Kimberly had recently met a new man. She’d been so excited about this new relationship. She had taken so many steps to move past her divorce two years ago. She worked with a divorce coach to overcome her lingering issues, recommitted to her fitness goals, and had even taken up Yoga.
Chris had seemed like the perfect guy. He was thoughtful, fun, and they always had such a great time together. She thought they were heading in a more committed direction. However, he decided two months ago that he needed a break and had taken some time away from her. Now, he was back asking for another chance. He said he was sorry and wanted to resume their relationship, but she was feeling stuck in the hurt and disappointment. How could she trust that he won’t break her heart again?
Kim is finding herself in a situation that many people in long-term relationships find themselves. Their partner has hurt them, but they are struggling with getting over the pain.
Here are 7 tips that will help you learn to trust again.
You may be harboring some unconscious guilt regarding the situation. Perhaps you are holding onto some guilt or some anger for not doing something sooner. Or you’re angry at yourself for opening yourself to the hurt in the first place. Give yourself permission to let go of the anger. When you forgive yourself, then you’ll open space in your heart to forgive others.
Forgive Your Partner
Forgiveness is about releasing the bitterness you have. It isn’t about forgetting. Even though you forgive the other person, forgiveness is for yourself as well. Releasing the pain and anger will heal you. This may be difficult as you’re hanging onto the hurt. But you’ll need to demonstrate the next action, compassion, to be able to forgive yourself and your partner. We all make mistakes. Ask yourself: if you made the same mistake, would you want to be forgiven? How can you open your heart to release the anger? What would happen if you forgive versus holding onto the pain?
Compassion is the giving of mercy and sympathy. Show compassion in the forgiveness of yourself and your partner. Practice kindness and charity with all, but especially with the ones you love most. Become aware of your ability to give compassion to others.
Use Effective Communication
Be open and honest with your partner. Have frank conversations about what is bothering you and why. Use positive communication tools to foster discussions. This is not the time to bring up past transgressions. Focus on what you need in the present to move forward. For example, if you are struggling with feeling insecure when the two of you go to social events, discuss what you need from your partner for you to feel secure before you go to the next party. Don’t bring up all the details of the last incident. Stay focused on discussing the solutions for the present situation. If your partner is willing to put forth the effort, you can start to rebuild.
Let Go of Perfection
Sometimes we hold ourselves up to an impossibly high standard. And we may be holding others to a standard that is unobtainable or nearly impossible to maintain. But perfection leaves us vulnerable to insecurity and feeling like a failure. That’s because no one is perfect. We all make mistakes and are entitled to making them.
Trust Your Partner
After you’ve found forgiveness and compassion, it’s time to move forward to trusting your partner. You may find this particularly difficult, as you now may feel vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable will leave us uncomfortable and naked. You may find yourself asking, “What if I get hurt again?” But alternatively, what if you’re able to overcome this hurdle and build a wonderful relationship? Sometimes taking a risk is just what we need to make us stronger to believe in ourselves.
Once you’ve shown yourself compassion, forgiveness, and learned to trust others, you’ll be ready to begin to trust yourself. Communicating positively and effectively will help you express yourself and deal with your issues. Now it’s time to begin to trust yourself. If you’ve done the emotional work and your heart is telling you to move forward in the relationship, then it’s time to take the next step. If you’re ready, you’ll know that you can handle the situation, EVEN IF you get hurt again.
After their two-month break and taking a little more time to work on these 7 steps, Kimberly did give Chris another chance. They’ve become more communicative with their feelings, and feel their relationship is strong. They are off to a strong start, and Kimberly is glad she opened her heart to Chris again.