Key Takeaways

  • Trust is a key part of relationships. Having trust in a relationship can lead to greater empathy and intimacy. It can also help reduce any fears or insecurities.
  • A breach in trust can have long-term consequences for a relationship and both people’s mental well-being. But rebuilding trust is possible with patience and commitment from both partners. 
  • If you’re struggling to overcome a betrayal or cope with trust issues, consider seeing a mental health professional for individual or couples therapy

Trust is at the core of any healthy relationship. Whether it’s between friends, colleagues, or romantic partners, trust helps both people in a partnership feel satisfied, safe, and secure. 

So what happens when trust in a relationship is lost? Not all couples will be willing or able to repair the relationship, but regaining trust is possible with patience and commitment from both partners. 

Why is trust important in relationships?

When thinking about what makes up a healthy relationship, trust is often at the top of the list. Defined as the belief in a person’s character, ability, and truth, trust is considered essential to most stable and fulfilling relationships. 

When you’re in a relationship with someone you trust, there’s a feeling of mutual respect and understanding. Having trust promotes empathy and intimacy, while also helping reduce any fears or insecurities about the partnership. 

Conversely, a lack of trust can create or worsen problems in a relationship. This can lead to conflict, emotional instability, and disregard for privacy. It can also contribute to loneliness, anxiety, and depression

What causes trust issues?

People experience trust issues in their relationships for many reasons. For some people, trust issues stem from previous relationship problems, parental divorce, or insecure attachment styles

Other causes of trust issues in a relationship can include:

Eight ways to rebuild trust in a relationship

If your partner has done something to lose your trust, you’re probably asking yourself several tough questions: How do I feel about what happened? Is the relationship worth saving? Is it possible to rebuild trust, and do I even want to? 

A breach in trust can take a real toll on a relationship, but regaining trust is possible with patience and commitment from both partners. Here are six tips to help you rebuild trust in your relationship.

1. Acknowledge the problem

Healing often starts with acknowledging a problem. If you or your partner did something to compromise trust in the relationship, you can start by admitting the wrongdoing. This is an important step to take because you can’t move forward with accepting responsibility and apologizing until you acknowledge that something is wrong and commit to facing the problem head-on.

2. Accept responsibility

For the person who betrayed the trust, this means being honest about their mistakes, understanding why they made the choices they did, and showing a genuine desire to make amends. For the betrayed partner, healing involves active listening and an understanding of how their own thoughts and behaviors may have contributed to the situation. 

3. Offer an apology

If you betrayed your partner’s trust and are able to offer a genuine apology, that’s a good step to take. Research suggests that people who received a genuine apology from someone were more likely to regain trust compared to those who didn’t receive an apology. If you are the betrayed partner, try to be open to accepting an apology. If you can’t accept it right away, that’s OK. You can simply thank them for apologizing and let them know you’ll need some time before you can fully accept it.

4. Commit to growth and change

If you and your partner hope to repair your relationship, make a shared commitment to growth and healing. This means being honest and straightforward about your goals as a couple and what’s needed to get there. Another way to heal is by rebuilding your emotional intimacy through spending quality time together, exploring new shared interests, and doing small gestures of love and appreciation.

5. Hone your communication skills

Open and honest communication is key to rebuilding trust in a relationship. Allow your partner to express their feelings and concerns without interruptions. Then, reflect back to ensure that you understand their perspective. If you’re struggling to connect with your partner, consider swapping “yes or no” questions for open-ended questions to encourage them to speak their mind and foster a greater emotional connection. The goal is to be curious about your partner’s thoughts, rather than judging them. 

6. Be consistent

Choosing to continue a relationship following a betrayal requires reliability and consistency. Both partners should make an effort to be patient and understanding as they explore the process of rebuilding trust. This means keeping promises, following through on commitments, expressing gratitude, and allowing for personal space. 

7. Try couples therapy

Healing from a betrayal can be a painful and overwhelming process. If you and your partner are struggling to rebuild trust, consider going to couples therapy to help you understand the root of the issue, its impact, and how to move forward. 

8. Communicate your needs

When trust is broken, the person who feels betrayed should feel empowered to share their needs around rebuilding trust. This could include temporarily tracking each other’s location through phone apps, sharing weekly bank statements, or communicating every night about who each partner interacted with that day. Of course, these are just examples, and needs and expectations will vary for each person.

What happens when trust is broken?

While it can take weeks, months, or even years to build trust, all it takes is one moment to compromise that foundation. And when trust is broken, it often has a significant effect on a person’s well-being and the health of their relationship. 

Being betrayed by your partner can lead to emotional withdrawal, low self-esteem, and trouble being vulnerable. Some research reports that up to 60% of people who were betrayed in a relationship experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Betrayal can have an emotional impact on the betrayer too, leading to shame, guilt, regret, or self-doubt.

A breach in trust can also impact the relationship, with one or both partners questioning the stability and longevity of the relationship. For example, being betrayed may cause some people to become overly vigilant or controlling in an effort to protect themselves from further deceit. Trust issues can also cause communication challenges and lead to ongoing conflicts around how to move forward. 

Signs trust is returning to your relationship

As you and your partner work to nurture your relationship and reconcile your differences, you may be wondering when you’ll regain trust. While there’s no set timeline or simple answer, there are some signs that trust is returning to your relationship.

  • You feel safe with your partner and know they’ll respect your emotional and physical boundaries.
  • You feel comfortable being vulnerable with your partner.
  • You know your partner listens when you communicate your needs and feelings.
  • You feel mutual commitment to the relationship.
  • You are open to their perspective when considering major life decisions around your career, financial investments, and medical care.

Find care with Rula

If a breach in trust is taking a toll on your relationship or mental health, know that Rula is here to help. Rula’s network of therapists makes it easy to find a mental health professional to help you manage relationship conflicts, improve communication skills, and rebuild trust with your partner.

In as little as three minutes, you can use our therapist-matching program to connect with a therapist who takes your insurance and is accepting new clients. And our network of over 8,000 therapists means you can be seen as early as this week. 

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