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 at 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 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 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. She captures her seven points in the acronym BRAVING.
Boundaries – you and the other each have and respect boundaries
Reliability – you and the other both do what you say you will do when you say you will do it
Accountability – you each own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends
Vault – neither of you share what’s not yours to share
Integrity – both of you choose to do what’s right based on your values instead of what is fun, fast, or easy
Nonjudgment – both of you can express what’s important to you and ask for what you want without fear of judgment
Generosity – you’re both generous with interpreting the intentions, words and actions of the other
I’ll guess that when you read this list, one or two (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 being betrayed 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.
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