What Does It Mean To Have "Trust Issues" In Relationships? Experts Explain
Similarly to "DTR" or "open dialogue," the phrase "trust issues" gets used a lot when talking about dating. But what does it mean to have trust issues? Although it's something that's frequently said, the notion can still feel a bit vague. If you're slow to trust or have a hard time feeling comfortable with new people, taking a step back to unpack what trust issues *really* are and how they impact relationships can provide you with some serious aha moments about how your navigate relationships.
In movies, "trust issues" are often depicted as partners constantly checking in on each other's whereabouts or angrily scrolling through Instagram in a fiery rage of jealously. However, trust issues can mean a variety of things — including feeling cautious to depend on others or needing extra validation when opening up emotionally. According to the experts, feeling cautious or slow to open up can be less about "not trusting" your boo in the moment and more about feeling a little cynical about love. "When someone claims to have trust issues, it can mean that they cannot let's go and relax in a relationship," NYC-based relationship expert and love coach, Susan Winter, tells Elite Daily. "People with trust issues don't believe that good things can happen for them, especially in love. Their understanding of romance is that it's fraught with unpredictability, and dishonesty."
Trust issues don't always have to mean feeling suspicious of your partner's budding rapport with their new hot coworker — they can manifest in feeling unable to let your guard down or being slow to accept that someone wants to be in your life.
"Having trust issues in relationships usually means that a person isn't comfortable being vulnerable with or counting on another person," Shula Melamed, MA, MPH, and wellbeing coach, tells Elite Daily. "Somewhere along the line the person with trust issues was shown that it is not safe to depend on or be vulnerable in front of other people — not even their loved ones."
If you've dated a bunch of bumbling idiots who have never treated you right, if all your friends in middle school laughed at you when you got your period, if your family is totally yikes sometimes (read: all the time), or if you've been through any other kind of pain in an interpersonal relationship — you may feel a little skeptical of love, or struggle to really relax when meeting someone new.
If you've been in negative relationships in the past — with friends, family, coworker, or partners — the prospect of a new relationship could be a major source of stress. "If relationships are the trigger for the trust issues the likelihood of them coming up, is pretty good," Melamed says. "The new relationship, though not familiar because of the newness, might have features of the old environment thus triggering the trust issues to come in and 'protect' the individual."
Trust issues can be about accepting that that your date wants to be hanging out with you because you're amazing and deserve whatever type of relationships you want to be having. "Trust issues are developed from pain in prior relationships," Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin MS, LCPC, Certified Imago Therapist, and co-founder of The Marriage Restoration Project, says. "People do carry these issues into new relationships until they work to resolve it within themselves." If past relationships have caused you pain, you may start to feel reluctant or scared to open up to new people.
Trust issues can be the result of an underlying discomfort or reluctance to enter relationships in general. Although they manifest in different ways, taking a step back to check in with your relationship to relationships, can be a great way to understand how issues with trust that have grown over time have impacted you.
"Be proactive about examining the source and create strategies around managing the feeling when they come up," Melamed says, "A lot of time when individuals have trust issues they also do not trust their own capacity to set healthy boundaries with the people in their lives." If you've started to notice yourself feeling skeptical or suspicious in relationships, the root may not be a lack of trust in your partner specifically — it may be a discomfort with emotionally vulnerability. Creating safe spaces to really feel your feelings, talking about healthy boundaries, and accepting love and kindness as it comes can help combat any relationship-negative thoughts. "People can get over their trust issues by being able to have a safe and transparent relationship as well as being the recipient of consistent loving behaviors. Over time trust will build," Rabbi Slatkin says. Giving yourself time and space to accept love can help to form stronger trusting relationships.
Trust issues in relationships can take on many forms. If you're finding yourself feeling a little overly-cautious or assuming the worst from your new boo — examine your relationship to relationships. Knowing the ways our past has informed our present, can help in taking control of our futures, in life and in love. You deserve the happiest, safest, and most supportive relationship, and that is something you can trust.