Relationships require trust to thrive; otherwise, fear and anxiety rule, wearing away at your connection with each other. When people have been traumatized by betrayal in the past, they can project their fear of additional betrayal on subsequent relationships, causing conflict, anxiety, mistrust and suspicion to stalk their connections with others. Understanding your partner can help you to not take the distrust personally, but resolving the issue is necessary if you want the relationship to survive.
The best way to gain someone's trust is to be consistently trustworthy. Define what trust looks like to each of you and what he needs to trust you. Be open and transparent with your dealings and consistently demonstrate that you can be trusted to keep your word, be where you say you will be and behave appropriately with others. Talk about issues that come up. Consistency and open communication will help your partner to see that you are loyal and honest.
Self-Trust to Trust Others
Encourage your boyfriend to work at trusting himself. According to Dr. Marcia Sirota, author of "Emotional Overeating," if your boyfriend learns to trust himself, he'll be less likely to project the bad experiences from his past relationship onto this one, because he'll be more confident in his ability to discern a true problem. Point out the good choices he has made in the past so he sees that he can trust his own judgment. Give him your trust so that he understands you believe in him. Encourage him to trust his gut feelings and see the positive results.
Once you have been hurt, it’s easy to insulate yourself to prevent a recurrence, therapist Susanne M. Dillmann points out in an article for GoodTherapy.org. Ask him to stop comparing you to his ex. Remind him that you and his ex are very different people and have him point out some major differences. Likewise, don’t compare him to men in your past relationships, either. Live in the present and base your trust in one another on what you do consistently in your relationship. When problems arise, ask "Is this about something that just happened or is it a reflection of problems from the past?"
Use trust exercises to increase the amount of trust you have in each other, suggests Dillmann. Offer him a hug and a brief synopsis of your day. Ask him to consider, based on your past behavior, whether he can accept your loving gesture as safe and trustworthy. If he behaves in a distrustful manner, ask him to identify his emotions and why he feels this way. Suggest he take a deep breath and relax as he considers whether his fears are real or imagined.
Therapy Can Help
Therapy to address the past can help, especially in identifying deeply rooted patterns of behavior. Go to therapy together and identify recurring themes in your relationship that cause conflict or trigger anxiety. Work with the therapist to improve your communication and interaction patterns. It could be the turning point in your relationship.
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