Modern Miss Lonelyhearts

Regaining Trust

Join Massive’s own agony aunt as she dissects the peaks and pitfalls of dating in a millennial world.

I myself, like countless others before me, have pondered the question of ‘how to regain a partner’s trust’. More often than not, these questions arise in relationships as a result of infidelity. Admittedly, I am no exception.

When asked about this by friends of mine, I’d usually say something along the lines of: “look, people mess up all the time”. That’s what people are good for, right? You can reliably count on just about any individual to find a way of messing things up at some point in their lives. That is what makes us human.

However, there’s this unspoken threshold, that as we grow older (and hopefully a little wiser), allows for less and less mistakes of this nature. The idea being, that this forces people to learn their lesson.

People have a finite amount of trust. It doesn’t simply regenerate like the health bar in a video game. Every time you hurt someone, a little bit of that trust goes away forever. And rightfully so – that seems to be one of the core coping mechanisms we all use to keep ourselves from being emotionally trampled over and over again.

So, say you’ve hurt someone somehow. Perhaps you cheated, or were looking up an ex on Facebook (which, when we’re honest, is something we’re all secretly a little guilty of). But no matter what it is that you’ve done, you’ve got to figure out why you did it. Without understanding why we do the things we do, it is incredibly difficult to rectify that behaviour.

Now, most people I’ve spoken to about cheating have said something along the lines of, “I did it because I’m stupid”. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to disagree with that statement.

Cheating is stupid. But ultimately, being ‘stupid’ isn’t really a reason. Are you unhappy? Do you not feel like you’re getting what you want? Are you just bored? Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate some things. The best thing you can do, for now, is try to honestly examine whether you actually should be in a relationship at all. Chances are, if you’re
cheating, or actively contemplating it, you shouldn’t. In a happy, healthy relationship, the last thing you should want is to hurt the person that you’ve dedicated yourself to.

Let’s say you do want to try to make things work. But, understandably, the trust in your relationship has taken some damage. If you honestly love this person, you have to change the way you think.

It’s perfectly human to have urges. In our day-to-day lives, we all come into contact with people we find attractive; whether it’s a mutual friend, a coworker, or a passing stranger. Those feelings are, for the most part, beyond our control.

However, what you have to get rid of, is the ‘what if’. Banish those and any other thoughts of dangerously open ended, tangible opportunities. No doubt you’ve all heard the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’. There’s a reason why phrases like that stick around for so long. Show the person you’re with that they come first, that this is where your mind is. Apologise, and mean it.

If you’ve hurt your partner, you owe them a meaningful apology. First and foremost: a from-the-heart, look-them-in-the-eyes acknowledgment of just how badly you’re fucked up, and how much you regret your selfish, or maybe just reckless, action or actions. But beyond that, you owe them an upturn in behaviour: long term-fidelity or ongoing care for their wellbeing, and maybe a bonus gesture or two in the meantime. This shouldn’t be too hard, because you want
the best for them. That’s why we’re here. Don’t go throwing your money around when you mess up. That doesn’t last. Anything you buy that person is only going to stick around as a reminder of whatever it is that you did. Try your best to remember the little things. Text the person when you’re thinking about them. Offer to help that person somehow, even when it’s inconvenient to you, because it’s not just you who matters anymore. Relationships are about working together to make each other better and happier individuals.

Dating someone seriously is like practicing, to see if you two could actually be together for the rest of your lives. If you can’t, don’t: that’s okay. If you can, don’t let those little weak-minded moments get in the way of something you’re already so lucky to have found.

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