During my junior year of high school, I started dating this guy. Some of my friends had warned me about him, saying he had baggage, but I love to see the best in people, so I continued to date him. I was really happy most of the time and had fun with him. As weeks went by, he said he had a secret he needed to tell me, but he kept holding it off because he did not want to jeopardize the relationship. Eventually, I got it out of him, and that changed everything. As we got closer, he began emotionally abusing me. The secret he had told me played with my emotions and kept me by his side...and he made sure of that.
Leaving for camp that summer, I was super sad that we were going to be apart for two months. I tried my best to maintain the relationship, but the lack of technology made it arduous; he did not understand that I could not be attentive to him every day, making him more angry and manipulative. A few weeks into camp, I decided it was best for me to break up with him because I could not bear the weight of this secret and his emotional abuse. Shortly after, I started to get really depressed and developed an eating disorder.
In the end, my friends and I discovered that the secret he had told me was all a lie, and maybe one of the most horrendous and despicable lies anyone can tell. When we got back to school, I did everything in my power to avoid him. I ended up getting really sick and had to stop going to school as late as the second semester.
One year after the end of the relationship, I was getting ready to go to camp. I was so excited to hopefully find a summer fling. Little did I know, that summer romance would turn into an intense and all-consuming long-distance relationship that I brought home.
That fall, I started my first year of college. Already a super anxious person to begin with, coupled with the broken trust of my last serious relationship, I was constantly worried about my long-distance bond. He had some super close female friends and I could not handle the thought that they were somehow closer than him and I. Every time we flew to see each other, we would have a discussion about my anxiety, and then each time we were apart I would get anxious about it all over again. Needless to say, it was a very overwhelming, thought-consuming, toxic cycle.
In the spring, a few weeks after my birthday, he completely blindsided me and broke up with me over a FaceTime call. I spent my whole summer depressed, crying, missing him, glued to my phone, and eagerly waiting for him to reach out, but he never did.
The combination of my two past virulent, heart-wrenching relationships did not strengthen my trust in new relationships, romantic or otherwise. My second major relationship exacerbated my pre-existing trust issues. Trust is a really scary thing. You could love someone to death, share your life secrets, but they can still break your heart in the end. I am scarred by my last two relationships, so what am I supposed to do with those invisible wounds?
Past experiences and relationships, even platonic ones, can influence the way we do or do not trust other people. Trust is not something that comes naturally to most people; it has to be worked at and earned over time. Telling yourself over and over again that you “have trust issues'' does validate your feelings but it fails to solve the problem. You should never degrade yourself for your past experiences as you can learn more about yourself and what you want and need in future relationships. It is much easier to ignore and avoid your feelings rather than seek to trust someone. If you always keep your walls up because you are too scared to get hurt again, you are likely to miss out on transformative life experiences.
If you struggle with trust, like me, here are some ideas to help you confront your insecurity:
1. Just because of the way someone in your past betrayed you, do not assume the next person will do the same. Without evidence, you have no business to judge how you think someone might act.
2. Trust is not something that does or has to happen overnight, hence, there is no time limit. Take as much time as you need to build a confident relationship with somebody, but make sure they know you want to take it slow.
3. Build a solid and stable relationship. Trust issues indicate that you anticipate the loss of someone. Do not become emotionally attached to someone too quickly if you think the betrayal is inevitable.
4. If they cannot respect your boundaries, then they are not for you. I promise there are people out there who want a grounded relationship just like you….go find them.
5. If you notice something suspicious or think there is a red flag, talk to your close friends or families and get a second opinion. You may not be thinking clearly and reading too much into the conflict due to your quick assumptions.
Relationships with anyone, even yourself, are not or meant to be easy. Scars you may have, physical or emotional ones, may stick with you for the rest of your life, but they do not make you any less worthy of love. And you can trust me on that.
Written by: Jessica Norris