I want my boyfriend to feel free in our relationship. I want to trust him, but I feel like I can't trust anyone right now. How can I stop being so jealous of my boyfriend talking or dealing with other females? What steps should I take to improve my behavior?

This is going to sound nonsensical at first, but bear with me for a couple of paragraphs, at least.

In a love relationship, trust is meaningless. As another Quoran points out so eloquently, how you feel about him has little or nothing to do with his trustworthiness. What you must do instead is know him and let him know you. That means lots of communication about past experiences that may color your present perceptions. It also means knowing how he habitually treats his non-romantic friends. Do they hug? Kiss? Touch in a friendly and caring way? Were they doing that long before you came along? Is this simply habitual? The more you actually know, the less you need to worry about being able to trust.

Trust is something to reserve for times when knowledge is difficult to acquire. You trust the pilot of your plane. You trust the purity of your brand-name aspirin. And then there is the strategy of trust-but-verify. You trust your brakes but you still take your car for regular maintenance and inspections. (I hope.)

The difference is not subtle. The more you know the one you love, the more your love for that person is for that actual person, not the person you hope for or the person you fear they might be. The consequence of knowing the one you're with, or discovering that you cannot know them, may be recognizing that you need to move on to a person you can know really well. But that would have happened anyway if you had been merely trying to trust, and it would have happened with more disappointment, disillusionment, and pointless pain.

Don't just trust your ability to know the one you love. Know your ability to know. Learn from your efforts to know. It beats the heck out of trying to trust.

Oh, and then you can deal with any insecurities as a whole separate project. It's really difficult to tie your efforts to deal with insecurity to how you are feeling about a whole different person, especially one you don't know well.

An afterthought (November 7, 2018) There is an art to getting to know another person. There's asking questions, of course, and there is an art to asking questions that includes the art of listening to answers. There is also the art of revealing yourself in a way that teaches you as much about that person as it teaches them about you. The fun part of all the questions and answers is discovering your similarities and differences, both of which can make a relationship richer.

Knowing is also observing. Not just admiring, or being delighted with how they treat the kids, or cook, or find just the right literary reference for the moment, but how they deal with loss, frustration, your tough moments or your painful memories, their doubts about the future or discovery that they have a lot less in their bank account than they thought. Every one of these observations matters, and at the dawning of a relationship it's easy to find them to be positive signs.

The positive signs are the green flags. But a good relationship based on knowing is more than finding all the green flags. It's also not being in denial about the yellow and red ones, just because you really, really, want it to work. Examine your past experiences in failing to see those flags. Or, in seeing them but not acting on them.

You already knew what you just read. You'd have given the same advice to your good friend or your child. Now is your chance to act on your own advice.


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