Q.  I love so many things about my partner but it is almost impossible for her to “trust.” Anyone. Anything. She is a very successful executive in her work sphere, granted, but she also tends to be quite critical. What sets this up in a person?

 

A. There can be many reasons that a person fails to develop and hone the ability to trust. Appropriate trust is a developmental task that hopefully starts to develop quite early in life and then is enhanced by learning discrimination: who or what is it safe to trust and when it isn’t safe. Both boys and girls need to develop appropriate trust, but it may be even more important for females because, truth be told, there are many times in this present world environment when it may be dangerous to trust. However, if a person’s partner is trustworthy and the individual still cannot trust, the situation doesn’t bode well for the couple.

When a child learns it isn’t safe to trust (typically due to behaviors of parents and caretakers), then in order to compensate that individual in adulthood will likely compensate by trying to always take control and be in control. It’s a way of feeling “safer.”

For a male who is a high-powered executive, he often partners with someone who is happy to let him lead. Therefore, his “style” is pretty much the same at work and at home. Sometimes this partnership works and sometimes he begins to feel like a parent or caretaker and really would prefer a strong woman¾as long as she is able to trust and can alter her control persona at work into a more relaxed and interdependent and content persona in the home environment.

Unfortunately, a female who is responsible for assessing, critiquing, brainstorming, evaluating, and speaking up at work, may unwittingly bring these habits home without even being aware of it. Add to that, females tend to see “possibilities” in their partners (more than “what is”) and believe that if they nudge and inform and even badger a bit, the male can reach his potential. Problem is that each brain only has is its own opinion and males who must “perform” at work to stay employed want and even crave a place to crash and just “be” rather than continually be asked to “do” (or perceive they are expected to do so).

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