Between parent and child. Between friends. Between partners.
How is trust challenged?
By lying, either by omission or commission. The first – simply not letting someone else know the whole story. Leaving out what you decide to keep to yourself and allowing them to think something else. The second – telling a bald-faced untruth. Knowingly.
By sharing what was intended as a confidence, or break a code of confidentiality. Maybe because they want to look powerful, and in the know. Or they are simply angry.
By hiding a hurtful behavior. A secret that went outside of the moral or ethical boundaries that were agreed upon or expected in the relationship. Like an affair. Or hiding an addiction. Pornography or gambling. Drug or alcohol abuse.
By acting out of character. Becoming someone, maybe slowly, maybe overnight, that someone doesn’t “know” anymore. Maybe she engages in criminal behavior, or leaves a mess behind, and not caring.
By acting abusively. Using physical, emotional or verbal violence to control or demean. Or by neglecting someone who is counting on you, maybe for help or for their very existence.
If they say, “I’m sorry. I want to change. I am going to change.” How do you believe them?
And even if you leave that relationship, how do you not carry your distrust into other potential relationships?
It depends. There are things to consider.
Recognize the warning signs.
1) It’s a honeymoon apology.
Superficial apologies are part and parcel of an abusive cycle. They happen right after the abuse has occurred. He broke your finger or bruised your legs. Pushed you down the steps, saying somehow you slipped. She verbally harangued you into the wee hours of the night.
Then the apology comes. “It will be better.”
Recognize that it’s a pattern. And that it won’t change.
2) It’s not accompanied by a sincere attitude of openness to your need to heal.
“I said I was sorry. I don’t know why you are still so upset. We need to move on.” These are not statements of someone who recognizes the depth of the impact of their behavior on you.
They give you the time you need.
3) They blame you.
There can be a context for a behavior – an interaction between people that is not healthy. But the responsibility for the choice is the chooser’s.
A statement that sounds like,”You never do x, y, or z – that’s why I did what I did. Or lied. Or cheated.” That’s an attempt at shifting that responsibility.
1) They proactively do things to change.
They go into therapy to better understand what was changing in them to cause them to act in a non-trusting way. They question if they are depressed and perhaps that is driving the behavior.
They seek help. Or treatment.
You begin to see that they are growing in their knowledge of themselves.
2) They reveal their own painful feelings about their hurtful choice.
They talk to you about their own shame or guilt. As they figure out what was going on with them, they share it with you. Talk about what it felt like to them to know they were hurting you.
3) The behavior stops. Or decreases to a significant extent.
This varies with the situation. But they have a plan on how they are going to go about changing their thinking or their lifestyle. Maybe even their environment. So that it decreases the chance of the behavior continuing.
There is one other thing to consider. And this one is about you.
Trust requires a leap of faith. No matter how much information you have today.
When you are regaining trust in someone, or trying to learn to trust again, you need to realize that you will only have the facts as you know them.
No matter if the person who hurt you has provided you with his or her passwords. Access to everything they possess. Done everything in their power to regain your trust. Talked sincerely and openly.
You will never know, without a doubt, what will come tomorrow.
There is a chance you can get hurt again. However slight.
To trust again, a sense of confidence in yourself is required. Confidence that if you were disappointed again, you know what you would do. How you would care for yourself, or others you love. As hard as that might be.
You trust yourself.
And that self-confidence allows you to take the leap.
To trust again.
This time. Not blindly.
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