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Trust plays a central role in every relationship, but what happens when it is damaged? If your relationship is suffering from trust issues, it may be help to speak with a couples therapist. Gain a fresh perspective and learn to trust each other again.

What causes trust issues?

Trust issues in relationships occur when one or both partners feel insecure, doubtful or distrustful of each other. These problems may stem from past experiences, misunderstandings, or various communication problems. They often manifest themselves through a fear of betrayal, leading to an unwillingness to be vulnerable or fully trust the partner. Trust issues can affect all aspects of the relationship and create a vicious circle of distrust and conflict. Understanding and addressing these issues is crucial to creating a healthy and sustainable relationship.

Common trust issues in relationships

Here we list the most common types of trust issues that can arise in a relationship. If you recognise any of them, you will also find practical tips on how to take the first step towards improvement.

Outright lying

“He’s lying to my face” is something you hear a lot as a couples therapist. Sometimes it’s a feeling brought on by a series of little white lies. In serious situations, it can be outright betrayal. Either way, the effect on the relationship is often detrimental because other communication, or the basic trust in the relationship, is lacking.

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Lack of communication

Communication problems are relatively common in many relationships. When a relationship is plagued by outright lies, couples often say things like “I don’t trust my partner” or “my partner doesn’t trust me”. These feelings normally arise out of misunderstandings or a lack of open dialogue. Not sharing everything is not the same as lying, but it can lead to similar damage to the relationship.

History of betrayal

Repeated incidents of lying by a partner are often the reason for the expression of feelings such as “I don’t trust my partner” or “she is lying to me”. A pattern of lying and betrayal undermines the basic trust in the relationship. Although it can be difficult, it is possible to repair this kind of damage to a relationship, but it requires dedication. We humans are very good at seeing patterns, which is why we find it difficult to ignore them once we have noticed them.

Personal trust issues

Sometimes the lack of trust is not directly aimed at your partner. Rather, if it takes the form of “I don’t trust anyone”, it may indicate deeper personal problems. Trusting others can be a challenge, especially if you have experiences that have taught you not to. Many of us fear being hurt or taken advantage of, but through therapy we can find ways to allow ourselves healthy trust and vulnerability. This is often about building trust in yourself and your ability to manage the risks of being vulnerable.

Dealing with trust issues

If you feel that your relationship has some of the problems listed above, there are ways to deal with them. However, if you are not experiencing the problems, the tips below are still good ways to prevent problems.

Honest communication

Talking about the problems is key. By exploring questions like “why don’t I trust my partner?” you can open up important conversations. There are no correct answers to these kinds of questions. Emotions are not always rational or logical but by expressing them and getting each other’s perspective, you can begin to work through them together.

Couples therapy

Seeking professional help with couples therapy can be crucial. Couples therapists can help identify the reasons behind thoughts such as “he’s lying”or “I don’t trust myself”. Together with a therapist, it is easier to find the cause of these thoughts and then work through them.

Self-reflection and understanding

Understanding why you say “I don’t trust my own judgement” or “why are we lying?” can be important for personal growth and relationship improvement.

Building trust step-by-step

If your relationship is marred by thoughts like “my husband doesn’t trust me”, or “my girlfriend doesn’t trust me”, it may be necessary to rebuild trust through small and consistent actions. Find out what in your behaviour makes your partner insecure. Then show that you can change this, that you understand your partner and that you don’t want to cause them unnecessary stress or lack of trust.


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Signs of healthy trust

  • Mutual respect: Healthy trust means that both partners respect each other and their independence.
  • Open communication: Being able to discuss difficult topics without fear of retaliation is a sign of strong trust.
  • Forgiveness: The ability to forgive and move on from mistakes shows a healthy level of trust in the relationship.
  • Self-confidence: A sign of healthy trust is when you can say “I trust my own judgment”.

Trust issues ranging from “I don’t trust my boyfriend” to “he lies about small things” are common in many relationships. By addressing these issues openly, seeking couples therapy, and working on personal growth, couples can build stronger and more trusting relationships.

How couples therapy can help

Couples therapy offers an opportunity to explore and resolve trust issues. Through therapy, couples can:

Identify the root of their trust issues

Trust issues in relationships can often be traced back to past experiences, misunderstandings or certain events in the relationship. To overcome these problems, it is important to first understand their origins. This requires honest self-reflection and open dialogue between you. Questions like “why don’t I trust my partner?” or “why do we lie?” can help to dig deeper and reveal the real reasons behind a lack of trust. By understanding these root causes, couples can begin the process of healing and building a stronger foundation for their relationship.

Learn new communication skills

Effective communication is the foundation for solving trust issues in relationships. It involves more than just talking; it is about listening, interpreting and understanding your partner’s perspective. Couples should practice expressing their feelings and needs in a clear and respectful way. It is also important to learn how to give and receive feedback without defensiveness. Practicing non-judgemental listening and acknowledging the other person’s feelings can help reduce misunderstandings and increase feelings of connection and understanding. By improving these skills, couples can deal more constructively with difficult issues and feelings such as “my partner doesn’t trust me” or “I don’t trust my partner”.

Working through individual problems that affect the relationship

Individual issues, such as low self-esteem, past relationship trauma or personal insecurities, can strongly influence how you act and react in a relationship. These personal challenges can manifest themselves in thoughts such as “I don’t trust my partner” or ‘”he lies to me”. It is important that each person works on their own issues, both independently and as part of the couple. This may involve therapy, self-help groups or personal development. By addressing these individual issues, both partners can come back to the relationship with a stronger, healthier foundation of trust.

Creating a plan to build and maintain trust

Building trust is a process that requires commitment and effort from both parties. Create a joint plan that includes regular time for communication, activities that strengthen the bond, and strategies for dealing with conflict in a healthy way. This plan should also include commitments to openness and honesty as well as firm boundaries that both agree on. Having regular ‘trust check-ins’ where you discuss how you feel about the relationship and any questions or concerns can also be part of this plan. By actively working to build and maintain trust, couples can overcome trust issues and create a stronger, more loving and sustainable relationship.


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12 common questions about trust issues

What are trust issues?

Trust issues in a relationship involve difficulties in trusting your partner. This may be due to past experiences, fear of betrayal, or emotional insecurity. Such problems can manifest themselves through suspicion, a need for control, or difficulties in being vulnerable with your partner.

What to do if you have trust issues?

If you experience trust issues, it is important to first acknowledge and understand these feelings. Communication is key: discuss openly with your partner and express your feelings. Sometimes professional help, such as therapy, can be helpful to work through underlying causes and learn strategies to build trust.

What is trust in a relationship?

Trust in a relationship means a deep conviction that your partner acts and speaks with honesty and care. It is about feeling safe and secure with your partner, knowing that they respect and support you, both in their presence and absence.

How do you build trust with your partner?

Building trust requires time and effort from both parties. It means being consistent, reliable and open. Honest communication, showing trustworthiness through actions and being open to your partner’s needs and feelings are fundamental steps. Respecting boundaries and being patient with each other is also important.

How to know if trust is broken in a relationship?

Signs of broken trust can include feelings of insecurity, constant worry, difficulty communicating openly, and a sense of distance or alienation in the relationship. It can also manifest itself through excessive control, secrecy, or an inability to share feelings and thoughts with each other.

Can a relationship recover from betrayal?

Yes, a relationship can recover from betrayal, but it requires work and commitment from both parties. The process involves open communication, forgiveness, and a willingness to understand each other’s feelings. Therapy can be a useful tool to guide the couple through the recovery process.

What are the first signs of trust issues?

The first signs of trust issues can include avoidance of sharing personal thoughts or feelings, feelings of insecurity or jealousy for no clear reason, and difficulties in relaxing and being close with the partner. Excessive control and constant questioning of the partner’s actions can also be early warning signs.

How does social media affect trust issues in relationships?

Social media can exacerbate trust issues in relationships through misunderstandings and misinterpretations of online interactions. Monitoring of partners’ activities, comparisons with other relationships, and exposure to potential romantic threats can all contribute to increased trust issues.

Is it normal to have trust issues?

Some trust issues are normal, especially if you have experienced betrayal or disappointment in previous relationships. The key is to recognise and deal with these issues healthily and work towards building a stronger foundation of trust in your current relationship.

How can you build trust in a new relationship after a previous one where trust was broken?

Building trust in a new relationship after past betrayals means leaving the past behind and giving the new relationship an honest chance. It is important to communicate openly about your past experiences and fears, to set clear boundaries and expectations, and to take things slowly. Being aware of old patterns and consciously working to not repeat them can also be helpful.

How do trust issues affect intimate interactions in a relationship?

Trust issues can significantly affect the intimate part of a relationship. A lack of trust can lead to insecurity and discomfort, making it difficult to be vulnerable and open on an intimate level. This can reduce emotional closeness and physical intimacy. Working through these issues through open communication and possibly therapy can help couples re-establish a closer and more satisfying intimate connection.

What role does forgiveness play in rebuilding trust?

Forgiveness plays a critical role in the process of rebuilding trust. It means letting go of old grudges and pain to make room for healing and renewal of the relationship. Forgiveness requires time and patience, and it is important that both parties are open to understanding and processing the feelings and events that have led to the need for forgiveness. Forgiving does not mean forgetting or ignoring what happened, but rather actively choosing to move on for a healthier and stronger relationship.

How do we get help with our trust issues?

Trust is a cornerstone of any relationship, but sometimes it can be damaged or lost. If you and your partner are struggling with trust issues, it’s important to know that help is available. Here are some steps to seek couples therapy and begin the journey towards a stronger relationship.

1. Acknowledge the problem

The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. This can be difficult, but it is a necessary part of the healing process. Communicate openly with your partner about your feelings and listen to their perspective.

2. Seek information together

Together you can start exploring options for therapy. Our website offers information on therapists who specialise in couples therapy and trust issues. Take time to read about their experiences and methods.

3. Choose a therapist

Choose a therapist that feels right for both of you. It is important that you feel comfortable and confident with the therapist. If possible, book an initial session to see if it feels right.

4. Commit to the process

Therapy is a process that requires commitment and openness from both parties. Be prepared to explore difficult topics and work together towards understanding and reconciliation.

5. Integrate lessons learned into everyday life

Use the tools and insights gained in therapy to improve your relationship in everyday life. It is about practicing communication, trust and understanding.

6. Be patient and supportive

Remember that change takes time. Be patient and supportive of each other throughout the process. Every step forward is a step towards a stronger and more trusting relationship.

Taking the step to seek help is a sign of strength, not weakness. By working with a therapist, you can learn to address your trust issues and build a stronger, more satisfying relationship. Remember, we make the difficult easier. Book an initial online session with one of our therapists today.

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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.