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Rebuilding Trust In A Broken Relationship – The Step-by-step Guide # SecondChances

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey

Being in a romantic relationship has many benefits – companionship, better health, and family support. Having a close partner also means better finances and a higher rate of overall happiness. However, none of these means anything if the relationship is lacking in a critical component – trust. Of all the qualities that a good relationship should ideally have, like passion, compatibility, etc., trust is without doubt, the most important. As Stephen Covey mentioned, it is the ‘foundational principle,’ the spine of the relationship that holds it upright. Remove the spine and everything else just collapses in a heap on the floor. So when this vital component of the relationship is lost, does it mean that it’s the end of the road? It may seem like the end of the world, but it doesn’t have to be. Fixing a breach of trust in a relationship is very difficult, but not impossible and by learning how to rebuild trust in a relationship, you can give yourself and your partner a second chance at love and happiness.

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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Suggested read: 33 things you NEED to do to breakup-proof your relationship

When we talk of trust in an intimate relationship, it refers to many things. We trust that our partners will be there for us and that they will keep their promises. We trust that they’ll protect us, our belongings, and our children. We trust that they’re bound to us by an exclusive, intimate connection. When we talk about a loss of trust, we mean that a betrayal of some kind has occurred. There are many scenarios that lead to such a betrayal or loss of trust within a romantic relationship:

1. Lying

When a person is a chronic liar, it can cause others to constantly question everything they say. This obviously leads to a state where what they say can’t be trusted anymore. When a wife discovers that her husband has been drinking after he claims to be sober, it can shatter her trust in him.

2. Keeping secrets

Hiding the truth is not the same as lying, but it is just as much a breach of trust as lying is. When people hide details about who they’re going out with or what they’re doing in their free time, it leads others to wonder what else they’ve been hiding.

3. Misuse of resources

When a partner misuses the couple’s common resources without the other partner’s knowledge or consent, it is a different kind of betrayal. A wife who gambles away the money in the joint account she has with her husband is one such example.

4. Broken promises

Constantly promising to do something and then failing to deliver on them also qualifies as betrayal. When a person proves that he can’t be relied upon, he loses his partner’s trust in the process. This can also be when a partner violates an unspoken agreement or rule; like a wife discovering that her husband has been talking to their friends about things his wife would rather keep private.

5. Infidelity


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This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of a breach of trust in a romantic relationship, and also one that many consider the worst kind of betrayal. Sexual and emotional infidelity, both amount to cheating and a resultant loss of trust.

While all these scenarios may bring up different kinds of feelings in the victim, the fact is that they all cause pain and grief, often to both partners. One may wonder why people get themselves into such situations in the first place. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why a person cheats or lies, and there are a multitude of factors that come into play.

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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Whatever the cause may be, there is no escape from the basic truth: betrayal hurts. It may be like a blow on the head, and can feel like the world around us is falling into pieces. Some experts suggest that this kind of near-panic situation may be rooted in our primitive selves. During our caveman days, it was crucial for groups of people to work together for hunting and safety. If anyone got separated from the group, his chances of surviving alone were very low, and it is probably this fear of immediate starvation/death that is still present within us.

Being cheated on or lied to can make a person doubt himself, along with the rest of the world. She may wonder about her attractiveness and whether she’s to blame. He may hate himself for not seeing the signs and preventing it. That’s why it has been said that a betrayal has two parts – the actual event, and the ensuing hurt. Most people don’t mention the potential third part – rebuilding trust. In such a fragile state, it can be difficult to think about rebuilding the trust that’s been lost, but even once a couple decides to do it, there’s a lot of work involved. However, with enough time and a slow step by step approach, it is possible to rebuild trust in a relationship and make things better.

Suggested read: The comprehensive list of reasons why men cheat

Step by step guide on how to rebuild trust in a relationship

1. Get in touch with your feelings

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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Like we mentioned earlier, finding out about a partner’s betrayal can be a traumatic event, and it opens up an entire Pandora’s Box of negative emotions. Denial of these feelings is not an option here, and it is necessary for the hurt party to get in touch with each of them and acknowledge how they are feeling at the moment. Writing things down or talking to someone can help, especially if the breach has been significant. This is the first step towards healing from the hurt, which is essential to make way for recovery from this incident.

2. Do away with the revenge mentality

When your partner has betrayed your trust, it can be very tempting to go down a ‘vengeful’ train of thought. Unfortunately, a ‘tit-for-tat’ approach doesn’t do anyone any favors, and only makes things worse. After the discovery of a betrayal, the victim can feel very vulnerable, and may not think rationally. This can lead to some reckless behavior which is usually regretted later. So, even if it makes you feel good temporarily, it’s better to skip the revenge mentality and realize that it’ll only do more harm in the long run.

3. Understand what happened

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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What has happened has happened, there is no way anyone can go back and change the past. However, we can always learn from it, and for this, it is necessary to understand what exactly happened. Honest, open conversations are required for this stage, which is why the healing in the first step is so important. Both partners need to analyze the chain of events which led to the breach of trust; this exercise will give valuable information about any deeper issues within the relationship and help the partners look more objectively at the situation.

4. Skip the details

When a cheating partner has to come to face with what they’ve done, it can bring up an immense load of guilt. This overbearing guilt may lead to an unnecessarily explicit confession, with gory details being bared. However, while the cheating or lying partner may feel like getting a load of their chest, it can be extremely hurtful to the other partner and can even make things worse. In some cases, the victim may ask a lot of questions, in an effort to find out what led to this transgression. While an analysis is helpful, as mentioned in the previous step, it’s best for both partners to avoid lingering on the details.

5. Get help

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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A betrayal in a romantic relationship can be a very bitter experience, and it can prevent both parties from taking an objective view of matters. In such situations, it is difficult to make any headway in rebuilding trust in a relationship, which is where external help is recommended. Counselors and other experts are trained in the knowledge of how to regain trust in a relationship and can help a lot. They can dissipate tension, get both partners in touch with their true feelings as well as direct discussions along the right track.

6. Accept responsibility

If a couple is working on rebuilding trust in their relationship, both of them will need to accept responsibility to make things work. It may be true that one person has violated the trust and is to blame, but for the relationship to ultimately succeed, both partners need to stop blaming or suspecting and realize that it is up to them to regain control of their lives and their relationship. Only an active, conscious effort can make things right, and it requires a commitment from both partners.

Suggested read: My husband cheated on me… but I stayed…

7. Be optimistic

couple talking

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When thinking about how to rebuild trust in a marriage or similar relationship, it is imperative to actually believe that it will get better. Nip any niggling doubts in the bud, however tempting they may seem. Yes, it’s not easy to trust someone after a betrayal, but once you’ve decided to take control and accept responsibility to work for it, you need to adjust your mindset as well. It’s very easy for suspicious thoughts and fear to guide your actions, but they will only hamper any progress you’re making in the relationship.

8. Don’t make it your topic 24 x 7

You may have accepted facts and decided to work on rebuilding your relationship. But if the incident is still fresh in your mind, you might find yourself bringing it up in conversation at the slightest provocation. This is of no good to you or your partner, so it’s best to avoid speaking about it all the time. Yet, it is quite possible that several questions about this transgression keep coming up, and you feel that knowing the answers is important for you to move forward. For that, assign a particular day or time of day to speak about it, so that it doesn’t become the mainstay of your life.

9. Set new rules

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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When working on rebuilding trust in a relationship, the couple might keep wishing things went back to ‘how they were in the happy days.’ However, a breach of trust is a game changer, and the old rules may not apply anymore. To make sense of the new situation, it helps if both partners get together and create a new set of rules for the path forward. These shouldn’t appear like the cheating partner is being punished or monitored 24×7; yet they should allow the victim to have peace of mind without having to conduct an interrogation at every point.

10. Take it slow

Depending upon how severe the breach of trust was, it can take any amount of time to fix the relationship. The same kind of betrayal can take shorter or longer to heal for different couples. Whatever the case may be, it is crucial to take things really slow, and allow a lot of time for each step in the rebuilding process. Sometimes it may seem like things are improving overnight, while sometimes it may seem like there’s been no progress for weeks. What matters is that both partners are consistently working on it and are keeping a positive frame of mind.

11. Focus on being happy

how to rebuild trust in a relationship

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An event like this can make one feel like their life has turned upside down. In situations like these, it’s common for people to stop working out, eating well, and they most often have trouble sleeping as well. This can make them unhealthy and stress them out even more, which is counterproductive to their current mission of fixing their relationship. It is important to focus on being happy, and realizing that one’s happiness comes from inside and is not dependent on another person. This kind of approach will go a long way in being optimistic about the relationship and life in general.

Suggested read: 6 telltale signs that show you have trust issues with your partner

12. Assess the situation logically

Once a couple has started working on their relationship, it’s good to take a step back and look at how things are moving on. By analyzing how one is feeling and how the other appears to be doing, the couple can gain some more understanding about themselves and their relationship. While it is recommended to have a positive outlook, not all relationships can be repaired after a breach of trust. If the cheating partner is simply playing along to appease his guilt and not to fix underlying issues, all attempts at rebuilding trust are futile – he’ll just go back to cheating once his guilt has disappeared. Similarly, if the victim has completely lost faith in her partner and just cannot get around to trusting him anymore, it might be time to call it quits.

Deciding to repair a relationship that has been broken by betrayal is a momentous decision and wondering about how to rebuild trust in a relationship can be hard as well. This step by step guide should throw some light on how to move forward, and how one can prevent any more stress. As far as possible, it’s best to avoid random advice from others, and stick to the counsellor’s suggestions and most importantly, your gut. Some relationships eventually crumble under the stress of betrayal, but some others come out shining and even stronger than before. By taking care of yourself and being positive, there’s every chance that you can fix things and have the relationship you truly deserve.

Featured image source: Flickr

Article Name
How To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship – A Step-by- Step Guide
A breach of trust in a relationship is difficult to fix, but not impossible. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to rebuild trust in a relationship.
Fabida Abdulla

Fabida Abdulla

Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum stay-at-home mom to her boisterous 6-year-old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading, and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes. []