Loving an insecure person can be frustrating. You always feel like you have to offer praise or reassurance. Not only can that be exhausting, but in trying to do what you think is helpful, you might actually be making matters worse.
When people with insecurities hear something good about themselves, they tend to doubt or even dismiss it, as much research shows. This means, quite perplexingly, that hearing positive feedback can often raise their anxieties, because it may clash with the more pessimistic views they hold of themselves.
Insecure people may wonder whether their partner truly knows them, or worry that they cannot live up to the partner's expectations. At times, praise can even lead their minds to argue back; it can trigger unfavorable thoughts about themselves that contradict the praise.
What can loving partners do instead? Try conveying genuine curiosity, rather than compliments. Asking a simple question — "How was your day?" — can show concern without triggering a negative self-assessment.
At the University of Waterloo, we recently conducted a series of studies showing that asking this simple question can make insecure people feel cared for. We ran two survey studies involving 359 adults (aged 18 to 66) across the United States who were in romantic relationships.