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People develop trust issues for many reasons.
It may start in childhood, where they grew up in a home where they couldn’t trust their parents or other authority figures.
It may happen in adulthood, where the person is a survivor of domestic abuse or other traumatic circumstances that left a lasting impression on them.
Dating someone with trust issues is challenging because they may have unexpected emotional reactions to benign situations. What doesn’t seem like a problem to you may be a massive problem for them because it is touching on some of their past hurt.
That, in turn, causes them to get angry or suspicious about your actions in the present relationship.
You will have to learn how to navigate these situations if you want this relationship to be successful. Let’s look at some tips on how to successfully date someone with trust issues.
1. You will need to be patient.
People who have been hurt in the past will typically have a hard time opening up and trusting in the future.
It’s just kind of the way that works. You touch a stove and get burned; you’re going to be wary about touching that stove again, right?
The same thing is true for romantic relationships. We invest so much of ourselves, our time, energy, and personal lives into a relationship that it can deeply hurt when things go badly.
And not just, “Oh, well, we didn’t work out.” It’s more in the context of surviving abuse, loving someone who manipulated them, or dealing with the fallout of cheating.
You will need to be patient with the person because they will likely say and do things out of defensiveness that may not be all that kind.
They will need time to see that you are serious about the relationship and allow themselves to open up a little.
2. You will need to understand that you cannot fix their past.
There are far too many people in the world who do not realize that love and relationships really don’t play out like the movies…
All you need is love! Love conquers all! This love is so pure that surely they will be inspired to be better!
That’s not really how it works. If it did, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of people mourning for lost loved ones right now.
The fact of the matter is that a person with trust issues has issues for a reason. And if they are a survivor of some ugly things in their life, love isn’t going to fix the harm those situations caused. That’s what therapy and a variety of self-improvement practices are for.
That doesn’t mean they are doomed to bad relationships or an unhappy life. Not at all.
It’s just that everyone involved in the relationship needs to understand that it takes much more than someone else’s love to mend those wounds. It takes personal effort, probably with the help of a mental health professional.
3. You will need to learn to not take things personally.
There are going to be blow-ups and arguments that will not make sense to you. You may very well be accused of things that you didn’t do, have your honesty and integrity questioned, and be left dumbfounded at some of the leaps of logic you will experience.
You must learn to not take these things personally. A person with trust issues who is angry about a perceived slight is not acting out of malice toward you. They are responding to an emotional trigger from their previous experiences.
Don’t interpret it as a personal attack on your integrity. Otherwise, the situation will rapidly spiral into an argument that goes nowhere.
The best thing you can do is deescalate the situation by asking questions, encouraging them to talk about what they’re feeling, and explaining your side as clearly as you can.
If they are a reasonable person, they will eventually be able to see the truth, even if they are drowning in their anger at the moment.
4. Demonstrate trustworthiness by following through.
The best way to demonstrate trustworthiness is to follow through on your actions and choices.
If you say you’re going to call at 5pm, then you call at 5pm. If you agree to meet up for drinks on Saturday, make sure you’re there to meet up for drinks on Saturday.
Treat your word as a bond, because it is. Whatever you say you’re going to do, do it.
That track record of doing what you say you will and sticking to your statements is a tangible thing that a person with trust issues can hold onto.
Their fear or anxiety may be telling them that something is terribly wrong or that it will go badly. Still, they know they can count on you because you’ve regularly demonstrated that you are dependable and trustworthy.
Of course, stuff happens. Sometimes we don’t have any other choice than to break our plans because work came up or the babysitter canceled at the last minute. Life happens.
All you need to do is pick up the phone, give them a call, and let them know what’s going on. Don’t leave them hanging or wondering what you’re doing. That will undermine all of your attempts to build trust.
5. Expect them to need regular reassurance in the beginning.
It’s not unusual for people with trust issues to require a lot of reassurance when they’re first getting involved in a relationship.
They are looking to smooth over the fear and anxiety that is still tugging at them from the past experiences that caused that discomfort.
Don’t be surprised if the person you’re dating looks to you for that comfort.
Generally, that kind of thing will taper off as more time passes and they get more comfortable in the relationship. It may still pop up from time to time, but it likely won’t be as intense as it is in the beginning.
This type of reassurance may look different than you might anticipate. It may come in the form of over-analyzing conversations, reading between the lines to find context where there is none, or asking about all of the details of your day.
Again, you’ll need the patience to work through these things with the person.
6. Expect the relationship to develop slowly.
Trust issues don’t just appear out of nowhere. As previously mentioned, they are often the result of painful situations in life, like surviving child abuse, domestic abuse, or infidelity.
A person with trust issues has those barriers up to keep themselves from being hurt that way again.
That may take the form of only wanting a very casual, no strings attached, even friends with benefits type of relationship with others.
By staying focused on the more physical aspects of a relationship, they don’t need to make themselves vulnerable by potentially opening themselves up to the pain that can come with a cheating partner.
However, when that person does decide to get into a committed relationship, they may take longer than people without trust issues to want to cross certain boundaries.
They may have a hard time exposing the deepest, most sensitive parts of themselves. They may not be able to tell you that they love you until much later into the relationship. They may also hold off on serious relationship commitments and milestones, like meeting parents, moving in together, or planning too deeply for the future.
It doesn’t mean they won’t do those things. It just may take them some additional time to get there.
7. Know your own boundaries and limits.
Sometimes people with trust issues cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed in a relationship. There are just some things that aren’t okay that are less about trust and more about control.
It’s not cool to demand full access to your phone, track where you are via an app, demand a rundown of where you are and who you’ve been with.
On the other hand, sometimes some of those things can be reasonable. Great, you’re friends with your ex, but it’s a little inappropriate to stay the night over at their house for whatever reason. That’s a good situation to be suspicious of.
Some people use their trust issues as a reason to leverage control over their partner, which is not healthy or good. It may not even be a malicious thing, they are just responding to their own fear and anxiety, but that doesn’t make it okay.
It may just be that they haven’t had enough time or done enough work to heal their wounds to try to have an intimate relationship with anyone yet. That’s okay too.
In that kind of situation, you’ll want to be clear about your own boundaries and limits, what you’re willing to forgive and not.
Perhaps they looked through your phone in a moment of weakness, felt terrible about it, and admitted to violating your privacy. That’s far more forgivable than spending months snooping and then getting angry at you when you have a problem with it.
If you find yourself in this situation, it would be a good idea to seek help from a relationship expert. That neutral, knowledgeable third-party will be able to help you set your boundaries and understand if you’re being compassionate to your partner’s problems or if they are abusing you. It can be a really fine line, sometimes.
For help and advice of this kind, we recommend Relationship Hero’s online service. You can talk privately with a relationship expert to better handle the delicate issues and complications that can arise from dating someone with trust issues. Click here to chat to someone or arrange a session for a later date.
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