What was your last experience of betrayal, hurt and heartbreak from someone you trusted never to treat you that way? Trust is a commodity, a very important commodity for every relationship but it can be easily lost following some behaviours, actions or inactions.
“Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair”
Well, that’s a true quote but we can look into the forever part a little bit more closely. How do you regain someone’s trust after losing it?
It takes a long time to make someone trust you, especially if they are just meeting you for the first time. They will observe your behaviours and loyalty, and other areas that affect them significantly in the relationship. Some of these areas include, how you handle information, how safe their properties are with you and how well you can defend them against someone when they are not around.
Matters that relate to money, love, safety and secret handling are the most to be implicated in cases of lost trust. However, that is not to say that trust is not lost in other ways. Sometimes, misunderstanding and misinformation can make someone lose their trust in you even when you do not deserve to be untrusted.
Let’s look at some specific ways you can lose someone’s trust.
Some Common Ways Trust is Lost
It is not always your trust when you lose someone’s trust, or at least when they show that they do not trust you. This may just be a part of the process of building trust. Some people give trust easily and watch if you can build and protect the trust they have for you. Others simply hold on to their trust until you have proven to them that you deserve it.
In any case, there are some common ways in which you can lose someone’s trust if they already trusted you, or never get their trust if they were still holding fast to it.
It is easier to get someone’s trust at the beginning than to regain it after it might have been lost. So, it is essential that you are very familiar with the following behaviours that can make you lose someone’s trust.
Lying to them or about them
Cheating, especially when you are in a relationship
Deception – Pretending to be someone else for fear or favour
Betrayal in the form of selling out their most private and vulnerable information
Hurting them by doing things they don’t like
Stages of Trust
Here is a classification of trust into different stages based on its development. I strongly believe these stages of trust cut across different aspects of human relationships – business, emotional, political and the rest.
The beginning stage: This is the stage of compromise stage, where one gives you a level of trust just so you can get started. You have not yet earned this trust but they have given you a headstart towards making them trust you ultimately. In this stage, they will only stake small things they can afford to lose if you betray them.
The middle stage: At this stage, things are getting rosier and there is more familiarity between both of you. This is a slightly higher level. This stage of trust is important because it helps you determine those who may have pretended to be trustworthy all through the beginning stage.
Penultimate stage: This and the first two stages of trust above are evidence that trust takes time to build. Transiting from the beginning stage to this penultimate can take about a year or two, but this penultimate stage alone can last for many more years. At this stage, the individual entrusts you with more valuable things in their life with the belief that they can trust you with them. Breaking trust at this stage can be significantly more traumatic and repairing the lost trust is extremely difficult but not impossible.
The ultimate stage: This is the last stage of trust according to this classification. It is the stage of almost unlimited trust where you have proven yourself countless times that you are trustworthy. In this stage, you find it more difficult to betray their trust because you are conscious of how grave the consequences would be. Though this is the strongest stage of trust, it doesn’t negate that trust cannot still be broken.
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How To Regain Trust After Losing It
The quote you saw above said it takes forever to rebuild trust. That might not be exactly accurate but there are some truths in the statement. By forever, it goes on to show that the experience of betrayal, disloyalty and deceit that made you lose someone’s trust can linger in their minds for as long as forever.
That means you would have to start all over again to regain the trust of that individual if you are ever going to be in their good books again. Depending on the stage of trust you were with them before you lost their trust, the time it will take to get back to where you left off will vary commensurately.
How exactly do you regain someone’s trust after you have lost it? Here are some ways, but first, it begins with realizing the gravity of what you have done to them through your actions or inactions that led to the distrust.
Acknowledge the effect of time
Make amends, tender an apology
Accept the consequences and wait for another chance
Understand the ‘trust mindset’ of the individual whose trust you lost
Live with it, learn from it
Acknowledge The Effect of Time
There are certain people who lost my trust that I vowed never to trust again, everyone has such people. But you know what? Many of us naturally forget about the incident and give most of those people another chance to earn their trust again.
We are humans. Everyone wants to trust and be trusted. So, people will always leverage the healing power of time to restore broken trust relationships. Time heals, time erases memories, it restores and verifies truths and only very few people are able to nurture the pain of broken trust for so long.
It is important you recognise that regaining someone’s trust in you may require sufficient time. You cannot force them to forgive overnight after destroying their greatest gift to you – their trust. Can you?
Even though this effect of time, just like other tips below, can help restore broken trust relationships, it does not mean you can go ahead to shatter people’s trust. It is not an excuse to be careless and inconsiderate, because it might truly take forever or never to regain their trust again.
Make Amends, Tender an Apology
I once told my elder sister about my intimate affair with my then-girlfriend. I had always told her about the girls I had been interested in, especially when she is curious. But this time, painfully, she revealed my personal secrets to other people I wouldn’t want to get involved with at that time.
I was infuriated but instead of confronting her directly, I kept silent and learnt my lessons never to trust her again with such information prematurely. It turned out the outcome of the divulged information contributed to the demise of that relationship with the lady in question.
Things soon went back to normal but the lessons persisted. However, about a week later, she called me and apologise remorsefully for divulging my private information when I would not want it at that time. She explained the reasons that pushed her to tell my secrets thinking that I would not be so affected by it.
Long story short, I listened to her and accepted her apologies. I moved on from my vow never to trust her again but telling her or anyone else such secrets again never resumed instantly. I don’t think this trust has been fully renewed by the time of writing this article.
Well, maybe I will start confiding in her again soon but a necessary step in regaining trust when you have lost it is by apologising, righting the wrongs and patiently waiting on time to do its work.
Accept The Consequences and Wait for Another Chance
In our world, people want to have it all to themselves. They think they deserve to get back what they have deliberately destroyed but “you cannot eat your cake and have it”.
Just like what I talked about in the previous point, you may have to do your part and leave the rest for the right time. The consequences may involve a lot of things, including a lack of confidence in you, but you must accept them irrespective, while you wait for another chance to prove yourself.
Understand the Trust Mindset of the Individual Whose Trust You Lost
According to research by Harvard Business Review, mindset is a major factor affecting the response of an individual to broken trust, the duration and the difficulty with which they will let go of your past action(s) that led to the loss of the trust.
The mindset in this context refers to how easily the individual whose trust was betrayed is willing to move on following the incident. The results of the experiment categorised people into two groups – those with a fixed mindset and others with a growth mindset, and these mindsets affected how they handled the loss of trust for those they once trusted.
People with a fixed mindset would cling to an initial perception about someone or something, such that they would be fixed on their initial perception about you. If you were untrustworthy at the beginning, that is what they are going to stick to and it will be slightly difficult to convince them otherwise.
In contrast, people with a growth mindset easily update their information about someone or something. Initial perceptions can be modified by newer ones. However, their conviction becomes more solidified when consistently presented with similar behaviour or stimulus.
People with both mindsets could lose trust for you when due but people with a growth mindset would easily accept apologies and update their perception about you faster than those with a fixed mindset.
Live With It, Learn From It
What do you do when you cannot change anything? Live with it, I guess. There are times when you can do absolutely nothing to regain someone’s trust after losing it, and the person may be showing signs that they are not ready to let your betrayal go anytime near the immediate or distant future. In these cases, you may just have to live with it bearing in the back of your mind that you have lost their trust irrevocably.
You should take it as an avenue to learn your lessons about the need to guard people’s trust when they let you have it. Trust is an expensive commodity. It can open impossible doors, and attract unthinkable recommendations but the absence of it can close up any available channel to your breakthrough.
Mistrust – Unwarranted and warranted mistrust
Here, we will see the two forms of mistrust that people develop and how they develop them.
1. Unwarranted Mistrust
I once worked with a boss who was too scared to trust anyone, no matter how trustworthy they might look or have been. In business, it is understandable not to trust blindly but you are going to have to deposit some amount of trust for mutual activities between partners and so on.
So, I thought about how and why the boss didn’t trust me for no reason. I was grieved that he did not approve of me as being trustworthy despite my good behaviour. I started distancing myself for a while but I soon resolved that that be his nature or it may be based on some past experiences of betrayal of trust.
This is what unwarranted trust is about. You do not deserve to be mistrusted or treated however you are treated but it’s happening anyway. There is nothing much you can do because the person has a misconception already, that no one can ever be trustworthy.
In these circumstances, you must do well to maintain your boundaries because the more you try, the more you appear ingenuine and untrustworthy. You can be trustworthy and still be mistrusted but the one thing you must know is that trustworthy people do not try so hard to show that they are trustworthy. They make trustworthiness a part of them and it doesn’t matter what you believe or think about them.
2. Warranted Mistrust
This could have been referred to as mistrust due to one’s actions or inactions. You warrant the mistrust because of what you did to the person in question.
As I already mentioned in this post, several things that can sever someone’s trust for you and the aim of this post is for you to understand them and avoid doing them as much as possible. When you lose someone’s trust for you because of one of those listed things that you committed, it can be said that you warranted the mistrust.
Warranted mistrust is common in business relationships, emotional relationships, politics and international relations and so many other interpersonal relationships
How Many Times Can You Break Someone’s Trust For You
Trust is breakable. An egg is also breakable, but a difference exists in the breakability of these two entities. There are common occasions when an individual breaks someone’s trust several times and still live normally with them. But a quick question that could be asked is, “How many times can you break someone’s trust and regain it afterwards?”
As long there is forgiveness, humans will continue to forgive when they are wrong. This is logical and true because research has shown that it is more burdensome to hold on to a grievance than to let it go. The heart is happier when it is free of such entanglements.
However, in trying to answer the question of how many times you can break someone’s trust and regain it, I would say that it depends on the severity of the consequences of the trust betrayal, which stage of trust it occurred and the individual involved. When you recurrently break someone’s trust for you, you gradually reduce their capability to trust you, until they can no longer trust you.
I wouldn’t say two, three or four times but I could estimate that you can totally lose someone’s trust after breaking their trust up to ten times. That’s just an unverified estimate and is not underpinned by research. However, try not to break someone’s trust as much as that.
This was a disambiguation of most philosophies about trust and you also learnt some ways through which trust can be lost.
Regaining trust after losing it requires a great deal of maturity on your part as well as understanding the need to give it some time waiting.
The bottom line, try to avoid losing someone’s trust because it might take forever to regain, and if you already did, follow through with the steps on how to regain someone’s trust after losing it.
I am a medical doctor, a seasoned writer and passionate blogger. Thanks to many years of trials, failure, and near successes. I am the founder of Knowseeker and our content are geared towards enlightening and making you a better and happier audience.