Updated: Oct 21, 2021
**POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING**
What does that look like when you don’t stay with your partner and move on into a new relationship?
As a newly divorced woman, I swore that I would not want to be in a relationship, at least not any time soon. How could I want to after all of the years of lying, secrets and manipulation?
But as the new year descended, I put myself out there on a couple of dating sites.
And it’s been scary.
It’s also been very healing.
I feel very strong in being able to set boundaries, letting men know if I’m not interested, or block them if they can’t take no for an answer. I feel confident. I began to feel as though I might actually be able to move on and get to the place of trusting someone again. Or at least trusting myself again.
A new believer, who lives a little over two hours from me, and I began to message each other. We had some great conversation. I asked tough questions. And so in order to be clear about what I wanted in a relationship and my deal breaker qualities, I made a list.
Yep. I said it. I made a list.
This man, let’s call him Dan, fit my top two. He loved the Lord and was tall. I couldn’t wait to meet him.
We met for coffee near me and had lunch. It was really nice, we never ran out of things to talk about, but there was something lacking.
I was not physically or emotionally attracted to him.
Before meeting Dan in person, I also connected with another man. He didn’t fit my top two....not a Christ follower and not tall. But he was looking for a friend and I could do that. I wanted male companionship and someone to hang out with. This man, we'll call him Jake, fit the bill.
What does ANY of this have to do with trusting after betrayal?? I’m getting there. Really.
I met Jake the day before I met Dan. Jake has a disability which does limit how much we’re physically able to do together. We had great conversation, learned a little more about each other, and as I walked away from our meeting, I thought to myself, “I could fall for him”. What?? He didn’t make the top two... how could I? We were just supposed to be friends.
Jake and I continued to text as friends in the following weeks. He was always concerned about me taking care of myself and not being overwhelmed with my schedule and responsibilities, as well as giving me space to take care of myself and make my own decisions. This was all new for me and I felt my heart falling.
A couple of weeks later, he came to my house and we spent the next eight hours eating, watching a movie and talking into the early evening. The following weekend I went to his house, as well as subsequent weekends. At his house, he would hold me all night long, yet we did not have sex. He knew my boundaries of no sexual contact, and though we each grew to have feelings for each other as more than friends, he respected my boundary. He showed me that he valued me. He expressed my worth to him. He showed with words and actions how much he cared about me. And as hurt as he has been in relationships, he began to trust me. He was vulnerable with me.
And I was physically and emotionally attracted to him.
If you recall from part 1, it’s in watching actions, not words, that trust is built. Have Jake’s actions always been above reproach? No. He is a man who has made it very clear that he wants to have a more intimate relationship with me. I needed to watch his pattern.
And here’s where I realized the places that I still needed to heal.
I put Jake in the category of being a manipulative, narcissistic jerk who didn’t care about me at all. I began to doubt my assessment of him because I struggled to trust my gut. That was because that’s what I knew. That’s what I lived with and experienced first hand, as has anyone who has experienced intimate partner betrayal, so wasn’t everyone like that?
Again, I had to ask myself what was his pattern. Actions not (just) words. Looking back I can see how most of what he says and does is for me, not against me.
In the end, I have no answers right now. I only know this....to know that a man can hold me all night knowing I had lacked that closeness in a relationship, is willing to argue with me, share deeply with me even in the midst of fear, laugh with me, cry with me, be vulnerable with me, and consistently make sure he doesn't cross my boundaries, has shown himself to be more trustworthy than any man I’ve known.
I have no idea what our future holds. Things have been complicated in our relationship. But I have gained a love and respect for this man who continues to example to me that there truly are men out there who can be trusted with my heart and are willing to work on showing it.
So, as you move forward....
Take your time.
Let them show you they are trustworthy, over a period of time. Watch actions, not words. And keep watching.
Make a list of what is important to you and don’t defer from it.
Know yourself...don’t think you have to rush trusting someone when you’re not ready.
Keep your boundaries in place.
If you’re not open to putting yourself out there or can’t handle rejection yet, you’re not ready...especially for dating sites. And that’s okay.
I’ve learned that having a male friend to spend time with, laugh with and work through relational struggles with is priceless. And I'm still working on what real and authentic trust looks like as I continue to move forward, whether or not I ever have another intimate relationship again.
How are you doing trusting in another relationship?
What are the areas that you have realized you need to grow in trust as you move forward?