Trust is an Inside Job.
We all want trust.
We seek it out—looking for a kindred spirit can place our trust in. It’s an integral part of relationships, of love, friendship, work.
And it is tender because once broken too often, it becomes difficult and often painful to find again.
Trust comes from within. It is a feeling about a particular person or situation, formed from experience, both with the person or situation we’re dealing with and those we’ve dealt with before. Our relationships with others go a long way to building and maintaining trust, but our own feelings and past experiences affect whether we trust at all and how much.
When we are secure in ourselves, we are better able to trust.
My dad cheated on my mom. His infidelity did little to instill my faith in him and in the viability of marriage. His dalliances took precedence over my brother and me. My dad would miss commitments he made to us, to my mom, to our family.
Even so, I continued to believe (or hope) that the love and fidelity I placed in my significant other would be reciprocated. But my early romantic relationships failed miserably on this front. The men I dated destroyed any remaining trust I had by being unfaithful. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I am the poster child for major trust issues.
This is my past.
Today, I am married to my best friend, after putting myself out there despite my lack of trust. We share interests, he’s fun, he’s cool and, most importantly, he’s kind.
My husband’s social circle is rich and diverse—and includes many women. Interesting women. Attractive women. He’s a pilot so there is a never-ending stream of colleagues (flight attendants) and nights away from home. I have to have a great deal of trust in him; most of the time, I do.
But those trust issues do f*ck with my head from time to time. I go through highs and lows, and when I hit a low I start to doubt and question. I question myself mostly which leads me to question his ability to love me and stay true to me. It’s a tough admission, but when I feeling less worthy of his love I go through his phone messages and pictures where I find messages from friends, colleagues, and people he’s met while traveling. When I ask him about them he tells me their stories. He’s open and honest. I really shouldn’t worry. Most of the time, I’m like, “Okay, cool.” Other times I wonder, what if?
When the ugly monster of jealousy rears its head, I can be inconsolable, irrational, and bat sh*t crazy. Fear grips me. I wonder if he is having an affair or if he likes her better than he likes me. I wonder if he will leave me for another woman. I get nasty and vicious and I hate myself when I am like that.
I become uncertain and conflicted because I don’t want to control my husband. I want him to meet people and nurture friendships and relationships. I want him to have freedom to do what is important to him because finding his happiness brings happiness to us, to our relationship and to our family.
And, over the years, my husband’s understanding and patience have helped me to believe in myself and to heal. When someone believes in you it’s a little easier to believe in yourself.
Many people want their significant other to sever ties with others—friends, co-workers, and family. What drives this is insecurity—another name for lack of trust.
If your partner is cheating or a lying philanderer you have to ask yourself why you stay. But that’s a whole different set of internal and external circumstances. Circumstances that you have to weigh for yourself. You may be able to understand a single dalliance; but a pattern of continuing behavior is damaging—to you, to your belief in yourself, and to your soul. And if it is damaging to you, it’s time to get out.
It is only through self-preservation that we can love and be loved. We must take care of ourselves first and be comfortable in our own skin before getting cozy with someone else because other people can’t fix us. Only we have that power.
Those of us who have partners who truly love us and reward our trust with integrity, on the other hand, are the lucky ones. We need to realize that the relationships our significant other has outside our sphere are not only okay, they are healthy. We need to believe in ourselves and our relationships enough to chill out when that green-eyed monster of jealousy starts to rage. Trust. And trust that his love will be there, for today, and maybe (hopefully) forever.
You see, the times when I start getting insecure within myself—feeling fat, older than my years, ugly—are times when I project those feelings and insecurities onto my relationship. I wonder why my husband would be with me when he has such a variety of other interesting, younger, prettier women to choose from. Why would he pick me over anyone else? But when rational thought takes over, I know the answer: because he loves me. And because he loves me I can trust him, no matter who he hangs out with, talks to, texts, shares a drink or a story with. When my rational brain is engaged I know deep down that my fears are simply that: fears, and unfounded ones at that.
I find comfort in knowing he understands my trust issues. At times when I am fragile and overwhelmed by my insecurities, he is sympathetic, loving, and kind enough to help soothe my soul and slay my inner demons.
I know with absolute certainty in the deepest part of my being that he is trustworthy and faithful and that he chooses me. And I know too that should he change his mind or fall out of love with me, he would tell me. I know this because I have learned to trust him.
We both have relationships and friendships with others and the freedom to have these strengthens the bond of our love. He has chosen me and I choose him each and every day. We trust in our love, in our happiness. And we trust that our love and happiness is what is good today, for today is what we have and each new day is another today—a chance to live, to love, to laugh, and to believe, in ourselves and in our love.
So, if you find yourself feeling insecure and projecting that onto your partner, take a step back and ask yourself: is this me projecting fear or is this something about my partner? If it is about you, then acknowledge your insecurities and forgive yourself for having them. You’re human, after all. And if there truly are problems in your relationship, believe in yourself enough to make the change you seek.
Author: Sue Ellis-Saller
Image: 10,000 kms (2014)
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen