Ask Elizabeth: How Can I Trust Him?
How can I get over trust issues? I guess I’m a jealous person and maybe even insecure; I’ve been in a relationship for over a year and I can’t fully trust my man. It’s stuff in the past that happened with his ex, she’s always contacting him and he’s always talking to her knowing I feel some type of way about her. So now every female I see him talk to or text I always think something is up we spend most of our time together so I know he isn’t cheating if I don’t know.
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Knowing our partner is talking to his ex is never an easy thing. There are two layers to managing your partner’s friendship with his ex. The first is understanding yourself and why you have the feelings you do and the second is how and how often he is contacting her. When you understand both yourself and have a clear understanding of the boundaries your feel should be in place in a relationship then you can ask for what you want clearly and with confidence.
Let’s talk about you first.
You’ve mentioned you are insecure. Often insecurity starts with ourselves. If you are insecure within yourself, if you lack confidence then this means you don’t trust yourself. If you don’t trust yourself how can you trust that you have chosen a worthwhile person as your partner? Then when you are in the relationship with the person you have chosen you manifest the lack of confidence in yourself onto the other person. You need to do some work on you to improve your confidence so you can see your world clearly. Working on your confidence means self-care. This means valuing yourself enough to care for yourself and doing the hard work to educate yourself. Not just about who you are but about life in general so you can work out what you want.
Often we get very focussed on our partner, especially when we have a fear we might lose them when our focus needs to be on ourselves so we can understand why we feel the way we do. It is really easy to look outwards at the other person, the hard work is looking on the inside and finding out who we are.
You’ve said you are a jealous person and insecure. We all feel a little bit of jealousy that is normal. However, if that jealousy is to a point where it impacts on our ability to freely love someone else, then that is a problem. I wonder where these feelings come from. When we give our heart to someone else, we are trusting them to handle it with care. Being vulnerable with a partner is frightening, it is only natural that you are worried that you might be very badly hurt. If you have been betrayed by a partner in the past, this will make your insecurity feel more intense. Jealousy and insecurity can also be very old feelings that come from childhood. If you have felt these feelings as long as you can remember, they can come from a parent or significant adult who has either not been able to be there for us emotionally or who has suddenly left. These feelings then become old feelings of insecurity that manifest themselves in jealousy that we will lose our partner just as we have felt the loss of our parent.
What is happening in the relationship?
How is your partner managing his contact with his ex? How often is she calling him and is he being totally transparent with you about this? If he is concealing phonecalls from her or not speaking with her openly when he is with you and she calls, this is not OK. If his behaviour around dealing with his ex is different, then you have every reason to feel jealous as his behaviour is indicating that he has not fully left his relationship with her. Sometimes our partners can get caught up in the adoration that comes from an ex-partner. After all, it is feeding his ego that she is calling him and at the same time you are adoring him. If these phone calls are really frequent and invasive, this means he isn’t having appropriate boundaries around her and or he isn’t enforcing his own boundaries.
If you ask your partner not to contact his ex at all, then you are caught in a bind. You will forever wonder if he has stopped contacting her because he wanted to or because you have forced him to. If you are making a scene every time you find out he has spoken to her, then he may well try to hide his contact with her to keep you happy. Sometimes our partners can get caught in this headspace that they want to keep everyone happy. They want to keep you happy, but they don’t want to hurt their ex. Ultimately they end up hurting everyone because you cannot be all things to all people.
If you partner is disregarding your feelings and going ahead and continuing to speak to his ex, even though you have told him it makes you very upset, you need to think about why he is doing this. This is about him, he either loves being adored by two women, doesn’t believe you will leave him, doesn’t understand how upset his behaviour is making you, isn’t concerned you are upset or somehow doesn’t have it in him to call an appropriate boundary with his ex. He may enjoy manipulating you because there is something toxic about continuing frequent phone calls with an ex when you are in a new relationship. Only you can answer the question as to where your partner’s motivations might lie.
So what should you do? The first thing is you need to work on knowing yourself and your confidence to ask for what you need. Think very carefully about what you are going to ask for and stick to it. If you decide to ask your partner not to contact his ex, or you ask him to limit the contact, or you ask him to be transparent in the contact or a combination of all three you need to express yourself clearly and stick with it. If you ask him for something and then you don’t follow through when he doesn’t respect what you ask for you set up a situation where you are crying wolf. He won’t take you seriously because if he disrespects your boundaries, there is no consequence. You actually perpetuate the very situation that is upsetting you. Most importantly in understanding yourself, you understand why you might choose to be with someone who would treat you this way. In my book Stop Kissing Toads (create hyperlink) I explain why sometimes we choose partners who perpetuate the very feelings we struggle with.
What is real is whatever you do, with whomever you are in a relationship with, we cannot be with our partner all the time. Whether he contacts his ex or not, there is always a risk we will lose our partner to someone else. That is life. We all struggle from time to time with insecurity, jealousy and trust in our relationships that’s normal. In a healthy relationship, our partner has a sensitivity to our feelings and manages his behaviour around others accordingly.
What you need to do is be honest with yourself about how you are managing your feelings of jealousy and insecurity, be clear on your boundaries, be in your integrity with your partner and treat him as you would want him to treat you, and follow through.
A blog post suggestion for you The 6 Elements of Trust
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