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  • Writer's pictureSara Aloimonos

Starting Over Once Trust Has Been Broken

Trust has been broken in your relationship.

Whether it was caused by lying, keeping secrets, cheating, broken promises, manipulation, or even being abandoned when you needed that person the most.

How do you get back to fully trusting that person and moving forward?

Without trust for the other person, you may start blaming or suspecting them of things they may or may not be doing especially if you've been hurt before in the past. You protect yourself before history repeats itself. This is very common in cheating. If someone has been cheated on before they assume the next person will do the same and accuse their partner of cheating when there's no evidence to prove this. They may even do it themselves so they can say they hurt you first.

Definitely a relationship destroyer.

Anxiety is a strong feeling experienced when trust has failed. It can bubble up when there is lack of control of the other person's behaviour. You may feel unsafe and disconnected. You may also expect the worst to happen. Whether that's cheating, lying, or hurting you in some way. These feelings keep you on your toes, hypervigilant, and building a bubble around yourself for when the (to you) inevitable happens.

Building trust in a relationship takes time. It takes proving that the other person is there for you, their actions match their words, they're being faithful, and not operating under a hidden agenda.

A client of mine was in a long-distant relationship. The two would visit on weekends and steal away for a weeks vacation in the winter. Everything was humming along exactly as they had built the relationship up to be. It did take a lot of commitment, trust, and forming a strong bond for it to work. Yet, all it took was one mis-step (which happened to be lying about an interaction with an old high school friend) for this bond to break. For questions of truthfulness to seep in and thoughts to run wild. Granted there were trauma issues behind these runaway thoughts but still, that's all it took for trust to be broken. Now what?

This couple is still together and still struggle at times. But, they are both doing the hard work to rebuild their relationship back up to where they want it to be. It takes a lot of open conversation, communicating fears and expectations, and proving they are committed to making it work.

So, how do you rebuild trust in a relationship you've deemed worth saving?

Taking responsibility for your role in the upset is a big one. Did you commit the betrayal? Own up to it and apologize sincerely! Did you play a small part in what your partner did? Recognize that. Nobody wins or loses when it comes to healing.

Giving yourself and your partner space to grieve, be in disbelief, and be angry is ok. The key to moving ahead from this stage is to accept (on both sides) how the other may be feeling and be patient. One may heal faster than the other. Don't pressure or lose patience. Pause.

Acknowledge what has happened and let it lie. This doesn't mean forgetting about it or stop recognizing the pain it has caused. It means moving forward and taking the steps to rebuild what was lost. I can assure you that you will be triggered at times and want to fall back into mistrusting, but setting a growth mindset and reminding yourself of your goal will bring you back from the fog.

Focus on the small things. Having total transparency and being completely open, communicating your feelings, needs and having them met is important. Recognize the baby steps happening around you. Even if it's seeing promises followed through with, proving you were where you said you would be, being home when you said you would, or telling the truth, even if it hurts. These little things prove you're trustworthy and start laying the foundation.

One of the biggest things to crack open is, how did you end up where you are in the relationship? These things don't just fall in your lap. There are bigger, underlying issues going on that are being ignored. Was the betrayal part of their coping mechanism? Was it part of a scheme to end the relationship but the betrayer couldn't communicate this? What needs weren't being met? Communication is key in these situations. Discussion without judgement and developing a repair plan will keep you moving in a forward direction.

Repair after a break in trust will take time. Especially based on the severity of the event that broke the trust such as repetitive infidelity or dishonesty. Both sides must be equally committed to the rebuild and understand that it's not an overnight fix. If you genuinely feel you cannot rebuild trust for the betrayer, it may be time to walk away. No amount of work will change the red flag blinding your progress.

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