Trust issues are a result of dishonesty and words not matching behaviors. What do you do when you want to trust, but your gut tells you not to?
He tells me I should trust him. I want to, but I can’t.
Trust is something that helps our relationships to grow by allowing to us to emotionally commit more and more to our relationships. If we trust too much, too soon, we have a high risk of being hurt. If our relationships are already well established, we risk losing our relationship if we don’t trust enough. The key to avoiding trust issues is to take progressively larger risks as our partners earn our trust. People don’t earn our trust by telling us to trust them. Rather, they earn our trust by living according to the values they espouse (integrity), by keeping their word (honesty), and by behaving toward us in a way that shows they have our best interest at heart (love). When we can consistently see all three of these qualities in a person, we know we have found someone of quality.
“Is trusting early in a relationship risky?”
Trusting too much, too soon, is risky, since it gives the other person plenty of room to disappoint us. However, the damage is minimized if we don’t have that much to lose. For example, if I hire a new maid, and leave valuables within easy reach in my home, I increase the risk that the maid will steal from me. However, if my valuables are insured or I can afford to lose them, it is not a great risk to me. I can more quickly come to trust my maid. But, if I could not afford to lose such valuables, then I would be taking a big risk. So it is with relationships. Some people would be devastated if they trusted soon and were lied to or cheated. Others would rather know sooner than later so that they can more quickly move on. You need to have some sense of your risk tolerance. If you are easily hurt, then develop trust more slowly. If you know you are the kind of person who recovers quickly, then taking bigger risks may bring more momentum and excitement to your relationships. You need to keep both of these axioms in mind: “Look before you leap,” and nothing ventured, “nothing gained.” There is no love without trust, but there is no trust without risk.
Improve the odds by not trusting someone based on words of love or promises to change
Start to use trust in a healthy way by recognizing that trust can only be earned by the actions of another person. It cannot be earned by words. Women who frequently encounter trust issues are those who are prone to trust men based on the words they use (“He said he loves me, so I know he won’t…” “He promised me he wouldn’t do it again…” “He told me that I can trust him…”). Words should be as useless for earning trust as they are for talking a vending machine into giving you a soda. If you are feeling confused after a man says something to you, it is most likely because you are trying to mentally match his words with his actions and finding that difficult. You can end the confusion if you discard the words and regard only the actions. Men use words to accomplish goals, while women use words to express feelings. If his words and behaviors match up, then you can be more trusting of what he says. If they don’t match, then don’t trust the words.
Common mistakes single women make that lead to trust issues
Dating only one person and committing too soon
Neediness leads many women to trust too soon because they are so eager to be loved by someone. As I wrote in my book, Overcome Neediness and Get the Love You Want, needy women commit their hearts too soon, are subsequently heartbroken, and then spend potentially years of their life pining away for a man who never was right for them. This problem can be avoided by casually dating several men rather than quickly committing to one. This has the result of slowing down the development of a relationship so that major trust issues don’t develop. It also helps to eliminate needy and risky men, who do not make good long term partners.
Committing to a man before you really know him
Some men are great romancers. They can take you to exciting places and make you feel like a princess. Many of these men, however, completely change once they have secured you in a committed relationship. Major trust issues often begin soon after the wedding ceremony is over. You can help to avoid that by making sure that you take time to meet his friends, family, and coworkers. What you hope to see is consistency in different contexts. Just because you meet a man in church doesn’t mean he is religious. Perhaps he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Besides different contexts, give your relationship enough time. If you are not sure how long is too long or not long enough, you will find guidelines in Overcome Neediness and Get the Love You Want. Life is short and we don’t want to waste it, but we also don’t want to jump into something we will regret later.
I’m already married and I want to know if I can trust my husband
Married or single, the principles for trust don’t change. Don’t go by your husband’s words, and don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.
A financially irresponsible husband
If your husband has driven you into bankruptcy and now wants free access to your bank account, there should be some evidence that his spending behavior has changed. Even so, you should only grant access to a small amount of money. Anything which is yours should be risked a little in order to allow your partner the opportunity to build trust without dealing you a crushing blow.
A husband who has had an affair
If your husband has cheated on you, you also don’t want to just give your whole heart right away, but you do need to risk it a little. Without planting a seed, nothing can grow. I have coached thousands of women to rebuild their relationships with a cheating husband. The ones who have the most success are those who require their husbands to build their relationship and earn their trust before ending their separations. Women who let their husbands move back in, based solely on their promises to work on the relationship, usually find fairly quickly that does not actually happen. Many times the men they have let back in are cheating on them again within one month.
How much should I control my spouse’s behaviors when he or she is trying to rebuild trust?
Well, you don’t want to become controlling, because that will only push him or her away. Also, you don’t want to take your spouse’s word for it that he or she isn’t doing anything wrong. That means that your spouse has to be accountable to you in order to rebuild trust. You need to be able to check up on him or her. This is only for cases where your spouse has already severely broken your trust. A spouse who is unwilling to be accountable during the trust rebuilding process cannot be trusted. Also, as much as you may not want to, you have to do the checking. Otherwise, trust can’t be rebuilt. If you need your spouse to pee on a stick to prove that he or she isn’t drinking or using drugs, for example, then do it. It will help more than it will hurt. But, if your spouse is not trying to rebuild your trust, you would do nothing of the sort. You would focus on protecting yourself, instead.
High value women have more trustworthy partners
You should become such a good partner for your spouse or partner that he has a lot to lose if he breaks your trust. High value spouses have partners who are more loving and are less likely to take chances with the relationship. Low value spouses have partners who regularly break trust because they do not feel like they have much to lose. They also do not believe their spouses could easily replace them. Just as a high value employer can more easily keep her employees and recruit new ones, so can a high value spouse keep her husband. Low value spouses try to compensate for their lack of value by being controlling, but this only pushes their husbands further away.
Principles for avoiding trust issues in your relationship
Strive to be a high value partner while also taking small risks that allow your husband or partner to increase your trust. If you are single, make sure not to commit too soon and get to know your boyfriend in a variety of social contexts. Know what your risk tolerance is. If you trust too much, too soon, it will be your fault as much as it is his. Also, if you keep trusting a man who has not earned your trust and perhaps even stomped on it, that is your doing, too. Learn to overcome any neediness you have and to set proper boundaries. Then whether you are single or married, your relationship will grow.