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Suzie Johnson, cpc

Marriage coach & Affair Recovery expert since 1999

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WELCOME!

This website is designed to be a two-way conversation. Where you can ask questions, read or listen to my answers, advice and insights about love, trust & overcoming infidelity.

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I WILL DEFINITELY BOOK SOME MORE COACHING WITH HER

It was a great session I had with Suzie, more than exceeded my expectations and was of great help. Thank you very much for organizing this and I will definitely book some more coaching with her.

donna,

an Affair Partner

9 Myths Around Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity

Answered by Suzie Johnson

Updated:

Updated:

Here’s one of my favorite stories…

Once upon a time, there was a very wise old woman who would walk from town to town across the countryside. She was very poor in the material world. She had only the tattered clothes on her back and a basket with one piece of bread and one piece of dried meat. But in that basket, she also had another thing: she had a pure pink diamond, at that time the largest diamond ever found.

One day, she was sitting by a river when another beggar came by.

Seeing her and spying her food, he begged her to share her meager rations with him. The old woman immediately complied and tore her one slice of bread in half and her one piece of meat in half and shared them with him. When she opened her basket to retrieve the items, he spied the diamond and his eyes grew wide and round with greed. He asked her to give him the diamond instead of the food, and the old woman immediately did so.

The beggar left quickly in glee, clutching the diamond tightly in his hand. 

He went running like mad toward the nearest town, his hunger forgotten. He couldn’t believe his luck and the naiveté of the old woman. But as he started to think about what had really happened, his running slowed to a walk. The more he thought about it, the more his walking slowed, and he stopped walking altogether and began to sincerely review his whole life and everything that had passed him by.

Out of the blue…

A well of tears sprang to his eyes, and humility he had never felt before rushed in to take the place of greed. 

Having Trust

With reverence in his heart, he returned to the river and said to the old woman, “I’ve been thinking, and I know how valuable the diamond is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Please give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.” So what was it that the wise woman had within her that even the beggar could see… was more precious than diamonds?

If you said trust, you’d be absolutely right.

As the beggar found out, the ability to trust is more valuable than all the gold, diamonds, and pearls on the planet. Those who have trust have the true riches of life. And the opposite is also true. Those who lack trust, even if they have everything else, are still poor because they lack one of the key ingredients to a happy life.

Which brings us to why you are here.

If you’re like most of my readers… somewhere in your recent past, something happened to you that was so painful, so traumatic, so disappointing, and so unpleasant that it ruined your ability to trust. And maybe after living in the shadows of mistrust, you’ve finally come to recognize (like the beggar in the story) that a life without trust is unbearable. If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place because in the next few minutes, I’m going to help you remove some of the biggest obstacles standing in the way, so you can regain the trust you lost.

Let’s begin that process by answering a very important question…

What Exactly Is Trust?

The word itself gives us clues. Trust comes from the old Norse word traust, meaning “strong”. The same root gives us the word “true”, and Webster defines trust as: “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”

Here are some other good definitions for trust that I've come across:

Quick Guide to Trust and Relationships

Although many of us may automatically assume we know what trust is, in reality, nailing down an exact definition is hard to do.This is because trust is invisible like the wind: we can’t see it, we can’t touch it, we can only know it by its effects. It’s an abstract concept like love and faith, in that we can’t say exactly what trust is… we can only say when trust is present or absent from our lives and relationships.

Keep these insights in mind:

Impact of Loss of Trust on Relationships

Here are some classic ways partners erode (disconnect from) trust in their relationships:

  • When they act or speak inconsistently
  • Withhold information from each other
  • Misrepresent facts or feelings
  • Use guilt or anger to manipulate each other
  • Don’t allow each other to say no
  • Refuse to be flexible (“It’s my way or the highway!”)
  • Become addicted to being right (to the exclusion of anything else)
  • Use negative tactics to get their way
  • Believe the end justifies the means
  • Tell white lies or half-truths
  • Practice any form of deception

What challenges arise from the loss of trust?

It’s been said that a relationship without trust is like a candle without a flame. That’s because trust is the heartbeat of a relationship. It’s what gives life and meaning to everything else. This is why when trust is gone, partners often report experiencing a sense of darkness and heaviness, almost like something very important died in their relationship, and they’re not exactly sure how to revive it.

Symptoms of broken trust in relationships can include:

  • Constant arguing
  • Hostility towards each other
  • Heaviness in the air
  • Lack of sexual desire

Symptoms of broken trust in the individual partner can include:

  • Anxiety (worries about the future)
  • Paralysis (fear of making mistakes)
  • Indecision (fear of making wrong choices)
  • Suspicion (intense fear of motives)
  • Obsessing and jealousy
  • Irritability, bitterness or hostility
  • Depression or numbness
Trust Is Believing

Keeping these insights in mind, maybe it’s becoming clearer to you just how much misinformation there is out there about trust. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a lot of superstitions, myths, and clichés that can end up doing more harm than good for those who are seeking to reestablish trust in their lives.

Coming up next are 9 of what I consider to be the most toxic myths of all about trust…

Mithbusting The Truth About Trust After Infidelity Logo

MYTH 1: TRUST MUST BE EARNED

What makes this myth so dangerous?

This myth is dangerous because by believing that trust can be earned, many people attempt to do the impossible. This is why a wayward husband can spend years jumping through hoops trying to “earn back” trust and never get it. However, it helps to remember that trust operates under the same principles as love and faith. It can’t be bought, it can’t be forced, and it can’t be earned. Trust must be given freely, and the minute a person makes the connection that trust is a gift… they begin to see the signs of those who are worthy of that gift.

MYTH 2: TRUST IS A ONE-WAY STREET

It’s seductive to believe that trust only flows in one direction — from you to another person. Therefore, it’s up to the other person whether you trust them or not.

What makes this myth dangerous?

It blocks people from taking responsibility for trust. If you look more closely, you’ll observe that trust is actually like an echo — what you send out comes back to you. In the moment you stop giving trust, you also stop yourself from receiving trust. In other words, the trust you give IS the trust you receive.

MYTH 3: TRUST IS LIKE A VASE

You’ve probably heard this cliche before: Trust is like a vase. Once it’s been broken, you can fix it, but it will never be quite the same. This is one of the most common memes out there. What is a meme? (The word rhymes with dreams.) It’s a cultural catch phrase or urban legend that takes on a life of its own, because people accept it at face value without questioning and observing for themselves whether it IS true or not.

What makes this myth dangerous?

Remember we talked about the fact that trust is not a concrete thing, that it’s more fluid, like a current of electricity? Well, that’s a clue. As long as we continue to think of trust as a concrete thing, we give it attributes that cause more problems than they solve. It helps to remember that trust more like a currency than a concrete thing. It’s not rigid… it’s fluid and flexible. Therefore, it doesn’t shatter or break —we restrict it, expand it, and disconnect from or connect to it.

MYTH 4: TRUST REQUIRES PROOF

Do we really need proof before we can trust? For example, newborn babies come into this world without any proof of trust, and yet they trust. But what about adults? Think about this: Aren’t there some people you trusted from day one, with no real basis for that trust, and others you felt like you couldn’t trust no matter what? The reality seems to be that sometimes, we don’t need proof either to trust or mistrust. This points to a deeper awareness.

Here’s my theory: I believe we all have certain criteria that must be met for us to feel comfortable giving trust. Those criteria vary from person to person and from situation to situation. For example, your criteria for trusting a potential business partner might be different from your criteria for trusting a server at a restaurant. (You get my point.)

What makes this myth dangerous?

As long as people believe that proof is needed for trust, they can be taken advantage of by others who know how to fake proof. The more important thing is to recognize what your criterion for trusting is, and evaluate it based on reality.

MYTH 5: MISTRUSTING IS SAFER THAN TRUSTING

This is the mantra of skeptics, doubters, and cynics the world over. It’s the belief that trust is the problem, and therefore mistrust is the solution.

What makes this myth dangerous?

If trust is like an echo, and the trust you give is the trust you get, then it only stands to reason that mistrust works the same way — the mistrust you give is the same mistrust you get back. Therefore, mistrust begets mistrust.

Here’s another thing about mistrust:

Those who believe mistrust is safer than trust are saying “no” to the good in life. In effect, what they’re saying is that to live in fear is safer than to live in love, and that’s a sad way to live.

MYTH 6: BEING GULLIBLE AND BEING TRUSTING ARE THE SAME

When trust fails, people have a tendency to reason backwards. Unfortunately, the mind isn’t very good at doing this and tends to delete, edit, exaggerate, and distort the information. The unfortunate conclusion many arrive at after trust has been violated is this: It’s my fault. They convince themselves that they were just too trusting, too naive, and too gullible.

What makes this myth dangerous?

Think about it like this: being gullible describes a state of ignorance, but ignorance is not where trust happens. When you trust, you do so in innocence. This is NOT the same as ignorance. For example, when a wife trusts her husband, she does so not because she is ignorant, but because she is innocent. if he violates her trust, it doesn’t maker her stupid, gullible, or naive. It simply means she was innocent and remains innocent. Keep in mind that the innocent are never to be punished. They are to be rewarded for their trust, even if that trust is violated by others.

MYTH 7: TRUST IS BLIND FAITH

I consider this to be a particularly insidious belief, because trust is not blind faith, and the two are miles apart.

What makes this myth dangerous?

Blind faith describes a condition of unwillingness to examine evidence, unwillingness to look at feedback, and unwillingness to look at the facts presented by reality. People who have blind faith don’t have trust… they simply have blind faith. Why? Because there’s no criteria that have to be met in order to have blind faith.

Trust is the exact opposite. 

It’s built in relationships and strengthened via shared experiences where certain criteria must be met before it is given or exchanged. So I suggest you forever bury the thought that trust blind faith… because it’s not.

MYTH 8: BEING WILLING TO TRUST AGAIN IS A SIGN OF STUPIDITY

  • This myth is based on the concept that, if you fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. This, of course, is another meme (mind virus) that people often believe without questioning or taking the time to evaluate.

What makes this myth dangerous?

To assume that being let down twice by the same person is worse than being let down once is more about faking trust than it is about genuinely giving trust.

Here’s why: Above all, trust is a gift. You and I choose who we are willing to trust. However, since trust is a gift, it must also be freely given without string and without a desire for a return investment. But what often happens is that people don’t actually give trust. Instead, they give pledges, promises, assurances, an other things that pass as trust… but aren’t really trust. How do you know when it’s fake trust? You know it’s fake when it’s a give-to-get exchange.

Let’s compare trust to a real gift.

Let’s say your trust is like a pair of Tiffany cuff links — very exclusive, very expensive, and very desirable. You decide to give the cuff links to your partner. (Remember he can’t do anything to earn trust; it must be freely given.) You give him the cuff links and he’s delighted… at first. But he never goes anywhere formal, so they get thrown in the back of the nightstand drawer and are never really appreciated.

Now as yourself… How would you feel?

  • Would you be hurt?
  • Would you feel underappreciated?
  • Would you be upset?

If you think you might feel any of the above, then that would be an example of giving-to-get. You see, the gift wasn’t freely given, but rather it was given in anticipation of reciprocation. You see, when trust is given with strings attached, it always fails. When trust is given freely, it never fails. Of course, others can reject your gift of trust, they can stomp on it and throw it away, but that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

If I could write that cliche, I would rewrite it like this:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, more shame on you.

MYTH 9: YOU NEED GUARANTEES BEFORE YOU CAN TRUST

One of the excuses that people give for not trusting again is that they need to have some kind of guarantee that a person isn’t going to hurt them before they give their trust. So while waiting for guarantees, they wind up spending years withholding trust and missing out on the joy of connecting with other human beings. 

What makes this myth dangerous?

There are no guarantees in this life. This is why we have to trust.

Think about this with me. If there were guarantees in life, what would be the point of trust? None, right? The reality is that trust is needed because we have no guarantees. Trust is the bridge from the known to the unknown, and it’s a bridge built on faith. 

Think about it this way:

Faith is the placeholder for knowledge.Trust is the placeholder for guarantees.

Both are needed if you are to walk the path through life with any degree of confidence or peace. You must embrace faith because you lack knowledge of what comes next. You must embrace trust because you lack guarantees of what people will do next. What happens when people refuse to embrace these tow ideas? Well, I could write a book about that, but here’s what I’ll say for now: Refusing to embrace trust, given the nature of the uncertainty we all live under, is like refusing to wear a winter coat in Antarctica. 

Here’s what I mean:

What’s the reality of life in Antarctica? It’s harsh, and its temperatures are the coldest on the planet. Because of this reality, no human being would argue with wearing a good, warm winter coat.

And what’s the reality of living on Earth? Well, conditions are uncertain, situations change, and we lack the ability to predict the future. So if you want to be comfortable while you’re here, then trust is the winter coat you’ll need to wrap yourself in. It may not protect you from everything, but it’s way better that wearing nothing.

Final thoughts…

Hopefully, you’ve noticed that the big idea I’m presenting is that trusting again is actually safer than mistrusting.

I stand firmly by this idea, and here’s why: life isn’t about perfection. If you’re alive, then getting hurt is a part of that process. So if we can’t always protect ourselves against pain, then the next best thing we can do is to find ways to overcome hurt quickly.

This is why I dare to suggest…

Make trust your default position.

If you don’t… if you choose to default to mistrust and cynicism in an effort to protect yourself… what ends up happening is that rather than experiencing pain 10% of the time, you’ll experience pain closer to 100% of the time. (Talk about a painful way to live!)

The key insight?

Being a trusting person is a lot safer, cooler, and happier way to go!

Until we speak again…

Remember… Love Wins!

Suzie Johnson
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