Podcast: Play in new window
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | RSS
In today’s video, I’m responding to a viewer who is struggling with trust issues and wants some advice on how to get started working through these relationship trust issues.
So, how are you going to manage trust issues in a relationship?
Zachary Stockill: Trust Issues in relationships are easily one of the most common challenges that we all face in relationships. Many of us go through trust issues, particularly when we’re younger. But for other people, consistent, persistent trust issues can plague us for years or even decades into relationships.
I got an interesting comment from a viewer we’ll call C. C writes…
“How do you solve trust issues? Not from retroactive jealousy, but things that are happening in real-time? IE, girls texting, liking photos, etc?”
Number one, I think the most important thing is to get a handle on what is yours and what is your partner’s responsibility in this situation, your trust issues in a relationship.
What is your responsibility? What do you need to work on?
The most important component is getting clear about your own situation rather than your partner’s. Because frequently when people are in this situation, the temptation is to put most of the responsibility on the partner. “So you’re doing this and it makes me feel X. You’re making me feel why you’re doing all these shady things,” when it would serve that person a lot better to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, “What am I doing in the situation? What could I be doing differently to help alleviate some of my own trust issues?”
Another serious benefit of focusing on your role primarily in this situation is you can make certain changes. You can change yourself, your perspective, ask yourself some important questions.
You can’t change other people. So let’s just start there. Focus on what is yours and what is your partner’s. That begs the question, “How do you know what is your role in this and what is your partner’s?” Obviously working with a great therapist or coach can be a good way of getting an answer to this question.
Determining what is your responsibility and your partner’s responsibility.
Some questions you can ask yourself, “Am I looking for drama or issues in the relationship because there’s another need of mine that I feel is not being filled? In other words, am I perhaps unduly paranoid or suspicious of things that are happening in the relationship, because I’m feeling insecure about my partner’s attraction to me and we were not spending as much time lately as we used to.”
These are just examples. But try to ask yourself if there are other events or other situations going on in the relationship, totally unrelated to your trust issues. Totally unrelated to jealousy that could be inspiring some of these feelings that you’re describing. Ask yourself if you’re not bringing some baggage from your past into your current relationship.
If we get into our adult years, we have some relationship experiences. We have some “baggage” when it comes to our current relationship. And by baggage, I mean we became accustomed to certain relationship dynamics of trust of responding to our partner and having our partner respond to us.
We have relationship habits, some preconceived notions about what is a “good” relationship and a “bad” relationship. What is cheating, what is not, what is acceptable, what is not.
Maybe in the past, we’ve been hurt before. We were trying to trust someone and it turned out that our suspicions were actually correct. That person was not worthy of our love and trust. At the very least, they actually were texting other women or texting other guys or whatever the case may be.
So be sure that you’re not bringing some of that past baggage into your current relationship.
On that note, a great book to read is a book called, When the Past is Present by an author named David Richo. This book will help you deal with this very common situation of projecting other people’s behaviors. Projecting other people’s motives in our present based on experiences from our past.
Another suggestion along these lines if you are bringing certain baggage in your current relationship: journaling can be a wonderful tool in this regard.
There’s this idea that writing out our thoughts, fears, desires, and baggage can help us get to the bottom of them. In a certain sense, you can kind of “be your own therapist” in this regard. The point is getting into this habit of processing your emotions on the page. Because often you’ll find in situations like this, there’s a lot of highly charged emotions, doubt, and fears we’re carrying around in our head all the time.
When we lay it out on a page in front of us and get clear about everything that’s going on for us internally, all the different thoughts, responses, and fears we might be having, and look at them on the page, it can be often very clarifying. So I highly encourage you to do some journaling as well.
When it comes to your partner’s role in all of this, how clear have you been? And how clear are you on your relationship boundaries and values?
You’ll notice that I often talk about these things together. I don’t think you can just have relationship boundaries or just values, I think they need to go together. So when it comes to trust issues, this is usually a question of boundaries. For example: “I don’t want someone to be texting women all the time, someone who’s posting on Instagram incessantly and looking for attention from random people”.
There can be all kinds of relationship boundaries in the 21st century. There’s no “one size fits all” model for romantic relationships. That’s something really important to keep in mind. We’ve all had different relationship configurations, and we take certain norms for granted that maybe other people don’t accept.
This is not to say that people can never be genuinely violating our boundaries and genuinely being shady behind our back. Of course not. But just remember that unspoken boundaries have a tendency to get violated. Often, we take certain things for granted in relationships that are completely foreign and even strange to our partner.
So how much have you actually talked about this stuff with your partner? Have you discussed your relationship boundaries and values? Things that you expect from your partner?
What does “monogamy” mean to you? How you can use monogamy as a bridge to deeper intimacy? How many of these conversations have you had?
Don’t take it for granted that your partner has the exact same ideas about monogamy and faithfulness that you necessarily have. It’s the 21st century, and we can make our own rules in relationships. So make sure you’ve been clear with your partner about your own views in this regard. The type of relationship, day to day, that you want.
Stop looking for a sure thing if you’re mostly sure that your trust issues are based on fiction.
If you know your partner really well, and you’re convinced that there’s no real deal-breakers there, remind yourself constantly that there is no such thing as a sure bet in relationships.
You’ll drive yourself crazy if you go looking for the sure thing. Because if you’re struggling with confidence issues, it can be all too easy to misinterpret your partner’s actions, to ascribe motives to them that they don’t actually have.
Just remember that there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to the human heart.
You can only truly enjoy your relationships once you get comfortable with the fact that every relationship is a risk. Every relationship is a gamble.
A huge component of the thrill of falling in love is falling. There’s this built-in component of uncertainty, risk, in the term itself: “falling in love.” And we wouldn’t really want it any other way.