11 Steps To Rebuilding Trust In A Relationship

by April Maccario

Did you know that the majority of broken relationships come to an end, for one reason or another, due to trust issues

A lot has been said about the importance of trust in a partnership that it seems there is nothing left to say. As cliché as it may sound, it is indeed the foundation upon which happy and long-lasting relationships are built. 

If love is what draws two people together, trust is the anchor that keeps the bond between them intact. Your connection with your significant other can only stay strong for so long in the absence of this special five-letter-word. 

Is this to say that couples who manage to stay together for years have never in any way broken each other’s trust? Does everything you work for in a relationship simply go down the drain once confidence is compromised? Not necessarily.

However, hard as it is to build, once trust is lost, reestablishing it between couples is even more of a challenge. It requires effort, dedication, and willingness from both parties, and even then, nothing is guaranteed. If you are willing to attempt it anyway, here are some tips to rebuilding trust in a relationship. 

11 Ways To Rebuild Trust And Make A Broken Relationship Work

1. Reflect on why you did it

If you cheated, think about why you did it. Did it happen because your partner wasn’t meeting your needs? Or do your needs run deeper than what only they could satisfy? Did it happen because of some deep-seated need to feel wanted by others, or was it just a lapse in judgment?

Similarly, if your relationship’s lack of trust stemmed from incessant lies or not being there for your partner enough, the same rule applies. Think hard and deep about what led to that, how it began, how long it went on, and what it did for you.

In doing this, you give yourself the chance to present the full picture when the time comes. Knowing the whole story helps you understand if you can genuinely do without those things and, in turn, how you need to approach the situation. 

If it comes from a psychological void that remains unfilled, you need to fix that first before trying to rebuild trust or, at the very least, let your partner know that you need help. Otherwise, you are only setting your relationship up for the inevitable collapse that would come from repeating past mistakes. 

2. Mea culpa

If you are really serious about rebuilding trust with your partner, you need to adopt this Latin phrase as your next step. Mea culpa means through my fault; it is a penitential act, an admission of guilt, a philosophy that says you have fallen short of their expectations, but are ready to find your way back if they let you.

As long as you’re the one who broke the trust, you have forfeited the right to defend your choice. Acknowledge your fault without any hint of defensiveness, this is not the time to capitalize on what your partner did to contribute to you betraying his trust.

It’s also not the time to make your partner feel stupid for trusting you. It is the time to take full responsibility for your part in what happened, present what you are doing to make sure it never happens again, and then move on to the next step.

3. Sincerely ask to be forgiven

Sincerely ask to be forgiven

There are cases in which apology is implied, and there are other times to find more than one way to say sorry to your partner. When you are trying to rebuild trust, the latter becomes necessary. Apologize sincerely, mean it and follow-through, the best apology, after all, is changed behavior. 

If it helps, you can take some personal time to articulate your thoughts before approaching your partner. Notwithstanding, try not to focus on being convincing or saying the words you think your partner wants to hear. Instead, focus on meaning what you say. 

What differentiates this apology from the ones you’ve broken before should be your reflection and admission of guilt. Besides the fact that a fake apology is no foundation for rebuilding trust, it isn’t fair to your partner to just say sorry for the sake of it. 

If you intend to repeat the mistake, there is no need to think about how to rebuild trust. 

4. Forgive yourself

Forgiving yourself after breaking your partner’s trust is a road often less traveled when trying to make up for your actions. Most people focus on trying to earn the other person’s pardon so much that they completely overlook the need to forgive themselves as well. You messed up, and you shouldn’t have done what you did, agreed, nonetheless, it happened. 

Obsessively holding on to negative thoughts about yourself in the form of self-loathing or wallowing in guilt doesn’t serve you or your partner. It is hard not to self-flagellate after hurting someone you love, but I’m asking that you not let it take over your whole being. 

Being humble enough to ask your loved one for forgiveness is not an easy task. It is even more challenging to get past the pain you caused in your own heart. This is not to absolve yourself from taking responsibility for your actions, in fact, quite the opposite. 

Self-forgiveness helps you acknowledge and face your failures with the right state of mind. It means loving yourself enough to come face-to-face with your shame and understanding you’re not beyond redemption.

5. Adopt the best policy

If your relationship is going to stand a chance to recover from broken trust, you must learn to be completely honest about everything. Table the whole issue, so no surprises come back to bite you in the ass in the future. You get more points for coming clean before the secret is out in the open, but there is also a chance, albeit slim, to redeem yourself after the act.

Start by telling the truth when your significant other confronts you. There is no gain in trying to lie your way out of it when they may already have the facts. However, it is essential to apply wisdom when giving him the details of what happened, especially if infidelity is what broke the trust in the first place. 

The goal is to convince the betrayed party of your willingness to cooperate going forward, not to engrave a lasting image of your sexual encounter in their mind. 

6. Up your communication game

Trust, when broken, requires an improved level of communication to rebuild. It is not enough to simply offer to answer their questions honestly, you have to proactively volunteer information as well. And not in a blurt-it-out kind of way, but a systematic manner that helps everyone get something out of it.

To achieve this, ask for a good time to talk. As a victim of your betrayal, your partner will have to process what he’s feeling to an extent before he can bear to have any meaningful conversation with you. When it does happen, be transparent through and through, and implore him to do the same.

Discuss the fears and underlying issues to get to the root of the problem. Tell him how you intend to change, and the plans you’ve put in motion to make sure it happens. Knowing the details of the circumstances surrounding the issue helps put things in perspective for your partner. 

For instance, if the relationship issue has to do with money, after thrashing the root cause, give your partner access to your finances. Putting it all out there will gradually help to rebuild trust and help get the issue of his mind.

7. Ask your partner about their needs and meet them

Ask your partner about their needs and meet them

Rebuilding trust in your relationship will require you to let go of egotism to find out what you can do to make things right again between the two of you. It means figuring out what your significant other needs from you, meeting those needs proactively, and being comfortable with putting them before yours sometimes.

You cannot possibly know everything, there will be days where your effort to make things right will do nothing but aggravate your partner. There will also be days when you have no clue about the right thing to do or say. 

This is not a license to disappear or shut yourself off from them. Instead, ask them to be your guide, your partner will have more than one suggestion in mind, trust me. Ask your partner how best these suggestions can help both of you get back to a good place and work the relationship issues out. 

This will not be easy, as their needs may vary anywhere from space for an unspecified amount of time to requiring you to be on your best behavior, meaning, less deceit, and more loyalty. In other words, you make yourself more accountable to them.

8. Listen with empathy and understand your partner’s perspective

Many people opt to get out of the relationship when the trust is broken, not because they don’t want it anymore, but because they are unable to bear the brunt of what they’ve done. When it comes down to it, conversations between couples can be tough to sit through when trust is broken. 

Nevertheless, if rebuilding trust is your goal, you can expect to have plenty of those, planned or not. If you really want to make things work, and hopefully get back to the way things were with your significant other, you have to get comfortable with this.

You have to learn to be empathetic in those moments when their emotions get the best of them. Not to jump to defend your ‘honor’ whenever it is being questioned. It is your responsibility to help your partner find their way back to the person they fell in love with, and that will simply require you to listen and see things their way as much as they do yours. 

9. Remain consistent

Rebuilding trust takes consistency. You did not get to where you are by being the most trustworthy person in the relationship, that does something to the person you are with, and only commitment can fix it.  

Promises aren’t enough, you have to practice what you say for it to count. Consistency says you are willing to back your words up with action. You don’t just promise to do better and go back to your old ways expecting the trust you’re trying to rebuild to remain intact. You have to prepare to take your penance, whatever it is, in stride. 

For instance, it is not enough to show remorse on one night of a heated discussion, genuine remorse has to be expressed often. You don’t just apologize one time and expect things to blow over, it has to happen repeatedly. Maybe not so much that it becomes superficial and irritating, but enough that they know you mean it.

Being consistent means that when you take steps towards self-improvement, you stick with them for you and your partner’s sake as well as that of your relationship.

10. Give it time

Time, they say, heals all wounds. While this saying rings true, it is no guarantee that your relationship will definitely recover with time. What it does mean is that if there is even the slightest chance that you can restore trust in your relationship, it will take time.

Exactly how long it will take depends on a number of factors, including the cause of betrayal and how deep the hurt runs for your partner. First, it depends on their willingness to forgive, as much your own resolve to ask for it. Second, it depends on how far you are willing to go to prove to them that you’ve changed, among others.

Unfortunately, the fact that you’re ready to mend things doesn’t mean the other party is yet. So give them as much time as they need to process. Also, when you start applying these steps, do not expect change to happen overnight, give it time.

11. Reach out for help

Your actions may have started the fire, but it doesn’t have to be solely left to you to put it out. If all else fails, you can reach out to those who know more than you in the field. Couples who have gone through the same thing, someone you know you can confide in, or professionals who have been trained to help people like you navigate this kind of situation. 

Couples counseling is a great place for you and your significant other to learn how to trust again and deal with the underlying cause of the broken trust in your relationship. You can both work through how you got here and the best way to move forward.

If you happen to make it to this stage, I believe it goes without saying that whatever incident(s) led to the breach will not happen again. Therefore, seeking individual therapy if you feel like you may not be able to overcome the root cause in joint counseling will be in your own interest.

FAQs

How do you rebuild trust after lying in a relationship?

The first thing to do is to figure out the reason you lied and try to fix it. Accept your fault without blaming your significant other, or defending your mistakes. Then, sincerely ask for forgiveness, and be more open and honest in your communication going forward. 

How long does it take to rebuild trust in a relationship?

How long it takes to rebuild trust varies according to the dynamics of the relationship in question. It depends on factors such as the personalities of those involved, and the extent of the betrayal. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from several months to even years to fix.    

How do I regain my partner’s trust?

To regain your partner’s trust, you can start by desisting from keeping unnecessary secrets, it’s probably caused the broken trust. It’s best to remain consistent and reliable, that is, if you commit to doing something, see it through. Above all, be patient.

What do lies do to a relationship?

Lies chip away at trust in a relationship slowly but steadily. They lead to unnecessary secrets between couples, which in turn creates a divide. Secrets and lies have the potential to cause mental distress as well as block real intimacy between lovers.

What lack of trust does to a relationship? 

Lack of trust can jeopardize the unique bond couples share. It keeps each partner on edge around the other and removes the sense of safety and security you would typically feel around someone you love. Left to fester, it can bring about other problems that will ultimately destroy the relationship.

In A Nutshell

Rebuilding a relationship after trust has been broken is not impossible. In the end, where there’s a will, there is hope. The approaches above will help you take proactive actions towards getting your beloved to trust you again. Remember, there’s always a chance it might not work, but if it does, your relationship would be better for it. Don’t forget to comment, and please share the article if you found it helpful.

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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