Dear eNotAlone: I was recently lied to by a girl whom I had been seeing for about a month. She led me to believe that she was single, when in reality she was living with her ex-boyfriend. I had been honest with her right from the start and I feel betrayed and betrayed because of this deception. We talked, texted, and even hung out as if she was a single woman but, deep down, I knew something wasn't right. I tried to ignore my doubts, but they kept gnawing at me until eventually I asked her straight up if she was really single and she admitted that she wasn't. Now I feel hurt and misled - I don't even know what the truth between us was in the first place. Is it possible to rebuild trust after a situation like this? How can I tell if someone is truly trustworthy or not? Please help me make sense of this.
* * *
Feeling betrayed and misled is understandably painful, but it is important not to let these feelings put an end to meaningful connections with those we care about. You were completely honest with her, and you deserve the same level of respect and honesty. Were you to move on from this situation, it is key to remember that rebuilding trust may be difficult, and that is perfectly okay.
When trusting someone, understanding the value of honesty is essential. This entails not only making sure that your partner is being up front but also checking in with yourself: Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable around your partner? Ask yourself why you felt the need to return to this relationship even though you had doubts creeping in. Understand that trusting another person is a process, and it is okay that you have yet to fully trust the person whom you are dating.
The first step is to have an honest and open conversation with this individual to determine if continuing the relationship is still desired. If so, it will be important to discuss boundaries and expectations, as many relationships that move forward from these challenging moments tend to.
It is helpful to evaluate what trust means to both individuals. To do this, it is important to ask questions about how both people perceive trust and how you can maintain it within the relationship. You can also revisit expectations that each of you brings to the table, discussing areas that you both need to make sure are known to each other.
One of the best ways to build trust is through communication - check in with your partner even when there is nothing specific to discuss, talk more candidly, and make sure they are aware of your expectations and boundaries. Inevitable misunderstandings are bound to come up, so having an understanding of how each of you might approach conflict can help keep the trust built.
Another way to build trust is by writing down a non-judgmental list of things that your partner does that you appreciate or admire. This allows you to practice mindfulness about the trust that already exists, as well as identify areas that might be improved on. It is important to remember that building trust takes time, effort, and patience from both parties in the relationship. Forgiveness is also necessary if any incidents of distrust arise. It takes two people to make a relationship work, and by addressing this issue early on, you can set the foundation for a strong and successful relationship in the future.