How To Overcome The Fear Of Trusting Again Even After Being hurt
How do you trust again when you’ve been hurt and you’re scared to be vulnerable again?
Getting back into a relationship after you’ve been hurt can be scary. When you’ve been let down there is a natural fear of trusting and loving again. Because how can you let yourself fall back into that pain again?
There are a few nuances to this, so let’s break them down.
The first layer is that the person you have to trust, isn’t the other person. It’s yourself.
Where does this question come from? It comes from knowing that you’ve placed your trust in someone else and it was misplaced trust.
The narrative you had was that you should trust this person. This person cares for you, will never hurt you and will always be there for you.
The reality was that they let you down. What they gave you wasn’t heartache, but information. When someone betrays you, abandons you or mistreats you, they show you who they are.
But we’re not all cold, logical and analytical so we get carried away with our emotions. We believe in the romance and the dream that we hope is true.
The hurt after a breakup is not because of the truth. That just is, what it is.
It was because of the narrative that you had. It was the vision of the happy ever after that you believed and hoped you had. The loss is the loss of the hope of that dream coming true.
So the real fear now, is that ‘I don’t trust myself to know who to trust. I’m scared I’m going to get it wrong. I’m scared I’m going to get hurt. I’m scared I won’t be able to cope with the hurt and I’ll crumble’.
This is why it is so important to know that healing from a break up is a process. Because a process is reliable and repeatable.
This is why it is important to know that whatever emotional pain you suffer is from your narrative.
People get destroyed by relationships. Toxic relationships can cause PTSD. I’m not minimising emotional pain. What I’m saying though, is that the pain comes from the narrative being twisted. And therefore the narrative can be reformed and reshaped. It’s not always as easy as it sounds because when the narrative traps you, you lose the ability to find your own way out.
But the knowledge and awareness that you can always change the narrative is your life ring.
Sometimes though, we get so attached to what we want, we don’t want to let it go.
Toxic relationships are so damaging because people get addicted to the love bombing. They can’t let go and in chasing the high, they slip lower and lower down.
Trust is a belief in someone or something. We are always having to make a decision whether we can trust in every moment.
Let me tell you a little story.
I used to work from home alone. I would be writing and could often go hours without speaking. I also had a lot of sinus problems. So one day the phone rings and I answer the phone and I answered, but only a rasp came out. It was embarrassing to talk and have nothing come out.
After that, until recently, every time I answered the phone or gave a talk I’d have a nervous cough. My daughters’ used to laugh at me about it. It was all because I didn’t trust my voice after that experience until I changed the narrative.
If you think about walking, it is controlled falling. We let go of firm ground in the trust that our foot will land on ground that can support us. Every step we take is based on the trust that it will work out. Occasionally, we’ll step in a foxhole and stumble, but we recognise the mistake and move on.
We have a lot of faith in our ability to walk, because we’ve been doing it for years. And the odd time when we do stumble is tiny compared to all the time when everything is fine. We have so much trust that we aren’t even aware that we are trusting.
So think of trusting in the sense of walking.
Whenever we do anything in life, it’s like walking, as in moving forward. When we buy something, take a job or even in doing our job we are always basing our next step on do we trust… yes or no?
Where we procrastinate and get stuck, is when we don’t have enough evidence to make a decision. Then we’re, ‘I’m not sure. I want to, but I’m not believing it will happen’.
So now we need to look specifically at trust in relationships.
Trust in relationships is a lot more complex for a couple of reasons.
First, because we have relatively few relationships. So compared to walking, it’s something we don’t do very often.
But more than that, it comes from the narrative of relationships.
Trust is something you feel or don’t feel. You meet someone and you either get a bad feeling and don’t trust them or you don’t think about it and do.
In my model of developing a relationship, you take your time. You are open minded and observant. You aren’t suspicious and checking everything. But equally you do not blindly trust people without any evidence.
Trust is something that develops over time as you have enough evidence to make a valid decision. The level of trust you need to have is based on how much you have at risk. When you buy a drink from the corner shop you don’t need a great deal of trust. When you buy a house, you need reports, legal contracts and insurances.
In the beginning of a relationship you can recognise your attraction and excitement. Yet you do not project it into happy ever after. You can just enjoy it for what it is and allow the relationship to unfold.
You commit when you trust enough to do so. Your trust is based on the same basis as trusting anything else. It should unfold naturally.
Where this goes wrong is that people trust too soon. They meet someone who sweeps them off their feet and they become infatuated or even fall in love. Maybe they’re being love-bombed and want to believe what they feel, is their happy ever after.
The problem is that you can present an image to someone over three months, six months or even a year. So Charmers, Players and Narcissists will sell you on what you want to believe.
So will conmen who want your money.
The way we don’t get ripped off financially, is the same way we don’t get our heart broken. We don’t take people blindly at their word.
This doesn’t mean we are completely cynical and trust no-one. It means we date, we take our time getting to know someone and make our judgement over time.
Does what they say and do match up?
Are they consistent over time?
How do they fluctuate in different moods?
Are they different in different situations?
The problem here is the myth of the fairy tale. We want to believe in the idea of there being a ‘right one’ and knowing when we see them. And yes, some people have fallen in love at first sight and did live happily ever after.
Yet, the odds of you meeting a Charmer who will leave you broken hearted are much greater.
From a mix of reasons. From wanting to be in a relationship. From insecurity and loneliness. From everything we’ve been told about relationships… we jump in too quickly.
People are lonely and anxious that a relationship is never going to workout for them. They have all these exciting feelings of attraction that they want to act on. And so they want to go from date to serious, quickly.
After three months, you know if you have attraction. You know if you like being with someone and can see long term potential. But at that stage it is still only potential.
So here’s the bit that’s screwed up. We have this biology that wants us to mate, to feel connected and intimate.
Yet we also have centuries of morality that tells us sex outside of a relationship is bad. We have such a screwed up relationship to sex that many people feel they can only have sex when it’s a relationship’.
So we have screaming hormones. We want to act on our desires. But women have been told they’re a slut if they have sex with someone they don’t see themselves in a relationship with. Women have been told that they’re just an object if they have meaningless sex with someone.
The compromise is to jump into a ‘relationship’.
Here’s where it gets damaging. Now I’m in a relationship with this person shouldn’t I trust them?
And because of centuries of patriarchal morality imposing shame on women… we rush relationships. We give the most precious thing… our heart because we feel shame otherwise.
Because the risk is so great we need to trust more. Now when you’ve been hurt and everything around you is screaming you have no evidence to trust… is it any reason it’s scary to trust again?
The solution is to do relationships differently. This is why I created the Built to Last Relationship process. Because how we do relationships now doesn’t work.
When you change the way you play the game of relationships, you can make them simple. Once they’re simple you can fix them. You can drive how they go.
But to do this you have to have strong personal foundations. You overcome the anxiousness and insecurity that leads people to jump too soon.
When you have these two foundations in place, then relationships become much simpler. You don’t need to trust as much as the risk isn’t so high. And you don’t commit without reason when you make relationships simpler.