Anyone who has had their heart broken (perhaps, more than once??) knows that what is damaged even more than your pride, what is lost even more than your dreams for the future, what is even harder to get over than the ache of loss, is your ability to trust someone again. If you’re anything like me, learning to trust again is scarier and more difficult than climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (not that I’ve ever tried that, mind you). Learning to trust again means allowing yourself to be vulnerable to heartbreak one more time, and that just seems irresponsible- I mean, aren’t we taught to learn our lessons the first time in order to avoid punishment?
However irresponsible it may seem, though, learning to trust again is necessary if you’d like to find a partner to share your life with. Nothing can sabotage a budding relationship the way insecurity and jealousy can. So, if you hope to meet someone who is worthy of your love, learning to trust again is the only way to move forward. So, how do you do it?
Learning to trust again requires forgiveness:
Let’s face it. Your ex may have been a tool who treated you unkindly and tried his best to convince you that you were lazy, stupid, and worthless- but, YOU are the one who chose him. On some level, you allowed him to treat you poorly for at least as long as you decided to stay in the relationship. If learning to trust again is one of your personal goals, then you must start by forgiving yourself for your past mistakes. You need to tell the voice inside your head that repeats whatever awful things your last relationship told you was wrong with you to STFU!! After all, how can you expect someone else to love you and earn your trust if you don’t love and trust yourself?
Learning to Trust Again Requires Patience
Learning to trust again does not happen overnight. Time truly is the great healer and no amount of wishful thinking can take its place. When my marriage broke up, I felt desperate to stop hurting. I tried to drown my sorrows in wine but, as many people already know, I found out that sorrow floats. I did find a tool that helped: a heartbreak recovery calculator that provided me with an estimate of how long I would ache and measures that I could take in the meantime to dull the pain. Having that timeline helped me to be patient with myself and realize that there would be a time in the near future when I would feel better. So, be patient with yourself and be patient with your potential partner too- don’t look for reasons not to trust someone.
Learning to Trust Again Requires Hope
Some broken hearted people decide to close themselves off to others as a means of protecting themselves from hurting (see how I did just that in “To be (a Bitch) or Not to be (a Bitch)”). Learning to trust again means letting in a glimmer of hope: there ARE good people in this world, and you will find love again someday. Hope is scary, because, by its very nature, having hope means that you are risking disappointment- and you WILL be disappointed sometimes. However, resiliency is key- get back on the horse and all that jazz- and you will be happier for trying than you would be by remaining jaded.
Learning to Trust Again Requires a Partner Deserving of Your Trust
Once you’re ready to look for love again, chances are very good that you’re going to meet a lot of frogs before you find your prince. It can be a confusing time and sometimes it’s very difficult to decide if someone deserves your trust. The basic rules of thumb that I’ve learned to use to gauge whether I can trust a man are: 1) he’s interested in getting to know me; 2) he’s willing to spend time with me; 3) I feel comfortable contacting him at any time (to read more about these signs see: “When is the Right Time to Have Sex with Your New Guy?”).
In closing, learning to trust again is worth the risk of getting hurt. After all, “’tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
To read another great perspective on this topic, check out Relationship Trust is Such a Fragile Thing by Single Dating Diva.