Here are some topics I will discuss in this post
How our society might be feeding our mistrust of one another
How broken trust doesn't only come from infidelity
How to take the first steps to trust again
Learning to trust with forgiveness
Setting boundaries when trust has been broken
Is our society to blame for all of the mistrust in relationships?
Trust is one of, if not the most important aspects of any relationship. Unfortunately, it's the hardest to establish, especially if that trust has been broken.
Tabloids, social media, movies and TV shows, all are indicators of the direction in which our society has gone when it comes to being faithful or having integrity.
Sure, it may be nothing new under the sun that relationships are often broken with infidelity, but since we can have instant knowledge of just about everything, our awareness of it is more apparent now than ever.
Any show or movie you watch today won't let you escape the mistrust, lies, and affairs of the characters, and I can't help but notice a certain numbness sets in. Our society has almost brought a playfulness to it. Condoning it, yet not blatantly.
Take Desperate Housewives for example. Your modern day soap opera. You might think it's a harmless show. Heck, I got sucked into watching it, excusing it as my guilty pleasure. Living in Germany, I sometimes like to escape to what it's like living in America again, even though that show imparticular is a bit far-fetched as to portray what America is really like. Just a bit.
Even though it's entertaining and cheesily endearing, in a way, Desperate Housewives is a perfect example how society makes light of infidelity; although they make sure it's veiled in a "shameful" shadow.
So no, they don't condone it, yet they show you how fun and enticing it can be. How if your partner is ignoring you, it's okay to seek attention elsewhere. Sure, it shows the consequences of infidelity, but not without first giving you an alluring impression.
Do you think that from all of these sources we are being brainwashed to not trust anyone? On top of that, it's encouraging infidelity, laced in an "everyone does it" mentality.
I'm not saying just because you watch a show with infidelity means that you will someday cheat on your spouse, or watching such shows will cause you to mistrust. I'm only asking, is what we fill our minds with brainwashing us to some extent? I think we need to be asking ourselves these questions.
That being said, learning to trust even if the trust hasn't been broken is easier said than done, especially in this day and age.
Broken trust doesn't mean infidelity is always the cause.
Trust being broken doesn't necessarily mean that one of you in the relationship has done something terrible, like being unfaithful.
When we start a relationship with someone, trust is formed and grown from day one. Let's call these "Trust Tanks." Starting out, our trust tanks are empty. We don't know that person yet, so there is no basis or foundation of trust.
As you get to know one another, these tanks start to fill up. A woman's trust is very emotionally driven. When a guy shows you he wants to take care of you, keep you from crying, protect you, understand you, and love you every single day no matter what, then he is filling your trust tank.
Men are more factually driven. His trust tank is filled when you respect him by showing him you are grateful, dependable, supportive, and encouraging of who he is as a man.
Men and women are very different in how their trust tank is filled, similar to how we each feel loved.
It's no wonder those aspects, whether fulfilled or not, play a huge role in how much we trust or mistrust someone.
Let's say you or your partner haven't committed any sort of infidelity, yet you have no trust for one another. Yes, it's possible. By not meeting one another's needs in filling those trust tanks, we are in essence breaking our trust with one another. Soon, expecting the best will be a thing of the past. We will be operating off of mistrust, and when you let that creep into any relationship, you are in for a disaster.
How can I start trusting again?
I'm not going to touch on how to build trust up again specifically after infidelity, but just include that in your mind if it's happened to you. Let's just come from a standpoint that you don't have trust in your relationship, and it doesn't quite matter how you got there.
Let's say you don't have an ounce of trust left in your love tank. Your partner has let you down in more ways than you can count, and you've just had enough. Is there still hope for you? YES! Not only is there hope, there is something YOU can do.
It's really the best place to be if you think about it. You don't have to sit around and wait for your partner to change. Like many things I talk about here on Word From The Bird, I will always come at the issue or problem you have from a standpoint of, "what are YOU going to do about it?"
Unfortunately, so many relationships are broken because we aren't willing to own up to our part of the problem. We end that relationship without self-reflecting. What happens is, once we get into another relationship, the same problems occur. It could be a measly 2%, but still, it's your part.
By growing personally and working on what you need to address, all aspects of your life will begin to change for the better, including your relationships. Not only will it help the situation you're currently in, it will change your perspective on how you look at things.
What does forgiveness have to do with it?
Before I get to the surest way of how to learn to trust again, I want to take you through a first step you will need to go through in order to trust again. It's called forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a fickle thing. When we don't forgive, we ultimately sabotage our best efforts in trusting. Forgiveness is often misperceived in many ways, so I want to address that for a second.
Forgiveness is not:
· Going to release your offender of any consequences of what they did to you.
· Forgetting what happened to you. Unfortunately, the wounds in our lives will leave scars.
· Forgiving only when asked for forgiveness.
· Forgiving only when we feel like it.
I know, some of those sound harsh. But I am living proof that if you CHOOSE to forgive, even when you don't feel like it, your feelings will eventually follow suit. If we wait for our feelings to make the decision to forgive, we won't get anywhere. And guess what? Your unforgiveness is hurting you more than anyone!
The surest way to trust once again.
Listen carefully, this is where it gets good. The surest way to begin to build trust in your relationship is to make sure you are filling your partner's trust tank, even if they aren't filling yours. Is that easy? Nope.
In fact, it may one of the hardest things you will ever do. But think about it. Are you, every single day, making your best effort to fill your spouse's trust tank? If not, how are you any better in being a trustworthy person?
Just because they may have done something "worse" doesn't mean you're off the hook. Do your part! I guarantee, your partner will see it. Not only will it begin to change your heart, it just might change theirs. Do you tend to be more loving towards someone who is loveable or someone who is awful to you? Exactly. The same goes for trust.
Setting boundaries when trust is broken.
To be clear on some things, I want to also address what trust is NOT.
Let's go back to the fact that forgiveness will not release the offender of consequences. There will always be consequences to broken trust, and unfortunately, you may be the one to suffer the most.
So where do boundaries come in to play? They come when we understand exactly what is expected and what trust isn't.
Trust is NOT:
- Letting that person who broke your trust walk all over you and continues in their ways. Even though we can't control what they do, we can control the boundaries we set in place. Obviously, this looks different for everyone, but figure out what it is you won't tolerate, set those boundaries, and stick to them. If they can't follow through and respect those boundaries, then figure out what your next step will be, and seek counsel on it.
- Letting your offender off the hook in proving they are trustworthy. In order for you to trust them again, they need to show they are trustworthy through their actions, NOT WORDS. They need to earn your trust!
- Assuming they are lying and not believing them at all, no matter what they say. It's a frustrating feeling when someone has lied to you so much you don't know if you can ever believe a word they say. But if you start operating out of assumption and not facts when it comes to trust, they will never feel like they can ever earn your trust again. It may hurt and they may break that trust again, but if you don't take a step of faith, the trust will never come.