give him, and began viewing me as the root of that unhappiness. Today, he is in his second marriage and still struggles with compulsive eating, as well as other signs of general displeasure with the world.
The pattern continues...
My second marriage struggled for quite some time, until it finally hit me. I realized that I was doing the same thing to my husband that my ex had done to me: Putting pressure on him to provide the security and happiness that I had not learned to provide for myself. What's more, I'd picked up a lot of extra insecurity in my previous relationship. I was deeply rooted in this belief that it's my job to make him happy. I constantly pushed him for outward signs that I was succeeding. I beat myself up if he appeared unhappy for any reason, regardless of whether or not I had anything to do with it. I constantly apologized for things that were wrong in his world, but that I couldn't possibly have caused.
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Let's take a moment to reflect on that. Not only might my dear husband have a bad day at work, but then he'd also have to deal with me going nuts (inwardly or outwardly) because I couldn't fix what bothered him. When I was willing to accept blame for things I didn't do, he was often even obliging in allowing me to take that blame. Cue the whole expectation-resentment-misery cycle all over again.
My second marriage did not move toward even a semblance of a happy, fulfilling, healthy relationship until I realized that I was setting myself up to be a scapegoat. More than that, quite frankly, I stuck my nose where it didn't belong in trying to make myself the author and -- let's say that ugly word -- controller of his happiness. In return, I expected him to express my success back to me so that I could feel good about having been a good little wife today. That's not something my husband did to me, it's something I did to me. The only option other than another crash and burn turned out to be a hard look at my beliefs and expectations for my interactions with the world.
So, do you REALLY need your partner to boost your ego?
My question for you is, if you're insecure and you go to your partner to help assuage your insecurity, how do you feel if s/he is having a bad day and doesn't say the things you want to hear? What about when he or she gets frustrated and snaps at you for bringing up such a vague or repetitive issue? Chances are, you end up feeling even more insecure. That often sets off a very nasty cycle that's frustrating and hopeless for both partners.
Break out of the destructive cycle of needing others to confirm your worth
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Try taking some time to identify why you're feeling insecure. Have things gone badly at work this week? Are the kids pushing every last nerve they can manage? Maybe you noticed the first crow's feet creeping across your face and fear that your appearance has started a steady decline. No matter what it is, your partner can't "fix" your reaction to it -- and on the same token, you're not screwing up his or her world by having those things going on.
I hope this hub has been helpful. Please take a moment to post a comment about whether you agree or disagree, and the top issue you've had in your relationship regarding yours or your partner's insecurity. If you'd like, I'd love to hear of an instance where your efforts for building your own self-confidence have made you feel better about yourself, and what effect it's had on your relationship overall.
Think about things that make you feel fulfilled and happy, and take some time out of every day to do them. Maybe it's just curling up with a hot cup of coffee or tea and a good book to let your mind wander, or maybe it's an hour of yoga to release the stress and tighten up those muscles that keep "fat feelings" away. If you really want to know how your partner feels about something (i.e. your appearance or a particular behavior) then ask in an unchallenging way, accept the answer as truth, and leave it alone.
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