All relationships, whether familial, platonic, or romantic are bound to have issues. These issues stem from expectations that we have of people which, when they fail to fulfill them, cause us to develop trust issues.
According to Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, we learn to trust during the first year of our lives. An infant looks towards their primary caregiver (mother or father) to resolve their feelings of uncertainty about the world.
If the care received by the infant is consistent, they will develop a sense of trust; otherwise, it can lead to the development of fear, insecurity, and mistrust in the future when they are adults.
It is rightly said that trust takes years to develop but only a moment to be shattered. People with trust issues have often had negative experiences in their lives, most often by trusting the wrong people.
These may include people whom they initially regarded as trustworthy. Children with unhealthy family life such as abusive or divorced parents, for example, are likely to mistrust any relationship in their future.
Similarly, experiences such as disloyalty or infidelity in romantic relationships can damage a person’s outlook on love altogether. Considering this on a larger scale, sometimes failure of the fulfillment of promises on the part of political parties that are made during election campaigns and in their manifestos cause the nation to lose trust in the government.
There is truth to the old cliche, “once bitten, twice shy.” Once trust has been broken we tend to be extremely wary with regard to whom we trust in future endeavors.
Understanding Relationship Trust Issues
At the beginning of romantic relationships, every action and every moment seem close to perfect. We develop a fondness and an attachment so deep that we entangle our lives with that of the other person. They seem to be better than anyone we have ever encountered.
Romantic relationships are a lot different from other types because we expect to be able to overcome the familial or social failures by putting our complete trust in our partner. Then when our confidence is fractured, we retreat behind a social barrier as a defense mechanism against getting hurt again.
These social barriers lead to isolation and depression. Young adults often face these issues because the excitement of relationships and ‘first love’ cause them to trust too easily and to take words at face value without taking into account actions.
Know How the Problem Emerges
What we believe we deserve and our outlook on how we ought to be treated may turn out to be a long way from reality. When expectations are not fulfilled insecurity and a heightened sense of mistrust result, and it becomes very difficult for people to trust again. And why should they? They have been hurt once and they refuse to allow themselves to be hurt again.
Overcoming trust issues is difficult. But as Horacio Jones wrote in ‘Broken Vision, “It’s not a good idea to say “I’m damaged”; instead, say “I’m healing”.” It is important to be optimistic and to learn to trust ourselves before learning trust others.
Changes to Make
There are certain observations we can make to identify someone with trust issues. Timely identification can ensure that these people are given help and, in time, regain their lost trust.
Emotionally disconnected people fear exposure and find it difficult to express their feelings because it makes them feel vulnerable. They often seem cold, distant and alienated.
Suspicion for the sake of suspicion doesn’t help.
Suspicion is something they cannot let go of, and it hinders their day-to-day life. Some people are suspicious of every unexplained action, seeing them as threats. The uncertainty of the world keeps them on edge.
People with these issues often avoid human interaction and relationships, causing them end up isolated in their self-imposed shell. They tend to protect themselves from the unknown by living in complete social alienation.
Oversensitive approaches are tough.
Some people tend to be extra sensitive and are defensive of the smallest of things. They are easily triggered and can come off as unwelcoming when they fear that a certain individual cannot be trusted. The smallest of things can serve as cues to retract back into their safe haven.
They don’t trust people to complete their given tasks, and therefore they don’t assign important portfolios to other people instead of keeping it to themselves. They fear losing control to others and are reluctant to confide in others for fear that their information can somehow be used against them. Their mind is always full of cynical doubts about others’ loyalty.
It’s Not Just About Personality Traits
Trust issues are not always limited to personality traits, but sometimes they can be personality disorders. People with Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) are generally characterized by ‘paranoia and mistrust of others.’
Similarly, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), consists of abnormal behavior over a long period of time and encompasses everything from unstable relationships to flawed emotions. It includes feelings of ‘emptiness, self-harm, and an extreme fear of abandonment.’ People with these disorders often have unstable and chaotic interpersonal relationships.
How Can We Treat the Issues?
Psychotherapy is the best method for treatment of Paranoid Personality Disorder, however, a strong therapist-client relationship is difficult to establish because of a patient’s skepticism and failure to initiate treatment. They may also be reluctant to take medication due to distrust.
Insufficiency of data is to be expected as it is difficult to come up with an accurate number. People do not voluntarily seek help. The American psychological association’s (APA) DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed., Text Revision) estimates that 0.5% to 2.5% of the entire United States population is suffering from a paranoid personality disorder and that it is more prominent in men than women.
On the other hand, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is prevalent in 1.6%, (which is only the recorded percentage – the actual prevalence may be higher) of the population of United States, 75% of them being women.
The question remains: How do we overcome these trust issues in familial, platonic, and romantic relationships?
Respect is the most important building block of any relationship. One must give respect in order to receive it. It is essential that we respect a person’s opinion and safeguard their trust. We should also understand that respect is not only expected between coevals or from children to adults but also from adults to anyone younger to them, including children.
At a young age, children and adolescents tend to learn behaviors of adults and later go on to put it into practice in their lives. In order to have their trust, children should be given the same respect that is expected from them.
Communication is the first step towards improving relationships. It is important that the trust issue is addressed and that no individual misinterprets the situation. It is common for people to believe what they hear or see before any other evidence is collected.Instead of confirming our first impressions we jump to conclusions, which sours relationships. While communicating in a romantic relationship, it is important that we not only understand our partner’s feelings but also our own. We should be able to express our emotions honestly and in turn be ready to listen to the other person.
Commitment is an important and valuable key to maintaining healthy relationships. It’s essential that we take relationships. Valuing their investment of time and emotion into the relationship and remaining loyal will help develop trust. Once a comfort level has been established, we must commit to maintaining it.
Patience is a quality that can do wonders if exercised in one’s life. Our generation is a lot different from that of our parents or grandparents. We are constantly in motion, chasing goals and there certainly is very little time for compromise.
We are quick to judge and misunderstand people and we shy away from resolving issues in relationships. We must learn to have patience and hold on until the end. This will help you to develop trust and help the other person come to trust you. It will show that you are willing to stand with them in any situation even if they have to wait for you to learn to trust them.
Listening and observing are not only essential in daily life but also when it comes to earning someone’s trust. When a person confides in us they are placing a great amount of trust in us. If we do not listen, they will feel self-conscious and will be reluctant to ever communicate their emotions. Acknowledging and listening to them will build their confidence and they will come to trust you.
How Does Therapy Help?
Therapy or counseling is a great way to help resolve these issues. In the case of disorders, though medication is not always advisable, if a person can come out of their shell to receive treatment, it can offer significant help.
Growth in marital or romantic relationships could be hindered due to the following factors:
- Infidelity on the part of either partner.
- Consistently lying to your spouse.
- Being too secretive, even though personal space is very important.
- Not fulfilling promises made
- Being too distant.
- Failure to share extra-relational stress, which may lead to frustration.
Marital counseling or couple’s counseling can benefit any relationship. It can improve communication and emotional connection, and help the couple to understand each other. No relationship is entirely smooth – every one of them experiences dysfunction at times.
Relationship counseling is undertaken by a professional counselor, psychologist or therapist and focuses on assisting a couple in resolving the issues that may cause stress. This can also rejuvenate emotional bonds and restore lost intimacy.
How Effective is Counseling?
Following statistics from guidedoc.com and marriageguardian.com show how effective marriage counseling has been:
- According to a research conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, over 98% of families and couples surveyed indicated high levels of patient satisfaction, and over 97% of those surveyed said they received the help that they required.
- It is observed that couple or family therapy is more effective than individual therapy. It takes lesser session when working with a group which also means less expenditure.
What are the things one must keep in mind before beginning relationship counseling?
One must know and understand their own desires before approaching a counselor. Only when they think that they are ready to fight to save the relationship regardless of the challenges in the way, can they proceed.
People should not wait too long before seeking professional help. Waiting to get help will only make the relationship issues worse and increase distrust.
Since we have established that trust is a necessity in relationships of all kinds, one should also find a counselor that one can confide in without hesitation. It should be someone whose advice one can listen to.When consulting a counselor, one should find out what their personal opinion and views on relationships are because one is likely to be influenced by the biases of this person. Your counselor will have a big impact on your final decision about your relationship.
Our friends and family can have a big impact on us and our decisions. But when it comes to personal relationships like romantic or marital, there should be clear boundaries, meaning that other people need to respect our privacy.
Do Not Underestimate Trust
Trust is a big factor that will determine success in a person’s job and career. There should be trust and honesty among colleagues, subordinates, and superiors. Lack of trust in the workplace can impact the performance not only of individuals but of the entire company.
When employees feel that their management cannot be trusted, they feel insecure, and instead of spending time improving their job performance they look employment elsewhere. This will most likely lead to poor customer service and a resulting decline in profits.
A lack of trust can be caused by a deterioration in transparency between individuals in the workplace, especially between employees and management. This can cause low productivity and reduction in innovation. In such situations, employees are not able to confide workplace issues to their superiors, so conditions remain the same and do not improve.
Improving Workplace Relationships
Certain steps can be followed to ensure the building of trust in a workplace.
Integrity is the first step in building workplace trust. The information we share must be honest, and nothing should transpire between people that can be a hindrance to personal and overall workplace growth.
Use of sound judgment in sharing information and knowing when and when not to share it is also important. One must think before speaking. Honesty is important, but blunt honesty may hurt a person’s feelings.
Consistency in words and behavior cannot be overstressed. Punctuality is important in a working environment. One must meet the daily target and their work must meet quality standards. If a promise is made or a target is set, ensure that it is completed by the deadline.
Body language experts say that trust can be built through nonverbal methods of communication like maintaining eye contact while conversing, keeping arms open instead of folded across chest and hands kept in sight, unclenched instead of behind the back or in pockets. It will also be good to keep a relaxed facial expression without signs of anger, fear or boredom.
Maintaining a mutually beneficial attitude instead of a self-serving agenda can increase trust. Think ‘we’ and not ‘me.’ Work towards the betterment of the company and accept constructive criticism.
Be a leader and not just the ‘boss’ of your company. Work towards the happiness and satisfaction of your employees. Listen to their ideas and needs with an open mind. A leader should set an example and take responsibility for the company.
Counseling in the Workplace
Employee counseling has emerged as a successful HR tool to attract and keep the best employees, increasing company quality, and output. In today’s world, no organization is free from stress. The employees may be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression due to work pressure such as meeting targets and managing deadlines. They lack time to fulfill personal goals and commitments made to family and friends. This can bring about dysfunction in personal relationships.
To ensure a stress-free work environment, many organizations have introduced counseling services, making it a part of their work culture. It is psychological therapy for employees that is paid for by the employer. An external service would include face-to-face counseling, telephonic counseling, and legal assistance. The organization could also directly employ an on-site counselor.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is an employee benefits program that assists employees with personal or work-related problems, has been offered to large numbers of workers and their families since the 1950s. By 2005, 40% of all US private industry workers had access to EAP.
EAP can reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. It can help employees deal with issues such as substance abuse, depression, marital problems or other grief. It will also help them learn how to cope so that their work is not affected. Workplace counseling has seen a significant increase all over the world and has helped improve trust and reliability between employees and employers.
A counselor helps people open up and be vulnerable, assisting them in stabilizing their feelings and emotions. They can face their deepest fears and tackle them with professional help. When working with a counselor, we can dig down to the very root of our trust issues a lot more quickly. Examples of issues explored during a counseling session include:
- Traumas of the past and incidents that hurt us.
- How old wounds affect future love prospects.
- Accepting the past and coming to terms with reality.
How many sessions are required to be undertaken with a counselor to resolve trust issues?
The amount of time spent in counseling for trust related issues will be mainly dependent upon how past events have impacted an individual and to what extent. Some people require only a few sessions while some remain in counseling for a long period so that the counselor can understand them and their issues better.
At the end of the day, for people with “trust issues,” it is less about whether they trust others and more about how they trust others. When what you expected doesn’t seem to match reality you tend to lose faith in yourself.
It has been said that the possibility of someone new in our lives has less to do with who they are than what our past has done to us. We no longer trust ourselves to choose relationships and accurately determine whether we want other people to be a part of our lives.
We should learn to trust our own judgment again. We should have a clear picture of who we are as human beings and eventually learn our past mistakes in trusting the wrong people or having assessed a situation incorrectly. Drop the notion of perfection and remember that mistakes are a natural part of learning. Accept who you are and understand what you are capable of doing.
“The Look,” courtesy of Dave Meier, picography.co, CC0 License; “Holding Hands,” courtesy of Dave Meier, picography.co, CC0 License; “Holding hands,” courtesy of Dave Meier, pictography.co, CC0 License; “Windy beach,” courtesy of Dave Meier, picography.co, CC0 License