Relationships and Trust

Relationships are built on trust.  Trust is a sacred thing in our lives. When we feel betrayed, the trust built up for decades can be eroded in one action.  It’s a big deal.  For many, saying I trust you to another can feel like giving your soul away.

But when trust is broken, it can be like death. We yearn for the easy time we had when we fully trusted the other person. Many of us may grieve for what we believe is true and become outraged that the other person “chose” to betray our trust.

Trust and Relationships?

Trust is a firm belief in reliability, truth or ability. It speaks to confidence in the other and reliance on their thoughts and behaviours.

We build relationships on shared values, and trust is part of an unspoken agreement that tells us we can rely on those values.  In romantic relationships, people decide the level of trust they have in each other and build from there.

Trust is all about perspective. Trust is a choice, as is distrust. In the absence of trust, it can often feel like we are dealing with a stranger.

When relationships break down

Many ex-wives and husbands, ex-friends, and ex-family will tell you precisely in living colour how a relationship was broken down.  It’s different for everyone but the real grief was the loss of trust.

Breaking trust is a choice.  When you choose to step out of the unspoken agreement of values and behaviours, knowing there will be consequences you have made a clear choice.  That’s why people seek to hide affairs, for example.

At times stepping out of the agreement could be as simple as changing your mind about a certain position you hold as a group, or a couple. Whole families have broken apart for that reason. That is why families fight over estates after the death of a parent, money, or businesses.  The issue wasn’t the point of view but the unwillingness to express and be authentic in the first place.

Stepping out of agreement also causes the end of marriages.  Trust is broken.  If no one picks up the pieces, then it’s game over.

You can know and like a person and even trust an authentic person, even if you disagree with them. It all boils down to consistency. If I have a different view from yours, as long as I am consistent, you will trust me while I do what I say.

Consistency breeds Trust

Inconsistency leads to a breakdown of trust, which in turn erodes relationships. We are creatures of habit. We like routine, and many of us value certainty.  When your partner behaves in a way that is inconsistent with your expectations, and its serious, how then do you naturally trust them?

Clients I have worked with have yearned for a time when they didn’t have to think about their partner’s behaviour because they had an open and trusting relationship.

However, it is suddenly hard to trust when the partner goes out the door, and there is always that question about the reliability of what they see. Their world map has changed, and to be able to trust again, some adjustments need to happen.

Being inconsistent between your stated values and your actions is where others lose trust in you.

Ego and Trust

We, humans, are hard-wired to look after ourselves first.  We constantly evaluate the environment to see how it suits us or doesn’t suit us.  Sometimes when a situation no longer feels good to us, we will do what we choose and if we contravene spoken or unspoken agreements, we do it, and we take the guilt.  We are in fact feeding our ego, not our true selves.

Deliberately lying, talking bad about others, cheating and not being who you are amount to selfish acts designed to serve yourself. The flip side is controlling, suspicious, berating and commanding, which are also selfish.

The ego tries to serve the master. It tells you that you are right, others don’t understand, and they don’t see things the way you see them, boohoo! So being served by the ego has its place, but there is ego, and then there is narcissism.  The ego thinks their perspective is the truth.  i.e. in a relationship, a partner might stray and blame their wife or husband for not fulfilling their need.

Your opinion is not “the truth”, nor possibly the opinion of the person with whom you are at loggerheads. You build massive trust when you have conversations about perspectives rather than truths.

Asking, rather than telling, allows space for mutual understanding. Come back with curiosity and see how they perceive things when you have fallen out. You might learn something. They might also learn something.

Here are ten suggestions to build trust with one another. Try building some of these into your lifestyle and commitment to being a good Human, and resist the urge for quick fixes.

  1. Be true to your word
    You can not control what another believes, but you can maintain your agreements, and you will build respect over time and be known for something.
  2. Learn to communicate effectively
    Most relationships break down from poor communication. Understanding how others communicate is the key to your being better at this.  When you communicate in a way that others understand you move past your own perspective and into more of a shared space.
  3. Give it time and commit to your values
    Building trust takes time. Resist the urge to have things mended and move from now into the future. You can not rebuild the past so know that now.
  4. Don’t make rash decisions
    Thinking before acting allows you to evaluate. It’s okay to say no, even if someone else isn’t happy. People will be more trusting of your commitments in the long run.
  5. Value the relationships that you have
    Don’t take your relationships for granted. Trust results from consistency. We tend to trust those who are there for us more consistently. Ask what I can give, not what I can get. The rewards will come as trust and respect grow.
  6. Develop your community skills and participate consistently
    This speaks to family community, friends community or other communities. First, you will be known for being a good team player. Then others will know what they can rely on you to be and do.
  7. Be Honest – Always
    Do you care enough about the people who have invested so much love, trust and time into you to be transparent and honest about what you are going through? It can be challenging, so do it with kindness and if it’s about you, then make it about you. Start with talking about how you feel, not how the other person makes you feel.
  8. Help others with no attachment to outcome or reward
    The funny thing about giving to others is that it fills a void in you that you never knew you had. So instead of focusing on what you don’t get from a relationship, focus on what you can give. Watch what happens.
  9. Don’t hide your feelings
    Sharing your feelings is much healthier than hiding them, building them up, and then acting out, right? When sharing your feelings, focus on your perceptions, feelings, and impact. For example, “When this happens, I feel”.
  10. Please resist the urge to make it all about you
    Acknowledgement and appreciation are essential building blocks to creating trusting relationships. People shine when you appreciate them. They trust you more when you are not always yelling, finding fault or noticing the things they do well. Step back and let the other have the stage.