So, you’ve met a girl you really like. She looks fantastic, you love her personality and you make each other laugh. However, there’s this feeling of fear, that you can’t commit to this yet. You’ve been horribly burnt before, maybe even taken to the cleaners through a messy divorce by someone who, at one stage in your life, you thought was perfect for you. And you don’t ever want to feel that pain again.
Well there is a way to tear down the wall you’ve built around your heart and learn to trust again. And the key word here is “risk management”.
Now, this blog isn’t going to be me telling you that you need to get over your “fear of commitment and give someone a chance” otherwise you’ll be lonely for the rest of your life. I was watching a video from a very prominent dating coach whose advice was literally that. He said “think of what it will cost you if you don’t get into this relationship”. What I’m saying is think of what will happen if you get into a relationship with the wrong person. So, I’m going to be mainly talking about risk management. Having run my own companies and having a background in management accounting, I definitely understand the importance of minimising risk, in all aspects of life. But I’m sure you’ll agree that trust should never be given away freely, it’s meant to be earned. Yet this happens all the time when there’s a pretty girl involved. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about here.
Now, I know, talking about risk management in relationships sounds incredibly unromantic. But, romance and vetting a potential life partner to manage risk are 2 completely separate things that can be done simultaneously in a courtship. They’re not mutually exclusive or inclusive of each other. You can still have a great time with someone and be totally into them while also keeping your eye out for potential red flags.
So, the first step in building trust with someone has to be determining whether you share the same values. But how do you know this unless you get clear on what you value first?
I’ll go into how to determine what you value most in a later video and blog, however a good place to start is by listing all the things you find yourself thinking about, researching and contemplating in your spare time, and really start thinking about why you’re interested in these things and what they represent to you.
Let’s take for example money. How do you feel about money? What does money actually mean to you? Many marriages break up over money problems. However, it’s never money that the problem inherently, but what money represents to each of the partners. Maybe it represents stability and safety to her, but freedom and independence to you. And your spending habits are going to be dictated by what money represents to you. If the spending habits of your partner are vastly different to yours, there’s always going to be conflict in the relationship.
So, have a discussion about what their views are on family, education, health, money. See if they align with your beliefs and figure out what your deal breakers are. This is really important, yet so many couples fail to have this discussion. It’s nuts. Most people ask more questions when buying a car than they do when they are buying into someone else’s life.
However, having this discussion is only half the job done. After this, it’s important to always look at what people do, not say. Anyone can feed you a line and pretend they’re someone else for a while. The next step in determining whether someone is worthy of your trust is to observe their actions objectively over time, and determine whether what they say is congruent with what they do.
I dated a girl who initially told me she had a great relationship with her father. I found out soon after she had been estranged from her dad for over 10 years. It didn’t take long before there was overwhelming evidence that this girl was a habitual liar and she wasn’t to be trusted. But she was really cute, and it was really hard to let her go. But I’m at the age where I have too much to lose and being stuck with someone because they’ve got themselves pregnant after lying about being on the pill is a friggin nightmare to me!
So, learning to trust someone involves managing the risk of getting involved with the wrong type of person, and to do this you have to vet your potential partner to see if your goals and values align by discussing what their view on things are. And then observing their actions objectively over time to make sure what they say is congruent with what they do.
But look, ultimately learning to trust again in relationships takes enormous courage. And one thing that’s really essential for you to do is to develop the confidence that no matter what they do, even if they cheat on you, that you have the ability to handle the outcome. Long term relationships are complicated, dynamic things, and people and circumstances change. You don’t own your partner. Therefore, you can’t control their movements and thoughts. You can try, but it will just drive you crazy. You need to be able to let go, and if necessary, give them enough rope to hang themselves. Because only then will you know what they are truly like as a person.
The amount we are able to trust another person depends on how strong we are, and how we can handle our partners imperfections. Because nobody is perfect, and expecting someone to be so is completely selfish and unreasonable. So, it’s important to build the belief in yourself as a person before you can trust again. Otherwise, you’re allowing yourself to be at the mercy of someone else’s actions that you ultimately can’t control.