Can Trust Be Restored After Infidelity?

Trust is like the unshakeable foundation of a strong, thriving relationship. Picture it as the solid ground that holds everything together. But when one partner breaks that trust with things like cheating or keeping secrets, it’s as if an earthquake hits, shaking the foundation and leaving things feeling unstable. This not only creates a sense of unease but also throws off the balance of power and makes it tough for trust to fully be restored.

While it may feel like you will never be able to trust again after infidelity or betrayal, the good news is that you can heal and you can learn to trust again. Regaining trust after infidelity is possible. Whether the relationship continues or not, the personal effort of being truthful, showing vulnerability, and deciding what’s acceptable contributes to the healing process. As you learn to trust again on your own or through relationship coaching, you will see growth and progress.

If you have had your trust shaken, you may be looking for ways to rebuild trust in your relationship. You can rebuild this trust through equalizing power imbalances, watching out for the floating saint trap, setting clear boundaries, allowing for mistakes, and seeking professional help.

Power Imbalances

When one person in a relationship betrays the other through actions like cheating or keeping significant secrets, it creates an unfair distribution of power. It’s like a seesaw where one side is heavily weighted down, and the other is left hanging in the air. The person with the secrets holds all the cards, knowing what’s truly happening while the other partner remains in the dark. This puts the uninformed partner in a vulnerable position, unable to make informed decisions or protect themselves when they believe everything is fine, unaware of the betrayal occurring.

The imbalance stems from the dishonest actions of the partner who is keeping secrets or cheating. It’s a result of unfair choices that undermine the foundation of trust in the relationship. In a healthy dynamic, both individuals should have access to the same information, allowing them to make choices based on a shared understanding of the situation. Purposeful secrets disrupt this equality, leaving one person at a disadvantage.

Restoring balance requires courageous truth-telling from the partner who strayed. It’s about coming clean and sharing the hidden truths, even though it may be difficult. This act of honesty serves as a reset button, leveling the playing field once again. It gives both partners equal footing to navigate the complexities of the relationship. While it’s a challenging process, this genuine openness lays the groundwork for trust to begin its slow but steady journey of renewal, one day at a time.

The Floating Saint Trap

In the aftermath of betrayal, the partner who was unfaithful often experiences a strong desire to make amends and alleviate the pain they’ve caused. This genuine guilt motivates them to go to great lengths to bring comfort and healing to their hurt partner. However, this well-intentioned effort can sometimes take a problematic turn, leading to what is known as the “floating saint” trap.

This trap emerges when the remorseful partner becomes overly focused on becoming everything the hurt partner wants them to be. In this pursuit of perfection, they risk losing their own identity. It’s like trying to mold themselves into an idealized version solely to please their partner. This approach, while seemingly positive, can backfire, creating a façade of goodness while sacrificing authenticity and intimacy.

When someone abandons their own needs and emotions in an attempt to fit an unrealistic image, it becomes a form of pretense. The “floating saint” loses touch with their genuine thoughts and feelings, creating a barrier to true connection. This lack of authenticity hinders the rebuilding of trust, as the hurt partner needs to see and understand the real person behind the mistakes.

Instead of striving for an illusion of perfection, a more effective path towards rebuilding trust involves staying patiently honest about one’s true self. This means acknowledging personal flaws, expressing genuine thoughts and feelings, and actively working to understand the partner’s perspective. It’s a process that may not be swift or flawless, but it is grounded in authenticity. By staying true to oneself and demonstrating a commitment to understanding and growth, the foundation for rebuilding trust becomes more solid and enduring. It’s a real and honest journey that, over time, fosters genuine connection and closeness.

Trust and Boundaries

Another way to rebuild trust in your relationship is to set boundaries. When trust in a relationship is shattered, establishing and maintaining boundaries becomes a crucial aspect of the healing process. It’s important to understand that boundaries are not walls; rather, they are the rules individuals set for themselves and communicate to others. These rules serve as guidelines for acceptable behavior and help create a sense of safety. In the aftermath of deception or betrayal, boundaries play a pivotal role in rebuilding trust.

Consider boundaries as the guidelines you establish to navigate your personal space and interactions. They communicate what behaviors you find acceptable and unacceptable from those around you. For instance, after the upheaval caused by lies in a relationship, a boundary might be, “I need full honesty about where you are and who you’re with.” This boundary serves as a safeguard, providing clarity on the expectations for openness and transparency.

Boundaries contribute to the restoration of trust in two significant ways. First, by defining and adhering to your own limits, you begin to rebuild trust in yourself. It’s a process of regaining confidence in your ability to uphold the standards you’ve set for a healthy relationship. Second, as the partner who breached trust demonstrates respect for these boundaries over time, they convey a genuine commitment to earning back trust through their actions.

As the untrustworthy partner consistently respects and adheres to the communicated boundaries, it becomes evident to the partner working to rebuild trust that their needs matter. The actions of the partner who strayed reflect a genuine desire to honor the established rules and demonstrate a commitment to rebuilding the relationship. This mutual understanding and respect for boundaries create a positive cycle, slowly but surely restoring trust in the relationship. Healthy communication and consistent adherence to boundaries become essential elements in the gradual rebuilding of trust after it has been broken.

Perfection is Not Required

After experiencing betrayal, it’s common for the hurt individual to desire perfection from their partner as a prerequisite for rebuilding trust. This inclination stems from a belief that trust can only be restored if the partner becomes flawless. However, this expectation of perfection can significantly derail the process of rebuilding trust, and here’s why: perfection is an unattainable standard.

The reality is that people are inherently imperfect. They make mistakes, have challenging days, and encounter struggles—it’s a fundamental part of being human. If the demand for perfection becomes the condition for trust to grow again, it sets an impossible bar that no one can consistently meet. This mindset not only sabotages the healing process but also creates an atmosphere where trust cannot take root.

In contrast to the perfectionist approach, rebuilding trust occurs through consistency over time, not an expectation of flawlessness. The person who broke trust needs to transparently put in the effort, sticking to promises, acknowledging missteps, and consistently choosing honesty. Trust gradually begins to grow roots again as these actions become a part of their character.

Striving for perfection can actually impede the development of intimacy. It creates an environment where partners feel pressured to meet unattainable standards, hindering genuine connection. On the other hand, embracing imperfect progress together fosters understanding and care. Allowing room for mistakes and acknowledging that progress, not perfection, is the goal can lead to a more authentic and compassionate rebuilding of the relationship.

Help is Available

There are many ways to rebuild trust in your relationship. Seeking help from a trained professional can greatly aid healing after the crisis of betrayal. Those who have had their trust shattered often find that the trauma is too overwhelming to process alone. Similarly, individuals who acted unethically may struggle to face painful realities without support. 

A professional therapist, betrayal trauma coach, or counselor can provide an impartial sounding board to unpack complex feelings. They ask probing questions and reflect back difficult truths. This facilitates self-discovery and personal accountability that partners might resist on their own. Additionally, professionals offer coping techniques and communication tools tailored to the situation. This can help the betrayed and the betrayer regain trust after infidelity. 

With practice, these skills build understanding and emotional safety. Perhaps most importantly, relationship coaching empowers clarity and hope that trust can be slowly rebuilt through courageous honesty and consistency. Rather than struggling silently, guidance lights the way. For both betrayed and betrayer, taking advantage of knowledgeable support accelerates relationship recovery and personal growth.

If you are looking for professional help or relationship coaching following a betrayal or infidelity, reach out to our team at Choose Recovery Services. We are here to help you gain clarity, process your emotions, rebuild trust, and heal. 

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