Once it has been broken, trust is not easily earned back. Depending on the offense, it can be a very long road to recovery. In some cases, the grievance may be too much to bear and you may decide to end the relationship. If your gut is urging you otherwise, then you may want to try to work on your relationship before throwing in the towel. Rebuilding trust is not an easy process but it can be done. Read on to learn the steps of rebuilding trust, and return strength to your relationship.
Rebuild trust within yourself.
Did your inner voice warn you before your trust was violated? Learn to trust yourself again by recognizing your intuition. Before you can trust someone else, you need to be able to trust yourself and know beyond any shadow of a doubt what is best for you. Know that you will be able to recognize a negative situation and get yourself out of it, trusting yourself to make your well-being a top priority. Once you trust yourself, you will be able to recognize the truth in other people and situations and recognize when someone is lying to you. A strong sense of inner trust instills confidence that you won’t let yourself down, achieving a better relationship with yourself and others.
Examine the betrayal.
This can be a painful but necessary process. It is generally best when a trained professional, such as a relationship therapist, is there to guide you and offer unbiased advice to the situation. A therapist will be able to point out patterns and events you may not be able to see and you will need to take a step back from your relationship to examine what either of you was looking for at the time trust was broken. The underlying cause of the betrayal will need to be examined if you want to make sure it will not occur again.
Realize that lying only begets further distrust. Once your partner has knowingly witnessed you lie to their face, they’ll be able to recognize your lies in a heartbeat. Never underestimate someone who has been scorned. This is the person who will become an overnight detective, hacking into your email, text messages and other methods of communication. If they find that you have been honest, it will only help your case. If you are asked directly about dishonesty, come clean and leave the hurtful pieces at a minimum. Avoid lying at all costs, but also keep your partner’s feelings in mind as you try to rebuild trust and heal the hurt that resulted from the betrayal.
Leave defensiveness at the door.
If you are the one who did the betraying, defending your choices will not do you any favors. Acknowledge the pain you have caused your partner by owning up to the choice you made at the time. You may not be proud of what you did and you may feel you have your reasons, but if rebuilding trust is your goal, you will need to make sure you are heard by your partner. The best way to ensure you are heard is to listen to your partner’s side of the story, paying attention to what they felt from the betrayal. Understand the importance of taking accountability for your actions without excuses or qualifiers.
The choice to rebuild trust is entirely your own. This choice may depend on the severity of the grievance and the number of times you are willing to accept it. Considering your reasoning is crucial in helping you decide if you would like to move forward at all. Regardless of the betrayal, only you can know if you are ready to let your partner back into your heart.
Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a couple and family therapist in private practice. She is located in both East Lansing and Grand Rapids. www.kerryhartcounseling.com