What Is Security in a Relationship, and How Can You Cultivate It?
Right up there with unconditional love and an unshakable sense of trust, emotional security is a crucial component of every romantic relationship.
Everyone wants to feel emotional safety with the person they've chosen to spend their life with. But security in a relationship doesn't just happen. It's something both partners have to consciously work on cultivating, whether they've just started dating or have been together for years.
If you find you're not feeling as secure in your relationship as you'd like to be, Venus Nicolino, a relationship expert and clinical psychologist, says this is an issue that's solvable, so long as both you and your significant other are ready and willing to work on it together.
Keep reading for more relationship advice, including what security in a healthy relationship looks like, why it's so important, and tangible tips for how to overcome feelings of insecurity.
In this article:
What Is Security in a Relationship?
No one wants to feel insecure in any area of their life—especially when it comes to their current relationship.
"Relationship security means having complete confidence that your partner is there for you, and not just sometimes," Nicolino says. "It means your struggles and fears are not your own to bear."
For instance, security in a happy relationship can look like your partner being fully supportive if one of your family members needs help. Or, it could mean your partner alleviating any trust concerns you have by being totally open with you.
Why Relationship Security Is Important
Regardless of whether you're married or not, your romantic partner is someone you've chosen to navigate life with. In order for your relationship foundation to be strong, both partners must feel safe and secure.
"Feeling secure in your romantic relationship allows you to connect deeper with the most important person in your life," Nicolino says. "It frees you to discuss desires and fears, and to be vulnerable in these discussions."
Without security in a relationship, couples will find it difficult to thrive and move to the next level, Nicolino says. "Security means both partners are elevated knowing they have someone to stand by them no matter what life slings their way."
What if You Don't Feel Secure in Your Relationship?
If you have feelings of insecurity in your relationship, Nicolino first advises checking in with yourself to see if those feelings are based on actual inappropriate behavior or self-generated insecurities.
Inappropriate behavior could be anything you previously communicated with your partner that doesn't sit well with you, she says, like communicating with an ex.
Conversely, self-generated insecurities are not based on actual inappropriate behavior and have not been communicated with your partner. This could be something like feeling paranoid that your partner is lusting over other people on social media apps.
"What might feel OK to one partner may not be OK with another," Nicolino says. "It's important to communicate what your expectations are of one another."
Signs of a Secure Relationship
Nicolino says one clear sign that you have a secure intimate relationship is that both you and your partner know you can lean on each other for everything, from small day-to-day problems to bigger, more serious issues. Not only do you both feel comfortable sharing and discussing issues, but you also feel glad to be able to tackle those issues together instead of alone.
How to Build a Secure Relationship Together
These five steps will help you build a more secure relationship with your partner.
1. Express your desire for security.
It's possible to overcome insecurity in your relationship whether you're a new couple or you've been together for years, so long as both partners are willing to put in the effort to build a more secure romantic relationship. Nicolino suggests starting the process by opening up and telling your partner that you want a more secure relationship.
2. Ask each other questions.
To build trust and help both you and your partner feel more emotionally safe in your relationship, Nicolino recommends asking each other what would make you each feel more safe and secure.
Here are a few questions she offers to get you started:
What's one quality that holds me back from understanding you better and helping you feel safe and secure?
Is there something I used to do for you that you wish I still did?
Where do you see us in five years? Where do you see yourself? Where do you see me?
3. Create an action plan.
From there, Nicolino recommends having a conversation to discuss how you can both make certain changes to improve your relationship. Touch base with each other to see how you're feeling as you begin implementing these changes.
4. Do hard things together.
When life's running smoothly, it's easy to feel a sense of safety in your relationship. But when life throws you curveballs, you might start feeling insecure. To prepare for life's inevitable challenges, Nicolino offers this piece of relationship advice: "Do hard stuff together." This can include running a marathon, doing martial arts, or engaging in any other activity that serves as a reminder that no matter what happens, you can get through it together.
5. Make it a game.
Remember to keep things fun and light when you're discussing this topic. Nicolino encourages couples to use gamification. For instance, she suggests "competing" with each other to see who scores the most security-building points. "Two points for daily compliments, three for opening up about a new fear, and so on," she says.