Hello, my loves. Today we’re gonna be talking about a topic that a lot of you have reached out to me to talk about, but I’ve never actually dedicated a full post to this. This is all about repairing trust in a relationship.
I know this is a tricky situation; it’s a tricky thing to talk about, and a tricky thing to navigate. Before we start, just know that there is no one size fits all. Every relationship is different. Some relationships don’t end up working out after a betrayal of trust. Other times you can start repairing trust and get back on track, and it’s an even better relationship than it was before. Other times, people say that they’re going to work through it, but then hold a lot of resentment towards each other throughout the relationship. That is no fucking way to live; either shit or get off the pot, you know what I mean? If you’re not going to work on repairing trust, then you’re just holding on to that person to torture them.
In what ways can trust actually be broken in a relationship? Obviously, the first thing that comes to my mind is infidelity, right? This can be a sexual affair or a non-sexual affair, like emotional cheating.
By the way, you guys need to be talking about what cheating is in your relationship. So to you, him watching porn could be cheating. To me, that’s not cheating. In my relationship, I don’t care if my partner watches porn. For me, if my partner wants to go to a strip club, that’s not cheating; for a lot of women, it is. For me, if my partner had sex with someone, that is cheating. For other people who are in an open relationship, that’s not cheating. So it’s different for every relationship, and you need to figure that out. Make sure you do not assume you’re both on the same page, all right? Just because you understand what cheating is for you doesn’t mean that they are on the same page.
So infidelity is obviously a huge breach in trust. How else could we break trust? Not following through with what you say you’re gonna do, like breaking promises. Not taking responsibility for your behavior. Being criticized by your partner or speaking harshly about your partner behind their back. Addictive behaviors is a big one, right? If there’s drug or alcohol dependency or a porn addiction or gambling or like anything like that, any sort of addictive behavior is likely going to break trust.
So there’s a whole bunch of reasons why trust would be broken in the first place. And if what happened for you wasn’t on my list, that’s okay. Just because it wasn’t on my list doesn’t mean that your betrayal of trust was not valid. It’s valid because it’s valid to you.
I just wanna say that when you’re trying to start repairing trust, you both need to be committed to repairing. There’s a quote from Esther Perl that I love; I’ve shared it on the podcast before. I don’t know the exact words, but essentially she says, “Trust in a relationship is not the idea that we will never hurt each other. Trust is the idea that we will hurt each other, and we will both make an effort to repair.” So you need to be willing to take responsibility for your actions if you’re planning to start repairing trust. If you have broken someone’s trust, the way to start repairing trust is not by gaslighting them and telling them they’re being dramatic. We’ll talk more about taking responsibility a bit later, but just know that’s the bare minimum in my mind.
So when we’re rebuilding, the person who has been hurt needs to figure out whether or not they even wanna rebuild trust, or if they wanna even go ahead with the relationship, because the answer might be no. And if you’re the person who did the injuring, you need to respect that.
Next, you need to make a conscious decision to forgive. When people are working on repairing trust, what I see a lot of the time is that there is actually no willingness to truly forgive. So they may say, “I’m sorry,” and then you go, “Okay, I know, now we’re moving forward.” And then as soon as you’re in an argument and that person pisses you off, you say, “Yeah, well, you cheated!” or whatever the thing is. You use it as your trump card, and you’re holding it against them. Now anytime they say something, you pull this out of your back pocket. That’s not forgiving. That’s not repairing trust. And if that’s the game you wanna play, please leave your relationship. Do both of you the favor. It helps no one.
The only way that you’re going to rebuild is if you actually work through all your anger, resentment, hurt, pain, grief, all of the things…and tell the fucking truth. You have to get really honest with each other. And actually, before you get honest with each other, get honest with yourself.
If you are not being honest with yourself, you can’t move forward. You can’t, because you’re trying to pretend like it didn’t hurt you as badly as it did. You need to feel safe to be able to say, “This really deeply hurt me,” without attacking this person.
Most of the time, we hurt each other unconsciously—not with cheating and stuff, but saying something that’s unkind or violating a boundary or something…most of the time it’s unconscious, and we actually don’t mean to hurt each other. And in that, we need to have a level of understanding and compassion and empathy.
We also need to take responsibility for our actions. If you have done something to hurt someone, you need to take responsibility for that and be willing to listen to the person who has been betrayed.
Or, maybe you’re the person who’s been injured. If your partner is lying about it and they’re not taking responsibility, I would be very wary about moving forward in a relationship with this person.
Lastly, you need to be able to accept your partner’s attempts to repair with you.
If they have broken your trust and they are trying, and I mean actively trying to repair with you, you need to be willing to accept that. You need to ask yourself, “Am I actually refusing my partner’s attempts to repair with me? Am I actually just wanting to get revenge?” Because that’s not gonna go anywhere. If you’ve agreed to work things out, allow them to work it out. If you’re going to keep rejecting their attempts, don’t even bother saying yes to reparations.
I also actually advise that if there has been a serious breach of trust, you should seek support from a couple’s therapist or a couple’s coach or mentor so that you can both sit down together on neutral ground, because it’s very easy to get into these spaces where you’re throwing insults instead of actually talking things out. Having a space where you can sit with a couple’s therapist and actually get into the nitty-gritty of it can be really helpful so that you actually have a space to be held in the emotions that may unexpectedly arise. Having someone who helps you get to the core of what’s actually happening is really important.
I cannot tell you whether or not you should try to start repairing trust after a betrayal. I get messages all the time from people saying, “My boyfriend did this. Should I give him another chance?” I don’t fucking know. I’m not in your relationship. I cannot tell you whether you should try and start repairing trust or whether or not it’s worth it. What I can tell you is that you need to work on trusting yourself, because if you are reaching out to a stranger or a coach to tell you what to do in your relationship, there’s a bigger problem. In that case, the person that you need to be repairing trust with is yourself.
Be sure to connect with me over on Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were. Or head over to my website to learn more about how we can work through your relationship journey together.
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See you back here in the next one!
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”