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12 Things You Can Do to Learn to Trust Again

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12 Things You Can Do to Learn to Trust Again

T R U S T–a simple five-letter word. Yet one that carries so much weight. Trust is the soul of any relationship. It is the super glue that binds it together. If you have it, it is the reason you can go to sleep at night next to your partner and feel at peace; the reason that the ding of a text, or the ring of a phone doesn’t shoot off alarm bells; the reason that your partner working late doesn’t cause an anxiety attack.

Lack of trust, however, creates just the opposite effect. It causes untold psychological distress. It turns you into a spy as you search for clues that will validate your suspicions. It pits you against your worst insecurities. It makes you sick and hypervigilant; it keeps you up at nights wondering, Am I not good enough? Is it my fault? Is everything we have a sham? What will people think?

If your trust has been shredded, you might feel hopeless. But, there is good news. A relationship that has been tarnished by a betrayal can be saved. As Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D, writes in her article in Psychology Today:[1]

“Relationships are very complex and, depending on the circumstances, betrayal doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship.”

Like a masterful tapestry, relationships are colossally multiplex. Understand that trust was broken because something in the relationship was broken. Are you willing to invest the time and effort it takes to salvage what took you years to build? Are you willing to find the missing pieces that made the relationship crumble? If so, then it’s possible to put the pieces back together.

Let’s learn some of the ways to do that…

1. Get Clarity

When a betrayal occurs, it feels cataclysmic. Emotions are fragile, fingers are pointed, and a war of sorts ensues. But no event that big is born in a vacuum. Things happen for a reason. To gain clarity, you must dig deep. Was there something that should have been addressed, but ignored instead?

Talk to your partner. Find out what happened and why. You are going to be angry, no doubt, but if you want to reconcile, you must listen. The answers will often reveal the corrosion poisoning the relationship prior to The Event. The betrayal was the symptom, not the actual problem.

In her article, How to Regain Broken Trust in a Relationship, Dr. Magdalena Battles talks about “Coming Forth.” She writes,

“Both sides must be willing to come to the table and be open, honest, and vulnerable. They must also care enough to want to put forth the effort that is required to make the relationship work again.”

If this doesn’t happen, then the relationship will surely die in a heap of pain, regret, and resentment.

2. Discover the Motivation

People do things for different reasons. Usually, those reasons are significant and rational to the person doing them. They might feel hurt, lonely, and/or unappreciated. Sometimes, an outsider does the job that the other partner is failing to do.

For instance, in the film Thief of Hearts, Mickey Davis, played by Barbara Williams, is constantly ignored by her husband, Ray Davis, played by John Getz, whose main focus is writing. He’s always working against a deadline. His wife is nothing short of an accessory in his life. It doesn’t take long for an encounter with a handsome stranger, played by Steven Bauer, to open up her lonely heart and have her fall, heart first, into an affair. He pays her all the attention she isn’t getting from her husband. Of course, it helps that he’s a thief, has stolen all her diaries, and now knows her deepest, darkest wants and desires.

Motivation plays an important role on whether or not your relationship can be saved. Neglect, an unsatisfactory sex life, anger, lack of commitment–they can all lead to infidelity. You might blame yourself for what happened, maybe even had a part in it. Then again, you may have had nothing to do with it. In an article by A. Pawlowski, she states:[2]

“You could be doing everything right and your partner could still be tempted to cheat for reasons that have nothing to do with you or the quality of feelings you share.”

3. Commit to Rebuilding the Relationship

How valuable is your relationship to you? Once the dust settles after the infidelity, ask yourself these questions:

Am I willing to commit to him/her despite what happened? Do I still love him/her? Will I be able to do what it takes to get through this crisis?

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW, in her article in The Gottman Institute writes:[3]

“Do you have enough admiration and respect left to salvage the relationship? Be honest and ask yourself: Do we still have fun together and enjoy each other’s company most of the time?”

If you answered yes to those questions, then despite the long road ahead, it will be a worthy endeavor. If you are committed to each other, willing to examine the situation, and work on rectifying it, it is possible to pull through and come out on the other side.

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Once you commit, forge ahead. Don’t half-heartedly work on it. It’s got to be all or nothing. If you’re halfway in, that means you’re halfway out.

4. Consider Couple’s Therapy

In some instances, regaining trust and working through an affair might be too difficult a challenge. In that case, perhaps couple’s therapy is in order.

With a trained professional, you can address issues you might not otherwise be able to do sitting at home, talking over a bottle of wine, and asking, “Was she better than me? Tell me everything! I want all the details.” You actually don’t, but I won’t get into that here.

Outside help is an invaluable tool. You’ll learn how to navigate the rockiest of roads. And this is exactly what you need at a fragile juncture such as the one with which you are dealing.

Find out more about this here: Is Relationship Counselling for You? Find Your Answer Here

5. Forgive

You’ve fought hard for your relationship; worked tirelessly to get beyond what happened. Your relationship is still tender, but at least you’re still together, and working to keep it that way. Sometimes, however, even though you’re still together and you think you made it through the crisis, anger and resentment linger. All is not forgiven.

The victim can start using that to their advantage. “You have nothing to say about (blah, blah, blah), especially after what you did!” The hurt party can hang the betrayal over their partner’s head, reminding them continuously that they better tow the line, or else. Because of what happened, the hurt party feels entitled, and maybe even becomes a little punishing.

In order to really get beyond The Event, there has to be forgiveness. On both sides. The betrayer may be feel so guilty that they can barely stand themselves. In fact, they may start acquiescing on things that they shouldn’t.

Forgiveness, while not easy, is key to the survival of the relationship.

6. Give it Time

My son required jaw surgery when he was 19 years old. It was quite a painful ordeal. After the surgeon broke his jaw and put it back together, my son’s jaw was wired shut for six weeks in order for the proper healing to take place. He could only eat soft foods through a little syringe in his mouth. It took a good month and a half before his jaw was healed.

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Unfortunately, betrayal is not like jaw surgery. It’s much worse. To mend a broken heart requires the skill of a surgeon and lots of time. You’re looking at about 18 months to three years, depending on how long you’ve been together.

If you’re committed to making your relationship work, patience is crucial. You’re going to be nursing anger, sadness, disbelief, insecurity, maybe some even shame. That’s a full plate.

Take it one loving step at a time. Talk things out when necessary. Eventually, if you keep taking those tiny steps, you’ll get to the Healing!

7. Be Transparent

…like a perfectly see-through glass window! In order to regain trust, the guilty party needs to be absolutely transparent. The betrayed cannot think for a minute that there are any secrets. Secrecy will create further distrust.

For instance, when the phone rings, don’t say, “I’ve got to take this,” and walk into another room. As a trust trasher, there is a lot of mending to do. Put aside the fact that you feel like your privacy is being invaded. You haven’t earned it at this point. You will need to re-earn their trust, so be open.

8. Cut Ties Completely

If you are the person who has betrayed your partner, you must cut all ties with the interloper. That means no phone calls, no texts, no emails, no coffee dates. No last meeting for “closure.”

No contact means no contact. If it’s over, then let it be over. Your partner deserves that. You may have had your reasons for doing what you did, but have a better reason for rebuilding your relationship. That can’t happen if you maintain contact with the “Other” person.

Your partner will not be able to rebuild trust if they know you’re still seeing and talking to the person that nearly destroyed your lives together.

9. Don’t Keep Bringing up the Event!

When you arrive at the point where you’ve picked up most of the debris, rebuilt your lives, and feel like you can move on, move on. That means, do not keep bringing up what happened. That will only serve to re-open the wound.

Imagine severely cutting yourself. You get multiple stitches, and get it bandaged up. Instead of letting it heal, you keep taking off the bandage, and ripping off the stitches, just to look at the damage. Ouch!

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If you truly want your relationship to become solid again, put the affair in the past, and leave it there. Learn from what happened, make the necessary adjustments, then proceed onward. Talking about it ad nauseam will only keep the pain alive.

10. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do!

If you’re the betrayer, then this one is very important: Don’t lie! Say what you mean and mean what you say. Even the smallest lie, a “white” lie, if you will, could cause doubt to sprout, and result in your relationship taking another hit. At this point, irreversible damage can be done. Be consistent, reliable, and honest.

11. Do Things That Brought You Comfort and Joy before “the Event”

After the Event, it is easy to get buried in the rubble; difficult to pull yourselves out. But here’s the encouraging news: your relationship is not defined by what happened. There were good years prior to the betrayal, right? Now, it is time to pull from that reserve.

Sit with your partner. Talk about all the things you used to do when you were both happy; about all the places you used to go to that made you feel warm and cozy. It’s time to revisit them again. Start dating. This will psychologically take you back to the good times. Build on those. Then create new moments.

Betrayal always creates a big mess, leaving in its wake incalculable emotional detritus. Betrayal has sharp claws. It takes a lot of work to heal the scars. But they can be healed. Sometimes things have to be torn down in order to rebuild them better and stronger.

12. Apologize

Express your remorse. Be genuine. This goes a long way to start repairing the damage. Do what it takes to let your partner know how truly sorry you are.

The suggestions listed above can work. But there has to be a willingness to try, a commitment to do what it takes, and a decision that the relationship is worth saving.

But that’s a decision only you can make. So what’s it going to be?

Featured photo credit: Svyatoslav Romanov via unsplash.com

Reference

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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