Cheating, whether we experienced it or witnessed it with people who are close to us (usually our parents), can have a profound impact on our ability to trust and our mental definition of what trust is. When we are exposed to cheating, our mind naturally makes a silent mental note that people cannot be trusted. This also means that the more pervasive the cheating, the more mental notes we have. As a result of this, we now have an undetected warning sign in our mind that people cannot be trusted and we proceed with caution in our relationships. Let me first note, that there are other experiences other than cheating which may contribute to this mental note that people cannot be trusted. I will also note that having this mental note is not a negative thing. However, this mental note can impact how we build our relationships and contribute to difficulty with trust because some people can be trusted and we want to be able to trust. Essentially having this internal conflict is what contributes to difficulty trusting in new relationships.
So how do we learn to trust again or even start to trust? I'm sure you were already thinking of this question. In order to keep this post short, I will share two suggestions. Firstly, we have to start by asking ourselves what trust means to us and what it would look like. How does someone act in order to be trustworthy to me? Also important is how we act to convey that we trust. Trust, like many other things, is a two way street. We can't expect to only receive it and not give any back. Trust as a two way street means that we don't go looking for ways to undermine or investigate our partner's trust. If this person is not trustworthy, their actions will define this not our investigative measures. Now I'm only referring to a new relationship, not when there is any present or past infidelity. (This will be a topic for another post.)
Another thing we can do to start trusting is to question our feelings. Why do I feel I can't trust my partner? It's not easy to trust and sometimes trust feels uneasy. But we should ask ourselves whether we are feeling doubt from our current partner's behaviors or from our own past experiences. This part will require a personal investigation into our own feelings and experiences.
We can move beyond our past experiences. Our past hurt or fears do not need to influence how we form new relationships. Not that our past should be ignored, but it's important to be aware of the positive and negative ways our past impacts us. More importantly, if our past impacts us negatively then it can benefit us to re-evaluate how we can change this negativity in order to have more positive experiences in our relationships.