In any kind of relationship you have probably experienced pain and heartache. A betrayal of trust can happen with your best friend, a partner or a family member. These bad experiences can leave you wondering if you will ever be able to trust someone again and if it’s even worthwhile to trust someone again. You might feel like you naturally close yourself off around people, tend to be suspicious of others or are waiting for someone to hurt you again.
Yet, just because someone hurt you pretty badly doesn’t mean that you will not be able to have meaningful relationships with others. Just because someone has hurt you does not mean you have to question every relationship in your life and wonder who will betray your trust next. Trusting someone is a necessary component of a healthy relationship. Trust allows us to be vulnerable with others and can deepen over time.
Trust is necessary for a happy relationship. Below are some ways you can work on building your trust with others and allowing that trust to deepen.
Accept that you can get hurt again. One of the first steps to allowing yourself to trust someone again, is accepting that pain may still happen to you. Nobody can avoid the risk that someone can hurt you. I’m not saying your loved ones will definitely hurt you, but I am saying that you need to open up your heart accepting that pain and heartache is a potential risk. You cannot open your heart to true love, great friendship or a wonderful connection until you accept that you cannot avoid getting hurt again.
You must be ready to trust again. Trusting someone is a choice. You can choose to be afraid and not trust someone, or choose to take a chance and let someone into your heart. Until you are ready to give your trust, you will not be ready to take the following steps. First focus on opening your heart to trusting someone again, and then you will find the strength to fully follow these remaining steps.
Trust yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. A common thing people say after being hurt is that they don’t trust themselves. It can be hard to open your heart to love again when you loved someone who hurt you. It can be difficult to take friendships seriously when you were best friends with someone who betrayed you. Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean that you have poor judgment or will make the same choices again. Remember that you have learned from your experiences and have grown as a person. You will more likely be able to trust your instincts and pick up on red flags in the future. Your past doesn’t dictate your future. Trust yourself always.
Have realistic expectations for your relationships with others. After being hurt by someone, you might try to protect yourself from being hurt by someone by completely not tolerating any mistakes or disappointments. This is an unrealistic expectation to have on anyone. You are a trustworthy person, yet you make honest mistakes, unintentionally hurt people and can disappoint your loved ones. Try to not measure your loved ones based on how perfect they are. Being human, means we are prone to making mistakes and hurting others every so often. Remember that great relationships will be full of all the positives but will also come with their share of disappointments as well. That’s completely normal and often can build a deeper trust with someone. Keep your expectations realistic so that you don’t dismiss meaningful relationships.
Recognize the signs that someone is worthwhile of your trust. You don’t need to blindly give someone your trust, but you can trust someone with a bit more wisdom and experience under your belt. Maybe in the past you tended to wear your heart on your sleeve and gave everyone your trust freely. As a result, you got hurt because a few of these people didn’t deserve your trust. Moving forward, give your trust but maybe not so easily. Let someone show that they are worthy of your trust, little by little. Below are some common signs that someone is worthwhile of your trust.
- This person is supportive. The people who are worthy of your trust want the best for you. They don’t make you feel bad about yourself or seem disinterested in your accomplishments. A supportive person is the type of person who you know will always be there for you when you are going through something bad or when you need help.
- This person is reliable. A trustworthy person is consistently reliable. They return your calls, show up, don’t leave you stranded and generally do what you expect them to do. You don’t have anxiety that this person will not reply to your messages or calls. You don’t feel stressed about the next time you will see this person, because you know you will be seeing this person soon.
- You have known this person for a long time. The longer you know the person, the more likely you can trust this person. This is especially important to remember when making new friends or dating someone new. It can be easy to get consumed by an initial connection or the excitement of a promise of a best friend or a loving relationship and be disappointed when things quickly take a turn in the wrong direction. Be careful about blindly falling in love with someone without some history between the both of you. If you have known this person for at least a year, then they are probably worth your trust. If you have known this person less than a year, then slowly open your life and heart to this person, but remember that you are still building history with this person. Give yourself time before fully committing trust to a person. There’s nothing wrong with taking things slow and opening yourself up to someone over time.
- This person doesn’t leave when times get tough. You can tell a great deal about how trustworthy someone is, based on the way they act when things get tough. When you get into an argument with your girlfriend, does she tend to ignore you for days on end? When you and your boyfriend have a misunderstanding, does he tend to shut down and avoid bringing up the conversation and things tend to go unresolved and result in further conflict in your relationship? Does your friend randomly ask you for space when you need her support? Does your partner often get angry at you and discuss it with her friends and support group before even discussing it with you? Does your friend vent, speak badly and even tell others your secrets when he gets upset at you? If your loved one has a habit of abandoning you when things get rough, then that is a big sign that this person is not worthy of your trust. A person worthy of your trust won’t leave you when things get hard. They will still be there for you, and be willing to work through any problems you both have.
- This person treats you with respect. A trustworthy person will respect your boundaries, treat you with kindness and doesn’t treat you badly. A huge indicator if someone is disrespectful, is if they do not respect your boundaries and tend to get upset at you easily because you have boundaries. If someone is not treating you with the kindness and respect that you deserve, then this person does not deserve your trust and may not even be someone who should be in your life anymore.
- This person has not lied or hurt you maliciously before. The people we love can and do hurt us, but many times, these things happen unintentionally. For instance, you might have forgotten to wish your friend a happy birthday because you were swamped at work. Or you might not have realized your tone came across as a bit harsh when giving out advice. Or maybe you weren’t sure how to tell your friend that you don’t like her new haircut because you didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Yet, these actions all have something in common. These actions were not done maliciously. The actions may have hurt someone, but the intention was not malicious. Yet, if someone has hurt you or lied to you before, then these are signs that this person is not trustworthy. Some examples of malicious lies or actions could include a co-worker speaking badly about your work behind your back, a friend who makes up lies to avoid seeing you, a partner who has cheated on you, a guy you are dating who lies about living with his parents to impress you, a friend who always has excuses to not pay you back even when he has the money, a woman you are dating who says you are exclusive but still regularly checks her dating profile and/or never introduces you to her friends, or a partner who always places the blame on you because in their minds, you are never right. Be very aware of any actions that are hurtful and seem malicious in intent. People can and do make honest mistakes, but there is a huge difference between someone who hurts you unintentionally and someone who is deceptive, hurts you intentionally or lies by omission of facts that they know are important to you.
- This person works through issues when hurt arises. Remember how earlier I said a trustworthy person may still hurt you unintentionally? Even the people who truly love us, have the capability of hurting us. If your loved one, does what is necessary to resolve a conflict and work through the pain, then you know this is a relationship that can last a very long time. The best relationships are not devoid of pain. There will be misunderstandings, the occasional argument and stages where you both feel annoyed or angry with each other. The right people will stick around and work through those issues with you. You will both compromise, make sacrifices, apologize and learn to forgive each other for any pain that is caused. A trustworthy takes their share of responsibility for any pain and works through it to make an even better relationship in the process.
Change your perspective to focusing on the positive. A hindrance to placing your trust in someone, is focusing on the worst possible outcome. Do you remember what it was like before you felt any pain and didn’t have trust issues? You met someone new and were excited about all the positive things that could happen. I’m not saying that you need to have an unrealistic positive attitude. You can still be cautious when approaching a new person, but keep a positive and realistic perspective. Instead of waiting for this person to lie or betray you or imagining what would happen if you found out this person hurt you, instead focus on the good things that could happen. Notice the little things this person does that shows you they are trustworthy. Be excited that you are making a new friend or dating someone interesting.
Have strong self-worth. When you are distrustful of others, you might develop a false belief that you do not deserve trusting relationships. As a result, you might subconsciously believe that everyone isn’t trustworthy because on some level, you believe that a relationship with a strong foundation of trust is not possible for you. I know you may have been betrayed and hurt by several people in your life. I understand that the people you loved the most may have backstabbed you in the past, but just because these things happen, does not mean you are unworthy of healthy relationships with an abundance of trust. Focus on loving yourself every day and believing that you deserve relationships built on trust.
You will be okay no matter what happens. The first time you were badly hurt by someone probably caused you to feel lost. You might have wondered how you would survive the day. Part of the reason you may have a hard time trusting someone again, is because you never want to go through that miserable experience again. You would rather keep your heart guarded than ever be in a situation where someone hurts you so badly. However, when you avoid something, you are telling yourself that you will not be okay if you get hurt again. You are allowing yourself to believe that if someone hurts you one more time, then you will not be okay. Remember, that you will be okay if you do get hurt again. The pain will be unpleasant and you will feel hurt, but you will be okay. You’ll get through this. You don’t have to run away from trust because you know that even if you do get hurt, you will be able to pick yourself up and move forward. You can handle anything that comes your way!
Accept that you do not have control over another person’s action. The one thing that helped me learn to trust other people again, was accepting that I was only in control of my actions. Nothing I could do or say could influence someone’s actions. If someone is a liar, then they will lie. It has nothing to do with me. There’s nothing I can say or do to make that person stop lying. But I always have control over my actions. I can walk away when someone treats me with disrespect. I can set boundaries with people in my life. I can recognize signs that someone isn’t trustworthy and accept that we are not compatible. Focus on the fact that you can control your actions. Even if someone chooses to be dishonest, you can choose to live a life of integrity and kindness.
Trusting another person doesn’t happen overnight. The process of opening your heart to trust again is gradual but eventually you will get there. Make the choice to open yourself up to trust and accept that you might get hurt again, but you will be okay no matter what happens! Relationships are important and overcoming your barriers to trust will allow you to form healthy and meaningful relationships with others.