Trust: How To Rebuild After A Betrayal

by Candice Christiansen, LCMHC, CSAT-S, Founder

Trust is a loaded term, one that tends to be expected, demanded, and taken for granted, especially in intimate relationships. It is defined as a "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something." 

When an intimate betrayal occurs, such as infidelity of any kind (lying, secret keeping, cheating on a spouse via an affair with money, a person, substances, etc), trust tends to be the first thing to go in a relationship. Interestingly, the spouse who has caused the betrayal often experiences impatience at losing trust, often asking repeatedly, "When are you going to trust me again?" Or, "Why can't you just trust me?", "It's been 3 months," "Aren't you over this by now?" 

Understanding Your Distressed Partner

Partners who have experienced intimate betrayal as a result of their spouse's infidelity, addiction (substance abuse, sex, porn addiction, financial betrayal), narcissistic abuse, sex offending)tend to exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder including:

  • Reliving the event

  • Flashbacks 

  • Triggers

  • Nightmares

  • Panic attacks

  • Depression

  • Negative Beliefs

  • Hyperarousal

Sex Addiction: It Is NOT About Sex

I once had a colleague, a sex therapist, challenge me for explaining to him that in my work with clients we address the underlying issues that lead someone to cope maladaptively via sexual acting out. He didn't understand how exactly underlying issues could cause someone to act out sexually in maladaptive ways. I explained that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) including trauma and neglect, attachment failure, and hame can impact a person to where they cope in various ways. One way is through sex or sexual experiences that the person describes as causing distress in multiple areas of their life. Other ways include: abusing substances, food, spending, gaming, (for some, all of the above); or the opposite, deprivation/avoidance strategies. 

My Relationship Sucks. Help?

We receive emails and calls on a daily basis from men and women describing various issues in their intimate relationships: Infidelity, sex/pornography addiction, low libido, sexual incompatibility, past trauma that is now impacting their intimate relationship, substance abuse issues that have created chaos in one's marriage; mental or physical illness that impacts the relationship connection. You name it! 

Denial of Sex Addiction Hurts Our Clients

Recently the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors (AASECT) came out with a declarative statement claiming that they; 1) “do not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge.