Dating for when past mistakes cause a partner to lack trust

Let’s be real, we have all made mistakes in the past. Whether big or small, nobody has had a golden record at living life perfectly as the best human being ever. And oftentimes when we are talking to someone new who we have sparked interest in, we end up discussing what our life was like before them.

If you’re looking to build something serious with someone, it is important to share all relevant history that you might think is important for this person to know. If you are dating casually or are just looking for a fling, it is not important to tell your partner what happened before they came into your life.

But sometimes when we do tell people our histories, it can become a strain on the relationship and lead to a lack of trust. Although we say that we don’t judge people and what matters is who they are now, it is not the case. Humanity is built on judgement. It is what kept our forefathers safe from being eaten and killed. Judgement is what kept humanity alive- and we judge to date.

But why do we judge?

Mostly, it comes from a place of insecurity. Sometimes, it can come from a place of protecting ourselves.

What causes a lack of trust based on a partner’s past?

Many factors can come into play when talking about a lack of trust in a partner based on their past. It could be something like them confiding in you about the one time they were unfaithful in a relationship or it could be them admitting to severe personality disorders, compulsive cheating patterns, a habit of lying, or sometimes even worse, a criminal record.

It is important to take a step back in these situations and think about where the relationship is at that point. If nothing concrete has been established between partners, it is a good time to have a conversation about the future and where you would like to draw a line. But if it is an already established relationship and new information comes to light, it is important to not take impulsive and rash decisions but look at the situation objectively and evaluate things.

In a situation where your partner admits a past mistake to you and confides in you, it is imperative to look at it from the lens of something that has happened and not as something that defines them as a person in the present. It is important to openly and transparently talk about the past and gain clarity on the topic. Let them know if you need more information or if you would like to not know specifics.

While sometimes your partner’s past can come as a shock and feel like a bomb dropped on your relationship, it does not have to be that way. Cultivating a sense of maturity and establishing clear boundaries between the past and present can help put things into perspective.

For example, you have been with someone for a year and they tell you that they attended AA meetings because of a severe alcohol problem, say, 3 years ago. It is important to keep your judgement, fear, and lack of trust aside and look at them with a lens of empathy. It is important to ask them the right questions and help build the foundation of future trust.

If you find something to be truly unforgivable or if it is something that directly affects your relationship such as infidelity, abuse, alcoholism/drug use, personality disorders, or pattern behaviour- seeking outside help may be beneficial. Therapy or counselling can help you and your partner objectively communicate and build trust.

If not external help, you can work with your partner to understand their history, relapses, and more. It is also beneficial for partners to get involved in the recovery process so that they are more aware of where their partner is in this journey.

All relationships, whether romantic or not, are built on trust. Take your partner’s past with a grain of salt and remember they are not their past mistakes and a healthy relationship with people you love can help avoid relapses.

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