Relationships offer a minefield of experiences – some good, some not so good. Two of the most valuable things about relationships are the opportunities they give you to observe your fears, as well as to set boundaries. Sometimes these two ‘opportunities’ ae connected, such as when one partner suspects the other of disloyalty, and trust issues come into play.
Let’s talk about trust. Trust is defined by the Kellogg School of Management as the following:
The four key components of trust are benevolence, integrity, competence, and predictability… Benevolence essentially means, is this person a kind person? Integrity means, is this person an ethical person? Competence means, does this person have the ability to do what needs to be done? And finally, predictability means, does this person behave in a way that I can consistently forecast?Kellogg School of Management
Trust issues stem from two important questions: How do we decide to trust another person? How quickly do we make that decision? Much of this comes down to a person’s own personal experience with having their trust broken, as well as the other person’s behaviour.
And so trust issues happen when trust is either broken, and the event causes fear of the same in future events; or when trust is perceived to be broken, through expectation that it will be, which may or may not have anything to do with the other person’s behaviour.
Eva’s Trust Issues
Eva and Henry have two children. It’s not so easy for Eva to take her kids and head back to the US because of Henry’s behaviour. But her confidence has suffered for the past decade due to the way that he has made her feel. “He is always staring at other women… He flirts… His father does the same… He treats me as though I am not enough”. At the same time, Eva has told me, “I know he would never cheat, unless maybe if he was drunk… He doesn’t think that he is staring or flirting… He says it is all in my head.”
My role in all of this is not to tell Eva if Henry is in fact doing anything wrong, but to help her gain clarity about what she needs to do. Essentially, it comes down to Eva’s confidence. Only when she has that back will she know what to do, whether Henry is in fact untrustworthy, or not.
For Eva, trust means that Henry should not be looking at other women, even if he doesn’t act upon it. Henry agrees to this but is annoyed at being accused because he says that he does not look in a desirous way. Is Eva misreading Henry or is Henry lying or simply unaware of his looking?
The interesting thing about this couple is that Eva has experienced a major breach of trust in her childhood and admits that she trusts no-one. When Eva was seven years old, her father left and never came back. he ran off with the next door neighbour. It is possible in this case that even if Henry was blind, she may still accuse him of preferring other women.
But then, Eva has also experienced a relationship with a man who was, in her words, lovely and who she felt was loyal. They broke up because the relationship moved into the ‘friend zone’. Essentially it was too boring for her because the attraction was not there. It is interesting that with a man who Eva feels attraction, she also feels distrust. With a man who Eva feels no chemistry, there were no trust issues.
The best I could hope to do for Eva was to resolve her trust issues so that she could make a clearer decision about what to do about Henry. It could be that Henry is not actually thinking ‘immoral’ thoughts as he looks at other women. It may be that he is. It may be that to some people, looking is OK, while to others looking is cheating. There are many variations of what trust involve, depending on a person’s own ethical makeup, and their fears.
Resolving Eva’s Trust Issues
How would we know when Eva’s trust issues are resolved, since we don’t actually know what is in Henry’s mind as he apparently looks at other women (even though he says he is not looking at other women)? It is when Eva no longer believes that no-one can be trusted.
Is anyone ever completely reliable? I would argue no, they are not. Most people will behave uncharacteristically, given the right circumstances. Depression, for instance, will often cause a once reliable person to close down, shut themselves off and push people away. Traumatic events such as illness or divorce may also have a similar effect. These are just two examples of how life can interrupt a seemingly reliable track record. Taking into account that many people act unconsciously, that is, automatically and instinctively, rather than logically, under certain circumstances, can we ever really trust anyone? Can we even trust ourselves? We need to look at trust in perspective.
Once Eva’s past trust issues surrounding her father were resolved, as well as her confidence boosted, her sense of perspective changed around Henry’s behaviour. She became more relaxed and happier in herself. Henry’s apparent ‘staring’ became less threatening. Essentially Eva’s anxiety reduced and she was far less triggered by Henry. Placing Eva in Henry’s shoes by way of a hypnotic process in our final session, satisfied Eva that Henry was not cheating with his eyes. Their communication improved as her trust issues dissipated.
Of course it could have gone the other way where Eva regained her confidence and left Henry if she has decided that his behaviour was in fact unacceptable. But until she had resolved her own trust issues and confidence, she could not make that call.
If you need help sorting out your trust issues, we can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast