Though I remember the pain of a bad break-up, it is the betrayal or rejection of a friend that still seems to hold a sting. Why is that? Do we allow friends into a space in our hearts that we rarely permit others? I’m not certain. But I do know that it can take effort to risk being open to new friendships. But as healthy friendships are pivotal to a vibrant life, we want to learn how to safely move forward and be responsive to budding friendships. So here are 5 secrets to overcoming trust issues in friendships.
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Overcoming Trust Issues in Friendships
There will always be risk involved when we are in relationships with others. However, by learning from the past and remaining optimistic in the future we can set the stage for attracting healthy friendships.
Remain Open & Trusting
In order to draw great friends we have to remain open and trusting. We are smart to NOT trust everyone, but we want to give most people the benefit of the doubt. We can’t stand back, emotionally speaking, expecting that others will just let us down sooner or later. If we do that, we are in danger of attracting other non-trusting people too!
So approach friendship with the attitude that most people are caring and have some positive character qualities. No one is perfect so we can’t expect or demand perfection. We can believe that there is so much to learn from others. And we can anticipate that we will connect with the rare find of discovering a true friend!
Time is Your Friend
While we are remaining open to new friendships we can also recognize that time is a great companion. Time reveals character. As we get to know others use caution so that you are not sharing too much too soon.
Great friendships are typically created over time. So while we believe the best in others, we can also allow time to reveal who a person really is through watching their actions.
We don’t have to figure everything out on our own or just trust what someone says. Believe that others are being honest with you, but don’t go all in til some time has past revealing if their words and actions match.
For example, I may listen to a new friend discuss being in a tight spot and needing help in some way. I may even offer to lend a hand. But I’m probably not going to invest a lot of time and money til I know more about the person.
Look at Past Patterns
Learn from your past mistakes. If you have been hurt in the past, look for patterns. Do you tend to attract the same type of friends? When you have felt let down in the past, what happened? Are you being a good friend?
I had 2 seasons in my life where I realized that I had some unhealthy friendship patterns.
In my early twenties, I had a couple destructive cycles occurring. Sometimes I would get so focused on trying to get my emotional needs met that I would hurt people and end up losing true friendships.
While I felt awful about losing the friendships, I also felt so hurt by others. It was a crazy pattern of choosing some “toxic” friendships and relationships, feeling hurt by those. Then in the need to feel better rushing into new friendships hurting those who were true friends.
Thankfully, we don’t have to stay in those destructive patterns. We can see and learn from our mistakes. An amazing book that was LIFE-CHANGING for me was Safe People: How to Find Relationships That are Good for You and Avoid Those that Aren’t by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Do you feel like you are stuck in a unhealthy friend cycle? Look and see if you have a “need” you may be trying to meet through these relationships. Then find a healthier way to meet that need. Perhaps you are looking for someone to tell you that you are “likable,” “smart enough,” or “worthy of care.” Only you and God can truly tell yourself that you are enough. It is wonderful when it is confirmed by others. But you have to believe it yourself to begin.
Release Unhealthy Friendships
As I mention above, we can choose relationships where we seek to “win” another’s approval.
We can set ourselves up to be hurt by putting someone in our lives and giving them too much power to tell us whether we are OK.
If you feel like you are constantly having to strive or work to just keep the friendship, it is time to release that relationship. Friendships are meant to be supportive and mutual. If you are consistently being hurt or never feel like you “measure up” then it is a sign that something is unhealthy. Read my post here on, How to Know When to Keep or Fire That Friend .
And as we step out of unhealthy friendships, we will have way more time emotionally for true friendships!! And we are one step closer to overcoming trust issues in friendships.
Accept Small Offers of Friendships
This is the fun part. We have dumped some unhealthy relationships. We are also trying to be more honest with ourselves, looking for ways to meet our own needs for acceptance. Now we can enhance our lives with some great friends that will encourage and challenge us to be even more awesome.
So now think about who has already offered you friendship in some small way. Did an acquaintance invite you over for dinner? Has a co-worker been encouraging you to get together with some others after work? Or perhaps someone at your church asked if you wanted to help them with a volunteer project?
Well?? Accept their offer. It may lead to an enjoyable evening. And perhaps an amazing friendship!
Overcoming trust issues in friendships
Do you struggle with trusting others? We tend to lean one way or another, either being too trusting or not being trusting enough! Which way causes you the most trouble? Comment below and let me know what you think!