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  • Writer's pictureSarah M.

Trust in Relationships

Trusting someone means that you think they are reliable, you have confidence in them and you feel safe with them; physically and emotionally. Trust is something that two people in a relationship can build together when they decide to trust each other.

Sometimes trust is broken, because we are flawed humans, that's just how it is. And when or if we decide to forgive someone, it needs to be 100%. Obviously this might take a while but in order to move forward, that bridge needs to be mended for everything else to properly work.

What is Trust?

When you think about circumstances that could lead you to lose trust in your partner, infidelity is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but cheating isn’t the only way to break trust in a relationship; breaking promises, not being there for your partner in a time of need, withholding, or keeping something back, lying or manipulation, or a pattern of not sharing feelings openly.

Before going over how to rebuild trust, it’s important to understand what trust truly is.

To start, it might be helpful to think of trust as a choice that someone has to make. You can’t make someone trust you.

It’s also important to understand what trust isn’t.

In a relationship, for example, trust doesn’t necessarily mean you tell your partner every single thing that crosses your mind. It’s totally normal to have personal thoughts you keep to yourself.

Trust also doesn’t mean giving each other access to; personal bank accounts, computers, cell phones, or social media accounts.

Stalking isn't Trust

You may not mind sharing this information, but the presence of trust in a relationship generally means you don’t need to check up on your partner. Let me say that again so the people in the back can hear this - the presence of trust in a relationship generally means you don’t need to check up on your partner. You have faith in them and feel that you are able to talk about any concerns you might have.

Having someone break your trust can leave you feeling hurt, shocked, and even physically sick. It might prompt you to consider your relationship - and your partner - in a different way.

If you want to attempt to rebuild trust, here are some good starting points.

Rebuilding Trust

Consider the reason behind the lie or betrayal, when you’ve been lied to, you might not care much about the reasons behind it, but people do sometimes lie when they simply don’t know what else to do. This doesn’t make their choice right, but it can help consider how you might have reacted in their position.

Maybe the betrayal of trust resulted from a miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Whatever happened, it’s important to make it clear that what they did wasn’t OK. But knowing the reasons behind their actions may help you decide whether you’re able to begin rebuilding the trust you once shared.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

It might be painful or uncomfortable, but one of the biggest aspects of rebuilding trust after betrayal is talking to you partner about the situation.

You may feel emotional or upset during this conversation. These feelings are completely valid. If you feel yourself getting too upset to continue communicating in a productive way, take a break and come back to the topic later.

Talking about what happened is just the beginning. It’s perfectly fine, and entirely normal, if you can’t work through everything in just a night or two.

Forgiveness & Recovery

Having someone on a leash has nothing to do with a healthy relationship; you either trust the other person or you don't.

If you truly want to repair a relationship after a betrayal, forgiveness is key. (Let that shit go) Not only will you need to forgive your partner, but you also may need to forgive yourself.

Blaming yourself in some way for what happened can keep you stuck in self-doubt. That can hurt the chances of your relationship’s recovery.

Depending on the betrayal, it might be hard to forgive your partner and move forward. But try to remember that forgiving your partner isn’t saying that what they did was OK.

Rather, you’re empowering yourself to come to terms with what happened and leave it in the past. You’re also giving your partner a chance to learn and grow from their mistakes.

Once you’ve fully discussed the betrayal, it’s generally best to put the issue to bed. This means you don’t want to bring it up in future arguments.

Going Forward

When there is trust, a person doesn’t feel a need to monitor or control their partner

You’ll also want to go easy on constantly checking in on your partner to make sure they aren’t lying to you again.

This isn’t always easy, especially at first. You might have a hard time letting go of the betrayal and find it difficult to start trusting your partner, especially if you’re worried about another betrayal.

But when you decide to give the relationship a second chance, you’re also deciding to trust your partner again. Maybe you can’t completely trust them right away, but you’re implying you’ll give trust a chance to regrow.

If you keep thinking about what happened or have doubt about your partner’s future honesty or faithfulness, couples counseling can help. But these signs could also indicate that you may not be ready to work on the relationship.

Realizing Motives

Maybe it was you who messed up, lied and hurt your partner or withheld information you thought would hurt them.

No matter your reasons, you know you caused them pain, and you feel terrible. You may feel like you’d do anything to show them they can trust you again, but it's important to understand that you can't make them trust you. Both of you need to work on repairing the relationship.

Before you embark on the process of rebuilding trust, you’ll first want to check in with yourself to understand why you did it.

Is it possible that you wanted to end the relationship but didn’t know how to? Or were there specific needs that weren’t being met by your partner? Or was it just a dumb mistake?

Understanding the motives behind your behavior can be difficult, but it’s a crucial part of rebuilding trust.

Genuine Apology

If you lied, cheated, or otherwise damaged your partner’s faith in you, a genuine apology is a good way to start making amends. It’s important to acknowledge that you made a mistake.

Make sure to follow up by telling them how you intend to avoid making the same mistake again. If you aren’t sure what they need from you to work on the relationship, you can ask.

People process things in different ways, too. Your partner might want to talk right away. But they also might need days or weeks before they can address the issue with you.

It’s important to avoid pressuring them to have a discussion before they’re ready.

But if you’ve made some progress in repairing your relationship and your partner continues to monitor your activities and communications with others, talking to a couples counselor can help.

Mutual Understanding & Timing

If you want to repair your relationship and avoid hurting your partner again in the future, you need to reach a mutual understanding of what good communication looks like.

Miscommunications or misunderstandings can sometimes cause as much pain as intentional dishonesty.

Being in a relationship with broken trust can be extremely uncomfortable. Both sides might be eager to get the whole rebuilding process over with as fast as possible. But realistically, this takes time.

How much time, exactly? It depends on a lot of factors, particularly the event that broke the trust.

Long-standing patterns of infidelity or dishonestly will take longer to resolve. A single lie grounded in a misunderstanding or desire to protect may be easier to address, especially when the partner who lied shows sincere regret and a renewed commitment to communication.

Have patience with yourself. Don’t let your partner rush you. A partner who truly regrets hurting you may be hurting, too.

Is it Worth it?

Rebuilding trust isn’t an easy task. It’s normal to question if it’s even worth it before you decide to commit to working on your relationship.

If your partner makes a mistake or two over the course of a long relationship and owns up to it, working on trust issues may be the right move.

As long as there’s still love and commitment between the two of you, working on trust issues will only make your relationship stronger.

But if you know you’ll never be able to completely trust your partner again, no matter what they do, it’s generally best to make this clear right away so you can both begin to move forward separately.

Every relationship goes through rough patches. There’s no shame in reaching out for help.

A counselor can offer an unbiased view of you relationship and help both partners work through underlying issues.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that if you trust someone, you trust them regardless of who they spend time with or where they go.

It’s possible to rebuild a relationship after a breach of trust. Whether it’s worth it depends on your relationship needs and whether you feel it’s possible to trust your partner again.

If you do decide to try repairing things, be prepared for things to take some time. If both sides are committed to the process of rebuilding trust, you might find that you both come out stronger than before - both as a couple and on your own.


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