How Much Can You Trust Your Partner? (Trust and Loyalty = Counting on Each Other)

How Much Can You Trust Your Partner? (Trust and Loyalty = Counting on Each Other)

In a relationship, trust is based on two distinct aspects:

Your own personal integrity as a person, and being there emotionally for your partner.

For each one of us, personal integrity is based on our willingness to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Are you this kind of person? Can you rely on yourself to come through in this way?

For couples, trust is about coming through for your partner. It’s something you both need to be able to count on: that in that moment your partner feels he (or she) most needs you, you’ll be there. Every time. And that your partner will be there for you in your moment of pain or crisis.

John Gottman’s recent research has shown without a shadow of a doubt that when relationships become distressed, the central missing ingredient is the ability to build and maintain this trust with one another. On this issue, there’s really no compromise. As human beings in relationship with others, trust is the most fundamental need we have — to know that when we’re in trouble, hurting, or having difficulties, that our partner will respond empathetically. That we’re not alone.

Many unhappy couples feel their partners simply can’t be counted on to “be there” for them in these essential moments. Emotional injuries from a lack of trust over time create a deep, wide gulf of emotional distance between them. This leads to eventual betrayal or the quiet dying of their love.

 

Trust Builds a Bond

On the other hand, for happier relationships where trust between the two is present or has built up over time, its emotional presence creates safety, security, and openness for both partners. It deepens their love beyond its first passionate infatuations. As years roll by and love matures, trust ripens to a sense of mutual nurturance and moral responsibility for building a life together. In healthy relationships, love and trust are intertwined, growing together to form a lasting and powerful bond.

 

What are the exact ingredients of trust between a couple?

Here they are, couched in questions so that each of you can ask yourself of each other, discuss, and see whether there are any elements you might need to work on.

 

1. The Trustworthiness of My Partner as a Person:

 

Can I count on you to be a truthful person?

Are you as you appear to be?

Do you keep promises you make, and follow through on what you say you’ll do?

Are you transparent as a person?

Are you secretive? Do you hide aspects of your life from me?

Are you a good person who treats other people kindly?

Do you show goodwill towards others?

 

2. Your Couple Trust and Loyalty:

 

Can I count on you to be there for me when I really need it?*

(*This is an incredibly important question. If the answer is NEVER or OCCASIONALLY, stop and discuss it together until you are clear what you need to change to make this happen.)

Do I come first in comparison to others or to your goals?

Do others (or other things) take priority over me?

Can I trust you to choose me over your friends?

Can I trust you to choose my interests over those of your parents?

Can I trust you to care more about our relationship than about just yourself?

Can I trust you to be home when you say you will be?

Can I trust you to be motivated to earn money and create wealth for our family?

Can I trust you not to follow up on other sexual interests you might have?

Can I trust you to keep me as your closest friend?

 

Are You Living With a Steamroller?

Why do some people become controlling?

In order to be the unique person who we are, we need to access 4 internal parts of us. They are:

1. Our feelings

2. Our sensations, like hearing, touch, sight and movement, and our preferences.

3. Our intuition

4. Our thinking

The first 3 of these are very much from our direct experience. But our thinking is from a secondary source.

Many of us are not connected to our feelings, sensations and intuitions, because we were taught, often by parents or authority figures, to negate them or not to trust them. eg “Don’t be a cry baby. You’re not even hurt” or “Don’t tell me you like that!”

Because of this we can grow up not having an intact personal world that we can depend on, and instead we can rely almost entirely on our thinking. This particularly happens in the male culture where many boys are taught to be tough and deny their feelings, senses and gut feelings.

When you have had your personal reality denied, you need to think up an identity according to what you think you should be. But unfortunately these identities tend not to be grounded in your inner world.

So having made yourself up from the outside in, it is easy to imagine that you can also make others up, as well, and this then can become quite a controlling way that you interact with others.

If there is a control connection, this person will want to define the other person. They will have trouble hearing and seeing the real person, and therefore, they will struggle with empathy or any real understanding for the other person. They, in actual fact, fail to grasp that the other person is actually a separate person with their own reality.

But it doesn’t look like that to start with….

During the initial stage of a new relationship, where both partners are wanting to impress each other, the more controlling person can contrive their behaviour to impress and charm, being careful to make sure they mirror the desires of their new partner.

Then comes the transition…

However this “impress your socks off” stage doesn’t tend to last.

Once the controlling partner feels secure in the relationship (this happens most commonly at the 3 major transitions: when you move in together, when you get married, or when you start having children) there is now far less need for approval.

Without realizing it, the partner has crossed over into the controller’s self definition boundary. With this transition can come the expectation that the partner is now an extension of him or her, and of One Mind with him or her.

This can be a dumbfounding change for the partner, as it can be made almost overnight, or at a more gradual pace; but the change does happen.

The “Bubble”

Patricia Evans in her book “Controlling People” describes a man who felt like he and his wife were in a big bubble that he had created as his reality. His wife had freedom, and all was happy, as long as she stayed in the bubble.

“There was room to move about so the illusion of freedom seemed real to her. But when she expressed an idea of her own, or any feelings, it was like she was stepping out of his bubble and stepping into her own. But he did not want her out there. He feared being alone with himself. He feared being with his feelings. So he tried to pull her back into his bubble, or worse, injure her so she could never leave, or worse yet, disorient her so she can never find her way out.”

Whatever control measure or verbal abuse it took, he needed to get her back inside the bubble where he felt safe again.

The controlling person does usually feel a great and strong love for his or her partner, but this is not what we consider real love. It is more of a control connection.

In reality, there is usually very little regard for his or her individuality, an absence of empathy or understanding, and often an angry assault or the silent treatment, every time he or she shows any signs of separateness.

This usually leaves the partner feeling shunned, negated, unseen, unheard, trivialised, and, as a result, also very confused, sad, and often outraged that they have been so invaded or negated, every time she or he expresses her or his individuality.

All the while the controlling partner denies any wrongdoing, not being willing to recognise the devastating effects on the partner.

When your partner defines you, you can’t feel connected to them, and along with this disconnection comes no sense of real partnership or real love. It’s only when he or she begins to asks about you that you can begin to feel the connection.

The healthiest relationships are those where there is no controlling, simply acceptance of each other and negotiation between each of you for what you need and want.

However, in reality, many people tend to attempt to control their partner in some way. The degree of control is what really counts. You may be happy to allow your partner some control in areas that aren’t really important to you and maybe important to them. You may even be able to joke about it, and it can certainly add to a lively relationship where those things are part of your shared jokes.

But it you are feeling that you are often being negated, not heard, discredited, blamed for things that are not true, or blamed for things that you know is actually more true of your partner, then your relationship is not functioning in a healthy way, and you will be suffering personally.

Controllers fear intimacy because intimacy requires hearing and seeing each other for who you are.

This kind of intimacy stops the control connection.

There are graduated degrees of controlling, and the more extreme, the more difficult it is to improve your relationship.

For those of you who are wondering how similar this sounds to Narcissism, there is a huge overlap between the two.

 

Letter for a Partner Doubtful About Relationship Counselling

Hi there,

For some people, the thought of having to discuss their relationship problems with someone other than their partner is akin to having all your teeth pulled. Sometimes it’s even hard to talk with your partner about the difficulties between you, let alone a stranger. Your relationship is a private affair, right? And anyway, it’s not easy to understand what’s going on, both in your head, in your partner’s head or in the in-between.

However, our relationship with our partner is arguably the most important thing in our lives and actually forms the foundation of the rest of our life. Most of us build our whole life, family, home, friends and holidays around our relationship.

And the crazy thing is that despite how central our relationship is to our life, for most people no-one has actually taught us how to have a good one! Most of us are either doing what we’ve seen modelled by our parents, or quite the opposite as we don’t want to be like them.

So when our relationship starts to go wrong, due to ignorance on our part (we don’t know what we’re doing that’s causing it to deteriorate) we can be grabbing in the dark to find out how to improve things.

And with 25 years of experience in helping people with their relationship difficulties, unfortunately I also know that the longer you leave your relationship difficulties usually the worse they get.

So being proactive tends to be the best approach.

When you have problems with your car, house, physical health, finances and legal matters you see a trained and experienced professional to help assist you in fixing the problem.

We find some people have hesitations about relationship counselling because they think we will take one person’s side over another. It is important to note that our number 1 goal is to be fair, equal and considerate of both people.

What we do as trained and experienced relationship Psychologists is help you identify the exact unique problem, or combination of problems that you and your partner are having, and then we help educate you on how to change these patterns so that you can get back to having the great relationship you started with in the first place and deserve to have from here on in.

And as a couple when you are both on board with these, and working together on them, often it doesn’t take long to start feeling a whole lot better and more loving towards each other, with the spark coming back again too.

If you are wondering what we do in your session, firstly we take your confidentiality very seriously. In our sessions, we take time to really listen to each of you without taking sides or making any judgements, and from there we give you insight into what patterns you may be inadvertently playing out, and then the specific skills you both need over the next few sessions.

It’s important for us to always work toward win/win solutions as that is what is needed for any of us to have a happy, healthy relationship. We are also there to help, if you have any difficulties along the way. It’s both a very caring and efficient process.

So I’d like to urge you to consider giving us a try. We know how to create awesome relationships and we can help you create one too. That’s our mission.