When trust comes into question

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Before you can even begin to trust your partner again, you first need to trust yourself — your inner knowledge of what’s right and wrong for you. We have all been blessed with two sources of knowing — our feelings and the wisdom that pops into our mind from our higher guidance. When you learn to trust your feelings about your partner and learn to trust the wisdom that is always here for you, then you become truly trustworthy of yourself. This means that you stop ignoring that inner whisper and start listening to what you know in your heart and soul.

Then and only then will you be able to discern what is true and what isn’t about your partner and the relationship. With self-trust, you will be able to feel — and believe — when he or she is lying or trying to take advantage of you in a way that erodes trust.

So what are my feelings towards my partner? I care about him. My feelings intensify for him with each passing day and as they do, I am becoming more attached. As I open myself up to that attachment, I open myself up to being hurt by him. That’s where the trust comes in. I have to trust that he won’t hurt me.

I trust that I know what is right and wrong for me. I have set rules and principles for myself in a relationship and I abide by those rules but is it fair to expect your partner to abide by what is right and wrong for you?

Broken trust can definitely be healed, but it takes deep work. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can repair broken trust with a quick statement of forgiveness and a warm embrace. The underlying causes for betrayal need to be identified, examined and worked on in order for betrayal not to resurface again.

So let’s look at the underlying causes, shall we?

The first step is to become fully aware of the nature and extent of the hurt you feel. If your hurt is dismissed, minimized, or denied, by yourself or others, then the wound is likely to fester and it is unlikely trust will be repaired. To ensure this does not happen, ask yourself the following questions: How deep is the hurt/pain you suffer? Does the betrayal trigger earlier hurts exacerbating the pain and suffering? Does the hurt linger for days, months, or even years?

I felt hurt because I felt like I was unimportant. I felt like our relationships wasn’t a priority and my feeling of discomfort was unimportant. The defensiveness and inconsistency in the explanations I got as a response made me feel like I wasn’t being told the whole truth.

Did it trigger earlier hurts? Since I’ve never had this issue come up in any past relationship, no. I was, however, reminded of the time a friend handled it in his relationship and how it made me think I’d want my future partner to handle it the same way.

As for whether it lingered? Well, it’s been a few weeks since it came up so I guess for now, it has lingered for weeks.

Second, the person that betrayed you must really see and acknowledge the hurt. Apologies like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I didn’t mean or intend to hurt you,” are rarely sufficient and often stop the healing process before the hurt is really looked at and properly acknowledged. To ensure this happens, the one who betrayed you must not only take some responsibility for the hurt but also acknowledge the injury and show a feeling reaction commensurate with the hurt (remorse, compassion, upset, etc.). When there is no real acknowledgment and feeling response, you may rightly feel that the person “doesn’t get it,” and the trust will not be repaired.

Does repairing trust require a promise to not hurt you again?

Nope. I did not feel like my hurt was really seen or acknowledged. So far, apologies have sounded hollow.

Does the fact that he promised to not do it again count as “a promise to not hurt” when it wasn’t the action that hurt but the constant and vehement defense of the action, he constant dismissal of the hurt and the failure to “show a feeling reaction commensurate with the hurt”?

…if this promise is not accompanied by a real acknowledgment and proper response, the promise will carry little weight…

It’s not that I don’t trust him and think he’ll cheat. If he does cheat, there’s nothing I can say or do or ask for that can stop that. So what is it? Is it that I don’t trust him to make the right decision on his own without it having to bother me? Could it be that when I needed him to make the right decision, he fought me over it for so long and so hard that I gave up thinking I could trust him to do what was needed for me and our relationship from that day forward?

I know what he expects of me. I know it’s nothing unreasonable because I expect the same. Could it be that it bothers me that while I silently change my behaviour on my end to make him feel more secure, I have to call his out before he makes a change? Is that it? Am I bothered by the thought that maybe I’m doing more than he is?

Am I doing more because I’m in a relationship or would I have acted the same way if I was single? No, I’m doing the same I would’ve done because I have not changed. I have the same set of rules and I am not restricting myself in anyway. I’m only making the adjustments I’d make for any serious monogamous relationship. So maybe what bothers me is that whereas I feel like anything I do is a necessary adjustment for a serious monogamous relationship, anything I am forced to ask for feels like I’m restricting him. It’s owing to that feeling that makes me even more uncomfortable. I don’t want to be the partner that restricts and sets down rules and limitations. I shouldn’t HAVE to be the partner that does that. Am I bothered, then, that he’s turning me into this person because he isn’t considerate enough to come to these conclusions himself?

Am I asking or expecting too much from him?

Is it indignation if I think I shouldn’t have to tell him what a situation reads as?

Am I letting my natural capacity for jealousy get the better of me? Or is it that I just don’t trust him to do right by me because he didn’t the very first time it was asked of him? So how do I fix that?

I didn’t bring it up right away this time because I remembered how it happened the last and I didn’t expect him to understand and make the right decision. So now that he did make the right decision, why can’t I accept that as proof of a “promise to not hurt me again”? Maybe because I feel like from the last time till however long we’re together, I will always be the one who restricts and he will always be the restricted. I will always have to ask for something he should know to give in the first place. Fear that I will become the “nagging girlfriend”. Let’s not even go into the ingrained sexism behind THAT trope.

So then what’s the solution? To give it enough time and enough instances where we are tested for him to prove to me that he will make the right call? Will that be enough for me or will I always feel like the “uncool, nagging girlfriend”?

My go-to response in this is to pull back, lower my expectations and treat the relationship more casually than I am at this point so I’m not that invested. I know it works and I stop feeling jealous, but does that lead to resentment that I can’t put my faith in my partner or does it lead to my partner feeling that I don’t care anymore consequently disintegrating the relationship?

Should I take a step back and assess if this relationship is really giving me what I need? Or are my needs too irrational? I should be able to trust my partner completely no matter who he’s around be it someone who is or is not interested in him. So why do I feel like I can’t trust him to make the right call?

I guess it comes back to the same thing. He didn’t make the right call the first time I needed him to. The time that would’ve solidified my trust to handle these situations appropriately. Is that it? Did we miss the moment the foundation for trust could have been built? If so, can it still be built? Will any future instances of making the right call be enough to reassure me or will I always expect him to fail and be not the least bit satisfied when he doesn’t?

I want to be happy when he makes the right call. I want to feel proud to be with such a great guy when he does right by me, but right now, all I feel is that he’s doing it because I’ve brought it up as an issue and not because he wants to. I want him to want to be considerate. I want him to want me to feel comfortable. I want him to feel it’s the right thing to do on his own. I want it to be something he feels is right and not because I have to coach him. Am I holding him up to too high a standard? A bar he can never reach?

I knew a person who made the right call once. I was a third party and yet instead of feeling any hurt at him ending our friendship, I admired him for doing right by his girlfriend. The woman he later married. I respected him and admired him and loved him the more for it. It didn’t matter that we were only friends and there was nothing she had to worry about. All that mattered to him was that she felt uncomfortable and that was reason enough for him. She was his priority. Now that’s the way it should be done. I would have. To me, that’s what the best person for me would do. So if one person can do this for his partner, am I wrong to want my partner to do the same for me? To be the best person for me? Or am I setting the bar too high? Not everyone can be as wonderful as that. Not everyone prioritises romantic relationships the same way.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the same question: Can I accept being with someone who prioritises our romantic relationship in a different manner than I would? Am I willing to accept that he won’t always make the decision I’d expect or that I would take if I were in his shoes? Am I willing to trust that despite those things, our relationship can still be what I need and want? Or will I then be compromising and settling for something less than I deserve?

I don’t want to feel like I’m asking for too much. Then why do I feel like I am?

 

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