Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Trust is a natural human experience and is necessary for a successful society. Every day we put trust in other drivers that they will follow the laws of the road, we trust that our new security system will protect our home and family, and we trust that the Earth will continue to spin.
“Trusting others, such as family members and friends, can reassure us that we’ll be helped when we need it. It’s the foundation of any healthy relationship — including the relationship you have with yourself. (healthline.com).”
Lack of trust is often a leading cause of a relationship ending. But what causes trust issues? Understanding the root cause of your distrust can help you learn more about yourself and strengthen your relationships.
Common Causes of Trust Issues in Relationships
When we have a low opinion of ourselves, it is easy to assume the worst in a relationship. “I’m not good enough; my partner will find someone better.” A person’s lack of self-esteem can come from life experiences or unsuccessful past relationships.
What You Can Do: “Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem (lifehack.org).” The first step to building your self-esteem is identifying the reason behind it, but we don’t see it in many cases. Speaking with a therapist or counselor can help you uncover experiences or habits that cause your low self-esteem and provide strategies to build yourself back up.
Experiencing Unfaithfulness in the Past
A common reason for mistrust in a relationship is when a person has experienced unfaithfulness in a previous relationship. When trust is lost, especially in an intimate relationship, we put up walls. We project our fears onto our current partner and assume the worst so that we don’t get hurt again.
What You Can Do: First and foremost, you need to separate your past from your present. It’s not fair to your partner (or your relationship) to make them accountable for something they didn’t do. Secondly, communication is key. Be open and honest with your partner about what you experienced in the past. “If you need reassurance from your partner, ask for it. If you’re feeling insecure, let them know. Invite them into knowing you, how they make you feel and how you want to make them feel (theselfspace.com).”
Unreasonable or Irrational Anxiety
Many people dealing with anxiety are flooded with irrational thoughts. Thoughts that are not based around fact but we convince ourselves they are true. In a relationship, an example of this could be your partner letting you know that they have to work late, you text them later that evening to say you miss them, and they don’t reply.
Suddenly you’re flooded with thoughts about what they’re doing. If they’re at work, why aren’t they responding? Who are they with? What are they really doing? Are they seeing someone else?
What You Can Do: “Experts recommend starting with mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of recognizing when you have anxiety and then trying to also recognize all of the symptoms and thoughts that go with it (calmclinic.com).” If you find yourself in a situation similar to the above, take a step back and focus on the thought. Is the thought based on fact? If you believe it is, what’s your evidence? What would another person think in this situation? Breaking down a thought into more objective pieces can help “deflate” it.
“If you experience trust issues, you are not alone. People who seek help for trust issues are often able to regain a sense of trust in others (goodtherapy.com).”
At Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries, our Christian counseling model is designed to help you understand yourself based on your unique temperament profile. Through Temperament Therapy, we uncover your “spiritual genetics” to help you better understand yourself and identify your individual needs.
The One whom you can always put your trust in and never be disappointed in is God. When you experience issues of trust in any circumstance or relationship, know you can and should turn to him first. His word promises to bring you the understanding you need as he guides you through the process
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6