Relationships without trust are like cars without wheels! They don’t go very well!

Trust issues often have more to do with ourselves than they do the other person. A sign of maturity is an ability to trust our own instincts about others. If it doesn’t feel right, it often isn’t.

Sometimes we’ve had experiences in previous relationships that make trust difficult.  People who have grown up with parents or others who betrayed their trust often have their “sensors” damaged. They may give too many chances to people who demonstrate a lack of commitment to a healthy relationship.This is because they keep hoping for the love and commitment they didn’t receive previously.

On the other hand, sometimes our response to betrayal is to trust no one in the future and this doesn’t work either! This can lead either to avoidance of commitment or being overly suspicious of others. It is incredibly damaging to a relationship to withhold our trust or be jealous for no reason.

I often coach people in learning the signs of whether someone is trustworthy.

  1. See whether they are willing to talk over any misunderstandings that come up. Conflict is not a problem – it’s how it is handled.
  2. Ask yourself if they usually follow through with promises and commitments.
  3. Look at previous behavior in other relationships as well as yours – this is a very important indicator.
  4. Notice whether people acknowledge  any problems and commit to change if betrayal has been a past issue. This should go beyond verbal promises to concerted effort at change.
  5. Respect, respect, respect – this is an essential signal that someone can be trusted.

When there has been a betrayal of trust, people can work at rebuilding the trust. Signs of sincere effort are having a willingness:

  1. To be accountable for their behavior.
  2. To be open and transparent around any behavior that has been deceptive in the past. It takes time and evidence of change to shore up confidence again.
  3. To hear about the hurt and anger felt because of the betrayal. While it is important for the person betrayed to be willing to let go at some point, it is not up to the betrayer to determine when that happens.

When there has been a betrayal, sometimes it’s too difficult to rebuild the trust. In these cases, it’s important to accept that and be honest about it, rather than punishing the person with distrust for the rest of your lives.

Next: Honesty and Personal Responsibility


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