Trust is an integral part of all relationships. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, social relationship, or even just a work relationship - it’ll fall apart in the absence of trust. So it’s not surprising that broken trust is one of the main reasons for breaking up.
My clients come to with questions from both sides of the coin -
The biggest obstacle with trusting someone again is that it seems counterproductive to your subconscious. They hurt you already, so why let them in again. And it can sometimes affect your other relationships too, making you less likely to open up to others.
The path to trusting someone again can often be a long one, and there are no shortcuts. In fact, trying to rush things may just have a negative effect on you. But to start this journey, you have to ask yourself three questions. And you’ll only see any progress once you’re able to answer “yes” to all three. Especially if they did something you’re finding really hard to forgive.
The first and most obvious question. If you’re on the fence about it, if you’re unsure whether you want to work on trusting them again, that’s what needs to be addressed first. Until you’re sure that you want to commit to rebuilding the trust - that you truly want to trust them again - you will not be able to make progress.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that the pain and hurt are natural, and a result of how much you’ve loved and cared for this person. You opened up a vulnerable part of yourself and chose to trust this person. When they did something to break your trust - that’s supposed to hurt.
And even though it's not okay that they did that to you, it is okay that you feel the way that you do.
Relationships are messy, they require a lot more than just love to survive. No relationships are without hurt, whether it be from the broken trust or something else, and if your partner is trying to fix things, you have to reflect and ask yourselves, “Is the love I have for this person more than the pain they caused me?”
If the answer isn’t yes, then it’s probably not worth it to try and fix things, let alone rebuild trust.
This is the most important question that you need to ask yourself. And if the answer is no, this is why you're struggling with trust.
It has more to do with you than your partner/ex. Deep down we know that we can’t control other people. We can really only control ourselves. So if you don’t feel safe or confident that you’ll be able to survive your worst-case scenario again, you won’t be able to proceed.
And this can sometimes take some time and work. You have to ultimately get to a point where you truly believe that if this were to happen again, you’d be okay. You don’t have to feel great, it can suck. But you have to believe that you’ll be able to survive it. Because if you don’t believe you will come up on the other end, you’re never going to walk through the door in the first place.
So, as a recap,
If you answered yes to all those questions, then "yes", you can learn how to let yourself trust your partner again.
After reading all that, if you’re the one who broke the trust, you might feel like things are completely out of your hands. Your ex/partner indeed has to decide to trust you again and consciously work on it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them.
Trust is an extremely personal matter. It has more to do with your own confidence than the other person. You have to feel like you have the ability to survive your worst-case scenario. And when you break someone’s trust, you show them that their worst-case scenario isn’t just a figment of their imagination, but a reality. You can’t really undo what you did, and unfortunately, some broken things just can’t be fixed.
So what you're really looking for here are forgiveness and grace. What you really want from your partner is a second chance. An opportunity to show them that you're improving. An opportunity to prove that the love you have for one another can outweigh the pain. Let me walk you through how to best do this
Do Not Justify your actions. As logical or smart as it may seem that if you can just explain to your partner/ex why you did what you did, they will be able to forgive you, that’s not what you want to do. The reasons for your actions don’t suddenly remove the pain and hurt your actions have caused. And in doing so, it can come across as you trying to justify their pain.
Except that we don't get to decide how other people feel about what we do. So do not try to justify your actions. Instead, what you must do is take accountability for them.
Most importantly, do not display any expectations. We can't tell others how to feel. You can't have any expectations about how long you need to exist in this space of thin ice and trying to do better. If you love this person, then this is going to take some work. And earning their trust and proving to them that you can be better will take time.
So be patient. And the image that you have in your head about how things are supposed to turn out - just go ahead and toss that.
This is very important. Be honest and realistic about what you can and cannot do. Only promise what you can actually deliver on. If you make any claim or promise that you can’t actually keep, it’ll just come back to bite you harder.
Secondly, when you’ve broken someone’s trust, they have no incentive to take your word for anything. At some point, you will probably say something like, “Honey, I promise that I won’t ever do this thing again,” but let’s be honest - your partner/ex has no reason to believe you. They know that you’re capable of doing “this thing” again because you already did it once. And every time you say something like this, their brain just reminds them that you could do “this thing” again.
Instead, you’re better off saying something that their brain, especially the skeptical part, can accept. Like: “I did that thing. I screwed up and I wish that I could take it back, but I can’t. What I can do and what I’m doing is trying to be better. And I’m hoping that you give me the opportunity to show you that I can be better.”
Again, remember what we’re really looking for here - forgiveness and grace. And it means that while you can’t undo what you did, you do still want a second chance, because you think that your relationship is worth it.
Do take accountability for your actions
Do be patient
Do be realistic about what you can and cannot do
Do not justify your actions
Do not show expectations
Do not make promises you cannot keep
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