During your treatment program, you may have analyzed your relationships with the people in your life and how they impact your history of substance use. In doing so, you may have discovered that trust is broken in some of your relationships, whether you don’t trust the person or they don’t trust you. Rebuilding trust is an essential part of recovery that goes beyond apologizing or making amends. Creating and maintaining trust in a relationship requires emotional effort and maintenance. It might not be easy, but creating and maintaining meaningful relationships is necessary.
Rebuild Trust Step by Step
Rebuilding trust in a relationship, romantic or platonic, is a process. It is not something that forms from one well-written apology or a thoughtful act of service. Trust isn’t mended; it’s built, and like any building, it needs a solid foundation. When trust is lost, you need to start over. In some cases, you might have to start from scratch; in others, you might be able to start somewhere in the middle. It depends on your relationship with the person and how much harm the person has done to you or you’ve done to them. Whatever level of trust you start with has to be comfortable for both of you.
Trust can only be built with time. There are no short courts or binging sessions that can rebuild broken trust overnight. It takes attentiveness, hard work, and dedication. There may be some setbacks along the way, but the faster you notice something isn’t working, the easier it will be to maintain your growing trust in each other.
Trust Open Communication
Open communication is the best way to build trust without any cracks in the foundation. Checking in with one another will make it easier to raise issues in your relationship as they occur and will give you the information you need to better provide emotional support to one another. Additionally, maintaining open communication in a relationship requires honesty, listening, and sometimes confrontation.
A fulfilling relationship needs honesty. Lying and deception make it impossible to have supportive, meaningful connections. Hiding behind a false persona or hiding parts of yourself from a loved one will build a wall between you. Trust comes from feeling close to a person; honesty opens that door to closeness, and lying closes it. Honest communication starts with being truthful about your feelings and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the best way to communicate honesty because putting your cards on the table proves that you’re willing to put your emotions on the line to rebuild trust in your relationship.
Listening & Engaging
Being engaged during an honest conversation will make your loved one feel heard. Let them know you are listening by double-checking that you understand how the person feels. You can do this by rewording the person’s feelings back to them. If your feelings aren’t being respected in a conversation, say something. Open communication is about understanding what your relationship needs to continue to build trust with the person and provide the appropriate emotional support. Listening and engaging in an honest conversation with someone is the only way to continue building trust with them. It also shows that you care deeply about the person because you’re taking the time to understand what’s happening in their head.
Confrontation Prevents Tension
Open conversations can be difficult, especially when the conversation requires confronting a problem in your relationship. However, shying away from these problems will crack open your trusting foundation. Even if you don’t find solutions to problems in your relationship immediately, your trust will grow because you’ll understand that you are both on the same page.
You won’t have to worry whether the person is or isn’t mad or upset with you because you will have dealt with the problem directly. Confrontation can be scary, but it lays a solid foundation for trust. If confronting people makes you nervous, be inventive. For example, try engaging people via letter or prep what you will say beforehand. You can even let the person know that confrontation is uncomfortable for you before addressing the problem.
Before you have an open conversation about confronting your loved one, take the time to process your emotions. Processing your emotions is the best way to avoid miscommunication. Are your emotions reactionary? Are you upset about something else? Are these emotions misdirected? Give your emotions time to simmer to reflect accurately on what’s bothering you. If the negative emotions seem to be coming from your relationship, taking the time to process them gives you space to convey them to the person properly. It will make it easier for your loved one to understand your emotions so that together, you can better come up with a plan to continue to resolve the issue and work on building trust in your relationship.
Rebuilding trust takes patience, emotional energy, and commitment. It is a journey you will take with your loved ones parallel to your recovery journey. Restoration Recovery Center knows community and connection with loved ones are essential to recovery. We allow all of our clients three hours of cellphone time a day to stay connected to their loved ones and work on rebuilding their trust before treatment is over. Our mental health professionals will work closely with you to give you the tools to build trusting, healthy relationships. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, please call (888) 290-0925 to learn how we can help you achieve long-term sobriety.