Learning how to trust someone after divorce is tough.
One of the most frequent casualties of divorce is the ability to trust someone again in the same way you trusted your ex.
It’s as if you’ve blocked off the most tender and precious part of yourself to avoid being hurt on that deep level ever again. You want to make sure you never ever leave yourself open to a repeat of that much pain.
And yet learning how to trust someone again is at the core of being able to live a full life after divorce. That’s because a true connection is critical to a fully lived and vibrant life.
I’m not talking about the surface kind of connection where you keep your truest thoughts and emotions and even ugly cries to yourself. I’m talking about the kind of connection where you can be 100 percent unapologetically you with someone and they can be that way with you too.
Learning how to trust someone again after suffering through a divorce is challenging, to say the least. But, luckily, some work that Brené Brown published in her book Daring Greatly provides a wonderful starting point for discussing and understanding what trust is between two people.
1. You respect each other's boundaries.
2. You're reliable.
You and the other both do what you say you will do when you say you will do it.
3. You both own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
4. You keep each other's secrets.
Neither of you share what’s not yours to share.
5. You both have integrity.
Both of you choose to do what’s right based on your values instead of what is fun, fast or easy.
6. You're non-judgmental.
Both of you can express what’s important to you and ask for what you want without fear of judgment.
7. You're generous with each other.
You’re both generous with interpreting the intentions, words, and actions of the other.
I’ll guess that when you read this list 1 or 2 (or even more) of the items made you cringe. They touched a nerve that still feels a bit raw from your divorce. But they also point you in the direction of where your challenges in trusting someone again are or will be, so you can begin addressing them.
Although everyone has challenges with trusting others in an intimate relationship post-divorce, one group of people who have a lot to overcome are those whose ex cheated on them.
The two most challenging points from Brené’s list for these people to address are integrity and generosity. Learning how to trust someone after a betrayal is fraught with fears of another betrayal.
So, suspicion is the attitude most of these folks adopt when they enter a new relationship.
But if they’re courageous enough to understand what’s driving their suspicions and do the work they need to do to work through their challenges, they can build trust in and with a new partner.
Even if your ex didn’t betray you, creating trust within a new relationship post-divorce is a process. It’s not something that’s deep and abiding the moment you meet someone — no matter how much connection you may initially feel.
Taking the time to explore your concerns and fears in learning how to trust someone — someone new — will take work.
But having someone in your life who holds a safe place for you to openly and freely share the most precious and tender part of you and for whom you do the same, is one of the most wonderful gifts you can ever give and allow yourself to receive — no matter how difficult your divorce was and how scary it is to trust again.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and divorce survivor herself. She works with clients who are ready to move on from their divorce. You can join her newsletter group for free advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with Karen directly in her Time Trade calendar.
This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn's blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.