How to Build Trust in Your Relationship

How to Build Trust in Your Relationship

I think most would agree that trust is an essential part of any intimate partner relationship. If you have lost the trust of your partner because of something you have done, like cheating, lying or withholding, or misleading your partner, it is important to work towards rebuilding that broken trust. When you break trust, you turn away from your partner and the values that are important to you both. It can leave your partner feeling betrayed, hurt, left out and insecure about the relationship. They may not trust you in the future and think you might emotionally hurt them again.

So, what is Trust?

If we want to regain trust, we need to know what trust is. The Oxford dictionary states that trust is 1. a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something and 2. an acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation. People often describe it as doing what you say you will do or keeping your word and that it is something that is gained over time. If you have broken trust in your relationship, you may have said one thing and done another.  Trust means to be honest and truthful. Being open and honest with your partner will be a step towards rebuilding trust.

How to rebuild trust in a relationship

1. Acknowledgment and Understanding the Harm

The first step in rebuilding trust is acknowledgment. This is the time when you need to let down your defences and excuses and just admit what you have done. Sometimes we just want forgiveness without verbalizing our actions. Just to say you are sorry is not enough. You and your partner need to know what you are sorry for. Allow them to ask questions and be honest with your answers.

2. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes

It is also important to understand how your actions have affected your partner. Try to understand the hurt from their point of view. Think about how it may have affected them and ask them questions about how they are feeling. Be open to hear what they have to say. Not until you understand the harm that you have caused can you know how to help in the healing of those harms. If you don’t understand the harm, how can you try to repair it?  For example, if you have cheated on your partner, your partner may feel worried that you will cheat again. They may need to know where you are and who you are with, at all times. They may need evidence. Complying with this need will help to restore the trust and begin to heal the harm.

3. Change your behaviour

If your partner is feeling insecure about your commitment, then healing the harm means being willing to work towards helping them feel more secure in the relationship. They may need reassurance of your love and attraction to them. Your partner will need to know that this will not happen again. Ask yourself, what do I know now that I didn’t know then. How can I make a change that will show that I will not behave this way again. Use what you know now to make a change in your behavior. Let your partner know you have a plan to change your behavior and that you have learned from your mistakes.

4. Repair the harm

You may want to do something more to repair the harm that has been done. Something meaningful for your partner, something that shows you care, that you want things to be better in the future. If you had broken a valuable possession you might want to repair or replace it. It is of course much harder to repair broken trust and hurt feelings. Be thoughtful about what might be possible. Think about what your partner might want that would be helpful to them to feel better and reassured about the future in this relationship. This could be spending more time together, do things that they enjoy, scheduling dates, etc.


It takes time to build trust, and it will take time to rebuild trust once it has been broken. This process will have steps forward and steps backward. Be patient with your partner and yourself throughout the process. To rebuild trust, it will take acknowledgment, understanding the harms, working to repair the harms and building honesty and reliability back. If you think you need some help with this process it would be advisable to see a Halifax therapist for some individual work, and if your partner is willing, couple’s therapy.  A Halifax couples counsellor can also help you through this process of building back the trust and help you to reconnect with your partner.

Meet Jane Donovan

Jane Donovan, MEd, RCT, is a relationship counsellor in downtown, Halifax. She helps adults and couples who want to have healthy and supportive relationships but instead find themselves feeling misunderstood, unheard, and unhappy. Click here to learn more about her online Halifax counselling practice!

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