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Can a Relationship Be Saved When Trust Is Broken?

by Sharon H. Bolling

Broken trust can lead to feelings of betrayal that may damage a relationship beyond repair, if both parties are not willing to work toward rebuilding trust. Identify the issues that led to the mistrust and make a plan to reestablish your confidence in each other. Reconciliation will take time, but if you genuinely want to restore the relationship and move forward, you can.

Tell the Truth

Honest behavior is an important part of redeveloping trust in a relationship. Covering up past events or true feelings can cause further damage; instead, create a climate of openness to deepen intimacy, suggests John R. Ballew, a licensed counselor who specializes in relationships, writing for the Bodymindsoul.org website. Talk things through and take responsibility for your actions when appropriate. Truthfulness demonstrates a commitment to the relationship and goes a long way toward reestablishing feelings of trust, say Linda and Charlie Bloom in the article, "Betrayal: It’s Not Just About Infidelity," on the Psychology Today website.

Openly Communicate

Listening to each other and acknowledging emotions can aid in reopening the lines of communication. You may not agree with, or even believe, what is being said, but restrain from analyzing, judging or evaluating the feelings being expressed, suggest the Blooms. Taking turns sharing the painful feelings can help you better understand what the other person has been going through. Do your best to answer any questions you are asked, using them as a chance to show your desire to restore trust.

Give Plenty of Attention

Showing adequate levels of attention and affection will differ based on the type of relationship that is suffering from mistrust. Demonstrate your appreciation by noticing how the other person working to heal the relationship, says Sheri Meyers, Psy.D., in the article, “Betrayal: It’s Not Just About Infidelity," in Huffington Post. Make an encouraging comment, offer to lend a hand or show physical affection, if appropriate. Showing interest and concern can validate your commitment to rebuilding the relationship.

Offer Forgiveness

While forgiving someone who broke your trust is difficult, releasing the relationship from the bondage of bitterness and betrayal can bring restoration. Give yourself time and be genuine, says Ballew. If the relationship is significant enough to rebuild trust, then it is important to offer forgiveness or accept an apology. Ask yourself how a loving person would respond to the situation, notes Meyers. Be direct, speak kindly and carefully remove the barriers that may be preventing reconciliation.

About the Author

Sharon Bolling holds a master's in counseling and human development with a concentration in school counseling from Radford University. She is an experienced instructor of both high school and college students. She has been writing for Demand Media online since April 2013.

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