How to Trust After Betrayal

The gnawing in the pit of your stomach, the feeling of just barely being able to go through the motions of your day, the heavy weight pressing on your chest that you can only escape through sleep. If you've experienced a betrayal in your relationship, these may sound familiar. You most likely ask yourself, "How can I trust him/her again?" Trust is a two way street, and it is not something that is just given one time and never wavers. Trust is built again little by little, maybe with 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Your relationship may never look the same as it did before the betrayal, but you don't really want it to go back to that place anyway. If you are working on rebuilding trust in your relationship, here are three keys:

1. Your partner must DO things to gain your trust. You need to be able to see, feel, and experience the things they are doing to regain your trust. This involves high levels of communication from both of you. Your partner should be willing to disclose things to you, without you needing to ask/check on them. In many cases, the lying about the betrayal is worse than the betrayal itself. Trust grows as your partner continues to tell you the truth despite how uncomfortable it is. 

2. Time. Not time alone, but time while #1 is being practiced. #1 must be practiced over time, again and again, in order for trust to grow. Neither partner should feel satisfied with a one-time open and honest discussion. Maintaining trust and vulnerability is a process all couples must do frequently. 

3. Taking a leap of faith. Even if you feel #1 and #2 are in place and have been practiced for a long time, there are no guarantees. We cannot control what our partner does. Being in an intimate relationship is vulnerable, there's no way around it. If you have decided to continue your relationship, there comes a point when you just have to take the leap of faith, and, backed by your partner's words and actions, jump back in the relationship with both feet. 

Relationship betrayal can rock us to the very core, so be gentle with yourself. How one feels after a betrayal has been compared to how someone with PTSD feels. Avoidance of things associated with the betrayal, re-experiencing the betrayal (replaying the moment you found out, frequent imagining of what your partner has done), and trying to numb your feelings are all very common. Know that what you are feeling is normal, and know that you can heal. 

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