Most successful relationships are based upon mutual trust, and when that trust is tested in some way, so is the relationship. That isn’t to say that both parties can’t move on together if there are trust issues, but neglecting to address the matter in an open and honest way can make it very difficult for either party to move forward.
When was the trust broken?
When trust becomes an issue early on in a relationship, the one who has been betrayed will doubtless find it a lot tougher to forgive and move on, than if they had been betrayed further down the line. The early stages of most relationships involve getting to know each better and understanding what each wants and expects from the other, so if trust becomes an issue at the outset, the other may struggle to feel it’s still worth pursuing the relationship. However, if a couple have been together a little longer and a trust issue arises, the betrayed party may feel that they can work through it, since until that point the other had proved trustworthy.
Taking full responsibility for breaking trust is essential:
If you’ve broken your partners trust and refuse to acknowledge it or give a sincere apology, then the relationship may struggle for a longer time. Showing your partner that you knew you were wrong to break their trust, and that you understand how deeply you’ve hurt them, can go a long way towards helping your partner learn to forgive you and trust you again.
How to achieve forgiveness:
Forgiving means that you discontinue holding that past mistake over your partners head in a rageful or threatening way, and instead you talk about it in detail and agree to process it as long as needed in an emotionally honest and vulnerable way.
No relationship can survive a betrayal of trust if the injured party cannot bring themselves to forgive the other in this way. That may take time, but getting there is essential. Forgetting that trust was broken will not happen, but if you’ve been hurt by an act of betrayal and can find the strength to forgive your partner (as defined earlier), then there is a chance for the relationship to progress.
You can’t put a time limit on forgiveness:
How long each person needs to forgive an act of betrayal will vary hugely, and there are no hard and fast rules. So, try not to be upset, angry or disappointed if your partner takes longer than you had hoped to get to a place where they can emotionally process what you’ve done. While you wait, however, you can do your best to reinforce the fact that they can trust you, by being true to your word and creating increased transparency in the relationship.
Some relationships require a lot of hard work, and forgiving a partner (using the definition above) for betraying their trust is not easy. If you are experiencing trust issues within your relationship, it may help you both to seek counseling, either individually, or together. Couples counseling can be hugely therapeutic provided both parties are willing to talk about their issues, and doing so with someone who is completely unbiased, can be cathartic and healing.
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