Feelin’ Like a Fool: 6 Tools for Listening to Your Relationship Instincts

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  



you told me to trust my gut

i didn’t

and trusted you


Trust is not always trust. Sometimes it is a glorified denial of the obvious.  Or, it is an emotional wish list, a want-it-to-be-true-and-so-it-is delusion.  Like naïve children, we are easily led by smooth talk,  sweet offers, and a maudlin performance.  Only we are not innocent anymore, are we? Ignoring our wiser instincts dooms us to repeat choices that consistently lead to pain.

Trust is earned, we say. However,  cheap promises wrapped in smiles gain top wages quickly. We want a friend, so when a nice person reaches out we grasp with both hands. We are lonely, and let our standards flex for any companion. “Oh, but he is a nice guy” we tell ourselves and any who will listen. “She’s a good friend, always there for me,” we say in defense.

All along, our gut tells us something is amiss. We ignore it as usual.  This time is different, we argue. Life has taught me well, I am more aware, and sharper on the lookout. Certainly, this decision to trust is based on insight.

Minutes to years later, we awake yet again.  An older, but none the wiser face meets us in the mirror. How? Why? It’s me, isn’t it.  I am the one who cannot be trusted.  I am the fool.

What if our emotional needs for connection could be met in meaningful, lasting relationships? Discover healthy romance and friendships by using these six tools.

  1. Trust your first reaction.  How simple it is to dismiss those initial inner warnings when we meet someone new. For some of us, it is difficult to draw boundaries and easy to second-guess our judgment.  When an emotion or another person tells you to trust, pause, recall your first instinct, and honor it.  
  2. Trust your experiences.   People have taken advantage of you. You have shared your story with gossips, spent your money on the lazy, or offered loyalty to a betrayer.  You have also met kind people,  and witnessed flourishing relationships. Thoughtfully gather your learned wisdom and write it down. Apply it to future decisions. 
  3. Trust the trustworthy first. You have people in your life who have never deceived or abused you, or you know of those who will not. These might be parents, old friends, siblings, or even therapists. Instead of falling recklessly into another potential mess, ask those trustworthy  persons for perspective.  Place your trust in the tried and faithful before handing it over to someone new. 
  4. Know what you want and need.  We inadvertently leave ourselves behind when a search for love or companionship calls us to focus on another person.  Think about what you must have to know joy. Consider your values and likes and dislikes.  Do you need laughs, openness, touch, or gentle words? Know what kind of person will fit with your personality. 
  5. Know when to say NO.  Recognize signs of an abuser. Read this article and be prepared. Written for the dating crowd, it is yet broadly applicable.  Watch out too for the control freak.  If a potential friend corrects you or others regularly, or if her comments sound parental or condescending, it is time to walk away. These behaviors only get worse.  Gossip does too.
  6. Take your time. Do not be the only pursuer. Wait. The trap of one-sided pursuit may feel familiar. It only leads to dark and lonely places.  As painful as it may be, allowing for the passage of time to prove a person’s character and trustworthiness is your best investment. Give only what you do not fear losing at first.  Offer more of your time, story, and energy gradually over months to a year, testing for the response you want.  

Finally, pray. If you are a follower of Christ, saved by his blood and sacrifice, then you can count on God’s guidance through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  If you are not yet a believer, go here for a user-friendly site designed to answer your questions.  

photo-24784637-praying-businessmanToday’s Helpful Word

Psalm 32:8,9 

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.




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