How do I manage severe trust issues?
I'll try keep this as succinct as possible.
I've been with my girlfriend for 4 months, we both love each other immensely and have gotten to know each other quite intimately, to the point where we know most of each other's personal histories already. She makes it clear how much she loves me, how much she's committed to me, and does so daily. Even goes as far as to mention long term things, like a life together, moving out, etc. I've been in a long relationship before this one, which lasted 3 and a half years, where I felt very comfortable as far as any sort of trust issue was concerned, and never felt the worries I feel now of possibly being cheated on, or left. My current girlfriend and I are both in our early 20's and live a short drive from one another.
At the moment, on a daily basis, I feel tremendous fear and anxiety based around whether or not her feelings are legitimate, or that me vocalising my worries as much as I do will cause her feelings for me to die down and leave me. For some reason, more than I fear being left, I fear being cheated on. This is a big deal for me, I think if someone were to cheat on me, or do something close to it, that I'd never recover. The problem being, despite all her efforts and the amount of energy she puts into this relationship (far more than is probably even normal), I worry about this on a daily basis. She has gone on a trip with a friend overseas for a little over a week, and I find myself wracked with anxiety that she'll sleep with someone while over there, or go out to a bar and have a few too many and something will end up happening. Every second she's not online, talking to me, I worry about what she's doing and who she's with, despite her being very open about all that. This sort of suspicion I have is borderline paranoid in my mind, since it's so irrational, and I've never experienced it in a relationship before.
I think it comes from a place of thinking that she's a bit out of my league, and struggling to believe that she'll settle for me, despite her saying the opposite many times. I very rarely even prompt her declarations of love, they're usually spontaneous, but even then it only serves as a temporary aid to my anxiety.
My anxiety is completely gone while I'm talking to her and we're in a good place relationship wise, but a few hours of being completely separate and I'm back in this whole again, so anxious that I can't enjoy anything. What do I do?
I sense your anxiety, confusion and intense feelings for your girlfriend. It must all feel so overwhelming. She sounds like a lovely person by the way 🙂
I think you seem to have figured out a huge cause of your fears, mistrust and need for constant reassurance is your own self doubt. As you said, it stems from feeling as though she is “out of your league” as you put it...
I think it’s hard in a relationship when one person questions their own worth, and feels that their partner shines much more brightly than them. Even if that isn’t the case/based in reality, simply having that perception can cause a lot of fear...
I’m not sure if I have any particularly helpful suggestions or that I’m the best person to talk to...but I’ll give it a go and offer my thoughts anyway...
Perhaps try to remind yourself that she chose you for a reason. She must see good in you to choose to be with you.
Also, from what you’re saying she is expressive, loving and open about her whereabouts, which all suggests that she genuinely cares about you. I think your logical brain already knows this, but I suppose getting your emotional brain on board is the challenge...
Perhaps try to find ways to take your mind off her when she’s not with you or talking to you online. Things like hobbies, seeing your own friends, etc.
I realise you said that you start feeling anxious when she’s not around, but maybe it’s about starting small and gradually building yourself up e.g. simply going for a short walk then progressing to a day out at the beach by yourself or with friends.
Maybe it might help to remind yourself that it’s healthy to have some space apart in a relationship. I know it’s easier in theory than in practice, but perhaps remind yourself that love includes allowing space for partners to have their own interests and to see their own friends.
Sorry, I’m not sure if I have been very helpful. But, if you’re feeling up to it (no pressure of course), I would be more than happy to continue talking to you. Is it okay if I ask how have you been since your first post?
kind and caring thoughts,
I've been okay since posting, I think I can work myself into an emotional frenzy quite easily and find it hard to hide it from her (even though she's mentioned many times that she doesn't want me to hide it). Thank you for the reply, I think you're right that I need to remind myself of the good things, but I think also that my distrust comes from some real places too. She's admitted to flirting for a while with someone online during a previous relationship, before promising that she'd never do that with me, but it's difficult to not consider that she might. Little things like that, including that I believe her exes to be much more attractive than me, makes it hard for me to accept trusting her. I do find myself to view every other male she speaks to as a threat, but I don't really make that obvious and keep it to myself.
When I try to distract myself from the situation, I often find that it doesn't work. I find myself in a mental loop, and my brain's anxious state is vicious, stubborn, and cyclical. I have thought that I might not belong in a relationship at all, since my feelings are so intensely negative and difficult to manage (and interfere with my life daily, and for most of the each day), but I also love her very much and very loneliness in top of that.
Thanks so much for posting back. It’s good to hear from you again. I think you’re clearly very self aware, which is a great quality as personal insight is helpful in relationships (and life in general).
I think that I understand what you’re saying, considering her history. Hopefully if you’ve discussed it with her, she will follow through and try to limit flirting with others as she knows how much that affects you.
That being said though, sometimes I feel it’s also a personality characteristic and people often don’t intend for it to be much more than some lighthearted fun. For example, I have friends who are flirtatious even when they are in relationships (admittedly I have been one of those people too), but they still remain faithful and committed to their partners. I hope that reassures you a little...
I hear what you’re saying about your fears and self doubts about being in a relationship. But, in my opinion at least, I feel that’s your fear talking...
I think relationships are undeniably scary because it means vulnerability and it means, at any turn, we could be rejected (not saying it always happens but I mean in terms of risk). I’m not saying this to scare you, but I suppose what I’m trying to express is no relationship comes with a guarantee...
But I think the reason so many people still take the risk and enter a relationship anyway is because the potential gains (e.g. love, support, understanding, etc) outweigh the potential risks/losses (e.g. it not working out, rejection, etc). So I think it’s about perhaps reminding yourself why it’s worth the risk...why so many people around the world take that risk everyday.
For example, your love for her is probably worth any potential risk 😉
Kind thoughts to you today.