Are you always worried about who your partner is with and what they’re doing? Are you often assuming that they’re being unfaithful? Do you jump to conclusions and always assume the worst-case scenarios? Do you instinctively doubt people and hold the belief that people are not worthy of being trusted? If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then you may have pistanthrophobia, the fear of trusting people due to negative past experiences and relationships.
If your heart has ever been broken, you’re likely thinking, “Yeah, no kidding!” It makes perfect sense that you’re reluctant to enter a new relationship. While it’s healthy and normal to exercise caution when you’re first getting to know somebody, pistanthrophobia elevates mistrust to a whole new level. It can interfere with, and even sabotage, your relationships.
Pistanthrophobia replaces appropriate caution and wariness with obsession and extreme and inappropriate levels distrust. It incites jealousy, insecurity, and a distorted sense of cynicism. Pistanthrophobia can make it nearly impossible to have a happy and healthy relationship because it can make you demand commitment too quickly, or assume that people are out to hurt you.
If you think you’re suffering from pistanthrophobia, or can all too easily relate to the mistrust underlying it, these suggestions can help you overcome it.
- Don’t project the past onto the future.
Not everyone is like your ex. It’s easy to bring baggage from the past into new connections. But if you’re genuinely looking to start fresh with somebody new, then you must not do that. If you’ve been hurt by somebody, it probably feels safe and natural to you to think that you’ll continue experiencing that same result. If you avoid people because you assume that people will ultimately hurt you, then you won’t be able to get hurt again, right? But that mentality is a programmed knee-jerk reaction and won’t serve you or any possible new relationship. Projections can only poison relationships. New connections deserve the opportunity to prove themselves to you. Turn the page on your past, and let this new person write their own story for you.
- Reprogram your mindset.
If you have pistanthrophobia, you’ll need to change your thought patterns to allow somebody new the chance to prove themselves to you. For example, if your default reaction is to negatively think of worst-case scenarios, like, “He’s not texting back because he’s not interested in me anymore,” you need to turn that around into a more positive thought, like, “He’s not texting back because he’s busy working. He’ll certainly reply when he gets a break.”
Changing your thought patterns is difficult, but it will be worth it. It will not only breathe positive and new energy into your relationship, but it will also reduce your own anxiety. In the end, people will do what they’re going to do anyway. You can’t control others, but you can control your responses to them. Allow yourself to feel positive and peaceful about your relationship. This will free you to channel more mental energy into yourself than into your partner, and that’s always a positive thing.
- Learn from the past.
When we’ve been betrayed by others, there often were multiple red flags that we chose to ignore. It’s easy to blame the other person for the things they did wrong. But it will serve you well to take responsibility for the part you played in the relationship’s downfall.
In retrospect, is there anything that you wish you’d done differently? Did you trust your instincts enough? Were you communicating your desires or needs to your partner clearly enough? Would things have gone better if you’d asked more questions? Move forward with these lessons to make healthier decisions in a new relationship.
- Take enough time to heal.
After an emotional breakup that leads to pistanthrophobia, it’s important for you to take a break from dating so you can heal from your pain. If you don’t, you risk rushing into a new relationship. This can cause more pain and lead to more distrust. Every one of us has a different processing timeline. Honor yours, and don’t start dating again until you feel like you’re ready to meet and fully accept somebody new.
- Seek therapy.
If you still feel like it will be impossible to trust another person, you may want to go to a professional therapist. Therapy can help you discover the root of your issues and provide you with the insights and tools you need to successfully overcome what’s preventing you from trusting somebody.
After a difficult breakup, it’s natural to want to erect barriers, to protect yourself, to avoid opening up to somebody new, and to trust somebody with your precious heart. Doing these things may cause you to miss out on the bliss of spending the rest of your life with a wonderful person who would never abuse your trust. Don’t let pistanthrophobia and the ghosts from your past hold you back from finding love again. Those ghosts may have damaged your trust, but you don’t have to let them ruin your happy ending, too.