If you’re an adult and you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship, you’ve most definitely been hurt. Trusting a new love interest after having been burned by someone prior is not an easy feat. Yes, it’s important to learn from the past but where is the line between healthy skepticism and holding a new partner responsible for a past partner’s transgressions?
I fell in love with a man (we’ll call him DM) and immediately moved in with him. I left an entire life so that I could be with him. I gave him my trust. I took his advice. I followed his lead. I made his life my life, his friends my friends, his family my family. This man hurt me. The entire life story he told me was a completely twisted fabrication.
I was crushed. I was damaged. I couldn’t tell what was true or false anymore. I had spent a year and a half believing every word he told me and most of them had been lies. How could I expect to know what was real and what wasn’t?
After having been out of the dating world for the length of that relationship and the one prior, about five years combined, I burst back onto the scene with a Tinder profile and a large dose of skepticism. I didn’t take anything a man told me at face value. Anyone with perceived emotional manipulation in their texts received and unqualified diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There was no friggin way I was going to let myself get into another emotionally abusive relationship again. Everyone was getting sussed out even when I was in the casual phase.
After some time, I started dating a quality guy (let’s call him QG) who treated me spectacularly. He sent me sweet texts throughout my day. He called me on nights we couldn’t get together. He pursued me. He was decisive. His behaviors reminded me of DM at the beginning of our relationship. But QG sincerely wanted to add value to my life. He was treating me with care and respect because he held me in high regard. He wasn’t just trying to charm me so he could later control me.
Even though his intentions were good, every step forward in the relationship triggered me. I didn’t trust that he wasn’t going to later turn into a total monster.
I vocalized my emotional state pretty much every time. “When you say sweet things to me, I get really scared that you’re going to hurt me later!”
“Oh, but don’t stop! This is what I want!” What?!
This man ultimately couldn’t continue in a relationship where he wasn’t trusted. This ending brought to light a lot of my unhealed wounds but the biggest issue was trust. I realized I would not find myself in a healthy relationship until I found a way to trust a man’s intentions.
Trust is both the simplest and most difficult thing in the world. When you trust, you just trust.
When you don’t trust, you ask a ton of questions, give the side eye, presume malicious intentions, you think everyone is out to get you.
So how do you go from distrust to trust?
What would the trusting heart do?
I have been working to break my pattern of thinking that every man I encounter is employing some sort of manipulation tactic or weaving a complex web of lies in order to not take responsibility for his shortcomings.
When I’m triggered by a response or lack of response, I have been asking myself “What would the trusting heart do?” The trusting heart would take each person at their word and observe the follow through. What would this person have to gain by lying to me?
A break in the usual pattern will help pave the way for a new pattern easier.
All of this is not to dismiss healthy skepticism nor revert anyone to unhealthy naivete. Presuming positive intentions and trusting is a healthier and happier way to live than constantly calling someone’s motives into question. This work is about shifting your default from distrust to trust and reaping the rewards of forming new connections.
You Deserve Good Things,
Coach Juli Lynn