My gender's reputation precedes me
March 16, 2010 10:56 PM   Subscribe

How do I make her trust me and save the relationship?

I'll start by saying Im not sure she's my gf anymore, as she removed her relationship status on facebook, and put me in some limited access group so I can't see photos and other details.

Things were going so great until this past weekend at her best friends bachelor/bachelorette part, where the groom to be went out afterwards and spent $2k at a strip club and was missing for several hours. He fucked up, and their wedding is off, but it greatly affected my gf, who already has serious trust issues (found out about extensive cheating late into a 7 year relationship, ended 2 years ago). She told me she was having bad thoughts on Monday and we talked about it, but talking about it only seemed to make things worse. The call ended with her saying frantically 'I just don't trust you' and hanging up. She also said she needed time and I'm going to give that to her, but its killing me.

I just don't get what happened. We had an otherwise great weekend and she told me more than once how she appreciated how good I was to her. And I am really good to her. The only thing I've ever done to make her mistrust me is that I once drunkenly hugged a waitress 3 times while we were out at a bar with a couple she is friends with. I also told her I was once 'the other guy' but have never actually cheated on someone I've dated. How can I show her she is overreacting to the red flags about me in her mind?

Before she called I was so happy about things. Life in general and especially with her, and this just came out of the blue. Negative thoughts just creeped in and took hold of her thinking. I know she's going to be on edge about her friends engagement ending so terribly but I can't help to think she's breaking up with me for the wrong reason. I want to love her, give her time, and give this relationship a chance, but how do I maintain my feelings for her through this without resenting what she's putting me through? This is causing me such grief I'm afraid its going to make things irreparable. I'm in this state of limbo because of her petty facebook bs and I at least want to address that, but at the same time I promised her I'd give her some time. Would it be a good idea to confront her about that since its eating at me so much? Or should I just wait it out?
posted by anonop to Human Relations (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder what the 'talking about it' entailed? If there was ANY sign that you were even slightly incredulous or dismissive of the fiancee's/your girlfriend's concerns, or in general trying to explain the situation to its best advantage for the guy. By possibly not being vehement enough in judging the situation as she obviously has, might reignite trauma that men are not to be trusted. [Not saying this happened, but that is what she might have felt? In my experience, men can assume these bachelor night shenanigans are fair play and no big deal.] In that situation, feeling safe for her might have needed an unequivocal 'what an asshole' judgment. Not saying it's right but given her history, she may have really needed to see you take a strident stand.

Her panic doesn't sound like something you can rationally discuss with her - the FB behaviour illustrates how archaic this pain is for her. Give her time. Don't see other people or give her reason to panic about you. Ignore FB, and maybe do the old-fashioned snail mail thing reassuring her that the behaviour she witnessed on the weekend is not all blokes, and you would NEVER do that to her. Take a strong stand on the events to help her feel that you are absolutely on her 'side'.
posted by honey-barbara at 11:16 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hold your center. Be there for her in an open and loving way, but don't obsess.Resist the temptation to spin out in your own feelings. That's what she's doing. One freaking out person at a time is enough. Show her who you truly are by staying calm and grounded. Get outside. See friends. Do things that make you feel peaceful. You can't "make" her trust you so stop trying.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:16 PM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

You promised her time. Keep that promise. This will increase her estimation of your trustworthiness. If you were not part of the 2K party, all the better for you. If you were, things may be irretrievable. Be kind and gentle, and perhaps the shock of what happened to her friend will settle down. Best of luck to you.
posted by scottymac at 11:19 PM on March 16, 2010

I don't want to dump on you for what could simply be infelicitous word choice, but it jumped out at me in your title as a possible sign that you're thinking about this the wrong way.

You can't "make" anybody trust you. That's up to her, and may not even be within her rational control at this point. All that is up to you is to behave in ways that demonstrate trustworthiness. For help on this, listen to the other posters.

Also, your previous history in this account suggests that you don't fully trust her and are somewhat controlling. I think that trust, like respect, needs to be reciprocated in a relationship. So - to turn your question around - what could she do to make you trust her?
posted by Metasyntactic at 11:39 PM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hugging the waitress once: OK. Hugging the waitress twice: drunk. Hugging the waitress three times: untrustworthy.

You can't make someone trust you. You can simply be trustworthy and she'll see it or she won't. I'd chalk this one up to experience and move on.

And don't hug waitresses. They may smile and flirt and wink at you, but I guarantee they fucking hate that shit.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:40 PM on March 16, 2010 [19 favorites]

This is her issue and you need to let her own it completely. Give her the time she requested.

If you get back together, then you should talk about how she choices and how you felt. I'm not sure I'd be willing to be in a long-term relationship with someone who held me responsible for someone else's behavior. What's next, is she going to break up with you over what a male character does in a romance novel or tv show?

Her choices hurt you. That's a legitimate problem to address before you can resume a relationship.
posted by 26.2 at 11:43 PM on March 16, 2010

She's grasping the wrong end of the stick. It's not that she doesn't trust you, it's that she doesn't trust herself to trust you.

Give her time. But also make her explain and understand that this is an issue she is going to have to work through if she wants a warm, loving, trusting relationship in her life.

Trust is a two-way thing. Don't let her make you carry the trust burden for both of you.
posted by doost at 12:15 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You present yourself as being open, communicative, supportive, and trustworthy, and I'm going to assume that's the case. If you are all that, and it's not enough, then the problem is with her and there's nothing you can do.

Honestly, reading through this, the power dynamic between the two of you seems very much off. Saying "I don't trust you" at the beginning of a conversation is one thing; saying it just before hanging up is another thing entirely and puts you in an impossible position.

Based on the information you've provided, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that something happened over the weekend which might very well have nothing to do with any of this, and is just not something that she is willing to talk about with you right now. Why would she remove her relationship status and put you in a limited-access group? What does she not want you to see? If nothing else, for her to do these things without talking with you directly about it is a sign of immaturity, or a lack of respect for you, or both. If you're as supportive and honest as you seem, I suspect you can find someone who treats you better than that.
posted by dacoit at 1:03 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

How can I show her she is overreacting to the red flags about me in her mind?

The problem is that if someone doesn't trust you, anything you deliberately show them is automatically suspect. So, I don't think you can fix this by showing/telling her something.

She told me she was having bad thoughts on Monday and we talked about it, but talking about it only seemed to make things worse. The call ended with her saying frantically 'I just don't trust you' and hanging up.

Could you go into more detail about what was said in the conversation? It's hard to guess what made it take a wrong turn without more information.

One possible scenario in my mind is that she told you what her bad thoughts were, and you were spending a lot of time trying to convince her that they/she were wrong, irrational, silly, etc.

If so, this probably backfired because of the whole if-you-dont-trust-someone-what-they-say-is-suspect problem. Also, she might have just been trying to express to you how she felt, and felt like arguing meant you weren't listening. If so, that might be why she just hung up after blurting out that she didn't trust you, instead of trying to talk about it. She might have felt like it was futile.

Since you say you want to give the relationship a chance, I'm not going to pass judgment on that. My advice is:

Ask her to talk again about what her bad thoughts are and why she doesn't trust you, what (if any) reasons there are in addition to the waitress episode. This time, don't try to defend yourself, argue against her thoughts, convince her of anything, etc. Even if she says something you think is totally off the wall and wrong.

It's not that you have to pretend she's right or anything like that. Or it's okay for her to just paint you as the bad guy when that's not fair. It's just that this conversation is only about figuring out what is going on inside her head. You can't solve the problem until you know what it really is, so you need her to feel like she can communicate with you. And I think she'll find it easier to communicate with her if you just hear her out, without doing anything else.

When she is done telling you all her bad thoughts and the reasons for her lack of trust, just ask her in a non-pressure way what she would need from you in order to trust you. What she would need you to do or not do, etc.

That doesn't mean you automatically have to do those things. But at least then you will know what they are instead of grasping in the dark. You can decide for yourself if you think they are reasonable to do or not.

If you are able to bring up the Facebook thing non-confrontationally, I think you could do it at that point. However, I don't think it would be a good idea to use the phrase "petty facebook bs" (not that you necessarily would.) You may feel really cheesy to do this, but I think it might help for you to tell her how you feel and use "when you __, I __" statements --- "I have to tell you about something that made me upset. When you wouldn't talk to me and suddenly changed your relationship status, I ___"
posted by Ashley801 at 1:41 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

"this just came out of the blue"

Maybe it's that time of the month. If she has PMDD, that combined with the infidelity trigger may have been enough to drive her (temporarily) over the edge.

Wait see how she is in a week or so.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:58 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

What might impress her is if you actually learn about infidelity through a few books like:

You say you were the other guy once.

How about analyzing that?

You may learn something about yourself and relationships.

Your past behavior seems inconsistent with loving her.
posted by simpleton at 4:12 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Would it be a good idea to confront her about that since its eating at me so much?

It would be a good idea to confront yourself about why her problem is eating you up so much.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 AM on March 17, 2010

but how do I maintain my feelings for her through this without resenting what she's putting me through?
This is a part of love, my friend. Keep after her, but don't bother her. Let her know you will be there. Reach out to her in little ways, like sending her flowers, sending her a nice card in the mail telling her that you are there for her and that you love her, etc. Call her once in a while to see if she's up for coffee or a movie. Low-pressure but being a comforting presence is key. If she doesn't respond within the amount of time that you can't take it anymore, then consider letting her go.
posted by bunny hugger at 6:10 AM on March 17, 2010

I'd communicate to her, fine, you don't trust, me, goodbye.

Because if she doesn't trust you, or won't trust you, you have no relationship.

Go find someone who will.

And don't play these silly games.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:11 AM on March 17, 2010 [8 favorites]

I just checked your other question...dude, for heaven's sake, go find someone else.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:14 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Expanding on what honey-barbara said: If you didn't immediately come out vehemently against the bachelor's behavior, then that fact combined with your past history of once being the "other guy" would make me not trust you also. Not saying this is right or wrong, but for me, if you're not of the "Cheating is never acceptable" school of thought, then in my mind you're likely to do it.

It sounds like she's of a similar mindset. I don't know that there's much you can do about it other than give her time, and maybe try to work into the conversation that you are also of the "it's never acceptable" mindset.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:24 AM on March 17, 2010

I just wanted to bring this up, as far as the future of your relationship is going to go: this person has serious trust issues and pretty significant reactions to them. Hopefully you two will get over this particular event, but this is almost assuredly not the last time her trust issues will manifest themselves. Are you willing to deal with that? She will, even while (hopefully! actively!) working through these issues, at some point in the future, again take her trust issues out on you and the relationship you two are trying to build.

If she's not willing to actively work on them after this is over (and an appropriate amount of time has passed)? Bail. You don't need a person who will subject herself and you to this.
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on March 17, 2010

The only thing I've ever done to make her mistrust me is that I once drunkenly hugged a waitress 3 times while we were out at a bar with a couple she is friends with.

That'll do it. She's probably embarrassed for her friend and remembering how humiliating it was to be cheated on herself, and doesn't want to bother going through that again. So you kind of failed, and the groom's behavior reinforced to her the idea that men can't be trusted. She wants to cut her losses before you mess around on her.
posted by anniecat at 6:56 AM on March 17, 2010


You hugged a waitress (even if it was a 100X it was a damn hug) and she is going to punish you for this forever? Somebody else cheats on their boyfriend and YOU get punished for this. I think the dynamics in this relationship are just plain wrong and none of them are in YOUR favor. I like the fact that you are understanding and willing to help her work things out but please understand that this has NOTHING to do with YOU. She has trust issues and you cant do anything to fix them and if you do something you are only going be acting suspicious.....

Take any amount of time YOU see reasonable...yes be understanding but do not let her WALK over you (her blocking you on facebook is NOT cool, if anything she should have taken you out of her friend's list altogether)....Be the best person you can be and if this person still wants you to change then get the hell out of there.....
posted by The1andonly at 7:21 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

It seems like you've gotten a lot of responses, so I hope you've found the help you want. I apologize in advance if the following is a little harsh....

I must admit that I refrained from getting very involved with your issue because you led your question with 'How do I make her....' Seems to me that if you expect to be able to make someone trust you that your cause is already a lost one. If your goal is to manipulate a situation into forcing someone to feel a certain way about you then you need to rethink things in my opinion. If you feel you are a victim of gender bias you are only reinforcing that stereotype by ignoring her natural feelings in an effort to develop a plan to make her feel the way you want her to.

I wish you luck, apologize for my quick to judge response, and hope what I've said makes you rethink your tact.
posted by Gainesvillain at 8:15 AM on March 17, 2010

Dude, there is no realistic way this is going to work out for you in the long run (a lifelong happy relationship that is good for both of you).

Cut your losses right now and don't look back.

posted by BobbyDigital at 8:45 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Your girlfriend seems, based on your other question, all over the place about this relationship to begin with, your control issues don't help, and she is hardly the most trustworthy person herself. Honestly, I think your relationship is really problematical, but the best advice I can give you is to give her the time she has asked for. Maybe she will come back more centered, or explain to you why she suddenly lost faith.

Oh, and ignore Jacqueline's "Hey, maybe it is her time of the month," answer. That is seriously messed up, sexist thinking. Flagged.
posted by misha at 9:03 AM on March 17, 2010

I haven't seen the other question so I'll just answer here about this one.

Give her the space and time she agreed to. You can't 'make' her trust you, and it depends how much you care about her and want to work on the relationship. I had trust issues BIG TIME, and Mr. M. just let me work through them. Every once in a while, the most he would ever say, very, very quietly, was "Just let me know how much longer we have to be together for this to stop being an issue" and the point would be made.

It is no longer an issue.

However, his behavior has always, always been completely above reproach.

You can be impatient and abandon people when they have issues that are inconvenient for you to deal with, of course. But good luck finding that perfect person.

Disclaimer: she really may be immature and need to do her own work before she's ready to be in relationship with someone else.
posted by micawber at 9:22 AM on March 17, 2010

I'd be willing to bet money that she's cheating or thinking of cheating on you. Her actions make no sense. Best case scenario is that she's terribly irrational. Either way, get out.
posted by spaltavian at 10:17 AM on March 17, 2010

I just checked your other question...dude, for heaven's sake, go find someone else.

what other question?
posted by pinky at 10:20 AM on March 17, 2010

Check his comment. He commented on his own anonymous thread.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:25 AM on March 17, 2010

(And outed himself there, so I see no problem in mentioning it.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2010

I came back to add that you may be "the guy before the guy".

Lots of people need to work out issues of trust or anger or whatever. Unfortunately, you can be the person who helps her through all that and it can still not work out for the two of you. By the time you work past the lack of trust, past behaviors have already destroyed your chance at a long-term bond. Your relationship is collateral damage on her path to a happy relationship. The next guy is the one that sticks as a long-term partner. This sucks, but it happens.

I mention this so you know you have two issues: can you get past the trust issue AND can you do that in time to save this relationship.
posted by 26.2 at 10:48 AM on March 17, 2010

Find out what happened at the party.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2010

I'd be willing to bet money that she's cheating or thinking of cheating on you. Her actions make no sense. Best case scenario is that she's terribly irrational. Either way, get out.

Hence, find out what happened at the party. Something that happened there really upset her. You need to know what it is.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:49 PM on March 17, 2010

Are you willing to be her whipping boy every time another man fucks up? If not, run as fast as you can and don't look back.

As many others have said above, you can't make her trust you. She has trust issues that she has to solve herself.

Hugging the waitress was stupid, but if you owned it and apologized for it, that should be the end of the story. The fact that you even bring it up suggests that she is still beating you up for it.

The question for you is do you want to put up with this irrational behavior every time another man cheats on his wife/girlfriend. I would strongly recommend that you not put yourself in this position.
posted by cjets at 12:55 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just read your other question. This woman doesnt trust you but does not seem trustworthy herself......Man, all the signs are pointing to it......get the hell out of there, she just gave you a clean break to do that......
posted by The1andonly at 1:42 PM on March 17, 2010

Two things -

1) Facebook is not life.

2) When a girl tells you she's "having bad thoughts" and wants to talk with you about them, leave her; she's nuts.

Go find someone who lives in the real world, not Facebook or the shadowy closet of their "bad thoughts".
posted by Pecinpah at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2010

we talked about it, but talking about it only seemed to make things worse
I also wonder what happened there. Could be you, or her, or the both of you. Anyway.

Several years ago, maybe I would have had similar behaviours. That was when I was extremely insecure, didn’t trust men because they all cheated and were all out to hurt me (in other words, I had a BIG victim mentality), and had no idea how to have a relationship or communicate. So that’s potentially what you’re dealing with. In which case, there really is nothing you can do about that and she’s just got to work her own shit out.

So I think you have to be clear with her that what she’s doing is not cool i.e. shutting you out, running away, not communicating, and not being honest. Just tell her how you feel about her and that you want to stay together. Don’t say things like, “But things were so great! I was so happy! I don’t understand what happened! You said I was good for you! etc.” And just be clear about wanting to know if she’s breaking up with you. If she says yes, then say ok and accept it, and walk away. Hard, I know. It’s possible that she might come back in a similar fashion as she left (i.e. drama-filled) or maybe in a calm manner. If she does, you have to be clear about what happened and talk about it before you get back together. You can’t just go back to how you were before; the same thing will happen again if you don’t deal with it.

In the meantime, ignore FB.
posted by foxjacket at 6:27 PM on March 17, 2010

Thank you all so much for the answers. Fortunately it did not take her more than another day and a half to get over her panic and admitted it was due largely to the shock over what happened the weekend before. We had a long constructive talk about things and we're doing well, having agreed to work on the overall trust issue. I was sure to tell her how troubled I was over the whole thing, for which she apologized, but I do think the incident has raised her level of trust in me. Wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Thanks again.
posted by anonop at 7:41 PM on March 20, 2010

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