The Insecure Man

in Relationship
Shamila Abraham (34), met Junaid (35) when she was 21 and married him a year later. Junaid was the epitome of the attentive, love-struck suitor. 'If you said you needed a pencil, he'd jump in the car immediately and buy an entire box,' she says.

Shamila was flattered initially but realized, not long into their marriage, that Junaid's eagerness to please was taking a toll on their relationship - and her. Gaining praise from others gave him a sense of self-worth that was so important to him she had to play along - in front of colleagues, friends and even family. 'I had to be the full support, yet I wasn't allowed to have hard times. At one stage I went through a really rough time at work, and after a week he asked me to please stop talking about it.'

Junaid was also insecure to the point of paranoia - 'I was constantly accused of having affairs' - and struggled to deal with Shamila's successes. When she scored higher than him on a scuba diving test, he was livid, even refusing to be her dive 'buddy' on subsequent trips.

Dealing with Him

'Healthy affirmation involves being able to give and receive,' says Cook. 'If you find yourself constantly giving, leaving no space for your own needs, it is important to explore the hows and whys of this pattern, where it comes from and how it impacts on your life.' Remember that his insecurities lie within himself, says clinical psychologist Adele Romanis. 'Empower him to address his issues, with therapy for example.' If you feel your own behavior might contribute to his insecurity, discuss this calmly with him.

Empathize with him, 'but if he is not willing to acknowledge the issue, you may need to question your needs and reasons for remaining in the relationship'.

Nina van der Merwe (24) has known David (25) since high school, and the two reconnected at a party. 'He's a very funny guy and ... I actually liked (his) laid-back personality. I felt that it countered my hyper-anxious one.'

But then she realized that he was a little too laid-back. 'David didn't think a relationship involved any sort of work. If he was sick ('which happened quite often'), he would complain, but without going to the doctor. 'He'd whine until I'd go to the chemist, get some medication (and pay for it myself) and "nurse" him back to health,' says Nina. Even when it came to conflict, he used what Nina terms 'the silent treatment' - to manipulate her. ‘This further provoked me and made me hysterical. He would then accuse me of being unreasonable and acting crazy.’

'I felt like I was alone in the relationship,' Nina says. She started to think it was her responsibility to get him interested. 'It really makes you question whether or not you're good enough to be loved. It wasn't all bad all the time, but it dented my self-image.'

Dealing with Him

Resist doing for him what he can do for himself, says Arden; this will force him into being active. Rather than do more to make up for his passivity, do less. If, for example, you're always planning annual holidays, let him know that you're too busy to do so this year. The message is clear: if he doesn't plan a holiday, there won't be a holiday. 'You can help him unlearn his passive ways by not rewarding him for being passive. As you fail to respond in the expected way, he will begin to change,' says Arden. When he steps up to the plate, thank him.

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The Insecure Man

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This article was published on 2010/08/04
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