You feel like a complete idiot when it happens.
At first there's complete shock and disbelief.
Then when reality sinks in, you want to punch somebody's lights out.
“How could I have been so stupid?” “Why didn't I see it coming?” “I can't believe she would do that to me.”
We've all been there. We've trusted someone we care about — a lover, a spouse, a friend, even our kids — and they blindside us with lies, deception, and manipulation. The first time it happens, it's shocking and deeply painful. The person we love, the person we thought we knew and could depend on, has pulled the rug out from underneath us and betrayed our trust.
Sometimes betrayal is not quite so overt. It's simply a failure to follow through, a more passive form of lying. “Did you go look for a job today as you promised?” “Oh sorry, I woke up too late. I'll do it tomorrow.” And of course, tomorrow never comes. The loss of trust doesn't happen with a bang but rather a slow and tortuous whimper.
When we care about someone, we want to trust them. We need to trust them. Trust is an essential part of any healthy relationship. It is the foundation of a marriage. It's a building block of character in your children. And it's the tie that binds us to our closest friends. Without it, there is no hope for emotional intimacy, lasting love, or inner security.
When someone we love breaks our trust, and they acknowledge their deception and ask for forgiveness, most of us are willing to offer it. We want to give our loved one another chance, an opportunity for redemption. And we ourselves don't want a permanent rift in the relationship. We love this person. We want them in our lives.
But what about when trust is broken over and over again? What about the continual failure to follow through on commitments and promises? How many times do we let things pass, accept the apology, and offer our trust again before we say, “Enough is enough?”
The threshold differs for every person and every relationship. But some people continue to accept duplicity even when they know it won't change. They offer their trust long past the time when they should cut the cord.
The fallout from trusting too much is insidious and eventually debilitating. It includes a loss of self-esteem, lack of trust in all people, loss of intimacy and love, and perhaps even anxiety and depression.
Do you find yourself trusting too much?
Here are ten warning signs you're too trusting:
1. Your instinct is flashing
Maybe you can't put your finger on it, but you know something is wrong. Your gut is telling you it's happening again. You're being deceived, even though all appearances seem to suggest otherwise. Your instinct draws from the accumulation of past experiences and wisdom, so don't ignore it. If you think you're being deceived yet again, odds are good that you're right. Don't ignore these feelings. Digg deeper and ferret out the truth. Yes, it will be painful to discover another deception, but you won't feel like a fool.
2. You feel agitated and angry
You are constantly irritated and hyper-vigilant around your deceptive loved one. You're just waiting for the other shoe to drop. You feel trapped between the longing to maintain the relationship and the pain of regular deceit. You can't relax and enjoy the relationship, even if parts of the connection are otherwise positive. You just don't feel happy around this person any longer.
3. Friends are commenting
Other people can clearly see what you're refusing to acknowledge. Your friends may make subtle or overt comments about the unreliable person in your life and your acceptance of them. You might find yourself feeling angry at them for pointing this out, but deep inside you know they are right. When it gets to the point where other people see what's happening, then it's past time to stop trusting and move on.
4. Your lifestyle is suffering
The deceptions and unreliability of your loved one are starting to take a toll on your life. Maybe it's impacting your finances, your work, your home, your safety, or other relationships. Your co-dependent behavior is contributing to these negative situations your life. When you see negative changes or events as a result of your loved one's lies, you should see this as a huge signal it's way past time to let go.
5. You no longer care
You've simply disconnect from this person. You know they're deceiving you, and maybe they continue to ask for forgiveness, but you no longer care. You've given up on believing in them, but you've also gone belly up on believing in yourself. You have no energy or motivation to do anything about it, but eventually your lethargy will morph into despair or depression.
6. There's no apology
Your lying loved one no longer cares. They keep deceiving you but offer no apology or remorse. You've accepted their behavior for so long, they don't feel the need to ask your forgiveness. You've given them tacit permission by trusting too much, so why bother with apologies? Their respect for you has evaporated, and yours for yourself isn't far behind.
7. Apologies are insincere
So maybe you still get apologies, but they are empty. You hear the words, but you know without a doubt the deception will happen again. And again. And again. You go through the motions of forgiveness and rebuilding trust, but who are you kidding? You have no hope the person will really change.
8. You make excuses
You find yourself facilitating your loved one's behavior by making excuses for it. He lies because he had a bad childhood. She doesn't follow through because she's just had too much going on at work. You want so badly for the relationship to be happy and successful that you're willing to become a liar yourself.
9. You redefine your integrity
The more excuses you make for this person, the more you come to believe it's okay to do this. Or it's okay for this person to behave the way they're behaving. You lose sight of your values and integrity and try to re-write the script. It's not really that bad. If the ends justify the means, the who does it hurt? You begin to think, “Maybe I'm just too sensitive, demanding, uptight.”
10. You alienate other people
Your friends and family can no longer tolerate your deceiving loved one. Or they can't tolerate your toleration of the lies and your willingness to keep on trusting far too long. You notice people no longer want to spend time with you. They feel embarrassed around you or feel sorry for you. What is painfully obvious and uncomfortable for others has become acceptable for you. It's time to take action.
Offering your trust to someone is a gift that must be earned. If that trust is broken, you need to see a sincere expression of remorse and an on-going effort to rebuild trust over time. If trust is broken more than once, then you need to be on high alert.
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Trusting too much not only facilitates the very behavior you don't want in your relationship, but also it undermines your mental and emotional well-being and erodes your self-esteem.
As painful as it may be, deciding to let go of the relationship is the best antidote for trusting too much. Empowering yourself by enforcing your boundaries of integrity will give you the strength to choose more trustworthy people in your life going forward.
Have you been in the position of trusting too much? How did it impact you and your relationships? Please share your inisghts and experiences in the comments below.
photo credit: Digital Deconstruction.com