When we think about trust it often is predicated upon whether we trust someone else. The element of trust is a lesson repeated often until we “get it”. One of my memorable trust moments came several years ago while I was in a relationship with a man whom I cared deeply for, but whom I also did not trust completely.
I always had this nagging feeling that something was wrong but prior to this moment, I chose to ignore those cautionary feelings. I always had this sneaky suspicion that our level of commitment was one-sided or better said…lopsided disproportionately on my end. Yes, we had a great time together. The sex was good and how I felt about him was even better. I had not felt that I had so much in common with a man since high school, which I shared similar feelings and experiences with my then first love.
So I was beyond excited when I met this man who loved 80s music as much as I did; was as social as I was; educated, smart and just plain fun. We had a great time together. We were really great friends but I wanted more. Much more.
And as time progressed, I had begun to see that he saw things differently. When I would want to discuss relationship hiccups or concerns like his intentions, etc., he would shut down completely. My heartfelt pleas for concurrence, agreement or understanding were met with responses such as, “I don’t know what to say about that…” Long pause followed by…nothing.
And then opportunity struck. I found that I didn’t trust him around a particular woman; when the three of us were in the same room I did not appreciate how I experienced the odd, inexplicable uncomfortable vibe that I was definitely feeling. It seemed to be equally uncomfortable for them also-though I wasn’t sure why. It often felt as if there was or had been something going on between them but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Had they been “together”? Were they together at the time and unbeknownst to me, I had thrown a monkey wrench in their path? I didn’t know and obviously he wasn’t owning up to anything other than she was one of the many women he knew. Innocent enough, right?
I never thought myself to be an insecure woman. In hindsight, when you’ve known a man less than two years, let alone less than 6 months (as was the case with this guy), you really don’t know him well and he doesn’t know you. Real talk. Anything less than two years is what some refer to as the “discovery phase”. I did not know it then but this is the timeframe when the Sunday shirt comes off; as does the rose-colored glasses. This is the exact time when EVERYTHING should and needs to come out if a promising future together is on the horizon. So back to feeling insecure. I was not an insecure woman by any means, but the truth is I did not know him well and therefore his (and my) trust bank had insufficient history.
I did not have enough information to say affirmatively that “this woman is no threat to your relationship, Stephanie. He loves and is committed to you.” In hindsight I was feeling the reality that a real commitment did not exist between us. At least not at that point. Which meant that any woman was fair game and I felt that (in hindsight) and I was therefore triggered. Nonetheless, in my gut, I knew that whatever it was, “something” was NOT right.
And then it happened. One day before a weekend getaway to his alma mater; a trip that included his two young teenage daughters and preteen niece, the 5 of us were going away together. I was excited and in typical “girl” fashion, I began with my customary relationship mental equation, “this means that.” The equation goes like this, “if he is taking me with him to meet his college buddies, with his daughters and niece in tow, this means that he is serious, that we are serious. It means that our relationship is progressing.” My relationship math needs a little work because it does not quite work that way.
So before leaving on the trip, I found an email between my boyfriend and the woman. I discovered that he pretty much was initiating contact with her and unfortunately, yes there were sexually explicit emails detailing what he wanted to do to her. And because emails have dates these correspondences were sent while he and I were together. So all of the while, I’m sensing distance between he and I and this is partially why. I do not blame her at all because from what I could tell she was wearing the catchers mitt; he was the pitcher. Furthermore, I was not in a relationship or even friends with her; she did not betray me. He did with his dishonesty. I was devastated and though I went on the trip, I was heartbroken and did not come anywhere close to having a good time. There have been very few times in my life that I can remember feeling helpless and as if I did not know what to do. And that was one of those times.
After I recovered and took my power back by confronting him; quick sidebar, because of how I “happened” upon this information, I had to tread lightly. My own unscrupulous behavior of looking at his email rather than closing it caused me pain. I caused myself pain because I needed proof outside of myself. I needed to validate my instincts versus trusting what I had already known by feeling. My intuition had already told me that something was not right, but I needed to be a “cutter” and become a Private Investigator at the same time. Too much work which in the end that did not help things at all. There was no payoff beyond my being right.
Several years later, I am grateful for this experience because it taught me extremely valuable lessons about men, relationships, love and me. Today, if my boyfriend leaves his email open, I will close it if I have to use the computer after him. Even if it’s my computer; it’s his email and it is off limits the me unless he asks me to read something. And the same rules apply for phones or anything that does not belong to me. And obviously the same principle applies to me.
I am a grown woman and I have a right to ask any man with whom I am in an intimate, committed relationship with what the deal is. And if he cannot or will not give me the straight answer I deserve, this gives me just cause to cease trusting him…or better yet leave him. Period. At no time does this translate into an occasion to stop trusting myself. I do not have the time nor interest to become a super sleuth and look for answers that I can get by opening up my mouth and asking for what I need. No man has the ability or authority to shut me down. Ever. And I won’t allow it. And neither should you or anyone else.
Trust yourself always. No man or woman is worth you stooping down to the level of diminishing your character (and integrity.) Ask for what you want, ask questions until you are clear. If the other person loves and respects you (the relationship and his or herself), they will do whatever it takes to contribute to your happiness.