On Lost Trust

Can you judge someone for crimes not committed against you? Can you look at someone that you once trusted, after hearing something devastating about their past, and see them as exactly the same person that they were a moment ago? How do you move on from that?

One of my daughters, now an adult of 19, broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years about a year ago. He had trouble with the truth. Overall he was a nice guy, he cared about her, but the relationship reached its end, as they tend to do with young love and they both moved on. However, she carried the hurt with her. It took her a year to decide to date someone new.

She seemed to become almost obsessed with her new beau, constantly telling me all of the good things about him and spending as much time with him as she possibly could, even going so far as to break ‘curfew’ (very unlike her) a few times before she came to her senses and realized that the time she tells me she will be home is a courtesy, not a rule. She lives under my roof. The rule is that she gives me a time and she adheres to it. I recognize that she is now considered an adult. But I am still a parent that will wake up and search for her child with fear in her heart if she isn’t where she said she would be. I don’t know how else to be.

Back to the boyfriend. I had heard whispers of him from others, that he was a “player” and that he was “controlling.” My daughter is strong and independent when it comes to getting bossed around so I am sure the controlling part of it didn’t last long. In fact, she pointed out that she could quite possibly be the first woman in his life to tell him where to go when he tried to dictate her choices. He seems to be a perfectionist, getting excellent grades, carrying one certificate from college and going on to a long term goal in the legal world. He is involved in school programs, president of the council. On paper he seems perfect.

Her tears this morning tore at me. He confessed to having cheated on not one, but two of his last two girlfriends. The player theory confirmed. But it isn’t even that. Of course, he told her that this is different, that he would never to that to her, that she is special. She told him that the beginning of each new relationship is always different and special and filled with romance and good intentions, and that eventually the newness wears off and then relationships require work and maintenance. She is scared. She is worried. What will happen if they are together in two years and she goes off to the bigger university to finish her last four years of college and she is away from him? What happens if he grows bored with her? She doesn’t want to be that clingy girl that practically stalks her boyfriend, yet she doesn’t want to be the clueless girl at home thinking her boyfriend is fast asleep only to find out later that he had wandered to another’s bed.

She made him promise that if he ever even thought of cheating on her that he would break up with her first. Like her mother, she would rather get dumped than find out that she wasn’t enough, wasn’t actually that special or that loved. Of course, if he is going to cheat and that is his character, then it is doubtful that he will take her feelings into consideration before he does it. She is torn. She does not want to break up with him for things that he didn’t do to her. Had she known, she never would have gotten involved in the first place. She is not one to trust blindly. Trust is earned. Trust is built. How can she get that back? The doubt remains. How does she get past it? How does she forget that he has done this, more than once, and not worry that she will be the next clueless woman on the list?

I feel for her. No, she can’t punish him for something he hasn’t done to her. However, you wouldn’t hire a jewel thief to work in your jewelry store either, not without serious trepidation. Her heart is a precious jewel, carefully guarded and filled with hopes and dreams. Maybe this is different for him. Maybe this time he won’t go down that road. I told her to slow down, to get to know him better, to let him earn her trust.

Maybe this relationship is irreparable, maybe not. Nobody is perfect, people make mistakes. How many times are we allowed to make the same mistake and still think we have a valid excuse? Maybe she can get past it. What I do know for sure is that she shouldn’t have to struggle. She is young, just starting her life, and the fidelity of her partner isn’t something that should be piled on top of her list of invisible medical issues. I hope he treats her heart carefully, because if one more man lets her down it will surely deepen a scar that she shouldn’t have in the first place.

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