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Home / Relationships

How do I become more trusting of my partners?

 I’ve no idea where my lack of trust comes from, not like any of my boyfriends have actually cheated on me (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

I find it really difficult to trust people, especially my boyfriends. Somehow, I’m always expecting them to be unfaithful. I’ve no idea where my lack of trust comes from, because it’s not as if any of my boyfriends have actually cheated on me.

And yet I constantly mistrust them, even when they’re really nice and are treating me well. Not surprisingly that leads to a lot of nasty little fights, and sooner or later they give up on me.

So how come I’m so untrusting? And is there anything I can do about it?

Suspicious and Untrusting

——

Hi Suspicious and Untrusting!

Trust’s hugely important in every relationship, so I’m not surprised to hear that mistrust is damaging yours.

We all learn to trust as children. So if your parents love you, keep their promises, provide consistent discipline and a predictable home environment, then you grow up trusting and trustworthy. It’s a fair guess that some of that was lacking in your childhood.

But it’s never too late to put things right, because trust’s a learnable skill. And it’s worth learning, even though you risk being misled from time to time, because being distrusting will ruin every relationship you ever have.

Deciding to trust a new partner starts with watching how they behave. Do they put you before their work or social life? Listen to you when you’re upset? Offer a helping hand when you need it? Understand your emotions? Cope with you having different views from theirs?

You need to be doing the same for them, of course.

You both have a choice, in other words: you can either be there for each other and build trust, or turn away, so you don’t.

Trust evaporates fastest whenever you make a choice that results in a winner and a loser. Whenever one person’s gain is the other’s loss. What’s called a zero-sum game.

Trust’s always low between zero-sum couples, and high when couples act as a team. So that even when you disagree, you’re both still thinking in the best interests of the relationship.

We always imagine trust being lost through something terrible, like your partner being unfaithful. But trust has usually gone long before something like that happens. Because affairs are far more common in low trust relationships, and very rare when trust is high.

So, choose to be someone your boyfriends can depend on. Truthful and trustworthy. Tell each other everything, listen well, and don’t be someone who believes that you must guard your independence. That might feel good in the short-term, but you’ll lose out in the long-term. Endless misunderstandings, distrust and stress. Going from one relationship crisis to another. Instead, start learning to think like a team, and soon your relationships will be much better.

 

All the best,

Chris

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