Few things are as devastating as finding out your partner has betrayed you. Whether it’s broken confidence, a massive debt run up without your knowledge or an affair, it can seem impossible to come back from a breach of trust.
It is possible and necessary to heal from past betrayals so that you can trust again. Necessary because without trust human relationships are superficial and worthless. And you deserve better than that.
So here are eight steps to rebuilding trust in intimate relationships.
1. The first thing to do is to allow yourself time and space to recover. After the initial shock passes, then is the time to reflect and work out your next steps, but the first phase is letting the shock waves settle and being kind to yourself while that happens.
2. Then you need to forgive yourself – yes, yourself because inevitably you will find yourself thinking or saying ‘how could this have happened to me? What did I do to make this happen?’ And the answer is most likely nothing.
3. Talk. A breach of trust doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship, but a future good relationship depends on honest, open communication starting now. Depending on the level of betrayal, it might be easier to do this with a third person or mediator, like a relationship counselor who can keep the discussion focused and safe.
4. Both partners need to acknowledge the hurt done and allow forgiveness. Acknowledge the fear, anger, and vulnerability and allow your partner to express their feelings. Try not to be defensive or blaming.
5. Work out what you both want from the relationship and how you might work together to achieve this. Be clear and open and agree that absolute honesty is crucial if the relationship is to be salvaged and to grow.
6. Prioritize your relationship – make time and space for your partner and don’t expect things to be rosy straightaway. A relationship that is rebuilding is vulnerable and needs gentle handling. Remember what you love about each other and nurture that.
7. Be kind to yourselves and each other. Both the relationship and you are healing – gentleness should be your watchword. Hugs, handholding, quiet conversations and eye contact will be physical reminders of your connection.
8. Commit to trust and honesty in your future relationships. Often people say the lying and deceit are worse than the betrayal itself.
Trust is vital for any relationship. But, if breached, the trust can be rebuilt with a deep commitment, kindness, and honesty.