Broken promises can wound us and make us wary of future promises not only from the person who broke their word but other people as well. If someone lies to us and we find out about it, believing that person becomes an uphill struggle, and we could become skeptical or downright cynical of others. As a result, trust issues could easily develop.
Life leaves its mark on us, and we all carry scars of one kind or another from our past relationships and experiences. Trust is based on consistent behaviors over time.
It tough to experience the things life throws at us and to remain open to possibilities, willing to trust and entrust ourselves into the hands of others while being emotionally available for relating meaningfully with other people. If we struggle to trust people, there’s an important question to ask ourselves – do I have trust issues, or am I just being prudent? Am I willing to trust or am I not ready? Do I know how to build trust with myself or someone else?
One of the things we all learn early in life is that not everyone is worthy of trust, and we shouldn’t share our deepest darkest secrets, or our most precious thoughts for that matter. Not everyone will treat our inmost thoughts, fears, and feelings with the respect and gentleness they deserve.
So, it does make sense and we ought to guard ourselves so that we’re not needlessly hurt. How then do you tell if what’s going on with you is a case of just being prudent and so preferring not to share or more to do with having trust issues? How then do we build an authentic sense of self, being ok not being ok?
This article tries to answer that question and address the question of trust issues for men. It must be said that men aren’t the only ones with trust issues, but sometimes we need to address a specific group to speak to questions and situations particular to them.
Men may struggle with trust issues both at work and in their relationships, and this can have a significant impact on the people around them, whether it’s their colleagues, friends, or romantic partners. Trust issues might stem from experiences, beliefs, and time, but they can also be birthed from and feed low self-esteem.
The pain or humiliation one has gone through that gives birth to trust issues is real, and that should be acknowledged. That pain and the resultant trust issues are often disguised as savviness or wise caution in relationships. How can you tell if you have trust issues? Here are some signs that may indicate trust issues.
Being wary of people, not eager to open up or get close to others. If you find that you’re closed off to other people and you struggle to open up to them about your life and yourself, that may signal trust issues.
If the people around you might describe you as emotionally remote or distant, and that it’s hard to get to know you because you don’t share yourself easily with anyone, trust issues may be a root cause. Your relationships may be perpetually shallow because you don’t let people in to know the real you
Being overly protective. Men are typically cast as protectors over their families and loved ones, and so it’s easy to assume that one’s protective instinct is simply kicking in and doing its job. However, if you find yourself being protective to the point of smothering your loved ones, that’s a problem.
Not believing what people say. One shouldn’t be credulous, but it’s a far cry from that to always fact-checking the things the people around you say because you don’t believe they are telling you the truth.
Expecting the worst and awaiting betrayal; predicting it will come even without evidence. When you routinely expect that the people around you will betray you or let you down even though you’ve seen nothing in their words or actions that would indicate it, that may point to underlying trust issues. Unwarranted cynicism regarding people’s behavior or motives could stem from a lack of trust.
Paranoia. If your first thought when your partner is late from work, or you see your friends laughing among themselves when you’re away from the group and assume that something is wrong, this indicates trust issues.
When you assume betrayal, you may even spy on the people close to you because you don’t believe them or their stated intentions. The assumption of betrayal often shows up through suspicion, jealousy, and attributing negative thoughts and actions to others.
Distancing yourself from others. If you separate yourself from contact with others, it can be indicative of trust issues. For men, the stereotype of the “lone, rugged type” can function as an effective mask to hide emotional wariness.
Avoiding commitment. In our culture, we’ve somehow normalized the fact that men often struggle to commit in relationships. The guys who love being “free agents” and avoiding commitment are a regular feature in romantic comedies and our friend circles. If you find that you avoid commitment, that no matter how much you care about someone you refuse or just can’t bring yourself to commit to them, it’s worth asking if trust issues aren’t the cause.
Feeling lonely and depressed. Not trusting people or allowing them to get close to you is a lonely place to live. Human beings are highly social animals, we are deeply relational creatures and that is part of what it means for us to be made in God’s image.
We thrive when we’re in meaningful relationships, but trust issues make that a difficult proposition to swallow or realize. The result is often that one feels isolated from others, and that can lead one to depression.
Not forgiving mistakes easily. When someone makes a mistake, no matter how slight it might be, it is incredibly significant to you, and you struggle to forgive it. What may be a genuine mistake looks and feels like a deliberate breach of trust.
Breaking away from trust issues
Whatever may have happened to bring about trust issues, those experiences, memories, and feelings are real. But they don’t have to hold you hostage here and now, preventing you from committing yourself to others.
Trust issues won’t go away by themselves or by wishing away the past. God gives us grace, and resources such as therapists, to work through our pasts and find healing or restoration. It’s not an easy or quick path toward trusting others, but it’s worth it.
You can begin to address trust issues through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which will help you get to the heart and root of trust issues. This type of talk therapy can help one learn new ways of thinking and dealing with negative emotions, as well as relating to others in ways that rebuild trust.
Additionally, it’s important to adjust your thinking around trust. Relationships don’t work if there isn’t trust. If you want your relationships to work, you’ll have to rethink and rework your approach. Trusting others is a risk, but it is one worth taking.
Letdowns will happen, but rich, secure, and deep relationships don’t happen without trust. That may seem like an overwhelming step to take but trusting someone can happen gradually if you allow yourself to do so. When someone lets you down, that’s not the end of the world; trust can be rebuilt.
Trust must be earned, so don’t go around being emotionally vulnerable to random strangers, but if someone has earned it by showing up and being consistent, give them your trust. One should also own up to where they’re at.
We pointed out earlier that sometimes trust issues can be masked as being savvy, or a man just being the “rugged loner type.” Instead of hiding behind these masks, own up to how trusting others make you feel, recognizing your fears of emotional vulnerability for what they are. Lastly, the reality is that you’ll fall, sometimes trust will be broken, but keep trying to remain open to trusting people that are worthy of that trust.
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