10 subtle signs your partner has trust issues, according to psychology

Trust is the bedrock for intimacy, vulnerability, and deep connection in romantic relationships.

However, not everyone finds it easy to let their guard down and place their trust in others. 

Trust issues typically become more apparent as a relationship progresses. But if you’re observant, you may notice your partner’s fears and insecurities from day one.

If you feel your partner is holding back, look out for these ten subtle signs that psychological research has linked to trust issues.

1) They seek constant reassurance

Even if your partner is trying to hide their trust issues, one sign you’ll still likely notice is their constant need for reassurance.

This could manifest as:

  • Frequently telling you they love you, hoping to hear it back
  • Asking whether you love them or if you’re still interested in them, particularly after an argument
  • Seeking validation about their looks or abilities, such as always asking if their hair or outfit looks good

This behavior stems from underlying insecurities and fear of betrayal. 

Psychological research suggests that seeking reassurance can be a coping mechanism used to alleviate anxiety and uncertainty in relationships.

However, research has also found that excessive reassurance-seeking can strain the relationship and hinder its growth.

For example…

In this 2019 study, researchers from Suffolk University, USA, found that reassurance-seeking negatively impacts the partner’s feelings and can lead to relationship deterioration.

2) They always want to know your whereabouts

Another common yet subtle sign of trust issues in a partner is constantly needing to know your whereabouts. 

Many people don’t see this red flag as they assume their partner is asking because they care about their safety.

While this may be true, there is a fine line between wanting to know you’re safe and tracking your every move.

For example…

If your partner is the former, they may ask you to text them when you get home so they know you arrived safely.

But if they want to know your whereabouts due to trust issues, they will constantly text you throughout the day asking:

  • Where you are
  • What you’re doing
  • Who you’re with

Research supports that this behavior often stems from underlying trust issues and a fear of losing the relationship.

According to the well-known psychological concept of attachment theory, people with insecure attachment styles are more likely to exhibit controlling behaviors like this in relationships.

Insecure attachment often stems from negative experiences during childhood. However, betrayal in past relationships can also cause it, which brings me to the next sign of trust issues…

3) They’ve experienced betrayal in the past

Research suggests that unresolved past traumas, including betrayal, can lead to trust issues and attachment insecurities in future romantic relationships.

So, if you know your partner has experienced betrayal before, and you notice other signs from this list, this is a clear indicator that they have trust issues.

Often, when someone has trust issues due to past betrayal, they will worry that you will betray them in the same way as their ex.

So if their ex cheated on them, they will likely display controlling or intrusive behaviors to try to prevent you from doing it, such as the following…

4) They want to go everywhere with you

Of course, spending lots of quality time together is an essential component of any happy and successful relationship.

But…

There is such a thing as spending too much time together.

If your partner has trust issues, they might insist on accompanying you everywhere.

They will often make the behavior look harmless. For example, they might invite themselves to lunch with your friends because ‘they have nothing else to do.’ 

But in reality, they want to come as it helps alleviate their fears of abandonment or betrayal. 

If they are with you every time you go out, they can ensure no one else tries to chat you up and, thus, ‘steal’ you from them.

However, according to Mandy Higginbotham, owner of Ezra Counseling, being comfortable spending time apart is the hallmark of a healthy relationship.

A sense of independence in a relationship is also essential for mental health. Doing things separately lets you focus on your needs and build your personal identity.

Psychological research also suggests that co-dependency and excessive closeness can arise from underlying trust issues and attachment insecurities.

5) You’ve caught them snooping

pic2331 10 subtle signs your partner has trust issues, according to psychology

A well-known sign of a lack of trust is if your partner checks your phone while you’re not around.

However, this type of behavior often starts more subtly.

Typically, before you catch them going through your phone, you might notice them looking over your shoulder whenever you’re texting or on social media. 

They might even develop the habit of approaching or walking behind you whenever you’re on your phone. Sometimes, they will disguise it by giving you affection, like a hug, to hide their true intentions.

But regardless of how subtle this behavior is, it shows a lack of respect for your privacy.

Studies show that snooping behavior is also associated with low trust and intimacy in relationships.

Additionally, this research highlights the detrimental effects of privacy invasion, leading to emotional instability, conflict, and an increased likelihood of breaking up.

Let’s explore one of those things in more detail – conflict…

6) They pick fights over trivial matters

Conflict is a normal part of any relationship; to a certain degree, it can be healthy.

However…

If your partner does not trust you, they will likely start fights over every minor little thing.

If their lack of trust is so severe that they believe you are cheating on them or intend to cheat, they will give you the third degree.

Their questioning will come across as very intrusive, and if you refuse to answer them, they will kick off.

They do this to get information from you that will put their nerves at ease and diffuse their fears.

However, a deeper reason for this behavior is to create distance between you and them, thus avoiding vulnerability. 

Here’s another sign that they are trying to avoid vulnerability due to trust issues…

7) They struggle to open up to you

Difficulty opening up (emotionally) is a common yet subtle sign of trust issues. 

If your partner feels unable to trust you, they will likely fear vulnerability and intimacy, leading them to withhold their thoughts and feelings from you. 

So you might notice they are not in a good mood, but when you ask them about it, they claim they are fine.

They will refuse to tell you what’s happening with them, acting withdrawn or guarded.

However, research shows that having vulnerable conversations with your partner builds trust and intimacy, making this a catch-22 situation.

They avoid opening up to you out of lack of trust, but opening up is exactly what will help them get over their trust issues.

Moreover, if your partner struggles to open up with you, your conversations may lack depth…

8) Your conversations don’t go beyond surface level

Have you and your partner been together for a while, and you’ve realized this…

Your partner knows everything about your past and personal life, but you know little about theirs.

In relationships affected by trust issues, shallow conversations and a lack of emotional depth are common. 

If your partner doesn’t fully trust you, they may avoid discussing personal topics or sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings. 

Again, this comes down to the fear of vulnerability. 

They are terrified they will put their heart on the line, and you will respond by ridiculing, betraying, or leaving them.

9) They hold grudges

If your partner struggles to open up, you likely never resolve your conflicts.

Instead, perhaps your arguments end because someone gives in or you get tired of fighting.

However, because of this poor conflict resolution, there may be grudges held between you both.

All psychologists and relationship experts agree that forgiveness is essential for maintaining healthy relationships and rebuilding trust after conflicts.

But people who don’t trust their partners often struggle to forgive and forget past hurts. 

Holding grudges is a defense mechanism that people with trust issues use to protect themselves from potential harm or betrayal. 

However, holding grudges leads to resentment and bitterness, making it harder to build trust.

10) They don’t like discussing the future

Lastly, I wanted to mention this very subtle sign of trust issues.

A lack of willingness to discuss the relationship’s future screams commitment issues.

Psychology suggests that fear of commitment is rooted in past experiences of betrayal or abandonment.

It is often described as a fearful-avoidant attachment, where someone desires a close relationship but fears getting too intimate. 

So, if your partner acts uncomfortable when you try to make plans with them, it may not be that they don’t want to be with you. 

Instead, they might be struggling to put their trust in the relationship.

Final thoughts

So what should you do if you notice these signs in your partner?

Firstly, it’s important to remember that you can only help your partner overcome their trust issues once they recognize the problem themselves.

If your partner is willing to work on things, seeking professional help, such as couples therapy, can help you build a stronger, more trusting relationship.

Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space. I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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