Why I Let Fear into a Relationship

It’s not his behaviour that’s important, it’s your past. That’s where your current thoughts, ideas, and fears were shaped. You believe the things that you learnt there, this is your truth now, and it’s what paints everything that’s happening in your life with long black brushstrokes.
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“I’m scared” she said, and I knew straightaway that things were bad.

She has had three relationships that didn’t end well. The first guy cheated on her, and with that act of betrayal it was as if he had taken the glass filled with all of her trust and smashed it on the floor. She has been trying to stick all those pieces back together ever since, but I don’t think she will be finished any time soon.

Her second partner didn’t cheat on her. He was focused on her and her alone, he never once strayed, but he couldn’t understand why all the time they spent together was never enough. He had his own friends, interests, and work, but she seemed oblivious to all that. He wanted his own life, but unless he gave her everything then it wasn’t enough to satisfy her.

She gave him a hard time, slipping in occasional suggestions that she knew he must have another woman. The impossible-to-meet expectations and simmering mistrust gradually wore him down until he finally ran out of patience and left this broken “glass” to mend herself.

Her third partner didn’t cheat on her and he understood why she wanted to spend more time with him. In service of their relationship he pushed his friends, interests, and even to some extent his work away. It was a tremendous self-sacrifice but he all but renounced his own life. Some people would say that he was foolish, while others would admire his dedication. He did put the time in, but it was never enough for her, because when she lost the trust she once had, everyone she encountered became a potential betrayer.

It made no difference how well her partners treated this poor woman, her glass was broken, and she could not trust them anymore. She sabotaged her own happiness, perhaps even deliberately inflicting the hurt, so that at least there was one part of her life that she was in control of.

Somebody Else

She got in touch when I was creating the Christmas Special. A gift magazine for our permanent readers and their nearest and dearest that was aimed at putting energy under the Christmas tree—and I needed to concentrate on it.

I hadn’t seen her since the time we both studied law, but I still remembered her—a laid-back type. At least, I thought that’s how I remembered her, because the woman I met in the coffee shop seemed quite different from the one I had met all those years ago.  “You’re a broken glass,” I told her. She seemed confused and wondered if I was being rude.

I call such people “broken glasses”, because cheating has broken them, and nothing can fix them. Apologies don’t help.

She had tried to stick all the pieces back together, and was still trying, but fear flowed into her through the gaps. She was changed. She was not herself. She desperately needed love, but couldn’t accept it when it was offered, because to accept it is to trust another person, and by trusting them, you are willingly giving them permission to hurt you. You give them the freedom to be who they are, and hope that they will do the same for you. Her problem was that she could no longer imagine her partner ever using freedom responsibly.

The better a partner treated her, the more she suspected him of cheating, and the more she spied on him, checking his phone, straining to overhear his conversations.

She never found any proof of his cheating, but still she kept on looking, convinced that it would turn up eventually. She told herself that lack of evidence only meant that it must have been buried deeply, so she kept at it, digging like a dog, unable to stop, giving him a hard time until one day he finally snapped and lost his temper, and who can blame him?

Always she seemed convinced of his guilt, and when he had finally had enough and left her, she felt vindicated because look, SHE WAS RIGHT, he wasn’t reliable after all. Here was the proof, he had left her! And that meant he really WAS hiding something…

With Mr.Unreliable out of the way, she was now free to go and repeat the same sorry scenario with the next poor guy who came along.

Never Lie to a Person Who Trusts You, and Never Trust a Person Who has Lied to You

“I don’t trust you,” were the magic words that she only had to say once to sink each relationship. Without trust, any relationship is on shaky footings, because if you don’t trust the other person, their words, actions, and efforts towards you never amount to anything of value.

That’s why, in my book The 250 Laws of Love, I recommend never lying to a person who trusts you and never trusting a person who has lied to you. Because by doing this you save not only yourself, but everybody that comes after you.

“How do I get past it?” she asked me.

“How do I get past it?” her last boyfriend asked me.

What can you do when fear enters a relationship, perhaps starting with one trifling feeling or stupid doubt, before becoming the seedbed for a raft of irrational beliefs?

Because I’ll be paying a lot of attention to this topic in the Christmas Special, I’ll outline a couple of things here for those that don’t manage to order this issue.

Please, continue to the 2nd page