Building Trust After Betrayal

Building Trust After Betrayal

Topics Covered In This Article



-Triggering Childhood Worthiness Wounds

-3 Phases of Recovery

-Trust Triangle


Betrayal is the act of breaking a trust or loyalty that has been placed in someone or something. It involves violating an agreement, a promise, or an expectation that has been established between two or more individuals. Betrayal can take many forms, including lying, cheating, stealing, or revealing confidential information, among others. It often causes emotional pain, hurt, and a sense of loss for the person who has been betrayed, and can lead to a breakdown in relationships, both personal and professional. Betrayal can be a difficult experience to overcome, and may require time and effort to rebuild trust and repair relationships.

Infidelity is a form of betrayal, but not all betrayals are a form of infidelity.

Infidelity is the act of being unfaithful or disloyal to a romantic partner, typically by engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with someone else. It can involve both physical and emotional betrayal, and is often considered a breach of trust in a relationship. Infidelity can have serious consequences for the people involved, including hurt, anger, and damaged relationships. It is generally considered a violation of the expectations and commitments made between partners, and can lead to the dissolution of a relationship in some cases.

The Components of Infidelity include: Secrecy, Sexual Alchemy and Emotional Involvement. If one or more of these is involved with others outside of our immediate relationship, it is worth understanding why we feel compelled to outsource our attention to others and what we can do to reconcile these feelings in a constructive way.

When trust is broken, this can trigger a multitude of deeply embedded worthiness wounds stemming from childhood such as:


  1. Abandonment: This occurs when a child feels deserted or rejected by a parent or caregiver, or is separated from them due to circumstances such as divorce, death, or adoption. Abandonment can lead to feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and a fear of abandonment in future relationships.
  2. Neglect: Neglect occurs when a child's basic physical and emotional needs are not met by their primary caregiver. This can include not providing enough food, clothing, shelter, or attention. Neglect can lead to feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, and a lack of trust in others.
  3. Rejection: Being rejected by someone significant in childhood, such as a parent or caregiver, can lead to feelings of unworthiness. This can manifest in adult life as a fear of rejection, or a belief that one is not deserving of love or attention.
  4. Comparison: Being compared unfavorably to others, whether by parents, peers, or authority figures, can lead to feelings of unworthiness. This can manifest in adult life as a constant need for validation or approval, or a tendency to compare oneself unfavorably to others.
  5. Abuse: Experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in childhood can lead to feelings of unworthiness, as the abuse can be internalized as a belief that one is not deserving of respect or dignity. This can manifest in adult life as a tendency to tolerate abusive behavior from others, or a belief that one is responsible for the abuse they experienced.

According to Esther Perel, a world renowned Psychotherapist who specializes in understanding infidelity, affairs are an act of betrayal but also an expression of longing and loss.

I know.. I know.. That’s not what any of us wants to hear. However, being able to address meaning and motive might be our best chance at repair.

There are 3 Phases of Recovery:

1) Crisis: What you don’t do at this phase, is just as critical as what you do.

2) Meaning Making: Delve into why the affair happened and what part each person played in the affair

3) Visioning: What lies ahead for the couple separately and together

During the repair process it is important to understand what the affair did to one person and what it meant to another.

A framework I like to coach is the Building Trust Triangle. The Building Trust Triangle is a model that highlights the three key elements necessary to build trust in any relationship or interaction. The three elements are:

  1. Reliability: This refers to the ability of a person or organization to consistently deliver on their promises and commitments. It is important to be reliable in order to build trust because people need to know that they can count on you to follow through on what you say you will do.
  2. Competence: This refers to the level of skill and expertise that a person or organization possesses. In order to build trust, people need to believe that you are competent and capable of handling the tasks or responsibilities that you have been given.
  3. Intimacy: This refers to the level of emotional connection and understanding that exists between people. In order to build trust, it is important to create a sense of intimacy by being open, honest, and transparent in your communication and interactions.

Together, these three elements create a strong foundation for building trust in any relationship or interaction. By being reliable, competent, and intimate, you can establish trust with others and create strong, lasting relationships.

During the rebuild stage, it’s important to be proactive in addressing things like: Retroactive anger, retroactive grief and compassion fatigue.


Reflection Questions

-What does infidelity mean to you?

-When is a relationship really over? Is it when you are sleeping in different beds? Stop sharing experiences? When you grow apart? Or when you officially call it quits?

-In what ways have you betrayed your relationship (past or present) in exchange for validation?

-What is your contribution in the health of your relationships?

-What is your contribution in the decline of them?

-How do you rebuild your life and identity after a betrayal?


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