Who hasn’t heard, “If you want to be happy never trust anyone!” If you haven’t heard it you are one of the lucky few. This seemingly beneficial formula for a happy life can be a bit counterproductive, making issues where there doesn’t need to be any. A lack of trust leads to all kinds of issues and few of them are good. One of the most significant of these is the inability to maintain relationships. However, if you trust too much you leave yourself vulnerable, a target for disappointment…or worse.
The concept of trust, the firm belief in reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone can seem dangerous when reclusive secrecy has become the norm. But if we build our walls up too high, we doom ourselves to a fate of solitude and loneliness. And folks, there is a big difference between being alone and being lonely.
The perception of trust is established early in our lives. During our infant and toddler years, our emotions are formed along with a grasp of certain life dynamics. Our concept of trust is one of the first of these emotions to be established. Often trust issues develop early in life from something done or in some cases, not done in our early years.
Children who didn’t get dependable attention, appropriate nurturing, affection, suitable discipline, and acceptance during their developing stages are likely to develop issues later on in life. They are likely to struggle with maintaining good relationships. This is even more of an issue for children who are exposed to abusive environments. In this situation, a child’s view of normalcy is permanently skewed.
Trust Issues Develop at Any Stage of Life and For Numerous Reasons
Trust issues are not exclusively linked to childhood experiences; they can develop during any stage of life. Adolescence, for example, is another milestone period for challenging and developmentally changing experiences. Young teens who are bullied and teased at school or at home can develop a mistrust of their peers. Their self-esteem is affected which in turn plays an enormous role on their ability to trust anyone.
Traumatic life events during any stage of life and through adulthood can utterly obstruct the trust mechanism and what you would consider normal operation. Occurrences such as theft, illness, or loss of a loved one can be the sort of things that come to mind. When a person has become disillusioned, they must come to terms with new emotions such as loss of control, abandonment, or loss of security. On a more monstrous scale, experiences along the line of sexual assault or rape can leave the victim stripped of the ability to trust indefinitely if left unattended.
Relationships and Trust
The most common of trust issues are those dealing with relationships and they can develop at any time. These can appear during a normally healthy relationship because of a childhood experience that hasn’t been well processed. That being said, everyone goes through “that one” relationship that turns their world upside down and alters the way that they view themselves and relationships forever. It makes perfect sense that people who have been cheated on are more likely to fear that no one can be trusted. It can go like this: If they didn’t answer their text or pick up your call in five seconds, then then they must surely be cheating. It is a result of your experience.
And I get it, in today’s hook up culture, it’s a challenge—maybe even a risk—to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and that isn’t even considering social media. With the delusion of variety and false adoration generated by social media channels, the promotion of “side pieces” and “main squeezes,” there’s very little room for the die-hard romantic. The true gentleman or lady who wants to build and enjoy a very meaningful and completely monogamous relationship can have a very long row to hoe.
Here is another thing to add to the mix; it probably won’t surprise you, but the cheater in the relationship is usually the one with the real trust issues. There are very few reasons why people cheat, and although some of the reasons may be understandable, none are excusable.
But usually people tend to cheat when they’re feeling insecure. You know the feeling like you “don’t have it” anymore, or sometimes you have a nagging suspicion that your partner could, or is, actually doing better than you. To beat your partner to the punch and avoid being the one who gets betrayed, you go ahead and cheat so that, in your mind, you are in control. It has been said that men cheat to maintain an unsatisfactory relationship while women cheat to find a new one. Regardless, cheating is a short road to ruining more than your own life.
There’s a Clear Connection Between Trust Issues and Mental Health
Perhaps some of the most heart-rending trust issues are generated by PTSD due to some horrifyingly traumatic event. Many adults who have endured battle and the experiences that come with it often carry those experiences with them off the battlefield. A great many returned soldiers feel that they have not received sufficient support from their government or their peers after putting their lives on the line. Those horrific experiences leave our surviving heroes riddled with issues, trust being one of the main ones.
You also see the presence of trust issues intertwined with an assembly of other issues, making it difficult to “unpack.” Be they abandonment, humiliation, or a traumatic physical experience, trust issues don’t often travel alone. Can you see how these additional conditions are good indicators pointing to what has caused the trust issues in the first place?
You Can Still Get it Back After it is Gone
Let me first say, there is no quick fix to this problem. Trust issues are usually deep-seated, often stemming from an early or deeply traumatic experience. They can and do imbed themselves into your overall personal development. But it is not the end all. It can be repaired. You can live a different way.
Coaching/therapy/psychiatrist: The most direct and effective way
This should be your first plan of attack. Depending on the severity of the trust issues, they might require therapy, or perhaps coaching will be enough to find a new way.
I know, going to therapy carries some kind of stigma, like you’re mentally ill, or that you can’t handle your life. But the truth is that none of that is true. If you can handle it through coaching, changing the patterns in your life, that is great! If you need a deeper dive into your mind and past, then therapy will be your best bet. Most of us are a bit damaged, and you may not even be aware of what caused the damage. If you are battling the after-effects of a serious trauma, you deserve a break.
Speaking to a coach/therapist/psychiatrist can be extraordinarily beneficial, because you end up digging deep and unveiling aspects of yourself and memories that you may be suppressing. This can be great for you and your partner if the trust issues are within the relationship.
It Takes Two For Good Communication
Just because your previous partner was a monster, violating your deepest values, doesn’t mean that every person out there is untrustworthy.
Tell them what you’re feeling. Just talk to them. You might be afraid that you will sound needy or whiny. But hear me; those qualities are much more welcoming when you compare them with paranoia, insecurity, accusations, and eventually resentful behavior. Tell your partner how and what you’re feeling, why you think that you have these emotions and ask for their help and understanding. If they’re willing to work with you and get to a place together where you feel more comfortable, they’re a keeper. Let me say it again—if they are, they are a keeper.
If they’re unnerved by your concerns, making it clear that either they don’t want to participate, or just don’t care, then consider cutting your losses and moving on. If you aren’t careful you will find yourself sliding down a slippery slope to unhappiness, and none of us want that.
In the End, Letting Go is Sometimes Better Than Holding On
Sometimes it’s not all in your imagination. Sometimes you really have learned from your past experiences, and although you might feel a bit jaded, they have also left you wiser and with a more finely honed intuition. Like the old quote goes, “just because you feel paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t following you.” You might be right. Perhaps the person isn’t worthy of your trust.
If your mind is running a million miles a minute, trying to figure out if your partner is telling you the truth, it might be time to cut it off. It is bound to run its course eventually, otherwise you’ll just be stuck circling around in unwelcome feelings—who wants to live that way? If with every breath, they make you question their loyalty, then move on.
You deserve happiness, and eventually you will find someone who doesn’t make you question every moment they are away.