When you’ve been betrayed by someone you love or care about, learning to trust them again—if you’d even want to—takes time and effort from both parties. While safeguarding yourself and your emotions might seem like the right decision after you’ve been hurt, not being able to trust can stir up hurt in other important relationships in your life and future ones, too.
Moving forward can understandably feel difficult. In this article, I present some ways you can learn to heal and trust people again.
How to Decide If You Can Trust a Person Again
The only person who can decide if moving forward is in your best interest is you. Ask yourself these questions:
Your answers to these questions will determine your path forward.
Remember, no matter how this person fits into your life before (parent, sibling, best friend, coworker, et cetera), you have no obligation to be intimately connected with them. If they’ve broken your trust, only you have the power to decide whether or not you’d like to continue a relationship with them and on your terms.
Only You Can Choose to Forgive and Move Forward
If you’ve decided to work toward forgiving the person who wronged you, understand that forgiveness comes from within. People make mistakes. While we’re all human, that mantra in and of itself does not mean they deserve a second chance.
Consider if this person has betrayed your trust before. Has this become an alarming pattern of behavior, or is this the first time in your relationship that they’ve broken your trust?
Once you consider the context of the indiscretion in question, you can make an evidence-based decision that you have full confidence in. It’s okay to take the time you need to decide.
8 Tips on How to Trust People Again
If you’ve decided that you’re willing to forgive and trust people again, below are some tips on how to make that process better for you.
1. Put Yourself First
While we should all always put ourselves first, oftentimes after being hurt by someone we love or care about, only then do we come to realize we have been putting the needs of others before our own. Take this time of clarity to mend the most important relationship of all: the relationship you have with yourself.
Recognize the insecurities you may have struggled with and ignored in order to focus on another person. Work through those insecurities.
Maybe you’ve been dealing with trust in other areas of your life, such as having trust in yourself and your decisions. Work on making informed decisions and not doubting yourself afterward. Put your energy into the people who have always had your best interest at heart and the activities that mean the most to you, like a special hobby or exercising.
When you listen to your body and build trust in yourself, you’ll feel more in tune with your thoughts and feelings.
2. Communicate Your Expectations
It’s important to communicate what expectations you have of your relationships with others.
For anyone who has broken your trust, communicate what your expectations are of them moving forward. Let them know your trust in them is broken and that you need time to heal. Explain what they did to break your trust and what they can do to regain it.
When you communicate your expectations with others and they fail to meet those expectations, you have the answer you need.
3. Set Clear Boundaries
Setting boundaries is important with any relationship, including your relationship with yourself. According to Psychology Today, “boundaries can be defined as the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us.”
Communicate your boundaries with the person who has broken your trust. Let them know the behaviors you will not tolerate, like lying or not telling the complete truth. Then, hold yourself accountable to stick to those boundaries that you set.
Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by the person and end up in an endless cycle of forgiving the same indiscretions over and over again. Once you decide upon your boundaries, stick to them.
4. Realize That Rebuilding Trust Takes Time
Once your trust has been broken, you’re starting from zero. Rebuilding trust takes time, and the process is never the same for everyone—or for the same amount of time.
Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you just need to “get over it.” Those people do not have your best interest at heart, or they are not sure how to build good boundaries in their own lives.
Take all of the time you need to rebuild your trust, either with that person or with people overall moving forward. You may need more time to come to terms with their pain, and that’s okay.
Communicate with the specific person and anyone in the future that they need to respect your space and allow you the time to work through rebuilding trust. The right people will respect that.
5. Recognize Your Triggers and Be Honest About Them
If you’ve been hurt many times before, you may feel uncomfortable in certain situations in ways that others may not be able to relate to or understand. Just because someone may not understand why you feel the way you do does not mean that your feelings are invalid.
Perhaps you’re re-learning how to date again, and seeing the person who hurt you out at a bar brings all of those old feelings flooding back and causes you to experience some emotional distress. Be honest with those around you that seeing that person makes you uncomfortable and that you’d prefer to keep your distance from them.
Good friends will have your back, and they will ensure you’re never in the same vicinity as the person who wronged you when you’d rather not be.
Communicating your triggers will help you to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable and help you along your journey to healing with any future relationships you might have.
Even if the person did nothing wrong per se, communicating with them that what they said or did was upsetting for you will help the two of you work toward more open and honest communication and avoid future missteps. And they will know why you may have reacted the way you did and how to remain true to themselves while also avoiding the words or actions that you’d like for them to avoid in the future.
6. Speak to a Licensed Therapist
In many cases, some people who have dealt with more severe trauma may not be able to identify what their triggers are. A licensed therapist certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can help you to identify your triggers, label the associated feelings, and then process them so that your brain will be able to stop seeing something or someone as a threat.
Talk therapy, also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can provide you with actionable solutions to address the root cause of the lack of trust you have in others. Speaking to a professional can help you on your journey as you begin to heal from the trauma of being hurt by someone you love or care about.
7. Peoples’ Actions Will Tell You What You Need to Know
A wise man once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
When you’re learning to trust people again, you may be very hesitant and at times overly cautious. While it can be easy to listen to the words of others and trust that they’ve changed and that they won’t hurt you the same way again, watch their actions for change.
Are they sliding back into their old habits? Are they listening to you when you communicate your triggers with them? Peoples’ actions will tell you everything you need to know about trusting them. Believe them.
8. Commit to Starting Fresh, Whatever That Looks Like for You
Many people will tell you that starting fresh means starting over and that you should forgive and forget. However, no one but you will understand the journey you’re going on to trust people again.
Starting fresh can look like many different scenarios: cutting off certain people in your life even if just for a time, forgiving the person who wronged you while moving forward with clear and established boundaries, or a combination of the two. All are completely valid paths to starting over with a clean slate.
Part of life is taking the risk that people won’t hurt you. You can’t enjoy the good parts of life if you’re guarded all the time. Learning how to trust people again takes time and effort, and no two journeys are the same.
However you decide to move forward in life, know that while some people may believe that everyone deserves a second chance, that’s up to you to decide.