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  • Deception can wreak havoc on a relationship, but there is hope for healing if both partners are willing to put in the work.
  • First, the partner who did the wrongdoing must recognize, acknowledge, and apologize for their mistake.
  • Then, both individuals must agree to work on their relationship and move forward from the deception.
  • Finally, the partner who was deceived must truly be willing to forgive—this is easier said than done, but it is vital to the healing process.
  • Depending on the two individuals, the deception may ultimately lead to a breakup or make the relationship stronger than it’s ever been.

A few years ago, I found out through a friend of a friend that my boyfriend had cheated on me. I didn’t want to believe it was true, and he didn’t want to admit it was true, but the harsh reality revealed itself in his wavering voice. My own wavering voice interjected. How could you cheat on me? How could you lie to me? How could you pretend like everything was normal?

I was shocked, disappointed, and really sad to say the least—but I took him back. And we continued to date for another few years. That being said, our relationship was never the same. He continued to sneak around and lie to me, which only furthered my trust issues. We were never able to rebuild that trust and as a direct result, we were never able to live in a solid, healthy place again.

Deception destroyed my relationship. But that doesn’t mean it has to destroy yours. My ex and I went on unhappily for the remainder of our time together because of our subsequent trust issues: unfortunately, he wasn’t willing to learn from his mistake, and I wasn’t willing to forgive him for it. However, if you and your partner are willing to forgive, learn, and work on your relationship moving forward, then there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Ronica Branson, a licensed professional counselor and certified coach, delves into these keys to rebuilding trust and further explains how you and your significant other can move forward after deception has tainted your relationship in her answers to the following:

Can couples rebuild trust after that trust has been broken?

Trust is the ultimate foundation of a relationship. Once it’s broken, it can be very challenging to restore it, but it can be done if both individuals are willing to learn from the mistake, forgive, and actually make a sincere effort to do the work. We are living in a world in which there seems to be some type of deception on every corner, and the guise of reality television makes it appear to be the norm. But deceptive behavior is not the way to sustain a healthy relationship. For those who want to thrive in a successful relationship, trust is essential.

Although we are only human and do make mistakes, many people may feel that once trust has been lost, it can’t be restored—but the reality is, we all live with some type of trust issues from past experiences, and it would be unrealistic to think that we are totally and completely open about all of life’s issues. Whether it’s as small as not sharing our real age when we first meet or even having a body enhancement procedure years ago, we must ask ourselves, “have we truly opened up about everything?” especially when deciding to rebuild trust and continue a relationship after we have been hurt by a partner.

What steps should they take to do so?

Whether in a newly formed relationship or one that has been established for many years, when trust has been broken, the promise-breaker must be willing to acknowledge that there is a problem. When one can sincerely acknowledge and apologize for their wrongdoing, this is a step in the right direction. Denial only leads to more pain, frustration, and a further lack of trust. Therefore, being able to acknowledge the wrong, explain why the event occurred, listen to the other person’s side, and show compassion for their feelings is a sign that you honestly regret hurting your partner.

Secondly, both parties must agree and be willing to work to improve the relationship. Whether it’s a lack of communication, a misunderstanding of expectations, or an obvious no-no, both individuals must be willing to work together to mend the relationship and make things better. Remember, a relationship involves two people, one person cannot be in it alone. If your partner has lost hope, and you’re still putting in every effort to make it work, it may be a lost cause. On the other hand, if both of you come to an agreement that you will respect one another and you will try not to make the same mistake again, trust can be re-established. Remember, it’s not going to be easy, but it can be done if both are willing to commit and do the work.

Finally, one of the biggest keys to rebuilding a relationship after trust has been lost is the willingness to forgive. Yes, forgiveness is easier said than done, especially when it comes to issues such as infidelity, deception, and patterns of overt wrongdoing. But when we say we forgive, we must truly be willing to let go of the anger and forgive our partner.

Will the relationship ever be the same again or is it permanently tainted?

There is a possibility that the relationship won’t be the same. Based on the couple’s commitment, the incident can make the relationship stronger or lead to dissolve. If one knows the expectations of another person and has a genuine concern for their happiness, one might work harder not to make the same mistake twice. On the other hand, for those who may be more into themselves and unwilling to change, or for a partner that is not willing to forgive, this could lead to the end of a relationship.

Sometimes, we need a little additional help when it comes to fixing the damage in our relationships. If this is the case for you and your partner, consider working with a couples counselor at Thriveworks. Our providers are skilled and experienced—not to mention, they truly care about your health and progress in life. Schedule an appointment today by first finding a location near you, or book an online counseling session.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

We wrote a "choose your own adventure" style book about depression. To help as many people as possible, we're selling it for what it costs to print ($6.80) on Amazon.com. Check it out: Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book

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