When Trust and Love Part Ways

The deafening silence seems to echo off the walls until it becomes absolutely unbearable.He breaks it by apologizing once again, mostly out of guilt and true remorse and a little bit out of desperation; his frustration with the futility of his apology growing with each reutterance over the last few days. His attempts to rectify his poor choices seems disregarded, futile, and just plain hopeless. He starts to doubt that this can be repaired at all or that he will ever be trusted again. Will their love continue? Each of the two, heartbroken, angry, and scared, individually and silently question their past and their future together.

Love and trust are two words that are often thought of as very powerful and loaded emotions. They are also often thought of as counterparts; Wherever love goes trust goes with it. But, what about when one occurs without the other? What about when we take a risk on love, and the accompanying trust, by relinquishing control of the unknown and putting faith in the reliability of another human? What if that other human proves to be unreliable after all? Love and trust suddenly and harshly part ways. Heartbreak and confusion ensue; nothing makes sense.

To some degree we have all experienced this splitting of love from trust. Perhaps it occurred in adulthood in a romantic relationship, perhaps in friendship in high school, perhaps as a child when someone forgot to pick you up one day after school or perhaps in one of the other thousands of situations in which you have been brave enough to trust someone you loved.

Instead of thinking of love and trust as emotions, or nouns, it can be quite helpful, and credible to think of them as verbs or actions. Perhaps trustING and lovING are more accurate forms of the words. Loving and trusting are things that we do; They are things we do, and have done to us, throughout our lifetime beginning the day we are born. We are continually building our experiences of both. Every time we experience a loving, nurturing, caring moment we store that away in a file in our brain labelled “love”. We also store away every hurt and moment of mistrust in a file labelled “trust”. When we are infants we start filling our folders. When we are rocked to sleep, read a goodnight story and told we are loved we file a note in our love folder gathering evidence that we are lovable and deserving of love. Every time we are in need of nurturing and don’t receive it or feel betrayed, abandoned, unimportant, we also file away notes in our trust file. We begin learning how to love and trust long before we enter adult relationships.

Every time we are in need of nurturing and don’t receive it or feel betrayed, abandoned, unimportant, we also file away notes in our trust file.  We begin learning how to love and trust long before we enter adult relationships. 

As we undoubtedly have a few notes filed away in our trust folder by the time we reach adulthood, it is important to recall our experiences with these as they are most definitely playing a role in our ability to trust and love currently. They are also playing a role in our ability to be trustworthy or reliable to another.

Try this:

Open your own trust folder and see what’s inside. Go back in time and list all of the key people in your life whom you have loved and that you chose to trust. After each name reflect on your trust experience with that person. You may want to guide this reflection with some of the following questions:

• How reliable was this person to me?
• In what ways did this person hurt my trust?
• How significant were these hurts to me at that time?
• What, if anything, did this person do to help heal the hurt and rebuild the trust?
• How did I respond to the hurt (in the short term and long term)?
• Have I healed from the hurts? In what ways do these hurts still impact me?
• Do I currently consider myself a trusting person?
• Do I currently consider myself a trustworthy person?
• Are there any patterns in my experiences with trust?

Understanding our history of trust and mistrust and unpacking our trust folder can help clarify and bring awareness to current approaches and reactions within our closest relationships. Trust, being an action, can be rebuilt and healed if both members of a relationship are willing to put work into the rebuilding. For the hurt person, it requires a leap of faith and willingness to be incredibly vulnerable. It means being willingly to provide an opportunity for the other to prove his or her reliability; this is incredibly difficult, yet necessary for healing. For the person who damaged the trust it means committing to both reestablishing trust through actions and words and attending to and empathizing with the hurt loved one’s feelings without becoming defensive. Patience, hard work, commitment and most of all, actions of love and trust are required to repair the mistrust and reunite love and trust in the relationship one again.

We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy . -Walter Anderson