July 2023: Trust Issues

Many intimate relationships are compromised, or even destroyed, by one or both people having “trust issues”.  Typically, whoever is distrustful comes up with justifications for their distrust (e.g. – “you were flirting at the party”, “I saw you talking with that person”, etc.).

I think the seeds of finding it difficult/impossible to trust are sown in early childhood.  It is yet another issue with traditional parenting. But how can we work with this issue if we have it as adults, so that we can be happy and secure in a relationship?   There is one key to this:   Seek the answer internally, not externally.    All feelings arise from within and no one can “make us” feel a certain way.  If we feel insecure it is because of one person – ourselves.  Distrustful partners often seek to deal with that icky feeling in the pit of their stomach by controlling the other person.  They think if they know everything the person is doing and thinking and who the person is communicating with, they can feel secure. Often, even if they exercise this level of intrusive control, they continue to feel insecure and distrustful. The answer to this (and all) feelings is inside. Your partner cannot make you feel secure, but you can help yourself to feel more secure.  If we all stopped blaming our partners, or anyone else, for the ways that we feel, the world would be a much more tranquil place.

Feeling distrustful in the world arises from childhood experiences, and then we project that onto adults in our lives.  So what do we do if we are just distrustful by nature (or more accurately, by experience) but we want a relationship?

I think this metaphor works:   Imagine you have a childhood injury which resulted in you having a bad knee.   It especially flares up when you walk uphill.   You have a chance to buy a beautiful house at a great price.  It’s everything you ever wanted…but you have to walk up a hill to get there.   So you know your knee will likely hurt when you walk up to the house (just like you know you will have feelings of distrust if you enter a relationship).  And then it is your decision.  Is it worth my knee flaring up to have this amazing house?   Is it worth my distrust flaring up to have a relationship?  If you decide YES to either or both, one thing is clear:  When your knee flares up don’t blame the house, and when your distrust flares up, don’t blame your partner!