Trust issues in a relationship can be extremely difficult to overcome. That’s especially true if one partner’s actions or behaviors broke the trust — how can they take responsibility, and how can you let go? In many cases, it can help to ask questions to rebuild trust in a relationship.
Being able to communicate with your partner is a vital tool in a healthy relationship. Building trust and emotional intimacy takes time, especially if there has been a betrayal within the relationship, but it can be done.
Rebuilding broken trust is a different process from building trust in a new relationship. Betrayed partners will probably need lots of reassurance, validation, and nurturing to trust again in the future.
The first and most crucial step is to genuinely apologize and forgive. You might not forget what happened just yet, but you have to want to move forward together.
Research shows that people are more willing to forgive if their partner apologizes after doing something wrong, and that forgiveness sustains relationships over time because it helps release resentment and gives you the tools to move on from a fight.
You can try some exercises to rebuild trust with your partner. Communication is vital throughout — you probably won’t be able to build trust if you’re not honest together. Try to:
Create a non-judgmental safe space for each partner to air their feelings.
Talk about what caused the breach of trust and why it happened.
Ask how you might avoid this happening again.
Speak about how you see your future together.
To get started, try these questions to rebuild trust in a relationship.
Before asking and answering these questions, make sure you’re ready. You might broach some sensitive topics, but try not to get defensive. These questions are designed to foster open communication.
This question can be extremely powerful. It encourages people to look at things from another perspective, building empathy for their partner.
No matter what caused mistrust in the first place, it can help to talk about the root of the issue. It might be a painful answer to hear, but you can’t move forward together if there are old issues left unaddressed.
A caveat here is that you probably don’t want to hear every grizzly detail. Make sure your partner understands what you’re asking. These are trust questions for couples looking to rebuild intimacy — not cause more harm.
This question will help you understand where your partner sees your relationship going. When answering, you can share your hopes and dreams, but it’s also a good idea to get personal. Tell your partner what you love about them and why you want to be together. You also want to hear why your partner wants to be with you.
Now you can bring things back into the present. Throughout this process, you should check in with each other and ask how your partner feels. It’s an excellent chance to learn about things that make each other happy or uncomfortable — both crucial for rebuilding trust.
There may also be old or new issues that are affecting how they feel right now. This gives them a chance to bring it up, helping to build vulnerability and honesty.
Another way to build intimacy is to be vulnerable with each other. Whether you’re the betrayed partner or not, show that you intend to work to improve your relationship. Nobody is perfect — so offering to grow as a partner shows that you’re invested in the relationship.
This might be a scary one to ask. You’re opening yourself up to criticism, but this is exactly the kind of trust-building exercise that provides the foundation for a strong, honest relationship.
Finally, you can give your partner the floor. Ask if there are any topics they’d like to cover. The fact is, people can be scared of asking questions. They might be embarrassed or not want to hurt you. By inviting your partner to ask questions, you’re empowering them.
Asking — and answering — these questions can be a scary and humbling experience. But, to rebuild trust, you’ve got to be honest and learn about each other. Try to be as open-minded as possible while doing the best thing for your relationship. You might uncover a common ground that allows you to have a loving, trusting relationship again in the future.