Moving Beyond the Lies Toward Trust
By Susie and Otto Collins
How do you heal a relationship in which one or both of you
lied and acted without integrity? Is it even possible to
move beyond the lies and in the direction of a close,
When a betrayal has happened in your love relationship--
whether it was cheating or another
hurtful experience-- you might be asking yourself questions
We acknowledge that there's nothing like a lie to quickly
erode or even destroy the foundations upon which your
relationship is built. At the same time, we believe that it
is possible to turn trust around and move closer to one
another-- even with a past that seemed filled with lies.
Learning to tell the truth is something that just about
every child is taught. Of course, there are often strong
lessons that discourage lying told to us by the adults in
But there are almost always also lessons we learned from our
peers during our younger years. The pain of discovering that
a best friend lied about us or to us can stick with those
childhood memories and alter the course of friendships as
Now, as an adult, you probably hold beliefs about telling
the truth and the damaging effects that lying can have on a
relationship. As you try to pick up the pieces of your
relationship after lying has occurred, those beliefs most
certainly influence you and the healing process you are
If you are the one in the relationship who has been lied
We encourage you to get to know and acknowledge the beliefs
you have about truth-telling and lying. Just check in with
yourself and recognize if there are any past relationship
experiences-- even childhood occurrences-- that might be
clouding how you are viewing this current
We are not in any way indicating that you should discount
your current partner's lies and the way you might be feeling
as a result. It is helpful, however, if you can ground
yourself in this moment and situation.
When you react from the past, you truly cannot effect
positive change in the present. Instead, you tend to
attribute to your partner and yourself actions, words and
motivations that just may not be accurate. And that can only
compound the hurt and disconnection that you both may be
When you choose to re-build trust with someone who has lied
to you, you are choosing to make a leap of faith in some
ways. This is probably uncomfortable for you and you may
even feel vulnerable. After all, the last thing you want is
to be lied to again!
However, you can take a reasonable and conscious risk each
time you decide to trust what your partner is telling you.
This type of risk may also feel uncomfortable but it is not
a naive or "blind" action.
As you are dealing with your current relationship grounded
in the present moment, it can be easier for you to sort out
the information you are receiving that seems reasonable and
From this place of the presence, you can also listen more
clearly to what your "gut" is telling you rather than what
your fears and resentments rooted in the past might be
You can set boundaries as you open up to your partner and
begin to trust again. While we don't recommend threats or
ultimatums, we do encourage people to communicate to one
another what their boundaries are. What is non-negotiable
It might be that you decide not to tolerate lying again. If
so, be clear about your boundary and then follow through.
You can set agreements with your partner that allow both of
you to be part of the boundary-setting and trust-building
that can happen.
If you are the one in the relationship who lied...
We suggest that you also bring yourself into this present
situation and differentiate between the past and what's
going on right now. Sometimes we fall into roles or habits
that are familiar because they fit where we used to be.
Those past behaviors might have served us in some capacity
at the time, but now are very limiting and damaging to
ourselves and our relationships.
For example, perhaps a man or woman was labeled by his or
her parents, teachers and classmates as a liar during
childhood. There may have been a time in this person's early
life when, for whatever reason, lying seemed to be easier
than telling the truth.
This label and habit might become so ingrained, that the
person can only see him or herself as a liar.
When you make the completions you need to make, forgive
yourself and others for past mistakes and let go, you can
often clear space for wonderful transformations. You might
find that, as you ground yourself in the present and let go
of the past, you don't feel the urge to "cover up" or be
You might start to realize that connecting with your partner
with integrity has amazing benefits-- even if it's not
always the most comfortable choice to make.
Expect what you want...not what you don't want.
Regardless of what happened to cause distrust in your
relationship and regardless of which "role" you played, you
can move toward healing and trust. And, if you choose, you
can do this together and end up closer than before.
Sometimes it all comes down to your expectations. Do you
mostly expect your partner-- or yourself-- to betray trust
and lie? Are you often "on alert" or looking out for being
lied to? Do you consider it a foregone conclusion that
honesty just doesn't work for you?
Pay attention to what you expect in your relationship.
Ask yourself if those expectations keep you pointed toward
the past and inevitable hurt and pain? Or, are there ways
you could shift those expectations to reasonably and
consciously move toward trust instead?
When you have positive expectations of yourself, your
partner and your relationship, you are essentially mapping
out a hopeful future. Perhaps the most important question of
all is, what kind of future do you want? Whatever that is,
trust in the process of life and in your ability to have it.