- How to Rebuild Trust with Someone Who Hurt You
- How To Trust Someone Again After They’ve Betrayed You & Broken Your Heart
- 1. Your trust must be rebuilt and earned through consistency
- 2. You must take responsibility to ask for what you need from him in order for this relationship to heal and move forward.
- 3. You must be willing to forgive.
- 4. You must set new boundaries.
- 5. If possible, seek professional guidance.
- Rebuilding Trust After a Huge Relationship Betrayal
- Here’s How To Rebuild Trust After You Cheated On Your Partner, According To Experts
- 1. Embrace Vulnerability
- 2. Learn To Trust Yourself
- 3. Choose To Forgive
- 4. Allow Time To Grieve
- 5. Don’t Continue To Label Yourself The Victim
- 6. Keep your Expectations High
- 7. Leave The Past Behind You
- 8. Consider The Alternative
- 9. Consider All The Future Possibilities
- 10. Tell Your Story
- Learning to trust in a new relationship
- How we can help
- How to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage After a Major Screw-Up
- Own Up to It
- Keep Your Promises
- Be Honest
- Accept That Earning Back Trust Takes Time
- Focus on Consistency
- Realize That Things Might Never Be the Same
- Forgiveness and Restoration
- Why Do We Find It So Hard to Forgive?
- Granting Forgiveness
- Why does betrayal hurt us so badly?
- 16 steps to rebuilding trust in your relationship
- 1. The lying/cheating must stop
- 2. Stop “minimizing”
- 3. Commit yourself to the process
- 4. Learn to trust yourself again
- 5. Forgive yourself
- 6. Work on it
- 7. Work on yourselves as well
- 8. Put everything on the table
- 9. Whoever broke the trust has to apologize
- 10. Make each other feel understood
- 11. Make the necessary changes
- 12. Work on things you can improve
- 13. Forgive each other
- 14. Be consistent
- 15. Don’t use betrayal as a weapon
- 16. Start over
- Getting professional help
- What if these steps don’t help?
- Betrayals can lead to better relationships.
How to Rebuild Trust with Someone Who Hurt You
Nothing hurts more than feeling betrayed by someone you love and trust. Betrayal can come in many forms, such as dishonesty, disloyalty, unfaithfulness, or withholding. Each of these feels like a moral violation that cuts to the core of your emotional soul and plunges you into a place of deep psychological distress. Relationships are very complex and, depending on the circumstances, betrayal doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship. For some people, working through a betrayal can make a relationship even stronger. When there’s a desire to continue a relationship, there is often a good deal of focus on whether or not the hurt party can forgive the other person. Forgiveness, while necessary to the reconciliation process, is not sufficient for being able to move forward with a relationship. Whether a relationship can be repaired depends primarily on whether or not trust can be restored.
Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. It is what allows you to feel safe so that you can be vulnerable enough to emotionally connect with another person. When relationships first begin, trust is often given early as part of an unspoken code of honor. People we choose to engage with socially are generally assumed to be trustworthy until proven otherwise. Over time, as we get to know someone, that trust grows and deepens. When we break this trust it is not just with the other person, but often with ourselves. You question not only what the other person did, but how you let the betrayal happen. For a relationship to move forward after a betrayal, it is important that trust is re-established, not only with the other person but, perhaps even more importantly, with yourself.
Below are some steps for how to forgive and trust again once you’ve been hurt.
1. Forgive yourself
An important part of the forgiveness process is forgiving yourself. When trying to understand a situation, we have a tendency to generate explanations for why things happen, even if they are irrational. We often blame ourselves: If I was a better person in some way, maybe this wouldn’t have happened to me. If I was less gullible I would have seen this coming. We think if we can find the flaw and fix it, we might be able to prevent it from happening again. Self-forgiveness requires self-compassion and learning that, even with your flaws and vulnerabilities, you still have tremendous self-worth and deserve to be treated well. It is important to know that the behavior of the other person was his or her choice and reflects who they are, not who you are.
2. Forgive the other person
It is impossible to regain trust without first regaining control of your emotional well-being by finding your inner peace with the situation. Many people struggle with forgiveness because they don’t want to let the other person off the hook for his or her bad behavior. It is important to realize though that forgiveness isn’t about the other person but about your emotional freedom. Learning to forgive and make peace with things that happened in the past can happen more easily when you take your focus off of the specific events that occurred and instead try to see the perspective of the other person. Seeing someone else’s perspective can help you understand the events that occurred and make them less personal. It can also be easier to forgive someone when you see them as a whole person. If you find yourself stewing in anger over a situation, try to pull back and remember the good qualities you know the other person has, and recognize that we all have flaws and make mistakes.
3. Trust yourself
It is nearly impossible to trust someone else unless you first trust yourself. A good deal of the fear that people feel when they think about trusting someone who has betrayed them comes from the belief that they will not be OK if it happens to them again. They fear being emotionally devastated by the loss, the shame, and humiliation of being duped again, and the toll this would take on their self-esteem. The fear can be so unfathomable it needs to be avoided at any cost. This is where the work needs to be done. Instead of focusing on why you won’t be OK, it is important to know why you would be fine and still be able to live a good life without the other person. If you are like most people, you’ve probably already lived through several difficult challenges—think about what strengths got you through those times.
Some people also fear that they are being weak for not leaving. If there is any type of emotional or physical abuse you should leave and get professional help if necessary. However, when there isn’t abuse involved, in many situations it takes a good deal more strength to work through a difficult point in a relationship than it does to walk away from it. You need to believe that should it become apparent that it is time to separate from the relationship, you will be able to do so and still be a wholly functioning person. If finding this kind of trust in yourself seems very difficult on your own, consider working with a professional who can help you see the blind spots you can’t see in yourself.
4. Trust the other person
The truth about trusting someone else is that the only certainty is that there is no certainty. There is always an element of faith in the trust we give to someone. After a betrayal, all you can do is assess the situation and make an appraisal about what you think is likely behavior in the future. Does the person seem sincerely apologetic and willing to make amends? Does the person act with integrity in other areas of their life? Were there circumstances that played a role, or does the betrayal seem to reflect their overall character? Has he or she broken your trust in similar ways in the past? In the big picture, is there more good than bad in the relationship?
If the answers to these questions affirm the positive, the choice in front of you is whether or not you can accept the flaws of the other person and again trust that they will act in the best interest of your relationship. There are never any guarantees when it comes to other people. Only time will show whether trust is deserved. However, withholding trust out of fear or anger will prevent you from emotionally reconnecting with a person and keep your relationship from moving forward in a healthy way.
Relationships are vital to our well-being and quality of life. Without the difficult times, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good times. Working through a ruptured relationship offers you the opportunity to grow as a person and perhaps find a deeper meaning in the relationship itself.
How To Trust Someone Again After They’ve Betrayed You & Broken Your Heart
One of the most devastating aspects of experiencing a betrayal by someone you love is the way it destroys your former ability to trust the person you want to be able to depend on more than anyone else in your life.
It may be true that the heart wants what it wants, but once someone has betrayed their girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife or significant other, if both people want to pick up the pieces of the relationship and put them back together, the partner who did the damage must be willing to do what’s necessary in order to demonstrate their willingness to earn back that trust, and the person who’s heart was broken must be willing to let them.
When people talk about betrayal in romantic relationships and marriages, they most mean infidelity, but there are other forms of betrayals that can equally break someone’s heart.
For example, say John and Mary decided together to open a special account they will deposit a certain amount of money into each month in order to save enough to eventually buy a house.
One day, as John reviews their monthly banking statements, he sees that $5,000 was withdrawn from that account without his knowledge. When he confronts Mary, she hesitatingly admits she used the money to buy herself a ring he’d previously said he would buy her, but that never materialized.
Regardless of John’s reasons for not following through with purchasing the ring (yet), by withdrawing money from that particular account without consulting him, Mary’s actions were a betrayal of their agreement and therefore, of John’s trust.
Whether a betrayal involves an undisclosed purchase or an extramarital affair, at the heart of the matter lies broken trust.
Relationships are built on trust, as the heart is tender and easy to break. We are all so vulnerable when our heart is involved, so let’s get back to how you can heal after trust has been broken.
First, you must ask yourself these two questions:
- Is he worth risking your for heart again?
- If so, are you willing to risk being hurt by him again?
If the answer to both of these questions is “yes”, here are 5 things you can do in order to begin trusting again after a betrayal by the person you love.
1. Your trust must be rebuilt and earned through consistency
Trust is built and earned by someone over time. It also takes the hurt person to be willing to trust another person and to be vulnerable again. The more our heart goes out to someone the more deeply we can get hurt.
The decision to pick up the pieces and rebuild the relationship falls on both people. However, it is the hurt partner who remains more vulnerable. This vulnerability must be understood and valued by your partner.
2. You must take responsibility to ask for what you need from him in order for this relationship to heal and move forward.
I know this is tough to do, but you must be willing to risk being deeply hurt once again. There is no way around this. Your trust in him was shattered, but the only way to move forward with this relationship is by allowing him to demonstrate safe behaviors over time.
This is scary, I know. It is his responsibility to earn your trust and forgiveness, but it’s your responsibility to ask for the specific things you need in order to heal your broken heart.
3. You must be willing to forgive.
At some point down the road, as hard as this will be for you, you must be willing to forgive him. If you hang on to your hate and anger towards him there is no way for you to repair the relationship because he won’t be able to get to your heart.
In an article by Mark Goulston, M.D., F.A.P.A., he writes that it takes about six months for the hurt party to see consistent and safe behaviors from her mate.
“If the other person is still unable to forgive you after that,” he says, “you are no longer unforgivable (if you haven’t gone beyond betrayal into abuse), they are unforgiving.”
This is what will help you to forgive him and heal your broken heart.
4. You must set new boundaries.
You set the boundaries of who he is with, whether it is at work or outside of work. For example, perhaps he has friends who are known to fool around. You have the right to ask him to stop hanging out with them, at least for six months until you are both on better footing as a couple. If you feel his friends are an ongoing threat to your relationship you have the right to ask him to end those friendships.
You have the right to ask him to not see or spend time with the person involved in the betrayal. If it involves a coworker it would mean no lunches or anything outside of a work situation.
Your mate must prove his innocence. It is no longer assumed. He must earn it all over again.
Here are some examples of behaviors you should be able to expect from your partner in order to demonstrate their willingness to earn back your trust:
- Accepting responsibility for his actions
- Acknowledging that he understands why what he did broke your trust, and how deeply that hurt you
- Apologizing sincerely for his actions and for causing you that hurt
- Willingly doing what is needed to prove his innocence regularly along the way as you heal
- Allowing for transparency in his actions, communications, and all other areas so you can find assurance that his actions match his words
His actions must match his words for you to rebuild trust in him. And this must be consistent over time, now and in the future.
If he has been unfaithful, you have every right to ask to see his phone and computer at any given time. By betraying you he has given up the right to privacy he was formerly entrusted with. This means he should tell you where he is going and with whom, when he will be home, and what did he did while he was gone.
And in both examples of betrayal the person who betrayed their partner gives up their right for privacy until the trust is earned again. In the case of the wife buying a ring, the husband has the right to check her spending.
5. If possible, seek professional guidance.
Especially when it comes to infidelity, I believe it is important to seek professional guidance with a therapist. There is a reason for the infidelity that must be understood and remedied in the future for the relationship to thrive.
If your mate refuses to seek professional assistance I would think twice about your future with this person. You need to feel trust, valued, heard and emotionally safe and secure in this relationship.
If your partner refuses to follow this path with you and will not take their betrayal seriously, you may want to give serious thought to whether or not you want this relationship to continue.
You are worth much more than being with someone who doesn’t value your feelings and does not believe you are worth all the effort it will take to repair this relationship.
Healthy relationships are about trust, not betrayal. They are about valuing the person you love and helping them to feel loved and emotionally secure.
Relationships take an incredible amount of effort if you want them to work, but never forget that you deserve the best!
Susan Saint-Welch, LMFT, is a marriage and family psychotherapist who has been practicing in-person and online in the South Bay of the Los Angeles area for over 20 years. She has been published on MSN.com and several online magazines. Susan helps families and couples learn healthy communications skills. She also helps radiant, single men and women get un-stuck and find the lasting love they deserve. She is passionate about teaching life skills as well as concepts for healthier relationships, dating, and self-esteem. For more, follow her on her website.
Most of us have felt like our trust has been compromised at some point in our lives. Needless to say, these experiences can be very painful. Perhaps we’re still scared to trust again. We think to ourselves, “Who can I trust? And how do I know I can trust them?”
But trust is one of those things that we can’t just skip over. It’s a crucial ingredient in our relationships; some call it the foundation. Without it, it’s really difficult to settle in and just love.
If we want to experience peace and happiness, then we must learn how to trust. And it’s my intention to help you do that. In this article, I’m going to talk about what trust is, why it’s a choice, and how to feel more of it in your relationships.
Let’s start off with the undeniable truth: we all have reasons not to trust. What I mean by this is that we’ve all felt hurt, disappointed, rejected, scared, and abandoned. We have all suffered in some way (actually, we have all suffered in very similar ways), and we have all felt pain in relationships.
We’re all in the same boat. I say this because it’s comforting to realize that we’re not alone. (We’re in this together people!) We’ve all been hurt, and we’re all trying to avoid that happening again.
Usually the way we try to avoid being hurt in relationships is by holding-off on trusting until we know we are safe. Trusting becomes a mechanism of protection — if the person “earns our trust” then we will gladly give it to them.
And this is the problem. Because there are never any guarantees.
Asking someone to “earn our trust” often means we are asking them not to make any mistakes and not to cause us to feel uncomfortable feelings. And this is an impossible task.
Unfortunately guarantees are not found in relationships (computers come with guarantees — not people). And guarantees are definitely not found in our love relationships. (We’re way too complex for that). In fact (you’re not going to like this), what you probably can guarantee is that you will feel hurt sometimes by the people you love.
I wish I could tell you otherwise but the truth is that disappointment, rejection, fear, and abandonment are all part of the deal in relationships. We feel these feelings regardless of who we are with. Not because we are with untrustworthy people, but because we are humans.
Trusting is a decision you must make knowing that there aren’t any guarantees.
You have to realize that trust is not about finding the perfect, trustworthy person; it’s about signing up to work through hurt when it arises.
If we relate to trust through this perspective then trusting becomes much easier. All of the sudden we shift from trying to avoid being hurt (which is impossible), to recognizing that we can move through anything that comes our way. This helps us feel empowered (aka a little more trusting and a little less fearful).
When we use past experiences as reasons not to trust again, then we are really only hurting ourselves. Again, we all have reasons not to trust. We all have a long list! But walling ourselves off from each other only perpetuates the problem—this does not keep us safe; it keeps us lonely.
So if you are scared to trust, what can you do?
Simple. You can make an informed decision and go for it.
That’s right. Jump in and have faith.
When you decide to trust someone it means that you believe in that person’s integrity. Trusting is knowing that ultimately this person’s intentions are good. And it also means that you know that they are going to make mistakes.
When we’re scared, we make mistakes (by mistakes I mean we hurt others, we don’t act in our highest integrity). Fear makes us do some crazy s#*t. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you know that you’ve done some crazy s#*t. It’s unfortunate but true.
If we could collectively realize this and approach others with compassion when they are wigging out, rather than condemnation, this world would be a completely different place (and our relationships would definitely be filled with a lot more trust).
If we trust ourselves first and foremost, it allows us to deal with the mistakes of others with a little more grace and ease. If you know that no matter what — no matter what your partner does, no matter what challenges arise—you are going to be OK, then trusting is going to be easier to do.
You recognize that trust isn’t about never feeling another negative emotion again; it’s about knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way. This is real trust (it’s commonly referred to as faith).
Trusting is not about choosing the right person. I mean, it is a choice, so try not to choose blindly. But remember, you are not signing up to be in relationship with a robot — you are signing up to be with another human being.
What you are saying when you choose to trust someone is, “I know that deep down you are a good person with good intentions. I know you are going to get scared and lose it from time to time, and I will try to support you and/or act with compassion when that happens. And I know that ultimately, my well-being is up to me.”
This a big statement — a real commitment. It is also very doable.
I understand that sometimes you’re scared; I get that you’ve been hurt. I’ve been there, too. But I want you to you that no matter what, you are going to be OK.
Trust that. Believe that. Know that.
When you do, you will be able to offer trust to others too, and it will serve as the foundation for many long-lasting, loving relationships to firmly build upon.
Rebuilding Trust After a Huge Relationship Betrayal
Rebuilding trust starts with trusting in yourself.
How can you rebuild trust after a history of betrayal and disappointment? You can seek out therapy or relationship advice, but trust issues come in many forms and are multi-faceted.
We lose trust in people — parents, siblings, friends, lovers, spouses, and even children. We can lose trust in circumstances, such as a work or job situation, or travelling such as driving or flying. Disappointments are an inevitable part of life — both being disappointed and being the source of disappointment.
Letting Go of Past Relationships So They Don’t Ruin Your New One
We can lose trust by making associations and generalizing experiences, such as:
- “My dad cheated on my mom.”
- “My best friend’s husband cheated on her.”
- “My college boyfriend cheated on me.”
- “My first husband cheated on me, so I don’t trust my husband to be faithful.”
- Or even more simply, “He has lied to me before, so I can’t trust him now.”
- “I have been lied to or betrayed in any number of ways before by any number of different people, so I don’t trust anyone.”
Wherever the source of mistrust comes from, rebuilding trust outside of yourself starts with trusting in yourself.
Mistrust is simply a shield to protect you from a fear. So, if you are afraid of being cheated on like your mother was, because it indicated that she wasn’t enough or wasn’t worthy, which means if you are cheated on you are also lacking and unworthy of loving devotion, you begin to mistrust so you will have protection from being blind-sided by a perceived inevitability.
You gear up for it by being aware that it’s always right around the corner anyway, hoping that will soften the blow.
When you believe that you can handle, survive, or be made stronger by a recurrence of what led to this mistrust, or at least come to some place of acceptance and faith in the process of living — knowing that you are exactly where you need to be, having the experiences you are meant to have to get you where you want to go — you can exist with and move forward with this person or through this familiar circumstance.
Over time, through continued success, you will start to trust again.
The magic is within you. No need to protect yourself from being duped again; because someone else’s dishonesty is always about them, not you. Have gratitude for the life system that gave you the opportunity to see this person’s limitations so you can evaluate their appropriateness in your life, or re-evaluate the health of the relationship and determine where changes need to be made, or evaluate yourself and identify the broken link in your chain of life that allowed you to have this experience or that brought this dysfunction into your life experience.
Remember that the other person is responsible for their actions, and you are responsible for your experience of their actions.
The #1 Thing That Kills Trust in an Otherwise Great Relationship
A pre-requisite for trusting yourself again is leaning into the hurt and pain of the betrayal, disappointment or trauma. You must allow yourself to feel and experience it fully, or how else could you build the trust in yourself to survive it should it happen again?
Grieve the loss of trust, feel the sadness, hurt, anger and frustration. You have to move through it to the other side of the pain in order to triumph over it. Your body, mind, spirit and memory will remember the path of triumph and trust in that when called to in the future.
Try communicating your feelings and the consequences to the offending party:
- What did they do?
- How did you perceive it?
- What part are you unsure of?
- How did it make you feel?
- What decisions/actions did that feeling lead you to?
- How did their direct action impact your actions and your feelings?
Acceptance and unconditional love comes next. For your and their imperfections and fallibilities. Remember to have empathy for their shortcomings.
For instance, imagine your child has failed to hit a target. Wouldn’t you feel bad for them that they failed or didn’t get it right? No one is perfect. If you spend enough time with someone, they will hurt and disappoint you at some point.
Then forgive them, the offense, and yourself for allowing it to enter your experience. If you both want a future together, find a compelling reason to rebuild trust, salvage the relationship, and build a new future that fosters honesty through acceptance of the dark side of each other and yourselves, as well as an appreciation of the light and love.
This guest article was originally published on YourTango.com: How To Rebuild Trust After A Major Relationship Betrayal.
Rebuilding Trust After a Huge Relationship Betrayal
Here’s How To Rebuild Trust After You Cheated On Your Partner, According To Experts
If you’ve ever cheated on a partner, or been cheated on, you know all about the cataclysmic effect that infidelity can have on trust in a relationship. Relationships don’t always bounce back from cheating, but here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be the automatic deal-breaker you might think it is. In fact, it is possible to come back from cheating, but it takes hard work and two willing parties. Knowing how to rebuild trust after you cheated is essential to getting your relationship back on a healthy, happy, and perhaps even stronger track than it was before.
Believe it or not, according to Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love, it really is possible to rebuild the relationship to a point where it’s actually stronger than before the infidelity. “Despite common belief, couples can not only rebuild trust after infidelity, but make their relationship stronger than it’s ever been,” she tells Elite Daily. “Most of the infidelity that we see is that the person who cheated didn’t go out with the specific purpose of cheating. There are so many variables that come into play that you probably don’t need, but couples can leave their relationship vulnerable to cheating by assuming it won’t happen in their relationship, not defining cheating, downplaying threats, and not being diligent about boundaries and appropriate behaviors.”
It’s possible, but Chlipala stresses that this will take work — and patience. “Although it can vary for each couple, a good benchmark is 1-2 years,” she explains. “An important milestone to hit is the one-year anniversary of finding out about the infidelity. If used well, the time has allowed for some of the triggers and emotional reactions to lessen, giving the couple opportunities to learn from the infidelity and strengthen their relationship.”
Believing that there is hope for the future of the relationship is just the first step to rebuilding the trust that was lost. Here’s what the experts say is the actual work necessary to make that a reality.
1. Be sincerely sorry for your betrayal and the harm it caused.
This may seem obvious, but Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, a licensed marriage and family therapist in infidelity recovery, stresses that you really need to be remorseful about the infidelity and the pain it caused your partner. “The unfaithful partner needs to acknowledge the emotional and physical impact of the affair on the betrayed partner and be able to provide a sincere apology for the damage they caused,” Dr. Alsaleem tells Elite Daily. “From the betrayed partner’s perspective, this shows that the unfaithful partner has the ability to reflect on the consequences of their actions, which can serve as a deterrent for any future desire to cheat.”
“Sincerity is key” in this situation, Dr. Carmen McGuinness, a board certified behavior analyst, psychologist, and relationship expert, tells Elite Daily. “If your partner truly believes you love him or her and are sorry, there is a chance ,” she adds.
2. Be totally open and transparent.
Once you’ve broken someone’s trust, the first step to regaining it is to be totally and completely transparent, says Chlipala. “The betrayed’s entire world and reality as he or she knew it has come crashing down. They question everything — their relationship, their partner, what was real, what wasn’t, etc. They can experience PTSD symptoms and feel as though they are going crazy and are easily triggered,” she explains. “The betrayer can ease the triggers and PTSD symptoms by increasing transparency.”
What does this level of transparency look like? “Passwords have to be shared, feelings have to be discussed,” Kevon Owen, a clinical psychotherapist and marriage counselor, tells Elite Daily. “If you’re in a relationship that’s rebuilding trust, it’s time to open up full access. Live like a person with nothing to hide.”
3. Be committed to open and honest communication.
Rebuilding trust may require to you to totally change the way you communicate, because in order for the assurance that you’ll never cheat again to grow, both people need to be open and honest about how they’re feeling, says Chlipala — even when it might lead to a tense or awkward conversation. “One common characteristic of people who cheat is that they avoid conflict. If they didn’t speak up for their needs, they might have been resentful or felt unloved and unsatisfied in the relationship. This then may have made them more vulnerable to another person — such as thinking, ‘This person gets me. They understand what I need,’” Chlipala explains.
Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist, agrees that the person who cheated has to be open to those difficult conversations, but that’s part of the work needed to heal the relationship. “Often, the betrayer wants the conflict to be over as soon as possible. But the other partner needs more time to grieve and adjust. The partner who was unfaithful knew about what was going on longer than the other partner and took some power (or sense of power) from their partner, it is critical to be patient, be transparent, and be kind,” she tells Elite Daily.
Part of that, says Dr. Alsaleem, is answering any questions your partner has, no matter how hard that may be. “The unfaithful partner needs to be honest about the story of the affair and provide the necessary information needed to understand what happened, and why it happened,” Dr. Alsaleem says. “In order to rebuild trust, the betrayed partner needs to know what caused the affair. Identifying the root of the problem and resolving it will give the betrayed partner the necessary peace of mind needed to avoid worrying about relapse.”
4. Be willing to look at your own responsibility and why you cheated.
Along with being open, honest, and transparent, Chlipala says it’s essential that the person who cheated really take ownership of what they did. That’s because not only does your partner need to know that you realize the betrayal, but it’s how you get to the root of why you cheated so you are less likely to do it again. “The person who cheated might be tempted to say, ‘I told you I was sorry and I won’t do it again.’ It’s not enough,” Chipala explains. “One of the things that the betrayed struggles with is how he or she is to know that their partner won’t do it again. Words mean nothing, especially after the discovery of an affair. The betrayer needs to understand the variables that lead to cheating, so that they can demonstrate second-order change.”
5. Get any help you need or that your partner requests.
If this sounds overwhelming, Dr. McGuinness points out that you don’t have to do it alone — nor should you if your partner has expressed a desire to include a professional third party, she says. “If your partner wants therapy, do it. If you cheated, you probably need therapy. Own it and you might just save your .”
Ultimately, the takeaway here is that recovering from infidelity is possible, but it won’t happen on its own or overnight. The key, the experts stress, is patience, honesty, and accountability. If you’re willing to be radically open and honest, are truly sorry, and both of you are willing to put in all the hard work it takes to rebuild your relationship, there really may be a happy ending to your love story after all. And that is worth fighting for.
Relationships flourish when partners trust each other to be honest, faithful, respectful, kind, consistent and open to resolving conflict (among many other things).
Relationships flounder when trust is broken, which, unfortunately, is all too common. Most of us are aware of the obvious trust-breaking situations, such as discovering that your partner has had an affair or has lied about something important.
That said, trust can be broken in far more subtle, but nonetheless damaging, ways. What if your partner consistently says he or she will do something and never delivers on the promise? What if your partner is emotionally unavailable to you during a trying time? These situations may not destroy trust, but they can certainly threaten it.
Depending on the situation, trust can be rebuilt. But the process of building (and rebuilding) trust doesn’t just happen. It takes significant inner work on the part of both partners.
Part I: Rebuilding Inner Trust
In order to build a stable foundation of trust with another person, you need to first become trustworthy of yourself and your feelings — that whispering inner voice that tries to alert you when something feels misaligned with your needs.
If you can recall a time that trust was broken in your relationship, think back on what happened leading up to the betrayal. Did your inner voice whisper something to you which you ignored?
I can’t tell you how often I work with clients who felt betrayed but decided to ignored their instincts, brushing the issue under the rug. I’ve had multiple clients specifically tell me that they were aware of a financial betrayal in their relationship, but that their partners overcompensated by acting extra-charming. Often, the disloyal person in the dynamic will preemptively try to “make up” for his or her behavior, as it makes it more difficult for the other person to really see it and deal with the conflict.
Other clients who have faced sexual infidelity in their relationship have expressed regret about having been in denial, saying things like, “I could feel the change when she started her affair, but I didn’t want to believe it … so I didn’t.”
Regardless of the situation, there is one commonality among my clients who have had to deal with broken trust in their relationship: They did not sufficiently trust their own instincts and ended up sublimating their needs.
Before you can even begin to trust your partner again, you first need to trust yourself — your inner knowledge of what’s right and wrong for you. We have all been blessed with two sources of knowing — our feelings and the wisdom that pops into our mind from our higher guidance. When you learn to trust your feelings about your partner and learn to trust the wisdom that is always here for you, then you become truly trustworthy of yourself. This means that you stop ignoring that inner whisper and start listening to what you know in your heart and soul.
Then and only then will you be able to discern what is true and what isn’t about your partner and the relationship. With self-trust, you will be able to feel — and believe — when he or she is lying or trying to take advantage of you in a way that erodes trust.
Part II: Rebuilding Relationship Trust
When trust has been broken in your relationship, both partners need to direct real therapeutic attention to the relationship to rebuild it. There is a two-sided dynamic at play, and the reasons behind the betrayal need to be addressed and healed collaboratively. The betrayal is an opportunity for each person to look within and heal their part of the relationship-system in order to understand why it resulted in broken trust.
Broken trust can definitely be healed, but it takes deep work. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can repair broken trust with a quick statement of forgiveness and a warm embrace. The underlying causes for betrayal need to be identified, examined and worked on in order for betrayal not to resurface again.
Both partners need to learn to love (and trust) themselves enough to be able to approach the relationship from individual places of self-respect and personal integrity. When you make a commitment to treat yourself with love and compassion and authentically trust your needs, you will not harm yourself or your partner by lying or cheating. You will listen properly to yourself so that you can welcome honest communication into the relationship with open arms.
Everyone has experienced pain and hurt at some point in their lives. We have all felt like our trust has been compromised, and we wonder if we will ever be able to trust again.
Those experiences can be very painful, and the feelings are completely normal.
You are scared to trust again for fear of future pain. It makes sense….
Betrayal by a loved one brings on some of the most powerful pain imaginable.
However, trust is the foundation of all meaningful relationships, and you cannot just skip over it.
The good news is that you can trust again.
The unfortunate truth is that you may get hurt again someday.
Trusting is a decision you must make knowing there are never any guarantees that you won’t feel this way again in the future.
So, with this in mind, you may ask how can you ever learn to trust someone again?
It is simple. You have to make the choice and jump back in. You have to let your guard down and let go of the fear.
It isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight. You’ll have to work on it.
Here are some tips you can follow to help you choose to trust again after a painful experience.
1. Embrace Vulnerability
Vulnerability is one of your greatest strengths.
As humans, we tend to believe that we are risking too much by putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable, but the opposite is actually true.
If you don’t put yourself out there and take risks, you end up missing out on so much. Life is messy, but it has to be in order to be worth living.
Building protective walls to hide behind – emotionally speaking – may sound like a good idea, but those walls do not discriminate between positive and negative feelings.
A life that is guaranteed to be free from betrayal is also guaranteed to be free from love. Love is choosing to trust someone with your heart.
You can practice showing your emotional vulnerability in a safe setting. Talk to a close family member or good friend and be open with them about how you are feeling.
You may implicitly trust them, but the act of opening up shows this in a very real way and it reinforces the belief in your mind that trust is a good thing.
2. Learn To Trust Yourself
In order to ever trust another person, you must first trust yourself. Trust in your judgment and ability to make good choices.
Just because someone you loved hurt you, it does not mean you have poor judgment, or that you made a mistake letting them in.
Your instincts are powerful, and you should not doubt yourself based on this one experience. Pay attention to your instincts and trust yourself today, tomorrow, and every day.
A good exercise to try if you want to rebuild trust in yourself is to look at all the decisions you have made that have had positive outcomes.
Start with your choice to end things with the person who broke your trust. If you knew that you’d never be able to trust them again, leaving the relationship was most definitely the right decision to make.
And look at your wider life and all of the things that are going well in it. You will have certainly made many great choices that had positive results.
Good financial choices, good career choices, good health choices, good friendship choices – make a list and remind yourself how strong your instincts are.
3. Choose To Forgive
Forgiveness is important. You may not necessarily choose to forgive the person who hurt you (although that can be therapeutic as well), but at least forgive yourself.
It is natural to blame yourself for allowing someone to hurt you. You may think that you were stupid to have allowed it or that you should have known better.
Remember that you were courageous to open yourself up to being vulnerable in the first place. You are not to blame for someone else’s actions.
You acted with the best intentions. You held up your end of the relationship bargain.
Sure, you might have disagreed with your partner and even got upset with them at times, but you did not deserve to have your trust broken.
No relationship is perfect. You did your best to make yours work. Don’t tell yourself otherwise.
4. Allow Time To Grieve
Yes, being hurt by someone does require you to go through the entire grieving process.
You are grieving the relationship you had with that person. You are grieving the person you thought you knew, but who turned out to be someone different.
You are grieving the life you had and the life you thought you would have with them in the future.
Grieving typically includes the following 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
Don’t fight any of these stages as they are natural and important.
5. Don’t Continue To Label Yourself The Victim
It is really easy to feel bad for yourself after being hurt. While you may need a day or two to stay in bed eating ice cream and crying to sad love stories on television, try to wrap it up quickly.
It won’t help you get over the pain.
Don’t allow yourself to wallow in the sting of being betrayed. If you focus entirely on blaming the person involved, you make yourself the victim.
And, yes, they might have acted in ways to hurt you and break your trust, but that’s all on them – not you.
You are not their victim. You are not the victim. You are not a victim.
If you allow it to, the victim mentality can pervade all areas of your life. It can rob you of your self-confidence and self-worth.
Do you want to give the other person that sort of power over you even when they are no longer in your life?
Make an effort to overcome it. Yes, you can overcome it. You have more control than you think. Give yourself some credit.
You may also like (article continues below):
- 3 Signs Of Trust Issues And How To Get Over Them
- 8 Ways Lying Is Poisonous To Relationships
- 15 Ways The Beautifully Broken Girl Loves Differently
- Before Dating, Make Sure You’re Available in These 8 Ways
- 10 Relationship Questions You MUST Ask Before Things Gets Too Serious
- 10 Subtle Signs Your Partner Might Be Cheating On You
6. Keep your Expectations High
Just because you were hurt by someone you loved, you do not have to lower your expectations in the future.
In fact, you should keep the same expectations or even raise the bar!
Don’t accept future deceit or infidelity because you’ve become numb to it, think you deserve it, or consider it a part of every relationship.
Make your views on trust clear to any future partner and let them know that you will not put up with any breaking of that trust.
7. Leave The Past Behind You
Realize that your past is different than your future. One person’s bad behavior is not a reflection on all humankind.
While it is smart to avoid the same types of people and situations where your trust was violated, you should never let your past experiences taint your expectations for the future.
Observe your behavior and stay vigilant for any signs that your past may be influencing how you respond to people now.
Don’t project your own feelings of insecurity onto potential new partners or else you may read things into their behavior that don’t really exist.
Remember: you deserve to love someone and they deserve your trust.
8. Consider The Alternative
Think for a minute about living a life without love and companionship. Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?
Perhaps the best reason to learn to trust people again is because the alternative is worse. Without meaningful relationships, life loses much of its vibrancy and sparkle.
Look forward 30 years and picture yourself alone and still wracked with trust issues. Consider all of the people who may have come and gone during this time, and those who would have stayed if only you had given them a chance.
This will help you accept that the potential for love is worth the risk of potential heartbreak. In fact, the scales are not even remotely balanced – they are tipped firmly in favor of love.
9. Consider All The Future Possibilities
Sure, you loved the last person. But clearly fate has a different plan for you.
It may be hard for you to think about right now, but there is someone out there who is better for you.
Focus on who you will meet in the future. Perhaps one relationship ended so that another can begin.
Imagine all of the firsts that are to come: the first time you set eyes on someone, the first words, the first butterflies, the first kiss, the first moment you realize you are falling for them.
Let yourself get excited by these firsts. Excitement is such an effective tonic for fear. It will sweep fear aside and fill you with hope and optimism that there is someone special waiting for you to meet them.
Excitement will spur you on to embrace the possibility in each moment and allow you to let other people get close.
If you choose not to trust again, you may end up missing out on someone truly incredible. As we all do, someday you will look back and know there was a reason for what happened.
10. Tell Your Story
One day, when you do find that perfect person, and you feel ready to trust them, make sure you communicate openly about your past experience and your fear of future heartbreak.
Not only is it healthy to communicate honestly in the beginning of a new relationship, but you may also find that the new person has a similar story and fears.
Learning to be vulnerable and trust again after a deep pain can feel almost impossible at times. You may think that it is better to stay alone with the only person you can really trust (yourself).
However, relationships are vital to a quality life. Without the trying times, we would never be able to appreciate the good times. So it is best to choose to stay open and to trust even after you’ve been betrayed and hurt.
Love can lead to some of the most intense pain possible, but it can also be the greatest thing you’ll ever experience. After all, no one said love was going to be easy.
This page contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase anything after clicking on them.
Learning to trust in a new relationship
It takes a while to get to know someone. When we first enter a new relationship, many of us want to present the best version of ourselves – deliberately hiding certain aspects of who we are until we feel we’ve got to know the person a bit better.
And then later on, it may take a while before we’re truly willing to let them in – to know our insecurities, our hopes, our chequered family histories.
We often worry that our new partner won’t accept us warts and all – that they won’t like and accept us once they’re familiar with our quirks and faults.
But trust is an essential part of any relationship. It’s the foundation block upon which all the other good stuff – affection, intimacy, connection – is based.
How do we learn to trust someone?
It can be a scary thing to do. After all, when you begin to trust someone, you’re not just learning to rely on them – you’re giving up some of what you’ve learned in terms of relying on yourself. Trust can sometimes make you feel vulnerable.
Furthermore, lots of people find this difficult because of what they’ve been through in previous relationships. If you’ve been cheated on or let down – or if you grew up in an environment where you had to learn to look after yourself – it can take even longer to let down those defences. It’s common to worry that in doing so you risk being hurt all over again.
Talking it through
The first thing to say is that you can’t rush trust. Sometimes, it just takes time. If you’re finding it difficult, it might just be that you need to take things at a slower pace and see how you get on.
At the same time, it can be useful to think about any reasons you might have for finding it hard to trust a new partner. As mentioned, it could be memories from previous relationships or your family upbringing that are causing you to be cautious. There’s nothing wrong with this in itself – but it may be useful to talk this over with your partner so they know some of the challenges you’re facing (for tips on tackling difficult conversations with your partner, check out this article).
Ultimately, trust is about getting to a point where you feel you can openly communicate with your partner without having to worry – where you can be yourself and be confident you can say exactly how you’re feeling without thinking you’re going to be judged or dismissed. Bearing this in mind as a sort of ‘target’ can be useful.
Connecting to reality
It can be useful to think about positive evidence that there is trust in your relationship. Ask yourself: what real-world evidence do I have that my partner wants to make me feel cared for, appreciated and secure? You could run a sort of ‘inventory’. For example, if you had to ask them to do something for you, could you trust them to do it? Trying to connect how you’re feeling with reality can help you confront any issues and may help you release they’re as much to do with fears or worries as they are with what’s actually happening between you and your partner.
Finally, these issues can come from a negative view of ourselves – even going as far as not being able to trust because we’re not sure we’re worthy of being loved. You may like to think along these lines – to test your negative version of yourself. Are you pushing them away because you’re intimidated by their affection? Again, this is about connecting how you’re feeling to reality: how much does how you’re feeling relate to what’s actually going on in the relationship?
If you’re finding things difficult, it can be an idea to come up with activities to do together that will help you feel more cared for and appreciated. For example, you could plan to spend some quality time together out one evening. Or you could try talking through some things that are important to you so you can get to know each other better and feel like you’re bonding more closely.
It might sound strange, but couples counselling can be really good for new relationships too. It can help you get past any issues that are stopping you developing trust so you can go forward together with more confidence. If you think you’re going to need a little help, why not give it a go? It may only take a few sessions before you’re feeling much more confident.
How we can help
If you’re still worried about your ability to trust – or feel like you’re not settling into a new relationship in the way you’d like – you can always talk to us.
Our Live Chat tool allows you to speak to a counsellor for free online. Alternatively, you might like to come in for Relationship Counselling by yourself. Call 0300 100 1234 or search for local services using your postcode.
How to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage After a Major Screw-Up
At some point or another, no matter how wonderful your marriage is or how many bluebirds chirp on your windowsill in the morning, someone will screw up and trust will be broken. It could be something small (watching The Mandalorian without your partner or pretending to work late to get out of plans with those friends), or something big (lying about a secret credit card or, gulp, an affair). When something like this happens, trust needs to be rebuilt. Trust in a relationship is tricky. Sure, groveling can help. And yeah, flowers and a cute smile can work wonders. But the process of truly earning someone’s trust back is nuanced and requires thoughtful actions and quite a bit of patience. So how do you rebuild trust? Here are some steps to take.
Own Up to It
When you’ve broken the trust in your marriage, you have to accept responsibility, apologize, and own it. And, never, ever try to justify it or offer any kind of explanation or excuses. “Although all choices are made in the context of what is happening for you, that won’t help you when you’re asking for forgiveness,” says Anna Osborn, a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in couples, relationships, and love. “Offering any sort of justification for your actions or minimizing them (i.e. ‘At least I didn’t do X’) will only make your spouse shut down and feel doubly hurt.”
Keep Your Promises
If you say that you’re going to change your behavior, then you’d better make damn sure that you’re going to change. Empty or unfulfilled promises will only exacerbate the situation and further convince your spouse that you can’t be trusted. “Follow through with the things you say you will do,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Mindy Beth Lipson. “Otherwise, it is just words and means nothing and breaks more trust.”
Thanks for the feedback! Oops! Something went wrong. Please contact [email protected]
When you’ve blown it in a relationship, it sometimes feels convenient to not tell the whole story. The thinking is that you’ll minimize the damage by omitting certain details or altering the truth just enough to spare yourself more fallout (i.e. “It was only one time!”). “Don’t be tempted into this trap,” says Osborn. “Telling the whole story will serve you better in the long run and your marriage can actually begin to heal. If you hold back certain details and they come out later, you’re risking more than you realize.”
Accept That Earning Back Trust Takes Time
It’s no fun having an angry spouse under the same roof. But there are times when an apology isn’t enough to turn things around right away. When trust is broken, it can be a long and lengthy repair process and, if you’re committed to it, then you have to be in it for the long haul. “Realize that if you are wanting someone to forgive you on your timetable or on your terms you are being very selfish,” Lipson says. “And you need to work on that fact as well as learn to sit with your own painful shame and not let it destroy yourself and those you love.”
Focus on Consistency
As you’re rebuilding trust, keep your words and actions consistent. Your spouse’s image of you has been shaken and they’re looking for stability wherever they can. Doing what you say you’re going to do will go a long way to proving to your spouse that you’re serious about changing. “Consistency demonstrates to your spouse that they have reasons to trust you again and also allows you to appear safe to them again,” says Osborn. “Don’t discount the power of consistency when it comes to rebuilding trust.”
Realize That Things Might Never Be the Same
Broken trust can be a difficult hurdle to overcome and, even if you both get back to a good place, it might not be perfect. Your partner might not forgive you entirely, or even if he or she forgives you, they might not forget. If that’s the case, accept it, accept your role in it and try to find a way in this new normal that leads to you both being the best possible version of yourselves for each other. “Do your best, but don’t expect the outcome you want,” Lipson says. “Be respectful and go into the process of repair with an open heart and mind, and an awareness of all outcomes being in the highest good for both parties.
ADVERTISEMENT Oops! Something went wrong. Please contact [email protected] Thank you for subscribing Give us a little more information and we’ll give you a lot more relevant content Your child’s birthday or due date Add A Child Remove A Child I don’t have kids Thanks For Subscribing! Oops! Something went wrong. Please contact [email protected]
A terrible thing has happened. You found out your partner cheated on you. What happens now?
For some people, cheating means an automatic break-up. But others may still have feelings for their partner, and depending on the circumstances they may want to try and keep the relationship going. A lot of people who contact us ask: how do I build trust again after my partner cheats?
As hard as this might be to hear, it’s important to remember that there is no way to 100% guarantee that your partner will never cheat again. Your partner has to make the choice not to cheat, and you can’t control other people’s decisions. However, you can choose whether or not to trust your partner again. Rebuilding trust is possible. It does take a lot of work, and BOTH partners have to be committed to healing the relationship.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Communication should be open. Healthy communication is important in any relationship, but especially after trust has been broken. You should be able to talk honestly with your partner, and you should feel that your partner is being open and honest with you. If you have an argument, try to fight fair without bringing up the past.
Be on the same team. Your relationship may not look the same on the “other side,” but it is possible to build something new. You should both be focused on building that new relationship together.
Stay “present-oriented.” One of the most difficult things about rebuilding trust after someone cheats is staying in the present moment and building toward the future, rather than living in or worrying about the past. You have every right to feel hurt, angry, and sad about your partner’s decision to cheat. However, if you can’t eventually let go of those feelings and work toward a more positive, open approach to the relationship, it may be a sign that this relationship is not worth staying in.
Trust yourself. This might be the most important (and hardest) thing to do. You might be questioning your own instincts at this point: “Should I have done something differently?” “Shouldn’t I have seen this coming?” But learning to trust yourself, your own feelings, and that you’ll be okay moving forward is key to having a healthy relationship with anyone. If something doesn’t feel right, rethink about whether or not it’s right for you.
As you are rebuilding your relationship, remember the following:
- Cheating is never an excuse to be abusive toward your partner. There is no excuse for abuse.
- Cheating does not mean your partner has no right to privacy anymore. It’s not healthy to demand that they share their cell phone or social media passwords with you, or constantly check up on them and make them prove that they are telling you the truth. What you share with each other is still a decision for each of you to make. Again, it will be your choice to trust or not trust your partner.
If You’re the One Who Cheated
If you cheated on your partner, and you both have decided to try and make your relationship work again, there are a few things you need to do:
Take responsibility. Own up to your behaviors, and be understanding about how those behaviors have made your partner feel. Be honest with yourself as to why you made the decision to cheat.
Keep promises. Call when you say you’ll call. Do what you say you’re going to do. Show that you are worthy of trust.
Give your partner space. They will be angry and hurt about what you did, and they have a right to feel and express their feelings. Sometimes it might seem like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back, but you must recognize that this process takes time. Trust cannot be rebuilt overnight. However, like we said above, your partner does not have the right to be abusive toward you, and you still have a right to your own privacy.
Communicate openly. Find out what your partner needs. Really listen to them. Be honest with your partner about what you need. Are you willing and able to meet your partner’s needs, and vice versa? If not, it might be time to reconsider whether staying in the relationship is right for both of you.
Are you dealing with cheating in a relationship and need someone to talk to? Call, text, or chat online with one of our peer advocates today. We can help!
Forgiveness and Restoration
Why Do We Find It So Hard to Forgive?
One reason we resist forgiving is that we don’t really understand what forgiveness is or how it works. We think we do, but we don’t.
Most of us assume that if we forgive our offenders, they are let off the hook — scot-free — and get to go about their merry ways while we unfairly suffer from their actions. We also may think that we have to be friendly with them again, or go back to the old relationship. While God commands us to forgive others, he never told us to keep trusting those who violated our trust or even to like being around those who hurt us.
The first step to understanding forgiveness is learning what it is and isn’t. The next step is giving yourself permission to forgive and forget, letting go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries.
- Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook. We can and should still hold others accountable for their actions or lack of actions.
- Forgiveness is returning to God the right to take care of justice. By refusing to transfer the right to exact punishment or revenge, we are telling God we don’t trust him to take care of matters.
- Forgiveness is not letting the offense recur again and again. We don’t have to tolerate, nor should we keep ourselves open to, lack of respect or any form of abuse.
- Forgiveness does not mean we have to revert to being the victim. Forgiving is not saying, “What you did was okay, so go ahead and walk all over me.” Nor is it playing the martyr, enjoying the performance of forgiving people because it perpetuates our victim role.
- Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. We can forgive someone even if we never can get along with him again.
- Forgiveness is a process, not an event. It might take some time to work through our emotional problems before we can truly forgive. As soon as we can, we should decide to forgive, but it probably is not going to happen right after a tragic divorce. That’s okay.
- We have to forgive every time. If we find ourselves constantly forgiving, though, we might need to take a look at the dance we are doing with the other person that sets us up to be continually hurt, attacked, or abused.
- Forgetting does not mean denying reality or ignoring repeated offenses. Some people are obnoxious, mean-spirited, apathetic, or unreliable. They never will change. We need to change the way we respond to them and quit expecting them to be different.
- Forgiveness is not based on others’ actions but on our attitude. People will continue to hurt us through life. We either can look outward at them or stay stuck and angry, or we can begin to keep our minds on our loving relationship with God, knowing and trusting in what is good.
- If they don’t repent, we still have to forgive. Even if they never ask, we need to forgive. We should memorize and repeat over and over: Forgiveness is about our attitude, not their action.
- We don’t always have to tell them we have forgiven them. Self-righteously announcing our gracious forgiveness to someone who has not asked to be forgiven may be a manipulation to make them feel guilty. It also is a form of pride.
- Withholding forgiveness is a refusal to let go of perceived power. We can feel powerful when the offender is in need of forgiveness and only we can give it. We may fear going back to being powerless if we forgive.
- We might have to forgive more than the divorce. Post-divorce problems related to money, the kids, and schedules might result in the need to forgive again and to seek forgiveness ourselves.
- We might forgive too quickly to avoid pain or to manipulate the situation. Forgiveness releases pain and frees us from focusing on the other person. Too often when we’re in the midst of the turmoil after a divorce, we desperately look for a quick fix to make it all go away. Some women want to “hurry up” and forgive so the pain will end, or so they can get along with the other person. We have to be careful not to simply cover our wounds and retard the healing process.
- We might be pressured into false forgiveness before we are ready. When we feel obligated or we forgive just so others will still like us, accept us, or not think badly of us, it’s not true forgiveness — it’s a performance to avoid rejection. Give yourself permission to do it right. Maybe all you can offer today is, “I want to forgive you, but right now I’m struggling emotionally. I promise I will work on it.”
- Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It’s normal for memories to be triggered in the future. When thoughts of past hurts occur, it’s what we do with them that counts. When we find ourselves focusing on a past offense, we can learn to say, “Thank you, God, for this reminder of how important forgiveness is.”
- Forgiveness starts with a mental decision. The emotional part of forgiveness is finally being able to let go of the resentment. Emotional healing may or may not follow quickly after we forgive.
We’ve all heard it.
“Trust is the foundation of any relationship.”
Nothing could be truer.
According to the Relationships Indicators Survey 2011, there are four main reasons why relationships fail:
- lack of effective communication
- financial problems
- different inherent values and
- lack of trust
Trust is so important that psychologist Les Parrott says:
“If you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything. There’s nothing to build on. It’s just sand that washes away.”
Establishing trust is already quite difficult for a lot of couples.
But do you know what’s even harder?
It’s like putting broken pieces of glass together—it will never be quite the same.
In truth, nothing is as challenging as repairing broken trust.
But it’s not impossible.
Picking up the pieces and rebuilding trust and faith in your partner requires a lot of time and conscious effort.
Salvaging the relationship is doable (and this important) if both people are willing to work on it.
Let’s take a deep dive into how to rebuild trust in a relationship.
Why does betrayal hurt us so badly?
Once trust is lost, it’s hard to gain it back.
Betrayal causes a psychological pain so deep, it’s hard to ever forget it.
Psychologist and author Jennice Vilhauer explains:
“Betrayal can come in many forms, such as dishonesty, disloyalty, unfaithfulness, or withholding. Each of these feels like a moral violation that cuts to the core of your emotional soul and plunges you into a place of deep psychological distress.”
Betrayal by someone you love implies that this person doesn’t value your relationship. It creates a feeling that you’re not being valued. And that cuts a deep wound.
This is why trust is so fragile. The pain from a betrayal is something a person doesn’t just forget. It’s psychologically and emotionally damaging.
16 steps to rebuilding trust in your relationship
You can’t change the past. You can’t change the situation that provoked the betrayal. But you can change how you react to it.
If you truly want to rebuild trust and fix your relationship, here are the 16 steps to do it.
1. The lying/cheating must stop
Relationship experts agree on one thing:
The cheating, lying, or manipulation absolutely has to stop. Pronto.
According to licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow:
“The person who cheated cannot see the person they cheated with again.”
If the reason why is still unclear to you—it’s because it’s counterproductive.
Certified Imago therapist Lena Derhally explains:
“I think it’s a waste of time if you’re working through an affair and the person is still seeing the other person, because there’s no trust there.”
This is the defining step to whether or not you can both move on.
If the betrayal continues, then you know that the perpetrator has no intention of rebuilding trust. For the victim, it’s a clear sign you need to move on.
2. Stop “minimizing”
A lot of couples don’t recover because they refuse to acknowledge the severity of the betrayal.
Whether you cheated, lied, or manipulated—what you did was a big issue.
According to licensed marriage and family therapist Anna Osborn, if you’re the perpetrator, you need to recognize the weight of your actions.
“Although all choices are made in the context of what is happening for you, that won’t help you when you’re asking for forgiveness.”
“Offering any sort of justification for your actions or minimizing them (i.e. ‘At least I didn’t do X’) will only make your spouse shut down and feel doubly hurt.”
On the other hand, the victim needs to acknowledge the depth of their pain. Minimizing or ignoring your wounds will only hinder your chances of healing.
Marriage consultant Sheri Stritof says:
“While it may be tempting to stuff all of the anger and emotions down, it is imperative that betrayed partners tune in and reflect on all the feelings that they have.
“Consider the impact of your partner’s betrayal on you and others. Reflect on how life has been disrupted and all the questions and doubts that are now emerging. Make your partner aware of all these feelings.”
3. Commit yourself to the process
Before you can do anything else, you must first commit yourself to the process of rebuilding trust.
Because first of all, this is a process.
Some days there will be progress. While some days it will feel like you’re picking on a wound.
That’s just how it is. Every couple’s healing process is unique.
However, according to a study published in the Contemporary Family Therapy journal, there are 5 steps to overcoming betrayal in relationships:
- Knowing and discussing the details
- Releasing the anger
- Expressing commitment
- Rebuilding trust
- Rebuilding the relationship
If you’re committed to your relationship, you should equally be as committed to rebuilding the trust between the two of you.
If that means going through these five harrowing rituals, then you better get down to it.
4. Learn to trust yourself again
According to bestselling author and psychologist, Margaret Paul, there are two parts to rebuilding trust:
- Rebuilding Inner Trust
- Rebuilding Relationship Trust
So it’s clear that you first need to deal with your emotions and resentment before you can start to heal and trust again.
Dr. Paul explains:
“Before you can even begin to trust your partner again, you first need to trust yourself — your inner knowledge of what’s right and wrong for you.
“We have all been blessed with two sources of knowing — our feelings and the wisdom that pops into our mind from our higher guidance.
“When you learn to trust your feelings about your partner and learn to trust the wisdom that is always here for you, then you become truly trustworthy of yourself. This means that you stop ignoring that inner whisper and start listening to what you know in your heart and soul.”
Put your emotional needs first and listen to what your instincts tell you.
5. Forgive yourself
Next, you need to forgive yourself.
At one point, you’re going to start questioning your worth. Perhaps you already have.
It’s normal to want to take some of the blame yourself, but not if you weren’t the cause of the betrayal.
“Self-forgiveness requires self-compassion and learning that, even with your flaws and vulnerabilities, you still have tremendous self-worth and deserve to be treated well. It is important to know that the behavior of the other person was his or her choice and reflects who they are, not who you are.”
You are worthy.
You deserve to be treated with respect. Breaking that respect is a clear violation to which you are not at all at fault.
6. Work on it
Dr. Paul believes trust can be regained through conscious effort, saying:
“Broken trust can definitely be healed, but it takes deep work. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can repair broken trust with a quick statement of forgiveness and a warm embrace. The underlying causes for betrayal need to be identified, examined and worked on in order for betrayal not to resurface again.”
The next step is to communicate and try to figure out the root of the betrayal. Talk through every detail of what happened. Be open and honest about everything.
It won’t be easy to go through this process, but it is absolutely crucial to be honest, to listen, and to empathize.
Hash out these deep questions and underlying issues with your partner. Only then can you truly start over and move forward.
(Are you worried your partner is having an emotional affair? Check out our epic guide explaining the key signs to look out for.)
7. Work on yourselves as well
You can’t fix the whole if you ignore the small parts of it, which means you need to work on individual issues, too.
Dr. Paul suggests that both partners will have to focus on a self-healing journey before they can start forgiving each other.
“Both partners need to learn to love (and trust) themselves enough to be able to approach the relationship from individual places of self-respect and personal integrity. When you make a commitment to treat yourself with love and compassion and authentically trust your needs, you will not harm yourself or your partner by lying or cheating.
“You will listen properly to yourself so that you can welcome honest communication into the relationship with open arms.”
It all comes down to being healthy as an individual before you can be healthy as a couple.
8. Put everything on the table
As painful as it may be, you need to let everything out.
According to Parrot:
“The only way to overcome a breakdown in trust is to just be completely honest and put it out there, whatever the issue is, so you both know what you’re dealing with.”
He goes on to say that couples tend to hold things back, but that will only make things worse. Hash out every detail, if necessary.
Answer every question. No matter how trivial.
Deal with any emotions. Don’t leave any stone unturned.
Therapist Dr. Linda Mintle advises:
“Once trust is broken, the person you betrayed should be free to ask questions in order to better understand what happened. The betrayer cannot complain about having to answer questions that might be uncomfortable.”
It may sound excessive, but both of you need to do it.
9. Whoever broke the trust has to apologize
Not just empty words. Whoever broke the trust truly has to mean it.
That means admitting accountability for their actions and feeling remorseful of the pain they caused.
According to clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona:
“Accountability and apologies only have the power to help repair trust if they are truthful, so being conscious of sincerity is essential, even if it requires admitting things that might be hurtful.”
But remember, this is not a shortcut. Dr. Cilona says it’s just one step:
“Although feigning accountability and remorse might be effective in the short-term, if there are truths being hidden that relate to the damage to trust, it’s not likely to last.”
10. Make each other feel understood
This isn’t going to work if one person remains stubborn. If you’re both committed to forgiving each other, then you need to listen and understand each other.
Being defensive won’t get you anywhere. It will only make you fight more.
“Rather than being defensive, they need to set all that defensiveness aside and truly work at understanding the other person’s perspective. And that comes down to empathy.”
Both of you need to come out of this understanding each other’s side.
According to Cilona:
“Engaging in this kind of dialogue not only provides an initial roadmap of what specifically needs to be addressed to begin to try to rebuild trust, but it can also provide important validation of the hurt and damage the violation of trust caused.”
11. Make the necessary changes
All of this talking will lead to nothing if you don’t act on it.
Once you’ve understood why the betrayal happened, you can start making changes. You have to do this so you can trust each other again.
According to psychologist and author Paul Coleman:
“This is important because when trust is seriously betrayed, the hurt person needs evidence of honesty in order to feel more reassured.”
The person who was betrayed, meanwhile, has to remember something important:
“Trust involves ‘not knowing for sure’ and being able to give the benefit of the doubt. So the hurt person has to learn to tolerate the anxiety of ‘not knowing for sure’ without constantly seeking reassurance or demanding proof.”
12. Work on things you can improve
Since you’re committed to re-establishing trust, you must be in this relationship for the long haul.
You need to work on your relationship’s weaknesses so you can have a healthy, long-term partnership.
Because again, a relationship can only be as healthy as the people in it.
According to Stritof:
“You can’t repair broken trust with just promises and statements of forgiveness. The underlying causes for the betrayal need to be identified, examined, and worked on by both spouses for the issues to stay dormant.”
If there are toxic issues and behaviors that you need to address, work on them.
Do you fight about money? Do you spend enough time together? Is someone too controlling or to distant?
It’s crucial to deal with your problems so you can become stronger as a couple.
Build your relationship up, not just your trust.
13. Forgive each other
Once you have communicated and gone through the process of really sitting down with your feelings, you can start the process of forgiving each other.
Forgiveness is a choice, but it is a choice that needs to come from an authentic place.
You can’t pretend to forgive one another. You need to absolutely come to terms with it.
How exactly do you do that?
One word: empathy.
According to Vilhauer:
“Learning to forgive and make peace with things that happened in the past can happen more easily when you take your focus off of the specific events that occurred and instead try to see the perspective of the other person.
“Seeing someone else’s perspective can help you understand the events that occurred and make them less personal.”
Make a conscious decision to choose to forgive one another. Let your resentment go. It will only fester and ruin what you’ve worked so hard for.
14. Be consistent
There’s a quote that says:
“A single lie discovered is enough to create doubt in every truth expressed.”
This is why betrayal is so hard to overcome. Once it’s done, every future action is tinged with that original lie.
But there is one thing that can help with that:
According to Osborn:
“Consistency demonstrates to your spouse that they have reasons to trust you again and also allows you to appear safe to them again. Don’t discount the power of consistency when it comes to rebuilding trust.”
Keep doing what you’ve agreed to do. Never waver on your promises.
It may take time, but with consistency, everything will be better.
15. Don’t use betrayal as a weapon
This is the biggest mistake you can do to a partner who has betrayed you.
However, it’s also the quickest impulse to fall for.
When you’re trust has been violated, it’s easy to use it as a weapon to hurt the one who betrayed you.
Not only is this counterproductive, but it is also quite damaging.
Silent treatment or mean words can both have the power to hurt someone psychologically.
According to psychology author Peg Streep people do it for two reasons:
“There are those who are thoroughly intentional when it comes to word wounding; they refuse to take responsibility for their words and act out of impulse, self-involvement, and self-aggrandizement. They usually need to win, no matter the cost to the other person, and insist on having the last word.
“And then there are those who revel in their meanness and love the power their words give them over others.”
You have the right to your pain. But lashing out will only make things worse. Using your pain as a weapon is manipulation and cannot result in anything good.
16. Start over
Lastly, you need to be willing to start over.
Once you feel like everything has been addressed, leave everything at the door and start a new.
According to Klow:
“The couple needs to let go of the parts of their which were not working, and then move towards creating a new dynamic in the relationship. Couples can emerge from an affair with a better sense of who they each are and what they want from their relationship.”
Manage your expectations.
Some couples get disappointed that the relationship isn’t the same as before the betrayal.
The truth is: it’s not supposed to be the same.
In some sense, your relationship is lesser than it used to be—less carefree and innocent. But at the same time, it’s stronger and more meaningful—in ways that only real hardship can produce.
As therapist Sherry Amatenstein puts it:
“It’s not going to be the same, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be strong in some ways stronger than it was originally. But you can forge something through it.”
In short: take your win and fly with it.
Getting professional help
Don’t be ashamed to admit you need help.
There’s a lot of stigma about couples who go through therapy.
But deciding on going through therapy is a big show of commitment.
It means that both of you are willing to set your differences aside, and do go through the process in the healthiest way possible.
However, both parties must be open and willing to seek professional help.
Otherwise, counseling will not be effective.
In fact, experts believe that individual therapy makes things a lot better.
According to Stritof:
“Both parties must be open to seeking counseling to have a better understanding of what caused the trust to be broken, but know that you may want or need to seek individual therapy in addition to couples’ therapy.”
What if these steps don’t help?
The reality is, not every couple can move on from betrayal. Not everyone can forgive and trust again.
The process of rebuilding trust is very complicated and fragile. Sadly, not everyone can go through it.
Remember, there’s no shame in seeking outside help to deal with broken trust. In fact, many couples seek a counselor’s help in situations like this.
How long does it even take? You can’t tell. Sometimes it takes one month, sometimes it takes 3 years.
“In some cases, trust is completely destroyed and can never be rebuilt. Sometimes the time required to repair damaged trust is too much for some people to sustain.”
When you feel that you’ve exhausted all the efforts and have come to nothing – it might be time to stop trying.
If there isn’t any more you both can do, you owe it to yourselves to move on.
Betrayals can lead to better relationships.
Believe it or not:
Sometimes betrayals can make a relationship even better than before.
According to Klow:
“It is a long road to recovery when one partner cheats. Couples do and can stay together after an affair, but it takes a lot of work to repair broken trust.”
There’s a big if:
A relationship can be fixed after broken trust f the perpetrator is really sincere about their apology and if the offended party is willing to forgive completely.
According to author and psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne:
“As painful as they are at the time, betrayal incidents can even lead to improved relationships. When the perpetrator issues a sincere apology, vows never to engage in the betrayal again, and repay the debt to the victim, both partners now emerge with a better understanding of what’s important in their relationship.
“If the perpetrator does not do so, the victim has learned something important and now has, if not a better, at least a more realistic view of the partner.”
Either way, you might be asking, what the factors are that affect a couple’s chance of reconciliation.
According to Coleman, it all boils down to a strong commitment to each other—a result of having kids or sharing a home.
“If a couple is dating or just started living together, there is less of a need to go through the work of rebuilding trust.”
Betrayal is something difficult to get over.
However, at the end of the day, you have to want to rebuild trust.
If you do, you need to let go of the past. Whatever resentments you may have must be dealt with.
From now on, you need to treat your relationship as if you are starting anew.
You need to learn to trust each other again. And no matter what you do, do not withhold trust from your partner out of anger or fear.
But more importantly, you need to realize that the betrayal didn’t happen because of you.
“If you’ve been the victim of serious betrayal, your path to resolution is to reframe the betrayal in a way that doesn’t put the blame on you.
“An apology may help set you on that path, but if the apology isn’t forthcoming, you have to take care of your own feelings about the situation.
“Ultimately, as impossible as it may seem, you may actually be able to work your way toward forgiveness.”
Do whatever it takes to move forward in as healthy as possible. Whether or not you want to continue with your relationship, forgiveness is the only key to moving on.
Now that you’ve read about rebuilding trust in your relationship, check out our recent article on long-distance relationships and how to make them work.
Read LaterAdd to FavouritesAdd to Collection