When you are in a serious relationship, you are trusting someone else with the most vulnerable parts of who you are...
It isn’t always easy to do, especially when you have already experienced heartbreak and betrayal in a relationship that you thought was safe.
Maybe someone cheated on you or perhaps your whole life you have had to live with the ramifications of a family member who cheated. Whether or not you have experienced the pain of unfaithfulness first hand or you have simply seen it played out around you, the fear of being cheated on is real.
Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where the definition of love feeds into this fear. We are told that love is a feeling, that it can be fallen into and fallen out of it. We are told to date whoever “makes us happy” and a large emphasis is put on how the other person makes us feel. We live in a society that treats love as an emotional high and assumes a lack of butterflies is a lack of love.
However, I would argue that love is not just a feeling rather it is an intentional choice. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love beautifully when it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
Wow... doesn’t this version of love sound so much better? When you are in a relationship that is defined by loving the way that God calls us to love, then there is safety and security. You do not have to fear the changing whims of your partner’s emotions because you know their love for you is rooted in something so much deeper than how they feel in the moment. God says that love is faithful and that is what we should expect from our relationships. However, sometimes people don’t always love the way that God calls us to and that is when unfaithfulness can happen and all the hurt that goes along with it.
We all desire to have a relationship that is true and faithful. Yet, many of you may be in a place right now where you are constantly in fear that your partner won’t hold up their end of the deal. Your fear may be legitimate or it may be the persistent presence of past hurts demanding your attention, even though you are in a trustworthy relationship. If this is you, I want to share some ways in which you can overcome this fear....
Is he worthy of your trust?
Before we get into some of the ways that you can overcome your fear of being cheated on, we need to determine whether or not the person you are in a relationship with is someone who is worthy of putting your trust in. In order to do this, I want you to ask yourself a question, “Is he worthy of my trust”? Sometimes, it is easy to get swept up in the emotions of what the world calls love and find ourselves putting your trust in someone who does not include faithfulness as a pillar for his relationships.
Here are just a few questions to ask yourself in order to find the answer to whether to not he is trustworthy...
How does he treat the women in his life?
Oh boy, this is a big one yet it is an often overlooked characteristic. How he treats the women in his life is a predictor of how he will treat you in the future. Does he treat his mom well? Does he go out of his way to help his sisters? Does he have respect for them and treat them as valuable? You will want to take note of this and not ignore the potential red flags that may come up.
What is his reputation?
Often times we jump into a relationship thinking that the person will be different with us than they have been with other girls in the past but that is rarely the case. Knowing someone’s reputation is a great way to determine whether or not you can trust them. If he has left a string of broken hearts and has a reputation for cheating, then it is very unlikely that he will be any different with you. However, if his reputation is honorable then he is more likely to treat you well.
Does he want to follow Jesus?
Note, I didn’t say does he love Jesus? I asked does he want to follow Jesus? These are two very different things. A man can love Jesus and love God but not really express it through his life. However, a man who follows Jesus will be daily pursuing a life that looks likes Him. Why is this important? Because a man who follows Jesus is way more capable of loving you well than a man who simply loves Jesus. He will be more likely to think that the love described in 1 Cor. 13 is not just a lovely ideal but rather a command he needs to take action on. God loves you and if the man you are dating follows Him, he will love you well.
If your answer to one or more of these questions was no, then I would encourage you to talk to a wise person in your life about your relationship and be open to the idea that it may not be the healthiest choice for you. However, if your answers to these questions were yes, well then sister you have got yourself a good man and the recognition of this truth should bring some peace.
Yet, I understand that knowing something to be true, doesn’t always make it easy to overcome the pains and hurts that have dug down deep. So, I am going to share with you some practical tips for handling the fear of being cheated on.
We hear this term a lot in mainstream culture, often it is used jokingly, as a comedic tool to express a feeling that arises from a particular word or event. However, being triggered is more than just a joke, it is a real survival technique that our bodies use to warn us of danger. It tells us when something is off or wrong, signaling our minds to go into self defense mode.
While triggers can be great when it comes to survival, they are not always helpful or needed in a safe relationship. For instance, your boyfriend could say something completely innocent but your subconscious instantly alerts you that there is danger. The reason this might happen is because, what your boyfriend just said, sounded very similar to something your ex-boyfriend might have said when he was mad. There may not have been any intentional hurt but internally your mind makes the connection, and left unaddressed it can build seeds of distrust.
When triggers occur, have grace on yourself and know that it is okay and know that your body is just doing what it is supposed to. However, also recognize that if you have already established that you are dating the right person, then you don’t need to give into the feelings of fear that arise. Instead of letting this moment derail you into a passive aggressive and fearful state, take a second to stop and process why you feel the way you do. When you stop to evaluate instead of going head first down the fear roller coaster, then you have the opportunity to refute lies with truth.
Take note of when you get triggered, where it happens, and what circumstances surround it. By being aware of when these moments of fear occur, you will be prepared when they come and be able to think through the situation out of a sense of calmness rather than out of fear.
Talk about it
I know this may sound scary and to some of you, a bit impossible, but it is important to talk about how you are feeling with your significant other. It will do a world of good if you share your struggle with the other person. If you never let them into your struggle, then they have no way of helping you get through it. Instead, they will feel the negative effects of something they were never given the chance to speak truth into.
It may feel a little embarrassing at first and you may even fear that they will take it personally. But the truth is, all relationships consist of uncomfortable and awkward conversations. I mean for real, there are so many conversations that you will be having that will make your cheeks red and make you want to hide behind the plant. But you are just going to have to face this reality and embrace it. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself in a relationship full of secrecy, poor communication, and hurts that haven’t been addressed.
Here are just a few tips on how to have a difficult conversation...
1. Let the person know that you have something more serious you want to talk about and ask them when they have time to engage in the conversation with you.
2. When you have set up a day, make sure that you have set aside a sufficient amount of time to have the conversation, give enough buffer space that you don’t feel rushed.
3. Put the phones away. Nothing can feel more dismissive then someone checking a text during a deep conversation, even if unintentional.
4. Be specific. It is helpful if you have thought of specific things that cause you to be fearful (point out what your triggers are here) and also provide specific ways in which your partner can help when these moments arise.
5. Pray before and after. First but certainly not least, pray before and after engaging in the conversation. This will get both of your hearts in the right place and invites the Holy Spirit’s wisdom into the conversation with you.
Creating Guard Rails
This is a really important aspect of any relationship on both your side and his. Having guidelines when it comes to accountability and interacting with each other’s male and female friends can help to create an atmosphere of security. If you haven’t yet created any guard rails, I would highly suggest that you think about doing so.
A couple examples include... having a mentor in each of your lives who has permission to hold you accountable. Or you can both agree on making a rule not to spend a lot of time alone with the opposite sex i.e. meeting old friends for coffee, or going out to lunch with a coworker alone. By creating this expectation, you will bring peace of mind, knowing that you both are making the effort to protect your relationship.
Trust that no matter what happens in this life, God loves you and He will never leave you or forsake you. This assurance, knowing that you are loved no matter what, should free you up to have fun and enjoy your relationship. Rejoicing in the good gift that it is, rather than living in fear of what could happen.