Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me.
What does that old cliche mean to you? The implication is that the first time you get hurt, another individual was at fault. When you get hurt a second time, it’s because you allowed it to happen, or so you think. After you have been wounded, mistreated, lied to, or cheated upon, your defenses start to go up and you eventually shield yourself from ever being taken advantage of again.
If you are an adult who may have been a victim of child abuse, whether physical, emotional, or verbal, you are already at such an unfortunate disadvantage. You may have extreme trust issues and the thought of entering, let alone developing a relationship, is a very frightening prospect indeed.
I refuse to trust anyone
Have you ever felt this way? Maybe your father left your mother when you were very young, You saw her struggle to raise you and your siblings and make ends meet. You did what you could to support the family but perhaps you kept seeing your mother being taken advantage of and finally giving up hope. She ended up in a relationship with a man that treated her very poorly, then left her for another woman. You began to isolate, feared any form of intimacy and fought any new relationships that may have attempted to enter your life. Whether your childhood story is similar, or perhaps it more closely resembles the story of a loved one, it is an all-too familiar tale that provides the foundation for so many who struggle with mistrust.
If you are fortunate enough to have given a relationship a “chance” after such a rocky start, give yourself lots of praise! The hard part is learning how to trust once you have been hurt. If this has happened to you, realize that people are human and mistakes are eminent Good relationships are built on trust. When you are repeatedly being victimized by the same individual, and you see no desire in him/her to WANT to change, then you are faced with some very tough choices ahead.
Some people can not, or will not change. They cheat, lie, abuse, and live very selfish lives. All people deserve a chance to do the right thing. But when you see a pattern of lies without any desire to make things right, do yourself a favor and ask these hard questions:
- Do I trust him/her to be totally honest with me?
- Do I detect a pattern?
- Do I trust his/her friends?
- Does he/she act defensively?
If the trust in your partner has been compromised, seeing a professional counselor may be an option. If you want to rebuild your relationship, the investment may be exactly what you need.
Finally, there are “Trust Games” that can be found online for free. You can explore your relationship in a new way. This is just one of several Trust Games that you can try as you begin to rebuild the trust in your relationship.
Fill in the Blanks
Take a piece of paper and write something positive that you feel about your partner. Set it aside. Now do this again but this time, leave out the verbs and emotions. Let your partner fill in the blanks about you. I ….. you because you….Your sheet of paper may read, “I love you because you take care of me.” Now compare and share. Good luck!