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Trust issues are a fairly common occurrence in relationships in the modern world, considering the ever-increasing rates of infidelity, divorce, and uncertainty social media brings. Having trust in a partner is the act of placing confidence in their honesty and reliability and is an essential component of a relationship. Lack of faith or broken trust can lead to turmoil in the relationship, which can eventually strain or destroy the relationship in the long run. If you feel that you or your partner has lost trust in relationship matters or is heading towards it, the guidance provided here can help you identify trust issues and work on overcoming them.
What Causes Trust Issues in a Relationship?
Trust issues in a relationship can arise out of several causes. Depending on the individual perspectives, it could be the fault of one, the fault of both, or the fault of neither. Here are five reasons for trust issues that people commonly experience:
1. Bad or traumatic relationships in the past
People rarely have a perfect loving relationship right off the bat in their lives. Most people go through one or several bad relationships starting from their teens to their young adulthood. If you or your partner has trust issues in the current relationship, its roots could be deep in the past. Being hurt, humiliated, abused, and cheated on are all experiences bound to cause trust issues. The effect is compounded if the individual has gone through more than one relationship of that type. Trauma can also be a factor from past experienced where they were abused, controlled, and lied to all the time.
2. Trauma from childhood
People’s childhood is when the concept and feeling of trust are developed through meaningful and honest relationships with family and friends. Developmental psychologists point to infancy as the starting stage of the development of trust, where the parents meet all of the baby’s needs. Babies who have not been cared for properly or neglected children fail to learn how to trust their environment and its people. Children who experience abuse from their parents or grow up in traumatic conditions witnessing fights or domestic abuse also fail to trust. Such children grow up to become individuals who are unable to trust and build meaningful bonds in relationships.
3. Becoming dominant in the relationship
People who have trust issues related to their partners tend to become controlling and dominating in the relationship. The dominating attitude could also be caused by bad experiences in the past or having grown under a dominant parent who held the reins at all times. Trying to control the partner’s every move will lead to further arguments and debates that can induce trust issues in the other partner or both. Trying to control or direct all aspects of the relationship can lead to long-term trust issues.
4. Lack of communication
Couples who have been together for a long time tend to take each other for granted or fall apart romantically as they get deeply involved with work or life. In such circumstances, communication is scarce, and the gap continues to build over years until one or both partners develop trust issues. Not spending quality time together or not spending enough time communicating can also lead to misunderstandings that can trigger trust issues. The lack of communication can also make the other partner’s demands seem unreasonable and end up disappointed.
The primary cause of severe trust issues in couples is infidelity. If the partner has cheated before, it becomes tough for the other to forgive and move on. Trust in such cases can take years to build or never build at all. Even when partners get back after an act of infidelity, one will always have shaky trust over the other, although the other partner has given up on their old ways and changed for the better. Since marriages are built on monogamy, infidelity is often the leading cause of marriage trust problems and broken marriages.
Signs You Have Trust Issues
Trust issues are pretty easy to spot in any relationship if you know how to look for the signs. Here are some common symptoms of trust issues in all couples:
1. Often expecting the worst
A partner with trust issues often expects the worst in every situation. It could be something as simple as answering a phone call or sending a text message to someone in their presence. The insecure partner would assume it might be for another person who is romantically interested in their partner. Other instances include catastrophizing when the partner is home late or calls up to inform that they will be late. The partner with trust issues would assume an extramarital affair and start calling every hour to make sure.
2. Stalking the partner
Stalking a partner is the classic case of trust issues in most relationships, as the insecure one tries to track everything the other does. It could involve scouring through the bank statements, going through the emails, or reading chat messages on their phones. The behavior would also extend to keeping tabs on their partner by communicating in secret with mutual friends or even physically following their partner. Stalking can severely strain relationships between the partners and with friends, forcing the individual to become more secretive out of spite.
3. Overly-controlling the partner
Trying to control the partner’s life by knowingly or unknowingly setting unrealistic boundaries is a sign of trust issue. The insecure partner often scrutinizes the activities of the other, goes through their social media and schedules to always know what they are up to, or gives their inputs to the other’s life. They would also force their partners to cancel plans with friends or tag along wherever they go.
4. Feelings of isolation
The person with trust issues often feels isolated from their partners. They always operate under their belief that their partner is hiding something from them or living an entirely separate and secret life. The feelings of isolation can come despite being overly controlling of the other and physically being around them most of the time. Eventually, feeling cut off would also drive them to depression and think that the relationship has lost charm and no hope is left.
5. Confusion about the relationship
People with trust issues often have second thoughts about the relationship. The thoughts can be triggered even by trivial topics that most couples disregard and move ahead. Their perceived ambiguity about the relationship then becomes a source of stress and anxiety, further exacerbating their condition.
6. Testing the partner
The partner of an insecure individual with trust issues is often subjected to tests of loyalty. They are forced to prove that they are precisely where they said they would be or need to send updates about their whereabouts constantly. The insecure partner would also frequently call or send messages to check up on them as they are often suspicious.
Individuals with this condition have difficulty trusting others, especially when they are in a romantic relationship. Although their partners are faithful and trustworthy, their insecurity comes from their imagines or irrational fear about the person, situation, activity, or environment.
How to Overcome Trust Issues
So how do you fix trust issues that have plagued the relationship for a long time? Follow these tips to start working on trust issues:
1. Talk and build communication
The first step towards building trust is to openly communicate with your partner about their problems in the relationship. While it would be challenging to work through unresolved issues and old habit patterns initially, having open communication is the only way to get things started. Start by patiently listening to what your partner says without accusing or blaming or becoming defensive. When tense situations arise, stay calm and talk things out rather than falling back into the old patterns of arguing. For example, the next time your partner spends time with friends, avoid pressing for information or small details; instead, ask only what is enough to give you a basic idea and leave it at that.
2. Stop monitoring their activities
If you are in the habit of stalking your partner, friends, checking their messages, or social media, stop all such activities. Indulging in such monitoring behavior would only feed your thought that they might be up to something even when they are not. Practice trust before you become suspicious or shoot a barrage of questions at every little decision they make. Let your partner understand that you are willing to trust them and are quitting all the old habits.
3. Work on yourself
You will find that there is plenty to work on when you stop old behaviors associated with trust and insecurity. Rekindle your passion for your hobbies and find your way back to the person you were before you became the insecure individual. If you never had a hobby, start sampling activities one by one and go through all you might have been interested in since childhood. Many resort to volunteering to find help with trust issues by serving others.
4. Find support with friends and family
Talking to friends and family about your problems with trust can help you understand a lot about yourself. A life-long friend or a trusted family member can offer advice or insights into behaviors you may never have been aware of. This is especially helpful for men with trust issues as they are often closed off and do not discuss their private matters with friends.
5. Understanding the past
If you have been hurt by a past relationship that still affects your current one, it is essential to get a better perspective on it to begin to let it go. It could be a range of experiences involving your family, friends, or past relationships – understanding past hurt is essential to moving on.
Trust issues in a relationship can arise from a range of experiences, from traumatic childhood to bad past relationships that leave people bitter and cynical. To begin to work on it, it is essential to open a clear line of communication with their partners and make amendments in lifestyle and attitude that will help build trust.