Ask Celes – I’ve Been Hurt Deeply Before. How Can I Restore My Faith in Relationships?

Ask Celes

Dear Celes,
I don’t remember how I found you and your blog. What I remember is how touched I felt when I read your series “How to Move On from a Heartbreak.” At that time I was in a similar ambiguous romantic-yet-not-in-a-relationship position that you were in with G, and successfully moved on from it. I posted a “Thank you” in response.

Now, three years later, I just moved on from a relationship that broke due to infidelity and betrayal. However, having been betrayed before, I’m afraid of being betrayed again. I know that I cannot live in the past, but my past has changed me into the person I am, including all my fears and insecurities in relationships.

According to your signs, I have already moved on from my former relationship. I have forgiven all the infidelity and betrayal, sought closure with my ex and moved on. I no longer blame my ex or my past, but you know, emotions are real even if you don’t want them to exist. How can I move on with complete faith in relationships again?

Anna

Hi Anna, firstly, I’m sorry to hear that you were betrayed before. Secondly, I’m really happy for you that you’ve moved on. It was not an easy thing to do but you have done it. Now it’s about taking the next step ahead.

For more on moving on, read How I Moved On From a Heartbreak (series).

The fear of betrayal one experiences after an infidelity may be due to the traumatic experience of that ordeal. However, given that you said you have moved on (and it sounds like you have since you have worked through all the steps of moving on) but the fear still persists, this fear — or at least the root of this fear — may well have nothing to do with that infidelity. Rather, it may stem from before this incident — before you were cheated on, before you even got together with your ex.

In other words, your ex’s infidelity didn’t cause your fear of betrayal. It merely brought it to your awareness. More specifically, it is probably the reflection of deeper fears you have surrounding love, relationships, and most of all, yourself.

Example: My Experience with Heartbreak

For example, after I was let down by G in university, there were times when I wondered if I would ever find someone I like. My subconscious conclusions from the episode were that I wasn’t good enough to be loved, that I could never find love and that perhaps I was destined to be alone. The experience of liking someone, opening my heart to him, and not having my feelings requited crushed my heart (and ego). Deep down I felt like shit, an experience I’ve already detailed in my moving on series.

There were times when I thought that all my relationship and singlehood woes would be resolved if things had worked out with G back in school. However, it didn’t take long before I realized that these thoughts — fears – had nothing to do with G or our connection not working out. Rather, they had everything to do with my own inferiority about myself and my appeal as a woman — all of which I already held years before meeting him. I never thought about them out loud, but subconsciously I already had these hangups.

So why did the G event surface these fears? Well, for the first time in my life, I acknowledged to myself that I wanted to be with someone. For the first time in my life, I opened my heart to someone. And for the first time in my life, the reason for my singlehood was not because “There’s no one I like at the moment” or “I’m not looking for a relationship now,” but that “The person I like doesn’t want to be with me.” To have the possibility of a great relationship dangled in front of me and then ripped away so abruptly only made me feel the raw-wound effects of not being deserving of love.

“I’m not good enough”

and

“I’m not good enough to be loved”

were my deep seated beliefs that came roaring from that episode. These limiting beliefs had always been in me; the episode merely brought them to light.

(I subsequently worked through my hangups surrounding love over the years, as I’ve documented in Are You Looking For A Relationship To Complete Yourself?How I Used to Be Afraid of Intimidating Men and Why It Does Not Faze Me AnymoreThe Beauty of Self – How I Used To Feel Inferior about My LooksHow I Embraced My Femininity (series), and How I Found My Soulmate (series). This subsequently led me to find my real soulmate.)

Deeper Roots Beneath Your Relationship Fears

Now Anna, if you have truly moved on from that infidelity, chances are your fear of betrayal has deeper roots that extend before that infidel relationship. These roots may be from your past or from other fears about yourself. If so, you need to look past that infidelity because your fear doesn’t have (or at least, no longer has) anything to do with the infidelity. You need to look (1) earlier into your past, before that relationship, and (2) deeper into yourself, beneath your day-to-day thoughts and feelings, for your answer.

For example, Person X can experience a betrayal and conclude, “I may get betrayed again,” “There is no good man/woman out there in the world,” and “This new guy/girl I just met may seem nice but who knows if he/she is going to cheat on me after we get together?” These may seem like common fears but they are in fact terminalistic, fear-based conclusions.

However, someone else say Person Y can experience a betrayal too but walk away with the following thoughts, “It’s just this one-off — I’ll meet a good man/woman who will be true to me,” “There are plenty of great, honest, and loyal men/women in this world and I just need to meet the right one,” and “This new guy/girl I just met seems terrific! I look forward to seeing how things will unfold.”

Why the radically difference in thinking between X and Y, despite the same circumstances?

One possibility is that X has always been negative self-beliefs prior to the betrayal, such as, “”I’m not good enough to attract the person I like,” “I’m not deserving of love,” and “I may never find someone who loves me.” All the result of negative self-esteem, lack of positive experiences with love, constantly seeing relationships fail, or all of the above.

Hence when the betrayal happened, X could only see the negative aspects of it — negative aspects that corroborated his/her existing negative beliefs. These negative fears then filled his/her consciousness and became the dominant part of his/her thinking. While it may seem like these fears are the result of the betrayal, they aren’t. They are merely a reflection of X’s negative self-esteem that has been there since before the betrayal.

So what if the betrayal never took place, you ask? What if the relationship worked out and there was never any infidelity? Well, one possibility is that the person would naturally realize that his/her negative self-beliefs were false and let go of them. Quite unlikely though. The more dominant possibility is that his/her negative self-beliefs would manifest in other ways, even with a loving and authentic partner. Can you relate to the following?

  • Fear that your partner is seeing someone behind your back, even though he/she has never done anything to deserve this fear
  • Feeling that you are not good enough for your partner, even though he/she doesn’t think that way
  • Feeling that your partner doesn’t love you enough, even though he/she has always been loving towards you
  • Fear that your partner is going to leave you one day, even though there are no signs that the relationship is going wrong
  • Possessiveness over your partner, because you fear losing him/her someday
  • Feeling like your partner is hiding something from you, even though he has always been truthful with you

On the other hand, Person B, not having existing negative self-beliefs, gets hurt from the betrayal but doesn’t walk away with a lingering fear of relationships. After moving on from the episode, he/she has renewed faith in relationships. He/she sees the betrayal as what it is – a one-off betrayal of trust by someone he/she used to love and trust, as opposed to proof that he/she is not deserving of love or that he/she will continue to be betrayed in future romances. The incident doesn’t get blown up into something that it isn’t.

Uncover and Let Go of these Negative Roots

So Anna, here’s what I recommend:

  1. Identify your limiting beliefs about love and relationships. What are the beliefs keeping you from entering a loving relationship? The fear of being betrayed is one, but there are likely more. Write them down. For those of you with Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, refer to Day 26: Identify Your Limiting Thoughts.
  2. Understand your childhood stories driving these beliefs. How did these beliefs come about? Underneath each belief lies a story, usually originating from childhood. This is especially so for persistent, long-running beliefs. To break them, you need to understand the stories first. Read What Childhood Stories Are You Reenacting Today?
  3. Let go of your childhood stories. Refer to steps three to five of the exercise at the end of the childhood stories article.
  4. Replace with new, empowering beliefs about love and relationships. Now that you have let go of these stories, what empowering beliefs can you replace your limiting beliefs with? For example: “I don’t deserve to be loved” can be replaced with “I deserve love like anyone else. In fact, I am love.” Another example: “I’m not good enough to be loved” can be replaced with “I’m perfection and there’s nothing wrong or missing in me.” For those of you with Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, refer to Day 27: Replace with Empowering Thoughts.

I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best in overcoming this fear and finding the love that you deserve. Hug smiley

Here’s a related post: Ask Celes – Is It Possible To Let Go of Unhappy Past Forever?

Image: Question mark

This is part of the Ask Celes section. If you have a question to ask me, proceed to the Ask Celes page. Check out past Ask Celes questions here.

  • http://hackmyheart.com/ Calae

    I’m so glad I read this! I really needed the advice in this article, although I’m coming at it from a bit of a different place. I was journaling the other day when I realized that the root of many of the things I fear is, mainly, that I don’t love myself because I’m afraid of not being good enough. I realized I no longer dislike myself, but I feel rather…neutral. Nothing in particular makes me excited, and when I get home from my internship I barely feel like doing anything. There’s plenty I could do — write, read, play games, etc. — but I just haven’t felt like it. As I journaled, I came up with the question, “What am I worth to myself?” It seems we’re measured so much by what we can do for others, and in many ways our greater purposes usually seem to involve others, but I seemed to struggle to figure out why it matters if I like myself.

    I asked my boyfriend about this, and he had some good answers. ‘It matters because you are the only constant you have in your life. And if you don’t like yourself, you won’t have the motivation to get to where you want to be, even if you get satisfaction from helping people.” I believe what he said is true, but hearing it didn’t create the “a-ha!” moment I’m looking for.

    Thank you for the suggestions on how to uncover these roots…I’ll need to give it a renewed try later! I know where I’m coming from isn’t where the asker of this question came from, but I feel that the route to uncovering the issue may very well be related.

    • Susan

      Dearest Calae, You remind me of my younger self. I just want to tell you that I think you are on the right track, to keep tackling these thoughts. Deep thinkers suffer more than shallow people, because they go into the depths and battle monsters. Just like the water skier skims the surface, whereas the deep sea diver explores the depths of the sea, your are like the deep sea diver for truth. Keep looking and you will find it. Those who do not look will surely never find it. The biggest ah-ha moment of my life did not hit me until I was in my fifties. For over 20 years, I wondered why the man I had loved in my twenties did not choose me. Much later in life, I figured out that he was the one who experienced the tragic loss, because he was either not brave enough or not wise enough to make the better choice. While it may sound like sour-grapes to say “It’s his loss. He could have had me.”, it’s really something deeper than a sad love song. It’s a realization of my worth.

      • http://hackmyheart.com/ Calae

        Thank you for your kind and heartfelt response, Susan! <3 I love your analogy with the diver and the water-skier. I will certainly keep trying. It makes me feel so much better knowing that there are others out there who have gone through what I'm going through. Thanks again for your reply!

  • Anna

    My dearest Celes,

    It’s me, Anna. Thank you so much for your answer to my question. It brings me a totally new perspective of how things are. I’m seriously thinking about it, and even though right now I cannot tell you if your answer can help me or not, it certainly warms up my heart. I’ll be very glad to later update you about how your answer help me as I try exploring myself with your advice.

    There’s another thing I want to share and ask you. For the past few days, I’ve been spending serious time on PE. Not that I haven’t done that before, it’s just I’m currently in a middle of a life challenge and somehow I’ve always found my answer somewhere while reading PE, even though the answer might not be always clear in words. I now guess it’s because your articles are a lot about finding our true selves, thus it makes me look back at myself and then, I see the answer itself is somewhere inside me.

    I must say that I see so much of myself in your articles. I’ve been always seeing myself as a hypersensitive and introverted girl with a strong sense of self. Looking back at my inner self is something I always do since I was little (it’s rather odd, yes, at least in comparison with people around me). I’ve been working on building my own set of philosophies and beliefs which I’ve learnt from my life events, successes, traumas, heartbreaks; and some of them are quite different from common beliefs. This some time makes me doubt myself like, am I right about it? But then, while reading your PE, I’ve found so many of my thoughts here. I cannot remember how many times I burst out inside “She speaks my mind” (though I’m still far behind the inner wisdom (read: the self-conciousness) you have now). This makes me feel like I am on the right track, it’s like you write about your way of discovering the truth (about yourself, about life) and I’ve seen myself at the beginning of my own way too.

    I find what you’re doing really wonderful, I mean writing on PE, sharing your own stories, your own beliefs which you gain from life, and helping people. Thank you for that ;)

    This is what I want to ask you: Can I translate your articles (I am a Vietnamese, Anna is my English name since I used to work with foreigners) and share them on my personal site (with reference to your original articles)? Reading them give me a lot of inspiration, and I do want to share them with my friends in my language. Should I send you the link of my translation (facebook notes), so you can see how your articles are properly shared and perceived?

    Yours sincerely,
    Anna, a PE reader :)

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