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They say it makes or breaks a relationship.
And it’s true.
Affairs and disloyalty have always existed throughout history, but in today’s fast and modern world, cheating and lying have become easier—more accessible.
With more social media platforms, new ideologies, and more convenience, trust has become easy to break. Add to that our traumas and past hurts, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Chances are we’ve all been hurt or betrayed. So we become vigilant in the hope of not experiencing the same pain again. We might snoop on our partner’s phone, stay present with them at all times, or interrogate them.
We’d do anything to make sure they won’t betray us.
We think that by controlling the other person, we can control the outcome. And when we control the outcome, then we might be able to trust them.
But Esther Perel, the notorious psychotherapist, thinks differently. In her book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, she says:
“If we accept that the certainty we long for is something we may never truly have, we can reframe the notion of trust. Yes, trust is built and strengthened by actions over time, but by the same token, trust is also a leap of faith…trust is an active engagement with the unpredictable.”
What Perel conveys is that trust and risk are interconnected—one can’t exist without the other. If we want to learn how to trust, we need to learn how to take risks. And in relationships, just like anything else in life, risk in an essential component.
In one of her videos, Perel makes it clear:
“One of the important things that I learned in my life is that if I wanted to build trust in myself, my career, in the world, in my partner, I had to take risks. I had to be able to accept uncertainty and live with the unknown, and no amount of control will take care of that.”
“No amount of control will take care of that.” Read that again.
I understand that we don’t want to be hurt again. I understand that love is a tricky playground, but taking Perel’s words into consideration could as well save our unpredictable relationships.
Perhaps, the notion of trust goes beyond certainty. It goes beyond whether your partner will or won’t cheat. Maybe trust, as Perel puts it, is simply a leap of faith.
We can never be sure whether this person will hurt us or not. That said, we must accept the unpredictable nature of events.
We must accept that with trust comes risk. With risk comes ambiguous outcomes. With unexpected outcomes maybe comes growth.
Trust the process—not the person.