Have you been betrayed by someone close to you? Whether it’s a partner, close friend, or relative, deceit can have a damaging impact on any relationship. It’s not always easy to rebuild trust — but with the right input, it’s possible to overcome and establish a happier, more honest relationship.
“One of the first steps to rebuilding trust is to review what’s gone wrong and why,” says Hayley Bystram, matchmaker and founder of Bowes-Lyon Partnership. Was the person who has lost your trust aware that this would be the consequence of their actions? If not, then both parties need to be explicit about their expectations and lay down some ground rules going forward. Sometimes we realize it was just a simple misunderstanding — or that simply we’re not compatible.
2. Get a Perspective
“It’s important to understand what the guilty party was thinking,” says Bystram. Were they acting selfishly, or were they — as might be the case with infidelity — feeling unappreciated or ignored? By understanding what went awry in the first place, we can prevent it from happening again. We might not like what we hear, but if we can face the truth we can learn and start to move on from the wrongdoing.
3. Give It Time
“Time is a great healer,” says Bystram. Emotions will be high and will take time to process. Trust has to be rebuilt and earned, and this cannot be rushed. For success, both parties must commit to the process and figure out how it will work best.
4. Be Honest
“Honesty goes a long way when you are wanting to rebuild a relationship,” says Bystram. Using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ statements can help reduce the emotional charge and feelings of blame.
“You may both decide upon a zero-tolerance policy on all lying,” says Bystram. This means both people must be honest about even those small day-to-day things. If we can’t trust our friend or partner to tell the truth about something trivial, how can we trust them on more serious issues? This must be met with appreciation and understanding to really work. If it’s met with anger, blame, or criticism then we’re teaching the other person that it’s safer and easier to lie.
Start by forgiving yourself. When trying to understand a situation, we have a tendency to blame ourselves. “If I was a better person in some way, maybe this wouldn’t have happened to me. If I was less gullible, I would have seen this coming.” It’s important to know that the behavior of the other person was their choice and reflects who they are, not who you are. We often find it hard to forgive because we don’t want to let the other person off the hook for their bad behavior.
Try to remember that forgiveness isn’t about the other person, but about your emotional freedom. Learning to forgive and make peace with past events can happen more easily when you take your focus off of the specific thing that occurred and instead try to see the perspective of the other person. If you find yourself getting angry, pull back and remember the good qualities you know the other person has.
6. Write It Down
Often when we’ve had trust broken, it’s normal to experience a mix of different emotions. You can’t forgive if you shut down your feelings of pain, anger, or sadness. “Writing down how we feel can really help to recognize our anguish and come to terms with it,” says Jennifer Boon, life coach and author of Survive & Thrive: Dating and Being Single ($9, Amazon).
Trust issues got you feeling down? Check out this video of heartwarming family quotes.
4 Signs a Relationship Can’t Be Rebuilt
1. There's a lack of confidence and self-esteem. Is your confidence and self-esteem lower when you spend time with this person? Do you find you feel worse, not better when you are with them? “Sometimes relationships can go toxic and will never bring us long-term happiness or growth,” says Boon.
2. They give you bad vibes. Do you find your energy gets lowered and you feel sapped when you’re around this person? If you do, this can be a sign it’s time to close the door on the relationship. Our bodies are very clever at giving us signs that all is not well. “If we feel drained around a certain someone or have a feeling of dread when we think about them, it may be time to cut ties,” says Boon.
3. Overwhelming feelings of hurt. “Sometimes the hurt can feel too much,” says Boon. Recognizing when to call an end to any relationship is hard, and there can be a mixture of varying emotions. Ask yourself whether you can see this person in your future? Consider if they’ll be a positive influence in your life. If the answer is no, then it may be time to call it a day.
4. You have an inability to let go of the past. When a betrayed party can’t let it go, they tend to continually punish their partner and bring the betrayal up in all arguments. “Like all blame and criticism, this will inevitably lead to bitterness and resentment,” says Bystram. Equally, if one or both parties continues to lie and break the ground rules, this will also destroy any chances of any trust regenerating.
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