You think you know your significant other. You feel secure in this relationship and believe that all is well. That is until one day, you get the rug pulled out from under you. You discover your significant other has a sexually transmitted disease, you discover your spouse is addicted to porn, you discover your partner was really married twice, not once before you met.
You feel like you’ve been hit in the stomach–not only because of what you’ve learned but also because your ability to trust has been shattered–not only the ability to trust your loved one, but your ability to trust yourself.
These kinds of upsets happen and they happen when you least expect it. Last week, I described all the reasons why people may not disclose everything about themselves to their partner. One of the reasons is they feel shame around the issue. Another reason is they know the relationship would be at risk. So when their worst fears are met and the secret is revealed, you must deal with the painful truth about who your partner is and what he or she has done.
Dealing with these kinds of surprises is complicated. There are many feelings and issues to address and work through. So while I am giving you an abbreviated version of what those things are, I encourage you to seek support if and when you find yourself on the floor with the rug pulled out.
Here are 5 things to help you get back on your feet.
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Give yourself permission to feel angry, hurt, betrayed, confused and disappointed. Express those feelings in constructive ways. Let your partner know how you feel and why.
- Don’t allow your partner to convince you that your feelings are crazy. Sometimes people will try to minimize things in order to save face. Other times, people try to make their partner “the bad guy” when they are caught in “bad behavior.” Keep things straight. You are responsible for your feelings and actions; your partner is responsible for his.
- Don’t make any long-term decisions in the heat of the moment. While it is normal to have strong feelings when you find out someone is not who you thought she was, this is not the time to make important decisions about the relationship. Wait until the feelings subside and you’ve had time to think things through and process the issue with your partner. Get perspective so you can understand what actually occurred and why. Give your partner a chance to explain things from her perspective. Things may turn out more harmless than you had originally thought.
- Get clear on your boundaries and deal breakers. What does your partner need to do or not do in order to make things right. What behaviors are unacceptable and need to stop now. What needs to take place in order for you to feel comfortable moving forward in the relationship. And finally, if the behavior is a hard and fast deal-breaker, then call it quits and move on.
- Forgive. Some infractions are relatively harmless, some are not. Either way, if you’ve decided to stay in the relationship and move forward, forgiveness is a must. Even if you’ve chosen to end the relationship, forgiveness is still a must. It will enable you to move forward with an open heart. People are not perfect. You’re not perfect. Find a way to forgive both yourself and your mate.
Remember it takes time to heal and re-build trust. It will not happen in a day. Take this opportunity to learn how to be more of yourself in this relationship, not less. Transparency and vulnerability is what creates deep love and intimacy. While you may not see it now, this crisis may just be what you needed in order to create your best relationship yet.
If you or someone you know has had the rug pulled out from under them, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here to help. I provide personalized counseling and coaching. And if you want to start right now, go and purchase The Pathway to Love at-home program. You don’t need to wait. You can begin the process today. Take advantage of the opportunity receive the support and guidance you deserve.