Trust issues and self esteem

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’m not sure whether this is a trust issue or not with my boyfriend, because I know he will not cheat on me, but I have other insecurites.

He is the same age as me, we’ve been together for a year and 8 months, and plan on getting married in the next couple years. Right now he is far away at Lackland AFB, TX becoming an Airman. We have an amazing relationship when everything is going well. We have much respect for each other, and before he left spent every day together. He has been gone since July 6th, and will not be back until December 17th. He will be home after that though, because he is only in the Air force Reserves.

I am very self-conscious. I have always had low self-esteem, even though everyone always tells me I’m gorgeous, including him. But people could tell me this all day long, and it still only matters what I think of myself.

As our relationship progressed, I started having trust issues. I’m not sure if this has had anything to do with him talking to his ex who he knew still loved him, or him calling his other ex when he found out she was pregnant. These are exes of 4 or more years ago, and nothing was said between them that was inappropriate. When he called the girl that was pregnant, he had no intention of hiding it, didn’t even think of it as a big deal. If he hadn’t of told me, I would have never known. But those situations are in the past, and my boyfriend has always had good intentions.

But I have problems not with his loyalty to me, but I’m afraid of where his eyes wander. What he talks about with his fellow Airman, (ex. Hot girls, etc.) and the girls he is around on base and in his dorms. I guess I don’t know them, so that makes me feel insecure. And I have no idea what he’s doing when I’m not there. How do I get over this? It is definetly something he is sick of, and I am sick of feeling this way. I just want to be the perfect girl for him, and am afraid I’m not. Which is just making things worse.

A: I appreciate your openness and willingness to talk about this issue. It is something I think others struggle with as well.

Your relationship has a uniqueness to it because there is a declared, strong love, and a separation imposed. This creates a unique dynamic that involves longing and insecurity. In other words, the condition highlights your desire to be together, and the fact that this isn’t possible until December 17th. Naturally there would be an underlying frustration.

Your insecurities sound very natural under the circumstances because so much is out of your control. Your description of your boyfriend is that he sounds like a man of integrity and has been honest with you. Much of what you are describing is very normal for a 21 year old young man in the Air Force reserve. I think you are doing the right thing by explaining your feelings, and for him to explain his. It may be hard to find a resolution that both of your find acceptable until he returns.

What we know about how love grows within couples (see this article) is that there is a mutual vulnerability that evolves between them. Each then learns to be sensitive and care for the other. When your boyfriend returns I would schedule a few sessions with a couples counselor to help with his reentry. I think this would help sort through these very natural issues. You can locate a referral from the find help tab on the top of this page.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Trust issues and self esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/30/trust-issues-and-self-esteem/