Betrayal by a loved one is one of the hardest things to get over. We all come into relationships with a certain degree of vulnerability and hope that our partners won’t break our hearts. Unfortunately, as human beings, we make mistakes, we mess up, we break hearts and get our hearts broken. So, how to trust someone again after they hurt you, after they broke every promise that they made to you? Jui Pimple, emotive behavior therapist with an M.A. in Psychology, has some tips and expert insights for you.
Trusting Someone Again After They Hurt You – 11 Tips From An Expert
When someone breaks your trust, you wonder how to trust the same person again. Trust is, after all, one of the founding blocks of any healthy relationship, and once gone, can be hard to rebuild. To understand how to trust someone again after they hurt you, it’s important to establish clear definitions of what trust means in your relationship.
“Trust also means having enough faith in yourself to be open and vulnerable with your partner after they have hurt you,” says Jui. “And once you have reached a space where you feel safe with them again, you’ll also have to trust yourself enough to have firm relationship boundaries.”
5 Signs Of Trust In A Relationship
Before you go about rebuilding trust with someone who’s hurt you, have a good, long think about what trust means to you, and the specific, concrete acts needed to develop and maintain this trust. Trust looks different for everyone, but here are some common signs of trust in relationships.
1. Healthy boundaries
Healthy relationship boundaries are essential to build bonds of trust. Having these boundaries means you and your partner know there are lines you do not cross and you prioritize these boundaries to keep your relationship going,
2. Equal commitment to the relationship
A relationship only works when all parties involved are on the same page. Trust is developed when you’re aware that you and your partner see the relationship as equally important and are ready to put the same amount of effort into making it work.
“Similar values are important in a relationship, and equal commitment is one of the most important,” Jui says. “To develop and maintain trust, there has to be an inner core of commitment in both partners.”
3. Honest communication
It’s important to be able to speak your mind in a relationship. Whether it’s an opinion your partner doesn’t agree with, or calling them out gently when they say or do something wrong, honesty and trust go hand-in-hand.
‘Come as you are’ could be a motto for every healthy romantic relationship. A trust-filled relationship is where you’re never afraid to be exactly who you are, with all your quirks, your mistakes and general messy, human-ness
5. Mutual respect
Respect for yourselves, for each other, and for your relationship is essential to build and maintain trust. The minute you take any of this casually, you risk the sanctity of your relationship, and are in danger of cheating, or hurting your partner in some other way.
“Love begins with respect, and respect begets trust,” Jui says. “You’ve got to respect each other’s boundaries, values and overall personality if you’re going to build trust in a relationship.”
Trusting Someone Again After They Hurt You – Tips By An Expert
When some or all of these signs of trust are compromised, and you realize you have been betrayed by someone you trusted implicitly, you’ll be left wondering, ‘how can I trust again after being hurt so badly?’ But, now that you’ve established what trust means to you, and what it doesn’t, here are 11 tips on how to how to trust someone again after they hurt you. We’re not saying it’ll be easy, but maybe it’ll ease your heart somewhat and help you move on.
1. Take time to grieve
Yes, you’re probably tired of hearing that time heals all wounds, but time is what you need. See your betrayal as a death of the trust you had in your partner, and acknowledge that you need time to mourn. Even if you do rebuild your trust, it’s not going to be the same relationship as it was before. Take time to cry, to rage, to sit in silence and stare at a wall hopelessly if need be.
“Grief is hard to process,” Jui warns, “and it’s tempting to pretend things are better than they are, and that you’re doing fine. But letting your feelings build up and boil over is not healthy for you or your relationship. You can’t rebuild trust if you’re holding onto the feelings you never allowed yourself to feel.”
“I was devastated after finding out my husband cheated on me,” says Beth. “I was hurt and angry and tired all at once. And initially, I didn’t want to sit with my feelings because I was afraid of where they would take me. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with these negative feelings. But I realized we’d never rebuild our trust and our marriage if I didn’t take time to grieve.”
Beth moved out to her parents’ house for a few weeks, just so she could have some time to come to terms with this betrayal. The time away helped her to make sense of things, and also gave her a clear sense of purpose, that she wanted to give her marriage another chance.
How do you trust someone again after they cheat? Well, a good first step is not to brush your feelings under the carpet. You have every right to be bewildered, angry and sad. Feel your feelings, honor them before starting to let them go. Only then can you rebuild your trust anew.
2. Communicate your feelings
Communication mistakes plague the best of relationships at the best of times. When a relationship is in the dire straits of cheating, betrayal and trust issues, communication often breaks down entirely.
When someone breaks your trust, you probably don’t want to hear about healthy communication. You’d rather yell and scream and throw things at them. Unfortunately, while smashing a few plates might bring you temporary relief, it’s not going help you move on or rebuild trust with your partner.
If you can manage to communicate your feelings without too much verbal violence, there’s nothing like it. If not, keep a journal and write out everything. Your fury, your sadness, your revenge sex fantasies. Get them all out there and then let them go. Make sure you have a few close friends you confide in as well. They will shore you up and validate your feelings.
Don’t keep your thoughts bottled up, whatever you do. Everyone has a breaking point, and you’re under enough pressure while trying to deal with your pain. Talk to your partner when you feel able, and tell them what you’re feeling. If communicating with them isn’t something you can handle right away, give it time, talk to other people you love, and come back to your partner when you feel ready.
“When you are ready to communicate with your partner, do so firmly and politely,” Jui says. “They should understand what you’re going through and you’re trying to help sustain this relationship. If you’re unable to draw up any tender feelings for your partner, communicate that as well, so they know where things are going.”
3. Listen and hear them out
‘What?!’ you’re thinking. ‘I’m feeling vulnerable because my trust was broken and I’m supposed to hear my cheating weasel of a partner out?’ We hear you. As far as you’re concerned, you don’t want to hear any excuses or defenses for your partner’s behavior.
Unfortunately, listening to your partner is an important part of the communication process we just outlined in the previous point. Now, you needn’t make room for excuses or attempts to blame shift onto you. But listening to your partner could give insight into the root and reasoning of why they cheated and betrayed you. You needn’t agree with them, but try and understand where they are coming from.
Maybe they felt there was something missing in your relationship, maybe they’ll tell you it was all a mistake and they messed up. Either way, looking them in the eye and hearing them out will also help you decide what to change in the relationship, and give you an insight into any issues your partner has and how to approach them.
If you’re thinking about how to trust again after being cheated on, remember that listening is important in any relationship, especially one that is deeply fractured and in need of repair.
“When listening, keep yourself open and alert,” Jui advises. “Don’t be carried away by sensitive, soft words, rather try and get to know the intention behind the words. Don’t let preconceived notions or judgment cloud your mind while listening.”
Related Reading: 12 Ways To Get Your Husband To Listen To You
4. Get your own space
Sharing your daily life and immediate living space with a partner who has betrayed you is very difficult. It’s tough to look at them every day since they become a constant reminder of sorrow and betrayed trust to you. This could turn an already broken relationship irreparably toxic. If you have the means and the option, it’s a good idea to get away for a while, to collect your thoughts and heal yourself while you rebuild trust.
“I went and stayed with a friend for a week or two after I discovered my live-in boyfriend had cheated on me,” says Emma. “It was just too hard, pretending to go on with our everyday lives while inside, I was boiling over. I needed to get away to get some perspective.”
Being too close to a problem often impairs our ability to see clearly and arrive at a healing solution. Distancing yourself from a space you shared with your partner and from their presence, enables you to see things with fresh eyes and begin your healing on your terms.
It doesn’t have to be you who moves out, necessarily. If your errant partner has family or friends nearby they can go to, tell them you need a little time and space to yourself to sort things out. If you’re wondering, ‘how can I trust again after being hurt,’ a little space never hurts. It’s better than having to live with a toxic relationship.
“Having your own space will help you reflect on what and how things went wrong,” Jui points out. “It will also give you a chance to sit back and think calmly about what you want and what can be done.”
5. Practice forgiveness
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all wonderfully loving beings who forgave each other easily at all times? But, we’re not, and certainly not when a romantic partner has betrayed us and we’re plotting ways to bring them down!
Like active listening, forgiveness in relationships, too, is an action you’ll need to practice every day as you attempt to trust somebody again after they hurt you. According to Jui, some ways in which you could actively forgive your partner’s transgressions are:
- Mindfulness: Acknowledge and remind yourself that forgiveness clears your mind, and promotes healthy and positive thoughts, all of which are better for your own health and peace of mind
- Perspective: Try and understand your partner’s personality traits, situation and past circumstances that may have manifested in what they did to you. When you understand better, you forgive better
- Emotional replacement: Negative, unforgiving thoughts can be replaced with positive, reinforcing ones. You could focus on good memories you and your partner have every time you think of their betrayal
It’s easy to respond to ‘how do you trust someone again after they cheat?’ with ‘forgive them.’ But forgiveness doesn’t come that easy when you’re hurting, and you will have to work at it, possibly for a long time.
6. Let the past go
Oh, the temptation to bring up past wrongs whenever you’re in a fight with your partner. How easy it is to beat them down with, ‘Well, let’s not forget what you did two years ago!’ It’s such an easy weapon to win a fight. But it doesn’t help when you’re picking up the pieces of a broken relationship.
Resentment is corrosive and it will eat away at you, leaving you bitter and unable to trust again. It’s important to remind yourself that the past belongs in the past. Both of you must learn what you can from it, and then let it go. If you are to move on and rebuild trust, constantly bringing up the past betrayal is not the way to do it.
You’re thinking, ‘I’m feeling vulnerable because my trust was broken and I can’t let this go yet.’ But hugging it to yourself also means you’re holding on to all the negativity that you associate with it. Do you really want to go through with a life where old anger and bitterness are constant company?
Don’t use the past as a weapon to hold over your partner’s head whenever new things go wrong. And they will. No relationship is insured against disagreements and fights. You’ll have plenty of new things to yell at your partner about. Let the past go.
Related Reading: Making Peace With Your Past: 13 Wise Tips
7. Learn to trust yourself
When you’re working on how to trust again after being cheated on, you’re also talking about building your own confidence and self-esteem. Let’s face it, a betrayal from an intimate partner means that any trust you had in yourself has taken a serious beating. And you can’t rebuild anything if you’re the one in pieces.
If you’ve made the choice of rebuilding trust with the same person who betrayed you, you’ve got to learn to trust yourself first. Trust the choice that you’ve made to give this relationship another chance. Trust that whatever new obstacles come up as you rebuild your relationship, you will work them out. Most of all, trust that whatever steps you’re taking – whether it’s taking time for yourself or giving yourself space – are the right ones.
We invest heavily in our romantic relationships, in fact, sometimes, our whole lives revolve around the people we love. When the center of your existence has broken down, it’s tough to trust in yourself. Most of us come into a relationship with some degree of trust issues as it is. But stick to your convictions, and remind yourself that whatever the outcome of this is, you can trust your gut and your heart to survive.
“There’s no point trying to rebuild trust in a partner if you’re floundering yourself,” Jui says. “Your own inner strength and convictions are what will carry you through this tough time and that’s what you need to focus on first. It’s like how you put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else.”
8. Avoid being the victim
‘Victim’ is a terribly passive term and seems to denote someone who has no say and no control over what is happening in their lives. When you constantly see yourself as a victim, you become someone to whom things happen, rather than someone who makes things happen.
You’re a survivor. You get to be sad, you get to wallow, you get to articulate that terrible things have happened to you. But what happens now? Do you control the narrative or do you simply label yourself a victim and let things happen to you?
Related Reading: How To Heal On After Being Cheated On And Stay Together
Constantly labeling yourself thus can keep you from making active choices and decisions that will help you rebuild trust and have faith in your own strength and ability to move past tough times.
“I kind of fell into a ‘poor me’ mode for months after I found out my wife had been seeing another guy,” says Ken. “Mind you, I didn’t want to give up, and I did want to try and rebuild our marriage, but I was just so hurt, and it becomes so easy to let that become your primary identity – the victim. Eventually, I realized it was hurting me more than helping me, and that I had to get up and do something about it.”
9. Consider the future
“My partner cheated on me and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay on with him. But, we have two kids, and in order to co-parent, I knew we had to figure out some way of rebuilding trust,” says Michael.
Not every trust-rebuilding exercise will be about you and your partner wanting to stay together. But, for the sake of the future, and the greater good of your family, rebuilding trust after a betrayal will be essential.
“It wasn’t about trusting him to be a good partner, but about whether I could trust him to be a good dad,” Michael says. “I had to think about the future and whether I wanted our kids to grow up with two bitter, bickering parents.”
Consider your life and everyone in it, if you never attempt to rebuild trust with your partner. Who will be affected in the long-term? You certainly will, as will children and any extended family you share. Even if you decide not to stay together, attempt to rebuild trust so that you’re both happier as co-parents and as individuals.
Maybe you’ll no longer share a romantic bond, but there can be trust and respect and a healthy family environment that works well for everyone.
“Look ahead and think about what you want,” Jui says. “Do you want to stay in an unhappy marriage for the kids, do you want to separate for a while, or do you want to genuinely give things another chance. The degrees and kinds of trust you build will depend on your decision, and how you see the future.”
10. Have clear boundaries
As we said, maintaining healthy relationship boundaries underlines that you have a strong, trusting relationship. When you’ve chosen to repair a bond and are working on how to trust the same person again after they have hurt you, it becomes doubly important to re-establish boundaries for the future.
Trust can be maintained only if both partners respect each other, and this respect comes from knowing and acknowledging each other’s physical, psychological and emotional boundaries. Now that trust has been broken, it’s a good idea to sit down and talk about new boundaries, and also old ones that need to be put back in place.
If your partner was seeing someone they work with, talk about how to navigate this. Your partner will still be seeing them at the workplace every day and there will be interaction. If possible, discuss boundaries for future circumstances where one or both of you are attracted to other people. Again, this is bound to happen in almost every relationship and since it’s wrecked your happiness once, it’s prudent to talk about how to tackle it if it happens again.
Be firm but practical with your boundaries. Talk about where you are willing to compromise, but what is absolutely non-negotiable to you.
11. Seek professional help
You don’t have to handle all of this alone. And it always helps to have an impartial, professional ear to listen and help you sift through the painful muddle in your head. You could start out by going to a counselor yourself, and eventually go for couple’s therapy.
Remember there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help, and going to a professional doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Grief and anger and betrayal are all valid reasons to talk to someone, and will help you navigate your way back to a place from where you can start rebuilding trust.
Therapy also establishes a routine and pattern in your life which is great for when you’re feeling low and do not have the energy to take care of yourself. Remember, self-love, self-respect and self-care are important at this stage, and getting help is a big part of that.
Related Reading: 11 Ways Being Cheated On Changes You
“Counseling and therapy mean that you’re getting an outside perspective from a professional who sees every side of your situation,” Jui says. “It’s healthy to hear a narrative from someone who’s not too close to you to be able to see things clearly.”
How to trust someone again after they hurt you is one of the trickiest relationship terrains you’ll ever have to navigate. Understand that no matter how much love and effort you pour into it, your relationship will not go back to what it was before.
There are now cracks and fissures in your bond, and you know that your partner is capable of hurting you in a way you hadn’t thought was possible. You will both be more cautious with each other, and it will take a while before you’re able to open up and trust them again. And it still won’t be the same.
There’s no readymade map for this journey. You might have to approach it as you would a whole new relationship with completely new rules and expectations. But, as with most relationships, if you choose each other every day and communicate clearly, if you’ve promised to tackle everything that comes your way together, there’s every chance you’ll repair and rebuild your trust all over again.
Yes, you can. If you have decided clearly to trust them again, if you’re willing to communicate again and to listen with both compassion and a clear mind, you can trust again after being lied to. Be ready to take your time and feel huge amounts of relationship insecurity before you’re ready to trust again. Take time and space for yourself, and be clear about what you want. If you feel like you can’t trust your partner just yet, remember that’s fine too.
There’s no one way, or easy method to do this. You have to decide that you want to trust them again, that they are worth the time and effort it’s going to take to open up and be vulnerable again. There will be new boundaries to create and new expectations to live up to. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that this is no longer the relationship you once had. To trust a liar again, you will need to see them as a person who is capable of hurting you, yet someone you still want to trust.