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Recovering Broken Trust after Emotional Infidelity

Updated on October 14, 2013
Emotional infidelity can make you feel confused and alone.
Emotional infidelity can make you feel confused and alone.

Destruction of Trust

Thirteen percent of men and 21 percent of women in the U.S. admit to emotional infidelity, a report called "Infidelity: When, Where, Why", published in "The Dark Side of Close Relationships, Volume 2", revealed.Emotional infidelity is becoming more widespread as access to the Internet and modern technology makes it easier to cheat. Infidelity of this sort often destroys trust in a relationship and leaves the cheated-on spouse feeling hurt and confused.

Communicate the Consequences

One of the difficulties with healing emotional infidelity is that often the partner who is perceived to have been unfaithful doesn't feel like it is cheating, because physical sexual contact has not occurred. A 2004 report published in the journal "Computers in Human Behavior" revealed that 83 percent of people who had online liaisons did not view their behavior as infidelity. To start rebuilding trust, the perpetrator must promise to stop the behavior, which starts with mentally and verbally acknowledging the pain that it causes.

Take Baby Steps

Broken trust must be rebuilt from its foundations, meaning that the partner who violated that trust must be willing to take the initiative in making amends. In the beginning, it may help if the partner who has been emotionally unfaithful is willing to be monitored for a period of time, For example, agreeing to share phone and computer records with the cheated-on spouse would demonstrate a commitment to being honest and transparent. Behaving consistently and matching promises with actions should start to rebuild trust within the relationship.

Give Trust a Chance

Once distrust has been established, people tend to become less willing to be vulnerable, meaning it is more difficult to engage in experiences that can rebuild trust. After the initial hurt has subsided, marriage partners must not avoid situations which might actually allow them to see the positive motives and actions of the partner who is trying to regain trust. It may be helpful to allow the erring partner to prove themselves in situations where the previous infidelity occurred. This is particularly pertinent, as humans naturally notice trust-building events less often than negative ones.

Reaffirm the Relationship

Emotional infidelity may be a symptom of deeper issues within the marriage, which is why both partners need to re-establish the fundamental values upon which the relationship is built. Spending quality time together, verbally appreciating each other and physically demonstrating the things that originally cemented the relationship, such as love, attraction, and support, can help repair the emotional bond. The spouse who has broken the trust should be prepared to discuss how they plan to avoid any subsequent breakdown of the relationship and how they will ensure the prioritization of the marriage in future.


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