Love is the part of a relationship that keeps the fire burning. It can bring butterflies to your stomach, make your eyes sparkle, your skin glow and your heart beat faster. True love between two adults for many people represents the pinnacle of true happiness. But it takes more than love to make a relationship successful.
Trust is just as important in a relationship as is love. Without trust, a relationship will fall apart quicker than a house made of straw. Without trust, couples argue, become suspicious, and make accusations which almost always leave each feeling stressed, vulnerable and angry. Trust means that you believe that your partner will do what they have committed to do. Some commitments are explicitly stated and others are implied. Couples choose to remain monogamous and this is usually discussed openly leaving no room for confusion. After the commitment is made, each partner can choose to believe that the other will keep their end of the deal. You either trust that they will or you don’t. It sounds pretty simple but there are other factors that can impede or influence your ability to believe in or trust another person.
For the Survivor Today, trust means believing in someone and something even when your thoughts and fears recommend that you don’t. It means living in the moment and believing in your partner to be so not like the people you have loved and trusted in the past. And this can be very difficult. The Survivor Today is caught in a dilemma. On one side stands the past, the pain and the fear of being betrayed again. On the other side is your partner, the one you love today asking you to believe that the last thing they want to do is hurt you. What do you do?
Trusting Yourself First
We can talk about trust between two individuals – and that’s important. But do you know that you are also in a relationship with yourself? One in which you can choose to love yourself first, believe in yourself and trust yourself. You can also choose to protect yourself from harm or danger. We process information that we read, see and hear daily. Well, if you begin to see or hear things that give you a sign that your partner may not be trustworthy can you trust yourself to do that thing that is in your true best interest? Even if it means sex with a condom at all times, not moving in together and or not allowing your friends with benefits to use your car, hold your bank card or have a key to your place? Can you trust yourself to stand up for yourself at all times – even when you are so deep in love you can’t see straight? Can you trust that you will protect yourself and set boundaries even at the risk of offending your partner or losing their affection? It is often said that if a person has hit you or cheated on you – you can trust that they will probably do it again. Will you trust this general rule of thumb or will you deny the reality and continue to stay in a relationship in which you are treated badly?
Trust is something you learn how to do. And you will need to first learn how to trust yourself. This means establishing commitments for yourself and holding yourself accountable to keep them. Examples of commitments to yourself include promising yourself to always have safe sex, to never date a married man or to never allow another to verbally or physically abuse you without leaving the relationship quickly. Remember, you owe love, honesty, loyalty and respect to yourself first and foremost and to no other – under no circumstances. Take some time to think about how you want to treat, love and protect yourself. This will be different for everyone but it means thinking of yourself first and spending quality time with you. This list is almost like a contract with yourself. Every now and then evaluate your own behavior. If you made a promise to cut back on smoking- how did you do? If you set a goal to get a physical – have you at least made an appointment? If you have taken even very small steps to accomplish your goals then you have kept your commitments, honored yourself and proven yourself trustworthy. If you haven’t done at least one thing towards your commitment or goal then you are not taking your goals or yourself very seriously. This is the time to really do some soul searching – asking yourself – can I trust myself to do the things that are best for me? There are times when you will find that you haven’t kept a commitment to yourself. And at the root of that non action may be low self worth.
You are worthy and the commitments you establish to protect and love yourself are valuable and purposeful. Trust yourself to love, honor and protect yourself because you can actually see in your day to day behavior that you are actually doing this. We can’t control if, when and how another person keeps their end of the bargain. But we do have the power and control to choose our own behavior and our response to another person’s behavior. Find peace in knowing that you can be trusted to do what is best for you especially when someone else doesn’t. Remember, once you learn what it means to trust yourself you will begin to learn how and when to trust others.