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SuperMouse's avatar

Is it possible for a person who cannot trust anyone to have intimate relationships?

Asked by SuperMouse (30713 points ) February 16th, 2013

Can a person who is incapable of trusting others ever have a successful relationship? In the scenario I am thinking about, the non-trusting person has not had their trust betrayed by their partner, but their life experience has taught them not to trust people. I was thinking about kids with reactive attachment disorder who never had a loving adult to take care them as children and as a result never had a strong bond they could trust. Can these children grow up and have a successful relationship or is the ability to trust essential in every relationship? Do you think an adult can learn to trust?

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9 Answers

zensky's avatar

I don’t think so. Isn’t the cardinal rule of a relationship – trust?

Coloma's avatar

It is not about trusting others, it is about trusting yourself to be able to clearly see red flag behaviors and not be in denial. To trust in yourself to not be played.
Without a ton of personal and spiritual growth work, and the ability to trust ones own instincts, the answer is no.
Even then, shit happens, and, as always, “trust” is a gamble.

MilkyWay's avatar

Before I saw @Coloma‘s response,I was thinking No. But she actually makes a lot of sense.
Thanks for that @Coloma, you’ve actually given me some hope <3

Unbroken's avatar

Anything when it comes to human emotion is possible.

But having an intimate relationship without trust is not healthy.

I can atest to @Coloma‘s answer. I never trusted anyone as a child. I finally was capable of trust.

It is a lot of work and does take time. But unhealthy pasts don’t limit us unless we allow them to. They have the capability of making us stronger. Granting us more instead of less. It all depends on outlook and commitment to work.

SuperMouse's avatar

@rosehips do you have any suggestions for an adult who is trying to learn to trust for the first time?

Unbroken's avatar

I would suggest therapy. It is a complex issue. There are many linked components.

Low self esteem, choosing unworthy partners, this may be done with the intent of maintaining emotional distance and always having the upper hand, or it could be repetition of childhood pattern; trying to understand or codependency.

Let’s see there is inability to truthfully express current emotions. Being informed or living through the lens of the past or projecting a certain behavoir into the future without ever trying to modify it by expressing how it makes you feel. Isolation and the safety of it. Bitterness.

Learning what a healthy trust is. How to safely build it. To not be shut off from your own emotions. Stop projecting other’s emotions.

I took my first steps without therapy. I found someone who I trusted exclusively. And he was worthy. But I put a lot of pressure on him and projected a lot. We talked a lot of about my past and he was very supportive. He never encouraged to seek outside help or extend my circle of trust beyond him. I didn’t learn red flag behavoirs. My sense of normal and wrong was off. I was desensitized. I still didn’t know how to determine healthy levels of trust with someone.

And to me it was an all or nothing proposition. When really trust is of degrees. Communication, I statements and listening.

I eventually went to counseling. I read some self help books. Books about boundaries, instinct, intimacy etc. I learned about codependency, balance, self empowerment, generational patterns went to a support group or two one of them was a woman’s class sponsered by the woman’s shelter called changing patterns. It helped a lot. Art therapy was great too.

What I am saying is it has been a long process. One I stumbled through mostly without counseling. I took breaks. I veered off course. Reverted back to unhealthy patterns. All of which I feel has given me a level of awareness and I have learned much from my mistakes. But the path I took is not the most logical point A to point B.

It is better to get validation and help and get walked through the process.

Figure out areas that are lacking, maybe a list like the one I listed above and keep it. And when the person plateaus go back to the list try a different approach, a new therapist, a different group. Stay focused and change comes.

If therapy is initially too big of a step, having to open up to a stranger, try journaling and reading first. But eventually biting the bullet I found myself bursting when I went.

Remember to take self help books with a dash of salt. If it doesn’t resonate don’t force it.
Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@SuperMouse Try trusting. It’s amazing.

burntbonez's avatar

Trust is always possible. It means different things to different people. I think a sensible definition is the ability to predict a person’s behavior. If someone is more easily predictable, it is easier to trust them. If a person is more chaotic, it is harder to trust them.

A child grows up not trusting people because they grow up in a chaotic environment. People behave randomly. You don’t know what mood they will be in. You don’t know if they will do what they say. Often booze and other mind altering substances are involved in the randomness.

A child must learn what creates a stable relationship. How to avoid people who drink and so on. How to figure out when a person executes on their word. They also need to be able to learn to predict their own behavior and to put out consistent signals.

These things are all learnable. Whether an adult will learn them depends on their motivation and whether they have good teachers. But it is certainly possible.

cope_aesthetic00's avatar

in my opinion u cant really trust anybody. trust shouldnt even be a word in the sense that all it really is is faith or hope that they chose the right person to be associated with whether romantic or socially as a friend.

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