Constant reassurance-seeking is a persistent behavior that can take a toll on your relationship. Building self-esteem, focusing on self-agency, and seeking professional support can help.

Reassurance feels good. It fortifies your feelings when you’re faced with doubt, anxiety, or fear. When someone offers reassurance they’re offering a sense of relief — you can do it; it won’t be as bad as you think; there’s no reason to be afraid.

Seeking reassurance from someone you love is natural. Part of the comfort in an intimate relationship is trusting that your partner will give you sound advice and support.

When you constantly need reassurance, however, this once-positive behavior can start to have negative impacts on your relationship.

It’s OK to need reassurance once and a while. No one should feel like they have to tackle life’s uncertainties alone. Loved ones are there for support, and it’s absolutely OK to lean on them in times of need.

Excessive reassurance-seeking, however, occurs when you need constant validation, support, or confirmation from your partner even in situations where there’s no rational cause for anxiety or doubt.

Sometimes excessive reassurance-seeking even involves seeking reassurance for the reassurance you were just given.

For example, you may repeatedly ask “You’re sure these shoes are fine?” or “You’re positive you love me?”

A persistent need for reassurance isn’t caused by any one factor for every person, but at the heart of the behavior are often feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

“Excessive reassurance seeking often originates from deep-seated insecurities and an overarching need for validation, reflecting concerns around self-worth and belonging,” explains Elvis Rosales, a licensed clinical social worker and Clinical Director at Align Recovery Centers, Sonoma, California.

Examples of reassurance-seeking behaviors

Common examples of excessive reassurance-seeking in relationships include:

  • asking for reassurance multiple times after already receiving it
  • seeking constant affirmation about being loved
  • needing reassurance even when anxiety or fear is unfounded
  • asking your partner repeatedly if they’re mad or upset with you
  • not making even minor decisions without several validations from your partner
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“The need for reassurance can act as a coping mechanism to quell immediate fears, but it fails to address the underlying issues, leading to a cycle of dependency on external validation,” says Rosales.

Factors that can contribute to excessive reassurance-seeking include:

Insecure attachment

Attachment theory in psychology describes how early childhood relationships with caretakers shape your relationship formation later in life.

Secure attachment develops when you have responsive, available, and nurturing caregivers. Insecure attachment forms when caregivers don’t meet your basic emotional or physical needs.

Anxious attachment style, also known as anxious-ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied attachment style, is a type of insecure attachment featuring:

  • anxiety
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of abandonment
  • constant validation-seeking
  • excessive reassurance-seeking

Trauma or adverse life events

Negative past experiences in relationships, or experiencing trauma in a past relationship, can also cause reassurance-seeking with your current partner.

Dr. Clifford Feldman, a board certified psychiatrist and Medical Director at Solace Treatment Center, Whittier, California, says, “Traumatic experiences, such as emotional neglect or previous relationships where trust was breached, can lead individuals to seek constant reassurance in order to feel safe or validated in their current relationship.”

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that feature behaviors rooted in feelings of persistent anxiety.

If you live with an anxiety disorder, reassurance-seeking in your relationship may be one of many ways anxiety symptoms emerge.

“Individuals with anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), may seek reassurance excessively as a way to alleviate their pervasive feelings of uncertainty and fear,” Feldman says.


Perfectionism can be a theme in OCD that contributes to reassurance-seeking, but it can also be a personality trait that naturally predisposes you to this behavior.

When you have a strong sense of perfectionism, seeking reassurance in your relationship becomes a way of convincing yourself you’ve finally gotten something “just so.”

Low self-esteem

Feelings of low self-worth can make you doubt your decisions, feelings, and thoughts. Sometimes, low self-esteem can convince you you’re unworthy of positive things in life.

When you don’t believe you’re worthy, smart, or capable, you may not only doubt yourself, but you may doubt the intentions of others —including your partner.

This can lead to constantly seeking reassurance about things they’ve said or done.

Needing constant reassurance in a relationship doesn’t only affect you. Over time, excessive reassurance-seeking can make your partner start to doubt how you feel about them and can force them into a place of disproportionate relationship responsibility.

“It places the partner in a position where they are constantly required to affirm their feelings or the stability of the relationship, which can be emotionally draining and may lead to resentment,” says Rosales.

Rosales adds that this dynamic can affect mutual respect and reduce patience within your relationship. This can potentially lead to conflict and a decrease in emotional intimacy.

There’s also the chance that constantly needing reassurance may make your partner experience their own form of self-doubt.

If you’re always asking them if they love you, for example, they may start to wonder if their efforts to show it aren’t appreciated or recognized.

Your partner might see constant reassurance-seeking as a reflection of how you feel about them, rather than as a reflection of how you feel about yourself.

Although it may be difficult, you can change unhelpful relationship behaviors, even if they’ve been a part of your life for years.

Consider the following tips to help you break the cycle of excessive reassurance-seeking:

  • build self-esteem by setting and working toward personal goals
  • practice self-reflection and explore feelings related to reassurance-seeking through journaling
  • cultivate self-agency by engaging in independent interests and activities
  • surround yourself with positive people who are naturally encouraging
  • practice self-validation through positive self-affirmations
  • learn to recognize when you need reassurance and try to question if it’s truly necessary
  • communicate the feelings behind your behaviors to your partner to help prevent resentment and encourage empathy

“Recognizing the pattern is the first step toward addressing reassurance-seeking behavior. From there, cultivating self-reliance through practices aimed at boosting self-esteem and self-compassion can be transformative,” says Rosales.

He adds that lasting relief is possible by working closely with a mental health professional to address the underlying causes of excessive reassurance-seeking.

Excessive reassurance-seeking in a relationship goes beyond the typical need for partner support.

It’s a behavior that affects you and your partner and can negatively impact any relationship you have, no matter how stable.

As a behavior rooted in insecurity and low self-esteem, excessive reassurance-seeking can have many different underlying causes.

Focusing on building self-agency, boosting self-esteem, and challenging urges for reassurance, can help you limit the presence of this behavior in your life.