Is your trust gauge faulty?
“Paranoid after being cheated on? You’re not alone, but here’s how to dip your toe back into the dating world when you’re drowning in trust issues”, writes Rachel Smith.
If you’ve been lied to or cheated on by a partner, chances are high that you’ll never again go into a relationship being blindly trusting. And that loss of innocence is a good thing. When your heart’s been pulverised and patched back together the process can’t fail to make you stronger, more resilient, more able to deal with what future relationships might throw at you – and less able to be exploited or taken advantage of.
But the downside to betrayal can be that we’re left totally fearful. We fear we’re going to get blindsided or screwed over again; we might develop trust issues that can taint and derail potentially great new relationships. You’ll know if you’ve got them: it’s the urge to check your partner’s phone, to set up tests to see just how committed she/he is, or concocting worst case scenarios no matter what (like assuming your date is cheating if he/she doesn’t text you back in a timely manner).
Trust is everything in love. We want to know the people we’re dating are trustworthy; studies show trustworthiness is the number one thing we look for in a potential partner. And annoyingly, it’s nothing you can lock onto immediately. Trust takes time to build and if you’re fresh from a nasty betrayal, your trust gauge is dented. Everyone feels like a threat and it can take time to get your confidence and self-esteem back.
But even when you do, you may find yourself doubting and questioning a lot. Here’s how to date when your trust issues are doing your head in.
1. Be honest about your past, but don’t expect your partner to ‘heal’ you
A good partner should be sensitive if you’re feeling anxious / need extra reassurance (tip: sighing and rolling their eyes doesn’t bode well!). However, no matter how rock-star they are, he/she isn’t responsible for ‘fixing’ you and your insecurities, or dealing with constant comparisons to your ex. Think new partner, new opportunity for love, fresh new slate.
2. Realise falling in love is always a leap of faith
Even when you have so little trust in anyone that you feel it’s safer to stay home forevermore with your cat, that’s no way to live. If you crave companionship, you’re going to have to eventually push through your fear and take that leap of faith. With your eyes open, of course – and over time when that person earns your trust, you’ll feel better about giving it.
3. Give it time
No one with a busted little heart bounces back the next week or month. It takes time to feel okay about dating again, to have the self-esteem to put yourself in challenging situations and trust that you’ll make the right decisions for you, going forward. And each time you do, you’ll mentally high-five yourself and find it gets easier to weed out the cubic zirconias from the diamonds.
4. Resist the urge to snoop
With one caveat: I have written in the past about how if you absolutely know you’re being cheated on and simply want the evidence to have a reason to go, then maybe snooping is justified. But in a new relationship, letting your trust issues drive you to crack someone’s smartphone or email to check if they’re cheating isn’t – and will achieve absolutely nothing except freaking you out and leading you to take potentially innocent messages completely out of context.
5. If your trust issues are paralyzing you … seek help
Seriously, there’s no shame in getting strategies from a professional if you’re finding that remaining distrustful is actually becoming a bit of a security blanket for you when dating, simply because you feel like you’re protecting yourself from future pain and hurt. And, possibly, being super-alert to pre-empting when that might happen (which can become exhausting in its own way). A good counselor can help enormously with all of the above.
Have you suffered trust issues and has it affected your dating life? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today– find someone made for you.
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