How to rebuild trust in your relationship: 6 important steps

We’ve all heard it.

“Trust is the foundation of any relationship.”

Especially these days, when we experience many distractions in our every day lives.

Trust is the one thing that helps us navigate the complex and very random world out there. It is the backbone of any successful partnership.

According to the Relationships Indicators Survey 2011, there are four main reasons why relationships fail:

  • lack of effective communication
  • financial problems
  • different inherent values and
  • lack of trust

Having trust in a relationship means we find our partners reliable, dependable, and responsible for making the partnership work.

Without it, relationships turn toxic. It leads to second-guessing each other and it triggers an irrational fear of betrayal. In fact, lack of trust causes us great psychological distress. Nothing is more hurtful than putting your trust in someone, only to experience betrayal, unfaithfulness, or dishonesty.

Simply put, without trust, a relationship will likely fail. 

But the worst thing is this:

There is nothing more challenging than rebuilding trust.

Challenging, yes, but not impossible.

Picking up the pieces and rebuilding trust and faith in your partner requires a lot of time and conscious effort.

However, salvaging the relationship is possible (and this important) if both people are willing to work on it. 

Let’s take a deep dive into how to rebuild trust in a relationship.

1. Commit yourself to the process.

Before you can do anything else, you must first commit yourself to the process of rebuilding trust.

Because first of all, this is a process. It’s not going to be easy. And you will end up questioning yourself and your partner a lot.

You’re not going to magically wake up completely trusting your partner. In truth, you need to let go of the notion of having complete trust again.

You need to share this journey with your partner. You need to commit to being open, sharing your pain, and listening to what your partner has to say.

It is imperative that you establish clear boundaries on rebuilding trust. Define what you both require from each other. Have clear expectations of one another. And just be completely on the same page. Rebuilding trust will require work from both of you. And if one person is not fully committed to the process, the trust will not be regained.

From this moment on, your trust is a commitment. Some days it will be easier to give it and other days it will still be challenging.

However, once you consciously decide that you’re going to trust your partner, then everything else will be easier.

2. Learn to trust yourself again.

As cliche as it may sound, before you can establish trust in your partner again, you first need to learn to trust yourself, your feelings, and your instincts.

In times of betrayal, we have a tendency of irrationally blaming ourselves first.

We ask questions like,

Why didn’t I see the signs? Why didn’t I trust myself? I should have known better.

You will feel a plethora of emotions: shame and humiliation for being duped, self-blame for letting yourself get lied to, and many other self-inflicting negative emotions that come with betrayal.

So how do you overcome this? By trusting yourself so that you can see things clearly from now on.

Your first course of action should be acknowledging that you did actually see the signs. Your instinct told you that something was wrong, you just simply ignored the feeling. So now you know better.

In order to move forward, you first need to learn to trust these very same instincts. Have faith in your inner sense of what is right or wrong for you. 

Your instincts will be the first to warn you if something doesn’t exactly feel right. And you need to trust yourself that you’re not imagining things. This is the only way in which you can assess your situation and relationship with clearer eyes.

3. Forgive yourself.

Next, you need to forgive yourself. At one point, you’re going to start questioning your worth. Perhaps you already have.

You’ve already questioned why you weren’t enough. You’re going to blame yourself for not being good enough. And you’re going to be extra hard on yourself more than ever.

These irrational feelings are completely normal and a part of the healing process. But don’t get stuck on them. It’s normal that your first instinct is to blame yourself.

You did not ask for this. And you couldn’t have prevented it. No amount of questioning will change what had already happened.

And yes, a relationship is a two-way street. And these problems didn’t just arise without any blame on your part. But you need to remember one important thing: the actions of your partner does not necessarily reflect on you.

You need to be kind to yourself. And you need to remember that you will always deserve to be treated kindly and with respect despite your imperfections.

Whatever it is that they have done to break your trust, it was ultimately their choice. And you need to let go of this guilt if you want to rebuild trust in your relationship again.

4. Work on it.

According to relationship expert and bestselling author, Dr. Margaret Paul,

“Broken trust can definitely be healed, but it takes deep work. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can repair broken trust with a quick statement of forgiveness and a warm embrace. The underlying causes for betrayal need to be identified, examined and worked on in order for betrayal not to resurface again.”

The next step is to communicate and try to figure out the root of the betrayal. Why did betrayal happen in the first place? Perhaps there are things that have happened in the relationship that has led to that moment.

Talk through every detail of what happened. Be open and honest about everything. When you leave things out, you create a space for doubt and insecurities to fester.

It won’t be easy to go through this process and it will require doing things that both of you are not completely comfortable doing. But you need to trust it is absolutely crucial to be honest, to listen, and to empathize.

Hash out these deep questions and underlying issues with your partner and dive deeper into the root of it. Only then can you truly start over and move forward.

5. Work on yourselves as well.

Dr. Paul also suggests that both partners will have to focus on a self-healing journey by themselves before they can start forgiving each other.

“Both partners need to learn to love (and trust) themselves enough to be able to approach the relationship from individual places of self-respect and personal integrity. When you make a commitment to treat yourself with love and compassion and authentically trust your needs, you will not harm yourself or your partner by lying or cheating. You will listen properly to yourself so that you can welcome honest communication into the relationship with open arms.”

it all comes down to being healthy as an individual before you can be healthy as a couple. Both of you first need to work on loving and trusting yourselves, figuring out what your needs are, and what actions you both need to do from this point forward.

6. Forgive each other.

Once you have communicated and gone through the process of really sitting down with your feelings, you can start the process of forgiving each other.

Forgiveness is a choice, but it is a choice that needs to come from an authentic place. You can’t pretend to forgive one another, you need to absolutely come to terms with it.

Make a conscious decision to choose to forgive one another. Admit that there is room for self-improvement. Try to establish better communication, share your thoughts, and learn to truly listen to what is being said. And most importantly, be aware of what you really feel and what you truly need for this to work.

At the end of the day, you have to want to rebuild trust. Let go of the past. Whatever resentments you may have must be dealt with.

From now on, you need to treat your relationship as if you are starting anew.

You need to learn to trust each other again. And no matter what you do, do not withhold trust from your partner out of anger or fear.

Do whatever it takes to move forward in as healthy a way as possible.

Now that you’ve read about rebuilding trust in your relationship, check out our recent article on long distance relationships and how to make them work.

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