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How to Gain a Woman's Trust When She Has Been Hurt in Her Past

by Emma Wells

Trust issues can be hard on both partners in a relationship, even if the trust issues belong mostly to the one person who is carrying the major baggage. Trust issues take time for both partners to overcome; however, with some sensitivity and patience, it is very possible to build a new relationship with a solid foundation of trust.

Listening

Ask her for her story. Finding out her fears can go a long way toward recognizing when your actions or words trigger those fears and cause her to lash out or distance herself from you. Ask her to reveal only what she feels comfortable revealing, and don’t push any further. A study conducted in 2012 by Sandra Murray, Ph.D. and other psychologists for the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” was based on the principal that trust is a matter of risk assessment: people trust their partners only when they assess that there is a low risk of rejection or betrayal involved in getting closer to him or her. A woman who has been hurt in the past may still have her guard up and choose not to tell her whole story to you immediately for fear of risking vulnerability, so be patient with her.

Schemas

The emotional patterns people develop in childhood continue to resurface throughout our lives, says psychologist Tara Bennett-Goleman, Ph.D. and author of the book “Emotional Alchemy”. The emotional pattern for your partner may be an issue of trust broken in childhood. The way to avoid fighting when two people have different emotional patterns, say Bennett-Goleman and her husband, psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, is to recognize each other’s emotional “schemas” and work with them. Analyze your partner’s emotional patterns and your own. If, like Daniel, you are a perfectionist who works long hours, but your partner, like Tara, feels abandoned when you’re gone often, you two can address why you have your particular schemas and find a compromise.

Honesty

A woman who has been hurt in the past is likely to be assessing the risk of growing close to you all of the time, at least for a while. It’s important to be honest with her, even about the little things. If she discovers that you’re lying about where you go with your friends on a Saturday night or even what you ate for dinner, she might wonder what else you’re hiding from her. It’s better to have a policy of honesty if you want to earn her trust.

Actions

You might say that she can trust you and that you’ll be there for her, but actions always speak louder than words. People develop trust on three scales, including faith in the partner’s love, faith in the partner’s emotional closeness, and evaluations of the partner’s character, Murray and her team found. If you want your partner to evaluate your character favorably, show her that you’re honest, open, and loving instead of judgmental or closed-minded. Actions that inspire trust could be making special time for her on a weekly basis and sticking to your commitment, or sharing a personal story that you wouldn’t share with anyone else.

About the Author

Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

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