When Trust is Broken

Individuals who engage in deceptive activities often find themselves concealing their behavior from those they care about with deceit and lies. If the deceptive activity comes to light, individuals who have been lied to often have a hard time trusting the person who has been deceiving them again. Once trust has been violated, it is not easy to win it back. Trust that has been earned over years can be demolished with a single act. And it may take a long time to convince people that the person who had betrayed their trust is worthy of being trusted again.

The best way for individuals to rebuild relationships with those they have wronged is by making amends for the harm they have done. However, the process of restoring the trust is more arduous than the blow that brought it down. Individuals should not expect their friends and family members to believe that they will remain self-disciplined.

Earning back people's trust can be a frustrating process. Individuals may feel that they have been altruistic long enough for their loved ones to trust them again. Then again, individuals should understand that restoring trust does not happen on the individuals schedule. Rebuilding a trusting relationship will take time, even if both parties are committed to the process. An offender should be prepared to cope with the frustration that comes from being suspected of engagement in deceptive activities even though they have not done so.

There are two main ways for the offender (and the offended) to make things worse when confronted with a trust violation. One is withdrawal, to keep everything bottled up inside. The other is to erupt, to emote without restraint. If you are having too many conversations with yourself, you are probably not having enough with your partner. If you are screaming, hurling insults and looking to vent without concern for the impact, not briefly, but mostly, the relationship is certain to deteriorate

Restoring trust is not a one-person endeavor. The offended partner shares in the responsibility of the repair process. In fact, if there is not receptiveness to the possibility of trusting again, and an encouragement of the offender’s efforts to restore confidence, the process is destined to failure.

A prolonged period of coldness and alienation, perhaps going on for months, will almost surely result in the offended partner giving up in their efforts to reconnect. It is most helpful, to consider carefully what is needed to restore trust, spell it out and work together with the offender in creating a blueprint for reparation.

The challenge realistically, is to be responsive to the individual's efforts when there has been a betrayal. Simply thinking about the relationship differently, although important, is not powerful enough. Additional, the behavior have to change and both parties be committed to the repair process.