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Lack of Trust – A Challenge in Relationships

Respect and intimacy are the foundation on which loving relationships are built. When people have the courage to look at these patterns, admit their own contribution, and are willing to change and put their relationships first, even the most difficult relationship problems can be healed.

Inability to trust our partners may take many forms, including feeling that they are being dishonest or hiding something from us, not trusting them to be reliable and consistent, and available when we need them, fearing they may take advantage of us, not trusting their values as human beings, or not feeling safe to express who we really are in our relationships.

Why We Do It

People may get married because they see something desirable in their partner that they don’t have in themselves, rather than because of common values. Over time, one or both partners may grow in confidence, or their needs may change, making them less willing to put up with the difference in values. Charm wears thin when our partners never help with the dishes! Jealousy has its basis in personal insecurity and fear of abandonment. We try to control our partners so they won’t find someone better and leave us. People who have been abused as children or hurt in previous relationships, will find it difficult to trust and let themselves be open to a partner’s love. Negative communication cycles can erode feelings of trust and safety.

Why It Is a Problem

According to marital intimacy researcher Arthur Aron, Ph.D., from Stony Brook University in New York, the most loving relationships help people to expand themselves, by providing support for exploration, learning, and growth, bringing in passions and interests that broaden each other’s worlds, and encouraging spontaneity and reasonable risk-taking. However, lack of trust does the opposite – it makes our worlds smaller as we try to control our partners or subjugate our needs to theirs. When people don’t share the same fundamental values, or when we can’t trust our partners to be stable sources of attachment, insecurity and fear begin to dominate the relationship.


Lack of trust becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading us behave in ways that alienate and anger others. When we inadvertently push away other people, we are not able to receive the genuine love they may have to give us.

What To Do Instead

Determine if you think the lack of trust is due to the way your partner has acted in the past or your own issues, or both? How much are you able to trust yourself? If you can’t trust yourself, what gets in the way – insecurity, an unhealed wound, an addiction problem, depression, or something else? If there are specific things your partner has done to erode your trust, it is important to begin talking about these in a non-blaming way. If necessary, decide what behaviors are unacceptable to you and set reasonable limits with your partner. If you are suppressing important parts of yourself to accommodate your partner, it is important to acknowledge your unmet needs and work with your partner to find a solution that allows them in. Therapy is often necessary to help repair injuries due to affairs, addictions, or other forms of unavailability, instability, and control.


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