If your partner uses these 9 phrases, they feel insecure in the relationship

There’s no two ways about it: insecurity can be a downright turn off in a relationship.

When a significant other has a habit of feeling insignificant, it can lead to behaviors of neediness, jealousy, and even control.

Relationship insecurity can crop up in destructive ways, and whether or not those feelings are warranted, they create unhealthy behaviors regardless of reasoning, says Sylvia Smith from Marriage.com

Needless to say, the neediness can eventually place a huge strain on the relationship. 

If any of the below nine phrases sound familiar, then you may very well have an insecure partner on your hands. 

1) “Were you talking about me?”

Say your mother is over and the two of you are having a private conversation. Your partner walks into the room and you and your mother stop talking. They walk out of the room and the awkward incident is seemingly forgotten.

After your mother leaves, your partner seems tense and asks you pointedly, “Were you and your mother talking about me?”

“Not at all,” you say. “We were just talking about another matter that is personal to her and I don’t want to say much else on it.”

Your partner stares at you. It’s blatantly obvious that they don’t believe you.

Instead of shrugging the incident off, your partner gives you the silent treatment for the rest of the evening. And at bedtime. And in the morning.

You could almost laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Except the above isn’t exactly an isolated incident. 

If you don’t share private conversations that you’ve had with your mother, your sister, or your best friend—discussions that actually have nothing whatsoever to do with your partner—they automatically assume you’re talking about them behind their back. 

You’ve tried to reassure them, even shrug off the issue, and your partner does come around eventually. 

But it’s an annoying habit of theirs that doesn’t really go away.

2) “You never have time for me”

Remember that storyline on Friends where Ross becomes insecure when Rachel lands the job of her dreams at Bloomingdale’s?

Ross becomes insecure because Rachel is working with the handsome “Mark” (who she has no interest in), but also because her new job is taking up a lot of her time—and Ross feels really sidelined. 

In the words of one invested Reddit user:

“It was almost as if he [Ross] preferred Rachel when she was a waitress and unfulfilled in her career. The second she started working hard and had something going for herself, he became insanely jealous and paranoid.”

Sure, Friends is just a sitcom, but a lot of people will probably find this scenario pretty familiar. 

When one partner starts to thrive, the other partner can feel a mix of jealousy and neglect. 

Instead of being supportive, they’ll complain that you’re more into your work than you are into them.

3) “I don’t deserve you”

While this one can mean a myriad of things depending on the context, a partner telling you they feel like they don’t deserve you could be a cry for help, says Tiffany Shepherd from A Conscious Rethink

It could be about their “insecurities about your relationship…or a way to manipulate you into feeling sorry for them.”

Shepherd says it’s a backwards way of going about things, and it would make the situation a lot simpler if your partner just asked whether or not you’re happy with them. 

“It’s healthy to check in how your partner is feeling as you get into a relationship to make sure you’re on the same page.”

If your partner doesn’t have the confidence to ask you outright, they could be thinking the worst unless you say otherwise, she says. 

4) “I know that I can be too much to handle”

This statement is not only laced with insecurity, but it also has toxic undertones. 

It almost sounds like they know they’re expecting too much of you, and this phrase is an insecure attempt at an apology so that you don’t throw in the towel. 

“Many of have been [or are] with partners who don’t complement us in a way that brings out the best in ourselves,” says Dr. Jenny Gumm from Sersano Consulting

“When we are with them, there may be tons of passion and love, but we are just not quite at our best,” she says. “We are angrier, quieter, more sullen, dissatisfied, or less confident. We just don’t feel right in our skin, and we keep trying to figure out why.”

5) “I don’t know why I’m always messing up”

This phrase suggests that a partner isn’t confident in their abilities. It’s not only an insecure behavior to say this, but it also takes on a victim role and implies that they should be felt sorry for. 

It also suggests that they’re not really invested or trying to change their behavior, which of course can be problematic. 

There could also be a power imbalance here where they see you as the “hero” of the relationship who is in control and will make things right again. 

Needless to say this dynamic is insecure, but also deeply unhealthy. 

6) “Tell me you love me”

theyre deeply unhappy in their relationship If your partner uses these 9 phrases, they feel insecure in the relationship

Again, it depends on how this phrase is being said and how often.

If your partner has this request routinely and it’s a whiny one at that, then there’s definitely some insecurity happening on their part. 

A person shouldn’t have to be told they’re loved to know it to be true. Hearing it once in a while is wonderful but really, love is an action, not just words. 

Asking this also points to the idea that even when you do tell them that you love them, it either isn’t believed or it isn’t enough.

7) “Promise me you won’t leave me”

This phrase sounds like it comes from my teenage self’s favorite soap opera, The Young and the Restless. There was always someone desperately beseeching their lover with these words.

But there are versions of this phrase being played out in relationships in real life all the time.

Relationship paranoia is characterized by a groundless and insistent belief that your partner is acting against you, or in this case, they feel that you are acting against them, according to clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

They may not realize it—or maybe they do realize it but still can’t help themselves—but what your partner is doing is pushing you away from them, and setting the stage for the very thing they’re so afraid of happening. 

Sadly, their fears can wind up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

8) “I can’t live without you”

This one is similar to the above but this is one that has been normalized in our romance-obsessed culture. 

We chalk this line up to passion probably because books, movies, and television shows have portrayed it over and over again—usually by someone who is especially easy on the eyes. 

Who doesn’t want to be wanted with such yearning and longing, right?


This kind of “love” is needy, clingy, incessant, and downright suffocating. 

If someone is saying these words—especially with desperation in their voice—it means you’re their whole world and that life is meaningless without you. 

We should never be someone else’s entire world. We can only add to their lives, not be their lives. 

A confident and healthy person would say: “I can live without you, but I don’t want to.”

9) “You belong to me”

This unnerving phrase gives Sleeping With The Enemy vibes (as Julia Roberts’ fans will know).

While some level of jealousy in a relationship is considered normal, even healthy—excessive jealousy can be problematic, says Haddie Browne from Simple Psychology.

“Insecure individuals often experience intense jealousy, even in situations where there is no obvious threat to the relationship,” she says. 

“They may become suspicious or anxious about their partner’s interactions with others, fearing that any connection outside of the relationship threatens their bond.”

Browne says that jealousy in a romantic relationship can come up in many ways, including possessiveness and the constant need for reassurance. 

“Such jealousy can be damaging to a relationship if left unchecked as it erodes trust, creates emotional turmoil, and can ultimately lead to the deterioration of the partnership.”

Your partner’s insecurity is not your problem

Insecurity has many branches, but the root of the issue comes from how we feel about ourselves, says Dina Strada from Medium

“Nobody can fix that but us,” she says. 

At the end of the day, it isn’t our responsibility to make our partners happy. We cannot give them security or make them feel better about themselves. 

We also can’t convince them that we love them when it doesn’t seem like they love themselves.

We can support them, and we can recommend they see a therapist which can help them get to the core of their insecurity.

But ultimately, it’s up to them. 

If they choose not to change, then it’s up to us on how much we can handle and whether or not it’s right for us to continue the relationship. 

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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