Ask Erin: My Girlfriend Doesn't Trust Me Because Of My Past

Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez

Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez

She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.


Q.

Hi Erin,

My girlfriend doesn’t trust me because of my past.

So I slept with a married man. I knew he was married. He kept pursuing me. I kept turning him down. Then one night, I decided to try it out with him. 

That was well over a year ago. Now I’m in a relationship, and my partner does not trust me. 

She says it’s because of the choices I made in the past. But I have not given her any reason not to trust me now. 

Is there something I can do to change how she feels about me?

 

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A.

Trust is essential for a healthy partnership. 

Certainly, trust is earned, but I believe that trust also requires a leap of faith.

Even the ones we know best, the ones who love us, are capable of letting us down, are capable of breaking that trust. That’s where that leap of faith comes in. 

We all come into relationships with lived experiences. Maybe we regret some of them. But what can you do now, other than learn and grow? 

For this relationship to work, your partner is going to have to accept your past because there is nothing you can do to change it. 

I have been in relationships with partners who didn’t trust me, sometimes, often with good reason. And it makes it difficult to have any semblance of a healthy relationship. 

In reverse, I have been the one who couldn’t trust, even when there was no reason for me not to trust. Why? Because I didn’t trust myself. 

When we don’t have self-trust, it makes it near impossible to trust anyone else.

It sounds like this is going on with your partner. Your past makes her nervous. It triggers the underlying fears there that you will hurt her. Particularly when we’ve had past trauma, anything resembling a red flag can set our brains to work, protecting us from getting hurt again. 

Now you’ve asked if there’s something you can do to change how she feels? 

Truthfully, I don’t know. What you can do is ask her. And ask her if there is anything you’re doing now that sets off that trigger. Maybe it’s something she would be willing to address and work on in therapy. 

If she is unable to move beyond your past, I don’t think this relationship will work. I think you’ll find yourself having the same circular arguments over and over. Have an open conversation with her and see if she is willing to move past this.


The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watchingwhat I’m readingDravite Tourmaline, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me: askerin@ravishly.com. As always, your anonymity is golden. 

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