DEAR SANDRA: The Advice Column

November 20, 2002

Hi Sandra.
I am very excited for you to achieve your future goals. I have a question though…I am having some major relationship problems in the area of trust. My father cheated on my mother and I’ve been cheated on before. I am having trouble trusting my current boyfriend for that reason. As a result, he has decided that it would be best if we take a break from each other. I am very desperate to find some books that might help me overcome this fear. Do you have any suggestions? I am in the Bachelor of Commerce program at AU and I’ve taken some psychology courses. If you have any suggestions I would really appreciate them.
Thank you for your time and good luck in the future.
Untrusting and Alone

Dear Untrusting;
Going through a childhood where cheating on a loved one was witnessed and then going through it yourself, by being cheated on, is going to give you some real trust issues. It will be difficult for you to trust someone in an intimate relationship because you have been led to expect that it is a normal in relationships for someone to cheat on his or her partner.

You probably acted the way you did to prevent yourself from getting hurt because you expected him to be dishonest anyways and you wanted to have control over the downfall of the relationship. It would be easier to know why he was dishonest or leaving you, because you treated him horribly, rather than to treat him lovingly and then have him cheat on you or leave you without knowing why. Not to say how you acted was appropriate, it’s just understandable considering your past.

Trusting someone is always a big risk, you might get hurt, and you might not. The two worst mistakes you can make in a relationship are dwelling in the past, assuming that your current partner will recreate the mistakes of a previous partner, and imagining or convincing yourself that your new partner will do something to destroy your trust in him or her and end up hurting you.

You have some serious trust issues to deal with and sessions with a psychologist will probably help you come to term with those feelings and hopefully once you have, you will be able to have a healthy productive relationship.

An easy way to get started right away on the path to getting over this or at least alleviating it somewhat is to write it all down. Have you tried journaling? It’s a wonderful release, and if you think about this it is what a psychologist will be doing with you, getting you to release your feelings. Just start writing the first thoughts that come to your head: who cares if it’s nonsense, write what you feel, you are the only one who has to read it.

I am a firm believer in the mantra “everything happens for a reason” though it’s hard to deal with the pain now, tomorrow is another day and this experience will probably benefit you more in the future than it is hindering you now. Maybe some time away from your boyfriend for you to deal with your trust issues and learn to be productive rather than destructive in relationships may help save your relationship, but your relationship may not have been meant to be and you need to move forward.

I wish you all the best; please keep me informed on how you are doing.

Here are some really good books to try reading to help you with your trust issues:
Romantic Jealousy: Causes, Symptoms, Cures. By Ayala Malach Pines, Ayala Malakh-Pines
If This is Love, Why Do I Feel So Insecure? By Carl G. Hindy
Trusting You Are Loved – Practices for Partnership. By Lewis Epstein, et al.
The Art of Trust: Healing Your Heart and Opening Your Mind. By Lee L. Jampolsky, Lee, Ph.D. Jampolsky
The Relationship Rescue Workbook. By Dr. Phil McGraw (YES, the guy with the T.V. show)
Broken Promises, Mended Hearts: Maintaining Trust in Love Relationships By Joel D. Block

Thanks to everyone for your letters and encouragement. Keep those letters coming, no question is unanswerable and confidentiality is assured.


This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of