Can I ever trust again? That was one of my biggest post-divorce questions. After going through such a huge betrayal, is it possible to once again trust someone with the level of trust it takes to make a marriage thrive?
The Necessity of Trust
Make no mistake. Trust is necessary. I would argue that without trust there can be no intimacy. I believe, and stated recently in another post, that intimacy is the most important thing in marriage. So, if you want a happy marriage, you must have intimacy. And, if you want intimacy, you must trust again. I see no way around this. Trust is essential.
Of course, learning to trust again is much easier said than done.
Not Everyone Is Worthy of Your Trust
It is important to realize that not everyone is worthy of your trust. Some people simply cannot be trusted. Period.
The problem is it can be hard to tell the difference. It takes a little detective work and a lot of time to decide whether or not someone is trustworthy. You need to see people in numerous situations and see how they react to various circumstances before you can pass judgment accurately as to their trustworthiness.
The ever-quotable Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching”. The truth is, you can learn a lot about someone’s trustworthiness if you simply observe them for a while. As time goes on, you may begin to notice seemingly small things that could indicate big issues. Here are a few.
- Fudge facts occasionally
- Don’t trust others
- Are habitually late
- Are secretive
- Get defensive for no apparent reason
- Lack self-control
Or, maybe you have or someone you trust just has a gut feeling that you cannot trust them. If any of these apply, be wary. They are probably not worthy of your trust. Most of the time these little things are telltale signs of big problems.
Relationships should not move to another level of intimacy until you reach a new level of trust. And, trust is a two-way street. As you look for signs that they are trustworthy or not, be ready to prove yourself trustworthy too. I do not mean this in some unhealthy, do something now to prove yourself to me or else kind of way. I just mean that you should both be able to hold up under the type of scrutiny that naturally stems from a healthy curiosity. An innocent question should not elicit an angry or defensive reply.
Trust Is Built Over Time
That short list is not a comprehensive method for proving if someone is trustworthy or not, but it gives you a small sampling of the kind of things to look for. My point is, do not simply assume someone is trustworthy just because you find them attractive and they seem normal. Allow them an opportunity to gain your trust over a significant period of time.
I say over a significant period of time because, as I said earlier, it takes time to see people in lots of different situations and circumstances. What a person is on the inside might take a while to surface in front of you. It might take seeing them in a tough situation before you see their real character come out. So, pay attention and give it lots of time.
Not Everyone Is Your Ex
On the other hand, the good news is not everyone is your ex. Not everyone is evil. Not everyone is the friend who stabbed you in the back when you were most vulnerable. There are still trustworthy people in this world.
An Individual, Not a Group
Every person is different. Judge each person according to his or her own actions. Do not lump all _______ (fill in the blank with a gender, race, or type of person who has let you down) together. They are not all the same. Groups are made up of individuals. They are not a homogeneous mass.
In fact, I thank God, I did not lump all women together or even all driven, independent women. It turns out, the independent, driven, professional woman I married is one of the most trustworthy people I have ever known. Had I sworn to never trust a woman again, or never trust a driven, independent woman again, I would have missed out on the best marriage I could ever imagine.
Like Your Ex?
If there are things that remind you of your ex, that may or may not be a bad sign. For instance, if your ex was blonde, please do not judge all blondes by her. If your ex was tall and thin, please do not judge all lanky men by him. In general, you can’t read that much into hair color, eye color, skin color, and other physical traits.
You also should not lump everyone of a particular race, ethnicity, or religion together. Just because your ex was Asian or Brazilian or Mennonite does not mean that you should never trust an Asian, a Brazilian, or a Mennonite again.
Attitudes, however, are a different matter. If you see the same unhealthy attitudes or the same types of character flaws in someone that you saw in your ex, that is a huge red flag. If they treat people badly in the same way your ex treated people badly, that is a danger sign.
That being said, my point still stands, not everyone is your ex. All the good ones are not taken. There are still a lot of good prospective mates out there. Just learn to be discerning when deciding who to trust.
Trust and Time
Let me reiterate this one more time. Building trust takes a lot of time. You should not trust someone until they have proven themselves over a very long period of time. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes I see singles make, especially after a breakup, is moving into a dating relationship too quickly. Give people time to earn your trust.
Why rush? If it turns out you cannot trust them, you will be glad you took your time. If they do turn out to be trustworthy, you have the rest of your lives to enjoy each other’s company. Either way, why rush?
To Sum It Up
- Trust is necessary for intimacy and intimacy is necessary for a great marriage. So, if you want a great marriage, you need to learn to trust again.
- Not everyone is worthy of your trust – look for the signs
- Not everyone is your ex – there are still good, trustworthy single folks out there
- Building trust takes time – do not get in a rush
What signs do you look for when deciding if someone is trustworthy? If you have been hurt, have you learned to trust again? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
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