In romantic relationships, it is natural and healthy to seek reassurance and validation from your partner. Reassurance acts as a soothing balm to our insecurities, validating our worth and confirming our connection. However, when the request for reassurance becomes insatiable or demanding, it can cause friction, ruptures, and damage in the relationship for both partners. Excessive reassurance seeking is an unhealthy combination of validation and dependency. When your partner becomes the only source of love and when the reassurance becomes a source of anxiety, it is time to examine the patterns in the relationship.

In this blog post, I delve into the nuances of excessive reassurance-seeking, the possible roots and manifestations of the behavior, and the impact on both partners. I also offer actionable steps to heal from this behavioral pattern toward healthy love and security.

What is excessive reassurance seeking?

Excessive reassurance seeking is a pattern of behavior where one partner repeatedly seeks validation, affirmation, and reassurance from their significant other to alleviate feelings of anxiety, insecurity, or self-doubt. This behavior can manifest in constant questioning, seeking constant validation, or needing constant affirmation of love and commitment.

What are the possible causes of excessive reassurance seeking?

We all need to feel seen, understood, valuable, needed, and desired by our partners. Seeking reassurance from your partner is a normal and healthy part of romantic relationships. However, if you seek reassurance from your partner and do not receive what you need, or if your partner provides you with reassurance but you do not believe them, this can lead to cycles of excessive reassurance seeking. There may be a number of possible causes of excessive reassurance seeking including:

1. The person seeking reassurance is struggling with deep insecurities or traumas that their partner cannot soothe

2. The person providing the reassurance is not skilled at being attuned to and providing what their partner needs

3. The person seeking reassurance is picking up on real distance, hesitancy, and ambivalence from their partner

4. Excessive reassurance seeking may also be a symptom of relationship OCD. Although relationship OCD is not recognized as a formal diagnosis, there has been more research in recent years on this subtype of OCD. The symptoms include preoccupation, obsession, intrusive thoughts, and distressing doubts about the relationship as well as compulsive behaviors such as reassurance seeking, testing, and checking for infidelity.

How can constant reassurance-seeking impact a relationship?

Constant reassurance seeking can negatively impact a relationship if:

1. Both partners do not understand the cause of the behavior

2. If the cycle is unintentionally reinforced by one or both partners

3. Both partners feel unsuccessful in breaking out of the cycle. 

If the person seeking reassurance does not feel that their needs are being met or if the partner providing the reassurance does not feel like their efforts are enough, this can lead to ruptures in the relationship. Left unaddressed, this can result in resentment, conflicts, withdrawal, or ending of the relationship.

What are some actionable tips to help break free of your own reassurance-seeking behaviors in a relationship?

  • If you are seeking reassurance because of your own traumas and deep insecurities, it is time to do some work to heal those wounded places. If those wounds come from past experiences, it is unlikely that your partner's reassurances alone, no matter how often or how heartfelt, will be able to touch the core of the issue. You may want to seek individual therapy to get to the root of the pain, learn self-soothing strategies, and heal the past traumas. Some of the strategies to address excessive reassurance seeking may include: learning to distract yourself when you are feeling insecure or doubtful of the relationship, focusing on meeting your own needs instead of turning toward your partner, reminding yourself of all of the positive traits of your partner when you are spiraling into negativity, and practicing self-compassion when you are feeling extra sensitive and vulnerable.
  • If you are seeking reassurance because your partner is dismissive of your feelings, defensive when you bring up concerns, or unsure how to respond in truly comforting ways, they may benefit from working on their skills of emotional attunement and communication. You both may benefit from couples counseling to learn how to tune into each other more fully and create deeper intimacy.
  • If you are seeking reassurance because your gut tells you that something is off or wrong with the relationship but your partner keeps denying it, your intuition may be picking up on something real. In this case, you may want to ask your friends and family for a "reality check" to see if they can provide feedback. You may also seek couples counseling to work with a trained therapist who can facilitate deeper and more honest conversations.

Begin Couples Counseling in Ballard

If you find yourself caught in the cycle of excessive reassurance-seeking within your romantic relationship, know that you're not alone. It takes courage to recognize the patterns that may be causing distress and seek support to navigate them effectively. Our team of experienced couples and marriage therapists specializes in helping couples untangle the complexities of excessive reassurance-seeking, fostering healthier communication, and cultivating stronger bonds of trust and intimacy.

Don't let the weight of uncertainty and insecurity hold you back from deeper intimacy in your relationship. Take the first step towards a more fulfilling partnership by exploring couples therapy. Together, you and your couples therapist can work towards building a foundation of understanding, empathy, and resilience. Your journey towards healing and growth starts here – contact us today to schedule your first session.