Do you struggle with trust issues?

We all start relationships with the best of intentions. And yet, so many relationships fall apart, and often for similar reasons. Why not see what you can do to prevent it?

Here’s 5 issues we’ll tackle:

  1. Poor communication
  2. Trust issues and infidelity
  3. Different goals and values
  4. Lack of effort
  5. Differences in emotional intelligence

This issue’s issue: Trust issues & infidelity

Photo of a broken phone representing poor communication

Trust issues have their roots

Do you have a hard time trusting your partner? There are usually a few reasons this can happen and we’ll go through them one by one.

(If you feel like your reason is not on this list, please leave a comment and we’ll try to address it!)

  1. Your trust has been broken in previous relationships
  2. You know your partner has a history of breaking trust in previous relationships
  3. You’re insecurely attached
  4. Your view of relationships is heavily influenced by the media
  5. Your partner has broken your trust in the past

With the exception of #3, all of these reasons are at least partly resolved by understanding the situation. Here’s how.

What if your trust has been broken before?

Even if your current partner is the most amazing person alive, you may still mistrust them if you’ve had poor experiences with other partners in the past. This may take its toll on your relationship – after all, it’s not your partner’s fault, but they are the ones who are distrusted anyway.

Get to the bottom of why your trust has been broken before. Were you dating a person who sincerely didn’t care about you? Did your previous partner crave sex with others, while you prefer monogamy? Was your previous partner scared of communicating about their needs? Did your previous partner have a history of substance abuse to the point they’d lose control?

Understanding why your trust was broken the last time may help you compare the situations and find the differences. It’s also possible you’ll find similarities. After all, distrust isn’t always unjust. If your current partner has the same traits as your previous one, your fears may be warranted. However, if the situations are different, reminding yourself of this may help you gain some perspective on your current relationship.

Your partner has a history of breaking trust

What if your partner hasn’t broken your trust, but you know they’ve broken others’ trust in the past? The recipe is the same as when your trust has been broken in previous relationships: get to the bottom of the issue.

Some reasons (though there are tons more) why your partner may have cheated or broken others’ trust in the past:

  • They felt insecure about themselves and craved attention from others. Ask yourself: has this changed? Are they confident now, or will they still crave others’ attention?
  • They felt neglected in their relationship and this was their was of getting their own needs met. Ask yourself: is it likely they’ll feel neglected in your relationship as well, and if so: have they found a better way to resolve this?
  • They had specific sexual desires or needs that couldn’t be met in the relationship so they met these needs outside of the relationship. Ask yourself: Are their needs met now? Does your partner feel safe to discuss their needs with you?

You are insecurely attached

Sometimes, there is absolutely no reason to distrust your partner. No partner has ever cheated on you or otherwise broke your trust. Your partner is as reliable as they come. And yet, you feel anxious and upset, deeply insecure about your relationship, and continuously on edge. This may be the consequence of an insecure attachment style.

Attachment is how we feel about the bonds that we have and those lessons are often learned in our early childhood and stored deeply in our subconscious. When we’re raised by loving and stable parents, our attachment style is usually safe, making it easier to form healthy relationships later in life. We don’t shy away from intimacy, but we also don’t expect our partner to leave whenever their attention isn’t on us. However, there are multiple ways this can go wrong. One of the ways is anxious attachment. When you’re anxiously attached, you’re continuously anticipating being abandoned. Every small detail may trigger you to think your partner will leave you, causing insecurity, jealousy and neediness.

The first step in dealing with insecure attachment is understanding your (and your partner’s) attachment styles. There are some good books written on the topic, such as Attached by Amir Levine & Rachel Heller*.

Your rely on what you see in the media

Our views of what a relationship should look like is largely dependent on what we see around us. First, in our parents. Then, in the people around us. And in the media. We watch shows, read books, and check out social media.

The media often shows us a dramatized view of relationships. That makes sense – drama is interesting to watch. Nobody cares about a stable couple without any issues. We want challenges that can be overcome!
So the idea we might get looking at the media is that cheating happens *all* *the* *time*. And that might be a pretty scary idea.

When you notice that your relationship fears and dreams are based on the media, ask yourself how your relationship is similar to what you see in the media and how it’s different. If your partner has the exact same traits as Barney Stinson – you may have a cause for worry. But in itself – just because you see a lot of cheating in the media, it doesn’t follow you’ll be cheated on as well.

Recovering from cheating or broken trust

Finally, what if your partner has already cheated on you and/or broken your trust?

Well, first of all – you’ll need to decide whether you want to try and move on or to stay and fix things.

Let’s assume that you’ve decided you want to stay and try. Again, you and your partner will need to get to the true reason (or reasons – there may be more than one!) they have been cheating on you. Only when you know this reason, can you try and fix things.

What’s needed to fix it, will depend on the cause. If your partner loses control when drunk, the best solution is probably if they stop drinking in situations where they may be tempted to cheat. If your partner is missing something in your relationship, solving the issue will likely mean the both of you will have to figure out how to have their needs met, AND work on communicating about needs more (so the next time needs are unmet – you can address them without hearts getting broken).

When to leave

It’s also possible you’re best off leaving. When you and your partner are clear on why they’ve broken yours (or others’) trust, yet they are not willing to make changes that will prevent the same thing from happening again – ask yourself if you’re willing to risk getting hurt. Sometimes, leaving is the best way you can take care of yourself.

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