Q: Your October column was perfect timing. I’ve had bad experiences in the past with relationships, and now I find it very hard to trust again. Dating is very difficult for me. I want marriage and everything that comes with it, but only with someone who wants the same. What can I do/practice so that I won’t see everyone as the same and give everyone an equal opportunity with me? – Rich
A: Trust issues are tricky business, especially in intimate relationships. Without trust, the eject button is always blinking. Here are some things to consider:
The hard truth. You may not be ready for a relationship. Relationships don’t fix an individual. We can’t improve ourselves just because we think we have found a good person. Your alarms and triggers will continue to go off with any love interest until you break down and heal why you have those triggers in the first place. Trust can be built upon, but there has to be a place to start.
Hurt people hurt people. Having trust issues stops us from getting to know the person in front of us. Encounters that could help you learn more about a person are met with a string of suspicion. Without hesitation, you will back away. Each experience you have will snowball into your next interaction.
Even if you meet “the one,” your relationship will be a cycle of you testing them – with the expectation they will fail. Them passing a test will only make the next one harder. Subconsciously, you need potential mates to fail at gaining your trust. Your emotional comfort depends on it. To be open requires a level of trust you have no intention of giving right now. And that’s OK.
The past isn’t your past. You are no longer physically in the relationship that cut you deep. But emotionally, and mentally, you are right in the thick of it. No one will ever be able to shine bright enough until you process the impact this moment had on your life. A loss of trust in a relationship not only affects how you trust others, it creates a lack of faith in yourself and your decision-making abilities. That realization is a massive blow to overall confidence. We become hyper-vigilant to not make the same mistakes again. Hence, our past never really becomes our past.
You are on the right path. Rich, your trust issues will negatively impact your ability to form intimate, long-lasting relationships. Instead of shutting down, tackle them head-on with the help of a professional. Sitting down with a neutral party that’s invested in your healing is the right approach. Stay open to the process. When the right one comes, that person will get the best version of you.
Be well. You are worthy.
Dominique King is a blogger who centers around marriage, family, fitness and personal growth. Her insightful and practical approach to advice gives everyday couples, parents and individuals a space to get answers to their questions.