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February 15, 2024 8 min read


Trust is the bedrock of any healthy relationship, but when it's compromised, the path to rebuilding it can seem daunting.

Whether it's broken trust due to dishonesty, broken promises, or a partner's betrayal, the journey to restore trust is intricate and requires commitment from both parties.1

In a romantic relationship, regaining lost trust is crucial for moving forward.

21 Key Steps to Rebuild Trust in a Relationship

Trust is the bedrock of any healthy relationship, but when it's compromised, the path to rebuilding it can seem daunting.

1. Acknowledge the Breach of Trust

The journey to rebuild trust in a relationship begins with acknowledging that trust has been broken. Whether it's a case of broken promises, dishonesty, or a partner's betrayal, recognizing the issue is the first step toward healing.2

For the relationship to move forward, both partners must accept that the bond of trust has been damaged and needs attention. This acknowledgment is a crucial step in repairing the foundation of the relationship.

2. Offer a Sincere Apology

After recognizing the breach of trust, the next step is for the offending partner to offer a sincere and heartfelt apology.

This apology should reflect full responsibility for their actions and an understanding of the impact those actions have had on their partner and the relationship.

An honest conversation, where the offending partner expresses genuine remorse and a desire to make amends, sets the stage for rebuilding trust.3

3. Practice Patience and Understanding

Rebuilding trust doesn't happen overnight. It requires patience and understanding from both partners.

The injured person may need time to process and heal, and it's essential for the offending partner to respect this timeline.

During this period, both partners should practice empathy, giving each other the space and support needed to navigate the complex emotions that accompany broken trust.

4. Communicate Openly and Honestly

Open and honest communication is the cornerstone of rebuilding trust. This involves more than just talking; it requires active listening, a willingness to understand each other's perspectives, and a commitment to express thoughts and feelings transparently.

Constructive communication helps in addressing issues that led to the loss of trust and aids in developing solutions to prevent future breaches.4

Ensuring that conversations are safe spaces for both partners to share their thoughts and feelings is essential for healing and rebuilding the relationship.

Both partners should openly discuss what they need from each other and agree on what behaviors are acceptable.

5. Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

After a breach of trust, it’s essential to redefine the boundaries and expectations within the relationship. Both partners should openly discuss what they need from each other and agree on what behaviors are acceptable.

Setting these boundaries not only prevents future misunderstandings but also provides a clear framework for rebuilding trust. It’s about establishing mutual respect and understanding what each partner needs to feel secure in the relationship.

6. Demonstrate Consistency and Reliability

Consistency in actions and words plays a significant role in rebuilding trust. The offending partner, in particular, needs to consistently demonstrate reliability and integrity.5

This means following through on promises, being punctual for commitments, and showing that they can be counted on.

Consistent, reliable behavior over time will help restore the injured person's faith in the partner and the relationship.

7. Seek Professional Help if Needed

Sometimes, the path to rebuilding trust can benefit from external guidance. Seeking professional help from a couples counselor or therapist can provide the tools and strategies needed to navigate this complex process.

Couples therapy offers a neutral ground for addressing issues, facilitating open communication, and learning healthy ways to heal and grow together.6

Professional help can be especially beneficial in cases where the partners are struggling to make progress on their own.

8. Rebuild Emotional Intimacy

Restoring emotional intimacy is a vital aspect of rebuilding trust. This involves reconnecting on a deeper level and sharing feelings, fears, and aspirations. It’s about re-establishing the emotional connection that the breach of trust might have damaged.

Spending quality time together, engaging in meaningful conversations, and showing vulnerability can all contribute to rebuilding this intimacy.

9. Learn from the Experience

Every challenge in a relationship presents an opportunity for growth.

Learning from the experience of broken trust can lead to a stronger, more resilient partnership. This involves analyzing what went wrong, understanding each other’s perspectives, and implementing measures to prevent similar issues in the future.

It’s about turning a negative experience into a chance for mutual growth and strengthening the bond.

Every challenge in a relationship presents an opportunity for growth.

10. Celebrate Small Victories and Progress

In the journey of rebuilding trust, it's important to recognize and celebrate small victories and progress.

Acknowledging steps taken, no matter how small, such as a heartfelt conversation or a day without misunderstandings, can be very encouraging.

Celebrating these moments reinforces positive behavior and reminds both partners of the progress they're making toward a healthier relationship.

11. Show Genuine Remorse and Empathy

For the partner who broke the trust, showing genuine remorse and empathy is crucial.3

This goes beyond just apologizing; it's about demonstrating an understanding of the pain caused and being empathetic toward the partner's feelings.

Genuine remorse can be a powerful catalyst for healing and rebuilding trust.

12. Maintain Transparency

Transparency is key to rebuilding trust. This means being open about thoughts, feelings, and actions.

It involves sharing information, not as an obligation but as a means to reassure your partner and rebuild the lost trust. Transparency helps in creating a sense of security and honesty in the relationship.

13. Avoid Blame and Defensiveness

Blame and defensiveness can hinder the process of rebuilding trust. It's important for both partners to communicate without pointing fingers or becoming defensive.

This includes taking responsibility for individual actions and focusing on understanding each other’s perspectives instead of assigning blame.

14. Create a Joint Plan for Rebuilding Trust

Working together to create a joint plan for rebuilding trust can be very effective. This plan should include actionable steps each partner agrees to take in order to rebuild the trust.

The plan might involve regular check-ins, specific actions to demonstrate commitment, or guidelines for communication.

Collaboratively creating this plan ensures that both partners are invested in the healing process.

Rebuilding trust in a relationship is a profound journey that demands patience, commitment, and genuine effort from both partners

15. Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a vital part of rebuilding trust.This doesn’t mean forgetting what happened but rather letting go of the hold that the pain has on you.3

It's a personal journey that often requires time and self-reflection. Forgiveness is important for the healing of both partners and the overall health of the relationship.

16. Strengthen Your Commitment

Finally, strengthening your commitment to each other and to the relationship is essential. This means reaffirming your dedication to the relationship and to the process of rebuilding trust.

It’s a mutual agreement to work through difficulties and a confirmation of the love and value you have for each other.

17. Focus on the Future, Not the Past

One of the key aspects of rebuilding trust is shifting the focus from the past to the future.

While it's important to acknowledge and learn from what happened, dwelling on past mistakes can hinder the healing process. Instead, concentrate on what lies ahead and how you can build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

This forward-thinking approach encourages a positive outlook and fosters hope for a better future together.

18. Establish New Routines Together

Establishing new routines together can help in creating a fresh start for the relationship. This could involve starting a new hobby together, setting aside regular date nights, or even something as simple as a daily evening walk.

These new routines can bring joy, comfort, and a sense of normalcy, aiding in the process of rebuilding trust and re-establishing a strong connection.

19. Recognize and Address Underlying Issues

Often, breaches of trust stem from deeper underlying issues within the relationship or individual partners.

It’s important to recognize and address these issues to prevent future problems. This may involve open discussions about insecurities, fears, or unresolved conflicts.

In some cases, seeking professional help from a couples therapist can provide valuable insights and tools for addressing these deeper issues.6

20. Be Patient with Each Other's Healing Process

Healing from broken trust is a journey that takes time, and it's different for everyone. Both partners need to be patient with each other’s healing process, understanding that progress may not always be linear.

Patience, empathy, and compassionate support are crucial during this time.

Remember, healing cannot be rushed, and giving each other the necessary time and space is vital for the health of the relationship.

21. Rebuild Trust Through Actions, Not Just Words

Finally, rebuilding trust is about more than just making promises – it's about following through with actions.

Consistent, trustworthy behavior over time is the most powerful way to demonstrate commitment to the relationship and to the process of rebuilding trust.

Actions, big and small, will speak louder than words, showing your partner that you are dedicated to making lasting changes.

Rebuilding trust in a relationship is a profound journey that demands patience, commitment, and genuine effort from both partners.

Restoring the Pillar of Trust for a Stronger Relationship

Rebuilding trust in a relationship is a profound journey that demands patience, commitment, and genuine effort from both partners. Each of the 21 steps outlined offers a pathway towards healing and strengthening the bond that may have been weakened by broken trust.

From open and honest conversation to practicing forgiveness and seeking professional help when needed, these steps are integral in navigating the complex process of trust restoration. The goal is not just to return to how things were but to forge a new, stronger, and more resilient relationship.

With time, understanding, and consistent effort, trust can be rebuilt, paving the way for a healthier, more fulfilling partnership. This journey, while challenging, can ultimately lead to deeper connections and a renewed sense of commitment and love.

How can couples start rebuilding trust in their relationship?Begin by acknowledging the breach of trust, offering a sincere apology, and committing to open, honest communication.

What role does forgiveness play in rebuilding trust?Forgiveness is crucial in healing and moving forward, allowing both partners to work on rebuilding trust without dwelling on past mistakes.

How important is professional help in restoring trust in a relationship?Professional help, like couples therapy, can be vital in addressing underlying issues and guiding the process of rebuilding trust effectively.

Can trust be fully restored after it's broken in a relationship?Yes, with consistent effort, patience, and commitment from both partners, trust can be fully restored in a relationship.

What are the signs of progress when rebuilding trust?Progress signs include open communication, increased emotional intimacy, and consistent, trustworthy actions from both partners.


(1) Wilkins CH. Effective Engagement Requires Trust and Being Trustworthy. Med Care. 2018 Oct;56 Suppl 10 Suppl 1(10 Suppl 1):S6-S8. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000953. PMID: 30015725; PMCID: PMC6143205.

(2) Schilke O, Reimann M, Cook KS. Effect of relationship experience on trust recovery following a breach. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Sep 17;110(38):15236-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314857110. Epub 2013 Sep 3. PMID: 24003151; PMCID: PMC3780904.

(3) Ma F, Wylie BE, Luo X, He Z, Jiang R, Zhang Y, Xu F, Evans AD. Apologies Repair Trust via Perceived Trustworthiness and Negative Emotions. Front Psychol. 2019 Apr 3;10:758. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00758. PMID: 31001183; PMCID: PMC6457316.

(4) Rempel JK, Ross M, Holmes JG. Trust and communicated attributions in close relationships. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Jul;81(1):57-64. PMID: 11474726.

(5) Nowak A, Biesaga M, Ziembowicz K, Baran T, Winkielman P. Subjective consistency increases trust. Sci Rep. 2023 Apr 6;13(1):5657. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-32034-4. PMID: 37024511; PMCID: PMC10079673.

(6) Schofield MJ, Mumford N, Jurkovic D, Jurkovic I, Bickerdike A. Short and long-term effectiveness of couple counselling: a study protocol. BMC Public Health. 2012 Sep 3;12:735. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-735. PMID: 22943742; PMCID: PMC3490822.