How to heal after someone breaks your trust

Broken trust - Tikvah Lake

Healing when someone breaks your trust can be a monumental challenge, and depending on how badly someone has hurt you, putting the pieces back together is likely to take some time, although not impossible.


Trust is something we often do without thinking.

For example, if you think about the many times you put your trust in people daily, you may be surprised at just how trusting you are without knowing it.

Trusting without thinking

Think about how many times you have gotten into a taxi in the past.

In doing so, you relied solely on a stranger to get you to your destination safely.

Or the amount of trust you naturally invest in your dentist or doctor. 

We often trust certain people without giving it much thought, so why is it so hard to cultivate the same amount of trust in our relationships?

What is trust?

According to Psychology Today, trust is based on the belief that someone or something can be relied on to do what they say they will.

Trust is a vital component of cooperation and can influence our social relationships.

Our friendships, romantic relationships, and interactions with colleagues, strangers, and anyone else we encounter cannot thrive without an element of trust involved.

Consequences of mistrust

A world without trust would likely create chaos and dysfunction. 

If society had no trust whatsoever, there would probably be no doctors, restaurants, taxi drivers, pilots, etc.

Broadly, the world would likely crumble in the absence of trust.

Why trust is so important

Having the sense that you can trust someone without question lays the foundations for fulfilling social interactions with others.

The above includes mutual affection, connection and a sense of security that would be impossible if the trust were absent.

Essentially, if someone betrays your trust or there is a lack of confidence, your relationship’s future is likely to be compromised.

Universal trust

Trust is a universal experience, and just as relationships are diverse, it [trust] runs along a similar paradigm of this variation.

In healthy relationships (for want of a better word), you can probably trust that your spouse or parent will show love in whatever form is unique to them.

The same goes for your work colleagues or business partner – if you strike a business deal with someone, in many ways, you have to trust, almost blindly, that they will hold up their end of the bargain.

Social rules

The above applies to trusting strangers too.

We tend to trust those who provide us with a service, e.g., taxi drivers, pilots, dentists, doctors, and even first-time babysitters.

To a degree, we have to trust that a stranger will follow an unspoken set of social rules, i.e., operate a plane safely while we’re on it or take care of our child correctly in our absence.

Trust and relationships

Trust is the core ingredient for all relationships; it encourages people to cooperate effectively at work, with partners, and within society. 

People who trust are more likely to divulge intimate details to others, which, according to research, significantly reduces the risk of anxiety and depression.

The above encourages connection and a sense of belonging, thus minimizing the risk of social isolation.

Broadly, to have any chance at happiness and fulfillment in life, we need to be able to trust those around us.

Knowing who to trust and why

It may be a hard pill to swallow, especially if someone has broken your trust in the past. However, the ability to trust again requires vulnerability.

Now you may think that being vulnerable is foolish since it’s the thing that got you hurt in the first place, but building fresh perceptions around past wounds often does less harm and more good.

Learning to trust again

For example, trusting that your new partner will remain faithful may seem unfeasible given your past experiences.

However, the return you get from trusting someone is far greater than adding more cement to the walls you may have built up to protect yourself.

You cannot know whether someone will ever hurt or betray you; this is not possible or realistic.

Trusting yourself

However, you can trust that you will get through in the face of betrayal and devastation because you survived such adversity in the past.

The backdrop to a healthy relationship is knowing that you can trust yourself.

While it’s true that you may not have enough evidence that you can trust the person you’ve just started dating, you can navigate any uncertainty with the proof that you do have, which is that no matter what happens, you will be okay.

Is it possible to know who you can trust? 

Trust depends on many factors.

However, you can update your perceptions of a person or situation over time – and this upgrade of information will tell you whether you can trust someone or whether more information is needed.

Deciding who we can and cannot trust can be a long process.

For example, it may take months or years for a person’s true intentions to unfold, and even then, it can often be misleading.

The traits of trustworthy people

There are some things you can go on when cultivating more trust in your life.

Fortunately, trustworthy people tend to share universal traits – such people are transparent in their dealings with others and tend to have good follow-through, i.e., they do what they say they’re going to do.

Studies show that trustworthy business leaders demonstrate transparency in their motivation and decision-making. 

They also value other peoples’ feedback and input and put other peoples’ interests ahead of their own.

What causes people to distrust others? 

Similar to what causes us to trust people, the same rule applies when we mistrust others.

Think of the trustworthy person in reverse – – they have no follow-through, are secretive or shady about their intentions and behavior, and tend to be selfish and self-serving.

Such people breed a sense of mistrust in their dealings with others, and that grinding ache you get in your stomach after an interaction with a distrustful person is probably trying to tell you something.

Considering all the perspectives.

However, taking people at face value is not always wise or accurate. There might be many other factors involved in why you cannot trust others. 

For instance, whenever you experience that knot in your stomach, it may be helpful to get curious about why you feel the way you do. 

Do you have unresolved past trauma? Might you be projecting your sense of mistrust onto others? 

Mental health complications

Failing to get to the root of your trust issues may cause other complications in your life, such as:

  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Antisocial behavior and substance abuse to cope with loneliness

Working with a therapist

In some cases, working with a therapist may help you understand the root cause of your problems, which will help you move forward while cultivating healthy relationships and positive emotional well-being.

Risk factors

There are some known risk factors for why people have problems with trust, or what gets commonly referred to as “trust issues.”

Trauma is one contributory factor to trust issues.

When a person has encountered trauma in childhood or in general, they are likely to build walls around them as an act of self-preservation.

Trauma experts say that while humans get wired for connection, trauma wires people for protection.

Understandably, those who have endured trauma in their life tend to mistrust other people and isolate themselves.

Moreover, those who did have trust but had that trust broken, for whatever reason, are also more likely to distrust other people.

Is it possible to trust again after being betrayed?

It is possible to trust again after getting betrayed, although the process may take some time.

Unpacking past wounds can be challenging and confronting but definitely worth the work and perseverance.

Those who have gotten betrayed may consider working with a therapist to unpack any trauma or trust difficulties.

Invest in those that invest in you

Another good way to begin trusting again is to figure out how much investment you can give to people.

For example, if you are struggling to trust a friend or partner, you might decide to give them a certain amount of your time and trust until you are willing to increase that emotional investment.

By doing things in small increments initially, you can gauge how trustworthy a person is without giving away all your time and energy.

If they end up proving themselves as untrustworthy, you will have only given away a little of your resources and upgraded the information you have on the person or situation.

Trusting someone again may seem impossible after you’ve experienced pain.

However, by following the above steps, you can protect yourself and open up the segway to mutual trust and affection – and you deserve that gift.

Contact us

If you are struggling with trust issues in your relationships, contact a specialist at Tikvah Lake Recovery who can help.


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