Exploring Your Trust Issues

by Neil Rosenthal

Do you have difficulty trusting important people in your life? More to the point, are you wanting to trust people more than you do? Trust your intimate partner more? If so, complete the following sentences as thoroughly as you can, courtesy of Pat Love in the book The Truth About Love (Fireside):

Concerning your intimate partner:

1. I would feel more secure in our relationship if…
2. I would trust you more if…
3. I would be willing to risk more in terms of romance if…
4. I would take more sexual risks with you if…
5. I would trust you more sexually if…
6. I would feel better about us going out socially if …
7. I would feel closer to you emotionally if…
8. I would do more projects with you if…
9. I would enjoy time with our family and friends more if…
10. The one thing that would strengthen my commitment the most is…

Now, explore how you can be more trustworthy to your partner:

1. I believe you would trust me more if I…
2. I could help make our relationship more romantic if I …
3. I could help make our relationship more sexually satisfying if I…
4. I can improve the trust level of our friendship if I…
5. I could make our relationship safer for myself if I…
6. I could make our social life more fun if I…
7. I could make it easier to live with me or be around me if I…
8. I could improve our time with family and/or friends if I…
9. I could make our relationship emotionally safer for you if I….
10. I could make projects around the house more enjoyable if I…
11. When we hit a low spot, I could help our relationship get back on track by…
12. I could make our relationship more of a priority if …
13. I could help my partner feel more confident about my commitment if I…
14. I could include my partner more in the important events in my life by…
15. I could improve my part in helping us to resolve our conflicts if I…
16. I could help improve the amount of fun we have together if…

Cynthia Wall, in the book The Courage To Trust (New Harbinger) offers the following exercise about your trust issues. Draw two vertical lines on a page, creating three columns. The first will hold names of people you know and the next two are for notes.

Column 1: Begin the list with people you frequently see or interact with, such a coworkers, neighbors, family members, parents, bosses, teachers, friends, lovers, ex-lovers, customers, clients, employees and so on.

Column 2: Give a rating of 0-100 to note how relaxed and confident you feel with each of these people. This measures your trust of key people in your life. You are simply noting how authentic, free or cautious you are with this person about revealing who you really are. If doing this exercise makes you tense, ask yourself “What rule am I breaking here, whose rule is it?”

Column 3: Look over the list of people and the ratings. Write down any qualities about each person that caused you to feel either safer or more apprehensive. Are they younger, less experienced, non-confrontational? Are people who are personable and/or self-confident easier or harder for you to trust?

Choosing to trust is an act of emotional resilience. It is connected to our happiness, serenity and peace of mind, and it largely defines how close our intimate relationships will be.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver and Boulder, CO, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at 303.758.8777, or e-mail him from his website, www.heartrelationships.com