Dating Someone With Trust Issues Is Like Putting on a Seat Belt

a red seat belt strap
Image by Nan Palmero / CC BY

My partner has trust issues, but they love me. How do I know they really love me? For starters, they tell me that they do. But it’s not just that. Because anyone can say it, that they love someone. The way I really know that they love me is because they’re still seeking me out after all of this time. Still keeping me company. They spend hours talking to me when they have an endless number of other people they could be engaging with instead.

But they’re a slow mover. And it’s easy to take that personally. But it doesn’t have anything to do with me, really. And it has everything to do with their past. Because they’ve seen things and been places that they can’t forget.

So they’ll cling to me and hold me tight — but I need to make no sudden moves. Or else they’ll freeze in place. Or even worse, they’ll retract back in on themselves.

Dating them is like putting on a seat belt. One that’s wired to interpret a quick tug as a sign that it needs to deploy. To stop us both from flying through the car through the front windshield.

Like most important safety mechanisms, there are far more false alarms than critical deployments. More times where I’m just sitting in the driveway getting ready to go somewhere and yank just a little quickly and the seat belt has seized up. I’ve never been in an accident. The seat belt invariably locks up when I’m in park, just getting in. And I have to patiently take a few deep breaths. Allow the seat belt to retract fully. Wait a few seconds more. And then pull the belt towards me very slowly.

The motion reminds me of the smooth strokes of my hand over their hair as I’ve pulled them closer to me, feeling their short quick breaths grow deeper, more relaxed.

Dating someone with trust issues can be a lot like putting on a seat belt.

It can be inconvenient and frustrating (for both of you, I’ve been in both positions), but with enough patience and pliancy, you can work through it just fine — and sometimes even become a lot safer in the end.

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Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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