The Common Behavior That Most Often Leads To Serious Trust Issues

It's a hard behavior to drop, but you should.

People pleaser in relationship Dean Drobot | Canva

Being a caretaker doesn’t mean staying home and tending to the household chores; emotional caretaking exists as well. Sometimes, this falls on the shoulders of the female. It may come easier for the gender that is — by nature and culture — more nurturing, more intuitive, and more people-pleasing. But this isn’t always true. Emotional caretaking, which is similar in some ways to being a people-pleaser, can involve either party and, often, it’s a shoe that fits men to a tee. They find it easier to be an emotional caretaker than to ruffle anyone’s feathers. But, while taking care of each other is a good thing, one party engaging in emotional caretaking isn’t ideal. Why? Because it sets the stage for trust issues.


Yep, you heard it here first, you don’t need to spend money behind her back or go out and get yourself a mistress to break the bonds of trust. If you act as the emotional caretaker whose main role is to ease her mind, that can do it too. It works like this. The emotional caretaker is worried that their actions will hurt the other party. And they go to great lengths to ensure the waters they’re sailing on remain smooth. But they don’t do this because they want to — they do it because they feel as though they have to. 

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Being a people-pleaser with women can lead to serious trust issues. Their love is not enough. Their devotion is not enough. Their connection is not enough. They have to up their game. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to look at this and jump to the "I" word — we label the party in need of the caretaking as insecure. But by throwing out this word, we exonerate the party that is willingly being a caretaker. They might not be doing anything wrong, per se, but they’re playing into the dynamic just the same. And here is where the mistrust comes in.


When one partner feels as though they can’t trust the other, even though they haven’t done anything wrong that they can think of — there is no smoking gun of deception — this is what might be going on. You might be feeling obligated to take care of your partner’s emotional needs — in short, a people pleaser. You might want to go out on Friday night with your friends but feel obligated to hang out at home instead. You might want to get off the phone but feel bad about being the first to hang up.

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Emotional caretaking might not sound bad on the surface, but — in the long run — it compromises your values and your boundaries. It makes you go along with something you don’t want to do. This doesn’t only hurt you — it hurts your partner too. Over time, your partner will begin to sense that you don’t want to hang out with them, stay on the phone with them, or meet them for brunch every Sunday at nine. They’ll realize you’re doing it insincerely and that will leave them not trusting you.


But that’s not all — they might start to resent you too. They’ll do this because emotional caretaking appeals to someone’s fragility and, when a person realizes that you see them as fragile, they’ll resent you. The whole "you can’t handle to truth"? It’s best reserved for movies. Of course, emotional caretaking is mired in inauthenticity too, which brings about a slug of other problems. Your partner wants to be with you, not with the you you’re pretending to be.

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So, now that we know how this can harbor mistrust, how do we solve it? The solution is to go straight to the core — unearth the fear of what will happen if you do set a boundary. More than likely, you’re afraid that this will shatter your relationship — at the very least, it’ll shake things up. That’s the "nice guy" or "nice girl" mentality — you’re too "nice" to others and not nice enough to yourself. Don’t worry, though — setting boundaries is something that comes with practice.

You’ve probably already set them in other areas of your life. Your boss knows not to call you in the middle of the night. Your mom knows to call before she comes over. Your roommate knows to close the door when they use the bathroom. You know how to set them; now set them in a relationship. Practice setting boundaries by realizing that — if you don’t — you’ll create an environment where there are many, many more boundaries to set. There will also be some disconnection, resentment, and the eventual dissolution of your relationship. Think about it like this: if your relationship can’t withstand the word "no", then it’s not much of a relationship at all. If it’s not strong enough to withstand the "no", the "yes" means very little too.


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Clayton Olson is an International Relationship Coach, Master NLP Practitioner, and Facilitator specializing in dating, empowering men and women, self-esteem, and life transitions. He has 20 years of experience working to optimize human behavior and relational dynamics.