People who have trust issues

Trust Issues: Signs to Look For

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 17, 2020

In this Article

  • What Are Trust Issues?
  • Signs of Trust Issues
  • Dealing With Trust Issues

Trust is the reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Trust is essential to the development of healthy, secure, and satisfying relationships. Although there has been significant research on the subject, relatively little is known about how and why interpersonal trust develops, how it’s maintained, and how it unravels when betrayed.

Any relationship depends on trust in order to exist. However, sometimes that trust isn’t as genuine or as honest as it should be. If one or both partners questions the other’s activities, words, or actions, a lack of trust can form. This leads to problems called trust issues.

What Are Trust Issues?

Individuals with lower levels of trust — or trust issues — tend to monitor and occasionally test their partner’s degree of support and responsiveness in their relationship. When a relationship lacks trust, it allows for the potential development of harmful thoughts, actions, or emotions, such as negative attributions, suspicion, and jealousy. Over time, this can lead to bigger problems, such as emotional or physical abuse.

Trust issues can also be linked with:

  • Depression
  • Adjustment disorders (difficulty dealing with certain stresses)
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Attachment issues
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Schizophrenia

Signs of Trust Issues

Here are some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for:

Don’t Believe What Other People Say

Individuals with trust issues have a tendency to “fact check” what others tell them. Even if there's no reason to doubt the honesty of their partner, friend, or even colleague, they don’t take what they say as truth unless they confirm it themselves.

Always Expect the Worst

If someone expects their loved ones to betray them — even if the people in question never have before — they may have trust issues. A lack of trust may lead to suspicion of other people’s motives and behavior. 

Keep People at a Distance

Someone with trust issues may not be eager to open up or get close to others, even if they long for deep and meaningful relationships. They may have trouble letting themselves go, being vulnerable, and/or being physically intimate. 

Jealous Behaviors

Romantic jealousy is considered a complex combination of thoughts (i.e., cognitive jealousy), emotions (i.e., emotional jealousy), and behaviors (i.e., behavioral jealousy) that result from a perceived threat to one’s romantic relationship.

Cognitive jealousy represents a person’s rational or irrational thoughts, worries, and suspicions concerning a partner’s faithfulness, whereas emotional jealousy refers to a person’s feelings of upset in response to a jealousy-evoking situation. Behavioral jealousy involves detective/protective measures a person may take, such as going through their partner’s belongings or looking through their text messages or emails.

Research examining an individual’s motives for engaging in “snooping” behavior also found trust to be an important factor. Specifically, individuals who perceived that their partners disclosed less personally relevant information to them were more likely to engage in snooping behavior, especially when they reported lower levels of trust.

Together, these findings indicate that distrust is an important determinant in experiencing and expressing jealousy. This study aims to further refine this association by examining trust and jealousy in the context of attachment theory.

Dealing With Trust Issues

If you or your loved one is showing signs of trust issues, you’re not alone — and there are ways to build trust, which may help strengthen romantic, platonic, and familial relationships and improve your sense of well-being.

Some ways to address trust issues include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people get to the root of their trust issues. CBT is a type of talk therapy. Its practitioners believe that thoughts influence behavior. In CBT, a person talks to a health professional about his or her problems.

A therapist using CBT might help someone with trust issues learn new ways of thinking to combat their negative feelings, help people separate past problems from future fears, and gain confidence to rebuild trust in existing relationships.

Rebuilding Trust

There are four general factors to enhancing trust in a close relationship:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Nondefensiveness
  • Understanding
  • Direct communication

If your friend, partner, or loved one has trust issues, strive to be more honest and transparent in all your personal interactions, learn to be less defensive in communicating with them, accept and appreciate the differences between you and them, and be straightforward in asking for what you want from your relationship. In doing so, you’ll both feel more open to loving and being loved — and trusting one another.

Do I have trust issues? Getting over trust issues in a relationship

Trust issues are characterized by fear of betrayal, abandonment, or manipulation. And this fear is often triggered as a result of betrayal (such as infidelity), abandonment (think: leaving a child or foregoing a relationship with them), or manipulation (for example, dishonesty or gaslighting).

If you’re reading this, it’s possible that someone you trusted — a partner, a parent, or even a doctor — mistreated you or let you down. And as a result, you struggle to trust others. Or, in other words, you have trust issues.

Many people can pinpoint the event or relationship in question, but others struggle. And most (if not all) struggle to overcome their trust issues. However, it isn’t impossible. If you’re struggling with trust issues, you can work to trust again by following a few steps. But first, let’s start from the beginning: What exactly is trust?

What Is Trust?

Trust is the belief in the reliability and truth of another person. It’s how we subjectively measure the integrity and honesty of others — those who can be counted on to do what is right. However, sometimes we aren’t certain who to trust, how much to trust, and when not to trust.

What Are Trust Issues and What Are the Signs of Trust Issues?

To recap what we said earlier: When someone has trust issues, they have an extremely difficult time trusting others — and often because someone has betrayed their trust in the past. Here are additional signs and symptoms of trust issues:

  • They assume betrayal. Those with trust issues assume someone has betrayed their trust even if they have no rightful reasoning.
  • They anticipate betrayal. People with trust issues often assume someone will betray them soon enough, despite how honest they have been in the past.
  • They’re overly protective. Those with trust issues are usually very protective of their loved ones, out of fear that they will become disloyal.
  • They distance themselves from others. People with trust issues decide it’s best to limit their relationships to avoid betrayal or abandonment.
  • They avoid commitment. No matter how much they care for someone, people with trust issues refuse to commit.
  • They refuse to forgive (even the smallest mistakes). Those with trust issues are quick to make a big deal out of nothing — it’s the end of the world if someone makes the slightest mistake.
  • They’re excessively wary of people. People with trust issues are extremely cautious and suspicious of everyone they meet.
  • They feel lonely or depressed. Those with trust issues isolate themselves from others and feel lonely or depressed as a result.

What Causes Trust Issues?

Earlier, we said that trust issues are often caused by an act of betrayal, abandonment, or manipulation. But what are the most common examples of these wrongdoings that lead to trust issues?

  • Infidelity: Again, infidelity is an example of betrayal that can trigger trust issues. Many people view this as the ultimate form of betrayal. While it’s possible to repair a relationship after infidelity, often the relationship ends and the victim of the infidelity develops trust issues, which impact future relationships.
  • Manipulation or mistreatment: If a past partner or loved one manipulated or mistreated you, you’re also at an increased risk for trust issues. Examples include dishonesty, gaslighting, passive-aggressive behavior, and keeping you isolated from others.
  • Childhood trauma: Adverse experiences in childhood are also likely to cause trust issues. Examples include abuse or abandonment (by one or more caregivers).
  • Other forms of trauma: Trauma later in life can also lead to trust issues. For example, you might struggle to trust healthcare professionals because of a firsthand or secondhand traumatic experience with a previous doctor. Think: Getting misdiagnosed with a serious illness.
  • Parental divorce or conflicts: If you have divorced parents, you may also be more likely to develop trust issues, especially in your romantic relationships. On the other hand, if your parents argue(d) a lot and you’ve witnessed an up and down relationship, you might’ve developed trust issues as a result.

Once someone experiences a betrayal, their trust issues may impact their ability to avoid internalizing that experience—they may blame themselves, and feel less confident in the future. This can impact their ability to trust because they may feel “undeserving”, and instead of fostering a healthy connection, a person with trust issues may be constantly on guard, waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. 

The Importance of Trust in Romantic Relationships

In most cases, our romantic relationships suffer the most from our trust issues — whether they’ve resulted from betrayal in a former romantic relationship or not. Why? Intimate relationships are based on honesty and openness. The trust that partners have in each other is the glue that binds the relationship, providing a positive emotional connection that’s rooted in affection, love, and loyalty.

A common cause of trust issues is infidelity. If a partner in a relationship has an affair, the deception and betrayal of trust can be more damaging than the actual affair. The lying erodes the belief in the other person, and the reality is that the partner has another aspect of their life that they’ve kept secret. A person who didn’t develop trust as a child will feel especially vulnerable to infidelity and deception by somebody they loved.

Is Having Trust Issues a Mental Illness?

Having trust issues as a singular issue isn’t a mental illness. However, it can be indicative of an actual mental health condition, particularly: 


  • Anxiety disorders, especially PTSD
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Paranoid personality disorder (PPD)
  • Bipolar disorder I or II

These conditions may cause trust issues in relationships because of the way certain cognitive distortions, irrational beliefs, or mood swings may unrealistically change someone’s perception of reality and interpersonal relationships. What can be particularly damaging, though, is when a person with a mental health condition that causes trust issues is hurt by a loved one’s deception. This can affirm their negative bias and make it even harder to emotionally and socially connect with other people, even if they desire to do so. 

What Is a Person Called When They Have Trust Issues?

Pistanthrophobia is the fear of trusting people or forming significant relationships with them. While it’s not a recognized mental health condition in the DSM-5, pistanthrophobia, like other phobias, causes significant mental and emotional distress and usually detracts from the sufferer’s quality of life in a significant way. 

Are Trust Issues a Red Flag?

Trust issues can be a sign that someone has experienced a significant amount of trauma — but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t working through their past experiences. Trust issues in a relationship can be hard for both partners to overcome, but with adequate support and communication channels, people with trust issues can have healthy, successful connections with partners — that aren’t ruled by their past.  

What Do You Do If You Have Trust Issues In a Relationship?

Dialectal behavior therapy (DBT) is an effective treatment method for people who are noticing continued trust issues in relationships. So for those wondering how to fix trust issues, finding a mental health professional that they can connect with and receive DBT from is the first place to begin. Partners can also benefit from couples or marriage counseling, where they’ll learn new ways to empathize, communicate, and resolve differences and conflicts.


But even before beginning counseling or another form of mental health treatment, there are smaller, personal ways in which someone with trust issues in a relationship can begin to find healing. 

How to Get Over or Overcome Trust Issues: 8 Tips

Knowing how to fix trust issues isn’t always simple. If you have trust issues and it’s hindering your ability to build happy, healthy relationships or it’s hindering your life in another way, then it’s time to make a change. Follow these steps if you’re wondering how to fix trust issues and take your relationships to the next level.

1) Accept the risk that comes with learning to trust again.

None of us are perfect — we let people down. Therefore, you must accept the risk that comes with trusting; the reality is that you’re going to be let down at some point or another. But that doesn’t mean your relationship with that person is or should be over. It’s about setting and communicating the right expectations as well as boundaries.

2) Learn how trust works.

Some people trust until they have a reason not to — others don’t trust people until that trust is earned. It’s up to you if and when you choose to trust someone. It’s perfectly okay to wait for someone to earn your trust before deciding you can rely on them. Especially if you’re recovering from past betrayal.

3) Take emotional risks.

At some point, you’ve got to just jump in head-first. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and choose to trust (whether it’s at the beginning of a relationship or after they’ve earned your trust).

4) Get to the root of your trust issues.

Remember, trust issues often stem from a past betrayal. If you aren’t sure why you have trust issues, do some soul-searching. Think about any past experiences that may have caused your trust issues. It’s crucial that you understand why you’re scared and what you’re scared of, so you can move on. If you need help doing this, consider working with a counselor.

5) Communicate honestly and often.

Poor communication is one of the main reasons that marriages and other relationships deteriorate. Do your part, and continue to be honest with the people in your life. Also, talk to them about your hesitancy to trust.

6) Be mindful of your relationships.

Each one of your interactions works to build trust. Start tuning into these interactions and consider why someone (whether it’s your new doctor, partner, or co-worker) might deserve your trust.

7) Consider those you do trust and express your appreciation.

Friends and family members who have always been there are easy to take for granted unless you make a conscious effort to show them your appreciation. When you have a problem, those are the people you can trust to be a support network. In addition, you can learn a lot about who, what, why, and how you trust from these relationships.

8) Try and trust again.

If you fail and resort back to distrusting tendencies, try again. Trust again. Keep putting yourself out there.

Where trust problems come from in relationships and how to get it back

October 11, 2021 Relations

Apologizing doesn't always make it right, and the process of rebuilding trust can take months or even years.

Strong relationships are always built on trust. It doesn't matter how willing we are to open up to other people. If trust is lost, our inner sense of security is threatened. We begin to doubt ourselves and our partner, his honesty, feelings, motives, actions.

Lies and secrets affect relationships not only with a partner, but also with family, friends, close people. We start building walls of distrust, hoping to protect ourselves. But this is not the only problem.

How trust problems manifest


We find it difficult to open up to others for several reasons.

If a person has experienced betrayal in a past relationship, he may be especially prone to distrust others. Unprocessed anger and pain can make us look for a double bottom where there is none, or subconsciously attract unreliable partners.

Sometimes distrust starts in the family. If relatives abuse alcohol or drugs, or there are a lot of secrets in the family about which they lie and are silent, the child may stop trusting not only parents, but also his own understanding of reality.

Usually dad and mom don't talk about what's going on in the hope of protecting the children. But everything is quite the opposite - a lie confuses a child who feels that adults are not saying something.

Sometimes parents deliberately hide the truth, trying to impose their own vision of the situation or hide guilt and shame for what happened. Some fathers and mothers may even blame children for family failures. Such situations further undermine the child's trust in the world around him.

At the same time, even the most seemingly small things can negatively affect the understanding of trust — when parents do not keep their promises, do not pick up the child from kindergarten or school on time, and come up with a constantly changing system of punishments.

Indifference, betrayal in the family, physical or emotional abuse - all this also undermines the inner sense of trust in the world.

Excessive trust

The encounter with abuse and psychological trauma lead not only to distrust, but also to excessive trust. Some people even experience both of these scenarios.

There are other factors that cause a person to trust others too much, and which can manifest themselves both separately and together. Among them are the idealization of a partner, dependence on relationships or the desire for them to be trusting.

Despite the fact that the family can seriously undermine trust, the childish desire to open up to others does not go anywhere. This subconscious yearning for truly meaningful relationships leads the person to project trust onto the wrong people in an attempt to create an almost familial feeling of intimacy.

Add to this relationship addiction and the desire for care, and here we are already denying obvious arguments and signals and doing our best to continue to believe in a person who constantly undermines our trust.

In addition, when parents deny the reality of the child, he ceases to pay attention to his feelings and intuition. All this leads to excessive trust, especially in relation to loved ones.

How to regain the trust of a loved one

Unfortunately, you can't go into the past and change family relationships. But if we betrayed or violated the trust of a person dear to us, it is still possible, although difficult, to turn the tide. The main thing is to approach the issue as gently and accurately as possible.

Broken trust cannot be restored by simple apologies, and explanations and excuses can even worsen the situation. There are seven steps you can take to try to rebuild a close relationship:

  1. Listen carefully to your partner.
  2. Let his feelings go through you.
  3. Ask what can be done to never betray his trust again.
  4. Try to do everything possible to regain the trust of a loved one.
  5. Take responsibility for your actions: do not blame others and do not ignore problems.
  6. Sincerely apologize.
  7. Continue to have an open and honest dialogue.

The last point is especially important. It is worth asking your partner how best to make amends and what to do so that this situation does not happen again. These questions will help your loved one feel that their emotions and needs are being respected.

When it comes to serious betrayal, you will have to discuss the relationship and decide if it can be saved and how to do it.

If it is not possible to restore trust through dialogue, the problem recurs, or the matter concerns infidelity, it is worth contacting a specialist. It will help partners open up to each other and find the source of the problem. Seeking help outside of a relationship is not a weakness. On the contrary, it shows a willingness to work on the union and strengthen it.

Loss of trust is a real test for a relationship. At first, it may seem that the partner has forgiven and everything has returned to normal. In fact, a loved one may still be tormented and worried about what happened. It can take months or even years to fully heal. Be there and help a loved one heal wounds.

Read also 🧐

  • 10 tips to strengthen relationships
  • How to forgive a loved one and start trusting him again
  • Why we don't trust people and should we start

How to learn to trust people, what to do with the loss of trust and how to restore it




Difficulties with trust lead to many problems - ranging from low self-esteem to all sorts of addictions. This means that trusting people is a necessity in order to have a healthy psyche, be in a resource, understand your boundaries, and avoid violating your personal space.

In this article, we will understand how trust is formed from the point of view of psychology, why a person does not trust, what are the reasons for distrust, and how to learn to trust after betrayal.

Article content

  1. What is trust and how does it work
  2. How trust is formed
  3. Where does distrust of people come from?
  4. How to restore trust that has been eroded
  5. FAQ
  6. Expert opinion

What is trust and what is it like

Trust is the belief that a certain person, under certain circumstances, will live up to your expectation. Trust also includes the ability to take risks and adequately assess the consequences if expectations are not met. An important component of this feeling is a sense of psychological security, comfortable contact with the outside world.

In life there is no single criterion of normal trust. Someone trusts others so much that he can leave him in a public place and be sure that he will not be stolen, while someone every minute expects a “trick” from life and even looks for a hidden meaning in a simple friendly question. In each specific situation and each person will have their own evaluation criterion.

Where is it important to trust each other

What causes mistrust

In relationship

Loss of trust between a man and a woman gives rise to jealousy, manipulation, problems in communication and intimate life

In child-parent relationships

Distrust leads to violation of personal space, problems with separation, infantilism, lies and addictions.

In the workplace and in relation to superiors

If you feel distrustful of colleagues, then burnout and overwork will be your frequent companions due to excessive overload from the desire to control everything.

Trust in yourself

An important point at which distrust threatens with a decrease in self-esteem, the development of complexes, embarrassment and self-doubt, poor adaptation to society

In any field, it is important to learn to trust. Interaction between doctor and patient, between student and teacher, between hairdresser and client - wherever we encounter other people, trust facilitates social contact.

The person who distrusts people is nervous, worried, prone to stress, emotional burnout and apathy. He experiences difficulties in almost all areas of life. But most of all suffers career and personal life.

A trusting person, on the contrary, is open, friendly, calm, relaxed.

How trust is built

Pathological mistrust does not just appear out of nowhere. The grounds for doubt, uncertainty and mistrust are complex.

Here is an example mechanism for building trust:

  1. Basic trust is laid in us in infancy. The first few years of a child's life are an important stage in which parents meet all the needs of the child, which means they form a sense of security, orderliness and predictability. It is these feelings that give the child an understanding that the world can be trusted.
    The needs of the child are not only food, drink, clothing, hygiene. Care, affection, acceptance are important elements of the need that form trust.
  2. Growing up, the child pays attention to how parents communicate, how they communicate with acquaintances and strangers, how they declare their desires, whether or not they keep their promises. That is, a child already in adolescence continues to form his trust in the world through the words and actions of his parents.

    Such phrases as: “You can't trust anyone”, “There are only enemies around”, “The world is evil” will form distrust and undermine self-confidence not only in a child, but also in an adult.

    If a person has not learned to trust himself, then no one will trust him either. But the good news is that the skill of trust can be "pumped".

  3. It is important for an adult to take care of himself, to increase his confidence in order to “transmit” this feeling to a child. If a parent is psychologically unstable (shouts, gets nervous, breaks down, constantly expresses his dissatisfaction), then it is difficult for a child to trust this parent, which means that he cannot trust the world.

    If, as an adult, you encounter betrayal or deception from any person, then you will not lose your basic trust (accumulated from childhood), you will draw conclusions and begin to trust this particular person less, and not the whole world and all people.

Important! If, after a deceit, betrayal or other similar situation, you feel distrust of the whole world, then it means that you have had problems for a long time. Remember that trust cannot be destroyed by the actions of one person.

Where does distrust of people come from

There are many reasons for distrust from the point of view of psychology. Most of the situations that breed distrust happened to us in childhood and adolescence. If mom or dad has trust issues, then the child will copy this behavior.

Among these points are:

  • unpredictable parental behavior (what is called "from extreme to extreme" - anger is replaced by mercy, and friendliness - aggression)
  • neglect, criticism, lack of attention, support, interest, indifference from parents
  • absence of the usual daily routine, rituals, traditions, personal space

Here are a few more reasons for incredulity:

  • stressful events in the immediate environment and in the world
  • public influence and propaganda
  • betrayal by a man. Total distrust of a man, as a rule, arises from events such as betrayal, deceit, and abusive relationships.
  • personal qualities and temperament. People who are insecure, timid, and prone to anxiety have more trust issues.

How to restore trust that has been broken

If you realize that you have trust issues, then this is already a big step towards "pumping" this feeling. Learning to trust for someone who has never done it before is like jumping into an abyss, it's scary to take a step, to let go of control, not to think negatively about the future.

  1. Try to remember a situation after which you lost trust in someone. Most likely, this situation stretches from childhood. Mentally forgive your offender. You can write him a letter and tell him how you feel. You do not need to give the letter - tear it up or burn it. The letter will help structure thoughts and “live” the situation.
  2. Remember situations in which others behaved honestly, did not deceive you, and your expectation was fully justified. As a rule, good things are quickly forgotten, but we remember the negative for a long time and carry experiences with us. Good stories from the past will help you see that the world can be trusted.
  3. Talk to a psychologist. Don't be afraid that someone will judge you. All information about you will remain between you and the specialist. For your comfort, you can get advice online without leaving your home.
  4. Talk to your partner or loved ones, discuss your wants and needs, agree to be open about what is important and what you expect from the other. If you are aware of the expectations of others, and they, accordingly, of yours, then misunderstandings can be avoided.

Book an online consultation if you feel you have trust issues. Our psychologists will conduct an individual consultation, during which they will help you develop a plan to restore trust and maintain emotional balance. You can ask for help at any time convenient for you.


I have reason not to trust my partner. I feel change. What to do?


Talk openly with your partner. State your suspicions and see how they react. What does he say to you in response, does he feel guilty, does he leave the conversation, goes into dialogue. Make an appointment with a psychologist, otherwise anxiety and doubt will lead to emotional imbalance.

I open up to people too quickly. I want to learn the opposite. How to be?


Your problem is that you have no personal boundaries. You strive to be accepted, understood, and satisfied with your need for care, which opens up very quickly when someone shows interest in you. Try to set boundaries and change tactics. A psychologist will help you make an accurate plan.

Where does insecurity come from?


This is a consequence of the characteristics of the character, the atmosphere in the family and social pressure on the person. Usually, the lack of self-confidence is associated with a complex of factors - personal traits, strict parents, negative experiences or wrong attitudes.

How do you know when to ask for help?


If you have realized your problem, are trying to solve it on your own, change your behavior, but anxiety, stress and nervous experience remain, then you definitely need to sign up for a consultation with a psychologist.

Expert opinion

Lack of confidence leads to health problems. Psycho-emotional stability is the basis of our interaction in society. If you started the fight with distrust, take your time. Perhaps you will not notice the effect immediately, and distrust will still disturb you at certain moments, but in general, you will notice that life has begun to take on colors, people have become more open to you, and you are no longer afraid of the negative consequences of high expectations.

We publish only verified information

Article author

Monakhova Albina Petrovna clinical psychologist

Experience 17 years

Consultations 1439

Articles 292

Specialist in clinical psychology. Help in finding tools for self-realization, working out beliefs, fears and anxieties. Work with self-attitude, internal boundaries, understanding of interaction with society through conscious personal changes.

  • 2007 - 2008 Children's polyclinic No. 4 - teacher psychologist
  • 2008 - 2009Healthy Country LLC - Clinical Psychologist
  • 2009 - 2021 Republican Narcological Dispensary - psychologist
  • 2012 - 2013 Occupational medicine - psychologist
  • 2013 - 2015 LLC Vozrozhdenie - psychologist
  • 2019 to present Teledoctor24 LLC - psychologist


  1. ... Mikhail Labkovsky "I want and I will: Accept yourself, love life and become happy." Eksmo. 2017
  2. . .. Andrey Kurpatov “The main questions of life. Universal Rules. Capital 2020.
  3. ... Robin Norwood Women Who Love Too Much0048


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