“I love you but I don’t trust you”. Does that sound familiar to you at all? If so, you’ve come to the right place to find some answers to resolving the issue of trust in your relationship. Can a relationship survive without trust? Do you want it to? Do you feel conflicted about whether you should stay or should you go?

I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point in our lives… whether it is as severe as a gambling problem that has depleted your financial stability, or as nasty as an affair can cripple a marriage, a severe addiction that your loved one is involved in that is affecting you as a by-product, abuse, or a betrayal by a friend… there are many ways in which trust is broken, and different levels of severity to be sure… but the types of broken trust I hope to address today are the ones that cause you to ask difficult questions about whether the relationship is salvageable, or better yet, hope for total restoration!

I read a book by the title of my opening statement: “I love you, but I don’t trust you”, written by Mira Kirshenbaum, who has some great advice and much wisdom on the subject. I would highly recommend this book as it is a great read for anyone wrestling with complicated trust issues. Today, I hope to briefly review some of her recommendations that I believe are full of wisdom!

From the back cover of the book, it grips the reader with compelling questions such as:

Is my relationship worth saving?
Will the trust ever come back?
How can things ever be good between us again?

As a quick overview, some of the most important messages I pulled out of her book where most often questions that left you thinking… but help to pull you out of the vicious trust cycle of “should I stay or should I go.”

Asking the following questions should help you not only sort out the answer to that question, but help to answer the question of “Can trust be restored once it is broken?”, once you’ve made up your mind to stay.

Try asking yourselves these questions:

1. Would you want this relationship if trust could be restored?
“Guideline #1: If you didn’t think this was a good relationship before the betrayal… then why would you want to stay in it now? But if the relationship was a good one, why wouldn’t you want to try to salvage it?

2. Does the fact that this betrayal happened ruin everything for you?
“Guideline #2: If the betrayal has changed who the other person is for you so thoroughly that you can’t imagine wanting to be with him – not even after your anger has died down, not even if you knew for sure he’d never betray you again – then trust isn’t the issue and you’ll be better off ending the relationship.”

3. Can I imagine the possibility of forgiveness?
“Guideline #3: If you can see your lack of forgiveness as a self-destructive act, if you can see forgiving as a life-affirming act, and if you can sense the realistic possibility that one day you might be able to forgive, it makes sense to work at healing this relationship. Otherwise, not.”

4. Does the person you mistrust care about how you feel?
“Guideline #4: If the other person doesn’t care about how you feel in the sense that he consistently hasn’t gone out of his way to do things to show his caring, then he will not be able to work with you during the trust-restoring process, and so it’s not likely to happen. Why bother trying?”

I need to insert something I have personally observed in this stage of restoring trust: It is far easier to fixate on the problem (broken trust) than to actually notice and take into account the other person’s caring actions. Be careful in this stage to pay attention to the internal messages you are taking in. Is everything coming through the broken trust filter, or are you able to cognitively reason instead of looking through an all-or-nothing point of view? Can you intentionally give credit to the other person when they ‘go out of their way to show they care?’ If they are unwilling to rebuild trust… you will know it.

5. Can the other person work on your relationship with you?
“Guideline #5: A good way to tell if the other person is willing to work on the relationship is this. What happens if you attack less and listen more? If that makes the other person more willing to work on things with you, then you’re in good shape. If it doesn’t make a difference, or if you can’t bring yourself to attack less and listen more, then you may not be able to go through the process of rebuilding trust.”

Broken trust CAN heal. We were hardwired to trust. It’s in our DNA. “We want to trust. We need to trust. We’re designed by nature to be trusting creatures.” As Mira says in her book.

The reality is, as I mentioned in my previous blog on trust, when we stop trusting, we lock our hearts up in a cave, impenetrable. We become hardened, and isolated, and we lack ability to sustain caring and attached relationships because something inside of us has been altered by broken trust. Our sense of safety has been dismantled… our belief that there is good in the world turns into suspicion of every person we meet…

“Our thinking goes something like this: If HE could hurt me the way he did, than ANYTHING could go wrong, EVERYTHING has the potential to blow up in my face. I can’t even trust myself.”

I know. I’ve been there too. It’s like you no longer csn trust yourself to make good judgments. But again, if we turn it into an all-or nothing belief, we will completely discredit ourselves because we did something perfectly normal, perfectly human: we chose to trust someone with our heart and they disappointed our hope.

In closing, I will share this great quote from another favorite author of mine, that really helped me to understand why just because you trust, it doesn’t necessarily equal that someone else will be trustworthy in response:

“If you are a responsible and loving person, you might assume other people are like you – responsible and loving… You do the right thing by taking responsibility for yourself, for your mistakes, for your work, and care about other people and how your actions affect those people. You have concern about how what you do affects others. Doesn’t it make sense that everyone else would be like you and really care?”

Unfortunately, if you were to read further, you would realize that this simply isn’t the case. But just because it is not the case, does not mean that we automatically suspect everyone as a person who is self centered and out to get you.

Eventually, we must come to a point where we reach out and risk again, despite how unsafe it feels. Check out my blog on “Safe People” for tips on learning what qualities need to be in place for you to believe it is worth taking the leap of faith and trusting again!

And don’t be too hard on yourself. It is a process, and as they say, time heals all wounds…

Advertisements