Trust: Can it be rebuilt in relationships?

Can trust be rebuilt in any relationship? A big question that has l think so many possible answers. For some yes, or at least the hope of this. For others no.


This l think depends so much on your emotional history as well as your character, your attachment style, and what rests for you around any wounds that may still exist around betrayal and broken fidelity historically.

But as to whether it is possible to rebuild trust, l think the answer is, that it is. Here’s why.

If the person who broke trust can express remorse and own the guilt, and not abdicate responsibility, then from within this there is a humble beginning and a first step towards a beginning, where their humility is felt.

A felt humility will be a visceral experience for the injured party and in a “go to any lengths” to put things right. It will not be a casual fix, nor will it be a quick-to-move-on scenario.

You will be able to 'feel' the difference, and you will feel valued in a way that maybe you might not have felt before ever, or in the way you were together in the heady days at the beginning of your relationship.

But like all wounds, healing takes real time, and it is best to remember that being realistic is necessary. There will also be scars that might remain tender for a good while, and understanding and sympathy will be part of the repair. There are some things that just cannot be rushed. Rebuilding trust is one of them.

Barriers to rebuilding trust

Let us try here to note and look at what might get in the way.

I think that it is entirely fair to say that choice is both part and party to both causation and recovery. If we are talking about cheating and infidelity, the guilty party did have a choice and what caused them to make that choice is relevant both to them and also the injured party.

The 'why' will be maybe even more relevant to the person who was betrayed; a large part of the wound will be dashed confidence and fear of what they might lack personally to have been their possible version of 'why', even if that is well hidden underneath what is shown, like their outrage and/or anger.

In romantic relationships and marriage, the physical part of the relationship and its renewable possibility will be hugely complicated. I think it is far better to be aware of that.

The spontaneity of love-making feels suddenly unnatural even when it is considered. The reaching out for one another can no longer be taken for granted. Even when and if it is welcome. This part of the relationship is part of a healthy coupling and l believe is where the rawest part of the wound lives when infidelity has wreaked its havoc.

Whereas you might in the past have thought nothing of just grabbing a kiss or putting your hand on the leg of your partner whilst sitting next to them, those intimate gestures that once felt easy will feel risky, dangerous even, if they raise feelings of discomfort or doubt they are still welcomed.

It will be 'gently does it' for a while. It will feel lonely. Sometimes it will feel like the howl you felt inside when the betrayal was discovered can never feel anything other than something that will be anything other than broken.

How to heal

Here are some things that help soothe and mend the wounds and brokenness.

I think new experiences, new things done and shared together can be of great help here and give gentle possibility, much in the same way as small steps after a fall, and walking before running ahead.

The esteem of the person who has had their trust broken will feel very raw and most probably like confidence is lost, as they won’t feel sure of things in quite the same way.

Trust is something that is earned, not something that is given. 

The version of your life with someone that you believed in and thought you had and shared together feels torn away and lost. Something new has to replace it.

Here is where honesty comes in. When trust has been broken, honesty and transparency (as an early days alternative) can begin building something good again.

Being reliable during the mending also can be soothing and should not be underrated. Do what you say you are going to do, be where you say you are going to be. This reliability is really an important part of rebuilding trust. Also being reliable is not self-focused and more about others, and more important than just words alone. These things matter - being aware of how important you are because your feelings matter. Being accountable is part of this.

Don’t be in denial or downplay the hurt and injury with someone’s trust you broke. Trust cannot be demanded. Here, actions speak far louder than words. So, show you can be counted on by those you have let down.

Fair to say also here, that if the betrayed person only perpetually displays anger and pain, there is little room for renewal. This, of course, must be heard and have its day, this is absolutely right and essential, but there comes a time when there needs to be space made for renewal. Where new beginnings are also possible. None of us can stay stuck in our anger and/or use it as an impenetrable fortress in perpetuity. Nobody wins here.

Pain needs a voice. Pains needs the person who caused it to hear it and listen to it.

Neither party can manage the other's recovery - only their own. Each has to do their own part. The other's motivation cannot be done or carried by anyone except the one whose responsibility it is.

In summary, it really helps to realise this is a process. It can be chaotic in the early days; both needs a plan and the continuity that upholds that plan.

Grief is also part of letting go and anger is part of grief. Mourning is part also of that. Grief is the state, mourning is the action to move forward.

If you have been betrayed, try not to get involved in a rebound affair yourself. It will only cause deeper confusion and pain. Whilst things are complicated enough within your own heart (which already feels broken), it in my experience will only heap more pain onto an already difficult personal crisis.

So in summary, can trust be rebuilt in your relationship? Yes, it can, but it doesn’t just happen. It takes time and a real desire from both parties.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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