Trust is an essential part of any relationship, especially a romantic relationship. If someone has broken your trust in the past, then you know how deeply it hurts. Broken trust can make you physically ill, but the emotional scars it causes can last a lifetime if left untreated. It is perfectly normal to mistrust others on occasion, especially if that person has burned you before, but what if it’s deeper than that?
You are certainly not alone if you experience feelings of doubt, jealousy, or suspicion in a relationship. It’s a common problem. However, when do your feelings signify something more serious? Let’s explore what the experts have to say about trust. What is it? Where do trust issues come from, and when should you seek professional help to get over them?
Build Trust By Conquering Challenges Together
In order to build true trust in a relationship, you must spend time getting to know each other! We have just the thing to help you build a more intimate and adventurous relationship with your new partner—check out Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition. This amazing book is filled with spontaneous date ideas and couple’s challenges that are sure to spice things up!
What Is Real Trust
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone … ” When we truly trust another person, we allow them into the vulnerable and scary areas of our lives. Not every relationship requires this level of intimacy, but a healthy romantic relationship does! But, what does a healthy relationship between partners really look like? According to the experts at Healthline, here are a few signs that you truly trust your partner:
- Commitment to your loved one and your relationship is a top priority for both of you.
- You both care intensely about each other’s feelings and take care to listen and nurture.
- You believe your partner is safe physically and emotionally.
- You can tell them anything, knowing they will not judge and will keep your confidence.
- You support the dreams and goals of each other.
- You can be honest and don’t need to hide parts of yourself from your partner.
- You can be apart and never worry about what they are doing.
Types Of Trust Issues
There are many levels of trust issues. A lot of people, at some point in time, have a fleeting thought that their romantic partner might be up to no good. For most, this is brought on by weird behavior from your partner, an increase in your own emotions for a short period of time, or a moment of insecurity. This is normal and not a true trust issue, though it may be something your need to communicate with your partner if it persists. When these negative thoughts linger and become consuming, then we have a sign of trust issues. Here are some of the most common types to pay attention to.
The Jealous One
Persistent feelings of distrust often lead to jealousy. The jealous person doesn’t want their partner out of their sight for a second. They often suffer from low self-esteem and can be controlling and possessive. This often is interpreted by them and their partner (at least in the beginning) as intense love or obsession, but over the long term, this behavior is dangerous! It often leads to possessive actions that can be considered abusive to the partner. This kind of jealousy has been linked to underlying mental health issues. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry morbid jealousy, itself isn’t a mental illness, but it is often a side effect of other psychological disturbances and should be evaluated by a mental health professional.
The sabotaged seeks to destroy any relationship that gets too serious. They will convince themselves of the faults of the other person and that it could never work. They often end a relationship over the slightest argument or trait they perceive to be wrong with their partner. This type of trust issue is usually accompanied by a very critical personality.
Trust issues, oddly enough, can be within yourself. Many people have a hard time building trust in a relationship because they don’t trust their own judgment. They may have made some bad decisions in the past, and now they don’t have faith in their ability to make good decisions.
The Hurt One
Someone who has been the victim of betrayal from a loved one may have trouble with new relationships. Deep hurt and pain have wounded them in such a way that they seek to protect their heart at all costs. They will never allow that kind of hurt to happen again.
Do I Have Trust Issues?
So how do you know if you have issues with trust? While everyone will experience a lack of trust at some point in their life, a true inability to trust others manifests in emotions and behaviors that are abnormal. While exhibiting one of these traits does not mean you have a problem, if you experience several of these feelings on a persistent basis, then according to the experts at Choosing Therapy, you might consider getting professional help to overcome trust issues.
1. You Are Overly Critical
People with trust problems often point out the negative in family members and intimate partners. They assume the worst of others and expect to be betrayed at any moment. Trustworthiness is elusive because even very noble people, with good intentions, are picked apart. Always seeing the worst in people, and expecting them to fail you, is a sign of a bigger issue. This often happens after a traumatic experience, but if it isn’t handled, it will cause relationship problems in every area of life.
2. You Have Trouble Believing What Others Say
When your partner says “I love you,” is your immediate response “they’re lying.” If you have trouble taking people at their word, even people who have given you no reason not to trust them, then you may have a trust issue. Fact-checking, while wise in some situations, can be a sign that you don’t really trust the words of your loved ones.
3. You Avoid Intimacy
Keeping people at a distance is a sign of a trust issue. If you have trouble being physically intimate or emotionally intimate with anyone, even a long-term partner, then you may have a deeper issue. Keeping everyone at an arm’s length is a sign of trust issues. If you never let anyone into your inner world, this can be a red flag.
4. Noone Does It Like You
If you feel like no one can handle things the way you do and are constantly checking up on people, then you might have a problem with trust. While a mild degree of this in the workplace can be normal, if you have a hard time relying on your closest friends and family to do even the smallest task, if you have trouble delegating, or if you find it difficult to work with a team, then you may have a problem.
5. Hold Grudges
You have trouble forgiving others and write them off forever for the smallest slight. Earning back your trust is nearly impossible.
6. You Pick Fights
This is that “sabotager” type we discussed earlier. If you are constantly looking for a reason to fight and end it, then you may need help.
7. Constant Need To Check
The persistent desire to check your partner’s phone or computer is a sign that you have trust issues.
8. You Keep Ending Up With Betrayers
According to the International Neuro-Linguistic Programming Center, we have the ability to turn our greatest fears into reality by our behavior. Unfortunately, when you go into a new relationship with preconceived notions about the trustworthiness of a partner, you will eventually push them to betray you by your behavior. By constantly questioning their every move, you will push them away and manifest the very behavior in them that you are most afraid of. If your current relationship is beginning to look a lot like your miserable past relationships, the common element is likely your lack of trust.
9. You Have An Intense Fear of Abandonment
If you have a constant fear that loved ones will leave or reject you, then you certainly have trust issues. This also manifests in a severe need to be included in everything that your friends or partner is doing. You smother them and assume that anything they do without you is a purposeful act to leave you out.
What Causes Trust Issues?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, trust issues are generally caused by trauma or emotional betrayal in your past. We project the bad behavior and betrayal of one person in our life onto everyone else. It sounds cliche, but many who struggle in this area have had a major breach of trust in their childhood. Children are vulnerable and dependent on others to protect and care for them. When those people fail or betray, it creates a seed of mistrust that, without professional help, can lead to a lifetime of failed relationships.
An experience with any of these may be the culprit:
- History of abuse
- Chronic low self-esteem
- Childhood trauma, including neglect or abuse
- A history of severe bullying
- Mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, and chronic anxiety
- Attachment disorders
- Borderline Personality Disorder
How To Start The Healing Process
If you have been betrayed by your past relationship or current partner, and you know you have trust issues, how do you get over it? There are steps you can take to heal your trust issues. You may need to do work in all these areas, or just a couple, depending on the severity of the problem. The one thing that is for sure is that you will have to get honest about your own issues and be willing to work on yourself!
Should You Fix It?
If you have gone through a betrayal in an intimate relationship, you know it is one of the most painful experiences a person can withstand. If the betrayal is current, the first step is to decide if the relationship is worth saving. This can be a tough decision, as you must decide if this betrayal is a one-time mistake, or if your partner is likely to repeat this situation.
Pay attention to their tone. Do they get defensive or are they truly regretful for what they have done? Do they seem sincere, or do they turn the blame back on you? According to couples therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, it may be beneficial to consult trusted family and friends. When we love someone, we are likely to overlook red flags that others can see a mile away! Ultimately, the decision is yours, but it is never a bad idea to seek wise counsel.
Communication is key to any relationship. That state is no surprise to anyone. It may be really difficult for you though, especially if you have been betrayed. In order to start the healing process, you must find a way to effectively communicate your feelings. Be honest about your past and the things(or people) that have contributed to your broken trust. This will rely on you being vulnerable and can lead to some deep-seated emotional issues that you may need help walking through. Tell your partner why you are hurt. Tell them what you need them to do. Listen to their reasoning. Ask your partner to give gentle feedback on your trust issues and the things they see. If it gets too intense, take a break. You don’t need to fix it all in one conversation!
You will never be able to change your partner. You are responsible for your own behavior and mental health. Healing from trust issues will involve you taking a deep and hard look at yourself and your own well-being. Where are these issues coming from? What signs are you exhibiting? What behaviors can you change to prevent the same thing from happening again?
Note: If your partner has been unfaithful, that is not your fault! They made a bad choice. However, remember if you continue to see this pattern in relationship after relationship, it might be something that you are inadvertently manifesting, and you may need to seek help from a psychotherapist or relationship expert.
Give Yourself Time
You didn’t develop trust issues in a day, and you won’t get rid of them in a day either. Remember the old adage, “Time heals all wounds.” While this isn’t true, letting time pass certainly does decrease the intense emotion around the situation and allows you to think more clearly. Do not just sweep the problem under the rug and ignore it, but begin taking baby steps to acknowledge painful triggers. Start the chain of communication. Start today, but be patient with yourself.
Work On General Forgiveness
Forgiveness for a deep hurt is one of the hardest things we have to do as humans. If you have trust issues, you likely have difficulty forgiving. In order to recover from a betrayal, you will have to forgive your partner. You may also have to forgive yourself. We have already discussed that many people who have trouble trusting others also experience low self-esteem.
Blaming yourself can keep you in a cycle of doubt that leads to more betrayal. Remember that forgiving is not the same as accepting. Your partner’s bad behavior is not to be overlooked or accepted as okay. That is self-destructive behavior. It should be addressed, communicated, and examined. However, if you choose to move forward in this relationship, then forgiveness is key. Allowing unforgiveness to dwell in you creates stress and bitterness that not only harm your relationship but harm you!
The past is the past. If you choose to forgive, then move forward and do not bring it up again. If you feel the need to hang on to slights and throw them in your partner’s face any time you get into an argument, then the likelihood of you ever truly repairing your relationship is minimal. This will be extremely hard, but make a conscious effort to leave it alone.
Get Professional Support
The last few steps are really hard to carry out on your own. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Overcoming a lifetime of hurt is hard. You have likely developed defense mechanisms from past traumas that you may not even recognize are sabotaging your current relationship. If you find you and your partner are having trouble communicating through the issue, it may be time to seek couples therapy. Bringing in a professional third party can help to facilitate healthy conversation and get you and your partner on the path to healing.
What If You Are The Guilty One?
Sometimes you are the one who messed up. You lied or cheated. You feel terrible. You value your partner and want to fix it! What do you do? How do you keep this from happening again? Here’s how you start.
Examine Why You Committed The Offense
Getting to the route of the problem is step one. You didn’t just randomly commit betrayal. You most likely did it because of a deeper issue. Was it just a stupid mistake or do you have trust issues yourself? Are you a sabotager of your own relationship, messing it up on purpose before they inevitably decide to leave you? Did they hurt you first and this was your payback? Are you happy in the relationship? Did you do this to get out because you didn’t see any other way out? Closely examining your behavior is hard, but in order to move forward (with or without your partner), it is necessary.
Determine If You Want To Fix It
Now that you have figured out why you did it, you must determine if this relationship is worth repairing. This is not the same thing as feeling guilty. You may truly be sorry for the hurt you have caused, but that doesn’t mean you won’t do it again. If you sabotaged this relationship on purpose (knowingly or unknowingly) then it may be time to move on. You may need to deal with some issues in yourself and get some professional help before you are able to be a trustworthy partner.
If you decide to continue the relationship, then the first action is to sincerely apologize to your partner or loved one. Apologizing is an art form! Sincere apologies take responsibility for the betrayal. You must take care to avoid blaming your partner. Avoid excuses. Healthline experts suggest being very specific about the situation. Let your partner know that you understand exactly what you did wrong and how you intend to avoid the same situation in the future. In a later conversation, you can try to explain why you think you did what you did, but a sincere apology does not deny or downplay the hurt you caused.
Give Your Partner Ample Time
Your partner may need time to brew. Your apology may not be accepted initially, and there may be several intense and uncomfortable conversations. Listen carefully. If this relationship is worth saving, then you are going to have to exhibit patience with your partner and give them time to heal. They are working through some pretty intense emotions.
Ask What They Need From You And Respect It
Respecting your partner’s needs is key in a breach of trust situation. Your partner may need space. They may need to test you for a short time. Your partner may want to seek counseling. They may not. Directly ask your partner what they need from you and try your best to give it.
Trust is not easy to come by. If someone has destroyed your ability to trust, it may be time for you to take back control. Whether your current relationship is worth saving is totally up to you, but whether you decide to give them another chance or ditch them, in order to move forward in a healthy manner, you may need some help. There is no shame in that. Trust issues are hard to work through on your own, but now that you know the signs and where to start, you are well on your way!
Getting over trust issues will require intense communication. While you’re here, find out why communication in relationships is so important, and get some tips on improving your skills. And check back regularly to see what other couples’ advice and anecdotes we’ve shared!
Frequently Asked Questions
Sometimes, you just need to communicate better and nurture your relationship. Try working on conquering challenges together—even couples’ adventures could help, and they make it fun!
Getting over trust issues can be really difficult. While expert tips are certainly helpful, some trust issues stem from trauma and might require professional counseling.
To begin the process of getting over trust issues, start with open and honest communication, and try to practice forgiveness. Lack of trust can be a sign of trauma, so professional help may be needed.
- WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2020) Signs of Trust Issues. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-trust-issues
- Healthline Staff. (2019). How To Rebuild Trust After A Betrayal. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-rebuild-trust
- Bundrant, M. (2020, October 5). How an Original Feeling Becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. INLP Center. Retrieved November 03, 2021. https://inlpcenter.org/how-feelings-become-self-fulfilling-prophecy/
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
- Alyson Krueger. (2021). Trust Issues: Signs You Have Them and How to Get Over Them. https://www.brides.com/story/signs-trust-issues-haunting-relationship
- Mary Grace Garis. (2020). How to Get Over Trust Issues so They Don’t Sour an Old or New Relationship. https://www.wellandgood.com/how-to-get-over-trust-issues/
- Michele Risser LISW-S. (2021). 13 Signs of Trust Issues & How to Get Over Them. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/trust-issues/
- O. Somasundaram. Indian J Psychiatry. (2010) Jul-Sep; 52(3): 284–288. Facets of morbid jealousy: With an anecdote from a historical Tamil romance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990838/