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Financial predator robbed me of my ability to trust!

answered 01:11 PM EST, Mon December 12, 2011
I was in a relationship with someone and I thought they were the one. We were engaged to be married. I found out before the weeding that he was a financial predator who was using me to pay for his lifestyle and that he also had other women doing the same thing for him at the time and I eventually found out that he had a history of doing this to women.

I was devastated and it really shattered my self esteem. I had some trust issues before him and now they are just off the charts and my inability to trust anyone has pretty much sabotaged any relationship I have had since (If you are looking for evidence of something hard enough I think you can always find – or manufacture – it.) But though I know that I am acting irrationally after the fact, it doesn’t change the way I feel and act at the time.
How can I learn to get past this and to regain some trust in other people?

Art Matthews Says...

It's very understandable that you would feel this way, even without having had trust issues before. Your resistance to considering new romantic connections is a protective action and part of you loving yourself. You are -- in a way -- grieving the death of a person, even though no one died. The person you thought he was has ceased to exist, yet he doesn't extend the courtesy of actually laying down and being buried!

Your first step is to experience and express your grief. Grief is a non-linear process divided into "stages" including: denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Effective grieving can take a complete passing of the seasons to navigate while you experience each anniversary, holiday and memorable date and place without him. Over this time you will feel the grief ebb and flow. Don't judge your process of grieving. It's yours and will take the time you need to grieve, not someone else's.

Secondly, you will need to forgive yourself for not having seen what was happening. Remind yourself that as a predator, he was looking for a "mark" and because of his intention to deceive, you were at a disadvantage from the beginning. Avoid blaming yourself for being the one he chose to deceive. You will never know why and he would likely not tell you just because it wouldn't serve him in any way. People who are successful at this ruse are often sociopaths, who have incredible charisma, charm and attraction. They also have no remorse or consideration for social norms and law. He is likely severely personality disordered and will never experience a life completely free from the consequences he creates. He will also never have the opportunity to understand real loving relationships.

Third, you will need to let go of your anger with him in order to allow yourself to risk getting hurt again. That does not mean you "forgive and forget." Forgiveness in these situations is often misunderstood. You never have to utter the words "I forgive you" to him. "Forgiveness" in this sense means letting go of your need to protect yourself with your anger and grief to the point that you shut yourself off from pursuing your dreams and living them out.

Lastly, consider the lessons that you have an opportunity to learn here and focus on how learning them will provide you with a much better life in the future. You may have had the fairytale romance ripped from your reality, but that may not be such a bad thing if pursuing the fairytale landed you with this schmuck. We do have to vet a new potential partner. We need learn how to listen to our guts and act in ways that are consistent with our beliefs and feelings. Fairytales are all about princes, glass slippers, love a first sight, and happily ever after. They occur in books and movies but rarely in real life. You may have the wind knocked out of you for the moment, but you will (if you choose) get back on and take another ride.

If you feel that things have gone on too long and you aren't seeing any progress, or you feel helpless and hopeless; seek out a professional counselor or other trained helper. They will help support you while you come to realize that you are not so stupid, not so broken, not at all unloveable and ready to trust again.

Best of luck to you.

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Page last updated Dec 12, 2011

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