Overcoming Trust Issues When You Have PTSD
After going through a traumatic experience, it can be difficult to trust people and you can develop overwhelming trust issues. While many relationships are able to bounce back from difficult circumstances, around 5-10 percent of people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)1 will experience lasting relationship issues as a result of the traumatic experience.
Everybody with PTSD has a different set of life experiences, and the type of trauma people go through will shape the difficulties they face in recovery. For those that suffer through trauma at the hands of others, it can be very difficult to trust others again. And since most forms of trauma involve people in some way, many people with PTSD struggle to trust others as they go through the recovery process.
Why It's Difficult to Trust Others When You Have PTSD
While I experience many uncomfortable symptoms as a result of my PTSD, interpersonal relationships are the area of my life that has been affected the most. Being betrayed and hurt by my family has made it next to impossible for me to trust the people in my life that has been affected the most. Being betrayed and hurt by my family has made it next to impossible for me to trust the people in my life, no matter how kind and loving they are. After all, if my family hurt me, anyone can hurt me. Once you've been betrayed by someone in your inner circle, you start to believe that no one is safe.
It's also hard to trust that the goodness you see in others is real. Sure, a person might seem nice and wonderful, but are they really? Everybody has skeletons in the closet, but some are worse than others. How can you tell the difference? How can you know when someone is flawed but safe and when someone shouldn't be trusted? I don't think it's always possible to know for sure, and that scares me.
How to Trust Others While Living with PTSD
Though it's difficult for me to trust others, I try my best to let people into my heart. It's never an easy thing to do, but having relationships is important to me. Surrounding yourself with kind and loving people is important for any type of mental health recovery, and I don't want to make things harder for myself by becoming isolated.
I'm very slow to trust people when I first meet them--almost too slow, if I'm being honest. I keep the more intricate and delicate parts of my being locked away until I'm certain it is safe to share them. For some, that moment never comes. For others, it comes with time.
Because my PTSD puts limitations on my life, I am careful to only form deep relationships with people who understand that I'm a little different. There are some things I just can't do because of my PTSD. People who don't understand that fact can be difficult for me to get along with.
Learning to trust others again is an important part of PTSD recovery, but it doesn't have to happen right away. How and when you start to form bonds with other people is entirely up to you. It's taken me six years to get to the point I am at right now, and I'm still learning how to love and connect with people every day.
Relationships can be messy. When mixed with PTSD, they can be even messier. And that's okay. It's okay to struggle. It's okay to be confused or unsure of how to handle things (that's what therapy is for anyway). What's important is that you don't stop trying. As hard as it may seem, you can and will learn to trust people again.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "Relationships." 2019.
Avery, B. (2019, September 30). Overcoming Trust Issues When You Have PTSD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2019/9/overcoming-trust-issues-when-you-have-ptsd
Author: Beth Avery
I relate to this post 100%. How do you, if there is no evidence that there will be abuse, trust a spouse? My spouse is loving and supportive but my trust issues, even though I am working on them, I’m afraid may be hurting my marriage which makes me terrified and puts me into a fawning state despite the fact that my spouse has been nothing but supportive through my PTSD treatment. I’m scared and not sure how to cope with that in a way that won’t hurt my marriage. My marriage feels “all about me” since starting treatment 2 years ago. How could anyone put up with this for so long? Maybe just accepting it may be too hard and that’s ok? It might end the marriage and I can’t control that? Any tips?
It has been many years and from many traumas as a young child and undiagnosed Aspergers and a ULD I have never healed. I didn’t even trust The Lord when he wanted to save me. I never got the right help and I gave my poor husband a horrible life. I’m am in turned and selfish and self protective. I did finally learn to love my husband and daughter but no one else and now I am in a terrible place where our lives will be seriously affected by all that is going on in the world. I am sorry for all the wrong I’ve done and fear he’ll awaits me here and later. I am so sorry for being the horrible person I am and the little time I have left as this world comes to an end I don’t know what I could possibly do. Only God can save me and I know I have offended Him greatly. I am trying to trust Him. I am so mentally sick and terrified of what is to come I can barely function. I need prayers and a priest. I feel death is not far and I don’t mean at my own hands. I want so badly to be a child of God but I have been so wicked. I am so so sorry and I’m not ready to face God. I want to be healed and am so sorry for making others suffer. I’m just such a messed up sick person wrapped up in self. I want to help others and do what I can but The pain and loneliness inside is always there. Thank you so much for reading this. dianne
You know you do have forgiveness of the Father/ reach out your arms in Victory as you come to Him! He can lift you up!
My heart goes out to you. Prayers for peace