|Learning to Trust Again
Eleven o’clock on a weeknight I found myself phoning a man whom I’d recently met. We had been talking regularly and I just wanted to hear the sound of his voice.
No answer. After four rings his answering machine kicked in and I hung up. How strange. This man made a point of staying home during the week in order to get up at 5:00 a.m. for work. “Call me any time before midnight,” he had suggested. “I’m usually reading or listening to music.”
There could only be one explanation – another woman. I’d met him through a phone dating system. Obviously he had made a date with someone else and at this very moment could be in her arms. I stalked back and forth in my living room. Why had I expected him to be different? Just because he was punctual and said he “really really” liked me didn’t mean that I could trust him.
The next evening he called to say that he’d fallen asleep early. The phone had jarred him awake at eleven but there had been no message. He still sounded annoyed.
“Probably a wrong number,” I said quickly. Good thing he couldn’t see my face, because I could feel my cheeks flush.
That was when I realized that I had an issue with trust. Of course it takes time and experience to get to know someone – but I’d been quick to jump to conclusions. I took a long, hard look at my life. I claimed to have no luck meeting suitable men over the age of 40 and none of my relationships lasted more than a few months. Why? Looking back, I realized that I had chosen men who were unavailable – either physically (separated by distance) or emotionally.
Deep down I believed that men could NOT be trusted. Upon further reflection, I saw that my belief could be traced to feelings of betrayal in a long-ago relationship – the disillusion and let down I had experienced in so many ways by the man I’d married.
In the years following my divorce I had dated men with charm and charisma, who were also unreliable or unpredictable. I just wasn’t attracted to serious, responsible partners – they seemed boring by comparison. I poured my energy into my career and creative work and largely ignored my here-again, gone-again love life.
What had changed? With time I grew tired of relationships that were going nowhere. I decided that I wanted to meet an honest man with integrity, someone I could truly respect and appreciate. I also decided that I’d rather remain happily single than be with anyone who
didn’t fit the bill.
That decision opened the door to a different kind of relationship – one based on friendship and trust.
How about YOU - are you ready to trust again? Here are some ways to tell:
- Do you harbour feelings of resentment or betrayal? If so, something in your current life can trigger these feelings and surprise you with their impact. For instance a new partner who arrives late for dinner one evening can remind you of an habitually tardy spouse and bring up unexpected anger. When you consistently “overreact,” recognize that you have a problem and trace it back to its source.
- Are you healed from the past? It is important to give yourself enough time to get over a person who once meant so much to you. If necessary, get help and support in coming to terms with your past. To truly heal, you also need to let love into your current life. Focus on developing nurturing friendships and new interests.
- Examine your beliefs – What do you REALLY believe or expect from members of the opposite sex? That they are out for what they can get? Unfortunately you will attract whatever you expect. It is also important to believe that you deserve to be well treated.
- Is there a pattern to your dating experiences? Are you drawn to the same type of character – e.g. someone who always puts you down, doesn’t do what he or she says, or has problems with drugs, alcohol or money? You may be disillusioned with love and feel you have bad luck when it comes to the people you meet. However you CHOOSE these partners for a reason. Look back and check for similarities. Then ask yourself what beliefs you must hold to continually repeat this pattern.
What I discovered is that I don’t need to trust a man as much as I NEED TO TRUST MYSELF. That is, to know that I am strong enough to leave a relationship that isn’t working for me. To do this, I need a high level of self-esteem and I must be used to treating myself well. Moonlight and roses just don’t cut it for me anymore - not if that’s all there is.
Copyright © 2004 by Thelma Mariano
Thelma Mariano, life coach and author, is dedicated to bringing clarity and direction to people's lives. See her on-line coaching programs, articles and column at http://www.u-unlimited.ca.