“When you fully trust someone without any doubt, you finally get one of two results: A person for life or A lesson for life.”
When you have gone through betrayal it can be hard to find yourself again.
You may even wonder if you are capable of letting someone in again so deeply. The first place to find trust again is in yourself.
The process of healing from an unfaithful partner doesn’t stop when the relationship ends.
In fact, we can carry our skepticism and hurt into a new relationship if we aren’t careful. Here are some key ways to build a healthy relationship with your new partner while being mindful of your past pain.
What does it look like to fully show-up in a relationship?
Talk about the expectations you have and what it looks like to be in a healthy relationship. Think about the top 5 qualities you want in a partner and why these are important to you. If you both can be open to sharing your values and building a dynamic together then you are more apt to feel safe in your new relationship.
The past happened but it does not have to define your future.
It is understandable that you would want to share some elements of your past with your new partner. Be careful to visit these memories and not live there. It was a part of your life and that is significant, however talking too much about the past can keep your emotions stuck. Talk with your new partner about how you both want to feel in the future and what you have learned from the past.
Does thinking about my ex mean I want to be with him instead?
Instead ask yourself, “Why might thoughts of my ex be coming up?” These thoughts can happen when we are feeling deeper emotions for our new partner. It can be a signal that our fear of change and/or fear of loss is triggered.
This is a human reaction when we start to feel a bit ‘out of control’; not necessarily about our ex as a person at all. This is completely understandable and those fears are things to talk about with your new partner.
Building trust means knowing what you don’t want.
Everyone should have three non-negotiables. This means three things that you will not tolerate. I strongly recommend thinking about these three items before you enter a new relationship. Identify your three and use these as a guidepost in the world of dating.
Examples of a non-negotiable may be, “I will not compromise my values.” Or “I will not date a smoker.”
No one knows what might happen in the next moment and it can feel scary to try again. Not living is not going to stop difficult things from happening.
The fear: ‘what if this happens to me again’ is real but truly the much larger fear should be living a life where you never take the chance to know the beauty of love.
Trust yourself that you are resilient, deserving of good things, and don’t be afraid to own what you need to feel safe.
Dana Hall, LCPC, MA, TF-CBT – www.danahalltherapy.com
After years of working with individuals and couples impacted by infidelity, betrayal, and affairs I decided to write an e-book and that’s exactly what I named it – healing the hurt.
Infidelity, affairs, or romantic betrayals are some of the most gut-wrenching wounds you can experience in a partnership.
But you know I’ve heard on more than one occasion that a relationship betrayal can actually be the best thing that ever happened to the bond. A natural and necessary reset, if you will.
Recovery is not easy but it can be so rewarding.
But what if you didn’t recover?
What if the cheating and lies left you emotionally wrecked and confused about whether trust is even feasible in the next relationship.
If this is you, I’m here. In fact, there are some very tangible ways you overcome the fear that follows when you’ve been physically or emotionally betrayed.
First, name it.
What you’re feeling is fear and it comes from relational trauma. It doesn’t help to say “I’m not a jealous type,” if you are. Or “I don’t care what you do this weekend,” if you actually do care.
Instead, build an honest and authentic dialogue by owning what’s happened and naming the experience.
Trying to convince yourself to not be afraid or to just “trust” likely won’t work.
“Hey babe, I’ve been cheated on before. It’s impacted me a lot and nowadays I notice I’m more skeptical, insecure, and hyper-vigilant but I’m working with this and learning to name my fear when it surfaces.”
Next, get rid of the trust word.
That word has so much baggage! In fact, many couples therapists would suggest trust is not even a feasible concept in relationships.
Think about it, can you ever guarantee you won’t curse at your partner? Or what about if they ask you to guarantee you won’t forget something at the grocery store?
You can really, really hope and try to follow through but you cannot guarantee.
Why? Because we’re human. We can commit, we can vow, we can promise but we cannot guarantee.
A better phrase instead is emotional risk taking. Ask yourself: can I emotionally risk today?
- Can I take the leap to believe in my partner even when I’m not 100% sure?
- Can I choose to risk continuing to love him when he goes out this weekend, even when the fears of my ex surface and cause me to doubt?
- Can I risk sitting with and breathing through the pain knowing I’m going to be OK?
In some senses, trust is not attainable but you absolutely can choose to risk in your partnership.
Finally, get help.
We’re not meant to suffer on this journey alone and what you experienced before was real and traumatic. You cannot will yourself to stop reading his DM’s, to stop “caring” about who he’s texting, or to stop checking his snapchat location.
Instead, work through the trauma.
Unpack what happened in that relationship and how it hurt you. Learn to notice your triggers and work with your fears. Make space for the shame that came with the betrayal and feeling like you did something wrong. And finally, embrace the courage to love again.
Therapy and support groups can be a huge path toward growth after experiencing a betrayal.
Are you open to healing the hurt?
Kendra O’Hora, Ph.D., LCMFT – www.wellnessandco.org
Of course you have trust issues.
Unless you had an open relationship you suffered a betrayal. You are hurt and naturally you are reluctant to put yourself out there to be hurt again.
The dilemma is that if you don’t take the risk to get close to someone again you will miss out on one of life’s great gifts- a committed and intimate relationship.
I always suggest that the first step (after you’ve taken a little break from the dating scene) is to examine your cheating ex to see if there were any signs that you either missed or didn’t want to look at.
Did he have a history of cheating but you thought it would be different with you?
It’s almost never different because it’s not about you, it’s about him.
- Did he give you signs that he wasn’t really that in to you?
- Did you always feel like you were chasing him?
- Do you think that you wanted more out of the relationship than he did?
When we really want someone, we tend to turn a blind eye to signs that it’s not going to end well.
In other words, did you have reservations about him that you rationalized or overlooked altogether?
Next, you need to take a look at yourself and your own dating history.
- Is he the first man who’s cheated on you or do you tend to choose men who can’t be trusted?
- Do you like the challenge of getting the unavailable guy?
- Do you work harder at the relationship than he does?
- Do you believe that you are worthy of being truly loved?
Lastly if you grew up in a household where there was infidelity you are more likely to find yourself in similar relationships as an adult, so you have to take extra care.
Sometimes patterns (like choosing bad men) are hard to break on your own.
It can help to find a therapist who can help you to figure it out. Just don’t blame yourself. You aren’t the one who cheated and you deserve to be with someone whom you can trust.
Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
If you had a traumatic experience with your ex and that left you feeling bad about yourself, about men, about your future and about trusting again, you have a lot of work to do.
After all, relationships should be based on loyalty and commitment and when that is broken, it is not easy to build a strong foundation again. But, understand that you can learn to trust your partner and make it work.
Here are some things to watch for in your own behavior:
- Are you overly suspicious of guys because you are afraid you will once again, be betrayed?
- Are you wary about giving too much of yourself to someone because you were so badly hurt?
- Are you wondering what’s wrong with you and why this happened?
These are all typical responses, which can impact your next relationship.
Your goal is to control how you are feeling so that you don’t fall into a trap of being jaded, suspicious, questioning or sneaky. Those qualities set you up for disaster and will degrade a possible new and healthy relationship.
How can you once again be trusting?
- Try not to dwell on negative feelings, because the more you do, the more they will grow in your mind, causing you to act and react in a certain negative way. Instead, just trust, unless you have absolute proof that what you are feeling is true. Otherwise, let it go.
- Look at your part in the past relationship’s mistakes to see what changes you can make. Do you need to be more attentive, appreciative, loving and thoughtful and less preoccupied with other things? You don’t want your emotional past to blur what is appropriate behavior for today’s situation.
- Remind yourself that ALL men are not cheaters and that maybe this time, you found a really great guy. Give him that respect for right now!
You want to feel trusting again because you deserve to be in an honest relationship. Really put forth the effort to forgive your past so you can move on and be happy.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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