By Tanni Deb
After a relationship ends, it’s sometimes difficult to have hope again when it comes to finding love. Insecurity can get the best of you, and you may not know how to heal from your previous experience. In his new book, Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships, clinical psychologist, Dr. John Townsend, helps people to open up. Beyond Boundaries provides steps and skills to assist those who are battling honesty issues and are trying to regain confidence, either in a new union, or an old one.
Cupid had a chance to interview Dr. Townsend about his book, and this is what he had to say:
What inspired you to write this book?
As a psychologist and an executive coach, I’ve worked with many people who have struggled with their partners. Over and over, I see people who have had to set limits or leave a bad pairing, and then they don’t know how to open up and accept someone else into their lives. They’re sort of stuck knowing they need to be connected in some way romantically, or at least with a family member or friendship, but at the same time, they’re afraid to try. So, I wanted to give them a book to help them to have the skills to re-enter a trusting relationship.
What challenges did you face while writing about how to trust again in a relationship?
There were several challenges. One is that people often give up and settle for less. They get busy with their work or their activities, and they tend to abandon any type of closeness. So the challenge was to help them see again that they can really have a great friendship, family, marriage, or dating situation, and they don’t have to settle for less. I had to sort of set a fire inside them to try again, to get them to experience a vision for a better future.
At what point in a relationship should you move on if honesty is an issue?
I believe it’s generally when you see three factors from the person who has been dishonest.
First, they show no awareness of the problem, even if they’ve lied, or if they’ve been unfaithful. That’s a bad sign.
Second, they aren’t concerned about how deeply that impacts their partner. If they minimize that or make it no big deal — or say that you are overreacting — that’s not a good sign.
Third, if they do say they know how deeply what they did impacts you, and they’re going to work on changing, but instead of working on it, they go back to their old patterns. Now, it doesn’t always mean you need to break up, but it does mean you have to put strict limits on your partner until they become a safe person.
How do you regain faith in a partnership after it’s been broken?
There are three parts to this as well.
First, you have to know when you’re ready; that your mind and heart have been healed, so you’ve learned that not everyone is untrustworthy, and that some people can change. There are lots of skills in the book about becoming ready to trust.
The second part is how do you know the other person is ready? Have they changed, have they seen what they’ve done, or have you seen patterns change? There are skills in the book for that too.
The third part is how do we act towards each other in a safe way? How do we both take risks towards each other to establish closeness so that nobody gets hurt? What I want people to see in the book, is that this isn’t just about whether or not the other person has changed. We can have trust issues from an old relationship that get in the way of trusting again in a new one. Whether it’s issues with someone you’re trying to be with again, or a fresh start in which you don’t want to make the same mistakes, that’s what the skills in the book are about.
Have you had personal experience with the issues you touch on in your book? If so, how did you overcome these obstacles?
I’ve learned and grown from my experiences in business and with friends and family. Also, it’s helped me to be more of a trustworthy person myself, because the sword cuts both directions. My expertise came from my training as a psychologist, and thousands of hours of working with clients and in executive coaching, where people unburden their lives, and I help them find solutions.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who can’t help transferring their old issues into their current circumstance?
The first piece of advice is that you can’t do this in a vacuum. You’ve got to be around two or three other people who are safe, and that you can talk about your fears with. When we have trust issues, we’re not sure if we can ever trust. So be around people who are going to be a good feedback system for you, and who will support and help you make good decisions.
What is the most important lesson you hope readers will learn from your book?
That learning to trust again is one of the greatest things you can do in your life. You don’t have to give up and settle.
Learn the steps in building a healthy relationship by registering for Dr. John Townsend’s free Facebook webcast on Tuesday, October 4, at 8 p.m. EDT. Or visit Amazon to purchase Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships. For more information on Dr. Townsend, check out his Facebook and website, Dr. John Townsend.