How do I get over my trust issues enough to start a relationship with a man who actually seems to care about me?

I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. — an inconceivable Sicilian
01-03-04-13-21 / 02

Hello Diner. Calling them “trust issues” tells me that at a rational level, you understand you have nothing to fear, but your fear feels very real anyway.

Past experiences left a bad aftertaste that flavors future encounters. Can you find palate cleansers of the dating world to make relationships tasty again? Technically, yes. Trying something and seeing that things turn out fine will help you get over this feeling. [1]

So find some loyal and boring table water biscuits to date casually. Soon you’ll regain your appetite for dating seriously and discover that people—in general—do care about their romantic interests. We can’t say this for sure, but in all the years we Fortune Cookies have been served to tables for two, we see that it’s mostly true.

But dating is a little more complicated than picking at a plate of bland wafers. You want that deep connection right now with someone you’re crazy about. I get it. And trusting things to remain casual with these guys needs as much trust as risking a deep passionate relationship in the first place. My point is you don’t have to go through a spartan diet of guys you’re not interested in to ready yourself for the real thing. Just approach those you want to date slowly.

Your question made it seem like you either completely shut someone out or go full on. Remember there are things in between—relationships that give you some fun and intimacy, but don’t demand that you be completely vulnerable. You don’t have to set up tests of trust, just chew slowly. Take time to get to know him before you fall for him. Look at how they treat friends and people who serve them. Other Diners have had problems with very charismatic but self-interested partners. If you did too, it’s no wonder dating has taught you to be suspicious.

Just have fun, Diner. Flirt, date casually, and let him know you want to take things slowly to warm up to him. Your order sounded very somber and full of surrender. “Getting over trust issues” and settling for “a man who actually seems to care” (while leaving out any other positives about this person) seemed like a lot of work and no fun.

As you’re getting over losing trust in someone you were close to, don’t look at future relationships as monumental things that can crush you. It’ll just cause you to wince through them or run from them. People forget that they can decide how much things are allowed to affect them.

Now that I’ve reminded you, how much will you let this new relationship affect you?

Good luck with it, Diner—and don’t forget to have fun.


[1] Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan. 103

How do I get over losing trust?

Six months after getting married, my husband and I went through some really hard times financially because of his issues with depression, and I lost all of my trust in him because of it. We’re 2 years in now, and while I trust him 95% of the time, sometimes I get hit by this awful wave of sadness and anger. How do I get over this? He’s gotten help for the depression, so I know he wouldn’t do it again even if he had the opportunity.

Patience cannot unlock doors.

03-13-22-40-58 / 34

Hello Diner. I am sorry you suffered from these tragedies. I understand that you want to know how to get over this betrayal. Because trust is such a fundamental part of a relationship, losing trust isn’t something to “get over”; you don’t simply grow accustomed to this damage. Instead, you need to rebuild trust in order to resolve these feelings.

People often believe trust is a replenishable resource like affection or love. They think that if the guilty party does certain things or keep a clean record for so long, there is an expectation to consider his debt “paid.” I think you’re at this point, and you’re wondering why the “debt” still seems unpaid. You still don’t trust your husband. Rather than being an emotion you give and receive, trust is more of a structural part in a relationship. It’s the door through which the shared emotions of the relationship like affection and love pour. The positive, trusting interactions with your partner as a whole helped you decide what shape to make this door. Once you’ve settled on how vulnerable you are–how wide the door is–it takes a lot of work to make it bigger like it would in a regular house. But like any physical house, a major disaster can quickly seal that opening.

If you have just been forcing yourself to consider good behavior as “payments” against this loss of trust, there are very good reasons why you still feel hurt. You have to put in work to create that sense of trust. It requires a completely new view of not only your husband, but your emotional losses because of this betrayal. The old sense of trust is destroyed, and trying to even the score of this past hurt won’t help. You need a whole new way of looking at your husband and the unfairness to finally move past the hurt.

You’re figuratively relearning how to speak or walk after a tragic accident. I recommend the help of a psychologist to resolve your feeling of betrayal. While working with the counselor, understanding your husband’s perspective in the context of depression will help build trust. This anger may be from believing your husband meant to lie to you and put you in financial turmoil. When someone is suffering from depression, irrational actions like deception or avoidance may seem like the best option to avoid pain and conflict. I’m not implying that it excuses him from the realities of debts and responsibilities, but being on the same team will help you the most in learning how to count on your husband again. Good luck on your long journey, Diner. I can assure you that it’s worth it.