Lying in a relationship is never okay. We know it. But it still happens.
The problem is that once you lie to your partner, it becomes harder to get back into a good place.
They say that “trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair”.
But it is possible to repair a broken relationship by learning from your mistakes and moving forward.
Here are the steps you need to take to fix a relationship you feel like you’ve ruined by lying.
How to fix a relationship you ruined by lying: 15 steps
1) Own your mistakes
It’s not easy admitting when you’ve made a mistake.
It can be even more difficult if you feel like you’re being judged for doing something stupid that you wish you could take back.
Now is not the time to try and hide from whatever has happened. Instead, you need to be honest. And that starts with being totally honest with yourself.
A bit of self-reflection is going to be useful here.
Dig deeper into yourself. What caused your dishonesty?
Was it really a silly mistake, or was there more to it?
Are there things that you need to personally work on separately from the relationship?
Facing your own flaws (which every single one of us has) will show your partner that you care enough to reflect on your actions and the impact they have had.
Learn lessons by reflecting on the experience.
2) Come completely clean
If lies that have later come to light have ruined your relationship, now is the time to tell all.
Does your partner know everything? Or is there more that you have kept from them up until now?
When you feel like your relationship is already hanging by a thread it can be tempting to try to shield it from any more harm.
But if that involves telling more lies or keeping more secrets — it’s far better to come totally clean now.
You don’t want to hide any more skeletons in the closet that could come out further down the line.
If you want this to be a fresh page in your relationship story, then you need to start over. And starting over means full and transparent honesty from here on in.
3) Make a genuine apology
If you are here looking for ways to repair your relationship, it’s clearly important to you.
So I’m sure that you genuinely are sorry. But you need to let your partner know that through a sincere apology.
Say how sorry you are. Say why you did what you did. And say what you plan to do differently next time.
This is about owning your mistakes and making amends.
It’s also about showing your partner that you understand their feelings and that you genuinely regret what you did.
Just acknowledging the pain your partner feels for lying can go a long way. As highlighted in Very Well Mind:
“When learning how to apologize effectively, it’s important to understand the value of expressing regret. Taking responsibility is important, but it’s also helpful for the other person to know that you feel bad about hurting them, and wish you hadn’t. That’s it. They already feel bad, and they’d like to know that you feel bad about them feeling bad.”
4) Get vulnerable
A really great way to highlight sincerity and transparency with your partner is by being vulnerable with them.
This means opening up to your partner. Letting down your walls. Putting your ego aside. Share with them all parts of yourself, even if you fear criticism and judgment, or rejection.
Vulnerability can help to reduce conflict as we are more likely to soften when faced with someone’s vulnerability.
Being vulnerable is also a really good way to promote more intimacy again in the relationship.
That’s because, at its heart, vulnerability is unguarded truth. And when lying has disintegrated your relationship, that is exactly what you need right now.
Family therapist Sarah Epstein says:
“When we speak from a place of how we feel, when we share our fears and dreams with another, we give somebody the power to either hear us or to hurt us,”
5) Really listen to your partner
Listening is an essential part of communication.
And one survey found that 96% of us think it’s something we’re pretty good at.
But the research doesn’t quite agree.
In fact, one study says that people only tend to retain about half of what someone is saying to them.
According to Scientific America, here’s the problem:
“The human brain has the capacity to digest as much as 400 words per minute of information. But even a speaker from New York City talks at around 125 words per minute. That means three-quarters of your brain could very well be doing something else while someone is speaking to you.”
Listening isn’t just about hearing what someone is saying. Listening is about understanding the real message they’re trying to communicate.
And that requires empathy to imagine what they might be thinking and feeling. It means not getting defensive, trying to justify, or making excuses.
Show that you care how your partner feels and what they need by really listening to them, and validating their feelings.
6) Commit to doing better in the future
Making amends for lying is a process. And part of that process is creating reassurances about the future.
This is where you confirm to your partner that things will be different moving forward.
They don’t just want to hear you’re sorry, they want to know that you won’t lie to them again.
Be prepared to make those reassurances with not only words but actions where necessary.
Know how you are going to do better in the future. And then be consistent and follow through with it all.
7) Don’t make promises you’re not sure you can deliver
It’s tempting to say and do anything to get your relationship back on track. But you also need to be wary of making commitments that are going to be difficult to stick to.
I think it’s important to be realistic. Having to renege on something further down the line may be seen as another betrayal.
Making a promise you cannot keep in their mind will only go to prove that you cannot be trusted, because you go back on your word.
It’s better to be truthful and sensible about the promises you can make to your partner.
That may require you to be honest about your needs and wants and wherever they don’t match up in the relationship.
8) Get practical support
I often see articles talking about relationship struggles casually mentioning towards the end that you can always get professional support if you need it.
But I think that downplays the vital role an expert can provide in helping you to fix your relationship.
Getting the proper support now can be the difference between make or break.
Relationships are tough, and they need proactive work. Turning to an expert can make so much more sense than going it alone.
Consider speaking to a relationship expert about your situation, whether that is as a couple or on your own.
Relationship Hero provides access to highly trained relationship coaches 24-7.
They can help you to make sense of your situation, provide a sympathetic and non-judgemental ear, and more importantly offer practical advice to help you to come up with a plan of action.
I’ve personally used them through rough patches in my own relationship.
If you are committed to getting your relationship back on track I do recommend checking Relationship Hero out.
9) Don’t keep beating yourself up
I’m certainly not trying to give you a free pass when I say this. Like I said in the intro to this article, we all know that it’s best not to tell lies.
But the reality is:
Big or small, there’s not a person on this planet who hasn’t told a lie.
People mess up, they make mistakes, and they hurt the people they care about. You are only human.
Part of fixing your relationship also involves forgiving yourself. Focusing too intently on your mistakes has the danger of becoming self-indulgent.
Beating yourself up and constantly self-deprecating makes the situation all about you.
Years ago I had an ex who cheated. He lied to me not just once, but many times over to try to cover his tracks.
But when I eventually discovered his lies it was actually kind of irritating how thickly he laid on his guilt.
How terrible he felt and how fixated he became on making himself “the bad guy” only served to keep the attention on him, rather than me or on our relationship.
Be mindful of your priorities right now and don’t hold on to guilt or self-blame when it is only getting in the way.
10) Work on better communication as a couple
If you want to improve your relationship then you have to communicate better.
You both need to be able to talk openly and honestly without fear of being judged, criticized, or ridiculed.
We’re always hearing about the importance of good communication in a relationship. But it’s often easier said than done.
To work on your communication you could set aside specific times to get together and discuss feelings, concerns, and expectations in the relationship.
It’s also important to be mindful that we all have different communication styles.
And as Tony Robbins points out, to a certain extent, quality of communication matters more than quantity:
“People who internalize tend to shut down and withdraw during conflicts; those who externalize want to talk it out, sometimes excessively. In both of these cases, more communication doesn’t necessarily equal good communication. Internalizers may need space before they’re ready to talk; externalizers may need to slow down and refine their message. Before you’re tempted to say more, think about how you can say it better instead.”
11) Discuss boundaries
Boundaries are hard for some couples to agree upon. And if you aren’t clear on what your boundaries are, it can lead to confusion and conflict.
Discussing boundaries very early on in a relationship will help prevent misunderstandings later. But despite that, it often doesn’t happen.
Instead, we make assumptions about our partners based on what we think is right.
Mark Manson puts it like this:
“Healthy Personal Boundaries = Taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions, while NOT taking responsibility for the actions or emotions of others.”
Healthy boundaries, just like healthy relationships, need a certain amount of autonomy.
It means being able to say no to your partner when appropriate. And it means that you both respect each other’s right to choose what is best for yourself, whilst still taking each others feelings into account.
Lies can crop up in a relationship as a direct result of sloppy boundaries.
You know your partner doesn’t like it when you go out with your friends alone, so you lie to them about it.
Your other half flies off the handle when you have a cigarette, so you keep it from them.
12) Work on intimacy
Intimacy in a relationship has wide-reaching implications, as marriage counsellor Rachel Wright explains:
“If emotional intimacy is lacking, [one or both of you] may feel a lack of safety, love, support, overall connection, and it also will most likely affect the physical intimacy in a romantic relationship. It’s not sustainable long-term to have a romantic relationship without emotional intimacy,”
When trust wavers in the relationship it can have a big impact on the intimacy too. But there are ways to rebuild intimacy even after a long period of mistrust.
One thing that can help is to do things that bring you closer together. Try to ramp up the physical touch and affection.
But importantly, that doesn’t necessarily mean sex.
Depending upon the damage to your relationship, sex might be off the cards until more repair work has been done that rebuilds those important foundations of trust.
But cuddling, kissing, holding hands, massages, etc. can all help to rekindle that spark and feelings of closeness.
Alongside vulnerability and open communication, which I mentioned earlier, other boosts to emotional intimacy could come from giving your partner plenty of sincere compliments to make them feel appreciated and wanted.
13) Spend more quality time together
If you want to fix a relationship you ruined by lying, it’s important to make new memories together.
It’s not about trying to paper over the cracks or sweep everything under the carpet. But to get past this difficult time, you need to remember the good times and create more of those.
That means making time for one another. Making your partner feel like a priority.
Set aside time solely dedicated to your relationship where you do something fun together.
You could take a walk, cook dinner together, watch a movie, play board games, etc.
Think of this time as a date night, where you focus on bringing back that effort that is usually more common in the early stages.
Do things that remind you of why you fell in love with one another.
14) Give it time
Expectations are often our enemy. They burden us with pressure.
It’s best not to place too many expectations on your relationship right now. Instead, focus on giving it what it needs to nurture it.
Don’t set timelines or expectations of how you want it all to go.
It may take some time to recover from a relationship broken by lies. You’ll need to give yourself permission to heal as a couple.
Rebuilding trust, intimacy and allowing for forgiveness isn’t going to be instant.
Focus every day on the process instead of the desired outcome. Trying to fast forward to the point when all is forgiven will likely lead to disappointment.
If you truly want to make amends, that could involve giving your partner as much time as they need.
15) Focus on the future
As I’ve just said, if the lie was severe then your partner isn’t necessarily going to simply forgive and forget overnight.
But it’s also important not to get too fixated on what has passed and instead try to look towards the future as a couple.
This might be more difficult for your partner than for you.
Once you’ve openly discussed the lies and problems in the relationship, and agreed upon a way forward, it is best to keep your eyes focused on where you want to go.
Constantly bringing up the past can derail any progress you make.
That means discussing honestly what you both want moving forwards. And trying to create a vision of your future together.
To conclude: can a relationship be fixed after lying?
If it’s what you both decide you want, then absolutely it is possible to fix a relationship after lies have torn it apart.
But it will require work.
The key is to be honest with your partner and communicate openly.
If you are looking for more tailored support based on your own unique circumstances, then don’t forget to check out Relationship Hero.
Their relationship coaches can give you specific advice on what your best next move is, depending on your exact situation.
They don’t just listen, they also use their training and expertise to give you practical tips and ideas on exactly how to repair your relationship.
You can connect with an expert right nowto help you fix your relationship by clicking on this link.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
Take the free quiz here to be matched with the perfect coach for you.
Click the above link to get $50 off your first session – an exclusive offer for Hack Spirit readers.