Steps to rebuild trust after an affair
Rebuilding trust after an affair can be extremely difficult, especially for the partner who was deceived. For your relationship recovery to be successful, the involvement of both participants in the relationship is absolutely necessary.
Initially, the person who shattered the trust will need to work hard to build it back. Showing remorse, being consistent, and understanding his partner’s pain are all very important to rebuilding the once solid foundation.
The unfaithful participant will also need to prove to the other partner that he can be a trustworthy and emotionally-safe person once again.
The partner who was deceived, on the other hand, will also need to do some work. Don’t just shove the affair under the rug and pretend nothing happened.
Here are a few tips to help you relearn how to trust in your partner after the affair:
- Notice when your “radar” is on. The person who was cheated on can often have heightened anxiety and may become obsessive in their search for untrustworthy behaviors. For example: a man and woman are out to dinner and the woman knows the exact location of every beautiful woman. She may watch his eyes, and wait to catch him when his gaze wanders. This behavior is very common and can be very toxic.
- Don’t be unrealistic. If you expect your partner to be available at every minute, you are setting him/her up for failure. Your partner cannot be expected to stop his life, but he can make a more concerted effort to keep you involved in it. Don’t expect that every time your partner is doing something wrong every time he doesn’t answer the phone.
- Keep your mind on track. Since the trust was broken, insecurity and worry about the relationship may set in. When your thoughts go down the ‘what is my partner doing right now’ path, redirect your thoughts and give yourself assurance. These ongoing and otherwise destructive thoughts can create a cycle of anxiety, all of which can prevent future growth of the relationship.
- Choose your lens. People see the world through different lenses. Don’t let your lens be a ‘lens of mistrust.’ You have a choice regarding how you want to see the world.
- Tell your partner what you need. You may need some concrete evidence that your partner is sincere with his words. Let your partner know what you need for comfort, but ensure all requests are realistic and unobtrusive. Your partner can’t read your mind, so make your needs as clear as possible.
- Avoid hinting. Hinting is not an effective means of communication and often causes more problems at a time of distress. Your partner might not get the hint as quickly as you would like, and the lack of understanding might set him up for failure. Be clear and to the point.
These steps might not be sufficient enough for recovery if you have a history of broken trust in your life. The past can impact your current relationships, and prevent you from moving forward.
If you can’t seem to stop thinking about the affair and constantly feel like you are walking on egg shells, see a professional therapist. Therapists are trained to help couples get back on track after relationship trauma.
To learn more about the author, or to book an appointment with Jennine Estes MFC, visit her website at estestherapy.com or call (619) 558-0001.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653