How to build trust in a relationship after an affair

It’s not always easy, but it can be done.

27 April, 2024
How to build trust in a relationship after an affair

For most people in a relationship, there’s simply no coming back after being cheated on. It’s the end of a happily ever after. That being said, the rules of love aren’t set in stone. A couple may still want to work things out between themselves, pick up the broken pieces, and keep moving forward. While one of them has to choose whether or not they will cheat again, the other has to decide if they want to trust their partner again. 

If the cheater has taken ownership of what happened and the other partner is willing to forgive them, rebuilding trust is going to take a lot of time, effort, and yes, teamwork as well. 

What the cheating partner must do

Apologise with meaning 

Your partner deserves to know the truth. If you’ve done the betrayal, be honest about it and focus on restoring your partner’s faith in you. Understand the hurt you’ve caused and show some remorse by ending the affair and promising not to repeat it. Reassure them with daily check-ins and tell them how much you love them and don’t want to lose them. It’s crucial to display empathy by letting your partner know that you understand their feelings and how difficult the struggle would be had shoe been on the other foot. You may need to put more effort into fixing the situation, but be sure to promise only as much as you can deliver to avoid hurting your partner and the relationship. Whatever you do, do it with transparency and authenticity, so your partner knows that you truly understand their pain.

Explain why you did it

There’s a reason for everything. If you had an affair, your partner would surely want to know why. Explain your intentions and take ownership of your actions. The last thing you should do is manipulate, gaslight, or blame your partner for your behaviour. 

What the partner who got cheated on must do

Don’t blame or accuse them and stop blaming yourself too

While you certainly can express your feelings towards your partner, do your best not to accuse them. Use “I” statements instead of “you.” There’s also a chance that you might start blaming yourself for the affair. Don’t do that. It wasn’t your fault. In the process where you take the first step towards forgiveness and building trust from scratch, it’s important to do so without bringing in toxic partners and/or holding any grudges. 

Learn to trust yourself.

The person who gets cheated on loses a lot of faith in themselves. One of the most difficult but important things to do before they can trust their partner again is to start trusting themselves. Learning to trust yourself, your feelings, and your emotions is crucial to having a relationship with yourself, let alone anyone else. 

Stop thinking about the past and live in the present

It’s tough to rebuild trust with the person who broke it. Yes, you will feel angry, hurt, and sad. But if you can’t let go of these feelings and work towards rebuilding your trust in the present, then maybe you should move on from this relationship. 

What both partners must do

Have open lines of communication

Every relationship requires healthy communication to keep moving forward, even more so if trust has been broken. The two people must have an open and honest conversation; it won’t work if one partner is open and willing. Secondly, instead of bringing up the past, learn from it. Not to condone cheating, but poor communication may have been a cause for the breakdown of the relationship. The two of you need to sit down, get to the specifics, create new expectations, and set new boundaries. Being transparent and forthcoming and not keeping any secrets is crucial if you both have decided to make it work. Keeping your promises and meeting expectations are the building blocks to restoring trust. 

Keep things to yourself 

You might feel like talking to your friends and family, letting them know about the affair as you look for a shoulder to cry on. That said, be extremely careful with whom you share this information, as they might judge you, gossip, or not even question your decision to try and work things out. If you’ve got children, it’s a huge mistake to have them involved in the conflict (even more so if they’re young). They are quick to pick up on the vibes and would notice the conflict between their parents. There is no need to complicate matters by giving them all the details. 

Stay patient, positive, and consistent.

The unfaithful partner will go out of their way to impress their partner and do it with a lot of intensity to make things right. But good things take time. Patience is what’s needed to rebuild trust to what it used to be. Both partners will have to stay positive towards change and believe that things will get better with time. Lastly, this change will only come when both are consistent in their efforts. The hurt partner has to believe that their partner is trying to change, not just for the short term but for the long haul. 

Lead image credits: Netflix

Also read: Tell-tale signs that your partner may be cheating on you

Also read: Signs it is time to let go of your relationship