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Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, without restriction.
This week, their resident sex therapist Isiah McKimmie discusses how to overcome the insecurities associated with feeling that your partner is more attractive than you.
Is it normal to be insecure if your partner is too attractive? I really like a girl and she likes me too. The problem is that she is much more attractive than me.
I’d say I’m a six out of 10 and she’s a solid nine. At first I thought it was great, but now I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. I’m afraid she’ll realize she can do better and end things. I found myself putting her down to feel better, which I know is a horrible thing to do, but I can’t stop myself. Is there anything I can do to stop feeling so anxious?
• To respond:
People are insecure for all kinds of reasons, but when we allow these insecurities to control us, they lead to unnecessary behaviors like the ones you describe. Fortunately, there are ways to learn how to deal with it and change your behavior.
The real issue here is not how attractive this girl is, but your own insecurities and the confirmation bias your mind is looking for.
Our worries and insecurities unfortunately often guarantee that what we fear will happen will happen. You’re worried about this girl leaving you, and that’s the driving force behind you putting her down, but you obviously realize that if you keep putting her down, she’s guaranteed to leave. This is called “confirmation bias”. If she ends up leaving, your mind will say, “See, I told you you weren’t good enough for her.”
There are two things you need to take care of here: your anxiety and the unnecessary thoughts that come with it. If you can do this, your behavior will also change.
Look at your underlying beliefs
Somewhere along the way, you got the message that physical appearance is one of the most important aspects of being liked. Although looks are important to people to some degree, there are far more important things to look for when choosing a partner.
Our perception of a person’s attractiveness can also change based on their behavior and the connection you have with them.
Have you ever looked at one of your exes and thought “what was I thinking?” When we feel connected to someone, we see them in a more favorable light. But when we’re not connected, we may look back at someone and think “How did I find this beautiful person!”
Focus on being a good person and it will make you more attractive to this girl.
Understand where your insecurity comes from
Insecurity stems from a lack of validation and security in childhood. Understanding the origins of our patterns and beliefs can help change them.
With a therapist or in a journal, reflect on the relationships you had with your caregivers when you were a young child. Also consider the messages you’ve received about attractiveness, relationships, and being a good person.
Mindfulness helps calm anxiety and creates space between you and your thoughts. A simple way to practice mindfulness is to focus on deep breathing and feeling your body. There are also many apps now that can help you develop a daily mindfulness practice. Consider setting aside 10-15 minutes a day to practice mindfulness.
At times when you notice yourself feeling very anxious about this girl or saying something unnecessary, calm yourself down by taking deep breaths and feeling your body. It will help you think more clearly and help you choose different actions.
Remember the positives
Trying not to think negative thoughts almost never works. Instead, task your mind with focusing on positive thoughts.
For example, when you notice that you’re thinking, “She’s going to leave me because I’m not attractive enough,” say something more positive to yourself, like, “This relationship may or may not work out, but if it’s not the case, it’s not because of my attractiveness. I have a lot of positive qualities that I bring to a relationship.”
Own your behavior
Sometimes in relationships we all say or do things that we later regret. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for your behavior and apologize.
For example: “Hey, what I said was hurtful and unfair. I put you down because of my own insecurities. I’m sorry. I really want to work on this.”
These suggestions are not a magic bullet, but when practiced continuously over time, they do make a difference.