One of my best friends in college was seeing this guy for several years. They were talking marriage and kids. I guess you could say it was pretty serious.
One day she discovered messages between him and several other girls. They were NOT a casual conversation. They had been together for so long, I guess it was just assumed that they had the same definition of what cheating was. Surprisingly I see a lot of people in this situation these days.To her, talking dirty and sending risque photos back and forth with other women was a huge breach of the trust they had built.
He apologized, but he had been so good at hiding it before that no one could be sure that he wasn’t doing anything else that would be detrimental to the relationship.
She became suspicious about everything. I don’t blame her one bit. I mean most people aren’t capable of trusting partially. Either you do or you don’t.
He owned up to it and promised he wouldn’t do anything to ever hurt her again, but since it was a secret he kept so well it was hard to see any actual change. So, she became overbearing and untrusting of him. It was like their relationship was a glass resting on the edge of a table.
If that makes you as uncomfortable as it does me, then you can imagine how much it sucked to be in a relationship where you feel like you have no control. That glass could be tipped at any moment, the relationship, irreparable.
When someone you care for says I don’t trust you, it can be one of the most painful things you’ll ever have to deal with. The sad thing is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you earned that distrust.
- You did something.
- She’s generally distrustful because of relationships in her past.
- She’s insecure.
No matter whether you did something to deserve it or not, she is feeling pretty vulnerable at this point. So, she will be shielding herself from being able to be hurt. That means it’s unlikely that she’ll let you or anyone else close enough to hurt her. If she’s asked for space or time then it’s best that you give it to her.
What Can You Actually DO Though?
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Each situation requires a different approach. You can’t just say, “trust me,” and everything just magically becomes fine. There are cracks in the foundation of your relationship and without being addressed properly the entire relationship could crumble and fall.
I used to do home restoration, and I can tell you right now that you don’t just pour Quick Crete in the trouble areas and expect it to be a permanent fix for the entire situation. Apologies would be a quick fix. Even if you mean it, it doesn’t fix any underlying issues that cause the trust issues. If you get back together and leave these issues unaddressed… you are in for a much messier breakup that will damage you both worse than giving her a little time will.
How to Get Her to Trust You if You Screwed Up
We all screw up from time to time. But whatever you did broke something that the two of you built together. Real trust like that takes a lot of time to establish. However, breaking it can be as easy as not mentioning that you were fired or flirting with another woman. Or it can be broken by something as epic as cheating or lying. Whatever you did, the trust can be rebuilt, however, it will never be completely restored.
So, if you expect things to go back to the way they were or you want to spend the rest of your life with this woman then you need to be prepared to be the epitome of transparent and trustworthy. You know that urge that tells you to keep something secret from someone? If you get that a lot, then I suggest you move on with your life, because keeping secrets isn’t an option if you want her back.
Step 1: Give Her Time/Space but Be Available to Her
If she asked you to give her time or space, you are going to send her one text and then give her what she asked for. Here are the points you want to get across.
- I understand why you need space/time.
- I am going to give you that, but I am also going to do everything I can to earn back your trust
- I know you don’t owe me anything, but I hope that you haven’t given up on us.
- I will be here when you are ready to talk.
Step 2: Accept Responsibility for Your Actions
You did what you did. You can’t take them back. You can’t control how other people react to them. However, you also have to take responsibility for the fact that you hurt someone you care about. So, even if you don’t understand why it hurt her, you need to accept that it did.
Here’s something that not many people in your situation realize. This isn’t just about trust. It’s about respect. When you hurt her, you make her feel like you don’t respect her enough to consider how your actions affect her. Accepting that this is the underlying privilege.
Think about it this way. Let’s say you get the job of your dreams working side by side with the person you look up to most. You would spend a lot of time thinking about the actions you are about to take because it will affect them. Well, in a relationship, the person you are with is supposed to be your partner. EVERYTHING you do affects her in some way.
There’s a quote by one of my favorite comedians, Louis C.K.
“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide you didn’t.”
So, here’s my advice to you. Whether you understand why whatever you did hurt her and broke your trust or you don’t, you can accept that it’s happened. So, accept that and move on. Don’t get hung up trying to convince her that it doesn’t make sense or that she should change her stance on it.
Step 3: Commit to a Complete Honesty Policy within the Relationship
If she asks you questions, be prepared to answer them without being offended. The idea is to give her what she needs in order to feel safe in the relationship. If she asks, “Who are you texting?” or “Where are you going?” Be 100% honest. No sugar coating, no white lies. If you are about to do something that you might feel the urge to lie about later… don’t.
One of my friends had this issue when he and his ex got back together after he got caught in a lie or seven. And he came to me and said: “I love her but she’s driving me crazy. It’s like she thinks I’m going to cheat on her while I’m brushing my teeth!”
So, I asked him if he took his phone with him.
That’s what was making her think that he was doing something fishy. When in reality we are all just attached to our phones. If she is being a bit overbearing about it, then there is a second conversation that needs to be had. Here are the points that need to be made.
- I accept that I broke your trust.
- The way you feel is valid and I will answer any question you have with complete honesty.
- However, being considerate of your feelings does not invalidate my feelings.
- So, I will listen to your concerns and when you let me know that something I do makes you uncomfortable. We can discuss each concern and come up with a reasonable solution together.
There is a reason this is an important conversation. Any woman who is dealing with trust issues will make unreasonable requests of you. Here are some of the more demanding ones I’ve heard.
Unfriend ALL of the females on your social media accounts, even family members.
Hand off ALL of your female clients to another personal trainer.
Give me all of your passwords to everything.
And my least favorite… Joint Accounts for EVERYTHING.
Here’s the thing, you don’t get to decide if you hurt someone, and you don’t get to define what will make them feel safe in a 4 after you screw up.
So, where most people will tell you to ask her what she thinks will make her feel safe and give it to her, I suggest making it a conversation where you both discuss solutions. This affords you both input and control and gives her the feeling of support and understanding that I’m certain she needs at this point.
When she is ready to start talking again, it’s important that it’s actual communication, not just apologies and disproportionate respect.
If She is Harboring Trust Issues From Past Relationships
We’ve all had someone betray our trust at some point. Some people take the pain of that and carry it with them for the rest of their life. You can’t fix what happened to her in the past. It sucks, but you have to fight to earn any trust she gives you even though you didn’t do anything to deserve distrust. The best way to counteract this is by establishing a healthy line of communication between the two of you. Let her know that you have no intention of hurting her. And let her know that when she starts to feel like you might hurt her that she can come to you. When she does come to you and says
“I’m feeling really vulnerable right now.”
“I know it’s unfounded but there’s something that is bothering me.”
Learning to hear statements about how she feels with an open mind rather than taking them personally is the goal here. If you tell her she can tell you these things, you don’t want to overreact to them, otherwise she will feel like keeping her feelings to herself is a better option. Also, once you’ve created an open dialogue for both of you to communicate the way you are feeling, there is a way to respond to her that will help change her perspective.
Let’s say you find her snooping through your phone, because, let’s honest, our entire lives are on there. If she’s got some residual trust issues from a past relationship, this is definitely going to happen at some point. So, when you ask her why she’s snooping through your phone. Her response is probably going to be something like this even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
“You know I have trust issues.”
“Who’s <insert random girl’s name here> and why doesn’ she want you to work for her on Saturday?”
If you both agree to communicate better, and actually listen without getting your feelings hurt, then you should be able to respond to her being distrustful by asking her questions.
What initiated this line of thinking?
I had a friend in college that dated a guy for an entire year. He had her convinced that him taking 2 days to respond to a text was due to work and school. Yet, he always had his phone glued to his hand when they were together. Come to find out, she wasn’t his only girlfriend. In fact, he was an ambitious cheater, dating three girls at the same time. So, now, years later, she gets suspicious anytime the guy she’s seeing takes more than 30 minutes to respond to a text, not that he has done anything to deserve that kind of suspicion. When she and I talked about it, she said that she knew that he wouldn’t do that to her, but she had been fooled before. Letting her guard down would take a lot of patience on his part and an active effort to separate her memory of her ex and her current relationship. That line is hard to draw when you’ve been wounded.
It works kind of like PTSD. Loud noises can bring a soldier who has seen combat right back to the middle of a war zone. They look for combatives around every corner. Likewise, the littlest thing can make someone who has been betrayed by someone they trusted put their guard right back up no matter how hard they’ve worked to let someone in.
Keeping this in mind, leading the conversation by asking questions allows her to come to a conclusion on her own. You can ask…
“What initiated this line of thinking?”
“Have I done something that makes you feel this way?”
“What can I do to help you feel less vulnerable?”
“Is there something that I do that makes you think I am anything like the person that let you down in the past?”
Pay attention to how I worded these questions. You aren’t being aggressive or confrontational. They allow her to come to the conclusion on her own rather than you just coming out and saying ” I am not your Ex!” “I didn’t do anything!” “What can I do to make you…?” These are more aggressive and will make her see you as an adversary rather than her partner.
Dealing With Deep Seeded Insecurities
Yeah… that ecard is a perfect example of how NOT to deal with her insecurities.
Everyone has insecurities. You do too. You just might handle them differently.Someone can say something to you and change your self-perception for your entire life. This can be positive or negative. I mean a teacher I had when I was a kid told me that I could sell ice to an Eskimo. Since then, I have always had faith in my ability to get my point across. It built my confidence. I have a friend who’s dad had a habit of calling her and her mother stupid when she was young. When people do this they are trying to establish themselves above the people they are directing the statement towards. It’s a way to keep people under their thumb.Unfortunately, there are parent’s who do irreparable damage to their children by teaching them that they can’t even trust the people who they rely on for everything.
Someone can say something to you and change your self-perception for your entire life. This can be positive or negative. I mean a teacher I had when I was a kid told me that I could sell ice to an Eskimo. Since then, I have always had faith in my ability to get my point across. It built my confidence. I have a friend who’s dad had a habit of calling her and her mother stupid when she was young. When people do this they are trying to establish themselves above the people they are directing the statement towards. It’s a way to keep people under their thumb.Unfortunately, there are parent’s who do irreparable damage to their children by teaching them that they can’t even trust the people who they rely on for everything.
Unfortunately, there are parent’s who do irreparable damage to their children by teaching them that they can’t even trust their parents, who they have to rely on for pretty much everything. As kids, we build this thing that psychologists refer to as a Love Map. We learn how to accept love. I’ve heard it referred to as a GPS for people’s relationships.
For example, if someone felt abandoned by their father, they might look for relationships with men who had personality traits, and even physical traits, of their father again and again. If they had someone in their life as a kid, they might find themselves drawn to abusive relationships as an adult. Psychologists speculate that this is an attempt to rewrite history. The thought process is that if they can just change the dynamic of the relationship as an adult, they might feel some closure on the relationship with a parent or first love. This rarely works.
However, if you are wanting to salvage a relationship with someone with this kind of deep seeded issues, my suggestion would be to offer to go to a couples counselor with her. The goal is to listen to what she has to say, not to put all of the knowledge you’ve gathered on the table on how to fix her. No woman wants to feel like a project for you to fix. Instead, the idea is to work on the relationship between the two of you and be each others’ support while you each work through your own issues. Listening is key!
Think about it this way. If someone is upset and crying, you can’t just say “Hey! Stop it! Be happy!” and erase it all. You just have to be there for them and let them come out of it on their own. Insecurities are always there, but by understanding and creating a relationship where she doesn’t feel judged for them will allow her to work through them in secret without feeling like she has to push you away first.
A Good Place to Call It
We have covered a TON of stuff today, Love Maps and communication skills. I think that you have a pretty good grasp on things. If you were to take one thing from this article, I would hope it would be the advice on how to watch HOW you communicate and having an open dialogue constantly between the two of you.
Hopefully, I’ve illuminated some stuff you were having trouble with, but if you have questions or you want clarification on something feel free to leave it in the comments below and I’d be happy to discuss further.
(Witten By Ashley Simmons)