Signs Past Betrayals Are Haunting Your Current Relationship (And How To Build Back Trust)

Breakups are an inevitable part of dating. Even in the most amicable circumstances, breakups still hurt. And when serious issues are involved, including cheating or deception, or even abuse, reconciling with what happened can be full-time, emotional work. It is an unfortunate truth that those who are hurt in relationships often feel the most ostracized. Having to address the pain inflicted upon them can be an isolating experience, one that can involve shame and create low self-esteem. 

The thought of being hurt again is often cited as a barrier to exploring new relationships. But even when you do decide that love is worth the potential heartbreak, when you meet a new partner, you might be surprised to find that you feel and act in ways that you do not recognize. Perhaps you even begin to expect new partners to hurt you when you have experienced the same pain repeatedly. No matter what the differences might be, the pain you've experienced with previous partners could have influenced your mental and emotional patterns, even when those feelings have nothing to do with a new partner. 

Keep in mind, there is no set timeline for healing from a past relationship. Whether it's been two months, two years, or two decades, pain affects everyone in different ways. So reject the idea that you need to be completely "healed" before you enter into a new relationship as healing is not a linear process.

How to tell when the past is present

Although it can be hard to accept at first, just because you were hurt before does not make you unworthy of being loved again. Some wounds might simply stick around for longer than others. But, of course, you don't want to weaponize your past pain against a new partner, as you forge a better future together. Should you see this playing out, be aware of these signs.

First, reflect on whether you tend to focus on the negative, or positive, aspects of your partner or relationship. Because you could expect the relationship to sour, you might anticipate issues before the issues even manifest. Focusing too much on the negative facets of your relationship could be considered a subconscious defense mechanism. When you see the problems coming, you think you can better protect yourself from potential harm. But instead, you could be engaging in a destructive pattern of behavior, tearing down the relationship before it has a chance to blossom. 

Next, consider how often you feel jealous in your relationship. When you have been cheated on or betrayed in the past, jealousy in new relationships could be indicative of an unwillingness to trust, even when your new partner has not done anything wrong. And third, if you feel trouble fully committing to a new relationship, the wounds from your past relationship might be holding you back from giving it your all. 

How to rebuild trust

So how can you address these signs? Being aware of them is the first step. Consider what triggers you. A trigger is something that can cause you to feel a heightened emotional and physical reaction, where past trauma is also remembered and felt within our bodies. Then, consider how you can address those triggers. 

For example, do you feel anxious when your partner does not text you back? Consider learning a few breathing exercises to help calm your nervous system, or create a plan to distract yourself until your partner is available again. This could mean taking a moment to have a snack or distracting yourself with a good book. But if you still have persistent trouble with a particular trigger, do not be afraid to talk to your partner about how they can help, and work through it together. With a consistent effort, you may find that trusting your partner, and yourself, feels easier. 

While having a strong support system can be supremely helpful as you work through overcoming past relationship issues, feeling secure within yourself can also take you a long way. Remember, the hurt that has been inflicted upon you does not define you, nor does it have to define your future relationships. Instead, define yourself, and your life, in terms of joy. Focus on building yourself up. Enjoy activities that make you feel most fulfilled and try writing yourself daily affirmations. When you know you have your own back, you can do anything you set out to do.