There are a few non-negotiables for a relationship to succeed – honesty, respect, love – but perhaps one of the most important things is trust. We need to know that we can count on this man, that we can take him at his word, that we can feel secure in the relationship. But sometimes, the trust is broken.
We typically think of trust being broken in a relationship being the result of cheating (which is undoubtedly a valid reason to lose trust), but trust can also be broken in smaller, less offensive ways, like failing to follow through on a promise or taking advantage of someone when they’re vulnerable.
Trust isn’t just about believing our boyfriend isn’t chasing other girls; it’s about feeling confident in their word, having faith in the foundation of our relationship, and feeling like we’re able to be vulnerable with him. So how can we rebuild trust when it’s been broken?
First, Decipher Whether It’s Worth Rebuilding
Before we can even talk about repairing the trust that’s been broken, we have to decipher if it’s prudent to attempt this — trying to get our relationship’s trust back on track without considering if it’s in our best interest first is a recipe for even more hurt if it turns out our boyfriend isn’t as committed to rebuilding the trust as we are.
Look for signs that our effort to fix what’s been broken will be worth the pain. Does he show genuine remorse? Is he willing to own up to the actions that led us here in the first place? Has he been honest with us about what happened? Does he take initiative and show us he wants to fix things? Do we have good reason to believe he won’t make the same mistake twice?
If we’re able to answer these questions with a “yes” and we’re also truly committed to making things work, then it’s time to think about how to gain trust back.
Communicate with Each Other
Before any progress can be made, both people need a clear understanding of why the trust was broken — so communicating our issues with our boyfriend’s behavior or listening to their grievances if we broke the trust is the first step in rebuilding trust.
Try to express these issues with a desire and willingness to get the relationship back on track rather than to condemn or from a place of contempt. In order for our concerns to be received well, we have to be mindful of how we present them.
Both people need a clear understanding of why the trust was broken before it can be rebuilt.
Give Each Other Space To Breathe
If we’re the ones apologizing or attempting to gain back the trust we lost, it’s helpful to allow our boyfriend space to process what exactly he's feeling rather than rushing him to accept an apology and move on so we can feel better about ourselves. If we’ve hurt our boyfriend enough, it’s only fair to give him time to feel the weight of whatever pain we’ve caused him, uncomfortable as it may be to face that.
If we’re the ones who got hurt, we can let our boyfriend know that while we want to work on the relationship and repair what’s been broken, we can’t hurry or force ourselves to feel ready to do so. It may even take a short period of separation to distance ourselves enough from whatever betrayal or hurt we’ve endured. Be upfront about what kind of time or space is needed.
Seek an Apology and Choose To Forgive
Apologies are monumental in our ability to move forward; they let us know that our boyfriend recognizes he did something that needs to be forgiven. Getting an apology lets us feel heard and validated, making it more natural for us to move forward.
But it doesn’t stop there; an apology needs to be accepted. Forgiveness might feel unnatural, and even unfair, but it’s important that we choose to forgive our boyfriend not just so we can begin to move on, but so they can feel their efforts to make it up to us actually matter. This means not just saying, “I forgive you” once, but actively choosing forgiveness, even as rough emotions resurface.
Don’t Dwell on Wrongdoings
It’s easy to let their offense replay on a loop in our mind, rehashing all the details; we’re rightfully hurt by their actions and don’t have the same trust in them we once did. And we’re also wary of letting them “get away with bad behavior.”
However, we can’t dwell on their wrongdoings if we have any hope of repairing the relationship, especially if we expressed wanting to move forward. Drudging up old wrongs and allowing resentment to fester is confusing for our boyfriend, forces him to grovel over and over again, and sets the relationship on an unhealthy path. If we truly want to rebuild the trust that was broken, we have to allow both parties to move on.
Work on Creating New Memories and Dynamics
In order to rebuild trust, we have to give ourselves something other than our pain to think about when we look at our boyfriend; we have to replace our current feelings of betrayal, hurt, or anger with emotions that make it possible for us to restore the trust in our relationship.
If we’ve been feeling distant from our boyfriend, make the effort to feel more connected.
Now is the time to create new memories — take that day trip that keeps being pushed back, or go on a date that’s reminiscent of the beginning of the relationship. When we give ourselves new experiences that highlight our relationship’s love to think about, we’re less likely to stay in a dark, painful place.
Feeling a shift in the dynamic of our relationship is important, too. If we’ve been feeling distant from our boyfriend, make the effort to feel more connected — talk on the phone instead of texting after work, or set aside one night a week for a date night.
Have Weekly Check-Ins
Couples need to know what’s going on for each other, emotionally, mentally, and physically. We can’t assume that we’ll know whatever our boyfriend is feeling because we see him often enough. And it’s also unrealistic to pretend that our man’s hurtful actions won’t continue to sting and we’ll never have to talk about them again after we choose to forgive him.
It’s crucial to carve out time for regular check-ins, sans distractions, where we both feel free to discuss whatever’s been weighing on us, what we’d like more of from our boyfriend, what we feel has improved in our relationship, and anything else we want to bring up. Making this kind of communication part of our routine will help strengthen the relationship, build our connection, and make it less likely that we’ll find ourselves in another situation in which trust is broken.
Restoring our trust in our boyfriend isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if we hope to continue the relationship and feel connected, secure, respected, and loved.
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