How To Learn To Trust Again

Updated November 14, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Trust is generally a foundational element in most any type of relationship. It’s what allows both people to feel safe and comfortable being vulnerable and authentic. However, trust can be a dynamic thing. You can build, break, and rebuild trust with different people over time. If you’ve had your trust betrayed before, it can seem difficult to open yourself up to trusting again—but it is possible. Here are some tips on how to start this journey.

Why Trust Is Important

Plentiful research over the years has found links between strong social connections and both mental and physical health and well-being. One study even found that close social connections actually correlate with longevity. Since trust is the basis of most close, fulfilling relationships, learning to open yourself up to trusting people again can have significant benefits for you in your life.

Note also that although trust is often brought up in reference to romantic relationships, it’s a concept that’s relevant and important in all kinds of relationships. It applies to connections with friends and family you’re close to. It may also apply to connections with coworkers or a mentor/mentee, for example. It even has its place in your relationship with a doctor or a therapist, since they can typically only provide the care that you need if you can trust them enough to be honest about your situation.

Learning To Trust Again Can Be A Difficult Process

Why It Can Be Hard To Trust Again

Past experiences are one of the most common reasons someone may have difficulty learning to trust again. Humans aren’t perfect, so broken trust is a scenario most of us will experience or play a part in throughout our lives. Some of these experiences may have happened during childhood, with a parent or caregiver breaking our trust at a young age. Others may have happened with romantic partners in our adult lives, or with friends along the way. Having experienced other types of trauma like war or violent crime could also leave you with a distrust of others in general.

Struggling to learn to trust again after a hurtful experience is normal. However, holding onto or trying to ignore that pain can be detrimental in the long run. One study found that avoiding dealing with hurt feelings can prolong the experience of hurt. Plus, of course, you may miss out on rich, rewarding life experiences in relationships with other people while you’re avoiding intimacy and trust because of past pain. The most emotionally healthy way to move forward is typically to take the time to experience your feelings and then work toward healing so you can go forward and form trusting relationships again. This process can look different for different people, but there are a few tips you can try to get started.

Tips For Learning To Trust Again

When you place your trust in someone, there’s always the risk that you’ll be hurt. It’s part of the human experience for all of us. So while trusting someone may always feel significant and maybe a little scary, there are a few things you can try to get yourself to the point where you’re ready to do it when it feels right.

Start Slowly

Trust is typically built over time, bit by bit. So if you’re feeling hesitant about starting to build a trusting relationship with someone, remind yourself that it’s okay and even smart to go slowly—especially at first. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries in order to keep things at a pace that’s comfortable for you. In a romantic relationship, for example, you may choose to wait a certain amount of time before being physically intimate, or before meeting the person’s family and friends, or before talking certain things about yourself. It’s okay to want to feel like you can trust a person in a certain way before moving things to the next step, and it may feel safer and more comfortable for you.

Learn To Identify Red Flags

Sometimes, a violation of trust catches us completely by surprise. Other times, we can look back on a situation and see that there were red flags we wished we’d noticed along the way. In cases like the latter, it can be helpful to get familiar with those warning signs and look out for them in the future. While being too strict or black-and-white about these things can lead you to push everyone away, watching out for potentially unhealthy patterns can be useful. A therapist can be a great resource for examining situations or relationships in your past that turned out to be harmful so you can be aware of those dynamics if they arise again in the future. That way, you may be able to save yourself from some instances of broken trust before you emotionally invest in someone too significantly.

Work Through Past Hurt

Something else a therapist may be able to help with is working through the hurt feelings or even emotional trauma that you may have experienced in your past. If not, you may find it difficult or even impossible to express emotional vulnerability with someone. Or, you might assume past patterns will repeat themselves in new relationships, even if you have no evidence that this is happening. In other words, not properly processing the hard times you’ve been through in the past can hold you back in the future.

A mental health professional can provide a safe space for you to unpack these experiences and the feelings associated with them so you can move forward in a healthy way. If a mental health condition like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is playing a role, they may help you uncover strategies for managing the associated symptoms as well.

The idea of talking openly about difficult past experiences can be nerve-wracking to some. That’s why it’s important that you find a counselor who you feel comfortable with and who fits your needs. With a virtual therapy platform like BetterHelp, for instance, you can get matched with a licensed therapist based on your answers to a questionnaire about your needs and goals. You can then meet with them virtually—via phone call or video chat—from the comfort of your own home.

There’s a growing body of research suggesting that online therapy can help those with concerns about trust in relationships. A study published in a peer-reviewed research journal found that online therapy can help promote trust in those seeking help. Specifically, the report found that the potential benefits provided by internet-based therapy platforms may help patients open up more easily. This information is in line with research that suggests that online counseling is useful in managing a number of mental health challenges, including those related to communication, trust, and relationships.

Learning To Trust Again Can Be A Difficult Process

Takeaway

Healing from past experiences where your trust has been broken and learning to trust again will likely take time. Human emotions are complex, and hurt can run deep. However, you can take comfort in the fact that it is possible. With the right resources, time, and patience, you can feel more comfortable opening yourself up to authentic, trusting relationships with others.

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