Heartbreak

18 Experts Reveal How To Regain The Trust Of Someone You've Betrayed

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When betrayal derails a close relationship, we want to believe there is a path to forgiveness, that trust might not be lost forever. 

Trust is the belief that a promise will be kept, a vow honored, a debt repaid. It is the foundation of human relationships, the crucible of faith.

Research into the concept of trust mentions words like "benevolence" and "integrity" — traits that evoke goodness. Attractive traits. Loveable traits.

In fact, love and trust are intertwined like the strands of a tightly wound rope. It's an age-old question: Can love even exist without trust?

The answer is different for everyone. But one thing is clear: Once lost, trust is difficult — if not impossible — to regain.

This is especially true if the person we betrayed is someone who loves us. 

We asked a panel of relationship experts to share their best advice for how to regain lost trust. Their responses make it clear that the betrayed party always has the final say about how (or even if) trust can be regained.

They also speak to the frailties that make us all human — and to the power of forgiveness.

RELATED: 5 Little Signs You Can Trust Someone Completely

How to regain the trust of someone you've betrayed

1. Come clean with the truth — and be patient

Until someone understands that you totally get why your betrayal made them feel like they got played for a fool, not to mention the embarrassment, they cannot start the process of forgiveness. Doing this effectively begins with you fully putting yourself in their position.

Consider how you'd feel and think had they done to you what you did to them. Would flowers, an apology and sex be enough?

Probably not. You'd want to know the truth.

Tell your partner the "complete" truth of your actions first, and save the why you did it for later. Telling them why, even if you have a justifiable reason, will only upset them more. That tends to come off as an excuse more often than not.

Last, don't expect them to get over it simply. Healing takes time.

The best thing you can do after your confessional and atonement is not to make the same mistake again. If you're not ready for commitment, do you and your partner a favor and leave well enough alone.

- Dr. Ivan Young, ICF Master Certified Coach

RELATED: If You Can't Trust Someone, You Can't Love Them

2. Be radically honest with them and with yourself

Brutal honesty. That may sound harsh, but the unvarnished truth — even if it is painful, another admission of error or fault, or would not be something they would want to know is true — is the only path to rebuilding trust.

It may mean that the relationship will not survive — in its current form or at all — but it is what the other person deserves if you value and respect the other and are remotely interested in rebuilding trust.

- Judith Pinto, focus and productivity coach

3. Make yourself accountable and follow through on promises

If you've betrayed someone and want to regain their trust, your first order of business is to be completely honest and accountable about what you've done.

There's no moving forward if you continue to hide things or be dishonest.

Find a therapist who can assist you in dealing with your guilt and shame so you don't bring that home to your aggrieved partner.

The second task you face is rebuilding trust: This means taking action. Say what you will actually do and refrain from promising things you can't follow through on.

In other words, showing up consistently and compassionately nurtures forgiveness and connection.

- Sharon Saline, psychologist and author

RELATED: How To Build Trust In & Strengthen Your Relationship

4. Take these three steps

You need to do three things:

  • Admit your mistake by taking 100% responsibility. "I did this (whatever you've done) to you."
  • Apologize. "I'm sorry, I betrayed you. I was wrong to do that and you did nothing to deserve it."
  • Make amends. Tell them what you are going to do differently, and then do it, day in and day out.

Depending on the betrayal, they may or may not give you a second chance. You do this anyway.

There is an advanced move: Decide never to betray anyone (including yourself) again, and do your best to live into that every day.

- Tara Brown, spiritual life coach

RELATED: 5 Powerful Types Of Trust Every Relationship Needs If You Want It To Last 

5. Try to understand why it happened — and don't do it again

First and foremost, the betrayer should consider why the damage occurred in the first place and take measures to ensure it does not occur again.

Honesty is integral during the reconciliation process — owning up to mistakes and apologizing with sincerity is essential.

Furthermore, taking actionable changes such as promising rewards for good behavior can go a long way in showing that one is earnest about forming a new relationship based on honesty and trustworthiness.

With some understanding and respect from both parties, it's not impossible to rebuild what was broken before. All that said, keep in mind this path won't be easy — but regaining someone's trust will be most rewarding in the end.

- Clare Waismann, founder, Waismann Method Rapid Detox

   

   

6. Search and understand your motivations

Inquire within first: Why did you betray the person? How did you betray the person? Why should the person trust you now? What are you willing to do for restitution, tangible and intangible?

Then put yourself in the person's shoes to imagine how they feel. Write out your insights and use them to write a letter to the person so they have time to consider.

In the end, mention that you will be in touch by a defined date to discuss the matter, but you'd understand if they would not forgive you. For that follow-up, make sure the means of communication you use would suit what's comfortable for the person, not yourself.

- Ruth Schimel, PhD, career and life management consultant

RELATED: How To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship After A Serious Betrayal 

7. Be transparent and communicate

In order to restore trust in a relationship you must first see how you broke it, accept responsibility, apologize and inquire with the person you broke it with as to what they need from you to help to restore it.

Understand that you will most likely be met with statements and needs that are either extreme in nature or words of not knowing what is needed.

In either case, the answer to restoring comes through transparency, communication, communication, communication and consistency in showing up in a trustworthy fashion. Let your words and actions align. Stand in integrity and keep the channels of communication open.

- Rene Schooler, sex and relationship coach

8. Pledge to do whatever you must to regain trust

The first step is to make the commitment to do “1,000% of whatever may be required to regain your trust!”

Next, employ communications skills that allow both partners to see the underlying needs that were not met for both partners that predated the betrayal behavior.

Finally, learn new ways to meet those needs without adjusting the truth or breaking promises.

- Susan Allan, CEO, the Marriage Forum

RELATED: How To Stop Trust Issues From Sabotaging Your Relationship 

9. Ask the betrayed person what you need to do

First, ask the person what they require to feel safe again with you. Ask for actions you can do that are time-bound with measurable results.

Avoid making recommendations of how you could regain trust unless the person asks for your ideas. Clarify any questions you have without arguing for different actions.

Take off a time requirement of when the trust should be regained. The more the betrayed person experiences real care and compassion, the better.

- Ivy L. Lofberg, dating and relationship coach

10. Remember actions speak louder

It's important that we remember that actions speak louder than words. False promises or actions will only negate the issue further.

When we are truly sorry for our actions, our remorse and regret must be genuine and sincere. We must move forward with transparency. This means we have learned our lesson and we will always do our best to never repeat the same mistake(s).

- Kathy Lynn Thielen, life and relationship coach

RELATED: 10 Signs He Regrets Cheating On You (And Still Loves You) 

11. Give the betrayed person space to trust themselves again

The person you've betrayed may never totally trust you again. They may feel they betray themselves if they do.

It takes time to learn trust their own inner voice, to know they can discern the difference between intuition and fear.

They have to learn to trust themselves again, so they can begin to let things go and start over.

- Tammy Nelson, director, Integrative Sex Therapy Institute

12. Take responsibility for your failure

First, acknowledge your betrayal and take responsibility by acknowledging your failure to your partner, within your relationship, and to yourself.

Promise — say out loud to yourself and your partner — that you will never make that mistake again (and know you’re promising not a tiny instance of a specific betrayal but promising to avoid the whole class of similar betrayals).

Keep your word to your promise about not betraying your partner in this specific way in the future. If you are truly committed to this relationship, commit yourself to faithfulness and truthfulness into the future with not only this betrayal but also into the future under all circumstances.

Into the future, until your partner chooses to forgive you, keep your word to be faithful, trustworthy, and reliable — from this point forward into the future — and wait patiently without complaint.

Never expect that you’ve earned forgiveness by apologizing — forgiveness is given, not available on demand.

- Susan Kulakowski, relationship coach at RMI

 

   

   

13. Offer a sincere apology and ask how to make it right

Making amends usually starts with a sincere apology, conveying humility and empathy, and demonstrating that you understand the impact your betrayal has had on someone.

Ultimately, it's the person who was betrayed who needs to decide if the relationship is repairable and what it will take. Ask, "How can I make things right?"

- Lisa Petsinis, career and life coach

RELATED: How To Apologize Effectively & With Sincerity​ 

14. Demonstrate remorse and express a desire to fix it

For the best chance for trust to be regained from the hurt party, the betrayer must:

  • Sincerely show remorse and desire for repair and reconciliation.
  • Specifically, name what they need to be accountable for/own.
  • Offer transparency and real-time, stable, consistent support.

Wash, rinse, repeat — and wait.

- Eva Van Prooyen, marriage and family therapist

15. Be consistent over time

Regaining trust is not an overnight process. You will have to be consistent for an extended period of time.

The progress might be more like a roller coaster than a steady improvement. You have to be willing to let your partner speak their mind, talk about how you hurt them, get angry, cry, etc.

They need to be allowed to get their feelings out in a safe space so they don’t fester. It’s not about an extravagant gift, although that can help for some.

If I stood my partner up because I had an “emergency” but the emergency was just wanting to watch the game I would need to consistently show up on time and put my partner first over a series of games. Have patience.

This could take months or years but a great relationship is worth the work.

- Erika Jordan, love coach

RELATED: The 8 Specific Signs You're In One Of Those Rare Relationships That Can Truly Last A Lifetime 

16. Look in the mirror

It begins by facing the mirror. You must first trust yourself again.

Do the work to understand what allowed you to betray them in the first place, and then own up to it with humility in an open, raw, and hold-nothing-back conversation.

Honor and respect their need for time and space, and recognize that trust is difficult to build and easy to destroy.

You will have to show them that you are trustworthy in your words and behavior while being patient and kind as they resist and doubt fearing being hurt again.

- Ann Papayoti, relationship coach

RELATED: Why Emotional Self-Awareness Is So Difficult For Some People To Attain 

17. Work on yourself first — then seek forgiveness

The preparatory work is self-forgiveness. If you have not forgiven yourself for betraying someone, it will be very difficult for the other person to forgive you and begin trusting you again.

Ask yourself if you trust yourself to never betray the person again. And if in less than three seconds the answer you get from within you isn’t a resounding yes, then you know you might have something within you that’ll make you betray the person again under certain circumstances.

So, work on yourself to earn this person’s trust. Forgive yourself for past mistakes.

Then ask the other person to forgive you for your past and trust you now and for the future.

- Keya Murthy, clinical hypnotherapist and coach

18. Give it time and be patient

Regaining the trust of someone you have betrayed requires openness, honesty, transparency and the willingness to do whatever it is the person you betrayed needs in order to earn back their trust, even if that is nothing at all. And the biggest piece is time and patience.

Understand and accept that this will be on their timeline, not yours. There is nothing you can do to speed up this process and any attempts to may further damage your relationship.

- Amy A. Bliss, sex and relationship coach

RELATED: Why You Have Trust Issues — And 5 Ways You Can Start Putting Your Faith In Others 

Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for experts and wellness for YourTango. 

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