Tips For Rebuilding Trust
While it may seem insurmountable at times, it is very possible to heal from broken trust and come out on the other side with a positive outcome. You must first decide, however, if you are truly invested in salvaging your relationship with each other and that you’re doing it for the right reasons.
If the violation goes against your core beliefs and values, is this really a good partner choice? Staving off being alone and having to start over again is not a good reason to dismiss an inappropriate behavior that opposes who you are and what you stand for. Make sure your motives are in the right place and that you each share a genuine common vision of rising above and conquering this challenge because your relationship is worth it.
Here are some tips for those couples who are invested in that process. These recommendations can help promote the chances for a progression through the hurdles of repairing trust to a new life of possibility as lifelong partners:
Get a good handle on any projections that might be being triggered from the past; your boyfriend is not your ex or your father who may have hurt you before. Focus on the here-and-now and deal directly with this current reality and not those distractions that you’ll still need to grieve and complete.
Reach out to others. Nothing can help restore the human spirit better than serving those in need or seeing acts of kindness in motion. This helps renew the fact that there is goodness in people and this can be accomplished through volunteering for a charity or tapping into spirituality venues, for example. Access your support system too.
You and your partner will need to communicate and listen to each other; make sure you know how to do this well and enlist the help of a trained therapist if needed. Difficult discussions abound and you each will need to be able to express and understand each other’s perspectives. You will also need to acknowledge and validate each other’s experiences of the problem and reach an understanding of how and why this happened, staying focused on the issue-at-hand.
You will each need to take responsibility for the roles you played in the indiscretion and be open to apologizing and forgiving each other.
In your problem-solving, you will need to create a new “relationship contract”, agreeing to behavior that’s fair vs. unjust and ensuring you each share these same definitions. Identify any unrealistic expectations to avoid any set-ups for sabotage.
Create a healing climate in your relationship. There is no room for competition, jealousy, blame, or defensiveness any more. Introduce more tenderness and attentiveness to each other’s needs. Demonstrate to each other consistently that you are each priorities to one another and remember that you get back what you put into your relationship (The Law of Attraction).
Monitor your self-talk and counter any negative thoughts that could interfere with your relationship efforts and self-esteem. Begin the process of re-establishing a secure identity where you’re open to taking risks and being vulnerable again.
Learn to “let go” of any bitterness to allow each of you the opportunity to grow and change. Take an inventory of the positive memories, behaviors, interactions, and characteristics of your partner to keep you balanced and hopeful.
The road to recovery from broken trust can lead you to a lot of self-discovery and growth in your relationship with sustained effort and a positive mindset. Recognize how trust issues play out between you and your partner, identify the behaviors needed to overcome obstacles, and confront any blocks that might hold you back from your goals.
And lastly, realize that trust needs constant feeding in relationships and that the hardest thing in the world for you to do right now is an essential component of moving forward—becoming vulnerable again. But by opening yourself up, you’ll truly be able to see if you’re loved for who you really are and you’ll be a more active and happier participant in life.
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com