Newly divorced people often say, “I’ll never trust my ex again,” or even “I’ll never trust a man/woman again.” That sentiment is not surprising given the pain and hurt that comes with many divorces but trust is a cornerstone of healthy relationships and a vital part of connecting with others. Learning how to rebuild trust after divorce is a critical part of healing and recovery.
Here are six strategies that will help you rebuild trust in yourself after divorce:
1. Be Aware of Your Mistrust
The first strategy is to be aware of when you are mistrusting someone. With time, you’ll come to recognize these thoughts and as you do, ask yourself if the mistrust is due to the actions of the other person or your own past experiences that don’t involve them. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to separate the current situation from the past and ask yourself, if you’re being objective about the present. Why are you assuming that this person has the same motives as the person in your past?
2. Trust Your Instincts
Learning to trust again is not just about believing that someone is acting with your best interests in mind but also recognizing when that isn’t the case. It means learning to recognize when a situation doesn’t feel right such as when a partner says or does something that makes you suddenly tense up or pull back. It’s about paying attention to the actions that make you second-guess yourself and exploring those more. Trusting your instincts will help you learn better judgment about who you trust and that can lead to fewer breaches of trust.
3. Are Your Actions Destructive?
Being overly mistrustful of someone, especially an intimate partner can lead to behaviors that stress and strain the relationship. For example, if your partner is late home from work and says they stopped for a drink with some coworkers, how do react to that? Demanding too many details and making accusations about why they went for drinks or the nature of their relationship with a coworker could become destructive. The questioning, interrogation, and doubting can make the relationship too claustrophobic for your partner. Ask yourself if your partner has given you reason to be mistrustful or, are you being questioning because of the behaviors of past partners.
4. People Make Mistakes
We are all human and we do all make mistakes. Be careful not to assume that the actions of another were intentional and deliberate. They may have been a spur of the moment reaction, a decision made without thinking through all the consequences. You’ll know the difference by having a discussion with the person and being attentive to their responses.
5. Are Actions And Words Consistent?
Keep in mind the axiom, “Actions speak louder than words” and look for consistency between what your partner says and what they do. When the two are not aligned it means that you do need to explore their behaviors deeper and challenge the contradictions. Trust your instincts and that also means not being afraid to direct conversations.
6. Practice Trust
Trust is something that comes instinctively to us – look how trusting babies are. Our life experiences however often make it easy to become mistrustful and that can become a habit that erodes your ability to trust. To overcome this you need to override an inclination to doubt and make a conscious decision to trust. Do this often enough and you’ll become a trusting person with the skills to discern situations that warrant being less trusting.
“We are never so vulnerable than when we trust someone but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find joy.” ~ Walter Anderson, German writer.
This article first appeared on Since My Divorce and was based on an interview between Mandy Walker and Terry Gaspard, co-author of “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome The Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”
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