Trust is one of the most important parts of any relationship.
In almost every relationship that we value, trust is required to build connection, secure support and create space so we can depend on one another. Trust is a foundational component of our relationships — we often need it for our relationships to thrive and for deep connection to occur.
Trust often takes time to build. Over the course of our relationships and friendships, experiences, moments and events take place that help strengthen the bond you have with your loved one.
So when trust is broken in a relationship, sometimes it feels like our world has been turned upside down. Feelings like anger, disappointment, frustration and betrayal come up strongly and we question whether we can ever trust this person again.
Rebuilding trust in a relationship is no easy feat — but it is possible. To rebuild trust in a relationship, there are 4 important factors to consider when you want to move forward:
Both of you must have some level of faith and/or commitment to try to repair the relationship.
This is the starting place — the first step to repairing trust is both parties must have some sort of buy-in to move forward.
If one person does not have the desire, interest, faith and/or hope that trust can be repaired, there is a low chance that the relationship can heal and continue.
It is valid for the person that has been wronged to feel hurt, angry and ambivalent to moving forward, and that’s okay. The person that has been wronged can also not be in a place to forgive. But if in these difficult feelings, the person that has been wronged does not want to repair the relationship, it may be best to pause or terminate moving forward with repairing.
Similarly, if the person who broke the trust is also not willing to put energy into repairing the relationship, change cannot occur. You cannot force someone to repair a relationship. This process must be voluntary and mutual.
The person who broke the trust must be accountable for their behavior.
When beginning the delicate process of rebuilding trust, the person who broke the trust must be ready and willing to be accountable for the decision(s) they made.
Accountability is a core aspect of this work to repair. The person who broke the trust must acknowledge and accept that there is a problem that they caused. In being accountable, the person that has been wronged can be validated for the strong emotions they are feeling, and not left to feel confused or gaslighted.
Accountability also involves the person who broke the trust to accept that their actions, choices, and/or behaviors have hurt the person who was wronged. Depending on the relationship history, sometimes blame and excuses for the wronged behavior come up to “explain away” the wrong-doing. It is important that regardless of the causes of the wrong-doing, the person who broke trust must still admit their participation in it.
At the same time, the person who broke the trust can also learn self-forgiveness if they are not in denial and they are not ignoring or minimizing what they did to break this trust.
Accountability involves clearly accepting that trust was broken and accountability is beneficial to both people, as they will be on the same page with how to move forward together.
The person who broke the trust must consistently work towards no longer breaking trust.
After accountability from the person who broke the trust has been established, this person must work towards rebuilding trust through consistent, patterned, and honest behavior.
Part of what is so delicate about rebuilding trust is that the person who was wronged may feel the mistrust may happen again. This feeling can be strong, depending on what was the wrong-doing was, but it is often very fragile and requires consistent reassurance and patterns of trustworthy behavior to build this trust again.
The person who broke the trust must be willing to:
- Engage in open and clear communication
- Be willing to share and actively put effort into caring for this fragile piece.
During this part of the repairing process, it will be important for the person who was wronged to explore what it means to forgive their loved one. While feelings of hurt are understandably present, engaging in behaviors such as passive aggressiveness, distancing, acting on feelings of resentment and ignoring their loved ones’ efforts to rebuild trust conflicts with the agreement to try to repair the relationship.
It is significant to recognize if the person who was wronged wants revenge or wants the person who broke the trust to hurt as much them. These feelings again, can come up while you both are trying to repair the relationship. But acting on these feelings often do not positively contribute to the relationship getting better — instead acting on feelings of resentment can make the relationship worse.
With accountability and consistency, over time the relationship can be repaired.
Over time, the person who was wronged and the person who broke the trust may be able to come to a place of forgiveness, peace and reconnection.
What’s important to remember is that each relationship and situation is different, and there is no guarantee that accountability, consistency and time will result in the relationship being repaired. Sometimes what is best is for both people is to separate and move forward without one another. Allow time, with the combination of accountability and consistency, to help determine what is best for you and your loved one.
If you are the person who broke the trust, commit to repairing it through your actions.
If you are the person who was wronged, decide what feels best for you and consider if you will be able to trust your loved one again.
Repairing trust in a relationship is certainly not easy. Do what feels right for you and your relationship.
How do you rebuild trust in your relationships?