Dear Red: My Girlfriend is Insecure

Dear Red,

I really care about my girlfriend and would do anything for her. Whenever we're together we have an amazing time. The problem is that she has trust issues and has become phobic of our relationship. Any advice for what I should do?

Sincerely,

Trying to Help

Dear Trying to Help,

Hm, well...trust issues are always tough, because they (usually) have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the person who is experiencing those issues.

(This is true amongst both men and women, though I'll be using "she" here since you asked about your girlfriend. I will also assume in the context of this advice that she has been struggling with these issues before the two of you got together, and this isn't "new" to you or because of a specific situation in your own relationship. I also won't be giving advice or steps for how she personally can learn to heal from these issues, because that is a post for another day.)

Anyway, even though her trust issues are her issues, this is not to say that you can't be supportive in her journey toward healing. At the end of the day, however, aside from her own measures that she's (hopefully) taking to work on her trust, there's not really anything you can do about it except continue be a good person toward her.

So what does "support" mean? (Because--side note--it's not a partner's responsibility to fix another partner.)

Well, I'd start first by encouraging her to talk through her issues as much as she can. She may need to learn to articulate why she has issues with trust. Was it because of past relationships? Bad experiences? Etc?

Second, your support also means that you will be careful to not overcompensate and give her a false sense of security by compromising your own boundaries.

So, for example, if she says things like, "It would really help me feel more secure if you let me check your email," or, "I think it would be helpful to me to know how I compare to your past girlfriends,"* realize that this is a pretty bad attempt for her to feel like she's regaining control over her issues.

In reality, trust is active, not passive, so she has to re-train herself to actively trust without feeling like she must have control over every little detail of your life.

All that to say, talk to her, encourage her to talk to you, be supportive...and then let it go. If she chooses to open up to you and to begin to trust you, awesome. Otherwise, remember that it's her issue and not yours, and she may need to seek professional help to work through things.

Easier said than done, I know. :)

Sincerely,

Red

*These are real statements I have heard people say who are working through issues of trust. I think there's an erroneous idea when first trying to regain control that MORE information will help a person feel more secure. In reality, he/she has to learn how to still actively trust while knowing the SAME AMOUNT of information that anyone else would know in that situation.

Have a question you'd like some no-nonsense, lady-balls-to-the-wall advice like the kind your best friend would give? Then contact me here!