How can I trust after divorce?

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough.

Frank Crane

Trust is one of the most powerful of emotions. It enables us to put our lives, our hearts and our dreams in the hands of another and allow them to help us live. It creates a bond which allows two or more people to work together to create things greater than any could achieve alone, safe in the knowledge that another will be there to support and encourage along the way.

Trust is also one of the most dangerous of emotions. It opens us up to being hurt more deeply than anything else, clouding our interactions with every other person forevermore despite the fact that they will have done nothing to earn such apprehension. It makes us feel lonely and alone, unable to open ourselves up fully to others for fear of being hurt once again and cuts ourselves off from forming real connections with the very people who will help us move forward positively with our lives to a better future.

Whether in business, in friendship or in love, trust underpins everything, so when we reach a point where trust is broken it is devastating. Those who have divorced, especially when it was not of their own willingness or actions, are hit worse than most.

Marriage is a strange construct. Two people come together in front of friends and family and tell both each other and those around them that they will stand together till the end of their days. They promise to love each other and work together in good times and bad, and it is the latter that all too often gets ignored by one party. Bad times, whether short or long, become an excuse to cheat, to stray, to forget their promises and think only of the here and now.

This isn’t to say all divorces are bad. Some end toxic relationships, or come at a point when things have simply come to an end for one reason or another. But those which haven’t, which end because one party breaks the trust of the other by having an affair, do a level of damage that can take years to repair and sometimes are never fully repaired at all.

Going back into the dating pool after trust has been shattered is tough. Every single person is seen through the prism of trust, with questions constantly being asked that have no right to be asked. Dates are assessed not against the things that they have said and done but in comparison with all the things that have gone before. Inevitably they are also lumped in with those who have broken trust before.

It’s so easy to do, especially if you gave your ex 100% total, unqualified, complete trust. When you invested in them utterly and believed in the very core of your being that they would never, ever do anything to hurt you. When they ultimately did it broke you, just as totally, utterly and completely.

It makes you question everything about yourself, your judgements, your values. You build up a world around you in marriage where you feel better than the rest of the world, where you just know that those things happen to others and would never happen to you as you are a team. It makes you question whether you could or should have seen it coming, whether it was because of you, whether if you’d been just a little less trusting you could have spotted it and done something about it.

Your rational brain says no, but love isn’t rational. Trust isn’t rational. The world becomes a little more grey, a little less positive and a little more like everyone always told you it would be, so you respond by withdrawing, by retreating into a safe shell where you trust no-one but yourself and even then you question even that. After all, if you trusted them and they broke your heart, how can you trust even your own judgement?

It’s tough to break yourself of that, to realise that not everyone is out to lie to you, to hurt you, to cheat on you, to break you. There are still good people out there, people who would never willingly, knowingly or deliberately let you down and who would be worthy of the faith you show in them. It’s tough not to think that you’ve been hurt before by investing in someone just as good as them, so better not to open up and to reserve a greater or lesser part of you so as not to be hurt as deeply.

The danger with this is that you then never totally, utterly and completely love again. Love needs vulnerability to work; it cannot be complete love without complete vulnerability. Love needs you to hand over the deepest, most precious parts of your soul to someone else knowing that they will cherish and protect them. It needs you to risk everything if you are to receive the reward of loving and being loved in return.

Rebuilding trust comes slowly. It comes partly with no relation to romance and starts with friends and family. Finding little ways to trust that people are there for you, even in a non-romantic sense, proves that trust can be rebuilt, even if only at the lowest of levels.

It then needs you to let go a little and risk, even when every fibre of your being is screaming at you not to. It’s safe to hide behind your emotional walls, never trusting and never getting hurt again, but means you will forever be trapped in a prison of your own emotions. Trust is the only thing that can free you to live.

Give a little trust. Then give a little more. Open up to someone and don’t judge them against the worst that has come before. Judge them on their own words and their own deeds, not on the words and deeds of others that they had no knowledge of nor ability to change.

And when they prove to you that they are worthy of that trust, give them some more. Tell them a story, a fear, a hope, a dream. Let them in, little by little; let them show you their worth and their values. Give them the gift of your trust, even if it is given slowly; for the gift of trust from those who have been hurt so deeply could well be the greatest gift possible to receive.

Trust people. It's worth it.

5 thoughts on “How can I trust after divorce?

Add yours

  1. Well written. Two thoughts, really. I’ve had to accept that we are all fallible, in some way. Being cheated on is horrible but I got myself into a loop afterwards of assuming the moral high ground. Quite frankly, he wouldn’t have cheated if I’d been perfect – or maybe he would’ve – but I’m not and that was a good thing to recognise in the wake of the end of the marriage. And therefore – second thought – is when you contemplate a new relationship, the person you will be forming the relationship with will also be fallible in some way. Maybe an important, deal-breaking way, or maybe a small and insignificant way, in the grand scheme of things. For me, this fact has definitely created a – membrane, is the only way to describe it, because it’s not a wall – between me and the other person. It’s certainly a protection mechanism and for me, it has not got in the way of having a good and happy relationship with someone else, and loving again. However, I feel more ‘safe’ in the event the relationship ends, one way or another. It keeps me grounded and it keeps me real. I’m not sure that will ever go away and I’m not sure I want it to. I feel like I’ve ‘wised up’ and that does help when you are wading around in the online dating pool!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A good read – I found that having family and friends who supported me post breakup allowed me to temper the natural distrust.

    I did marry again – but realise that I did not give myself over to the relationship 100% – perhaps 90% – so the breakup had lasting effect

    But 90% trust is pretty good actually!

    So there’s room to celebrate 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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