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Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Trust a Good Relationship After Past Betrayals?

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‘CCinSAV’ Asked:

How do I learn to trust more in my current relationship after being betrayed or abandoned in past relationships?

Backstory: I’m married to a wonderful, loving man now… but I still often struggle to trust him (or others in my life) because I’ve been “burned” by several others in my past, both past-boyfriends and former friends. Any practical tips on ways to build trust or help me to renew my mind/heart so that I am more trusting instead of always fearful of being hurt?

Dr. Zoe Answered:

You don’t need to work on building trust in him, you need to work on demolishing your wall and trusting yourself. When you trust yourself, you don’t need to be so concerned with trusting others.

Know that with love comes the potential to get hurt. Trust yourself that you have chosen an amazing man who loves you. Trust that when he hurts you, you will be okay.

You didn’t misread that. I said “when” he hurts you. You can’t be in a relationship without some hurts exchanging. When we have trust issues, we imagine that those normal hurts in a relationship are instead purposeful, personal injuries. But most of the hurts in the relationships are not personal. They are a result of two imperfect people from different backgrounds, carrying their own baggage coming together.

Challenge your distrust.

I can guarantee that your self-talk says some pretty globally negative things about men. You have to challenge this. Whenever you start to feel a seed of insecurity, make this a practice:

1. Say his name out loud to yourself. Remind yourself about whom you are thinking. This will help ground you and separate him from others in your mind.

Next, ask yourself these two questions. Write them down if you need to:

1. What reason has he (not other men) given me to distrust him?

2. How has he demonstrated his trustworthiness to me?

It’s important that you know what your triggers are and ask him to support you in this area.

I had a client whose father serially cheated on her mother. He often disappeared and had long periods of time unaccounted for.

If her husband was ever gone longer than she anticipated, it was an instant trigger for her. She would rage at him and blame him for being deceptive. This made him defensive and angry.

But things changed when she was able to own her hang ups as hers, not her husband’s. She asked him if he would help her work through these issues.

He was more willing to oblige to some weird requests (like setting an alarm to remember to call or text every 30 minutes when he was out) because it wasn’t about her controlling him, but him helping her work through her issues.

Trust issues are challenging because they are deep-seated. You can improve them by challenging your self-talk, trusting yourself, and eliciting help.

You’ve got this. It just takes a little grit and grace!

Don’t miss Dr. Zoe’s video for this question!

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Dr. Zoe is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert who recently jumped out of a perfectly good plane just for the experience.

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