How to Date a Girl Who Has Been Hurt in the Past

Happy young couple hugging on beachHappy young couple hugging on beach

Dating a girl who has been hurt in the past is going to require a lot of patience. She is getting over her hurt feelings and rebuilding her ability to trust, and that's not an easy process for her. It can be frustrating for her -- and for you. But an understanding of what she’s going through and what you need to do to date her successfully may help you find the patience you need.

Step 1

Earn her trust -- it will not be given easily. For someone who has been hurt in the past, there is a loss of trust. Understand that you will have to earn her trust; she will not give it to you. This is going to take time and a lot of patience, according to researchers Roy Lewicki and Edward Tomlinson in their “Beyond Intractability” article “Trust and Trust Building.” She will likely watch you closely, making sure that your words and actions are consistent. She will open up to you a little at a time, but only as she feels safe. Be honest and open and do what you say you will do. Don’t push too quickly.

Step 2

Give her time to heal. Dealing with hurt involves a need to grieve a loss, writes psychologist Barbara DeAngelis in her website's article “Breaking Up, Starting Over.” People who have been hurt in a relationship need to go through a recovery process that allows them to work through the hurt and loss. The beginning of this process can be a difficult time for her. She may have mixed emotions and be unsure if she even wants another relationship. Allow her to talk about anything that she wants to, even if it’s about her past relationship. If she doesn’t talk about it and deal with the feelings about it, she won’t recover from it. Those lingering hurt feelings may only hurt the relationship she has with you in the future.

Step 3

Help her regain her power. One of the most difficult realizations that she may come to is that she allowed herself to get hurt, writes DeAngelis. She willingly gave up her power by allowing her past partner to treat her badly. She will need to regain her power in order to feel safe. Don’t steam roll her. Don’t make decisions for her. Don’t become loud or bossy. She may have a difficult time making decisions as she works to regain her power. You can help by narrowing down possibilities and giving her two or three choices, but encourage her to make decisions or at least help you to make decisions. This can be done with something as easily as helping her choose where the two of you will go for dinner or how you will spend the day together.

Step 4

Let her choose to trust. Ultimately, trusting is a choice, writes founder and relationship expert Renee Wade. You can’t change her; she will eventually have to make the choice that her potential happiness is more important than having perfect certainty. She will have to decide that she is willing to take a risk for the possibility of developing something that could be amazing. You can’t do that for her; you can only be the person who makes it worth it.

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About the Author

Amy Guertin has a master's degree in counseling psychology and will earn her Ph.D. in 2014. Guertin is a licensed counselor and has 15 years of experience practicing psychotherapy, primarily working with children, adolescents and their families. She is also a college psychology professor and is the happiest when she is in the classroom.

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