Trust is so frequently lost and broken that you’d think some insurance company would have made billions off it by now. But trust can’t be guaranteed. And once it’s gone, especially in a relationship, it takes lots of time and effort to rebuild.
Listener Kate wrote in and asked how to rebuild trust in a relationship, but specified that broken trust goes beyond cheating. She’s right: there are many ways partners betray our trust besides an affair. It may be relapsing on drugs or alcohol after a promise to stay sober. It may be letting us down at a time when we were seriously ill, grieving, postpartum, or otherwise vulnerable. It may be lying about where they’re going or who they’re with. Or it may be hurting us when they were supposed to protect us.
No matter the specifics, betrayals of trust shift your world. As your relationship has grown, the two of you have gotten good at predicting each other’s behavior, you’ve made mutual plans and goals—like saving for the future or starting a family—that depend on each other. And of course, you simply like each other. But a breach of trust can disrupt all those things.
After a transgression, you start to wonder if you’re crazy or if you can trust your own senses and experience. It gets to the point where you can’t even trust chocolate chip cookies because they might turn out to be raisin.