When trying to rebuild trust, it’s critical for the betrayer to make the betrayed partner feel understood, or the entire conversation will go nowhere (or the conversation will go around in circles until the betrayed partner finally feels validated). People who have been betrayed have a difficult time moving forward until they know that their partner understands what they are experiencing. It’s really that simple.

Putting It All Together

Following the discovery of a transgression or betrayal, focusing on your feelings and expressing yourself in a nonjudgmental way is helpful for several reasons. You’re less likely to create a defensive response—a response where emotions escalate, more lies are told, and conversations turn into heated arguments. The more you can move away from triggering a defensive response, the more likely you’re to motivate your partner to see the situation from your point of view and get to the root of the problem with less drama and negativity. The quicker you adopt a constructive approach, the more likely you’ll be to start an open, honest dialogue with your partner about the transgression that occurred and make it possible for you to work toward reconciliation. It’s also essential for the person who betrayed their partner’s trust to acknowledge the harm that’s been done.