We’ve all heard of the term imposter syndrome and how damaging it can be to our self-confidence, our ability to excel in our careers, and how we interact with others. Imposter syndrome is the belief that you’re not all you’re cracked up to be. Those who experience it often have a fear of being “found out”. But did you know that imposter syndrome can often show up in our friendships and romantic relationships? It impacts everything from casual dating to how we show up in our marriage. When it comes to romantic relationships in which we’ve got a great catch, we may be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Especially if this wonderful partner comes along after a bad breakup, a series of terrible dates or relationships, or at a time where we’re least expecting them.
When a partner who possesses all of the qualities you’ve been looking for shows up making you feel good and they don’t set off any red flags, skepticism or doubt can move in. This can happen for multiple reasons:
- You may feel there are qualities about yourself that don’t match what they bring to the table
- You might believe they’ll leave you once the passion burns out
- You may feel anxious about them seeing “the real you”
If you’ve ever felt this way, I want you to know that it’s natural. Life can be very grueling and when you find someone who makes you feel good, sometimes it can feel like there’s something around the corner waiting to ruin everything for you. While it’s normal to have concerns, there are a few things to be aware of to ensure you don’t enter self-sabotaging territory…
Signs That You May Be Experiencing Imposter Syndrome in Your Relationship
1.) Feeling doubt or skepticism that your partner is truly interested in you. Being fearful that they have some type of ulterior motive.
2.) Constantly worrying that your partner is losing interest. Incessantly wondering if you meet their expectations.
3.) Making assumptions that something’s wrong with your relationship. Being fearful that your partner has secretly changed their mind about being with you.
4.) Feeling like your partner is out of your league. Thinking either they’ll realize this soon or that one of their loved ones may bring it to their attention.
Remedies For Experiencing Imposter Syndrome in Your Relationship
1.) Stop internalizing your feelings and concerns.
A big contributor to imposter syndrome is internal thinking and feeling. Once we encounter a trigger (a comment, a smirk, or a side-eye), it’s only natural to interpret it negatively or as a threat. But what’s not natural or healthy is to begin going off on a tangent about what your partner may have meant or been thinking when they said this or behaved this way. If this tendency applies to you, please stop doing this. Instead, pause and compile a list of all the thoughts and feelings you experienced while emotionally triggered. At your most vulnerable moments, what were your deepest fears? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? Now give yourself permission to go down the rabbit hole to determine all the ways the worst-case scenarios could play out. For example:
He’s way more successful than me → he probably wants someone who’s equally ambitious in their career → he’ll eventually leave me for someone more professionally accomplished → which means he wasn’t honest with me in the beginning about what he wanted or he only saw this as a temporary situation → it wouldn’t have worked out, no matter what I said or did because I can’t or am unwilling to change those things to please him.
He’s way more successful than me → he probably wants someone who is equally as ambitious in their career → he’ll eventually leave me for someone more professionally accomplished → I need to get clear on the qualities he wants in a partner and evaluate them against my own qualities → If there are any inconsistencies that concern me, that’s an opportunity for us to have another conversation.
2.) Imposter syndrome can often be quelled by gaining clarity. Make a list of questions to ask your partner and promise yourself that you’ll be fine with the answers (you must learn to eventually let it go). Believe what he says, if you don’t, ask more questions to help you reach a place where you’re comfortable with remaining in the relationship.
3.) Have an authentic conversation. Depending on your comfort level, you can speak up on your specific concerns. If you’re nervous about how your partner will perceive your concerns, you can just ask the questions you need to be answered and offer further context only if prompted. Take the time to address any of their behaviors that contribute to your insecurities or fears. Help them understand what they can do to help you feel better about the state of the relationship.
4.) Get clear on what you bring to the relationship and remember the things he appreciates about you. If you need to revisit the fact that you’re a catch, by all means, do it! This isn’t a one-way street and you have a lot to offer your partner. Remind yourself of that.
5.) Rinse and repeat. Recognize that this may be an ongoing cycle until you feel fully confident about your relationship.
However, if you don’t notice any improvements in how you feel over time, this may be a sign that the two of you should speak to a professional to explore whether this relationship is healthy for both of you. It’s important to know when something isn’t serving you and when to walk away. The choice isn’t always easy, but you deserve more than being in a situation where you’re constantly questioning your worth.