After a broken relationship and a painful heartbreak, many people ask themselves this question: “Where’s the wine?” Then, they follow up with a more important question: “How do I ever trust again?”
Many who ask this question have experienced some amount of pain in a past relationship and now feel stuck in the present with trust issues.
You want to move forward, you want to date again, and you want a heart open to the possibility of love. But you fear that all of this comes with risk, and that leaves you hesitant.
In short, you don’t want to get hurt again.
So, how do you overcome this? How do you survive a bad breakup and toss your hat (and your broken heart) back into the ring in hopes of finding someone else?
To learn how to build trust in a new relationship, take these 5 steps:
1. Take responsibility for your role in the breakup.
It’s a rare occurrence that only one person is at fault for the failure of a relationship. Even when the actions are overt — one partner cheated on the other, for instance — both parties share the blame.
This isn’t to say that blame is always a 50/50 split, but knowing what role you played helps you amend that role, which better prepares you for your future love.
To figure out your contributions, ask yourself the following:
- What relationship red flags do you see now in hindsight that you may have overlooked or denied were there?
- Did you choose to stay too long in the relationship knowing that it was turning toxic?
- Were you hoping that the presence of this other person would complete you?
- Were you afraid to be alone?
- Were you responding to peer pressure from family or friends to be in a relationship?
- Did you give your power away?
- Were you putting up with disrespectful behavior or staying in a situation that was leaving you feeling depleted for extended periods of time?
When you look at the answers to these questions, you’ll begin to see your responsibility in your choice of partner and your choice in staying with them. Taking responsibility also means taking back your power so you won’t spend time licking your wounds and you ready yourself to find love once again.
2. See the positive benefit of the failed relationship
Breakups hurt. They’re painful, soul-crushing, and leave us with damaging trust issues. But, there’s usually a bright side, even on the darkest of days. Thus, find a way to look for the positive before the negative wears you down.
What do you now have that you didn’t have before? Maybe it’s peace.
Maybe it’s the freedom to make decisions without feeling criticized. Perhaps, you have time now, to fill with self-care, hobbies, and passions that allow you to fall deeper in love with yourself.
Another way to look at it is to examine what you’ve learned from the relationship. Maybe you’ve figured out that you don’t want an overly ambitious man. Or perhaps you can finally commit to only dating folks that demonstrate they accept you exactly the way you are. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.
Giving meaning to your pain allows it to transcend the suffering. Rather than running from it, accept it and believe that something better is out there waiting for you. Remember, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
3. Slow down
There’s something about a relationship ending that makes us all look at dating like it’s a last-minute Christmas spouse shopping.
Slow down! You don’t need to be in a relationship five minutes after your other one ended. Wait until you’re ready. One of the ways to know that you are over a breakup is when you can replace fear with curiosity.
Fall in love with yourself first. Start enjoying your life on your own.
Do things that bring a richness to your life as you recover. Engage in better self-care and take time to slow down and enjoy weekends. Start a new hobby like hiking, yoga, meditation, or chess.
There should always be a gap between relationships, so honor that gap. Then, change your reason for getting into the next relationship.
Stop looking for the one for you and see your relationship as a road for you to become the best you can be.
4. Talk to your friends
You probably talk to your friends about your relationships or who you’re dating — it comes with the territory of friendship. But, after a breakup, don’t talk to your friends in the same way you always have. Instead, ask questions, learn more about what works, study relationships, and seek out advice from people in long-term, solid unions.
It’s also wise to be aware of any negative self-talk you have about yourself and relationships. Using words like “always” and “never” backfires and never works.
Notice if you’re surrounding yourself with folks who are cynical and jaded. These types of folks will always find reasons to close down and not trust. Be wary of the conversations and people you take on as influencers in your life.
5. Change how you respond to pain.
As mentioned above, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. The truth is, in any deep relationship, when you bring your heart into the interaction, you’re going to experience some degree of pain.
So, rather than trying to avoid all pain when you’re figuring out how to trust again, a more effective system is to change your response to that pain.
Change the way you define hurt. Realize that on the opposite side of pain is the opportunity for growth. On the opposite side of pain is healing. They come together, neatly tucked into a 2 for 1 package deal.
Pain is part of this growth — on a microcosmic level, cells cannot grow and protect themselves simultaneously.
Cells can’t and neither can souls. Try on that the pain you experience in a relationship as breaking you open rather than breaking you down.
Perhaps the pain is only coupled with a greater and more present capacity to love and feel deeply, which is only going to allow you to create a deeper more fulfilling connection with a partner in the future.