Rebuilding trust in a relationship

Julia Faulks / 18 September 2015

Regaining trust in a relationship after a betrayal can be a difficult process, but it can be done. Here we look at ways you can make amends and gradually start to rebuild that broken trust.



When you’ve admitted blame for something going wrong in your relationship it can be hard to see how your relationship can ever recover. Here we look at how you can get the trust back following a betrayal.

Restoring trust to your relationship after a betrayal

Whether it’s because of an affair, substance abuse or addiction, some couples find that their relationship is stronger than ever after going through a painful experience. But on the flip side, it can take a lot of hard work and forgiveness to get to this point.

If you know you’ve made a mistake and you want to make things better, showing remorse and being open and honest will give your partner more reason to believe that you want to make things work and can be trusted again.

“Affairs are very painful; it’s about betrayal and feeling hurt, angry and upset, but it’s also about looking at what it was about your relationship as a whole that contributed to the point you reached when it happened. It’s not about proportioning blame, it’s about using the betrayal as an opportunity to look at what you can learn about being in the situation,” says Paul Leake, counsellor for Relate.

Practical and emotional ways to help rebuild trust

“Being honest and saying you are truly sorry goes a long way, as well as being able to communicate about the reasons why it happened. I always do this with someone I care for – I don’t like things being unsettled. Unfortunately, in some cases, a person may not be willing to listen,” says Patsy, 52.

There is no magic formula for re-building trust and unfortunately some couples will never recover enough to stay together. However, if you are committed to making it work it’s important to:

Face up to the impact of your actions

If you aren’t able to understand the consequences of your behaviour then how will your partner learn to trust you again? It’s important that you appreciate the damage caused and learn how to support them to deal with it.

Seek counselling support

Rather than trying to deal with it on your own, you may benefit greatly from an impartial ear. Whether you go for couples counselling or one-to-one sessions, by talking things through you can start to deal with the fallout and understand more about why it happened in the first place.

At the same time, on a day-to-day basis you should aim to:

  • Be an open book – be reliable, call when you say you will call and don’t hide your schedule (or your phone).
  • Allow your partner to vent – they may want to bring the subject up frequently and although this may be the last thing you will want to do, this is all part of the healing process.
  • Be open to change – find out what will make your partner feel more secure in your relationship so that you can help make things better for them to restore faith in you.
  • Accept that things will be up and down – it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but this is something you will have to ride out if you are to take full responsibility for your actions.
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