Trust and Jealousy

Trust that one’s partner has their best interests at heart is one of the most important and highly valued qualities in romantic relationships, predicting many positive individual and relational outcomes.

The Price of Distrust: Trust, Anxious Attachment, Jealousy, and Partner Abuse

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  • Trust difficulty is often a result of past experiences of betrayal.


  • Trust: Within the context of romantic relationships, trust has been conceptualized in the literature as the confidence that an individual’s partner will be concerned about and responsive to their needs, desires, and goals, along with faith in the future of the relationship (Mikulincer, 1998).

Themes of Romantic Jealousy

  • Jealousy results from a perceived threat to one’s romantic relationship. 1
  • This perceived loss or threat comes from the perception of a potential romantic attraction between one’s partner and a rival (G. White & Mullen, 1989). 1
  • cognitive jealousy and behavioral jealousy have been found to be negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and commitment (Andersen, Eloy, Guerrero, & Spitzberg, 1995; Aylor & Dainton, 2001; Bevan, 2008). 1
  • For anxiously attached, fear of abandonment and insecurity in one’s relationship elicits a tendency to seek information. 1
  • anxious individuals’ propensity to self-protect may ultimately serve to harm their relationship, both through the very mechanisms they are using (e.g., snooping, partner abuse) and the subsequent distance created between themselves and their partner.


  • Anxiously attached individuals are less likely to trust others in general and may chronically make suspicious attributions; they are also more sensitive to rejection cues and also more likely to snoop on their partner. Thus, a lack of trust in the partner combined with anxious attachment may lead to self-fulfilling prophecies that serve to reinforce maladaptive beliefs and expectations about the partner’s level of trustworthiness. To the extent that an individual responds to their partner in a hypersensitive, defensive, and destructive manner on a perceived negative trust experience, they may actually emotionally distance themselves from their partner, which encourages the very experience the anxious person is trying to avoid (lower satisfaction and intimacy, possible dissolution of the relationship). In some ways, this seems inevitable, considering the likely conversations that might follow when one discovers his or her partner going through their wallet, purse, or cell phone. At best, this will likely create disharmony and ill feelings in the recognition that one is not trusted. 1
  • Moreover, partner expressions of offense at being monitored may be perceived by the suspicious partner as confirmation of justification for suspicion. 1


  1. The Price of Distrust: Trust, Anxious Attachment, Jealousy, and Partner Abuse

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