How To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship After Infidelity
Infidelity can be a dealbreaker for many relationships and often comes with painful emotions and conversations. However, if you've decided to continue in a relationship after facing your partner's infidelity or acting unfaithfully yourself, there are a few steps you can take to rebuild trust, connection, and honesty between you.
How To Rebuild Trust After Infidelity
One study on trust found that 100% of the participants felt trust is an essential aspect of a healthy relationship. However, the same study found that 50% of relationships involve infidelity. Understanding how trust occurs and how to rebuild it after betrayal can be beneficial in improving the quality of the relationship. Couples can restore trust after infidelity in several ways, including the following.
According to studies, communication can be one of the most essential aspects of a healthy relationship. After infidelity, ignoring or avoiding the subject of what occurred may cause resentment, distress, or other consequences. Discussing what happened in detail can help the partner who experienced the betrayal feel a sense of closure and transparency. Knowing that no more details are kept secret can help them feel they can trust their partner again. However, others might not want to know the details. Find a balance of what feels healthiest to you. Communication can also involve talking about how each person feels and why.
Be Honest And Transparent
Related to communication, being honest and transparent during conversations can be beneficial. For example, if an affair has occurred for several years and the unfaithful partner lies and says it has been going on for a few weeks or once, it may further the lack of trust in the relationship. If the unfaithful partner is also hiding other affairs or instances of infidelity, it may not allow the individual impacted the free will to decide whether they are open to staying in the relationship with this information.
Although the unfaithful partner may fear losing their partner by telling them the entire truth, their partner may leave either way. Understanding that there can be consequences to what occurred may be an essential healing factor. Openness allows partners to decide on a course of action from the beginning instead of causing more secrecy to unfold over time.
Be Open From The Beginning
When infidelity is discovered, it can be beneficial to discuss all aspects immediately without dragging it forward. The partner that experienced the impacts of the affair may have questions they want to ask. Answering these questions and working to repair the relationship can make a difference.
In addition, the unfaithful partner may benefit from understanding that their actions have occurred and may negatively affect their relationship with their partner. Instead of trying to deny that hurt has happened, validating their partner can allow them to take responsibility for their actions.
Lay The Ground Rules
The relationship may benefit from rules for both partners to feel comfortable and trusting enough to move forward. The person who was impacted may want to set out rules for their partner regarding openness and behaviors with others. If the unfaithful partner had an affair or interaction with someone both partners know as a friend, coworker, or acquaintance, more rules might be set on interactions with this individual. Therapy can often be a safe environment to discuss these rules and set boundaries.
Don't Use The Occurrence Against Each Other
If you decide to stay in a relationship after infidelity, rebuilding trust can mean not using the occurrence against each other in future arguments or disagreements. For example, if you make a mistake and your partner asks to talk about it, responding with "you were unfaithful, so you can't tell me what to do" can be unhealthy and take responsibility away from yourself. Instead, the aspects of infidelity can be discussed during therapy or with each other in a respectful environment during a conversation dedicated to the topic.
If new emotions arise over time, ask your partner if you can talk to them about it. Keeping the conversation respectful and loving can be valuable. If your partner doesn't take responsibility for their infidelity and you feel they continue to downplay it, you can also talk to them about this factor without bringing it up during other conversations or challenging moments.
Try Not To Internalize The Infidelity
If infidelity has occurred, you are not at fault. Many individuals facing infidelity from a partner may believe it is their fault or that an aspect of them is not lovable or valued by their partner. They might think their partner tried to seek that aspect in someone else.
If you feel this way, note that your partner is the one that chose to be unfaithful. Regardless of their reasons for doing so, infidelity is unhealthy and a breach of trust. It can be valuable for your partner to take responsibility for their actions, including accepting whether you decide to stay or leave and what you need moving forward regarding boundaries. If your partner blames you or the person they cheated on you with for their actions, talking to a professional or leaving the relationship may be beneficial.
Note that frequent blaming, labeling, reflection, and triangulation are emotionally abusive tactics. If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.
Receive Individual Professional Support
It can be challenging when you have experienced infidelity in a relationship to overcome the resulting emotions. You might struggle to trust yourself, your partner, and others in your life. You might read into their interactions with others and start to experience anxiety.
Don't Forgive Unless You Are Ready
Coping with infidelity can be a complex process. Forgiving your partner before you're ready or lying to avoid the emotions may be unhealthy. Processing emotions can take time, and studies show that suppressing your feelings can cause emotional and physical consequences. Offering forgiveness quickly may shut down the opportunity for conversations about hurt in the future. Note that the infidelity may impact you throughout the rest of your relationship. Even if you forgive someone, reminders may come up that cause emotional distress, and being able to open up conversations about these moments can be healthy.
Consider Couples Counseling
70% of couples find that couples counseling is effective and beneficial long-term. Studies have also found that couples therapy improves marital satisfaction, lasting up to a year after treatment ends. By having a neutral third-party mediator (the therapist), couples can learn healthy ways to communicate about sensitive subjects and regain trust.
If you've been impacted by infidelity, try not to get revenge on your partner. If you have decided to stay in a relationship with your partner despite their actions, being unfaithful, telling other people out of spite, or otherwise trying to hurt or discredit them because of the infidelity may cause further distrust and pain. If you feel that you can't overcome this situation, it may be healthiest to end the relationship.
Spend Time Together
Spending quality and healthy time together can help you rebuild your bond if you decide to stay in your relationship. Returning your connection to some semblance of normalcy can help you remember why you connected in the first place. Consider going on dates, practicing each other's love languages, and spending time alone without friends, family, or children present.
If you are looking for professional help after infidelity, many options are available. Couples therapists offer services in person or and online. Many couples opt for online couples therapy, as many insurance companies do not fully or partially cover couples mental health treatment. Online therapy can be significantly cheaper in these cases, as it is often split between two incomes and can save couples hundreds of dollars per month.
With an internet-based platform like Regain, you and your partner can discuss your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a safe environment like your home. Whether you attend sessions separately or together, you can gain high-quality feedback based on recent research in couples therapy. In addition, you can receive worksheets and recommendations from your therapist to download and use immediately after sessions.
If you're unsure about the effectiveness of online therapy, note that studies have found internet-based couples therapy more effective than in-person therapy. Many couples prefer video-based treatment formats and feel that the structure allows for more profound connections with the therapist and a feeling of safety that may not be found during in-person sessions.
Many couples choose to stay together after infidelity but struggle to recapture a sense of trust. In these cases, finding a mental health provider may significantly improve the chances of working through the infidelity and creating a healthy bond. Infidelity is not the end of a relationship for everyone, and many couples find ways to reconnect. If you're interested in gaining healthy coping skills and techniques for trust, consider contacting an individual or couple's therapist for further guidance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are several frequently asked questions about love after infidelity.
Why Is Rebuilding Trust So Hard?
Rebuilding trust in a relationship can be difficult because infidelity can be painful to cope with, and trust is often a core value for many individuals. The partner whose trust was broken may endure and internalize this pain, while the one who broke trust may feel shame, guilt, or fear of losing their partner. If trust has been broken multiple times, it may seem that trying to rebuild trust is a betrayal of your natural instincts and understanding of what has occurred.
Choosing to trust can feel like blind faith at times. Although you do not have to decide to rebuild trust after a relationship, choosing to stay together may involve some work on communication, vulnerability, and a desire to change. Although it can take time and professional support, rebuilding trust may be possible.
How Do I Fix My Trust Issues?
If you struggle to trust your partner due to infidelity, this may not reflect how healthy you are. A loss of trust can be healthy, as it showcases when you've been hurt and can help you avoid entering similar patterns in the future. However, if you struggle to trust anyone in your life after infidelity or cannot move forward, you might benefit from professional guidance.
Know that it isn't your fault that your partner was unfaithful to you. You do not have to trust them again if it doesn't feel healthy to you. However, if you want to continue your relationship and regain trust, letting your partner know what you need to do so can be beneficial. If you struggle to set or understand your boundaries, consider contacting a couples therapist who can help you start these conversations.
How Do You Love Someone Again After They Hurt You?
Losing feelings of love after infidelity can be normal. Love is an emotion that isn't always present, as some films may showcase. Other emotions, such as anger, sadness, jealousy, or fear, may be more common after infidelity. These painful emotions can be difficult to face but often teach a lesson about the value you place on yourself. Note that love may return over time as you trust your partner again. It may also be that you do not feel love as often or at all. In these cases, you may decide to leave your relationship due to your partner's choice to be unfaithful.
How Do You Know You're Not In Love Anymore?
Love for your partner can ebb and flow over time. Many married couples may find that for months or years at a time, they don't know if they love their partner. However, signs that you may have lost love for your partner could include the following:
You don't feel excited to see them anymore.
You don't have intimate moments, including sex, kissing, cuddling, holding hands, etc.
You feel disgusted or irritated by your partner's actions, appearance, or desires.
You feel that sex with your partner is a chore.
You feel your partner's presence is off-putting or discouraging.
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