Lack of Trust In Relationships

We have been together for 4 years now. Most of the times everything is great but the times where he is traveling for work or busy for days, thoughts of him being with another woman fill my head. He reassures me that he is committed to me but even after all this time together, I'm unable to get rid of these doubts. After all he DID have a PAST. I just don't know how to find sanity.

Of the many factors that can complicate a relationship, lack of trust in your partner or trust in a relationship is one of the hardest ones to deal with.

Trust in a relationship is the act of placing confidence in your partner. When you trust your partner you are able to strip your soul to them and let them in your life easily. We cannot weigh trust in terms of either/or but more based on degree and intensity of its presence.

Trust in a relationship serves a foundation to build a feeling of safety and security. There are many factors that can impact the confidence between you and your partner.

There are various warning signs pointing towards the lack of trust in a relationship, a few of them being

  • Either you or your partner is constantly asking for evidence to support what they share such as where they were, why were they late
  • Either you or your partner engages in spying activities- checking their phone, demanding that the partner share their social media account details
  • There is the constant desire to shadow all your activities such as demanding to accompany you wherever you go, fights when the partner goes out without you
  • Constant feeling of insecurity when they speak to the opposite sex so forcing them to limit their interactions with other sex
  • Constant urge to engage in cheating behaviour either physically or emotionally
  • If your partner refrains from sharing their life issues with you it could be that they lack to trust you. Hence it becomes difficult to develop an intimate bond.

Now let us focus on few causes as to why it becomes difficult to trust a partner or put your trust in a relationship. We shall view them as external or internal causes

These are the factors which are not in your hand and depend more on what your partner contributes to your lack of trust These are the factors that focus more on you and how your upbringing and personality is contributing for lack of trust.
Infidelity - When a partner breaches trust through cheating. In such scenarios the partner who has been cheated on finds it difficult to place the trust again on the cheating partner. Fear of abandonment - An internal fear of being abandoned leads to difficulties in developing secure bonds and trust in relationships. This may develop when one has undergone difficult life experience such as Loss of a parent, Divorce, Parental neglect, Physical or sexual abuse
Dishonesty - According to John Townsend, a psychologist, Be it hiding something significant or lying, dishonesty of any magnitude leads to doubts, insecurities, anxiety and fear in a relationship that shakes the foundation of trust between the partners.

Attachment styles- Our childhood experiences with our parents or primary caregivers have an influence in the way we interact and relate with our romantic partners and friends in our adult life.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment- In this form of attachment the individual requires constant validation, reassurance and love in order to feel secure. Hence they become clingy and dependent.

Fearful-avoidant attachment- This style of attachment includes fear of getting emotionally close and vulnerable but at the same time there is a desire for emotional connection and intimacy.

Absent Partner- When you are constantly let down by your partner when they are failing to be there for you, trust issues crop up. When they are insensitive to your issues, fail to support you or listen to you, or show compassion, you might unconsciously feel drawing back. Past of the partner- Retroactive jealousy is defined as a resentment towards one's partner's past romantic or sexual experiences. It leads to anger, distrust and constant comparison with the previous partner. It is caused due to insecurity and fear that our partner might still prefer or have feelings for their previous partner.
Inconsistent partner- When there is incongruency observed between what your partner says and what they do such as they might say “I love you” but they might behave in an abuse way towards you. Self Esteem- The lack of trust in a relationship could also stem from insecurity that we have developed within ourselves. When we are insecure about ourselves, we have a higher tendency to develop mistrust in a relationship as there is a constant worry that our partner might leave us. The underlying thoughts are "I don't look good enough/I am not good enough" and thus our partner may find someone better or stop loving or taking interest in us.
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Session Structure (Important Aspects)

  • History taking

    This involves understanding the gravity of the situation and severity of emotions. It is a first step that the therapist takes to understand you and develop a trusting relation with your therapist and gain an assurance that you are not alone in this journey, you have reliable person to guide you through the challenging phase.

  • Understanding the root causes for lack of trust

    The second step focuses on in-depth work where you and your therapist involve in identifying the root causes for the issues. There might be a past relation where you were cheated on or having childhood experience or any other factor which is leading you to distrust in a relation is discovered in a safe environment along with your therapist

  • Working on the causative factor

    The next step entails on challenging and working on the factors that are causing to distrust. Here your therapist will use different techniques to help you break the cycle. During the process focus will also be on helping you deal with your emotions while you are working on challenging.

  • Couple session

    In case lack of trust is due to infidelity, couple counselling is the best option. In a couple counselling session the emotions, the pain and the hurt is dealt in the here and now. You and your partner are exposed to be vulnerable and be led to an emotional cleanse under the guidance of a professional.

  • Application into real life

    A therapist will not only help you work on the difficulties of trusting during the session but will also help you translate the learning outside therapy. It allows you to extend your trust in different interpersonal relationships and develop more satisfying meaningful connections.

  • Follow Up

    Follow up sessions include analysing the goals that you have achieved with your therapist in sessions. Remember progress is like a steep curve where there might be bumps during the journey. Any situation might trigger you to lose the trust such as- your partner lying to you. During these times you go back to your learning and keep moving ahead.

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How a Counselor can Help

  • Developing insight into deep rooted reasons for lack of trust
  • Allowing expression of feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger or resentment from past emotional wounds
  • Helping in gaining an understanding personality factors that create mistrust
  • Breaking cycles of negative/unhealthy thought patterns
  • Fostering open channels of communication to express themselves to their partner
  • Exploring ways to acquire feelings of safety
  • Working on developing a healthy sense of self
  • Develop long lasting changes

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