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Pistanthrophobia: Understand the Fear of Trusting People

Pistanthrophobia—the fear of trusting people. What causes it? Do you have it? Do you know someone who does? How do you deal with it?


Pistanthrophobia is the fear of trusting people. If you just had a flashback to all your failed relationships, I’m sorry. But, you’re not alone. I’ve been there too.

Messy breakups don’t just leave us with a nauseated feeling in our stomachs every time we hear our ex’s name, but they also leave us traumatized and fearing our next relationship.

You may be completely over your ex, but that doesn’t mean you’re over what happened. Being lied to, cheated on, and betrayed can leave us with the fear of trusting people. [Read: How to get over trust issues]

So, how do you know if you have pistanthrophobia? And if you do have it, how do you overcome this fear? Well, fear not, we’re here to help. Here’s all you need to know to get you living pistanthrophobia-free.

Do you have pistanthrophobia?

You may not think that your paranoia is anything to pay attention to—but it is. Your past brings up fears going forward. They aren’t just little things either.

Having a fear of trusting people can greatly impact your future. If you don’t learn how to identify pistanthrophobia and get a handle on it, it could prevent you from living a fulfilling and happy life. So, how do you know if you have a fear of trusting someone? Let’s take a look at some of the telltale signs.

1. You snoop

Have you already figured out the password on their phone? Okay, I mean, we all have a tendency to creep on someone we like when they’re texting or checking Facebook. However, going through their phone is completely different.

Whether they’re up to something suspicious or not, this is an invasion of privacy. If you can’t trust your partner to be honest with you and have to snoop through their phone to feel confident, you likely have pistanthrophobia.

This fear of trusting people isn’t just annoying for you, but it makes things very difficult in a relationship. If you don’t trust them, they are put under a lot of pressure to prove their faithfulness. That isn’t right. [Read: What to do about that nagging cheating suspicion?]

2. You’re all over social media

If you have a fear of trusting people you likely check up on their online comings and going regularly. You don’t just see what they post but you check their activity. You want to know what photos they’re liking and whose liking theirs.

This is over the line. You should be confident in your partner’s behavior. Whether your pistanthrophobia is directed at your partner or other people, it is preventing you from being happy.

But your need to constantly know what they’re doing both in real and virtual life is a clear sign you don’t trust your partner. You have to understand that you are not in control of their actions and trust that they will make the right choices.

3. You jump to conclusions

Are you already assuming they’ve cheated on you and it’s only the first date? They had to stay late at the office, and you assume they’re having an affair? Calm down. If when you’re partner doesn’t text back right away you think they are with someone else, you are not being rational.

Unless the signs are clear that they’re doing something unfaithful, you cannot jump to conclusions and assume the worst-case scenario. This doesn’t just make you paranoid, but it will break their trust in you as well. When you enter a relationship with a negative mindset, that’s a clear indicator you have trust issues. [Read: 20 ways your overanalyzing is sabotaging your relationship]

4. You’re a stage five clinger

Is your partner not allowed out on the weekends without you? Do you need to know who, what, when, and where? You have to let them breathe. A healthy relationship contains two independent people.

When you have trust issues, you usually keep a tight leash on what they do and who they’re with. This isn’t because of anything they’ve done, but because of you. You feel threatened and insecure. This could be due to a bad past relationship, but it shouldn’t leak into this one.

By restricting your partner, you’re ultimately destroying the relationship because you’ve already toxified it with your assumptions. We’ve all seen the jealous girl/boyfriend at the bar or house party. It’s not a pretty sight. [Read: 13 needy signs you’re too available for your partner]

5. You test them

All those fairy tales and chick flicks are to blame for this. We’re shown we constantly have to test our partner to make sure that they really care about us. They have to chase after us in the pouring rain or make them choose their friends or us. You know what will happen right? Eventually, they’ll reach their limits of being tested.

If you try to make them jealous to see how they react or, worse, get mad for no reason, so they apologize and beg for your forgiveness, you are manipulating them. This isn’t just about your fear of trusting people. That fear is manifesting into a need for control which will destroy a relationship.

6. You’ve cheated in the past

If you’ve cheated in the past, and you’re paranoid that they’re cheating on you, it’s obvious why you’re having issues trusting people. You know you were capable of tit so you think they are too. You also know what you did to keep it a secret so you are hyper aware of the signs.

Just because you’ve cheated doesn’t mean everyone will. You need to separate your past from your present and future. [Read: 18 ingenious ways to catch a cheating partner effortlessly]

7. You’ve been cheated on

This is a give-in but listen up. If you have been cheated on, fooled, or lied to in the past, that is hard to let go of. When a lot of prospects have ghosted you, that pattern can get into your head. This can make you expect the worst out of people.

Even if you no longer have feelings for the person that hurt you, that pain doesn’t disappear. The memory of it hangs over you threatening to reoccur. If you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, you have a fear of trusting people.

8. You had a tough childhood

Even if you have only dated stand-up folks, your childhood plays a huge role in your relationships. If one of your parents cheated or lied to you, it can be hard to see another outcome.

Pistanthrophobia has thousands of causes, but a basis of distrust from a young age is very often carried into adulthood and can sabotage otherwise healthy relationships. [Read: How abandonment issues affect your relationship]

How to get over pistanthrophobia

Okay, so you’re living with pistanthrophobia. The good news is that this is not a life sentence. This is a completely manageable fear.

I’ve lived with it for years but took steps to overcome it and found myself in a happy and trusting relationship. From both my experiences and professional advice, here is how you can help yourself overcome your fear of trusting people.

1. Admit your fear of trusting people

Before doing anything you need to admit this fear to yourself. For years I told myself I did trust people. I denied that I had pistanthrophobia because I wanted to be over my past.

The fact was, I wasn’t. I let years of cheating and lying get to me, and I was ashamed of it. To work toward trusting people again, I needed to admit to myself that my past was impacting me more than I ever knew. I needed to face it head-on. [Read: How to date with trust issues]

2. Talk about it

Your partner needs to know. If you’re on your first date, maybe save it for later. But, eventually, if the relationship develops, they should know about your fear of trusting people. Nothing is more shocking than seeing someone creep your Facebook obsessively or having an anxiety attack in front of them when they’re talking to someone else.

You need to make sure they understand where this fear of trusting someone comes from. Let them know it isn’t about them but about your past and you’re working through it. Let them know how they can help. Would it make it easer for you to trust if they texted you throughout the day? Or maybe just remained calm when you got jealous?

If this person really does care about you, then they’ll be patient and accepting. You guys are a team, after all. [Read: 10 awkward conversations you need to have with your partner]

3. Seek therapy

If you have pistanthrophobia, consider seeking a counselor. People have this stigma against going to see a therapist, and they think that they’re weak and unable to handle their own issues. That’s not the case. Admitting you need outside help is a strength. You are taking a step to better yourself.

A professional will be able to help you delve deeper into your issue and discover the root cause. They will also offer techniques and methods to follows so you can practice increasing your level of trust in others. You can overcome pistanthrophobia. It will just take time. But, maybe less with some help.

3. Change your mindset

This is a hard one to do, but it’ll be worth it. Instead of having expectations for others, focus on what you can control. Focus on your reactions. Worry about what you can do, not what others might or might not do.

Expecting someone to cheat pushes them away and likely into the arms of someone else. Try to go with the flow. When I was in the midst of my trust issues I would constantly worry someone I was barely dating was cheating. We weren’t even exclusive and I didn’t even like him that much.

I let that fear of trusting people take over everything else. Instead, focus on if you actually like this person. Could you get to know them? This will help you focus on your connection more than your fear, and eventually, once you get to know them, the trust will form naturally. [Read: Relationship anxiety: 20 mistakes you need to stop making]

4. Write it down

It can seem annoying to constantly think about your fear of trusting people. Pistanthrophobia can take over your life. Instead of letting it take center stage, get it out. Write down everything you’re feeling. Scribble down what caused it, what effects its having on your life, and how you want to get over it.

Getting it all out in words and on paper is very cathartic. This can be a huge step for you moving ahead.

5. Take a break

Stop dating for a while. When you have a fear of trusting someone you may think the cure is to find someone to trust. But, sometimes that makes it worse. I spent years dating, just waiting to meet someone I could trust. But going no dates, getting nervous, and having expectations only made my trust waiver even more.

Taking a break from dating can give to time with yourself. This way, you can really face your pistanthrophobia. The issue lies within you, not others. [Read: 15 reasons why being single is actually great]

6. Separate

This is easier said than done, but it is necessary. When you have a fear of trusting people and that is linked to an ex or someone from your past, it seeps into the future. You need to try to contain that expectation for those people.

If you turn patterns from your past into expectations for the future, you will always be waiting for something bad to happen. You can learn to trust people again. It would help if you tried to let go of past blame so that you could land someone potentially great.

7. Take it slow

There is no need to rush into a relationship. Sometimes it can feel like this is how you solve your fear of trusting people. If you put all your trust in someone very quickly, you might feel cured for the time being. But putting that much weight on someone else isn’t fair or healthy.

This means that if something doesn’t go right, you will fall apart. Work on trusting yourself and the person you’re seeing over time. Fears like this one do not get abolished overnight. [Read: How to take a relationship slow but not too slow]

8. Fight pistanthrophobia

Keep fighting. Don’t let your fearing of trusting people stop you from living your life. This isn’t incurable or permanent, no matter how much it may feel that way.

Keep going for it. The risk of pain comes with every worthwhile relationship.

[Read: Don’t stay stuck: 16 strategies to get your shit together]

Though pistanthrophobia adds a lot of pressure and strain to a relationship, you can overcome it and get rid of your fear of trusting people once and for all.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer best known for her writings on Kiiroo, LovePanky, Post Pravda, and more. She's the creator and ...
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