Trust is the single most important aspect of any relationship. The success of a relationship depends in large proportion not only on the existence of trust but also how much trust each partner has in the other person and the relationship.
The average relationship begins with a trust baseline that is different in each of the partners. This baseline is affected by your perceptions as well as previous experiences and the emotions around them, both positive and negative. As the relationship progresses the level of trust in the other person, while fluctuating greatly, is built consistently.
Your ability to trust someone else is not set in stone. That is, if your partner betrayed your trust, with willingness and some heavy lifting on both sides, it is possible to trust again.
It takes time.
When your trust was betrayed, it is natural to feel lost inside yourself and unable to grasp the reality around. Your core self gets shaken and when that happens, you need time to heal, think, and clarify your feelings.
Re-building trust in someone is not something you can achieve in a matter of hours, days, or even months at times. Its tempting to want to skip this self-healing phase when the pain feels so unbearable; so is trying to ignore it or push it away. In truth, what feels better in the moment is not necessarily what is best for you in the long run (and you are the only one who can tell the difference and make a choice).
A solitary journey.
Some believe that the best way to rebuild trust in the other person is by involving them into every aspect of your recovery from the very beginning. The problem in doing so, is that sometimes a betrayal of trust can leave you feeling very raw and exposed and by involving the other person you are putting yourself in a vulnerable situation; when your trust is broken and you have not healed, it is hard to focus on anything else other than protecting yourself, let alone on building trust.
There is a time and a place when you both will focus your efforts toward trust building and redefining your relationship, but that is unlikely to happen unless you are in an emotionally safe place. The only person that can help you find that safe place is you; looking to the other person for answers at this stage is often unhelpful. This is why many relationships come to an end prematurely: because in skipping the self-healing phase, we skip building the foundation on which trust can be rebuilt. Without that foundation, everything we will try to build will sooner or later start crumbling.
Tips for healing and gaining clarity
It will probably be a while until you move from ruminating to carefully processing your emotions. In the beginning stages we are tempted to ask for many details involving the betrayal of trust, although they seldom help us or the situation. This reaction is very natural particularly when in a state of shock (and most forms of trust betrayal entail it). Once the shock wears out (and it can be a while depending on the person) you are ready to start processing your emotions, to clarify your feelings and understand what you want to do next.
Below are a few self-exploratory creative exercises that could help along the way.
When you are writing you are opening the line of communication within yourself. In the beginning, don’t worry about what you write, just get yourself into the habit of doing it and eventually your thoughts will start flowing. Not only will you feel better in the moment for releasing some of those feelings, but over time as you look closer and dig deeper you’ll be able to work through some of those emotions and achieve resolve.
Whether using a camera, a pencil, or a brush one of the most effective ways to focus onto yourself and your feelings is through self-portraiture. Self-portraits tend to bring out elements that you may not be aware of and clarify aspects of yourself that have been affected by the betrayal of trust. Create several self-portraits and with their help explore the various facets of your psyche that have been affected by the betrayal of trust. Worry less about form and technique (and other artistic perfectionist expectations you may have) and focus on the message that it reveals.
Remember how much music you used to listen to as a teen going through break-ups and dealing with relationships? As an adult you might not put as much emphasis on listening to music as you used to, although you should know that music has been shown to be a very healing and therapeutic tool, especially if we relate to it on a deeply personal level. Listening to music that is meaningful to you can put you back in touch with some feelings you may be avoiding or not noticing, that require working through. Music resonates internally, and music can be used as a compass to finding the places within yourself that are wounded and later on healing them.