The unthinkable has happened: your relationship has been rocked by a huge breach of trust. You’ve caught your partner lying, hiding an awful secret, or even cheating. But, rather than simply giving up, you want to make things work. You’ve talked it through, reaffirmed your love for each other, and you’re willing to try and put this behind you. But, of course, there’s a huge problem: your trust has been broken and it feels impossible to move forward. You can love someone but not trust them, which is a painful and exhausting dynamic to have to live with. It can make you feel like a breakup is inevitable. If this sounds like the position you’re in right now, you may be wondering how to save a relationship without trust. In fact, you may even be wondering whether it’s possible at all!
Well, you’re in the right place. As a love and relationship expert, I have seen plenty of couples pull their relationships back from the brink, and I can confidently tell you that a breach of trust doesn’t have to mean the end. However, regaining trust takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. If you’re both willing to put in the work, you can rebuild your relationship to be even stronger than it was before. I want to share some of my experience with how this process works, which is why in today’s article I’ll be talking about some tried-and-true methods you can use to mend your relationship once trust is broken.
How to Save a Relationship Without Trust: The Basics
The most important thing to understand before anything else is that your relationship is simply not going to work without trust. I certainly don’t mean that you should give up, instead, I’m trying to focus your attention on the job that’s in front of you: rebuilding trust. I mention this because when trust is broken in a relationship, it may feel like it’s never going to come back. The damage is too great to imagine a time when we’re willing to be vulnerable and open with our partners. That’s why, if we want to stay together, we can easily trick ourselves into thinking that our task is learning how to live with the new status quo. However, it’s not about learning how to live with this feeling forever! Inevitably, a lack of trust will erode the foundations of the relationship and cause it to come tumbling down sooner or later. Instead, you and your partner both need to have a clear understanding that the goal is to rebuild trust in your relationship, and then put the necessary work into achieving that goal. Here comes the tricky part: trust can’t simply be conjured up out of thin air.
How to Build Trust in a Relationship
So, how can you rebuild trust with your partner? It helps to think of trust as a byproduct of other actions, instead of something you have direct control over. Here’s what I mean: if we put consistent effort into every other part of our relationship, trust will eventually come. However, even then, it arrives slowly and on its own schedule. If we’re impatient, or looking too far ahead into the future, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Our job is to put in the work day-to-day in our relationship, and eventually we’ll notice the presence of trust once it’s already there. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at some of the things we can work on to bring trust back into a relationship.
Taking it Slow: Learning How to Trust Again
If you’ve suffered a breach of trust in your relationship, it’s natural to feel distant from your partner afterward. It may seem counterintuitive, but don’t fight this feeling! Take it slow, and as uncomfortable as it is, don’t put pressure on yourself to simply get back into the swing of things. You need to allow yourself to simply experience what you’re feeling, and keep your focus on the day to day. Enjoy the good moments that you’ll have, and don’t fight the bad ones. However, this advice isn’t by any means about being passive or simply accepting the new reality! Taking things slow actually serves two really important functions when it comes to regaining trust.
The first is that a lack of pressure is one of the key ingredients in regaining trust. Trust can’t grow when it’s being suffocated, and if there’s pressure to reconnect and get everything back to normal immediately, you can bet that trust won’t magically reappear. Healing from the hurt caused by a breach of trust takes time, and that needs to happen first before trust can be rebuilt in your relationship. Fighting your feelings only prolongs this process and leads to bigger problems down the line. Imagine that you’re building a house, and remember the old adage: “Fast is slow, and slow is fast.” If you slow down and do things right, soon you’ll have built a sturdy home. If you rush, you’ll be working on keeping it from falling apart for years to come.
The second reason why taking it slow is vital right now is that, by doing so, you give yourself a chance to take stock of the root problems in your relationship. Obviously, if there was a betrayal of trust, something must be wrong on a foundational level. Now is when those problems going to be on full display, although it will take some effort and thought to really see them clearly. It’s not pleasant to do this, but don’t shy away from thinking about what went wrong, and don’t rush! It’s important to take the time to know exactly where the issues are if you want to address them. By rushing back into things, you risk glossing over some of the red flags that may have led to the breach of trust in the first place.
Ultimately, it comes down to taking the time to figure out how to improve your relationship, instead of expecting it to work perfectly again simply because you want it to. However, identifying the problems means nothing if you can’t take any steps towards solving them, and for that, you’re going to need one really important tool: communication.
Communication: The Key to Rebuilding Trust in a Relationship
Communication is crucial to rebuilding trust for several reasons, but one of the most important ones is this: often trust issues, or even behaviors on behalf of your partner that lead to them, stem from foundational problems in a relationship that have gone unaddressed for too long simply because they weren’t talked through. Over time, these types of unspoken issues have a corrosive effect on the relationship, which you’ll experience as a gradual drifting apart and shutting each other out. Very often, when I’m discussing breaches of trust with my clients, it becomes clear that the actual action that broke trust is just the tip of the iceberg! Under the surface, the relationship is suffering from an emotional disconnection that comes from both sides walling each other off, simply because they aren’t communicating well.
The tricky thing about communication is that most people think they’re born knowing how to do it. “I know how to speak, therefore I know how to communicate,” sums up this mentality. However, communication is a skill we have to develop, even if we know how it works in theory. Think of it like driving a car. We all know how that works: there’s a steering wheel, a gas pedal, and a brake. But we still have to actually go and learn how to drive if we want to get anywhere without crashing the car! That’s why a huge part of the work when it comes to rebuilding trust is putting in the effort to learn how to communicate properly with our partners. Learning how to express ourselves in a way that will be heard, and learning how to listen, is vital for the health of our relationships going forward. Knowing that you’re safe to say what you think, and your partner feeling the same, is one of the strongest ways to cultivate an environment that trust can flourish in. It’s also a must if you want to work through any of the problems that have led to trust disappearing in the first place.
Of course, learning how to communicate is easier said than done. The most important thing is effort. Keep trying, even when it’s hard! Healthy communication, especially after a long period without it, tends to dredge up a lot of problems that have been buried under the surface of your relationship. Your job now is to push forward and work through them, instead of turning a blind eye. Over time, you’ll find that your skills are improving. There’s also a lot of professional help out there that you can use to learn how to communicate better: while you’re here, check out our article on 9 pro communication tips for couples, or any of the other articles underneath the “communication” banner on our blog!
Being Honest with Yourself: No Trust, No Future
As you move forward, it’s really important to keep something in mind: trust is non-negotiable. Part of trying to rebuild a relationship without trust is giving your partner a chance to earn trust back, but that’s impossible if you’re accommodating any actions that break your trust – no matter how small! For this relationship to work, you have to have set some strong boundaries for yourself. The problem is, it’s really easy to try to negotiate with ourselves once things improve. After all, you love your partner and don’t want to lose them, so it’s natural to want to ignore those tiny red flags once things start feeling normal again. Fight that urge! Knowing where the line is helps you spot and call out problems as soon as they emerge. This way, you can either work through them with your partner, or have some peace of mind that it’s time to move on. At the end of the day, you have to know that without trust your relationship doesn’t stand a chance. If your partner is knowingly crossing the line, then they aren’t trying to earn your trust back. You’re better off moving on and finding someone who can give you the respect you deserve.
Everything is Going Well, Why Do I Still Have Trust Issues?
If you’re still not sure how to trust your partner again, even though both of you have put the work in and things seem to be improving, it’s completely understandable to feel frustrated and upset. The reality is that, when it comes to trust, the rewards don’t always come immediately after the work. You may have to wait a long time, but when you want to get rid of trust issues, that wait can feel like an eternity. In this case, if you’re really sure you’ve addressed the problems in your relationship, there’s one last thing I’d recommend doing to help you overcome a lack of trust: take a look at your own insecurities. Plenty of people suffer from unaddressed insecurity, and it can drag down our relationships very easily. When it comes to trust issues, often it’s the feeling of not being good enough for our partners that leads us to be concerned that they’ll look for someone else when we’re not around. Of course, that’s not a rational thought, but insecurity is not a rational thing! The easiest way to pinpoint insecurity as the root of your trust issues is when your thoughts and fears don’t match reality. When it’s swirling around in our minds, these types of thoughts have a tremendous amount of power. But when we bring them into the open through talking about them, often we’ll find that they’re absurd. If this sounds like something you’re struggling with, check out our course in overcoming insecurity, or feel free to reach out to me or any of the other coaches here at Happily Committed for a tailor-made gameplan to help you build confidence and move past your trust issues.
With that being said, let’s recap the main things to keep in mind when you want to build trust in a relationship again.
1. Take it slow. You can’t overcome a lack of trust right away, instead focus on identifying the root problems in your relationship, and finding out where to put in the work. After that, take it day by day.
2. Communication is the most powerful tool for repairing relationships. Learning how to communicate with each other is a must, and by doing so, you’ll be able to address the root problems that led to this situation in the first place.
3. Setting boundaries and being honest with yourself. There’s no future for relationships without trust. So if your partner is still breaking your trust during this process of rebuilding, it’s time to face the facts and move on.
4. Facing your insecurities. If you and your partner are putting in the work to improve your relationship, but your trust issues aren’t improving at all, ask yourself whether your insecurities are standing in the way.
Most importantly, remember that although it’s not easy, it’s possible to rebuild your relationship to be stronger than it ever was. I know you can do it, and I wish you all the best.
Your coach when you want to know how to save a relationship without trust,