There are moments when we all feel insecure in our romantic relationships. Whether you feel like your partner doesn’t “really” love you or that you’re “not good enough” for them, feeling insecure is never a pleasant feeling.
Navigating insecurity can also be difficult on the other side of the relationship, too. It can sometimes feel like offering praise or reassurance is a fruitless effort when your partner continues to feel the same way no matter what you say; research has shown that insecure people struggle to accept compliments, anyway.
So, what can you do to make your partner feel better? When everything you do or say seems to make the situation worse, it can make you feel defeated and lead you to lose hope in the future of your relationship – even if you know your partner can’t help their feelings of insecurity. The answer, apparently, lies in one simple question.
A new study by the University of Waterloo has revealed that asking a simple question – “How was your day?” – can help an insecure partner feel cared for without triggering their brain to fight back against compliments and reassurances they already believe to be untrue. Essentially, it’s not enough to just say something – you have to show your partner how much you care and prove their inner critic wrong.
The study, which surveyed 359 adults in relationships between the ages of 18 to 66, found that the relationship satisfaction reported by the people who said they often felt insecure in their relationships increased when their partners asked them about their day. The adults involved answered two studies – one which assessed how confident they were that their partner loves them, is committed to them and will help them in times of need, and another which asked about their relationship satisfaction.
The research reveals a simple but powerful truth about the things we prioritise in relationships: that we prefer our partner to show curiosity towards us and our lives over a simple bit of praise.
There’s simply no point in relying on giving praise and reassurance to help your insecure partner, especially if many of their insecurities come from their inner critic. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting them (everyone needs to hear nice things sometimes), but giving them evidence that you care could be a more affective way to combat those negative thoughts.
Whether you ask them about their day, quiz them about their work or simply sit down and chat about something they’re interested in, curiosity is a fantastic tool which we can all use to better our relationships.