Images via Depression is not Destiny and Thinkstock.
Have you ever been through one of those terrible relationships or break-ups that leave you doubting whether or not you’ll be able to trust someone again?
I have. And so have countless other people. In fact, fear of trusting someone again is such a common reaction to being hurt in love that it has its own name: pistanthrophobia.
As anyone who’s been through it will agree, it’s a very difficult thing to get over. However, if you want to be in a happy, healthy relationship again, then you do need to overcome it. The four suggestions below helped me, and I think they’ll also help you get past the things which are holding you back from a brighter future.
1. Don’t assume that the future will be the same as the past
My first proper relationship ended when I found out that my girlfriend was cheating on me with one of my best mates; then afterwards—perhaps to get back at me for breaking up with her—it got back to me that she’d been spreading rumours about me. I was shattered. Combined with some other things that were taking place in my life, the experience plunged me into a crippling and near fatal depression, and my ability to trust another girl was destroyed.
Over the next few years, I brought my pistanthrophobia with me on every date I went on, and suffice it to say, there weren’t a lot of second dates. My inability to trust another girl was ruining any chance I had of being in a functional relationship, and I wondered if I’d ever be able to overcome it and make things work with a woman.
Eventually however, I started seeing a therapist for my depression. Everything that happened with my ex inevitably came up, and my psychologist gave me a piece of advice that helped me immensely:
“Don’t cast dispersions on the entire female population because of one bad experience with one bad girl.”
I think casting such dispersions is the root cause of the vast majority of people’s pistanthrophobia; because we’ve been hurt by one person—or in some people’s cases, a number of people—we become conditioned to believing that the next person will hurt us too. But projecting this assumption onto the next person isn’t being fair. Unless that person has done something to make us wary of trusting them, then they deserve to be given an open-minded chance. It’s important that we start each relationship with a clean slate, and not let it be poisoned by our past.
2. Learn from the past: what were the warning signs that your ex was untrustworthy?
In my case, my ex would constantly break promises, lie, say one thing then do something else, and continuously do things that she knew would bother me. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s not surprising that she ended up seriously hurting me. People who have certain self-centered, manipulative and malicious traits are not worthy of your trust. If you can learn from your past relationships to identify said traits and the types of people who aren’t to be trusted, then you’ll be better at picking a lover the next time around—and knowing that you’re wiser and more likely to pick a better lover will make you less scared of getting hurt.