When the trust is broken and one is feeling betrayed by their partner, the road to recovery can seem long and difficult. Betrayal and heartbreak are not easy to work through, and more often than not, can feel like the end of the road for the couple. However, a setback even as brutal as losing trust in your partner doesn’t have to mean there is no hope for the revival of your bond. By learning how to rebuild trust in a relationship you can give your bond a new lease on life.
The process of rebuilding trust in a relationship begins with taking stock of your emotional and mental state. Have you been feeling lonely in your relationship? Do you feel distant from your partner? Yes, that can happen when you’re struggling with trust and faith in your most intimate connection. The importance of trust in a relationship truly becomes the most evident when this crucial element is on its last legs.
Whether you’re getting back together after a breakup or working to rebuild trust in a relationship after cheating, lying or dishonesty, you will realize that healing the wounds and leaving the bitterness behind takes time. As hard as it may seem, it’s not impossible to lay the foundation of trust from scratch. We’re here to help you understand how to rebuild trust in a relationship in consultation with clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy
10 Ways To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship
Even as you work through the past hurt of betrayal, in whatever form it festered in your relationship, you also need to think about how to make changes in the present for a better and more fulfilling future. Do you feel that you and your partner can survive the setback of broken trust? Do you see a ray of hope at the end of this very dark tunnel of distrust and hurt? Are you willing to heal and stay together?
If the answer to these questions is yes, you have to, first and foremost, commit yourself to getting to the root of your issues and resolving them before you even take the first step toward re-establishing trust. To repair trust in a relationship, it’s vital to understand what both partners could have done differently. In the process, you may be able to analyze, look within and figure out what went wrong.
Rebuilding trust in a relationship can take time and is often a process riddled with struggles. However, with the right guidance, commitment and copious amounts of patience, you can achieve this seemingly lofty goal. To help you take the first step in this journey, let’s take a look at how to rebuild trust in a relationship:
Related Reading: Trust Exercises For Couples To Improve Relationships
1. Stop the blame game for rebuilding trust in a relationship
When you’re looking at steps to regain trust in a relationship, first and foremost, is to let go of the baggage. The anger, hurt and tears. This will take you a long way in fixing your broken relationship.
Devaleena says, “When there is discord, people tend to blame the other person. It is the easier alternative as compared to owning up to a problem because that triggers feelings of guilt, which many find hard to cope with. This is especially true for people with fragile egos. The process of rebuilding trust in a relationship can begin only when both partners commit to consciously avoid the trap of blame-shifting and own up to their part in the conflict.”
Commit to not raking up old issues or reminding your partner of their past mistakes. You are turning over a new leaf in your relationship, and that means no looking back or bringing skeletons out of each other’s closets. Yes, this is easier said than done, but with therapy and counseling sessions, it is possible to get there.
2. To rebuild trust in a relationship, introspect
Devaleena says, “When a couple is in conflict and struggling with trust issues, the blame for it cannot rest with one partner squarely. Yes, even if a couple is trying to rebuild trust in a relationship after cheating or constant lying on part of one partner, the other ought to have played some part in it, no matter how minuscule.
“Lack of self-reflection, coupled with a judgment impaired by hurt and anguish of being lied to or cheated on, can make either one or both partners live in denial and lose touch with reality. That’s why introspection is essential to fostering trust within an existing connection.”
All questions to rebuild trust in a relationship needn’t be directed at your partner. So many times, asking yourself the right questions and answering them honestly can be the key to getting to the root of your issues, which could in turn be affecting the relationship negatively. For instance, if your partner cheated on you, ask yourself what led to enough gap between you two for a third person to come in? If your partner has been lying to you repeatedly, assess whether there is something in your behavior that may have triggered this pattern.
While you are not responsible for your partner’s lying, cheating ways, the journey of healing and recovering from a setback as strong as loss of trust in a relationship begins with yourself. That’s what introspection and self-reflection will help you achieve.
Related Reading: 9 Activities To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship – As Recommended By A Couples Counselor
3. Get over the negative mindset to rebuild trust
To trust someone after they’ve hurt you, be it by cheating on you or lying to you, you have to work on restoring your self-esteem and sense of self. “So many people struggle with the question of how to rebuild trust in a relationship because they overlook one very crucial aspect of the process – working on the lack of trust in themselves.
A blow as strong as cheating or constantly being lied to by the very person you trusted the most can be shattering anyone’s self-confidence. To be able to rebuild trust in a relationship, you need to be sure of your choices. That can only happen when you shake off that passive, negative state of mind and are 100% sure of your willingness to work on the relationship,” says Devaleena.
Amelia agreed to give her boyfriend, Tony, another chance after she found him cheating on her. However, his actions had dented her ability to think for herself to an extent that she wasn’t sure what she wanted. A part of her was convinced that she must stay on with Tony because she didn’t deserve better but she never could bring herself to fully trust him again.
Whenever his phone beeped at odd hours or if he carried it with him to the bathroom, her mind would race with thoughts of him cheating on her again. Predictably, this lack of trust took a toll on their relationship. It was Tony who, ultimately, decided to call it quits because staying on felt like he was handed the life sentence of guilt and accusation.
4. Identify the root problem dispassionately
To build trust in a relationship again, you need to get to the root of your issues. What brought you to this stage? Cheating, lying, dishonesty, manipulative behavior are often symptoms, not the real problems. It’s vital that you scratch the surface to find the core issue. Ask the right questions to rebuild trust in a relationship to yourself and your partner, and make sure you both answer them honestly.
For instance, if you’re trying to rebuild trust in a relationship after cheating, you must invest time and effort to understand what triggered the transgression. Was it the lack of intimacy that pushed your partner to seek solace in another connection? Or was it because they were struggling with boredom and stagnation in the relationship? Is their attachment style or past trauma a factor?
Similarly, rebuilding trust in a relationship after lying, try to figure out why dishonesty crept into your connection. Could your insecurities have led your partner to start covering up small details here and there to keep the peace in the relationship, which eventually blew up in your face? Or is your partner a compulsive liar to whom dishonesty is like second nature?
Then, together, as a team, try to decipher how you’re going to prevent similar issues from festering in your relationship again. Not everyone has the self-awareness to go through this process unaided. In such situations, working with a couples’ counselor can be immensely helpful in identifying and breaking the problematic patterns that may be eating away at the trust in your relationship.
Related Reading: I Had Blind Faith In My Partner But Now I Can’t Trust Him
5. Sincere apology for rebuilding trust in a relationship
How to rebuild trust in a relationship? The lion’s share of the work in restoring trust or winning it all over again rests with the person who caused it to shatter in the first place. If the onus lies with your partner, they’re the one who needs to take the first step toward undoing the damage by offering a heartfelt and sincere apology for the hurt caused.
This apology has to be without any ifs and buts. It’s vital that your partner acknowledges the importance of trust in a relationship and is committed to making amends. Kristen saw how badly she had hurt her husband Ron’s feelings and shaken his trust in the marriage when she decided to hide a pregnancy from him because she wasn’t ready to be a mother.
She told him that she was going away for a weekend trip with her friends and scheduled an abortion during that time. Ron found out about it years later, that too when the couple was struggling to get pregnant. Naturally, this revelation broke his heart and made him question what else Kristen had hidden from him.
Kristen realized that rebuilding trust in a relationship after lying was no child’s play but she was committed to giving it her best shot. After months of shutting her out, Ron finally came around and began asking questions in a bid to understand why she did what she did. Kristen’s efforts to make him see how sorry she was played an important role in this breakthrough.
6. How to rebuild trust in a relationship? Gain closure
Apology on part of the partner who has breached the other’s trust is only half the battle won. It’s equally crucial that the aggrieved partner gains closure. Only then can a couple succeed in rebuilding trust in a relationship and make a fresh start. “Once a partner offers an apology for their actions, the other needs to gain proper closure. Don’t patch things up for the wrong reasons like for the children’s sake, fearing societal judgment or because you have been together far too long to call it quits.
“If the partner whose trust has been broken is not satiated, they will wound their partner some way or the other, sooner or later. The circle of distrust, hurt and pain will continue,” advises Devaleena. The tricky thing is that there is no rulebook for gaining closure. So, you and your partner will have to work together to see what helps you truly move on from this situation.
7. Reflect on what went wrong
The assurance that a similar setback will not rock your boat again is essential for rebuilding trust in a relationship. This can only happen when both partners reflect on what went amiss in their relationship. “Instead of blaming one another, channelize your energies in reflecting on what went wrong. No matter what the issue at hand – cheating, lying, financial infidelity, secrets – take the time to understand how it happened and what you can do to prevent it from recurring,” says Devaleena.
You need to ask each other the right questions to rebuild trust in a relationship. For instance, if you have been cheated on, don’t hesitate to question your unfaithful partner about the nature of their affair and their reasons behind crossing the line of fidelity. It may not be easy for your partner to hear your questions and for you to hear their answers, however, you have to be prepared to put yourself through the wringer to heal and emerge stronger.
8. Assess how far you’re willing to go to rebuild trust in a relationship
Lack of trust in a relationship isn’t just hard for the person who has been betrayed but also the one who was responsible for it. Often, the constant questioning, lack of faith, cross-checking can leave that partner feel like they’re being persecuted for their mistakes every second of every day. Not everyone can handle that.
So, the partner who has betrayed the other’s trust needs to decide how far they’re willing to go in their efforts of rebuilding trust in a relationship. The other partner, in turn, has to decide whether these efforts are good enough for them to begin trusting their significant other again. Devaleena shares the example of a couple she’s been working with in therapy.
“The couple separated because the husband cheated on the wife with a coworker while he was traveling for work. They separated initially but thought there was scope to rebuild the marriage during separation, and that’s when they sought couples’ counseling. This happened as COVID-19 mandated lockdowns were being enforced. Since everyone was working from home, things were largely okay between them.
“However, now that things have opened up again, the man not only had to go back to the office but also resume traveling for work. This triggered a lot of trust issues in his wife since that’s where the cheating had happened. So, the husband decided that he won’t travel with female coworkers as long as his wife doesn’t begin trusting him again,” shares Devaleena.
It is for you and your partner to decide how hard you’re willing to fight for the relationship. If you see them doing everything in their power to win your trust again, try your best to meet them half-way.
Related Reading: 10 Important Components Of Trust In A Relationship
9. Voice your concerns without lashing out
The journey of rebuilding trust in a relationship after lying, dishonesty or cheating isn’t going to be linear. There are bound to be setbacks along the way. You may feel that you’re making progress one day and find yourself in the throes of insecurity and trust issues the next. At times, these may be a reaction to your partner’s actions, and at others, it can be a projection of your own feelings and emotions.
Whatever be the case, make it a point to voice your concerns and apprehensions without lashing out or hurling accusations. Say, you caught your partner having an online affair and you’ve been working hard to rebuild trust in a relationship after cheating. Then, you see them being secretive or over-protective about their phone again (or at least, you perceive that to be the case).
Do not bottle up your concerns nor let emotions get the better of you. Talk to them in a cool, calm and matter of fact manner. Try something along these lines: “I saw you place your phone face down when I walked into the room earlier today, and it brought back all the memories of the time you were unfaithful. I’m struggling with trust.” Rather than saying: “I saw you hide your phone from me. I know exactly what’s going on. I may have been blinded by love and trust the first time around, don’t think you’ll be able to fool me again.”
10. Treat it as a new relationship
How to rebuild trust in a relationship? Once you’ve done the necessary work to heal and feel ready to move on, make sure you move on toward a better future and stronger relationship in true earnest. Treat it as a new relationship, and let the past bury its dead. The loss of trust or the journey to rebuilding it from scratch ought to have changed your relationship in many ways.
Accept and embrace that fact. Don’t keep holding on to the idea of going back to the way things were because clearly there was something amiss in that equation. Instead, focus on nurturing this new connection you have built and making it the strongest version possible. To get a fresh start, couples must truly convince themselves that they are in a new and better place.
There are no shortcuts or easy answers to how to rebuild trust in a relationship. Couples who struggle with distrust have to be willing to hurt, heal and do the work for being able to stay together, and emerge stronger from this tumultuous phase of their relationship. With patience and perseverance, you can prevail.
The right help can go a long way in making this journey a tad less overwhelming and empowering you with the agency to make the best possible choices for yourself and your relationship. If you’re looking for a safe space to make sense of your confusing emotions, licensed and experienced experts on Bonbology’s panel are only a click away.
Only with a lot of persistence and effort. One really has to do away with all negative thoughts and practice forgiveness. One also has to be deeply aware of the mistakes made last time so one does not commit them again.
It is hard to give a concrete timeline for how long it takes to rebuild trust in a relationship. From the severity of the issues at hand to the aggrieved partner’s willingness to forgive and move on as well as the earnestness of the couple to make an effort to bounce back from this set back all play a role in determining how soon you’d be able to reinstate trust in a relationship. With consistent effort and work, you’ll surely get there, sooner or later.
Betrayal in a relationship, cheating, not meeting expectations, severe arguments are some things that can cause a lack of trust.
Having your trust broken is always painful. However, the severity of the pain varies depending on who broke your trust. If it is your intimate partner, the experience can scar you for life. If it’s a friend or a sibling, then too the hurt can be pretty severe. But if it is a coworker or an acquaintance, it’s easier to dust yourself up and move on.