Where does a lack of trust come from?
Trust issues in a relationship have various origins. It is worth looking at the factors that have led to our being overly suspicious. Knowing these, we can take appropriate steps. Inadequate jealousy destroys life for us and our partners. It resembles a slowly oozing poison that initially produces no symptoms, but ends in the death of the relationship.
Lack of trust in a relationship usually results from:
-an insecure attachment style – not all of us had the opportunity to grow up in a supportive environment. Deprivation of needs, i.e. neglect of needs by caregivers, makes us unable to build healthy bonds with others. We use an avoidance strategy and do not engage in a relationship. Alternatively, we attempt to over-tune and control our partner to prevent abandonment. Both solutions are maladaptive and prevent us from building a happy relationship based on trust;
– infidelity on the part of the partner – this includes various aspects of living together. Disloyalty sometimes involves withholding part of our income, revealing our secret or having an affair. We can also be hurt by a seemingly trivial situation, such as giving unhealthy snacks to a child in our absence. The violation of mutually agreed boundaries plays a key role here. Forgiving infidelity is a process, but it can be impossible to see it through to the end. It is worth considering if the rebuilding of trust in the relationship fails once again;
-difficult experiences from previous relationships – it can happen that our current partner has never let us down, but we look at them suspiciously through our ex. If we have experienced betrayal, violence or sexual boundary violations in the past, we can protect ourselves by controlling the other person;
– traumatic events – rape, cheating by an accomplice, a friend’s affair with our partner are just examples that explain a crisis of trust. When someone close to us turns out to be disloyal, a defence mechanism is triggered. Excessive suspicion serves to keep an eye out for potential threats and to react accordingly;
-violence and deprivation of needs in the family home – when even our parents cannot provide us with a sense of security, we do not trust anyone. The world appears as a dangerous place and other people as potential perpetrators of harm;
-low self-esteem – if we see ourselves in a negative light, we don’t believe we deserve love. We believe a partner will abandon us when they discover our ‘flawedness’. We try to prevent this by controlling his phone, computer and outings with friends.
Why is trust in a relationship important?
Trust in a relationship is its foundation. By building a romantic relationship with another person, we do not lose our right to autonomy. It is the right of each party. Both we and our partners sometimes need to go out on the town with friends, be alone or go on a business trip. For the distrustful partner, each such event triggers the need for control and surveillance. He or she takes actions that violate the right to privacy and confidentiality of correspondence. When we trust ourselves, we believe that the other person will behave loyally towards us. Controlling the partner then seems unnecessary and out of place.
Trust in a relationship has been shown to bring tangible benefits.
-It helps build a close relationship with your partner that brings happiness and fulfilment.
-It promotes intimacy and allows us to expose ourselves to our partner without feeling anxious.
-It provides us with a sense of security. We know we can count on our partner, their support and honesty. It acts as a safe base to which we return.
-It offsets anxiety and provides optimal arousal. We don’t waste energy and other resources on controlling our loved one.
-Successful sex because we communicate our needs and boundaries through mutual trust. The other person can give us what we want. At the same time, he or she does not undertake activities that do not suit us.
-Strengthens the relationship because we openly communicate our needs, emotions and concerns, and this deepens the bond.
Trust problems in a relationship – symptoms
Trust problems in a relationship sometimes prevent us from building a close relationship with our partner. We are unable to open up to him or her because we are afraid of rejection. A romantic relationship that is based solely on lust and lacks connection usually ends in a break-up. Trust issues in a relationship are indicated by actions such as:
-looking through your partner’s phone and computer without their knowledge or consent;
-stalking your partner or having a detective do it;
-inadequate jealousy felt every time the other person leaves home without us;
-checking your partner’s account statements and looking for disturbing information on them;
-keeping one’s needs and emotions secret for fear of rejection;
-boundary-setting problems in the relationship due to fear of abandonment;
-striving to spend every free moment together;
-low self-esteem and comparing themselves with their partner’s friends;
-confronting information provided by the partner with other people’s accounts to detect any inaccuracies;
-having their own bank account and withholding it from their partner;
– keeping information about children from a previous relationship confidential.
A happy relationship and trust
We build a happy relationship when we balance the need for connection and autonomy. We recognise that each party is entitled to their own work, passions, friends and moments of solitude. At the same time, we want to be together and feel responsible for each other. Balance helps us to have trust in the relationship. When we believe: I put integrity in my life and my partner values it too, we reduce anxiety. When a loved one leaves home without us, we are not afraid that she is planning infidelity. This is because we know that she also has the right to privacy and independence. Lack of trust in a relationship drains us of energy. It makes us flooded with difficult emotions, which we often fail to regulate. We then become overly controlling of our partner, feel a strong fear of abandonment and start arguments. This leads to relationship breakdown, anxiety and depression. In addition, a self-fulfilling prophecy effect can come into play here. We wrongfully accuse our partner of disloyalty and a desire to betray us, so that he or she eventually gives in to temptation. Distrust is not good for the interpersonal relationships we create. It does not matter whether it is a romantic relationship, a friendship or a business relationship. Very often the problem lies in our past experiences. If someone has let us down – a parent, a friend, an ex – we may suspect others of bad intentions. Fortunately, it is never too late to build trust in a relationship.
We can only have a good and happy relationship if we take care of our self-esteem. Low self-esteem causes us to cast ourselves in the role of a person who does not deserve love. We think that our partner will abandon us for someone better when he or she appears on the horizon. We are accompanied by a strong fear of abandonment, which often stems from an unstable relationship with the original carer. This results in controlling the partner and accusing him or her of bad intentions. We thus spoil the atmosphere in the relationship, which leads to emotional distancing. In order to create a happy relationship, we need trust. It is a good place to start in order to build trust by strengthening and consolidating your own self-esteem.
How to build trust in a relationship – factors affecting trust
Building trust in a relationship is a long-term process that depends on the commitment of both partners. Before you embark on it, I would like to highlight an issue. The modern world is based on a fast-paced lifestyle, which can distort the picture of reality. Sometimes we see ourselves as people with whom something is wrong. We date someone, but we don’t feel the need to share our intimate affairs with them. We don’t want to invite this person to our flat or have sex with him or her. At this stage, we want to get to know the person more closely in order to assess whether he or she deserves credit. This attitude is healthy, so let’s not succumb to social pressure, the five-date rule or other false assumptions. We have the right to place our trust in other people at our own pace.
Work on self-esteem Very often we fail to gain trust in a relationship because we are limited by our own low self-esteem. When we see ourselves as physically unattractive, brilliant, intelligent or resourceful, we put ourselves in a lower position. Our partner then appears to us as an ideal that we don’t deserve. Since he or she has attracted our attention, we do our best not to lose him or her. This is because we assume that more attractive people than us might win his or her affection and then our partner will abandon us. We try to protect our relationship by controlling him and limiting his relationships with other people. It is a good idea to start building trust in such a situation by strengthening self-esteem. This can be done by using substantive psychological literature, or by enrolling in therapy.
It is difficult to trust a person about whom we know little. Open communication promotes mutual understanding. When we share our emotions, needs, concerns, views and values, we explore our partner’s position. Sometimes he or she represents a completely different approach than we do. As long as we don’t talk to each other about more serious topics, we don’t set boundaries. Unfortunately, you may then find that your partner has a completely different perception of fidelity in a relationship. For him, casual sex is not infidelity, while for us it is an exit card. Open communication teaches us to respect our partner’s different views. At the same time, it provides us with emotional security. We know that we can trust our loved one and entrust her with our concerns. We will not face criticism or sarcasm from her. This provides us with optimal stimulation. Our nervous system does not constantly analyse potential threats, finally gaining time to regenerate.
Trust problems in a relationship often derive from a lack of respect for the other person and their boundaries. When we share our concerns with our partner and he disregards them or interrupts us, we feel frustration and anger. Similarly, disrespect is indicated when we look through the other person’s phone to see if they are cheating on us. Violating boundaries in a relationship, including not understanding the word ‘no’ when we refuse to go to the cinema or spa together, increases our distrust. Let’s try to practice mutual respect. Let us open up to our partner and what he or she has to communicate to us. Let us not judge his or her views, values, emotions or needs. Let’s accept them with curiosity and ask about things we don’t understand. Let us not give uninvited advice, let us not interrupt the other party’s speech. Respect in a relationship is based on respecting boundaries, including the right to privacy. Our fear of rejection or difficult childhood does not justify looking through our partner’s phone. We do not have the right to force the other person to do anything, even when we think we are doing the right thing. If a partner doesn’t want to go to the doctor, let’s not keep it a secret. We can always make our point and tell him that we are concerned about his cough/abdominal pain. We would be more reassured if he consulted a doctor.
Fidelity and honesty
Infidelity always casts a shadow over a romantic relationship. Both a long-term affair and a seemingly ‘innocent’ flirtation leave a scar in the heart. It makes us unable to trust the other person. We doubt his or her good intentions because he or she has proved disloyal. To avoid disappointment, let’s establish at the outset how we define infidelity. If either party violates the boundaries set, the other has the right to feel disappointed, angry and sad. Rebuilding trust in a relationship after betrayal is very difficult, yet possible. However, not everyone starts the work of repairing the relationship, because for some, disloyalty is the exit card. Fidelity and honesty is about telling your partner the truth. If something bothers us or disapproves of us, let’s share it. Let’s not promise to consider having children together when we don’t want to have offspring. Fidelity and honesty are not only about the partner, but also about us. Let us treat the other person with respect ourselves. Let’s be loyal to her or him and not reveal secrets.
Respecting boundaries in a relationship
Boundaries in a relationship frame our life together. They show what we accept and what we do not agree with. The problem is that we often don’t define them. Our partner does not know that we are crossing our boundaries because we have never mentioned them to him. Let’s not count on him guessing that we don’t like certain caresses, or diminutive figures, or tidying up our desk. We have the right to outline our needs, our partner may not meet them, but he must not violate certain elementary arrangements. For example, looking into the phone without our consent, forcing sex, or taking money from our wallet. When we create healthy boundaries, we will succeed in building trust in the relationship. You will then feel that you can walk through life together without losing your independence. The romantic relationship then stops appearing as a prison full of restrictions and becomes a conscious and voluntary declaration. It is important that we respect our partner’s boundaries and do not violate them. When they are overstepped, distrust resounds.
Trust problems in a relationship sometimes have deeper roots. When we cannot get to the root of them, we need professional support. Couples’ therapy has helped many people. By attending it, we can learn to communicate our needs and boundaries openly. The therapist builds a friendly space that allows for honest conversation. During the session, you are allowed to express your emotions, but only in an assertive way. Both parties learn to communicate based on mutual respect. With the help of the therapist, they identify the cause of the crisis of trust, which enables them to work through it. Sometimes, although suspicion casts a shadow over the lives of both partners, it is due to the maladaptive patterns of one of the parties. In such cases, individual therapy is worth considering. It is also a good solution if you have a problem with low self-esteem, making you overly afraid of rejection and abandonment.
Trust problems in a relationship very often lead to excessive suspicion and inadequate jealousy. This triggers the need for control and surveillance. When we look through our partner’s phone, their phone records and pockets of their clothes, we cultivate distrust. At the same time, the loved one feels cornered and unfairly treated. This leads to conflicts in the relationship, which, paradoxically, increase the risk of infidelity. Here we observe the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Building trust in a relationship is a process worth undertaking. When we start from the premise: I am honest and he/she is honest, we lower the level of anxiety. We don’t waste precious energy invigilating our loved one. We can redirect our resources to nurturing and strengthening the relationship through conversation and shared activities. Building trust in a relationship is best started by boosting our own self-esteem. Sometimes our jealousy has a rational basis. A partner has let us down in the past, got into an affair or revealed our secret to a third party. His disloyalty still hurts us. In such a situation, it is worth considering whether rebuilding trust in the relationship is even possible. If we see that something has irretrievably ended and we are still dwelling on our hurt, consider breaking up. Sometimes it turns out to be the healthiest solution, because with our excessive suspicion we destroy ourselves and our partner. If we want to work on rebuilding trust in the relationship, we can benefit from professional support. Couples therapy will equip us with useful tools, including, among other things, the ability to communicate needs and boundaries assertively.