Tales of Trust

A frequent question in therapy is how can I tell if I have trust issues? One sign is that trust issues can cause you to have chronic relationship anxiety. Building trust in any relationship is key to counting on each other and maintaining longevity. Trust issues can cause you to feel suspicious, to doubt others, to second-guess, and even to leave relationships. You might have volatile, unstable relationships, pick fights or accuse others of dishonesty or betrayal. You also might spend a lot of time worrying, wondering or even obsessing about what others are up to.

Trust issues make people doubt that they are lovable or that others will actually be there for them.

Signs of trust issues include:
1. You Focus on the Negative
People in trusting relationships are more likely to see the positives in each other, whereas people with trust issues are more likely to focus on the negatives. If you often find yourself assuming the worst and noticing people’s weaknesses rather than strengths, withholding praise, or constantly criticizing or nitpicking, these could be signs of trust issues.

2. You Feel Like You Have to Do Everything
You have a hard time relying on others to follow through, so you do it all yourself. This leads to perfectionism, stress, and overwork. In the workplace, it can make it difficult for you to work as part of a team, because you don’t feel comfortable delegating or counting on others to do their part.

3. Being Suspicious of Friends & Family
You are always preparing yourself for the next betrayal, letdown or ulterior motive. You don’t believe what people tell you.

4. Avoiding Intimacy
Intimacy requires vulnerability, and people with trust issues try to avoid feeling vulnerable at all costs. If you have trust issues or a fear of intimacy, you would rather be on your own than risk being hurt.

5. Holding Grudges
Once someone has broken your trust or let you down, you never forget it. You are not likely to ever forgive or trust that person again. This may generalize to other relationshipsas well.

6. You Pick Fights
When you have trust issues, you are hyper-aware of any little thing that could go wrong in a relationship. You don’t trust your friend/partner, so you bring up issues from their past or find things that bother you and start a fight.

7. You Keep to Yourself
Sharing your inner world with others requires trust. When you have trust issues, you would rather keep inner thoughts and feelings to yourself than risk trusting someone else.

8. You Avoid Commitment
You have trouble committing, because committed relationships require trust and vulnerability from everyone involved. When you don’t trust others, you avoid getting into situations that cause you to feel vulnerable, and you have commitment issues.

9. You Spy on People or Check Their Phones
When you have trust issues, you are always looking for evidence to prove whether someone is being honest with you or not. Since you don’t believe them, you seek out evidence to either set your mind at ease or prove you right.

10. You Find Yourself in Relationships With Untrustworthy People
Frustratingly, having your trust broken can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you expect a certain thing to happen, in the case of having trust issues, being betrayed, it may actually occur.

11. You Smother People You Care About
When people are in your inner circle, you protect them fiercely because you fear that they will leave you or that something bad will happen to you. This can result in smothering or hovering behavior in your relationships.

12. You Constantly Seek Reassurance
When you have difficulty trusting others, you may always be asking them if they really care about you, is anything wrong, what are they thinking.
It becomes a feedback loop where the reassurance doesn’t ‘stick’ and has to be repeated.

13. Fear of Abandonment
You live in constant fear of being abandoned, criticized, scorned, or rejected in all of your relationships. When you get a “please stop by my office” email from your boss, you are sure you are being fired. When you see photos of friends having fun, your first thought is that they left you out on purpose. In romantic relationships, you have constant fear of abandonment lurking under the surface that they are getting ready to break things off.

The Role of the Inner Critic:
Mistrust, doubts and suspicions are strongly influenced by the critical inner voice. This destructive thought process is part of the defense system we built as children; it consists of an internal dialogue that is antagonistic to our best interests and cynical toward other people. The critical inner voice is the culprit that triggers trust issues in people’s closest relationships.

Here’s how the voice often operates in the early phases of a relationship:
If we doubt ourselves, see ourselves as inadequate, or feel cynical toward other people, we are less likely to seek love and satisfaction in a relationship. When we do find someone who genuinely acknowledges and loves us, we may begin to feel anxious because their positive view of us conflicts with our negative self-image. At this point, mistrust and self-doubt can take over our rational thinking. The critical inner voice becomes stronger, telling us we don’t deserve love. Or, it may focus on and exaggerate any flaws in the person who loves us, and we start being picky and critical.

Gender stereotypes and sexist attitudes represent an extension of the critical inner voice into a cultural framework:
They focus on certain negative traits thought to be “characteristic” of men or women and promote a great deal of mistrust and cynicism between the sexes. Distorted views such as “Men are so insensitive. They don’t care about feelings”, or “Women are so childish and over-emotional, they always act jealous and possessive” are examples of this type of thinking.

Many people experience the critical inner voice as a kind of dysfunctional internal “coach” that offers bad advice about how to handle a relationship.
-Remember, you have to put your best foot forward. One wrong step and you’ll end up alone.
-Don’t get too excited; don’t get too involved, you’ll just be hurt.
-Don’t mess this up or you won’t ever be able to meet anyone else.
-They are out of your league, you better try harder to look great and sound smart.

Coming soon: How to Build Trust; Skills and Strategies.

Trust story: rescued swan remembers the man who saved her life, six years later.
Also see how relationships can be healed using strategies of mindful vulnerability.

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Embolden Psychology
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