Maybe your spouse cheated on you, your best friend stabbed you in the back, or your co-worker took credit for your idea. On the other hand, maybe you lied to your sweetheart,
stole the guy or girl your friend had an eye on, or failed to help a coworker or classmate on a crucial project. Trust between two people means that they can be vulnerable with each other. Maintaining trust is very important to having satisfying relationships. Losing trust is a two-way street, and so is rebuilding it. Both parties must want to work at rebuilding lost trust. Here’s what you need to do from both angles.
PART 1: Taking Responsibility for your Actions
- Admit all of your mistakes. Even if there are parts that you can keep hidden without getting caught, you should still reveal them to the other person. Only in admitting all your mistakes can you be forgiven for all of them.
2. Expect an emotional reaction from the other person. Admitting that you betrayed someone is not going to make things easier immediately. On the contrary, you can expect an emotional outburst—yelling, crying, and so on—from the other person when she hears you admit your betrayal. But remember, the best way to move on is by putting it all into the open.
3. Apologize. This one should be obvious, but unfortunately, sometimes it gets overlooked. How you approach saying your apology will influence whether or not the apology is accepted and you both can move on.
- When apologizing, avoid justifying your actions. Don’t claim that the offended person misunderstood you (“you read that wrong”). Don’t deny their hurt (“you didn’t even get hurt”). Don’t tell a sad tale (“I had a troubled childhood”).
- The best way to accept responsibility is by recognizing the other person’s hurt, saying what you should have done instead, and doing that behavior in the future.
- Let the person you betrayed know why you are apologizing. If they know that you are apologizing out of guilt and shame, they are more likely to forgive you. If they think that you are apologizing out of pity, they are less likely to forgive you. Pity, unlike guilt and shame, does not show an element of personal responsibility of the offender. Pity also implies that the offender is superior to the offended.
- Remember that no one is perfect. Whether your error in judgment was minor or major, it goes to show that you are only human. Accept your failure, and try to push forward into the future.
- By clinging to thoughts of past failure, you risk devaluing yourself. Once you begin to have such thoughts, it could zap your motivation for self-improvement.
PART 2: Moving Forward If You Betrayed Someone
- This is especially important in romantic relationships broken apart by infidelity. Give your significant other complete, uncensored access to your texts, phone logs, emails, and appointment book for a few weeks to months after your betrayal. Let him or her know where you are and who you are with whenever possible.
- One of the worst things you can do is attempt to get them to “shut up” while expressing their anger. This action shows that you are not taking this person’s feelings seriously.
- Let the other person vent at their own pace. Everyone goes about things in a different way and in a different time period. Rushing the other person shows a lack of consideration.
- You should avoid making the same mistake at all costs.
- Depending on the severity of your betrayal, building trust can take weeks, months, or years.
- Never pressure the other person into showing you more trust.
- Understand that things may never be quite the same after your betrayal, but if you show that you are a trustworthy person, some level of trust can usually be revived.
PART 3: Getting Ready to Trust Someone Again
- Is this the first time this person betrayed me?
- Will I really be able to trust this person again, even if they do everything perfectly from now on?
- Am I able to forgive?
- Is the relationship I have with this person important enough to fight for?
- Is this a one-time mistake or a pattern of behavior?
- If they don’t seem to truly regret hurting you, or aren’t interested in making things better, then this relationship probably isn’t worth your time.
3. Express your feelings. Let the person who betrayed you know just how deeply you were hurt by their actions. Most importantly, tell your betrayer exactly what it was that hurt you. Tell them what you need so that you will start trusting that person again.
PART 4: Moving Forward if Someone Betrayed You
- If you still notice that you are holding onto your negative feelings, think about why you are having trouble letting go. Is it because your partner is still behaving in a way that betrays your trust? Or is it because of your personal issues related to your own past history?
- The goal is to be realistic, not to let yourself get walked all over. Accept that everyone can slip up here and there. However, don’t ever let anyone get away with hurting you intentionally or with intentional neglect.
3. Give and receive love. You need to be willing to accept and love the person who betrayed you, and you also need to accept the love that person gives you in return. When your betrayer tries to express affection, accept that the acts of affection are the real thing. Try to accept an action that seems honest.