Take This Quiz To Find Out If Your Partner Has Serious Trust Issues
If you've ever been in a relationship with trust issues, you know they can be a serious dealbreaker.
Trust issues can be about whether a partner is generally reliable—i.e. that he or she will take out the trash when they say they will and show up on time. But more often, “trust issues mean that you don’t trust your partner will be sexually faithful or will stick around,” says Susan Heitler, Ph.D., a psychologist in Colorado and author of The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong and Loving Marriage.
To understand how trust can impact your relationship, you've got to understand what it is, says Ann Rosen Spector, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor of psychology at Rutgers University. “Trust is being able to be reassured with the absence of physical proof,” says Spector. “If you don’t trust, you’ll see suspicion and catastrophe everywhere.”
Think your partner might have trust issues? For each of the below statements, give your partner a score of one to three, with one being you don’t agree, two being you agree somewhat, and three being you strongly agree. At the end, add up your points to get your trust-issues score:
Everyone has these thoughts from time to time. “But if you have trust issues, the idea that your partner will leave or cheat keeps coming up,” says Heitler.
Some people are naturally more clingy than others, and it’s not necessarily a problem. But if your partner doesn’t want to let you out of his sight, he may have trust issues, says Heitler.
“That means if you’re half an hour late because of traffic, her first reaction is to think you’re either leaving or unfaithful,” says Heitler. The more often a person has these kinds of thoughts, the greater the trust issues.
Related: 7 Signs Your Partner Might Be Having an Emotional Affair
If you’ve always been honest and reliable but your partner suddenly feels the need to snoop in your emails and texts, “perhaps something is going on,” says Spector. (Use this flow chart to find out if you should go through your partner's phone.)
Watch 7 strangers give advice on reading your spouse's email:
Jealousy is usually caused by low trust and fear of abandonment. Though some people get jealous over everything, whether or not his jealousy is a problem is determined by how fearful you are of this relationship getting out of control, says Spector. If your partner is constantly jealous, with or without cause, it might be a sign that he doesn’t trust you or has trust issues with romantic relationships in general, she says.
If your partner was ever in a relationship where her trust was deeply betrayed, she’s much more likely to have trust issues in later relationships—including the one you’re in now. For example, if your partner was with someone who had an affair, she’s going to be on the lookout for signs of infidelity with you, says Heitler. “Or if she was in a relationship where someone suddenly ended things, she’s going to worry you’ll do the same.”
Related: 7 Things Guys Do When They're Not Over Their Exes
If one of his parents was unfaithful or left the marriage, he’s much more likely to worry the same is going to happen in his own romantic relationships. Research shows that children of divorce are often waiting for the other shoe to drop in their relationships, says Heitler. “That’s especially true when divorce happens suddenly between parents who seem to be getting along okay.”
How would you characterize your partner’s bond with his parents? If his parents, especially his mom, were warm, caring, and attentive when he was young, he likely developed what’s known in the psychology world as a “secure attachment." That means he generally takes other people at their word and trusts that they’re going to do well by him. “But if you grew up with a parent who was either anxious or always threatening to leave, it could create a sense that separation and doom can happen at any moment,” says Heitler. “Your model for attachment is ‘this is iffy.’ You think maybe your partner will be there for you, maybe he or she won’t.”
8 to 13: Secure with minor trust issues
If your partner scored higher than one for any of the above, he or she is at some risk for trust issues. “But that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” says Heitler. This actually helps them actively cherish their partner and contribute to the couple via finances, housework, child care, affection, and emotions. “No relationship is iron-clad, so being aware can be for the good,” she says.
14 to 19: Modest trust issues
While your partner may not be 100 percent secure in your relationship, he or she doesn’t have major trust issues, either. For now, you’re likely plugging along fine—but you may want to seek counseling if your partner's behavior is starting to make you feel unsafe for uncomfortable.
20 to 24: Major trust issues
Trust issues become problematic if your partner is constantly worried you'll leave or be unfaithful. That’s true whether his feelings are grounded in your actions or there’s no basis at all for his concerns, says Heitler. It’s a good idea to check in with a therapist to find the source of these trust issues and strategies to cope with them.
That said, even for a score in the minor range, if your partner feels super-intensely about any one of the questions it might be worth digging into it with the help of a therapist. “If, for example, everything is fine except his parents got a divorce out of the blue, that could still result in big trust issues,” says Heitler.
Ultimately, the best measure of all can be to simply follow your gut. “Once you’ve gone through the list and are aware of all the signs and symptoms of trust issues, close your eyes and ask yourself: How big of an issue does this feel on a scale of one to 10?” says Heitler. React accordingly.
Related: If You Want A Deeper Relationship, Ask Your Partner These 10 Questions
Whatever your score, it’s important to make sure you're creating a relationship based on trust and openness. Here are a few tips:
- Talk about privacy zones. Some people share their phones and computers with their partners all the time without thinking twice, while others see that as a clear breach of privacy—and neither is a right or wrong way to go about it. It’s a good idea to clearly set ground rules and expectations up front. “This is something people often don’t clarify or discuss with their partners, but they should,” says Spector.
- Talk about what cheating means to you. While it might not be all that comfortable, talking about how you define infidelity can actually relieve trust issues. “Have a clear contract about infidelity. What kind of behavior is in and out of bounds?” says Heitler. For example, you might draw the line at spending time alone discussing private issues or openly flirting with someone who’s not your partner.
- Have sex. It might seem obvious, but it’s important: Get it on together on the regular. “A committed relationship without sex is a vulnerable relationship,” says Heitler. “Having sex once a year is usually not enough to keep the oxytocin of bonding flowing.” That said, be open and discuss what each of you are looking for in bed. “Otherwise, it becomes a business partnership," she says. (Add something extra to your sex life with the JimmyJane Form 6 vibe from the Women's Health Boutique.)
- Communicate. "The more you talk, share your feelings, and make plans for the future, the more solid you’ll feel in your relationship," says Heitler. For example, if your partner gets super anxious when you’re not home after work when you said you would be, make sure to call. Or if one of you did something that could be interpreted as being flirtatious, talk about it.