Rebuilding Trust When Your Relationship Breaks Down

21 Dec

When you violate someone’s trust in you, they will struggle to believe in your intentions moving forwards. In a romantic relationship, distrust harms the connection that’s been so meticulously constructed over the years between partners, sometimes decimated in a moment’s madness.

Men and woman sitting on a white sofa separately after quarrel

The pinnacle of trust is relying on someone to act on your behalf, in your best interest, even when they could use the situation for their own gains.

Trust sits atop three pillars:

  • the ability to accomplish what you’ve been tasked with
  • care for the other person
  • integrity to act in accordance with a set of values established with them.

When you violate someone’s trust in you, they will struggle to believe in your intentions moving forwards. In a romantic relationship, distrust harms the connection that’s been so meticulously constructed over the years between partners, sometimes decimated in a moment’s madness.

If you’ve broken your partner’s trust and feel remorse, it’s worth remembering that the form your apology takes depends on the recipient. Some people don’t care what you say unless it centres around that pivotal utterance: “I’m sorry.” Others aren’t interested in what you have to say; they need to be heard, for you to truly and viscerally understand how you’ve made them feel. And still others will focus primarily not on your subsequent words, but on your actions.

Even if you’ve not broken your partner’s trust, if they perceive you to be untrustworthy, the natural response is self-defence. In this moment, it’s crucial to take a step back and see things from their perspective instead: why do they feel this way? How have you acted that’s led them to this conclusion? Through active listening you can empathise with aspects of their point of view that you hadn’t thought about. Seek to really take on board their concerns rather than spending the time they’re talking just formulating your next prepackaged response, regardless of what they say. This is paramount to rebuilding trust, or at least fortifying it if you’ve not actually done anything wrong but your partner’s concerned. And only when your partner’s let it all out should you fully jump in to explain your side of the story.

Apologising is a vital step, but it doesn’t automatically make everything okay.

The two of you need to sit down and figure out next steps. When someone’s trust is broken, they become more resistant to its repair. So if they’re standoffish, it’s probably because they’re now wary. You hurt them once before; what’s stopping you doing it again?

To counter this issue, you need to maintain the relationship by consistently demonstrating your trustworthiness. Small indiscretions may lead to an apparently disproportionate level of anger in your partner—but of course, trust violations accumulate, and the more that occur, and the worse they are, the longer they take to dissipate from your partner’s mind—if they even can at all. It takes time for them to really believe that your efforts are genuine. If you truly feel the relationship is worth it, don’t give up.

If you’re on the receiving end of someone’s gestures to rebuild trust, be receptive when possible. Consider their perspective. If applicable, perceive them as someone who has made a mistake, not a perpetrator with inherently malicious intent. If you can, recognise that you too are not perfect, and have likely made bad or inconsiderate decisions that have hurt your partner at one point or another. Acknowledging this may prove instrumental in the two of you working things out as a team.

Rebuilding trust can be a long and lonely road. It may be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deal with.

It takes genuine work—and there are no shortcuts. Sometimes seeking professional assistance is also useful, but only as an addition. Nothing will ever change if the partner who broke trust doesn’t show remorse, listen to the other’s point of view, and put in the time, effort, and emotion to fix things for the good of the relationship and your respective futures. And if you need a little extra help, you can turn to us.

The Vida Consultancy is a boutique, multi-award-winning international dating agency. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles, and our estimable matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. So if your trust has been broken—or indeed you’ve broken your partner’s trust—get in touch. We’re here to listen. And if you’re struggling with trust issues from past relationships, we can set you on the path to meeting someone who will truly cherish you—for you.

by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.More by this author

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