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Imposter Syndrome in Relationships: You’re Not Alone!

Imposter syndrome can be a real hassle in relationships, but understanding it and taking steps to deal with it can make a world of difference.
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You’ve probably heard about it, but what is impostor syndrome? In common terms, it’s constantly questioning your achievements and feeling like you’ve coasted through as an imposter in your own life. This sometimes comes from your own drive for perfection, the way you were brought up, or behaving in a way that you believe other people expect. 

Imposter Syndrome: What it is and What it isn’t

Are imposter syndrome and low self-esteem the same thing?  Well, not exactly (both involve feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt), but they differ in their scope and origin. Imposter syndrome has to do with doubting one’s abilities while fearing exposure as fraud in specific contexts even when there is evidence of competence. Low self-esteem is a broader sense of inadequacy that affects various aspects of life.

Imposter syndrome usually occurs in specific contexts or environments. People with imposter syndrome may rely heavily on external validation, but even when they receive it, they attribute their success to other external factors that were out of their control.

Unlike imposter syndrome which is often situation-specific; low self-esteem affects the whole person’s view about themselves. It impacts on how they relate with others, perceive relationships and see their place in this world.

Impact of Imposter Syndrome on Your Love Life

Imposter syndrome can make you feel like there’s another person in your relationship. You might feel undeserving of your beloved spouse or fear his/her realization that you are not worth his/her love as much as he/she thinks. This can create distance between partners leading to difficulties in expressing oneself hence feelings for security reasons.

The Five Faces of Imposter Syndrome

However, impostor syndrome doesn’t fit everyone; instead it has unique “faces” which affect relationships differently. Now, let’s explore each of these types deeper and how they can play out in your love life.

The Perfectionist: In relationships, this might translate to setting unrealistically high expectations for yourself and your significant other. You may:

Worry about making every date or conversation perfect.

Beat yourself up over minor misunderstanding.

Find it hard to accept reassurances from your partner believing that you need to do better than that.

The Superhero: This person feels they have to be the best at everything; a partner, professional, friend, etc., to prove their value. For instance:

Take on too much work or social commitments just to prove that you are worth something.

Get tired of trying to be there for everyone all the time.

Forget about what they want in order to validate themselves as well as them.

The Natural Genius: It must always go right the first time with me. This could mean;

Feeling bad if you’re not instantly great at new things in relationships like meeting family or experimenting together.

Avoiding new experiences because one is afraid that he/she would not master them perfectly.

The Soloist: The Soloist fights asking others for help believing it is a sign of weaknesses. For example when dating you might find yourself;

Doing too much work by yourself

Keeping quiet even when struggling with small or big issues without talking about it with your spouse.

The Expert: The Expert feels that they have to know everything before claiming competence and this is how it could be seen in your relationship:

It may express as a hesitancy in giving opinions or making decisions until you feel like an ‘expert’ in the subject.

In regard to relationships, over-preparing or over-researching can involve such things as planning holidays and trying to understand one’s partner’s interests.

Who Is Likely To Feel Like A Fraud?

Interestingly, most people who suffer from imposter syndrome are accomplished individuals. They will achieve success but still believe that they do not deserve it and also see themselves as deceivers of their own abilities.

Help Your Partner Through Imposter Syndrome

Cheer them on if your partner is going through this! Keep the conversation active, let them see how much you stand with them and celebrate their wins. Sometimes, professionals such as counselors can be very handy (check out counseling support).

What Do People With Imposter Syndrome Do?

They might:

Work ridiculously hard in order to meet tough self-imposed standards.

Avoid doing tasks because they don’t want to do them imperfectly.

Minimize their successes.

Avoid new challenges for fear of failure.

Kicking Imposter Syndrome to the Curb in Your Relationship

Talk It Out: Talk about your fears and emotions with each other. This is a big step towards overcoming imposter syndrome.

Know Your Worth: Remember you are amazing and beautiful; what matters most is understanding that fact alone plus identifying yourself through your worth!

Get Some Help: Don’t be embarrassed about approaching experts like life coaches or counselors. Divorce life coaching or professional services can be a game-changer.

Team Up: You’re in this together. As a pair, tackle those hurdles ahead.

Be Kind to Yourself: Despite being unsure at times everyone has doubts; hence take it easy on yourself!

Conclusion

While impostor syndrome can be difficult in relationships, once understood and addressed it can make a huge difference. Remember that places like Divorce Plus Community and Divorce 101 are there to help whether you are recognizing these feelings in yourself or supporting your partner.

Remember – you don’t have to go through this alone; with a little understanding, empathy and maybe some professional advice you can totally navigate these tricky waters.

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The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an exhaustive guide. For more personalized advice, seeking professional help is recommended.

Sources and More Info:

  1. Sakulku, J., & Alexander, J. (2011). “The Impostor Phenomenon.” International Journal of Behavioral Science, 6(1), 73-92.
  2. Young, V. (2011). “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women.” Crown Publishing Group.
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