How do I learn to trust myself/my partner?
February 11, 2009 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Relationship over-analyzers: how did you get over the need to worry about your relationship so much?

I'm a mid to late twenties male who has a very extensive dating history, with relationships varying from three months to three years. I have dated an absolutely wonderful girl for six months and things are amazing. That said, I have a few personal issues I want to address because I feel they would put my own mind at ease.

First, I have had a long history of infidelity in relationships; I realize that one of the reasons I did this was the need to serially date; dating people who I had an infatuation with but who I didn't necessarily want to be with long-term. I'd meet someone else, become infatuated and start dating them instead. In short, I misrepresented my intentions to them and to myself. While I think I've gotten over that, I still fantasize about being with other people, despite being incredibly happy in my own relationship. Does the idealistic look at greener grass ever go away or do you just continually rationalize your decision to be with your partner?

Second, I have issues with over-analyzing (obviously). I realize this is likely to do with feelings of inadequacy but how does one deal with it on a day to day basis? I love this girl and definitely see her as the person I want to be with, but I worry that she doesn't feel the same way. She tells me she does and I want to believe it as the truth. I've never had my trust broken before so I find it odd that I would have trust issues (I think it has to do with my own ability to seem like one person and turn out to be another). Do I have to forgive myself for my own discretions before I can let myself believe she's really committed to me? How could I go about that?

If anyone could point me to resources (books, theorists, etc.) that might help me, I'd appreciate it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my (anecdotal, not empirical) experience, people that consistently break trust have a hard time trusting. You are going to have to gut your way through this. It should get easier with time.

I love my wife dearly. I look forward to spending time with her when I we are apart. But it is still a choice to remain with her. Relationships, no matter how wonderful, have down times. You have to choose to stay. That isn't rationalization, that is a grown up relationship.

At the end of the movie High Fidelity, John Cusack's character gives a speech to a woman. The basis of the speech is that the grass isn't always greener. You should watch it. I know it might not sound like "hard core" serious advice or what have you, but he is able to encapsulate some sage wisdom in a few minutes.

You might consider therapy as well. I don't expect that there is anything really wrong for you, but it is tough to find someone impartial to listen to in other places.
posted by Silvertree at 11:47 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Or, if you prefer not to watch the whole movie, here is a link of the scene in question, while it lasts.
posted by Silvertree at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2009

Does the idealistic look at greener grass ever go away or do you just continually rationalize your decision to be with your partner?

You can rationalize it away in several ways. Great men are always philanderers... or whatever. I know the feeling and I've found it is something that passes with age. It also helps if you do happen to find a woman who keeps you on your toes, who has goals and the like... sometimes that will help put your own future into perspective and you have to decide then that you can keep getting new strange and die alone, or you can grow up a little and commit.

Also, you're forever locking yourself into dating 20-somethings, fine when you're not showing your age, but increasingly difficult as you get older. Single women in their 30s and beyond will usually be able to see through your bullshit.

I think it was Jack Nicholson who said a few years back that it wasn't until he was in his 60s that he realized running around with a 25-year-old was tacky. You're not Jack Nicholson, btw.

Do I have to forgive myself for my own discretions before I can let myself believe she's really committed to me? How could I go about that?

This is a common feeling. And you're going to feel this way to some degree or another probably until you're married. At least that's what I've decided for myself.

I don't know what you can do other than recognize it for what it is: a type of self-doubt. You can't know what someone else is thinking, you just have to take them at their word and go on with the life.

The thing you shouldn't do is admit to any past infidelity. It serves no purpose other than to expunge you of your guilt and hurt the person you say you love. Suck it up, try to do better, and move forward in life.

It's easier said than done, but that's what works for me.
posted by wfrgms at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2009

She dumped me. Whatever issues with the relationship I may have been worrying about were pretty much resolved.
posted by valkyryn at 12:02 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Does the idealistic look at greener grass ever go away

Yeah. It really does.

You'll still fantasize, sure, but you get better at realizing that they're just fantasies: that in real life a change would just be exchanging one set of problems in your current relationship (which by now are mostly smoothed over anyway) for a different set (which will still be jagged and new).

Also, people your own age will start to have more and more baggage to deal with (as will you) which makes starting over with one of them that much more difficult.

And people significantly younger than you will still look hot and all, but then they'll open their mouths and sound terribly immature and dull and like someone you don't have much in common with. And not too long after that they won't even look that attractive anymore, they'll just look like kids.
posted by ook at 12:14 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wait, valkyryn, are you the anon OP, or are you just answering the OP's question somehow?
posted by fructose at 12:17 PM on February 11, 2009

This poem by Rudyard Kipling is really a catch-all for guidance with these situations.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

Find it here.
posted by pwally at 12:19 PM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

I think the feelings of inadequacy and history of infidelity might be related. The New One doesn't know the Real You, so you can shine on and get the good feeling of initial mutual adoration.

It's unclear whether you've cheated on your current partner. This quiz might point out some areas of your thinking/emotions/whatever to work on.

I've never had my trust broken before

I find this hard to believe. Are you being general or specific? It could be that some unrelated thing broke your trust. That's the kind of thing that counseling could work out.

If you're not into that, well, all I've got is the concept of selfhood in relationships. If you're more confident in yourself, that you deserve to be loved and valued, then you're more likely to not keep looking for constant validation from other people.

Put another way: you've got needs that are not being met, and you're trying to get them met in destructive ways. You'll need to find those needs, then fill them in constructive ways.

It's possible you could just start writing this out, to yourself. Even better, share it with the girlfriend. It's risky, but all change is risk.
posted by lysdexic at 7:08 PM on February 11, 2009

Valkyryn, I'm so sorry to hear that! Guess your gut was right. Force be with you.
posted by big open mouth at 9:14 PM on February 11, 2009

My condolences to you...however I wish you wouldnt have told people to forget about this question.....I too have some of the issues you outlined here and would have benefitted from the responses. what I do now is that I trust myself that i am old enough to know and do better......and when it comes to the feeling that the other person doesnt love you as much? Unless you are usually a paranoid person I would take it for what they are and start working and what made her like me in the first place...that is usually me being a funny, easy going guy who at the same time cant be stepped for you that means just be yourself (the same self she was attracted to) and hope that is enough for her to stay around.
posted by The1andonly at 8:52 AM on February 12, 2009

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