One of the most common questions after experiencing infidelity is, “Can I ever trust again?” In this episode, we’ll explore different kinds of trust and how to build the most important kind of trust, a trust in yourself.
When faced with infidelity, the foundation of trust can be broken, and it takes time to repair it. In this episode, you’ll learn how to make “temporary” fixes, and how to make more lasting, solid repairs that will lead to the most fulfilling relationships.
Learning to trust is a process that requires patience, but ultimately allows the betrayed partner to fully engage in the relationship, and learn to trust themselves, no matter what choices anyone else makes.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to The Heal from Infidelity podcast,
Episode number 19, Learning to Trust.
Hello, and welcome to The Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is. And I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hey, friends. Welcome to episode number 19. Here in the U.S. we just
celebrated Thanksgiving. I went away with my family. We rented a cabin in
the mountains in Montana, and 10 of our 11 kids were there. And we have two
grandsons, they were there. I have two sons-in-law, they were there. So it
was a big crew and it was wonderful. And while we were all together, I kept
looking around and I just couldn’t believe it, we are a huge blended family
and we pull it off. We actually get along. We had such a good time. We
genuinely like to be together. It just kind of blows my mind when I look at
where I am from where I was not very long ago, and it’s very humbling to me
to see how much can change when we decide that we’re open to it, when we
decide that we’re willing to lean into change rather than running from it.
I truly had so many moments where I just felt grateful, just so amazed and
So today we are talking about trust. This is probably the question I get
asked the most is how do I know if I could trust my husband? How do I ever
trust again? Questions like that. And so I thought it was time that I’d go
ahead and tackle this in a podcast episode. Now, every different therapist,
every coach who talks about infidelity, we all have our own spin on it. We
all have a little different take on it. But I want to teach some principles
today that I’m hoping will be helpful to you. These are the things that I
work with my clients on and foundational things that will help you to be
able to move forward and trust. So there are a couple different kinds of
trust. There’s self-trust and there’s trust in the relationship you’re in.
Like if you choose to stay with your partner, there’s a trust in your
partner that needs to build for you to feel safe to stay there. There’s
also a trust that needs to happen if you decide to leave the marriage and
maybe be in a new relationship. That’s a different kind of trust. And today
we’re going to talk about all three and different things to consider in all
three of those situations. First of all though, we’re going to talk about
what a betrayal might feel like and what happens in the relationship that
is the breach of trust in the first place. So in every marriage, in every
relationship, there are disappointments. There are things that might feel
like major disappointments, where we feel majorly let down, sad, think that
things should be different than they are, not seeing eye to eye. They might
be big things. But I want you to think of this analogy.
Let’s say that you live in a house, and you come home one day and all the
furniture is moved around, totally moved around. And you went, go, wait,
what the heck? Who moved everything? Why does it look like this? Who
decided that that was a good idea? It looks terrible. Why didn’t they ask
me first? That is disappointment in marriages. A betrayal in a marriage is
more like cracking the foundation of the home. It’s not easily put back
together. Disappointment, you can go and rearrange the furniture fairly
quickly. You can have a discussion and come up with compromises fairly
quickly. With the betrayal, you might have to clear out the whole house to
get to the foundation. You might have to move everything out. You might
have to rip up the floors to get to the foundation, to fix the foundation.
And the biggest breach in the foundation when it comes to breaches of trust
is the one with ourself.
Our own trust, our own foundation of trust in ourselves takes a major hit.
I remember when I was first going through, I remember I was getting ready
for that decision of do I end this marriage or not? And I felt so confused.
I just didn’t know. I didn’t know. I had such a hard time trusting myself.
And I remember talking with a girlfriend and she worded it this way, she
said, “I get it. Your normal meter is broken. You don’t know what’s normal.
It’s broken.” And so, yep, I reminded myself, my normal meter is broken. I
don’t know what’s normal, because the things that I thought were normal,
were not. The things that I thought, were not. And so you kind of feel
flipped upside down and completely disoriented. So in addition to that
normal meter feeling kind of broken. Another thing that I see in my clients
is just kind of a general overall distrust of life.
I thought that if I did it this way, it would work out this way. So for
example, for me, I thought that if I got married in the temple, which for
those of you who are not members of my church, it’s kind of the highest
thing that we look forward to, getting married to the temple, sealed for
eternity. And there’s standards and things that you have to keep to even
qualify for that. And I did that. Check, check that box. I felt like I kept
my end of the bargain. And so because I did those things, my brain went to,
it must have somehow been my fault. I must not have been good enough. I
must not have done as well as I thought. We feel devalued, like that our
value is not what we thought. We might feel foolish. We might feel like all
of the signs were there and we didn’t see them. So what does that mean
We might feel very, very foolish. Our whole self-concept of who we thought
we were can be shifted. I thought this, turns out I was wrong. Apparently I
was wrong. So first of all, the biggest cure for building back the
foundation of self-trust is to begin with self-compassion. So I’m still
doing this work, my friends. It was six years ago that my first husband
died. It was a year before that that I got divorced. I have come so, so far
and I can see how far I’ve come. But we’re not talking mastery here. We’re
talking step by step. We’re going to be building that foundation, that
trust in ourselves for the rest of our lives, brick by brick. And just
yesterday I did this exercise with myself because I was feeling a little
bit shaky about some things.
I noticed some emotions come up that were really uncomfortable for me, and
so guess what I did? I pulled out a piece of paper and I wrote down all of
my parts, all of the parts of myself, the parts where I feel insecure,
superior, great, powerful, weak, scared. I wrote them all out. I probably
had a third of a page of all of my parts. And you know what I decided to do
is to go through each of those parts and decide how I can love that part of
me better. This is to increase my trust to myself. This is to remind myself
that there are no parts of me that need distinguishing for me to trust
myself. In fact, the more I can learn to love those parts, the more I will
learn to trust myself because I won’t need to kick any parts of me out for
me to be okay. Isn’t that liberating?
You can do this too. You can have compassion for all of the parts of you.
It comes by asking yourself really good questions. Self-compassion leads to
curiosity. Getting to know yourself at a much deeper level than you ever
did before. So for example, if one of your parts is to feel afraid, you can
ask it a question. What am I afraid of? Why is it a problem for fear to be
there? If it weren’t a problem for the fear to be there, what would I do?
So really answer those questions. Even deep like, what did I think the
promise was if I got married in the temple? Is that true? Is it really my
fault? How do I know? Why is my value diminished? Is it really? How do I
know? And really answer those questions. In doing this work, you are
picking up bricks, and brick by brick you are reminding yourself of your
own independent value that has nothing to do with anybody else.
It’s very intentional. It is very slow, careful work. But the finished
product that you’re building is really, really beautiful and pretty
unshakeable. You’re rebuilding your own value and your own self-concept.
Next step is trust in spouse. So for this next section, I’m pulling some
things from tools that I have developed and also some tools that I’ve
learned from experts in the field, such as Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, and
from a book by Dr. Steven Stoney, it’s a book called Living and Loving
After Betrayal. The concept I want to talk about is wise trust versus blind
trust. And I want to talk about the difference here. So blind trust is
putting your trust in someone else without determining if they’re actually
trustworthy. It’s an avoidance of the uncomfortable emotions that come with
actually knowing. There might be avoiding doubt, fear, loneliness, panic,
all the things that we might need to face in knowing truth about things.
Blind trust is not necessarily an endorsement of the other person’s
qualities, it’s actually not wanting to see them. You’re not seeing them as
trustworthy, you’re just ignoring the signs that they might not be
trustworthy. It’s an anxious trust. It’s founded in suspicion because
you’re not wanting to feel those negative emotions, like I mentioned
before, of doubt, fear, loneliness, et cetera. So you’re on the lookout
constantly to avoid any kind of threat, any perceived threat. It’s anxious,
it’s worry. Now, anxiety itself is not actually a problem and it can be
very useful to warn us of a threat. Like if we’re crossing the street,
anxiety might be there to say, “Hey, don’t get hit by a car.” That might be
very useful. So when is anxiety a problem? I’m going to read you a
paragraph from the book that I referenced, Living and loving After
Anxiety becomes a problem when it taps into an underlying sense of
incompetence that makes it feel like you don’t know what to do or what to
focus on. The aroused to indecisive brain begins to scan, taking in a lot
more surface information, a lot more rapidly with less discernment of what
is relevant. In other words, your thoughts race sometimes like a runaway
freight train. Does that sound familiar to anybody? I know that well. I
hung out there for a long time. I know it well. It’s gathering superficial
information. It’s not actually useful. There’s also a higher likelihood of
error in this space, because our judgements when highly anxious are often
wrong. It creates even more anxiety. It feeds off of itself. There’s a lack
of focus. And the problem with this is that if we’re not focusing on
something, we’re just scanning in general terms, finding any possible
threat, which is increasing our anxiety. Whereas if you have a focus, like
something that you’re looking for, like an actual data point that you can
reference, it can bring anxiety down.
Not being focused and just scanning, it’s a moving target. You’re never
actually finding what you’re looking for because you don’t quite know what
you’re looking for. You’re just kind of panicked scanning. Now, what is
wise trust? So anxiety is all about possibility. Wise trust is all about
probability. Did you catch that? Anxiety is all about possibility. Wise
trust is about probability. So I live in Montana, and if I had a kid that
was terrified of tornadoes, they might panic every day and say, “Oh my
gosh, we might get hit by a tornado,” and be really afraid of it. And in
reality, tornadoes could happen anywhere. It is possible that a tornado
could strike in Montana. But being the wise person that I am, I could tell
my child, “Child, the probability of having a tornado in Montana is very,
very low. Let’s look at the data points. When’s the last time a tornado hit
in Montana? It’s not real likely. It’s possible, but it’s not probable.”
So when we think about trust, it is possible that anyone could be betray
us. Anyone. But with wise trust, we’re looking at the likelihood or
probability of betrayal. We’re gathering data points from a calm place.
We’re not in an anxious place. We’re watching for patterns. We’re tracking.
Just like we’re tracking data points about a tornado to see the likelihood
of a tornado hitting, we’re watching for those data points of if betrayal
might happen again. So how do you know if someone is trustworthy? They will
become trustworthy. They will have nothing to hide. They’ll come and show
you. They’ll answer your questions. They will behave in a trustworthy way.
One key thing to understand is why infidelity happens in the first place.
There’s a lot of different theories about this, but I’m going to focus on
One is emotional regulation. If a partner is seeking validation, for
example, outside of themselves, if they feel really insecure and want
validation, and feel like it’s their wife’s obligation, it’s their wife’s
job to make them feel validated, they’re going to be looking to their wife
to tell them that they’re okay. Their wife might be unaware of the shaky
state of the spouse and not aware of what they’re wanting. Totally willing,
but maybe just not aware. And so the spouse reads that in a certain way,
they’re not willing to validate me. This other person is, so I’m going to
go here. And they step out of their very own value system to receive that
validation. They might know that that’s not actually who they want to be,
but until they learn how to self-regulate, how to validate themselves, it
is highly likely that the same behavior may occur.
For some, they step out of marriages for some kind of sense of empowerment.
Having someone attracted to them might give them a false sense of
empowerment. But it’s temporary, just like the validation, because
empowerment is a feeling. It comes from our thoughts. We might get a quick
hit. We might get a quick shot in the arm of empowerment or validation. But
until the person learns how to create empowerment within themselves, the
likelihood of doing it again is higher. It’s kind of like math. Nothing
changes if nothing changes, as the saying goes. So for example, I have a
daughter who for her first little while of driving had some issues. She
would go too fast. She got into a minor accident. And this happened enough
times that it finally caught her attention and she had to evaluate, okay,
what’s going on? Why do I keep getting into these situations?
And she had to make some changes in her behavior, in her driving behavior.
Until she was willing to actually go, oh, I’m not being a very good driver,
instead of blaming everybody else, making it the other people on the road’s
fault, this person parked in the wrong spot so I couldn’t help but hit
them, until she actually owned her part in going, oh, I actually can drive
slower, I can be less distracted, I can make these changes, she would keep
doing the same thing. But because she stopped to evaluate her own driving
patterns, she’s been a much safer driver. She would drive slower. She’s
much more careful. It’s the same concept. It’s about learning a new skill.
It’s about slowing down and evaluating and going, why did I do this in the
first place? It’s showing an inner commitment to themselves to become a
trustworthy person that will uphold their own values.
The other person, trusting them or not, is secondary to them getting square
with who they want to be. Can you hear that? I’ve had people come who have
had their husbands come to them and say, “I need to tell you something and
it’s going to be hard for you to hear,” and proceed to tell them. And the
thought of living with their lie has become more painful than the risk of
losing their spouse. They know that they’re risking losing their spouse in
telling the truth, but they must get square with it. They must get square
and step back into the integrity of who they actually want to be. That is a
pretty good sign that that person is learning how to self-regulate. They’re
learning how to confront. They’re learning how to see themselves in the
light, in the truth of who they are and willing to make those changes.
Those are good things to watch for. Those are things to track.
Now, what about new relationships? I’m not going to go into great depth in
this. This might be something that I do a whole episode on later on. But
for today, I want to touch on just a couple things. Learning to manage your
own emotions and not blaming. Learning to manage your own triggers, knowing
what they are, knowing that sometimes they come up. Sometimes things come
up when you least expect it, and knowing how to help yourself in that. I
like thinking about a 911 kit for yourself, an emergency kit. When this
happens, when I feel triggered in this way, this is what I’m going to do.
We often want to make it the other person’s fault, their responsibility.
And instead, I encourage you to have your own back, knowing that things
might come up that are hard for you and knowing how to protect yourself in
It might be giving yourself a little time out to breathe, to calm down. It
might be asking clarifying questions before jumping to conclusions. It
might mean taking a step back so you can be in an emotional state to ask
those questions. Having conversations early on in the relationship, asking
tough questions early on, really seeing each other, watching if boundaries
are respected, watching for emotional regulation. Do they take
responsibility for their own emotions or do they try to put them on other
people? All of this work is a matter of emotionally growing up. It’s
becoming a more awake, grown up version of ourselves and seeing things that
we couldn’t see before. It might be harder in some ways. Sometimes that
blind trust can feel easier when we just don’t know. But that’s not what
we’re going for here. We’re going for this deep foundational trust. And so
with that, we’re looking around.
We have our eyes wide open to see what people are showing us about
themselves. We also are very clear about our own deal breakers. What are
they? What are my values? What are the deal breakers within my values? And
can this person meet me there? So before I wrap this up, like I said at the
beginning, the most important part about all of this is building the
foundational trust in yourself. And the reason why is because as you build
that foundational trust, the fear of things happening again loses its grip,
because you are a different version of yourself. You’re picking the bricks
that go in your foundation. You’re designing it brick by brick. Other
people do what they do. You’re using wise judgment to choose who you’re
allowing into your space, knowing that sometimes people still do things
that we wish they wouldn’t do.
But when you have that foundation that you handpicked, it doesn’t mean that
you’re not going to feel pain. It doesn’t mean you might not hurt. But it
means that you know how to pick yourself back up and take care of yourself,
and that you will never abandon yourself again. That you will be there for
you always. It means that you can love your mistakes. It means that you can
love all of you, all those parts. You’re building something that’s so
beautiful, so strong that no matter what, you’ve got that deep abiding
trust in yourself. And that’s something that no one can take from you. No
one can take it. So what bricks are you going to lay in your foundation?
What do you want to believe about yourself? How can you increase your
value? Your value is already set. How can you increase your self-concept of
your value? What can you remind yourself of? What parts of you need to be
loved? Go love them. Go see them and love them. And you’re going to build
something that is better and bigger than anything that you had before. I
I will see you next week. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Bye.
Thank you for listening to The Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.