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How to Heal From Broken Trust and Get My Partner to Trust Me Again

Updated on September 18, 2017
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As a nationally certified and licensed professional counselor, Janis helps her clients resolve relationship conflicts and trust issues.

Broken Trust in Relationships Creates Broken Hearts

Couples often face the difficult task of rebuilding trust after betrayal and deception.
Couples often face the difficult task of rebuilding trust after betrayal and deception. | Source

Broken Trust: Your Secret is Out

It's been a week since your secret was revealed. You feel awful, maybe a little depressed, and incredibly guilty. Every morning you wake up hoping it was that bad dream again you've been having for the past few months. But this is real.

Your secret is out and your partner knows. Your greatest fear is that your lapse in judgment will end the best relationship you've ever had. The question you keep asking yourself, over and over is, "Will she ever trust me again?"

The tension between the two of you in the house is thick, mixed with anger, hurt, love, remorse, and uncertainty. Emotional connection and distance occupy the same space, resulting in a tug-of-war between two souls. Even amid the silent treatment, her eyes speak to you saying, "Can we survive this?"

The Shock and Disbelief of Betrayal is Very Painful

Shock, hurt, and sadness are expressed when the secret of betrayal is revealed. The revelation cuts like a knife.
Shock, hurt, and sadness are expressed when the secret of betrayal is revealed. The revelation cuts like a knife. | Source

The Road to Rebuilding Trust is Not an Easy One

This familiar scenario above plays out daily in the lives of couples who are facing the devastation of broken trust in their relationships. Depending upon the strength and foundation of the relationship, many couples do not survive. The betrayal cuts too deep, leaving wounds that can remain raw for years. The betrayed partner often is the one who finds the emotional and psychological injury too painful to overcome.

The impact of broken trust determines whether the relationship can be saved. The severity of the sting felt by the betrayed partner is very individual and will differ for each person depending on the situation. Certain factors make it much harder for the injured party to move forward. These factors typically include:

  • Infidelity involving short-term or long-term emotional and sexual affairs
  • Deceptions involving lies or hidden information
  • Leading double lives involving another relationship or family that pulls time and financial resources from the primary relationship
  • Repeated instances of infidelities, lies, and deceptions, after repeated promises to change and remain faithful

The lack of trust is so familiar to many couples that they have come to accept it as the status quo.

— Dr. Robin L. Smith, "Lies at the Altar"

Traditional Ways to Win Back Trust

How have you tried to make your partner trust you again?

See results

Betrayal of His Partner Makes Him Feel Remorseful

Guilt and remorse are two feelings that need to be expressed in order for healing to begin for the betrayed and the betrayer.
Guilt and remorse are two feelings that need to be expressed in order for healing to begin for the betrayed and the betrayer. | Source

Understanding the Layered Concept of Violation in Relationships

Women will speak of the feeling of "being violated" by a betrayal.To understand the concept of violation, let's return to the scenario of the betrayed woman.

You may wonder why she can't accept your apology and move past your indiscretion. She says to you, "You just don't get it." What you're not getting is your partner's feeling of violation as the betrayal leaves her feeling traumatized to the core of her soul. She believed this to be a "safe place," where the emotional connection between the both of you reside.

Lying and infidelity usually fall within the "no fly-zones" of committed relationships when it comes to what ranks as deal breakers. So when the promise to be honest and faithful is not upheld, the broken trust not only involves damaged verbal promises but a break in a core commitment to each other, on an emotional and spiritual level. When these lines have been crossed, or even blurred by indiscretion, a painful violation has occurred, resulting in a broken bond of oneness of heart and spirit between the both of you.

The toughest pain to heal in a committed relationship is the pain of betrayal - the wound of a broken trust.

— Lewis B. Smedes, "Learning to Live the Love We Promise"

How to Get My Partner to Trust Me Again - 7 Steps

If a couple makes the decision to heal from and rise above the sting of broken trust, it is possible to do the work and save the relationship. But it takes a lot of patience, honesty, self-introspection, and forgiveness.

It also should be expected that you, the offending partner, will unfortunately have the bulk of the work to do, as you attempt to rebuild your relationship and get your partner to trust you again. Here are some practical steps you can take to begin that journey.

1. Decide What You Really Want - Before making any impulsive apologies and promises to change, make sure you want to remain in the relationship. Consider that you may have been sabotaging your way out of a relationship to which you are no longer committed. Make sure your decision to win your girlfriend's trust back is not done purely out of guilt and obligation.

2. Honesty Upfront - When your girlfriend confronts you, confess. Think of it as your first test which is an assessment by her to see if she can trust you again. Denying what she already knows (or may have proof of) only feeds into the deception, further diminishing her ability (or desire) to trust you. Consider confessing before you get caught; it will increase her ability to believe that you are sincere in wanting to correct the error of your ways and make things right.

3. Take Ownership and Responsibility - It is a fact that when a relationship goes sour, it's usually a two-way street when it comes to taking responsibility for what went wrong. But in cases of broken trust, deception, and infidelity, it's important to take full responsibility for the choices you made in dealing with the issue. Once the secret is out, it's not a good time to divert, deflect, or place blame elsewhere, except where it belongs. Focus on your own behavior and refrain from finger-pointing in an attempt to justify your bad choices.

4. Express Empathy - To be empathic means to imagine what another person is feeling in a particular experience, as if you've stepped into their shoes. To express empathy means you have shown understanding on an emotional level, with words. To that end, familiarize yourself with the feeling words that accompany the emotional impact of broken trust. They include, but are not limited to: anger, hurt, shock, disbelief, resentment, pain, hatred, and rage.

Try to use these feeling words in conversations with your girlfriend to validate her and show cause-and-effect between her feelings and your behavior. For example, "I can see now how my choice to deceive you causes you to feel anger, hurt, and rage toward me."

5. Show Remorse - To be remorseful means to have a conscience. It implies that you are able to assess possible character flaws within yourself and look at the effect your choices have had on the person you hurt. In order to show remorse, you have to come across as sincere in believing that you did something wrong, and be accountable for it. A certain level of guilt has to be evident in an apology, with no excuses or justifications. The easiest way to show remorse is to let go of any bravado, defensiveness, or attitudes that run counter to your goal of winning back your girlfriend's trust.

6. Create New Trust - In order to regain trust after a violation of it, you may have to accept that it is truly broken beyond repair. When trust is damaged by infidelity, memories of the deception are forever attached to the incident, or multiple incidents. So it becomes incredibly difficult to "rebuild new trust" from what has been tarnished without throwing away the "old trust" first.

This is done by making new promises with sincerity by pledging to uphold a new trust bond between the both of you, starting today. Your trust is measured by what you do and not just what you say. For example, if you say you'll arrive home after work at 11:00 pm, you have to walk through the door at 11:00 pm. Your behavior is the yardstick by which your trust is now measured, a day at a time, until consistency is achieved and new trust begins to grow.

7. Don't Create Suspicion - Be careful not to trigger your girlfriend's fears and insecurities by engaging in behavior that reminds her of your past indiscretions. Even when you aren't doing anything wrong, she is now hypersensitive to every ring of the phone and ping notification of an email or text message. She'll wonder who you're talking to if you leave the room to answer a call. She will suspect you are meeting with someone other than who you say you're meeting with for drinks.

Be aware from her point of view of what it looks like if you share your social or travel plans with her and the location changes. It will take months or even up to a year for your partner to rebuild new trust for you, with a lot of stops and starts. The atmosphere you create will play a huge role in the restoration of that trust.

A Red Rose is Offered to Heal a Broken Trust

Winning back a broken heart by giving beautiful flowers to say, "I'm sorry," isn't always the best move. It will take more than a beautiful red rose for true healing to occur.
Winning back a broken heart by giving beautiful flowers to say, "I'm sorry," isn't always the best move. It will take more than a beautiful red rose for true healing to occur. | Source

Bouncing Back From Betrayal

Millions of couples in committed relationships suffer the impact of broken trust. The scenario at the beginning of this article is a common one, resulting from the betrayal of infidelity.

Emotional affairs, texting relationships, and drunken one-night stands are shocking revelations of betrayal that suddenly shake the foundation of what was thought to be stable. Relationships don't always survive deceptions when they come in the form of lies, secrets, and cover-ups.

However, it is possible to rise above the damage and do the work of rebuilding new trust, the bulk of which falls on the shoulders of the offending partner.

The chances of winning back the trust of the betrayed partner depends upon how the offender shows remorse, expresses empathy, and makes major changes in attitudes and behaviors. These changes, when displayed consistently, will create an atmosphere of safety, wherein the betrayed partner can begin to forgive and trust again.

Trust is not a gift. It must be earned, and not with verbal reassurances alone, but with specific changes in behavior.

— Janis Abrahms Spring, "After the Affair"

Even After Giving it Your Best Try. . . It's Not Easy to Forgive

© 2015 Janis Leslie Evans

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      Charles Bechtold 20 months ago

      I was really missing my wife when she left me for someone else. I was weak to take care of some situations and i let her slip my arms. I had to talk to my partner at the office who recently got her husband back. She told me to get in touch with John Patience who helped her get her husband back with a love spell. I was very sure of this because John has helped my partner get her husband back. So i called John Patience and told him i lost my lover and wanted her back. He encouraged me and told me to be happy. He did his thing and told me my wife will be back in 45 hours. I waited for that time and my wife called me and told me that she has forgiven me and ready to take me back in her life. Since then, my wife and i have been enjoying our marriage with our lovely 4 kids. I am very grateful to John for what he has done for me. I'd advice you to ask him for help if you have any problem on your relationship and some other aspects of life. His email is blessings434@gmail.com :)

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 22 months ago from Washington, DC

      So good to see you, pstraubie. Thanks for identifying with this article. Always appreciative. Bless you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 22 months ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Jan

      Many many years ago my husband strayed as the expression goes sometimes. It is a long story which I shall not go into but it resulted in our divorce. And you know it was life changing for me...it made me become a better person. I wish I could explain it all but there is just not enough room here.

      You have given sound workable suggestions that will no doubt help many.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 22 months ago from Washington, DC

      ComfortB, thank you so much for your comments. It is my hope that this hub makes a difference to a lot of people who have betrayed or hurt someone with deception, as well as those who have been hurt. I'm glad you liked it. I appreciate you sharing this hub. Bless you.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 22 months ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      You've shared some great insights here Jan. Trust is an essential part of any relationship, whether it be with ones children, spouse or friends. And once that trust is broken, it takes the special grace of God to put back the pieces, but it can be done as you have pointed out.

      We have to forgive, regroup and move on. It's never easy, but if the parties are willing, it's possible. Great hub. Shared.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks for sharing. It takes more time to heal than we can bear sometimes. Don't punish yourself for loving totally. Get some support by talking it out with a counselor. If necessary talk to a doctor to help with sleep and getting healthful rest. Peace.

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      Ddiesbecq 2 years ago

      Trying to learn to trust again... My heart has forgiven I love him with everything I have. My head won't let me forget though. I can't sleep, I can't forgive myself for not being enough and I can't just drop it and move on. My head and my heart are pulling me in different directions and I don't know what to do with myself. Some days I just want to go to sleep and not wake up.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for those generous comments, JustPaula. It means a lot that you took the time to visit and read this important article which addresses a topic we deal with a lot in our healing work with clients. Blessings!

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      JustPaula 2 years ago

      Great article Janis on a subject that is critical to relationships of all kinds. Your advice is thorough and on point. Rebuilding trust is a process that takes time and commitment, courage and intention, and ultimately willingness and openness to create a "new trust" . Thanks for sharing your ideas about healing relationships!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad you found this article informative, tobusiness. You are so right about it being near impossible to recover from such betrayal and how it affects subsequent relationships. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Excellent hub! Once trust has been lost, it is all but impossible to regain. When you trust and believe in someone, love them, place all your faith in them, only to find that you probably did not know them at all, this can be devestating. It can also impact on other subsequent relationships. I don't really know if one can come back from this to build a lasting relationship with the person who broke the trust, I don't think I could do it, not many people could, they'll always be looking for the next betrayal. Interesting, informative and thought provoking.

    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 2 years ago from Oba

      The truth is that this piece has taught me so much on how to manage relationship, and cannot take away my eyes from reading it over and over. Shared, Pinned, and voted up.

    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 2 years ago from Oba

      Janshares, I personally agree with your advice to Matty.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Matty. Without knowing the details of your situation, I can only say that communication is key to stopping deceptive tendencies. The more you are both sharing with each other on a regular basis, the less likely you will need to hide things. People lie because they are afraid of either rejection, punishment, or being misunderstood. Get to the bottom of why you or your spouse feels the need to lie and you will have the answer to what the fear is about. This can happen by providing a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere in which you can communicate with each other. I hope this helps.

    • Matty Fernandez profile image

      Matty Fernandez 2 years ago from Passaic, NJ

      Very interesting. I'm curious and at the same time I want to learn how to build trust with the small things. Some couples have not experienced betrayal in the sense of cheating, but in repeated lies, or not standing up for their loved one. How can we handle these trust issues?

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Yes. Trust is at the core of all relationships. Thank you, DDE.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I like the helpful tips. Trust is crucial to any relationship.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you kindly, MsDora. I hope it will be a useful article for those who need help. I appreciate your comments, as always. Peace.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      You offer very helpful suggestions on restoring trust. The quotes are all great, especially the last one. Great presentation!

    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 2 years ago from Oba

      Sallybea, I know it is hard but we have to do it for love. Love conquers all.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Speaking from experience, I honestly don't know where people find the strength to forgive after betrayal.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, billybuc. I hope you never have to either. It is the ultimate deal breaker for most people.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'll be honest, Jan. I don't know how any partner finds the ability to trust a partner who has cheated on them.....let's hope I never have to find out if I'm able to do it. You did a wonderful job on this.

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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, clivewilliams. Looks like you survived it. Or at least eloquently put it in your beautiful poetry.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      interesting hub, my secret got out many many years ago

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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I really appreciate your insight, Chitrangada. Thank you for sharing those comments. I believe the same when it is possible to save it for the greater good. But it is definitely easier said than done. Thanks for the votes.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I know, sallybea. It is the rare person who can. It depends on the person and the circumstances. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 2 years ago from Oba

      Sharan, you are on point by saying trust is the most important.

      Also to note is love. It is an important tool that builds relationship stronger.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Trust is most important in relationships as nothing hurts more than breach of trust. And it is very difficult to build the same trust again.

      However it is wise to give another chance to the partner, in the larger interest. Because if there are children, they would also feel the pain and will suffer if the partners decide to part ways.

      Although it is easier said than done, the partner should try to work towards reestablishing the trust.

      Very important and insightful hub! You made some very helpful points, which should be a helpful guide to those suffering from such a situation in their relationship.

      Thanks and voted up!

    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 2 years ago from Oba

      Janshares, I know you as good and great writer. Thanks for sharing this.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, Jodah, for those generous comments, glad you liked this one. It is a subject everybody can relate to as trust is a common life theme. It is true that we constantly work at it. I appreciate your visit.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very intelligently written and useful hub here Jan. Many relationships suffer from a breakdown in trust at some stage. In some instances trust can be renewed, in others it is broken beyond repair. This was a good read, and we all need to constantly work on maintaining trust in our relationships even if it isn't always easy.