Rebuilding trust in a relationship is one of the most difficult and time consuming tasks. Yet, it’s a problem every couple has to learn to deal with sooner or later.
There are many ways in which trust can be broken.
Some are small and seemingly harmless, like e.g. forgetting about your partner’s birthday or anniversary. Others are much more serious, here I’m talking about things like lying or cheating.
In the course of my 10 year relationship with my husband, Gabriel, there were countless times when we’ve broken each other’s trust in both small, as well as big ways…
Even though neither of us ever cheated on the other, we’ve done other things that undermined our relationship and put everything into question.
That’s why, regardless of how serious of a problem you’re currently dealing with, I want to first reassure you that you can rebuild trust in your relationship!
It will take work and time to get there, but it is possible to undo do the damage and repair what’s been broken.
Before I get to how to do it exactly, I’m going to first outline the role trust plays in a relationship, why it’s so important and also why it’s so difficult to win it back.
Can a Relationship Work if There Is No Trust?
A relationship cannot work when there is no trust between partners, at least not in the long term.
Being able to trust your significant other is one of the most fundamental emotional needs everybody has.
It’s the very thing that gives us a feeling of safety and security, that we’re not alone and that there is somebody we can rely on.
Having this kind stability is one of the biggest perks of being in a long term relationship: it’s one of the main reasons why people choose to build their lives together with another person.
Without trust in a relationship, there is simply no room for any of these positive feelings. When you don’t trust your significant other you can’t rely on them for anything either.
It’s as though as you’re two strangers, exchanging favors while wearily awaiting being betrayed again.
No couple can function under those kinds of circumstances.
Lack of emotional security and stability makes it impossible for two people to really connect, open up and grow closer to each other.
Relationships simply stop working when there is no trust in them or when trust gets broken.
That’s why it’s so important to rebuild broken trust in a relationship as soon as possible.
What Causes Lack of Trust in a Relationship?
Sadly, there are a couple of things that cause lack of trust in a relationship. Some of them have to do with both yours and your significant other’s personal history, while others are directly related to the things you did or didn’t do in relation to each other. These are the four big culprits that cause lack of trust in a relationship:
You Haven’t Had to the Chance to Build Trust Yet
It takes time for two people to open up and gain each other’s trust in a new relationship. If you haven’t been dating for a very long time, chances are you don’t know each other that well yet. It’s hard to trust somebody you barely know.
People often expect that when they care about you, it automatically means that you trust them.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Which brings me to my next point…
Misconceptions About How Trust Works Can Cause Lack of Trust in Relationships
A lot of people live with major misconceptions about how trust works in general.
There is this very common theme that repeats in many action movies in particular: when the main character is about to make someone do something seemingly crazy and reckless (like jumping off a cliff), they say to them “Just trust me!”.
People treat trust as though it was a CHOICE. As though you could just make up your mind and suddenly start trusting somebody.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that…
Trust is not a choice, it’s a FEELING.
It’s something you either feel, or you don’t. You can’t make yourself trust somebody and you can’t make somebody trust you.
Moreover, treating trust as though it was a choice can actually prevent you from ever building actual trust with your partner.
Trust Issues Due to Bad Experiences From the Past Can Cause Distrust in a Relationship
Life is messy. Nobody gets through it unscathed.
All the bad things that happen to us leave a mark and curb our ability to trust people.
Maybe you or your partner had a tough childhood or have been lied to or cheated on before.
Trust issues resulting from bad past experiences are a common cause for lack of trust in relationships.
Someone who has been hurt in the past might be EXTRA DISTRUSTFUL towards their present partner.
That’s why people with trust issues often need their significant other to make an EXTRA effort to gain their trust.
Trust Being Broken Causes Lack of Trust in Relationships
Finally, we’re going to get to the most severe but also extremely common cause for lack of trust in a relationship: when the trust gets broken.
When thinking of breach of trust in a romantic context most of us jump straight into things like lying, hiding things or cheating. These are the biggest and most serious examples of how partners can break each other’s trust.
However, there are also countless other, seemingly harmless ways in which we can hurt or disappoint our significant other. People often unknowingly make little mistakes that cause your partner to stop trusting you.
Even simple things like turning up late, forgetting about something that’s important to your significant other or going back on a promise, will gradually eat away at the sense of stability and security in your relationship.
These small trust breaches are something people tend to overlook but they really do add up!
That’s why, when working on rebuilding trust in a relationship, it’s important that you address both the BIG issues, as well as the SMALL ones.
I’ll get even more into detail on how this works in my next point…
How Do You Gain Trust Back in a Relationship?
Now that we’ve covered why trust matters so much in a relationship and what can diminish or destroy it, we can finally get to the main topic of this post: rebuilding trust.
When it comes to rebuilding trust in a relationship the most fundamental thing to keep in mind is that trust is not a choice, it’s a feeling.
You can’t CONVINCE your partner to trust you again.
But there are a lot of other things you can do to bring back their sense of stability, safety and comfort in the relationship.
1. Make an Effort to Really Understand What Your Partner Is Upset About to Start Regaining Their Trust
Once you realize that something you’ve done really upset your partner, everybody’s first reaction is to start off by quickly saying ‘I’m sorry’.
Unfortunately, too quick of an apology often means very little and doesn’t really help with rebuilding trust.
To make matters worse, your partner might even perceive your apology as you being defensive and get even more riled up and upset because of it.
In order to avoid that, and in order to make your effort count for something, you have to first figure out what it is that you’re apologizing for exactly.
Most people aren’t cruel, they don’t hurt their’s significant other’s feelings on purpose. They do it because they don’t understand the emotional consequences of their actions.
That’s why rebuilding trust in a relationship needs to start with you making an effort to really get your partner’s side of things and understanding their pain.
You might need to work on improving communication in your relationship, to get this one right.
2. Openly Admit and Apologize for Breaking Their Trust
Once you feel like you truly get what your partner is upset about, the next step to regain their trust is to acknowledge their pain and to apologize for it.
Truly acknowledging that you did something wrong can be very hard. It’s something I used to struggle with a lot.
We all tend to get judged pretty harshly for making mistakes. This can make admitting fault extra difficult.
Unfortunately, fully admitting guilt and apologizing for your breach of trust is absolutely necessary for you to be able to gain it back.
3. Let Them Experience the Change in You
This is a very important next step that people often overlook. Once you really get what your partner was upset about and then you apologize for it, you likely expect that this should be enough for them to finally be able to forgive you and move on right?
Well, it’s not that simple.
They say actions speak louder than words. This is particularly true when it comes to rebuilding trust in a relationship!
Regaining someone’s trust is not about saying the right words, it’s about showing them that they can really trust you with your actions.
Whatever it was that broke trust in your relationship, you have to help your partner SEE that it’s not going to happen again. You have to SHOW them that you mean what you say and that you are going to change your behavior.
4. Don’t Break Their Trust Again
This is the last and most important step in rebuilding trust with your partner.
Multiple breaches of trust are not uncommon in relationships…
However, every next incident will make it harder and harder for your partner to ever trust you again.
That’s why, in order to truly and permanently regain your significant other’s trust you have to make sure that whatever you did that broke it, never happens again.
How Long Does It Take to Rebuild Trust in a Relationship?
As you can see, rebuilding trust in a relationship is not an easy process. It’s not something that can happen from one day onto the next.
Since you can’t convince your partner to simply start trusting you again, what you need to do instead is to gradually win them over with your actions.
You need to show them that you really understand what about your behavior hurt them and that it’s not going to happen again.
This will require you to do things for them, to prove yourself to them and also to be ready to listen to them bringing up the past incident over and over again.
It will take time to do this.
Rebuilding trust in a relationship can be a bit of a tedious process. Generally speaking, the bigger the breach of trust, the longer it’s going to take to mend the damage.
Small things like forgetting someone’s birthday or arriving late can be fixed in days, maybe weeks.
But bigger issues like lying about finances, hiding things or cheating will most likely take months or even years for both of you to be able to fully move on.
Don’t let this make you feel hopeless about the state of your relationship.
Firstly, you don’t need to fully regain each other’s trust to be able to be happy together.
Every little effort counts and contributes significantly towards making things better.
There are things that happened in the first year of my relationship with Gabriel that we still bring up every now and then and we’re now in our 9th year together…
Even though these issues are still causing some mistrust between us, that doesn’t stop us from feeling close and letting our relationship grow.
When it comes to rebuilding trust in a relationship, things don’t need to be perfect. Every little improvement counts and MASSIVELY contributes to making things better!
Why Is Rebuilding Trust So Hard?
Now that you know what it actually takes to rebuild trust, you are likely wondering:
‘Why is this so difficult? What makes rebuilding trust in a relationship so freaking hard?’
Unfortunately, it is always easier to destroy things than to rebuild them.
Accidentally dropping your phone and shattering the glass happens in a split second, but if you want to fix it, it’s going to require time, effort and money.
The same goes for trust.
A brief moment is enough to break it. But regaining it afterwards will require much more time and effort.
The main reason rebuilding trust in a relationship is so hard is that it’s vulnerable to trust someone.
It requires you to open yourself up to potentially getting hurt. It means lowering your emotional defences.
When your trust is broken, the first normal reaction is to shut down, put your walls back up and vow never to lower them again!
You breaking your partner’s trust not only hurts them, but also diminishes their ability to trust in general.
Everybody’s had their trust broken at some point in their lives.
That’s why you probably know yourself how hard it is to be vulnerable again after a breach of trust. It’s like risking the same horrible experience happening again.
Rebuilding trust in a relationship is a big endeavor. It’s not a one time effort but more of a transformation in a relationship.
And a lot of things can add up to making that happen.
If you’re interested in finding out how Gabriel and I turned our relationship around, you can read our story here.
And in case you’re feeling like you could do with a little extra help, you can check out our online course: Rebuild Your Relationship. In here we teach you exactly what it takes to rebuild trust and restore a happy and loving relationship with your man.
We’ll give you the steps you need to take to rebuild trust with your partner, regardless of what broke it in the first place.
This new approach will not only help you rebuild trust with him faster, it will go far beyond that by creating a deeper bond and more fulfilling connection in your relationship.
Also, if you have any questions or would like to share your story, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!
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