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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I start trust a new partner after having a string of terrible relationships?

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  • 1


    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    I am guessing that you have not only had a string of terrible relationships, but perhaps your trust was betrayed by previous partners - maybe they lied or were not open with you about things, or did things that caused you to feel let down, or that they did not ‘have your back’.
    It will be very important for you to take it slowly with a potential new partner, and to allow yourself to work out whether this person is someone who can be trusted. You'll need to get a sense of things like:-

    • does your partner do what they say they are going to do?
    • is your partner open about what s/he is thinking and feeling?
    • does s/he behave in a way that has your best interests at heart - for example, in the way s/he talks to others about you, how s/he makes plans around things you either already have organized or wish to do.
    Trust is a tangible thing that can and must be earned, negotiated and built on if a relationship is to be healthy and enduring. 

    If you are interested in reading more about what the experts have to say about trust in intimate relationships, Dr John Gottman has written an excellent book called “What makes love last: How to build trust and avoid betrayal”.

    All the best, Vivienne Colegrove

  • 1


    I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    It might be useful too for you in addition to the good suggestions added above, to do some work exploring your upbringing and where it was that trust was betrayed for you as a child. If we grow up learnng that important people cannot be trusted we tend to have that expectation and we also may project that into a new relationship. One of the most empowering things that people can do is to ask themselves honestly where do I fail in this area? How trustworthy am I? Do I let myself down by behaving in dishonest ways that do not sit comfortably with my integrity? Do I keep my agreements, do what I say I will, honour my word? So, as well as looking at your new partner and what kinds of things you need to see in order to make you feel that this relationship will be different from the past, I would encourage you also to focus on developing yourself and the qualities that you would like to see in a partner in yourself. Good Luck!

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