Dealing with trust issues in your relationship

Have you ever wondered if you have 'trust issues'? If your history of failed relationships with people who have cheated on you - or betrayed your trust in other ways - has left you with a tendency to be suspicious of things your partner does, that otherwise you may have interpreted in a different way? Or perhaps you have the opposite issue - a history of experiencing yourself as untrustworthy - perhaps being in relationships where you find it difficult to express feelings of frustration, boredom or worse. You may struggle to connect those feelings with the actions you have taken - becoming a little too flirty with a work colleague, taking money out of the joint account and impulsively buying a luxury item. In many relationships, people with a history of having their trust betrayed find themselves paired with someone who has a history of betraying trust. Of course this can create a vicious cycle - the more I interpret my partner's behaviour in a paranoid or suspicious manner, the more frustrated and angry s/he becomes. Difficulties in managing that frustration and anger increase the likelihood that s/he will then act in a way that challenges my already fragile ability to trust.

The answer? It's so important in any relationship that we make clear agreements right from the start about what we will accept from each other - what's OK when interacting with attractive others, exes etc, what's the deal about spending joint income etc. If we come into relationships with a history of either betraying or being betrayed, making these agreements is even more important. Expect it to be a work-in progress - agreements need to be made, then road-tested, reviewed and modified if necessary. Don't be too surprised if agreements are breached in the early stages, or when you're going through stressful times. What's important is to be able to come back to the table and work it through. The best case scenario is that you create strong and robust agreements together, that can withstand the wear and tear of long-term relationship with all its many demands. Of course, strong agreements also rely on a willingness to walk away if your partner is really unready to be fully accountable (if s/he has the tendency to act in untrustworthy ways), or is unprepared to do the work of accepting your efforts to build trust (where s/he has a history of being betrayed).


Till next post, Vivienne

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