You cheated on your partner, you regret it, you’re sorry and you want your partner to forgive you so you can move on, but he doesn’t trust you. Now what? How can you possibly get him to trust you again after such a big betrayal? Whether it was a meaningless, unemotional, one-night stand or an extended and involved affair, you have lost the confidence of the one you love. If he is willing and you are ready to work for it, you can regain his trust, step by step. Here’s what you do:
- Be patient. The first thing you need to do is be prepared for the long haul. Classic wisdom says that it takes just one event to lose trust, but many, many small instances of trust to rebuild it. It seems unfair, but if you want him to trust you again, it may take a long time. Be patient and be prepared for a long rebuilding process.
- Apologize without excuses. Your partner will be more likely to be ready to forgive and to trust you again if you give him a genuine apology. Leave out any trace of an excuse and take full responsibility for your actions. A genuine apology is the most trustworthy kind.
- Help your partner reshape his beliefs about your character. Research has found that the ability to trust, or to trust again, lies in the person who was wronged. If your partner believes that character is unchangeable, he is not likely to be able to trust you again, whereas he will trust you in time if he believes your character can improve incrementally. The researchers also found that your beliefs about character can change. Give your partner evidence that people can change, and he will be more likely to accept your ability to change and be trustworthy again.
- Be honest about everything. Don’t even think about telling any lies, even the little, white, harmless ones. Any sign of mistrust could be a step backward. Always be on time. Keep every promise you make. Avoid any excuses, lies or exceptions to this rule: be trustworthy in every little detail of your lives together.
- Show affection and appreciation. Your partner is hurting from your infidelity. His sense of trust has taken a hit, but so has his self-esteem. Show him every day that you appreciate and love him. Be affectionate and be thoughtful. Do little things to show him you still care about him. These don’t have to be expensive or outrageous gestures. Just be kind and thoughtful. Surprise him with a homemade dinner, agree to watch his favorite movie, or give him a foot rub.
- Go to counseling and commit to it. Sometimes rebuilding trust is more than you can handle by yourselves. Consider going to see a couple’s counselor experienced in helping people work through infidelity. Whether you want to do it or not, if you feel like you don’t have time for it, do it. It will show your partner that you are committed to helping him trust you again. As a bonus, you might just find that it helps improve all aspects of your relationship.
Regaining trust after betraying a partner isn’t easy, but if he is willing to give you a chance, take it. With time, patience, trustworthy actions, a heartfelt apology, effort on your part and participation in counseling, you can repair the damage you have done. You can help him learn to trust you again.