Many of the individuals that seek counseling from my practice report that they lack trust in their partners. Maria, age 38, sat on the sofa in my office and spoke about feeling leery that Jason, 40, had her best interests at heart and she said she’s lost confidence in his intentions. Generally, Jason is dependable but lately Maria doesn’t feel she can always count on him.
Maria put it like this, “I love Jason but he doesn’t always follow through when he says he’s going to do something, and he often chooses to play golf with friends on Sundays rather than spending time with me. We’ve been dating for a year and I’m not sure where we’re headed. He says he loves me and we spend three nights a week together. But I’m not sure how to restore trust in him after he forgot about my office party and left me waiting at the restaurant.
Mistrust can come in many forms, from suspecting partners of infidelity, to fearing that they will abandon you emotionally or physically. Some people become “relationship junkies” looking for partners to be the salve for their wounds. Others freeze out the option of finding love, for fear of being hurt.
Here are 5 smart ways to repair broken trust:
- Examine your mistrustful thoughts. Ask yourself: is my lack of trust due to my partner’s actions or my own issues, or both? Be aware of triggers from your past that may cause you to feel mistrust in the present.
- Learn to trust your intuition and instincts. Have confidence in your own perceptions and pay attention to red flags.
- Take responsibility for how your reactions may be having a destructive impact on your relationship and apologize when you say or do hurtful things to your partner.
- Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. If your partner lets you down, don’t always assume that a failure in competence is intentional – sometimes people simply make a mistake.
- Listen to your partner’s side of the story. Make sure your words and tone of voice are consistent with your goal of building trust.
Even if you find yourself in a reasonably healthy relationship, you may still be unable to trust your partner. Sometimes, he or she is simply untrustworthy based on their past actions, so you have reason to feel leery. Other times, the initial breakdown in your childhood has caused you to lack trust – even if your partner demonstrates trustworthiness.
Proving trust is so much more than catching your partner in a truth or a lie. To trust someone, you must have faith in them. You must have a strong belief and conviction that your partner will not hurt you. You must believe he or she is being honest with you, that you can depend on them, and that they have placed you as their first priority.
Can you say that you are truly confident in your partner? Confident, that they are truthful, faithful, and in every way present, in your relationship? Cultivating this sort of relationship is one of the greatest challenges for couples.
The scariest thing about falling in love is living with the knowledge that it might end. You’re faced with a choice. You can come at relationships from a place of love and trust, or you can choose to be suspicious, doubtful, and wary. The most important thing to consider is whether your partner is worthy of trust.
Have his or her actions matched their words? Does your partner treat you with respect? Are they dependable? Are they consistent and predictable? Is he or she faithful and truthful? If the answer to these questions is yes, you must choose to trust. It’s possible that you might end up getting hurt. However, if your partner has shown you trustworthy behavior, you should reward him or her by showing trust in return.
Learning to Trust Takes Time and Patience
Take a moment to consider this: your partner is not solely responsible for creating mistrustful feelings. In most cases, you must take equal responsibility for creating an atmosphere of safety and security in relationships. Trust is a two-way street. In order for your relationship to move to a deeper level of trust and intimacy, your partner needs to have the ability to trust you, and you need to be trustworthy.
Truth be told, learning to trust is a skill that takes time and patience. It’s possible to adopt a mindset that your partner wants the best for you and won’t hurt or abandon you if he or she has shown through their actions and words that they are reliable. You can face your trust issues with a hopeful attitude if you offer trust to those who earn it by showing you that they are dependable over time.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
Terry’s book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry