How To Feel Secure Again After Your Trust Has Been Destroyed
When someone’s betrayed or hurt us—especially when we didn’t see it coming—it’s hard to avoid the lack of trust that latches on to us and shadows us into our next relationship.
In this week’s video, I share 8 rules to regain trust after you’ve had your heart broken.
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For anyone who has been through a relationship or a situation where they have been hurt, betrayed, lied to, had the rug pulled out from under them unexpectedly, lack of trust becomes the natural corollary to this scenario. We then go into the next part of our lives fearing that it will happen again. And this is especially true in situations where there were things that happened to us that we didn’t see coming.
And we then live with this insecurity that, “My God, if that can happen, anything can happen. I’ll never be safe. Even in situations where I thought I was safe at any point, the unthinkable could happen.” And that rocks our fundamental sense of security in life. It can make us feel completely untethered and it can certainly have the effect of making us not even want to invest in a new situation.
So what is the antidote to that? I wanted to make a video, a practical video about how to deal with our own trust issues so that we can be more at peace. So here are eight rules of life for you if you’re suffering from a lack of trust right now. Number one, give an amount of time and energy you are willing to lose. Some of our problems with trusting come from the fact that we feel like the stakes are too high if this person ends up betraying us.
What if I end up losing all of this time and energy and all of this love I’ve given yet again, to be betrayed or hurt? But the catch 22 is that in the beginning, we have to give some energy in order to get something off the ground. We can’t give nothing and wait for the point where somebody proves to us that they’re always going to be there as if that’s ever really reliable in that sense.
But until you feel safe enough to give more, a certain point in the beginning, we have to give some of our time and love and energy to see what this thing could be. But if we say to ourselves, “What am I willing to lose?” And we never really lose it in the sense that we’re always learning, we’re always growing, it’s another experience in life, but lose in the sense of not ending up with that person. What’s an amount of time and energy I am willing to give up right now to see where this goes?
And then make peace with it. I see it like an investment. You invest as much in a financial investment as you think you can lose comfortably. I’m giving an amount I am comfortable giving to this investment. And the same is true in dating. I’m going to give the amount that I’m comfortable giving, an amount I’m prepared to lose. Because once you do that and once you’ve made that calculation in your head, then you can give wholeheartedly.
You don’t have to go in squinting, worrying about being hurt, worrying about someone leaving because, in your head, you’ve already made peace with the fact that if this doesn’t pan out, I’m prepared for this amount of time to have been invested in it. I’m prepared for this amount of energy to have been invested in it with zero resentment at the end of it.
Number two, trust because it’s your standard, not because it’s always comfortable. I think that sometimes we confuse what feels comfortable with when we should trust. But sometimes something feels uncomfortable, but we should still trust. If our partner or the person we’re dating is going into a situation that we find a little threatening or intimidating, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t trust, it means now we have to rely on something different to underpin our trust.
In other words, what’s underpinning our trust now is no longer that I feel really comfortable, it’s that this is my standard. I don’t always go to the gym because I feel like going to the gym. I go to the gym because it’s my standard for my health. And it’s the same, your standard for the health of your early dating dynamic with someone or the health of your relationship is high, then trusting here is just part of that standard. You don’t do it because you’re comfortable, you do it because it’s who you want to be.
Number three, use trust as a way to make your relationship more beautiful. If you think about it, one of the things that we do that’s a negative side effect of not trusting someone is that lack of trust comes to define the relationship itself. It’s like the very thing we’re most afraid of is the thing we now use to define the relationship. If you’re worried about your partner going to some party where you think there’s going to be sexy people that could be a threat and then you say, “You’re not allowed to go to parties.”
Even if your partner would have been in that situation and not done anything wrong, you’ve now defined the relationship as one where you believe your partner is that person, that now becomes the story of your relationship. For any fans of the US Office series, you will remember the moment where Jim overhears speaking to the love of his life, Pam, overhears another man on the phone at 3:00 AM when she’s on a night out.
And someone else who’s with him at the time gets in his head and says, “Are you not worried about that? Are you not jealous about that? She’s out till late, there’s another guy there in the group, you’re not worried about that? That doesn’t bother you?” And all of a sudden it gets in Jim’s head that he should be worried about this. So he gets in his car and he starts driving hours in the wrong direction to her college where she’s studying so that he can find out what’s going on, or maybe even catch her in the act.
But halfway there, he catches himself. He turns the car around and decides to go back home in this beautiful moment where he says to himself, “No, because I am not that guy and that is not our relationship.” That’s a moment where he decides to define the relationship by the love he has for her and by the beauty of what they have together. Now, if he’s wrong, he’ll find out if he’s wrong at some point, but he doesn’t want to jeopardize that beauty that’s actually there for a demon that’s in his head.
Number four, trust because the alternative is futile. If you take that example between Jim and Pam and you let it play out in the scenario where he does actually go to the college to meet her and to find out what’s going on, let’s play out that scenario. How does it go? He gets there. Maybe she’s doing something underhanded, maybe she’s not. But what if she’s not? She then says to him, “What are you doing here? You came all of this way because you don’t think I’m telling the truth to you or you think that our relationship is one where I would do that to you?”
He’s now done some damage to the relationship and ironically to the trust in the other direction, right? She now doesn’t necessarily trust that he trusts her and then he drives home. By the way, is he there with her the next night or the night after that or the night after that to police her behavior? No. So even if the goal was to go and monitor something, he’s now back in a situation where he can’t monitor it. The idea of monitoring someone to that extent is futile anyway.
Number five, trust because letting go is sexy. When we can let go, when our partner is going out this evening with his or her friends, and we can say, “Babe, have the best time. I’m so excited that you’re getting time with your friends. Have an amazing time tonight.” That in that moment shows you to be so confident, shows you to be some… Not just confident by the way because sometimes we… I don’t know, we…
Confidence is important and it’s an extremely attractive quality, but what’s also really attractive is the compassionate side of this, that I’m not making you going and having a good time with your friends about me. I’m showing compassion and love towards you and being generous with my energy, that even though I might have a little FOMO, even though maybe I wish I was there, even though maybe there’s a part of me that’s uncomfortable, what matters most to me is that you have a wonderful time because I care about you.
Number six, don’t let your demons define your boundaries. Let your boundaries be defined by your logic. When we have trust issues, we tend to think in very black and white terms. We think that there might be danger in a certain area. So we take that entire area and we say to the person, “That’s off-limits.” Let’s say it’s your partner hanging out with a person of the opposite sex.
In your mind, there’s some danger there, right? Your demons there suddenly start screaming, “Danger.” But in essence, the real nuanced truth of what you’re worried about is what if they’re in this situation and the person I’m with happens to find this other person attractive and this other person finds my person attractive and now there’s some undercurrent of flirtation?
There’s something going on there, some unspoken energy that the two of them are feeding off of that ultimately is disrespectful of my relationship with my person, that ultimately is a betrayal of what we have and of me. That’s the part we’re afraid of, it’s nuanced. So the rule that we’ve created is one that is incredibly stifling, one that makes the person we’re with feel boxed in and can lead them to catastrophic thinking about the relationship.
Now they’re thinking to themselves, “So because of this relationship, I now can never go and be in the same room or do anything with a member of the opposite sex. What does that mean for my life?” Now, what happens is this person starts assessing the relationship through that lens. And it’s not actually a lens that’s fair to you because the truth is, the more loving part of you realizes that this is a nuanced issue, your demons don’t.
Your demons will define a radius for your boundaries that is completely unrealistic and stifling for your partner and doesn’t come from a loving place. A key thing to do with yourself here is ask, “What part of this situation am I actually uncomfortable with?” When it really comes down to it, we have to get honest with ourselves, “Well, I’m uncomfortable if these two people have had a romantic relationship in the past.” Okay, then we talk about that. Or, “I’m uncomfortable if my partner is giving an energy to this person that they wouldn’t give if I was in the room.” Okay, great. That’s a conversation to have with your partner. But these are all interesting things to communicate. And the way that your partner reacts to these kinds of things will tell you a lot about the strength of your relationship. Do they have a loving, compassionate response?
Do they have an incredibly grounded and reassuring response where they understand what you feel and also contribute to healing that part of you that is scared of that? Or do they agitate it and make it worse? You learn about your relationship through that kind of communication. But you don’t learn a lot when it’s binary. You can’t do this. There is no circumstance in which this is okay. At that point, the communication breaks down and it begins to erode the relationship’s future.
Number seven, trust not that someone will never hurt you, but that you’ll be fine even if they do. In any relationship, we know that there is the possibility of someone, if not outright betraying us, at least deciding they don’t want to be there anymore. And sometimes we don’t get any notice for that. Some of the most devastating breakups are the ones we don’t see coming. And those are the ones that really mess with our sense of security for the future.
Because when we don’t see something coming, then we can carry with us as a belief to the next relationship this idea that at any point, the other shoe could drop, at any point, this person could just decide they want to leave me and I will be none the wiser until the moment where I get the punch, until the moment where all of a sudden that devastating news hits. And that could be genuinely terrifying.
But what we have to remind ourselves is I am a person who has different tools that I’ve had in the past, I’ve survived it in the past, which means I can survive it again and I can still find something new even if this goes wrong, that there are still opportunities awaiting me in life even if this doesn’t go to plan. So I am going to trust, not in the certainty that this person will never hurt me.
And by the way, we obviously want to make sure that we are giving love and investment and time to someone who has a good track record. But even in a situation where someone has shown us all the right signs, there’s always the possibility that something could go wrong. So trying to root our certainty in the idea that nothing will ever go wrong is something that our brain logically knows is shaky ground. The certainty can, however, come from knowing that no matter what happens, you are a strong and capable human being who has weathered storms in the past and is more than capable. In fact, more capable than you’ve been in the past at weathering them again.
And lastly, number eight, if you find someone you deem worthy of giving your trust to, love them so beautifully that if they break your trust, the loss will be greater on their side because you walk away with the most loving person that relationship had in it, yourself.
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