People who struggle to trust others and show vulnerability often had these 7 experiences growing up

Trust and vulnerability are cornerstones of any meaningful relationship. But have you ever wondered why some people find it so hard to open up, to trust, to be vulnerable?

It’s not a character flaw; it’s often rooted in experiences from their past.

Growing up, there are certain experiences that can shape how we perceive trust and vulnerability. And these perceptions can carry over into our adult relationships in ways we may not even realize.

Today, we’re going to delve into these pivotal experiences. We’ll explore how they can affect a person’s ability to trust and be vulnerable with others, and what we can do to help those who struggle in this area.

So let’s get started.

1) Unpredictable environments

Life is a journey of uncertainties, but for those who struggle with trust and vulnerability, their journey often started in an unpredictable environment.

Growing up in an unstable household, where there’s constant chaos or erratic behavior from caregivers, can have a profound impact.

This lack of predictability can lead children to develop a sense of mistrust and unease. They learn to always be on guard, never sure of what might happen next.

Carrying this heightened sense of alert into adulthood, it’s no wonder trust becomes such a challenge. It’s hard to let your guard down and show vulnerability when you’re still wired to expect the unexpected at any moment.

Understanding this background can help us empathize with those who struggle in this area. It’s not that they don’t want to trust or be vulnerable; they’re just carrying the weight of their past experiences.

2) Overly strict upbringing

Here’s something that might surprise you. An overly strict upbringing can also lead to issues with trust and vulnerability.

You might think that a strict environment, with clear rules and consequences, would create a sense of security. But in reality, it can lead to the opposite.

In an overly strict household, children learn that mistakes are not tolerated, and showing vulnerability is seen as a weakness. This can breed a fear of judgement and a hesitation to trust others with their true selves.

As adults, these individuals may struggle to open up, fearing the repercussions of being vulnerable. Their past has taught them that showing any weakness could lead to criticism or punishment.

It’s counterintuitive, but it’s another way our childhood experiences can shape our ability to trust and be vulnerable in adult relationships.

3) Lack of emotional validation

Growing up, we all crave emotional validation from our caregivers. This validation helps us to understand and manage our feelings, and it forms the basis of our emotional intelligence.

However, some of us grew up in environments where our feelings were dismissed or invalidated. We were told that we were overreacting, or that our feelings were wrong. This can lead to a struggle with trusting our own emotions and being vulnerable with others.

In my book, Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship, I delve into how this lack of emotional validation can affect our relationships as adults.

The key takeaway is that it’s never too late to learn to trust ourselves and our feelings. Understanding the impact of these childhood experiences is the first step towards healing and building healthier relationships.

4) Experiencing betrayal early on

Betrayal is a harsh lesson to learn, especially for a child. Whether it’s a broken promise or a friend’s backstabbing, these experiences can leave deep scars and shape our ability to trust.

I’ve heard from many who have faced such betrayals early in life, and they often carry this sense of mistrust into their adult relationships. The fear of being betrayed again can make it hard for them to open up and be vulnerable with others.

As the great poet Maya Angelou once said, “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

This quote resonates because it underscores the importance of self-love and caution in relationships. It’s a reminder that we need to heal from past betrayals and learn to trust ourselves before we can fully trust others.

5) Absence of a safe space

The concept of a “safe space” isn’t just a modern buzzword. It’s a fundamental need that we all have, especially during our formative years.

A safe space is a place where we feel secure and loved, where we can express ourselves without fear of judgment or punishment. Some children, unfortunately, grow up without such a space.

Without this sanctuary, children often find it hard to express their feelings and open up to others. This pattern can continue into adulthood, leading to struggles with vulnerability and trust.

In my journey as a relationship expert, I’ve noticed that those who didn’t have this safe space growing up often yearn for it in their adult relationships. They seek a sense of security and acceptance that was missing in their childhood.

Recognizing this need can be a significant step towards building trust and learning to be vulnerable with others.

6) Neglect and abandonment

Neglect and abandonment can leave lasting imprints on a child’s psyche. When a child’s needs are consistently ignored or they’re left to fend for themselves, they learn that they cannot rely on others. This can lead to difficulties in trusting and showing vulnerability later in life.

In my years working with individuals who have experienced neglect or abandonment, I found that their journey towards trust and vulnerability often involves unlearning these early lessons and building new, healthier beliefs about relationships.

The wise words of Maya Angelou echo this sentiment: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This quote is a reminder to trust our instincts and recognize when someone isn’t meeting our emotional needs.

For more insights on relationship dynamics and personal growth, do follow me on Facebook. I regularly share articles that delve deeper into these topics, helping you navigate your relationships with more understanding and empathy.

7) Emotional or physical abuse

This is a tough one to talk about, but it’s a reality for far too many people. Emotional or physical abuse during childhood can have profound effects on a person’s ability to trust and be vulnerable.

Abuse, in any form, is a violation of trust. It can make the world seem like a dangerous place, where opening up and showing vulnerability only leads to pain. This belief can carry over into adult relationships, creating barriers to trust and intimacy.

The journey to healing from such experiences is long and arduous, but it is possible. It takes courage to confront these painful memories and work towards building healthier relationships.

We must remember, though, that this journey is unique for everyone and there’s no set timeline for healing.

Looking forward

It’s important to remember that our past experiences shape us, but they don’t have to define us. Each one of us has the power to break free from the chains of our past and embrace a healthier, more trusting, and vulnerable self.

Understanding the root of these struggles is the first crucial step on the path to healing. It’s raw, it’s painful, but it’s necessary. From there, we can start to untangle the web of our past experiences and relearn what it means to trust and be vulnerable.

In my journey as a relationship expert, I’ve seen countless individuals transform their relationships and their lives through this process. It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely possible. And remember, you’re not alone in this journey.

I think Justin Brown does a great job of exploring some of these themes in his video where he reflects on whether it’s too late to settle down and start a family in his 40s.

This video is good for people who feel pressured by societal expectations, who want to more critically reflect on what’s happening in their lives, who want to develop a bit of courage to go their own way:

This is just the beginning of the conversation. Let’s continue to explore these themes together and support each other on this journey towards healthier relationships.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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