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Three Reasons Why it is Difficult to Move on After There is Broken Trust

BrokenEvery case of broken trust impacts us on three levels, and the damage on each of these levels is what holds us back from healing the broken trust and moving on. It doesn’t matter whether the broken trust is real or perceived; impact occurs on these three levels.

The Emotional Level

For everything that happens in our lives whether good or bad we have an emotional reaction. Every experience that we have is stored in a memory not only as what happened but how we experienced the event using our five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. The question is how that information makes us feel. We are not dealing with merely an event when it comes to memories, but an event that carries some very real information for us. When we encounter distressing situations in our relationship, we link things that have happened to us in the past to what is happening now. It may not be the same, but if it is similar, we will react strongly. The more times we experience a similar event, the stronger our emotional reaction. When trust is broken the impact on the emotional level is severe because broken trust represents the loss of so many things to us. It can mean things like the loss of security, the loss of stability, the loss of self-esteem and so on.

The degree of damage that exists on this level, that is not recognised by other people, and is left unhealed is the number one reason why it is difficult to move on after trust is broken.

The Perception Level

Perception encompasses our belief or opinion about certain things or people.

When something happens repeatedly, you will form a belief or opinion about the likelihood of it happening again. When we have a perception of how a person is going to behave in a situation, we place that perception on that person, and in our eyes, our perception defines their character. We perceive that they will do a specific action when faced with a particular set of circumstances. If that perception is negative, then we expect our interaction with them will be more negative than positive.

Human beings tend only to observe and hear things that confirm what they believe. So at this point no matter what your partner does which is right, if there is broken trust, you are only picking up in your interaction with them what is bad and what confirms that they are untrustworthy.

Our perception of our partner after they have broken our trust is the number two reason that we find it difficult to move on once trust has been broken.

Behaviour Level

Based on how strong our emotional level reaction is and how strong our perception of events or people becomes, we will moderate our behaviour in response. In a relationship, our emotional build-up and our perception of our partner can lead to behaviours on our part which at the worst destroys the relationship or at the best keeps our partner at arm’s length.

The actions that we take at the behaviour level as a result of the damage at the emotional level and the perception that we have built up of our partners, is the number three reason why we find it hard to heal and move on after trust is broken.


In relationships where one of the partners has cheated on the other and trust has been broken, there is a great deal of emotion built up which leaves the injured partner to believe the other one will always break or damage their trust. As a result, the hurt partner cannot just move on (change their behaviour) but will instead adopt practices that can destroy, cripple or keep the relationship at arm’s length. To begin to heal the relationship and to rebuild the broken trust the damage at the emotional and perception levels must be addressed first.

Next time we’ll look at how to rebuild broken trust.

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