If your relationship is damaged, here’s how to come back better than before…
Trust sounds simple, but it’s not.
If someone has broken your trust, it can feel like you should write them off entirely.
Worse still, every insecurity or doubt you have about your own worthiness comes to light when someone disrespects us. If your relationship feels shattered, please know that it *is* possible to rebuild it. Here’s how.
This is a simple 4-step guide to help you move forward in a way that makes you feel confident and strong in your relationship….and works to rebuild the trust you’re longing for.
Step 1 – The Assessment: What just happened??
There are obvious breaks of trust (infidelity, lying, omissions, etc) but a lot of trust is centered around things that aren’t so straightforward. The question is…are you questioning your partner’s trustworthiness over something reasonable and fair?
Did they actually do something wrong?
Did your partner actually break a promise…or did you set them up to fail in your head? Are you punishing them for a rule that only exists for you?
This may sound silly, but this happens all the time. If you’re on the cusp of total frustration with your significant other, you might be setting invisible boundaries and rules without actually communicating them to the other person.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), our partner cannot read our mind.
When we set someone up to fail by not communicating what we need, this is our attempt to control a situation and feel justified when they do anything wrong. It’s not fair, and it takes up a ton of your energy. The first step to rebuilding trust is to figure out what the actual boundaries are and what is actually happening.
Step 2 – Ask yourself: Is this something I want?
It’s time for the big question: You get to decide whether you want to move forward with the relationship.
Before you spend time and energy to fix what is broken, it’s time for you to ask yourself: Is this the house I want to live in?
Do I want to rebuild?
You might feel conflicted.
Part of you will be attached to the person. You love them, you had dreams of your life together and maybe you don’t want to do the work to find someone else. This is natural.
The part of you that is really hurt and now very protective of your heart is really questioning yourself.
Weigh the dreams you have of this person against the hurt you feel. Do you want to rebuild your relationship, or cut your losses and move on?
Once you move through this, you’ll have a clearer mind about whether this relationship can actually be rebuilt.
Step 3 – What’s the plan?
It’s time for a plan. To feel safe you’re going to need agreements and communication.
What do you need from the other person? It’s time to consider your own needs over anyone else’s. What do you want and what would make you feel respected?
Is the other person earnest in their apology and their commitment to not repeat their behavior, or are they doing it just to keep you around?
Are they doing the necessary work and necessary self-reflection to ensure that they don’t repeat patterns?
…Or do you feel like you are dragging them along kicking and screaming?
Do you have an agreement in place for what you will do if they fail again and can you fully 100% commit to that?
This is boundary time. If you struggle with understanding your own needs and setting boundaries, please consider doing work with yourself. Whether you stay in this relationship or not, these are the skills that will carry you forward in life.
Step 4 – Look to the Future
Once boundaries are set and needs have been communicated, don’t pretend like nothing ever happened! While it seems like that would be easier, it’s not. And remember – the goal is to come out stronger on the other side.
The goal is to become a partnership that can survive, evolve and communicate through challenges.
It impossible to feel safe always, but there will be triggering moments – decide how you want to bring them up. How will you keep the conversation open and honest? And what will your own self-care look like when your feelings of safety are triggered?
When we’re growing up, we are shown images of “perfect” relationships. At the end of the movie, a relationship is just beginning, the couple riding off into the sunset of their honeymoon phase. This is a phenomenon I discuss a LOT in my work.
I want you to flip the script and remember something *huge* when your relationship feels broken.
Strong relationships are forged from fire.
That can look different for different people. The agreements, conversations and practices that save our relationships are what ultimately make our bonds so unique and beautiful.
If the expectation of your relationship is shattered when they break your trust, consider that this confrontation with reality could be the beginning of something amazing and life-altering.
You can do this.