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Can You Ever Truly Trust Someone Who Betrayed You In The Past?

If rebuilding trust is indeed a possibility, here’s how you can do it

I’ve been both the betrayer and the betrayed. I’ve had a few relationships end due to my own actions and I’ve had a few due to the actions of others. I’ve learned that it’s possible to move past betrayal and that it’s possible to rebuild trust.

Many of the cards are now in your hand as the offended party.

Come to terms with the possibility of being hurt again

It’s definitely a possibility. You know this. 

They’ve done it before, maybe they’re capable of doing it again if the circumstances line up.

Scary to digest, I know.

There is one mantra I hold tightly to when I feel a rush of anxiety about the potential to be betrayed, again, and it’s this:

I felt the pain the first time, and I’m here now alive and breathing. It didn’t end my life. It didn’t kill me. I’m still breathing. I can handle that pain again. I don’t want to, but should it come, it won’t be the end of me. I’m not placing all of my hope in them. I’m placing my hope in the knowledge that I can make it through anything.

You’ve been there and done it, and it hurt like a bitch. It’s this horrendous dark feeling like you’re the only one in the world who’s ever been in so much agony.

But you’re not alone in it, regardless of how it feels.

Know that you’re strong. And give yourself the freedom to trust them openly, knowing that a future betrayal won’t be the end of your life. It will eventually be a faded memory.

This also gives you the freedom to enjoy the rebuilding process. 

If they’re in it 100%, pretend you’re dating again and start from square one. 

Don’t drudge up the past and throw it in their face. Keep that mantra in the back of your mind. If it happens, you’ll be okay. If it doesn’t, even better.

Talk it out

The biggest keys to moving past betrayal are communication and openness.

Communication with your partner, and with yourself. 

Have conversations with yourself, even though you may feel insane. 

Talk it out. 

Communicate the things you feel with your partner, and let them take them in. 

Don’t play the martyr and pretend you’re fine after the hurt you’ve been through. Be the honest one.

Admit how much it hurts.

Be open with yourself. Be open to questioning your own thoughts and motives in the situation.

Why do you want this relationship to work?

Is it because you love them and want them in your life? Or is it because you don’t want to be alone?

The latter is a very powerful reason, but it’s not a good one.

Are they really willing to put in the work? Figure out the answer to their side of that question.

Are they willing to make the effort to win back your trust? 

Are they willing to change their behavior and make a commitment to being trustworthy from this day forward? Or do they just want you back because they feel lonely without you?

If it’s the latter, then don’t go back.

Give yourself closure on the matter

You may not have all the answers. You most likely never will. You weren’t there, you don’t know all of the details. 

Most betrayals happen in secret, and you have to acknowledge that you might always feel a little ‘out of the loop’.

Let yourself feel the frustration that comes with the unknown ‘what-ifs’, and then allow yourself to release it.

If this is a relationship you want, if you’re serious about rebuilding trust, then you need to be ready to let it go. 

If you don’t you’re going to let resentment breed, and like Anakin Skywalker, you’ll turn to the dark side and be consumed by hate.

We don’t want that.

I’ve been down that road, and I’ve wondered if sometimes it’s too late to fix my side of things.

Resentment is a destructive force that will eat away your relationship from the inside out. 

It’s not a healthy way to live. 

It will keep you from being able to trust again, and it will cause you to make your partner pay for what they’ve done over and over again.

Don’t be tempted with the option to play the victim card every chance you get

Don’t ramble on about how much you’d like to fix things and then turn around and say things like:

You killed me inside. I’m dead inside because of everything you’ve done.

While it might feel true, maybe they’ve killed every shred of trust you had in them, constantly throwing it in their face isn’t going to get you anywhere.

I used to love saying:

You don’t give a shit whether or not I’m around, otherwise, you wouldn’t have done (insert many unwanted actions here).

What good is that doing? How is that helping?

If you really want things to go back to how they were… stop that shit. 

Don’t choose to play the victim every time the subject comes up. In fact, after a certain amount of time, make the subject as rare as sunshine in Seattle.

Look the elephant in the room in the eye and tell it to fuck off

What is the elephant in the room? Glad you asked.

How do you know someone who has been dishonest in the past is actually being honest?


Good question.

The answer?

You don’t.

Once you’ve been lied to, it can feel absolutely impossible to fully believe every word that comes out of their mouth.

If we believe it and they happen to be lying again, we’ll feel that deep stab in the chest, like the wind is knocked out of us, and the pain will be too much.

No one wants to feel that more than they have to.

But if you’re serious about this, it’s a risk you’re going to have to take. 

If you’re not willing to risk it, that’s okay. But at that point, you need to admit it to yourself and your partner and end the relationship.

Don’t waste your life saying you can move past something when you know damn well you can’t.

Set your boundaries

Make a list of what you’re okay with and what you’re not willing to tolerate. 

Share that list with them (and not in a way that feels like a mom with a chore chart)…

Be transparent. 

It’s unfair to set standards in your mind and not tell your partner what they are, otherwise, they’re trying to hit an invisible target.

Make a legitimate decision and stick with it. 

If you’re going to give them another chance, you need to be sure that they know exactly what they have to do and what will happen if they don’t do it.

Here are some expectations to have, and not to have:

  • Don’t expect trust to happen immediately
  • Don’t expect your partner to be able to read your mind
  • Don’t expect that you can control your partner’s actions
  • Don’t expect that you can be together without any trust between the two of you
  • Don’t expect that you are entitled to your partner’s time, body, or attention, just because they’ve betrayed you in the past
  • Expect to put in hard work
  • Expect frustration from both of you regarding the effort it’s going to take
  • Expect emotional moments
  • Expect a need for space from time to time
  • Expect to feel like you’re on a rollercoaster because honestly, you are

Moving past betrayal isn’t the easiest task, but it’s something you can do if you set your mind to it. It requires a lot of self-reflection, but it’s worth it.

You deserve to be happy and you deserve to have trust in your relationship

Be patient with your partner and yourself once things settle down a bit.

While communication is important, don’t force it. Good things take time.

This article was originally posted on Medium. You can read it here.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Listicles, Non-Fiction, Self-Help


  1. Beautiful piece! You can tell of the effort you put into this. I think this could, in some way, be adapted into making friendships work. I have been made a fool of by a friend in the past. I didn’t give him another chance. Perhaps it was me putting unrealistic expectations on him. Anyway, the advice you have given will work for a lot of people. We do tend to put too many expectations on others. Anyway, thank you for this piece. I know many will be able to learn from this!

    1. Sometimes people take it too far and the opportunity for another chance just isn’t an option! And that’s totally okay. You’re welcome, thanks for checking it out!