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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

For Teens: What do you do after someone has lost trust in you?

December 28, 2009

When someone like a bf/gf or a bff trusts you enough to tell you personal, private information it probably makes you feel pretty special. And it should! Because this person means a lot to you and you want those feelings of trust to continue growing, you promise not to tell a soul. And you totally mean it. But then you find yourself talking to someone else and without meaning to hurt anybody, you tell the thing you promised you wouldn’t! As soon as the words are out of your mouth you get that “uh, oh” feeling. And things usually go downhill from there.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? It’s not uncommon.

Hey Terra,

My boyfriend broke up with me because he said I’ve changed. I have lost his trust, because I was telling people things he told me.  For example he told me that he was going to beat up this guy and then I told my friends. The topic of that particular person came up in the conversation and I thought my bf wouldn’t mind me telling my friends because they are like best friends with him.

I regret that I told them anything. I want to gain his trust back but I don’t know how to really “show” it. When I chat with him online he seems like he doesn’t want to talk to me and that really annoys me.  Today I was talking to him and he said that nobody could ever gain his trust back and that people only get one chance. I screwed up my chance. I really want his trust back again. I told him that but he said I should have thought before I acted. I’m not sure what to do please help !

Sorry Serena

Hi Serena,

We all make mistakes. (Welcome to the club!) But not everyone knows how to use a mistake to learn something about yourself and other people… and move forward with your new wisdom. I admire your self-awareness and I respect the fact that you’re not making excuses for what you did. You made a mistake, you’re sorry and it’s over. You need to forgive yourself.

If you can, try to remember what was going on in your head at the moment you decided to tell your friends what your ex told you. Whatever pressures or temptations you were feeling, it’s important to be honest with yourself about it. That’s really the only way you can avoid doing the same thing again. As for your ex not trusting you 100% any more, well, I’m sure you can understand that he feels betrayed. It’s a human response to pull back and protect oneself from being hurt again.

You’d probably like things between you to be back the way they were… instantly. But that’s not going to happen right away. It takes time to build trust in a relationship, and that can all vanish in an instant (as you’ve experienced). The long road back from betrayal to trust is just that… A long road. You can’t apologize or talk your way back into someone’s trust. Your actions, over time, will either prove to him that you are trustworthy or not.

My advice (since you asked) is that you forgive yourself for your mistake and continue to be the best, most trustworthy friend you can be. That’s all you can do. The rest is out of your hands. No sense stressing about it. Just promise yourself that in the future you will try to be more aware of what you promise and what you deliver through your actions.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,


Filed under: Teens — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 8:02 pm


  1. i am a 19 year old in nursing school and i have no friends. im really scared of people and them hurting me. i dont really want to go through the trouble of meeting people because i dont know how. i have had best friends in the past but they have all decided they dont like me anymore. for reasons im not sure of they all dropped our friendship. it has happened quite a few times and it has changed me drastically. now noone calls me, noone checks up on me and noone even thinks to. the funny thing is, i have the opportunity to hang out with people but i have to call them but i get scared and decide not to. i would rather sit alone in my house all day and feel sad and not do something about it. im a painfully lonly loner, and i had no idea that was possible. i hate to have to be around people but i am painfully lonly. how am i supposed to be happy if the thought of calling aquaintances and going out freaks me out and tires me and being alone makes me sad. on new years eve i hoped and prayed someone would invite me to a party and when someone finally did i declined the invitation and sat alone in my house feeling un liked.

    Comment by Kt — January 5, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  2. Kt,

    What you have is generally called “Social Anxiety Disorder” (SAD), or simply “Social Phobia”. Good News. There is help for you.! Both my wife and I also suffered the same as you, and were completely miserable. Had it not been for me being persistent, we’d not even know one another. So, where’s da help? SAD can be overcome with therapy… counseling. ANY reputable counseling center will offer you the solution you seek. And most will have a sliding-scale (income-based) fee to make it affordable to you. An important note; while in therapy if you don’t feel (after a period of time) you’re making progress, tell your therapist that you’d like to try another therapist, and why. If they are reluctant to do so, then discuss this with the center’s administrator or program director. I won’t kid you… you’ll have to do some work if you want to be happy. The reward though is you’ll find life can be fun, and learn a good deal more not only about yourself, but others too, which just happens coincidentally. Take care, and the very best of luck and life to you! TJ 🙂

    Comment by TJ — February 8, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

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