Talking to Men With Trust Issues

Unconditional acceptance can help build trust.
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Learning to trust people occurs very early in our development; it evolves through consistent and predictable responses from caretakers to meet our needs during infancy, according to Erik Erikson’s book “Childhood and Society.” Trust issues can come from fractures during this early developmental stage or they can evolve through negative experiences in other relationships where basic trust is violated. If you are involved with a man who has trust issues, he may be very hard to talk to; he will be afraid to open up and be honest about his thoughts and feelings. But there are some things you can do to facilitate open communication and perhaps even help him to trust you.

1 Broken Trust

The first aspect to keep in mind is where the mistrust originated. Trust issues stemming from infancy or early childhood are much harder to overcome; later trust violations are easier to resolve. Evaluating where the trust issues come from will help in problem solving, according to Casey Truffo in her Theravive article, “How to Fix Trust Issues in a Relationship." This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try talking with men who experienced early trust violations, but to avoid chronic frustration and disappointment, it is important to keep the origin of trust issues in mind.

2 Be Consistent

Just as consistency is important for trust building during infancy, as Erikson points out, it is also imperative for building and sustaining trust in future relationships. If you are trying to talk with a man who has trust issues, being open, accepting and consistent can help get him talking. Consistency between words and actions will help him to feel safe, and if he feels safe he won’t feel he is putting himself at risk by being open toward you, according to psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne in her "Psychology Today" article “The One Key Element That Can Build Your Relationships.”

3 Earning Trust

When someone has difficulty trusting, it is possible to earn his trust. When talking and interacting with someone who has trust issues there is a trial and error assessment process. Repeated reliable and consistent positive experiences with you may teach him that he can trust you, according to psychiatrist Daniel Borenstein in his "Psychology Today" article “How Can You Learn to Trust Again?” When you are conversing with a man with trust issues it is helpful to keep this trial and error process in mind; it may feel like he is testing you, but it is the only way he knows how to learn to trust someone.

4 Avoid Being Defensive

When talking with someone who has trust issues, he may find fault with your actions; essentially he will blame you for his lack of trust. It is important not to be offended by his mistrust, and equally vital not to respond defensively, according to Truffo. Instead, listen to what he is saying with openness, and ask how you might work together to help him feel more trusting. Creating reciprocal, nondefensive communication can help him feel safer -- which will facilitate greater ability to trust you.

Dr. Jacqueline Simon Gunn is a clinical psychologist in private practice and author. Her published books include "In the Therapist’s Chair," "Bare: Psychotherapy Stripped" and "Borderline Personality Disorder: New Perspectives on a Stigmatizing and Overused Diagnosis." Her new book "In the Long Run" will be released in 2015.