Why would your partner not trust you?
Trust is influenced by two things:
1) a person’s past experiences that may have nothing to do with you, and
2) that person’s observation of your pattern of behavior.
1. Past Experiences
When people feel they have been abandoned as a child, a divorce for example where infidelity is involved, they may more easily read abandonment into the behavior of others. They have learned to expect untrustworthy behavior and project it onto people in their lives.
Projection based on past experiences is unavoidable. However, as people become more self-aware, they come to realize exactly how much of their own judgment about others is informed by their past and how much is objective. Unless they are the controlling type blaming others for everything, people tend to let go of their projections the longer they are in a relationship with someone who is trustworthy.
However, if someone is unreasonably distrustful, it’s important to defend yourself. You can do so with kindness and compassion for the pain that lingers on from that person’s past.
2. Observations of Behavior
When someone observes inconsistency in your behavior, such as coming home late without calling, you give them a reason to wonder what changes are going on in the relationship.
The ability to imagine possible negative scenarios is critical to avoiding being taken advantage of. While some people get carried away with “catastrophizing,” people do need some ability to generalize from specific events to avoid being completely naïve in dealing with others. Yet they need to verify their suspicions with the reality of a specific situation to avoid unfair jumping to conclusions.
How to Develop Trust
Trust is essential to a loving relationship. There are certain behaviors that help create trust in a relationship. They may seem mundane and more suited for keeping a job than enhancing a relationship. Yet, while these qualities don’t seem hot or alluring in themselves, they do create an essential foundation for the long-term on which to add warmth, affection, and passion.
1. Be considerate and responsible.
This includes being on time and calling when you’re late coming home.
When people are flaky, it means that they tend to follow their impulses at the expense of long-term relationships and goals. When you do what you say you will do, your friends and partner can rely on you to follow through, because they know you have the ability to resist temptation.
2. Be honest.
If your partner knows that you tell lies or hide things from others to avoid their reactivity, then it’s safe to assume that you will do the same to avoid your partner’s negative reactions. While there is room for tact and diplomacy, unnecessary fibs show that your word cannot be trusted.
When others know that you don’t tell lies or hide things, especially when the circumstances make it difficult to be honest, then they will learn to believe what you say.
3. Be fair.
Trust fades for someone who is unfair in word or action. If you complain about others behind their backs or take advantage of others, you will be viewed as untrustworthy.
Instead, try to be fair-minded in judgment of others and in doing your fair share of work.
4. Be supportive.
If people know you are on their side, then you can disagree and stand your ground without being over-reactive. When they know that they can talk openly without getting a crazed reaction from you, they will be more willing to trust you with their private thoughts. Listen before you react. Then you can be trusted to be open-minded and compassionate.
While a trusting relationship is not enough to create long-term passion, it does create the space for people to risk being open, loving, and passionate for the long-term.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD