Q. I read your “emotionally unavailable man” article. Three years ago, I met a woman who seemed perfect for me. Unfortunately, I was that emotionally unavailable man at the time. Now, three years later, we have reconnected for the upteenth time, and a romantic relationship between us is looking very good. The issue is, she doesn’t seem as invested, though she assures me she is just as madly in love with me as she always has been.
Throughout the last three years, I did a lot of cheating, sneaking around, running away, and lying to this woman. We’ve spoken rather extensively about whether we’re ready to be in a relationship again, and it seems to be a yes. I’m just confused as to what I can do to help gain her trust again. I feel as though, even though she is still committed to me, she is having difficulties trusting me enough to move on from thepast.
So, my question is, what would be your advice to me in regards to how I can earn back her trust, and show her that I’m not going to act like I have in the past?
Any kind of answer would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, and blessed be!
A. Gaining trust after infidelity is a difficult conflict for any couple.
We’ve addressed the topic of trust and infidelity previously, but your question puts a new spin on things: Once a partner is willing to give the relationship another shot, how can trust be built again?
First, keep in mind that you cannot do anything to change how she feels. Your partner is going to need to process the relationship and her feelings about it in her own time, in her own way. Clearly she has a desire to make your relationship work, or she would have ended things for good. Does this mean you can’t do anything? Hardly.
Be good to her. The best way to be good to your partner is to be patient. She needs to learn to trust again for herself. When our confidence in someone gets damaged, the healing has to happen on the personal level first, before it can radiate out into the relationship. Be kind. Be present. Be loving. Give your partner time to process her thoughts and feelings. She may benefit from therapy to offer her tools to do that processing in a deep and lasting way.
Be good to the relationship. Couples are not only a couple. In reality, they are a ménage à trois: Each individual human member plus the third entity of the relationship itself. The union that you both create has an energy of its own. Nurture that being by respecting it and treating it with the love you show your partner. Every time you make a choice that honors your partner and yourself you feed your relationship. Conversely, when you disrespect each other, you drain the relationship. Come to see the bond between you as an actual being that needs care and you will instinctively protect it.
Be good to yourself. You recognize that the choices you made in the past were not beneficial to you, to your partner, or the relationship. You have apologized. You have stepped back on the path to do the work of love. Continue to nourish yourself and your soul. Be better than you were. Do this for you, first, then for your partner. She will notice.
It’s going to take a lot of love on your part to heal your relationship. It will also take loving effort from your partner to heal her own wounds and make a space in her heart for you both to live. If you both can hold the relationship as a sacred being that invites you to learn from it and take shelter in it, you will find your way.
Author: Rachel Astarte
Image: screenshot from the movie “Closer”
Editor: Renée Picard