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How to rebuild trust after a betrayal

Find your way back to a feeling of trust in your relationship
  • 24 August 2023
  • 3min

People who have been betrayed often describe it as a strong shock, an interpersonal trauma. When the betrayal is revealed, it can bring on an experience of the foundation of one’s existence being shaken to the core. Small things that one had previously barely noticed can suddenly trigger an immense feeling of uncertainty.

For example, if you’ve found out that your partner secretly had an affair, it is not surprising that you suddenly become suspicious if they do not come home at the exact time they said they would, or when their phone rings.

To you who have been betrayed and want to regain a sense of trust in the relationship

1. It is reasonable for you to feel hurt

You have every right to feel hurt, and it is not strange if you react strongly even to small triggers. You can think of it as you having an anchor at your foot holding you back, even if you have decided that you want to move forward and stay with your partner. It’s not easy to regain the trust even if you want to.

2. Support from your partner

You need time and space to process what has happened and to ask questions. It is important to feel emotionally supported and understood by your partner, especially in the beginning.

If you notice that your partner is willing to act in a way that makes you feel more secure, it will make it a little easier. This could mean that your partner makes an effort to be transparent, straightforward and open, such as by voluntarily telling you where they are and with whom.

Over time, however, you will need to tolerate more uncertainty. Your partner will not be able to (and should not) continue to give you a detailed account of all their activities. Often, trust gradually returns, but it is common for it to take quite some time.

3. Take care of yourself

You are going through a rough time right now. What can you do to give yourself more of what you need? How can you be extra kind to yourself? It may involve lowering expectations on yourself or other aspects of life right now, or prioritizing activities that give you a sense of joy, meaning or calmness.

Choose who you seek support from

In a crisis, it is always positive to have a network around you that can provide emotional support. However, choose carefully who to confide in!

Being open about being betrayed or deceived by your partner may ultimately have negative consequences for your relationships with friends and family if you choose to continue together. There is a risk that your loved ones, who want to support you in good faith, may develop a negative attitude towards your partner that will persist. Choose someone you feel safe with and whom you trust, and who you believe will be there for you regardless of how you or you both together choose to move forward.

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