Trust In Relationships:
A Different Perspective
sk any 100 people how important trust in relationships is to them and you'll get 100 answers ranging from "very important" to "extremely important". More so than almost any other aspect of male-female relationships, you'll find that there's a near-universal consensus that trust in relationships is crucial.
Why is that? Let's look at things from an evolutionary perspective.
“… all existing genetic lines have involved males who were not indifferent about their mate's fidelity …”
An evolutionary "dead end" for males would be to trust in relationships and invest their time and resources raising kids they thought were their own but which were actually fathered by someone else. Their genetic line could die out.
Therefore all existing genetic lines have involved males who were not indifferent about their mate's fidelity.
We're guessing that this describes you too: if you're married (or even thinking about it for the future), would you care one way or another if your wife was having sex with lots of other men? Hmmm ... Of course you'd care! A lot!
Women have evolved similarly
although for slightly different reasons
They don't run the risk of unwittingly spending their lives raising children who aren't their own (after all, they know for certain when they're the mother), but they're exposed to a related risk: will those kids survive into adulthood and propagate?
Trust in relationships is a
problem for both sexes
If not, that's also an evolutionary "dead end".
In the olden days before the modern welfare state, the odds of a woman's children surviving and thriving would go down dramatically without the father staying with her to help support and raise them. Even today where the State often serves as a surrogate father (economically), kids without a dad in the home will probably survive but they're considerably less likely to thrive.
Therefore, do women care one way or another if their mate is cheating on them? Absolutely! They have major concerns about trust in relationships, just as men do. They won't be worried about some "strange DNA" getting in, of course, but they'll worry a great deal about the risk of abandonment.
Therefore both males and females have evolved behavior patterns that scientists refer to as "mate guarding behavior". We worry a lot about trust in relationships and are prone to taking many steps to thwart our mate from straying.
Suppose you see another guy
coming on to your woman?
You'll try to prevent things from going any further between them. And it's not a rational process where we sit and calmly assess the situation before deciding to insinuate ourselves into the situation. It's emotional
and powerfully so.
“… the more vigorously you try to prevent your mate from straying, the more likely you are to push her to stray …”
We'll suddenly feel a potent mix of strong emotions: fear, anger, rage, panic. In fact, men react so strongly to the sight of another guy moving in on "our" woman that there's a special category within criminal law to cover that sort of reaction: "crimes of passion".
And where trust in relationships is concerned, it's well known that women can also go ballistic when they perceive that their trust has been violated: "Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned".
However, the more you let your concerns about trust in relationships get the upper hand, the more likely it will be that:
- Your fears will come to pass, and
- Your relationship will end more quickly.
In other words, the more vigorously you try to prevent your mate from straying, the more likely you are to push her to stray and also cause her to tire of you more quickly.
Don't believe us?
Imagine having a wife who's frantic that every woman you talk to is someone that you'd have sex with when the chance arises:
- She goes though your pockets when you're in the shower because she's looking for women's phone numbers, condoms, love notes and anything else that seems suspicious.
- She tells you a dozen times a day that she thinks you might be cheating on you (partly so that you'll reassure her that you have eyes only for her and partly to put you on notice that she's watching and therefore not to try anything).
- She drives the route from home to your office and back so that she knows exactly how many miles it covers by the most direct route and how many minutes it "should" take you to drive it in each direction.
- If your normal quitting time is 5:00 p.m. and she calculated that it should take you 34 minutes to drive straight home, then she'll allow two minutes "grace period" in case you miss a traffic light or two en route.
- And then if you get home after 5:36 p.m. (or if your odometer reader is higher than she thinks it should be), she then "rips you a new one" for the next hour, accusing you of "stopping off for a quickie" on the way.
- When you go to the mall or elsewhere, she discretely follows you in her car to see if you say hello to any women (such as someone from work who happened to be passing by). If so, she'll later accuse you of having an affair with that woman, and she'll also follow that woman and put a very nasty note on her windshield telling her to "Keep away from my man, you worthless @#$%&?!").
How would you be most likely to react if your wife behaved that way?
Would it bring the two
of you closer together?
Would it make you less likely to stray? Would you be philosophical (e.g. shrugging and concluding that sure, your wife has a problem with trust in relationships, but this just proves how much she loves you)?
Nope. You'd be much more likely to:
- Feel tremendously smothered to the point of feeling claustrophobic around her.
- Get really angry about being accused repeatedly of something you weren't doing.
- Stray! Partly because you decide that "As long as I'm getting the punishment for having strayed, I may as well go ahead and also get the sex part" ... To take revenge on your wife for not trusting you and for treating you so shabbily ... And also because the women she harassed with the windshield notes will be motivated to get even with her by sleeping with you.
- Start planning your divorce strategy before many months of this treatment had passed.
The fact is, that would be a miserable relationship to be in and a very depressing way to go through life.
And guess what?
Trust in relationships works
just the same in reverse
If you try to keep her on a short leash, it will backfire on you. If you regularly cross-examine her about where she was, whom she was with, what she was doing and so on, it will not bring the two of you closer together. Instead, she'll feel smothered and that will cause her to increase the emotional and physical distance between you.
Lack of trust in relationships
drives couples apart quickly
As we explain elsewhere in this section, all you can be certain of is how she treats you whenever you and she are together. So if she treats you well, then keep her and don't interrogate her about what she does when you're not around. And if she treats you badly, then show her the door.
But either way, don't work yourself into a lather worrying about things you can't control (such as what she does when you're not together).
You'll be a lot happier if you focus on the big picture: whether and how much you enjoy the time you spend together with her. Don't get hung up on trust issues in relationships.
Continue to our main Understanding Women In Relationships page if you're still concerned about trust in relationships or are looking for advice on other aspects of your relationships.