Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Breaking trust - just get over it?

When a relationship has suffered the pain of a breach of trust - lying about how money was spent, hidden addictions, a spouse confiding in others about private issues, and the most painful of all, an affair - rebuilding that trust can seem impossible.

For most people once an affair has happened, the relationship is over.  There's no second chance.

Packing up and walking out is often the wisest choice, and there are times I've encouraged it.  Yet one thing can't be ignored.  The one who was cheated on is rarely the innocent victim. Rarely.  He or she needs to question whether their own behavior or attitudes contributed in some way to the disintegration of the relationship.  If they break up and move on, but carry those same negative qualities with them, they could continue repeating the same painful experiences again to some degree or another.  Even if their spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend was the most deceitful, evil and selfish of the two, and inflicted the most pain, it always takes two to destroy a committed relationship.  He may be 90% in the wrong, but who's to blame for the other 10%?  Though your 10% pales in comparison to his glaring mistakes, it's still negative and needs to be changed.    

So what if you want to give that person another chance?  What do you do?

One thing you don't do, is just slip right back into the same old habits.  Broken trust means that the hard work of building a good relationship wasn't done well in the first place, which means rebuilding requires even more work than what's required for just maintaining a good relationship.  The idea that forgiving and trying again means that everyone is starting from zero, is totally wrong.  The one who cheated is being given a chance, but he or she is deep in the hole.  They've forfeited their rights to be treated as honest and trustworthy.  If they don't like it and balk at being questioned where they were, who they were with and what they were doing, they don't deserve another chance.  They have to be totally transparent - emails, text messages, Facebook accounts.  If they can't allow themselves to show  what they are doing and with whom at any time, they are sending the message that they have something to hide.  

If you've cheated on your partner, the worst thing to tell him or her is, "I told you I'm sorry, so just get over it.  Forgive and forget."  Nope, you've got a lot of hard work to do to prove yourself worthy of their love and trust.  They said they'd take you back.  Be grateful and deal with the reality that you are going to be in the doghouse for a good long time until that trust is rebuilt.

But the one who has been wronged - what can you do to change yourself?  How can you ensure that this doesn't happen again?   Answers are coming in the next post...

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