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More PsychNotes: Relationships

Do You Love Me? Do You REALLY Love Me?
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

Do you frequently ask those close to you how they really feel about you? Do you sometimes ask so much that others become irritated or frustrated with the question? If you do, then you may engage in excessive reassurance seeking (ERS).

Typically, those with ERS tend to be insecure in their relationships and have a fear of abandonment. Also, ERS has been associated with depression.

But does that mean just because you're flirting with your partner and want to hear reassuring words that you are anxious and insecure in your relationship? Not necessarily. There may be both secure and insecure forms of ERS (Evraire and Dozois, 2014). It depends on why you are asking the question.

If you are truly fearful of abandonment and ask the question to alleviate this anxiety, then ERS can be a problem. However, if you do not have abandonment anxiety, then ERS is not associated with negative moods.

The problem with ERS for those who are insecure in their relationships is that it can lead to what they are most fearful of: abandonment. By frequently requiring reassurance from their partner they can cause negative feelings in the relationship. Such negative feelings can potentially cause dissatisfaction with the relationship itself.

What can you do if you are insecure in your relationship and engage in ERS?

First, stop the behavior. Recognize that you are potentially causing problems in the relationship by frustrating your partner with the question. By stopping the behavior you can at least reduce the damage to your relationship.

Second, focus on your partner. The ERS puts all the focus on you. Instead, show love to your partner. Give your partner attention instead of requiring attention from your partner. Make your partner feel special in the relationship. And this means not according to what you want but what your partner wants. In other words, you might constantly want to hear “I love you” but maybe it is more meaningful to your partner when you listen attentively to stories about work or interests.

Finally, focus on changing your internal beliefs that cause you to feel insecure. This step may be more difficult than changing the behavior because you need to identify these beliefs. Often they are associated with self-esteem. Instead of requiring someone else to make you feel good about yourself, you need to find internal ways to feel better about you.

Take questionnaire to assess relationship beliefs: Measure of Attachment Qualities

Evraire, L.E. And Dozois, D.J.A. (2014). If It Be Love Indeed Tell Me How Much: Early Core Beliefs Associated With Excessive Reassurance Seeking in Depression. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 46, 1–8. DOI: 10.1037/a0033486

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