Cycle 1: I CAN’T TRUST YOU, BUT I’M NOT SURE WHY
“I know my partner is lying or being unfaithful I just can’t prove it, yet!”
Sometimes, you might get really frustrated with your partner for telling half-truths or leaving out things that upset you. If that’s the case, consider the following tips:
- Create a safe/open space. If you feel like your partner is hiding something from you, the best thing you can do is create a safe space for him/her to speak with you. Rather than trying to catch him/her red handed, allow your partner to come to you when he/she is ready. Your job is to react honestly to your feelings without dismissing the courage it took for your partner to be honest.
- Stop searching. Being constantly vigilant, asking questions about where your partner has been or who he/she was with, checking his/her phone or credit card statement, etc. is exhausting for you and unpleasant for your partner. It is very important you stop trying to prove your partner guilty and instead have an open conversation about what is bothering you.
- Consider your past. Consider if any past experiences or hidden emotions play into this issue. Maybe a former partner or a family member treated you this way in the past, making you sensitive to your partner now. Be aware of these sensitivities and share with your partner how it plays into your current interactions.
Cycle 2: YOU BROKE MY TRUST AND I CAN’T FORGIVE YOU
“Just because you say it won’t happen again doesn’t make it easy to trust you.”
When you discover your partner has been lying to you, it is a betrayal of trust. Understanding why he/she thought lying was better than telling the truth and coming to terms with the consequences can be difficult. If this is true, consider the following tips:
- Check up on your partner – BUT RARELY. When your partner has broken your trust, it’s normal to want to check up on him/her often. After all, how else will you know for sure if he/she is doing it again? However, if you do it all the time, you’re going to drive both yourself and your partner crazy. Instead, be a detective and make a plan. For example, if you check up on your partner three times in the next month or two and he/she isn’t doing anything to break your trust, would that convince you that he/she is telling the truth? If so, then: a) check up on your partner three times and b) stop checking once you’ve checked three times. That way, you’ll be able to begin to trust your partner again. (If you’d like, you can tell your partner this is your plan. Don’t tell him/her when or where you’ll be checking up, but do tell him/her that you’re doing this as a way to be able to trust him/her again without constantly checking.)
- Schedule conversations. If your partner has difficulty starting difficult conversations and tends to lie or avoid having them, plan a specific time each day or week when the two of you check in with each other. This safe time and place is a chance for you both to share things that have been bothering you and seek the other person’s advice.
- Consider your actions. We certainly don’t want to blame the victim (that’s you!) – it’s not okay that your partner lied to you. On the other hand, it can be helpful to think about if there were things that you did or didn’t do that made it more likely your partner lied to you. For example, did you overreact when your partner did something, which make him/her more likely to hide it from you in the future? If so, changing your behavior might make it less likely for your partner to lie to you in the future. So, is there anything in your own behavior you can change?
- Decide if you can forgive. The initial shock of learning something bad about your partner can leave you feeling alone and hurt. However, ultimately it is up to you to choose to forgive your partner and move on with the relationship or end the relationship. Holding a grudge for months or years on end will slowly deteriorate what you feel for each other. Let your partner know you need a specific amount of time and work towards forgiveness.
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