Rooting Out Trust Issues In A Relationship


    6 Min Read


    When you consider the ingredients for creating a happy, strong, and long-lasting relationship, trust is really the one that does the heavy lifting. Sure, there are other extremely important components like attraction, and communication, and respect, but if there are trust issues in a relationship these pieces will slowly fall apart, as will the relationship.

    Issues with trust in a relationship can come in different forms, however, so knowing the best way to combat and ultimately resolve them can be complicated.


    Sometimes the problems with trust are created during the relationship itself through a betrayal like cheating or consistent lying. Other times though, trust issues can predate the relationship and come in like beat-up luggage with one partner or the other.

    Either version will cause problems.

    Knowing If There Are Trust Issues In Your Relationship

    Before you can do anything about possible trust issues in your relationship you first need to be clear that you have them. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? If you always suspect your partner of lying to you or having an affair then trust is a problem. Well, yes, but it’s not always that simple.


    Many couples deal with ongoing difficulties in their relationship not realizing the at the root of the problem are issues with trust. Consider the following scenarios:

    While having breakfast out with his wife Jim gets up to go to the bathroom and leaves his phone sitting on the table. Linda, his wife, sees it sitting there and decides to take a look at who he’s been texting and emailing. She tells herself she’s just curious.


    As Jim is on his way to use the restroom he realizes he left his phone sitting on the table and immediately turns around to retrieve it.

    Tia seems like an amazing girl and Shawn is absolutely smitten. She might even be the “the one.” As he thinks about making a real commitment he reminds himself that a lot of marriages end in divorce, and he doesn’t want to deal with that. Better to keep things casual for now.

    Belle and Levi are on their way home from Levi’s company party. Belle noticed that Levi spent a lot of time talking to Shawna, a co-worker and starts to ask him questions about her. When he seems to know a lot about her she jokingly says, “Hmmm… it’s almost like you’re having an affair.” Hint – she wasn’t really joking.

    Last one,

    Jake and Julie each have their own credit cards. Julie pays hers the same day as the statement comes. Jake’s statement sits around for a while, and he pays it online when he gets to it. Lately though, Julie has started opening Jake’s statement “just to make sure it’s being paid on time.”

    Each of these scenarios are common and sneaky examples of subtle trust issues. While they all seem like individual problems that might lead to an argument but eventual resolution, the truth is that even if Julie stops opening Jake’s mail and Linda promises never to snoop through Jim’s phone again, the underlying problem related to trust won’t be resolved.

    Dr. Kurt works with patients daily who are struggling with trust issues. In his experience,

    Regardless of the size of the trigger, trust issues are extremely toxic and destructive in relationships. The Big 3 I see every week in my counseling of couples are: Other people, money, and phones. What are some of the most common situations? Following women on Instagram, financial accounts that aren't disclosed, online gaming friends, visiting porn sites, gambling, texting opposite sex coworkers after hours - I could keep going. Most people don't intend to break their partner's trust, but it's easy to do without recognizing that's what can result from a lot of behaviors. Fortunately, trust can be rebuilt, and with the right strategies you can prevent it from being damaged again."


    The Difference Between Relearning To Trust And Rebuilding Trust

    So, if you do have trust issues in your relationship, even smaller ones, what should you do?

    Well, before you can do anything you need to determine what kind of trust problem you’re facing. Do you need to rebuild trust, or do you need to relearn how to trust?

    As I alluded to above, certain things are obvious. If your partner has clearly broken your trust by cheating, running up huge credit card bills, or regularly behaving in an irresponsible manner, then it’s easy to pinpoint where things have gone wrong.

    But if you find that you’re routinely suspicious of your partner and questioning what they’re doing and why, and there’s nothing particular to tie it to, you’ll probably have to dive a bit deeper.

    Trust issues in a relationship can originate from three general areas. Knowing their origin tells you where to begin when it comes to addressing them. Take a look below to see what I mean.

    • Experiences from your past that have impacted your ability to trust. These could be experiences from childhood or past relationships that have left you scarred and cynical when it comes to people’s motives, follow through, and their ability to be trusted. In this case you’ll need to relearn how to trust in general and specifically how to trust your partner.


    • Obvious behaviors by your partner within your relationship. The behaviors already stated that hurt you and break your trust. In this case you’ll need to rebuild trust within your relationship.

    • Subtle or covert behaviors that plant seeds of doubt regarding the wisdom of trusting your partner. These behaviors are more difficult to pinpoint and therefore quietly erode the trust in your relationship without you even realizing it. It might be micro-cheating behavior, gaslighting (which can cause you to stop trusting yourself), manipulations, or love-testing. All things that make you go “hmm,” yet give you nothing concrete to point to. In this case you may have to both relearn to trust your partner after you’ve resolved the issues.

    Once you have a better idea where the issues with trust in your relationship fall, you’re in a far better place to figure out what to do.

    Allow me to be clear on something, however. Although these characterizations are accurate, they are also quite simplistic. Many people struggle with recognizing that there are any issues at all, let alone the idea that they might be the cause or even part of the cause.

    How To Begin Fixing Issues With Trust In Your Relationship

    Because getting to the origin of trust issues can be complicated, so can fixing them. In fact, many couples benefit from the help of an experienced counselor to help them untangle the events and behaviors that have gotten them to this point. Only after those things have been identified can the work of relearning or rebuilding begin.

    So, although it would be nice if there were an a+b=c equation for making things right, fixing trust issues in a relationship is not that simple.


    That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to start the process, however, or that it’s impossible to make big, positive changes in your relationship on your own. Take a look at the tips below for advice on how to begin.

    • Ensure you are on the same page with your partner. This means having the hard conversations. Whether it’s you that have the trust issues or your partner who’s created them, you both need to be able to acknowledge the areas that are inhibiting trust.

    • Admit and agree that it will take time. Fixing trust issues in your relationship will take time. This can be frustrating for you both. At some point the partner who wants to be trusted will get tired of being under suspicion and the partner who is trying to trust will struggle with figuring out how to let go of their concerns.

    • Be ultrasensitive to the insecurities that exist. Whatever has caused the trust issues in your relationship won’t go away overnight. If you cheated on your partner then don’t be surprised if they go on high alert when you work late, or if they’re trying to get over past hurts you may need to remind them of your love and that you wouldn’t ever intentionally hurt them.

    • COMMUNICATE. Yep, all caps. This is crucial. When rebuilding or relearning trust, talking through all the concerns, keeping each other updated on thoughts and feelings, and reestablishing the kind of deep and honest connection that can sustain a relationship requires intensive effort in communication.

    • Accept that regular reassurance will play a role. The goal is to work away from the need to continually reassure your partner that the trust is well placed, but for some period of time those reminders and reassurances will be important.

    • Create transparency. Secrets and secretive behavior are the enemy of trust. So, for there to be progress at creating a strong bond and laying the right kind of foundation, don’t give your partner new reasons to wonder.

    Every part of eliminating trust issues in a relationship takes time – there’s no shortcuts or ways to rush things. The reward for the work, however, can be a happy, loving, and yes, trusting relationship.


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