Trust is probably the most important ingredient in fostering a healthy committed relationship and is commonly known to be the glue that cements a couple together. Trust is the endearing faith and confidence that your partner will respect you and not take advantage of or hurt you. It’s a feeling that he is genuine, authentic, dependable, and sincere. This connection allows you to be completely uninhibited and open yourself up to being vulnerable and share your most intimate thoughts and feelings—spots and all! Time and experience with your man has enabled a climate of safety to evolve in your relationship because you’ve both consistently demonstrated honor and strength of character in your actions toward each other and those around you.
While trust takes time to develop and is a hallmark of a successful relationship, it can very quickly be damaged if not nurtured and cause severe consequences for the future of the partnership afflicted by an indiscretion. Once trust has been compromised, it can be very difficult to repair, and in some cases that damage can be irreversible. This article will offer some tips for those couples invested in bridging the gap and attempting to restore the impaired trust in their relationships.
The Shattered Foundation
All that a relationship has been built upon comes crashing down once trust has been violated, which is why it’s typically not a quick-fix and requires a lot of time and energy dedicated to its repair. Maybe he cheated on you. Perhaps you told him a white lie. He might have broken a promise to you. No matter how miniscule or severe the crime committed may seem, the dynamics and the sense of security the relationship once shared will likely be shifted.
Developing trust in someone can be made difficult when there’s been a history of emotional/verbal/physical abuse, when one’s feelings have been minimized or ignored, or when there’s unresolved grief or hurt from the past. Your family background and prior experiences in relationships can also be contributing factors to difficulties with trust, as well as significant stress, low self-esteem, and addictions. Just the nature of being gay can make us prone to being mistrustful because of the years we spent hiding behind masks or “closet doors” to protect ourselves against homophobia. And when the man we fall in love with betrays that ultimate brotherhood bond, it can be devastating and lead to an almost paranoid state of always assessing his every move and action and becoming hypersensitive to any possible indication of disloyalty to compensate for and protect against getting hurt again. Intimacy suffers and the level of involvement tends to become distant.
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.
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