Trust is foundational in a healthy relationship. While each person interprets what it means to be trustworthy, in essence, it means to have a firm belief in someone based on truth, honesty, and reliability. You know you can rely on your partner because you feel safe with them and are confident. They won’t purposely hurt you.

Trust makes a relationship more meaningful. It allows you and your partner to be vulnerable with one another without fear of judgment. But sometimes, there is broken trust in a relationship. How do you gain back the confidence you once had with your partner?

12 Ways to restore a relationship fraught with broken trust

Here are some suggestions of twelve ways to repair broken trust in a relationship for you and your partner.

1. Be honest

If there is broken trust in your relationship, honesty is essential. Don’t dance around the issue, but bring it up with our partner in a kind but firm way. Please don’t assume you know what they’re thinking but ask lots of questions. Try to understand what happened and what they’re feeling. Lying won’t help resolve the problems, so resist the temptation to skirt the truth. Even if you think you’re telling a “little white lie,” it’s not helpful for your relationship.

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2. Open communication

If you don’t understand, ask for clarity. Find a time and a place to talk where you won’t be interrupted. Allow time to discuss what’s going on. You may need to talk about the issues throughout a couple of days. Reassure your partner that you’re for them and want to understand. If they’re sorry for what they’ve done, be sure to assure them of your love. This doesn’t mean you tell them it’s okay what they did but try to separate them from their actions. On the other side of the coin, don’t be quick to say, “It’s okay.” Take your time to figure out what’s going on in your heart.

3. Be respectful when restoring broken trust

When you’re hurt, it’s easy to feel dissatisfied and angry. Even in your anger, be respectful towards them. This is someone you love. Even if they messed up big time, you could be courteous to them.

4. Listen well

Be attentive to your partner as they share. Make eye contact and lean forward in your chair. Nod your head to show you’re fully engaged in listening to what they say. Other things you can do to listen well include:

  • Give your partner your full attention
  • Don’t interrupt them as they share
  • Ask open-ended questions that require more than yes or no.
  • Please clarify what you think you hear them saying to you.
  • Don’t judge until you hear the whole story

5. Forgive as you start to repair broken trust

If your partner has been untrustworthy and is sorry for what they’ve done, forgive them. After all, everyone makes mistakes. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll trust them right away. Depending on what they did, it may take some time for them to earn back your trust. But for your own sake and the health of your relationship, you will need to forgive them.

6. Explain what you need to trust them

Honestly, explain to your partner what you need them to do to rebuild your trust. Explain how their actions affected you and what your struggles are now. Your partner isn’t a mind reader. They need to understand what will be helpful to you and what won’t be beneficial.

7. Be patient–broken trust is a lengthy fix

If your partner has been untrustworthy, remember to be patient. Once you hear them out and understand the reason behind their untrustworthiness, then you need to be patient with them as they gain your trust again.

8. Don’t overreact

While your partner is building your trust, it may tempt you to overreact especially if you think they’ve fallen back into their old behavior. If you’re curious about what’s going on, ask. Don’t assume you know and get upset until you have all the facts.

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9. Don’t hold their lack of honesty over their head

If your partner is working hard to change, don’t keep bringing up their past offenses. It’s humiliating and discouraging to rehash past mistakes over and again. If you genuinely offer forgiveness, you must stop reminding them about their past mistakes.

10. Don’t keep secrets

Be quick to share things that happened at work or school. Share your temptations and stuff you’re thinking about. This helps both of you understand there are no secrets between you.

11. Trustworthy behavior earns faith

No amount of gifts or promises can earn back your trust. Remind your partner that their trustworthy actions and behavior will show you they are a reliable individual.

12. Lay a new foundation to rebuild after broken trust

In a relationship with broken trust, you’ll need to rebuild the foundation of trust between the two of you. Begin to incorporate the things like honesty, commitment, and loyalty into your relationship. If you two are wholly committed to making your relationship work, you will succeed in re-establishing the trust you need.

What are signs of broken trust in a relationship?

Signs of broken trust in your relationship include:

  • Dishonesty: Your partner doesn’t tell you the whole truth. Perhaps they lie about buying an expensive item or say they’ll come to an event and then never show up. Their dishonest actions make you feel unfair. They’re not trustworthy.
  • Disloyal: A partner can show disloyalty by sharing private conversations you’ve had as a couple with others. They may make fun of you in public. Relationships are built on trust that another person has your best interest in mind. That means they are loyal and protective of you.
  • Withdraw: When your partner withdraws from you emotionally or physically, it’s a red flag that something is wrong. Perhaps they feel ashamed of what they did. Or they may be angry at you and seeking revenge by withdrawing from you. Whatever the reason, you must understand what’s going on by asking questions.
  • Undependable: Your relationship depends on your ability to trust your partner. You rely upon them to do the things they commit to. If they commit to helping you clean up the backyard but then make excuses when it’s time to work, you’ll feel you can’t depend upon them. Broken promises, no matter how small, are a sign that your partner isn’t wholly omitted from you or the relationship.

What causes broken trust issues?

During childhood, the foundation of trust is created. Your experiences with trustworthy adults early in life affect how you interpret trust and respond to in your relationships as an adult. The relationship you had with your parents or caregivers set you up for future relationships. Here are some situations that may cause you to not trust people in relationships.

  • Neglect, lack of love and affection from your parents or caregivers
  • Divorce
  • Emotional or physical abuse
  • Having a parent or caregiver that’s addicted to drugs or alcohol or gambling
  • Being cheated on by a spouse or partner as an adult
  • Being abandoned by a parent or caregiver, or partner

Learning to trust is difficult, but over time, you can learn to trust those people who are genuinely trustworthy. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You may have a good reason for not being able to trust.

Signs your past relationships contribute to your current broken trust:

Being in a relationship reveals how you trust people. You may try to protect yourself, even if your partner is entirely trustworthy. You need to realize that your past is affecting your present-day relationships. Here are some signs that you have a hard time trusting people.

  • You find it hard to get close to others
  • You suspect of people’s motives
  • You’re constantly wondering if your partner or spouse is cheating on you
  • You have unrealistic expectations of other people
  • You are in intense relationships, and then they fall apart
  • You’ve experienced a hard time being vulnerable
  • You struggle with anxiety
  • You try to control the people around you

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Final thoughts on repairing broken trust in a relationship

Trust is a foundation part of all relationships. You learn early on to trust those around you. If you experience broken trust as a child, you are likely to struggle with trust issues as an adult. Once trust is broken in a relationship, it’s possible to rebuild trust with honesty, commitment, and patience over time.

Be sure to explain to your partner what they need to do to earn back your trust. As you rebuild trust in your relationship, you will experience a more profound connection on a solid foundation.