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The consequences for a lack of trust in a relationship can be extremely damaging. An intimate relationship requires commitments across a wide range of areas of interaction.
People making commitments in a relationship rightly want to be reassured that they can trust each other in areas where they will have to share their lives and make decisions. If these commitments are to last, then they must be based on mutual trust in the relationship.
Some Areas of Trust Where Couples Seek Reassurance
Here are some of the areas of trust where couples may desire reassurance from their partners:
- Can I trust you to be there for me when I need you to?
- Will you listen to me with an open mind?
- Can I trust you to always be transparent with me?
- Will you choose me over your friends and family?
- Can I trust you to be there for our family?
- Will you always be sexually faithful?
- Can I trust you to not be overly judgmental?
- Will you respect our intimate and private moments and treat them with dignity?
- Can I trust you to honor the bonds we develop together?
Obviously, trust in an intimate relationship spans a wide array of concerns.
The Uniqueness of Lack of Trust In Committed Relationship
Lack of trust in a committed relationship is way different from lack of trust in any other relationship. An intimate relationship recruits some of the deepest emotions we possess, presenting a wider array of experiences. It is this array of experiences that requires trust to be a crucial component of any committed relationship. A lack of trust can only result in dissonance in these experiences and thus deep emotional discomfort.
But what is trust in a relationship really? So many couples fail to work on trust from the outset. Many fail to realize they never really had it until they experience a breach of trust in their relationship. So let us be clear about what trust is.
What Is Trust in a Relationship
Trust in a committed relationship is primarily about comfort at all levels of that relationship – the physical, intellectual, and the emotional.
A lack of comfort in our interaction with a spouse at any one of these levels can have an adverse effect on overall trust.
The Physical Aspect of Trust
The physical aspect of trust spans the spectrum from deep intimacy to casual intimacy. Indulging in any form of deep intimacy requires a level of comfort. This allows us to experience and be experienced beyond the ordinary interaction. This comfort is affected by how much we trust the other person to respect and embrace the experience as much as we do. Even casual intimacy, such as kissing and hugging, requires a level of comfort with someone else that is associated with trust.
The Intellectual Aspect of Trust
The intellectual aspect of trust is primarily about intellectual honesty, how comfortable we are at an intellectual level with someone. A good example is having a conversation with someone we know who is being deceptive in their reasoning. Trust in that situation at an intellectual level is almost impossible. The intellectual aspect of trust takes into consideration things like personal values, perceptions, and even biases. Someone who values kindness to others is unlikely to trust someone fully who is a bit indifferent in this area.
The Emotional Aspect of Trust
Emotional trust is about the extent to which we indulge at an emotion level with our partner. Do we share our emotions willingly, or are we hesitant in sharing what we feel. Further, how capable are we in being able to even feel those emotions and display them in the relationship. The capacity to relate in an empathetic manner requires that we are able to embody the feelings of another person. Empathy in a relationship allows us to build stronger bonds and create a deeper level of trust.
Again, it comes down to how comfortable we are in being empathetic. Do we feel our partner deserve our empathy? Are we afraid that if we display empathy, it will be seen as weakness and taken advantage of?
Comfort and trust go hand in hand in a relationship. It is the trust that provides the level of comfort for us to really be present in that relationship fully.
Causes of Lack of Trust In a Marriage
There can be several causes and factors that lead to a lack of trust in a relationship. These range from the mundane to the most serious. Let us look at some of these.
Failure to build sufficient trust in the first place
When we meet someone whom we like, it is quite natural for us to want to trust that person. We naturally do not start off having mistrust about that person unless there are clear signs that we should. However, as the relationship moves ahead, we get more and more into liking and loving who we are seeing and that sorts of get in the way of addressing the things in the relationship that lead to trust building.
How To Fix This
Rather than seeing trust as something that arises by itself as the relationship progresses, be deliberate about building trust. Discuss the issues of life that are important to you. See where each other stands on each issue. There does not have to be agreement on every issue but it should be clear where both partners stand on the issues really important to them.
These issues could be about anything, such as money, religious or spiritual beliefs, commitment, trust itself and its importance. Developing a conversation about the importance of trust and the consequences of breaching it in a relationship is one area that should not be overlooked.
In fact, having this conversation is likely to prove a significant deterrent to infidelity should the relationship ever get to that level.
Having personal trust issues
If you are unable to trust yourself sufficiently then you are going to find it difficult to trust anyone else fully. Personal trust issues come about when we ourselves are not honest with others. Then, we come to expect the same dishonesty from others, because after all if we can be dishonest then others must be doing the same.
How To Fix This
Practice being honest and truthful. Of course, that sounds like something we would all do. However, sometimes it is very tempting to bend the truth and tell ourselves that we are not lying. The problem with that is, deep down we know we are, even if we want to think otherwise. See building trust with yourself as a prerequisite of building trust with anyone else.
Deception of any form
Deception of any form in a relationship undermines trust. It could be a lie about unimportant stuff to more serious deceptions such as infidelity. Deception damages the integrity of the foundation on which a relationship is built. Constant lying or even misrepresentation will lead to a situation where the veracity of everything in the relationship becomes questionable.
How To Fix This
The only way to fix this is to stop being deceptive, no matter how much you may think it is no big thing. To the other person experiencing the deception, it means a lot. Try not to exaggerate, try not to play mind games, and definitely do not lie in any way or commit acts of dishonesty or betrayal.
Unresolved intra-relationship and past relationship issues
Unresolved relationship issues, even those not related to trust, can create an environment of apprehension and uncertainty in the relationship. For example, a spouse who refuses to address an issue of concern comes across as uncaring. This seemingly uncaring attitude then creates an environment of doubt in a relationship that is supposed to be about caring.
Unresolved relationship issues can also be from past relationships. We all carry our experiences with us as we move through life. A trust issue in one relationship that affected us severely is likely to have us feeling apprehensive about trusting anyone else.
How To Fix This
Unresolved trust issues, whether within the relationship or coming from outside, can quickly undermine trust if not addressed.
Be sure that anything related to trust in the relationship is resolved with dispatch and resolved completely. Speak candidly about issues in the relationship that are bothersome rather than letting them just hang around. The willingness to communicate about bothersome issues is one of the most effective ways to bolster trust in the relationship.
If there are trust issues coming into the relationship from past experiences with a prior spouse, these should be dealt with in a frank and open manner. Sometimes it may not be appropriate to involve your partner in resolving these issues, and if that is so then find an appropriate way to do so. After all, you owe it to your relationship and spouse to not carry baggage from your past that are likely to adversely affect your relationship.
Indifference is one of those things in a relationship that can make a lot go wrong very fast. Sometimes the indifference is so oblivious to the person displaying it that it becomes hard to resolve.
Indifference can take the form of fear of addressing a matter. Or it can be as innocent as not being aware that an issue needs addressing. It hardly matters what form it takes, indifference can lead to resentment and hard feelings in the relationship.
How To Fix It
Develop a sense of knowing when your partner is reaching out for help. If you are not sure what is their intention or what they want from you, ask if you can help. Or better, what specifically they would like you to do.
Do not deliberately turn a deaf ear or blind eye to something in the relationship that is bothering your partner. In fact, it could be something outside of the relationship. What is important is that you are perceived to being there to offer your support or help.
Lack of Trust in A Relationship and Its Consequences
If trust is what allows us to turn up fully in our committed relationship, then it follows that a lack of trust means we will be absent in one form or the other. Needless to say, this can have devastating consequences on the relationship and both partners.
In fact, studies do demonstrate that there is a steep price for lack trust in committed relationships.
Trust is an essential component in having a secure, healthy, satisfying, and loving relationship. Trust spans a number of areas in any committed relationship. This can be as simple as having the belief that one’s needs are given adequate consideration, or seeing each other as reliable, and having confidence that each person values the relationship equally.
A lack of trust therefore in a relationship can have devastating consequences not only for the relationship, but for the partners. Here are some of the consequences from diminished trust or a lack of trust:
Romantic Jealousy and Lack of Trust
Romantic jealousy results when one perceives a threat from a person outside the relationship to one’s romantic standing in that relationship. Jealousy can tear a relationship apart by taking away from the relationship the things that are enjoyable and replacing it with anxiety and anger.
When one partner perceives a threat to his or her romantic standing in the relationship on account of someone else, feelings and emotions can become a mix of delusions, self-pity, and even resentment. None of this supports the environment for a healthy relationship.
Built-up and Ongoing Resentments
Unresolved trust issues can lead to built-up resentments as one partner views the other as uncaring and even selfish. If one partner has trust issues as a result of the other person’s behavior and those issues are not fully addressed, over time they most likely will not go away but turn into resentments.
Depression and Anxiety and Lack of Trust
If the relationship is truly valued, then there is bound to be concerns about a lack of trust. If these concerns go unaddressed, all sorts of perceptions can be created as to the reasons for the failure to do so. This can range from one partner thinking the other isn’t really interested in the relationship, to seeing them as cold and callous. From here things are likely to get more complicated beyond just a lack of trust. It is one thing having to deal with a lack of trust, but a completely different matter convincing oneself that it is worthy being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t seem to care.
Depression, or at the very least, anxiety can result from this state of affairs. The longer the depression or anxiety continues, the more difficult it is likely to become to fix the trust issues.
Decreased or Diminished Intimacy
Trust in a relationship allows each partner to turn up fully in that relationship. A diminished level of trust results in reluctance to be open with each other as this creates a sense of vulnerability.
As the decreased or diminished intimacy takes hold more and more, less value is gained from the interactions that are had. Over time, this becomes a downward spiral putting the survival of the relationship at risk.
Insecurity and Lack of Trust in a Relationship
Trust in a relationship releases us from the fear of the unknown in that relationship. It is the unknown in many situations that create a sense of insecurity and even anxiety. The more the trust is damaged or diminished, the less protection we perceive we have from the unknown. This eventually creates an unsustainable level of insecurity in the relationship that has to be resolved either by repairing the trust, being indifferent to it, or escaping the relationship.
No one wants to feel that their relationship is racked with doubt and distrust. Sometimes people may look at the lack of trust and somehow blame themselves for this lack. This is so because they feel the lack of trust has something to do with who they are and maybe their partner has decided they are not worthy of a relationship.
Less Respect and Less Value for The Relationship
The longer the relationship goes without the level of trust necessary for one or both partners to feel that it is a worthy place to give of themselves, the less respect they will have for it.
Intimate relationships are actually spaces where we get to share the most intimate aspects of ourselves. It stands to reason then where such a space is toxic, or is lacking in the very same things that would allow it to be that way, that space is not likely to be where we want to be.
Unhealthy and Risky Behaviors
Our relationships, intimate or otherwise, are important links and cogs in our lives. They keep us grounded, hopeful, and even grateful for others in our lives. These connections are important to us in how we value our own lives. And these are the same connections that help keep us from unhealthy and risky behaviors sometimes.
Within the environment of a relationship lacking in trust is also a lack of sufficient connections that if allowed to grow, can lead to despair which in turn leads us to do harmful things we would not normally do.
Susceptibility To Temptations
As one or both partners begin to experience the lack of trust more and more, and its other consequences, questions may rise as to whether or not the relationship is worthy of trust. This can create a situation where one or both partners become more susceptible to romantic temptations with others.
These temptations damage whatever trust is left in the relationship as they become more evident and real.
Trust in a committed relationship spans many areas of everyday life. While most couples are primarily concerned about infidelity, the consequences for a lack of trust in a relationship in many other areas can be devastating.
When trust is breached in a relationship, the sooner it can be repaired, the better chance it has of overcoming the breach.
Failure to do so can lead to circumstances that could eventually destroy the relationship.
When trust issues are unresolved in your relationship, you should either get professional help for resolving them or make a joint commitment to address them.
Failure to do so will only result in more pain unnecessarily.