Updated: Feb 5
Let's say you've been dating the perfect guy for almost 2 months. He's handsome, funny, mature, financially stable, and a man after God's own heart.
But in a moment of transparency, he tells you that he used to struggle with staying faithful in his past relationships. He reassures you after strengthening his relationship with God that this is no longer a problem for him.
But what do you do??
Or maybe the issue isn't cheating, per se.
Maybe you're in a relationship where one person has done something, either to you or to someone in their past, to break the trust in another way, such as lying, hiding something, betraying loyalty, or simply not being there when you needed them.
The commonly held belief is "once a [fill in the blank], always a [fill in the blank]."
But as believers, we know that once someone surrenders to Christ and receives salvation, they become a new creature in Christ. As long as the person is repentant, God will forgive them and completely transform them from the inside out.
But although that's true, you still can't keep the questions from racing in your mind...
Why did he do it? Will he do it again? Does he still think about doing it? Is he lying? Should I trust him?
Just because someone made mistakes in the past doesn't necessarily mean that they will do it again. If you still believe that the relationship is worth pursuing and you want to be able to forgive and move forward, here are 4 tips to help you do that effectively.
1. Don't hold them to your past
Believe it or not, sometimes our inability to trust usually has more to do with what we've experienced in our past relationships than whether or not the person in question is actually trustworthy.
If you've experienced lying, cheating, betrayal, deception, manipulation or someone simply not keeping their word in the past, then it's easy to look at the person in front of you and ask if they will do the same thing. This is especially true if you haven't taken the time to properly heal from those things.
Be very careful not to make your present relationship suffer for what happened in your last relationship. The heart doesn't know who to punish. It only knows that it was hurt. Don't let your feelings make the decisions for you. Make sense of those feelings and deal with them properly.
2. Trust them until you have a reason not to
It's important to stick with the facts of the present. A good rule of thumb for your relationships is to trust that person until they have given you a solid, proven reason not to.
The brain has an incredible talent for creating narratives to fill in the holes for information we don't have. A missed call could turn into a full-fledged affair in the mind of someone who has trust issues.
Stop worrying yourself by acting like Inspector Gadget, trying to piece clues together to figure out if he is where he's supposed to be, doing what he claimed to be doing.
If you have questions and concerns, by all means, communicate them. But believe the answers that you are given. Life is so much simpler and stress-free when everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
If someone is being shady or untrustworthy, then ask direct questions instead of assuming. Also, trust God to reveal what you need to know when you need to know it. Because the last thing you want to do is ruin a perfectly good relationship by accusing someone of something they didn't even do.
3. Make transparency a requirement in your relationship
When a person is transparent in the relationship, they will offer up information that is important for the other person to know without having to be asked. This is GOLDEN for someone with trust issues.
When you make transparency a habit in your relationship, nothing is hidden. There are no secrets or lies. This may even need to be a non-negotiable quality for someone whose trust has been broken in the past. It works best when you both have agreed early in the relationship to maintain transparency, but if this is something you are trying to cultivate then it will have to start with you.
Don't wait for them to ask where you're going, who will be there, and what you'll be doing. Tell them. And tell them when you'll be back and when you plan to check-in while you're at it. It may seem like a lot, but it's well worth it once it's reciprocated, especially when it comes to the bigger things.
Always be careful not to use what's disclosed to you against them. It shouldn't be taken lightly when someone shares their thoughts, fears, and imperfections with you. Show them that you can be trusted with those parts of them. Handle them with care. This is how intimacy, honesty, and trust are built within relationships.
4. Don't forget your flaws
When you're focused on making sure someone isn't treating you badly, it's easy to forget that you yourself aren't perfect. If people treated you according to the mistakes of your past, it would be nearly impossible to move forward and become a better person. Thankfully, God doesn't identify us by our mistakes.
Colossians 3:13 says that we must forgive others because we have been forgiven. And Matthew 6:15 says that if we don't forgive others then we won't be forgiven by God.
He is kind enough to offer us grace and forgiveness that we don't deserve, and if we want to continue to receive that we must offer others the same kindness.
At some point, we will all screw up in our relationships - we will make a mistake and hurt someone. This is guaranteed, even if you have the best of intentions. No relationship will be perfect because all relationships are made of imperfect beings. But 1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. If the good that someone brings into your life is greater than the hurt they cause, then maybe it's worth holding on to.