Difficulty with Trust
Our willingness or ability to trust others largely depends on our experiences. When someone breaks our trust, it affects not only our relationship with that person, but it also impacts how much we will trust people (or not) in the future. Trust issues are a type of defense mechanism: often, they exist because on some level, we think we need to protect ourselves from inevitable disappointment and pain. Experiencing betrayal can be firsthand or vicarious: witnessing parents’ affairs in childhood or knowing about a current partner’s former infidelities can create just as many challenging trust issues as trying to heal a relationship in which a partner has been unfaithful. Ironically, trust issues can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: when we believe that people are fundamentally untrustworthy, we act as if trust is something we give entirely or not at all; and approaching trust in relationships from an “all-or-nothing” standpoint creates stress because it can foster an emotional rollercoaster.
Romantic relationships can offer the most potential for connection, warmth, and intimacy, so when trust is broken in that context, it can sometimes have the most severe effects. Whether monogamous, polyamorous, or somewhere in between, romantic relationships are always, at their core, agreements in which intimate partners agree to follow certain rules. When those rules are violated, it can cause feelings of worthlessness, anger, and despair, not to mention the judgment from friends and family if the couple wants to repair the relationship rather than call it quits. Navigating the array of difficult and sometimes excruciating emotions in a relationship after infidelity can seem like an insurmountable task.
At Take Root Therapy, we understand that trust issues can arise from many different situations and require highly individualized care. Being aware of the “emotional rollercoaster” that can sometimes accompany trust issues, we work with you to not only understand where your trust issues come from, but we also help you to develop ways to incrementally make different choices about trusting people. When trust has been broken, like after an affair, we work with couples to approach their relationship differently, hopefully in a way that cultivates more intimacy and honesty. Working through infidelity, while painful, can also create an opportunity to recreate your relationship and make it more healthy than it was before.