Does Trust Mean Never Getting Hurt or Having To Say You Are Sorry?

Dear Toni--

I was puzzled by your answer to question 5 in your quiz, "What's your Intimacy IQ?" "Trust in a relationship means that the other person will not hurt or seriously disappoint you."
Your answer was false.

I was told that if a relationship is painful or hurtful, it isn't love. How much "hurt" is reasonable in a real relationship? Hourly? Daily? Weekly? How much disappointment is tolerable? Why be in a relationship at all, then?
--Not Looking to be Hurt

Dear Not Looking to be Hurt--

This is a very good question that does not have a "one size fits all" answer. Let me begin by stating that, "inherent in all intimate relationships are hurts and disappointments."

To think otherwise is to believe that we can be "perfect" in our thoughts and behavior throughout the course of our lives and relationships. We all know that this is not so.

So, how much disappointment and hurt is tolerable is a question everyone must ask of themselves. The answer varies from individual to individual.

When making this decision, we should begin with asking ourselves; "What must I have in a relationship, and what is not tolerable for me?" Here is where we begin to formulate out thoughts about our own expectations of trust, respect and intimacy.

Not only must we look at what we believe we must get from another, we must also examine our own behavior and whether we are not asking more from others than we are able/willing to give.

We must also look at our ability to work through hurts by handling our feelings constructively and having the capacity to forgive and move on. For without these, every hurt and disappointment can lead to greater destruction and a point at which healing and moving on are not possible.

Healthy relationships require maturity, self-awareness, the ability to take and receive and a capacity for understanding and forgiveness that is mutual and sustainable through the rough spots along the road of a life together.

Think about what you want, what you have to offer, what you are willing to give and to receive. Once you have done this, you will find your answer to this important question.

(from January 2004)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"I'm Available, Attractive and Out There: What am I Doing Wrong?"
List of more
"Self growth & Self Improvement"

"Being Single in a "Coupled" World"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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