How to Trust Again after a Messy Divorce or Break-up
- Why is it so hard to trust again?
- Are my trust issues significant?
- Fine-tune communication
- Assess new relationships with a clear head
Congratulations! You survived your break-up. But it was a messy ordeal, and you’ve come away with some significant battle scars. You gave your heart and soul to your partner, but your trust was broken.
You’re undoubtedly feeling angry, sad, and myriad other emotions at your ex-partner and at life in general. After this negative life change, a happy new beginning may seem impossible ... or nearly so.
While your head knows that, given enough time, you’ll pull through and even prevail out there, your heart may wonder what this ordeal has done to your future outlook on love. How will you ever be able to trust anyone in your new life after divorce?
Why is it so hard to trust after divorce?
Your human brain constantly assesses risks based on what you learn and experience in the world. In the case of romantic relationships, you risk that the other person may not treat you with honesty, respect, and love. In the case of a marriage, you take a big chance on a relationship that’s meant to be for life.
But what happens when the person you trusted betrays you? Your negative emotions trigger your amygdala – the brain’s epicenter for emotion and motivation. Your brain tells you to feel afraid. Unsafe. As if, to preserve your own well-being, you should trust no one.
As the adage goes, trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. Betrayal can create a foundation of mistrust not only for that relationship but also for future relationships, leaving you with serious trust issues.
Are my trust issues significant?
Just as humans need air to live, relationships need trust to thrive.
Without trust, a relationship can suffer under the weight of constant suspicion. Will this new person betray you? Are you going to get hurt again?
The fear can be so overwhelming that it prevents you from trusting people who deserve your trust. It can push away those with whom you could have a meaningful, long-term, healthy relationship.
How do you know if your post-divorce trust issues have gotten in the way of exploring new and healthy relationships? See if you answer “yes” to any of these questions.
- Do you anticipate a betrayal when there is no evidence of it?
- Do you immediately assume someone has betrayed your trust, no matter how honest they’ve been with you in the past?
- Do you avoid commitment because you fear being cheated on?
- Are you suspicious when someone tells you where they are or what they’re doing?
- Do you constantly fear abandonment? Does this fear cause you to smother the other person in the relationship?
- Do you tend to hold grudges?
- Do you isolate yourself from others so you won’t get hurt again?
Trust issues can give you a seriously hard time after a betrayal. But with self-knowledge and patience, you can help yourself take new emotional risks and allow people back into your life.
Improve communication in your relationships
Rebuilding trust can be difficult for people who have suffered a betrayal. For you to truly trust again, you need to know and understand anyone who is in a relationship with you. This starts with good communication.
The more honestly and openly you communicate with others in your life, the better you are able to communicate your expectations and boundaries. In turn, this improves your chance of getting what you want out of a relationship.
Practice makes perfect, so consider starting by taking others at their word. This can help you move beyond unfounded fears. It also allows you to pay close attention to what triggers your trust-o-meter.
One of the most important things you can offer someone else is insight into your own trust issues. Before you launch into accusations, explain how you’re feeling. Provide simple suggestions and steps the other person can take to help you feel more secure. Perhaps they’ve had a similar experience and can empathize. Honesty then becomes a common goal for both of you.
Assess new relationships with a clear head
How do you assess a new relationship when your emotions get so easily triggered by the past?
When you’re with a new person, there are usually some strong indicators of where this person fits on the trustworthiness scale. Think carefully about your answers to the following questions:
- Are they honest about most things, even when honesty is difficult?
- Do they treat others with respect and dignity, even when they don’t stand to gain anything from them?
- Do they use integrity when making difficult decisions?
- Do they answer questions openly?
- Do they take ownership of their mistakes?
- Do they do what they say they’re going to do?
- Does your gut react to things they do or tell you, even if you can’t pinpoint a specific inconsistency in what they’ve done or said?
Learning to trust again must be intentional. Relationships are a risk worth taking, especially after you’ve been hurt. Are you giving others the benefit of the doubt, or are you immediately going to your fear place when you meet someone you’re interested in?
While it’s good to be discerning, mistrust on overdrive is more than mere discernment. It may not be easy, but logic needs to outweigh the knee-jerk emotional tendency to want to protect yourself at all costs.
Recovering from a painful betrayal isn’t easy, but recovery is vital if you wish to have healthy relationships in the future.
A word about control
When you can’t trust others, you may tend to try to control them and the situation. Of course, this isn’t healthy for a relationship. While trusting someone who deserves it is vital to a relationship, it can be a feat for you if you’ve been badly hurt.
If you find the only way you can manage your trust issues is by trying to control the situation or the other person, it may be time to get professional help and emotional support from a mental health therapist. They can give you tools to manage your overarching fears so you can learn to trust again.
Divorce has a way of upending life in so many ways. At Hello Divorce, we understand that the divorce process is much more than a legal transaction. What’s more, we are interested not only in your divorce process but also your divorce recovery.
Whether you’re looking for a cost-effective online divorce plan or seeking other professional assistance, we can help. Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or schedule a free 15-minute consultation to learn more.
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