If You Have Long-Term Trust Issues, It Might Be Because Your Ex Said These 5 Things
I have a very bad habit of trying to sabotage my relationships early on. When things start to get good and it feels like it's going somewhere, there's a little voice in my head that encourages me to try and push that person away — in order to see if they will stick it out. It took me a long time to see what I was doing and why I was doing it. What I came realize is that it's the voice of my long-term trust issues telling me I need to test my potential partners to make sure they really care about me, because I don't feel safe just believing myself worthy of their love and commitment.
Here's the thing: It wasn't always this way. It developed over time with a handful of betrayals, bad experiences, and one particularly awful, emotionally manipulative relationship. While I survived that experience, it definitely left some psychological scars that showed themselves whenever I was expected to trust someone — and sometimes when I needed to trust myself. Instead of confidence, their words and actions (which I had internalized) would come back to haunt me and I would act out in response. I knew I couldn't be the only one who's experienced this. Turns out, I'm definitely not.
"When we internalize what someone else says and take it on as our truth, that can impact how we make decisions in relationships moving forward if we're not solid on what we believe," Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, tells Elite Daily. Those traumas can also come up again in our future relationships, as Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship therapist in Los Angeles, tells Elite Daily. "Words have meaning and when a former lover said things that were truly hurtful whether true or not — their words can damage our ability to trust in the next relationship,” he explains.
Is all this resonating? Are you wondering if something an ex has said is contributing to your current trust issues? The experts say that if your ex said any of the following things, there is a good chance they did.
1. “You can trust me.”
One of the most damaging things a partner can say if they don't actually mean it is “You can trust me,” Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationship expert at Dating Scout, tells Elite Daily. That's because they are basically gaslighting you when they say it. “If these words were a lie, but you still believed them, this might bring up huge doubts in yourself and your sense of people," Schweyer says. "Next time you hear those words from a new partner, you might not believe them again even if they're totally honest this time.”
2. “You are emotionally damaged.”
Schweyer warns that an ex telling you that you are emotionally damaged, if internalized, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What they aren't saying is that they are the one doing the damage. “People who are emotionally damaged have a hard time handling relationships. They also have troubles dealing with new people in their lives. So, if your ex tells you that you are emotionally damaged, this will make you think, ‘Am I really emotionally damaged?'” she says. It becomes a "catch-22", explains Schweyer. “You can't trust people with your emotions just because you were told that you can't handle your own emotions.”
3. ”You're bad in bed."
Telling someone they are bad in bed is not just unkind, but, as Dorell warns, it can have a lasting effect on your self-confidence both in and out of the bedroom. “Even if it was said in a joking manner, this can cause insecurity that can make you not want to open up sexually to a new partner or cause you to sabotage it before it gets to that point,” she explains.
4. “It's your fault that...”
“Being constantly accused of wrongdoing causes major harm in a person, even more if these accusations come from the person you love the most, your partner,” warns Schweyer. So, if every fight you had with your ex was “your fault,” this can have an effect on your self-esteem, she says. “Not only do you start losing trust in yourself, this will also harm the balance in a relationship and make you become the weaker part, courtesy of your partner's words.”
Sometimes, the one thing an ex can say that will create the most long-term trust issues is nothing at all, explains Schweyer. “Yes, there are some things that need to be left unsaid, but nothing hurts more than just disappearing without a word,” she says. "You'd probably spend a lot of time thinking about what went wrong, and you might even blame yourself for it because who else will you blame? Without a proper closure, you will have a hard time figuring out why things didn't work and this could affect how you treat future relationships.”
How to move past the hurtful things your ex said.
Is all of this sounding a bit too familIar? Don't worry — the first step to healing trust issues is recognizing you have them and what factors may have contributed to their creation. “The very first thing you have to ask yourself is this: Is what your ex said actually true or false?” says Dr. Brown. “Consider the source. Even if some of what they said might have been true, it is utterly cruel on their part to have said any one of these things.” Dr. Brown adds that it's important to be gentle with yourself through the healing process. “All of us are a work in progress," he assures. "We may have internal barriers to love that we are not aware of and this is an opportunity to work on ourselves."
Dorell agrees that it's essential to be kind to yourself. “The biggest thing is to forgive yourself for anything you felt you caused (and any red flags you chose to ignore). Giving yourself a fresh energetic slate so you don't bring in the issues into the next relationship,” she says. “Self-reflection is also important because if you are letting what someone says affect you so much, you may need to look within to see where you can be more confident with your own decisions and self-talk.”
It's also important to remember that it is OK to not trust people too quickly before they’ve proven themselves to be worthy of your trust, says Schweyer. "Not trusting people immediately isn't a bad thing,” she explains. “But once you commit to a new relationship, you should, at your own pace, open up. Talk to your partner about why this might take a bit of time for you. Be open about it when you are insecure about a thing your partner is doing - but make sure not to start digging for issues when there are none.”
Most importantly, as Dr. Brown concludes: “Know that everyone is deserving of love in life. That certainly includes you!” He couldn’t be more right — and that includes being loving to yourself and taking the time you need to heal your heart to the point where you feel safe trusting others again. If I can do it, you can too. You’re stronger than you think.