Hi I am having trouble trusting my partner. She spends a lot of time on her phone and has had an active sex life compared to myself. I am starting to think of the worse and have bad visions which is eating away at me.
You are dealing with two difficult issues. One is a lack of trust. The other is the knowledge of your partner’s extensive past history (in comparison to yours). You may want to make an appointment with a local therapist as these issues are going to take a lot of stress management, thought control, and self soothing. All of these are skills that take some practice to cultivate. I will attempt to do what I can to help you on-line.
Let’s start with the issue of trust. Why is your partner with you? There must be a reason why she is currently choosing to date you as opposed to any one else. I would suggest writing two lists. One is all the great and amazing qualities that you posses that has caused your partner to be attracted to you. The other list is the reasons why you can trust your partner. These reasons may include that she has been honest with you about her past. That she is open about telling you who she is hanging out with and the activities she is participating in. That she trusts you with personal information. That she has told you why she is attracted to you and why she wants to be your girlfriend. The moments she has checked in with you to ask you about your day or to see how you are doing. See if you can come up with other reasons as to why you can trust her.
Now to deal with these “bad visions” in your head there is a practice known as Thought Stopping. This practice takes some time to cultivate. As soon as you notice these “bad visions” showing up. Say to them “STOP!” “This does not serve me” “This does not serve my relationship”. Then replace them with positive thoughts that contradict the negative thoughts. These thoughts may include “She is choosing to be with me”, “Everyone knows that I am her boyfriend”. “she loves me and cares for me”. “This relationship is what she wants”. Come up with a few of your own statements that oppose your current “bad visions”. You may want to write this practice out so you have it handy when the negative thoughts show up.
You may also want to talk to your partner about what is going on for you. She probably already senses a lack of trust in you, so talking about it would be helpful. It is very important that you do not attack her in this conversation. Let her know that these concerns are about you, not about her. Start softly by telling her that you love her and you really enjoy being in this relationship. Then use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. For example “I am struggling with feelings of distrust when I don’t know who you are talking to on the phone” rather than “you make me unable to trust you when you are on the phone”. or “I have insecurities about your past sex life because I find myself questioning how important I am to you, and I feel I might be compared to others” versus “your past sex life makes me insecure”. Do you see the difference? It is very important that your partner does not feel attacked. You want to have a conversation with her, not her defences.
Another suggestion is to ask her for help. Say, “I am struggling with feelings of distrust and I need you to help me”. This prevents her from feeling attacked and gives her the opportunity to be emotionally available to supporting you.
It is very important that she knows that this is your issue, and the only reason you are telling her is because you want a relationship where you can be open and honest, even with the difficult stuff. It’s important that she knows that you are not attacking her, you are only asking for her support. If you sense either of you becoming too emotional or reactive. Take a deep breath, explain that it is not an attack, acknowledge that it is a difficult conversation, and do what you need to sooth yourself and to sooth her. You can always agree to finish the conversation later when you are both emotionally ready. You may want to speak to a counsellor together to help you through this issue.
Tina Cowan, Masters Intern