3 Things That Destroy Mutual Trust In A Relationship
Welcome to another weekly newsletter, lovingly named the “Beyond The Breakup Newsletter.”
It’s the newsletter that provides you with big ideas on how to grow and improve as a person and build better relationships so you can avoid a future breakup.
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Along with the fancy weekly newsletter, I’m also going to give you access to 4 exercises that will help you stop obsessing over your ex as soon as you sign up.
Let’s set the scene before we get to the point.
What is trust in the first place? Well, this is another one of those terms without a precise definition, so nailing it down is often tricky, but I’ll try my best.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, trust is a “firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; confidence or reliance.”
Put differently; trust implies that you believe how someone won’t do anything harmful to you. For instance, commit acts of unfaithfulness, lie about certain things of great importance, or spill gasoline on you and light you on fire.
And when it comes to figuring out how two people build trust, John Gottman has a great answer…as always:
“Trust is built in very small moments, which I call ‘sliding door’ moments. In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner. One such moment is not important, but if you’re always choosing to turn away, then trust erodes in a relationship- very gradually, very slowly.” ― John Gottman
So, now that we got the foundation down, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this newsletter – what makes the trust between you and your partner (either a future one if you’re still recovering or current) bend, tare, or shatter?
Well, I’ve come across not one but three good causes: selfish, toxic and unethical deeds, changes on a fundamental level, and unrealistic expectations.
Let’s look at each in turn.
Unethical And Toxic Deeds
These are typical relationship mistakes, like getting drunk on the dance floor and making out with the nearest random person you find. Then giving excuses like “It was the alcohol, trust me,” to your partner when they find out.
Another example can be pointless lies.
I once talked with a high school friend who told his boyfriend that she was at her grandma’s house while, in reality, she was out with her friends partying for three days.
Fortunately, there was no cheating involved. She was only embarrassed to tell her partner that she loved getting deadbeat drunk from time to time.
Besides your general acts of unfaithfulness and lying, I’ve also seen other curveballs in the realm of toxic deeds across my coaching/consulting practices. Here are two of them:
1. One of my first local clients got himself in a pickle when he kept hiding his girlfriends’ video games and pot so she would stay clean and go outside for once. But when she found out about this, she confronted him, and there was hell to pay.
Mutual trust quickly began faltering between the two lovers and soon fell apart completely.
In essence, he was trying to change her, which never turns out great. You can’t change anyone. It always leads to a loss of respect and trust.
2. While I was researching social networks for my past men’s dating advice business, I’ve come across an outlandish story on Facebook that nicely ties in with our topic. It goes like this:
Chad’s (not the real name) girlfriend was an avid subscriber to spirituality, specifically healing crystals. She liked them so much she dumped half of their savings into an online course about healing crystals.
Chad was naturally blown away by her rash purchase. Her decisions and actions completely diminished his trust in her. She proved to him that she’s selfish since she never told him about the purchase and dangerously naive.
The course she bought was a total scam.
Long story short, the course was not quality material, and when she asked for a refund due to this fact, she got no response. Ever.
We all change over the years. We get new beliefs, shift our focus on other values, and foster new life perspective. While it’s great if our partner changes with us, it’s not so great if we suddenly make a drastic change while they stay the same.
And I’m not talking about getting a new and profound love for peanut butter sandwiches while knowing your partner is allergic to peanuts.
I’m talking about changes in your identity.
For example, imagine that Mary, a renowned scientist and author of several books proving God’s non-existence, suddenly turns to research horoscopes and starts doing angel meditations.
That’s an identity change.
And if we assume her husband is also a scientist and a supernatural hating man, he would be shocked to find out about his wife’s newfound interests and surely lose trust in her.
These kinds of changes are often way harder to deal with than any other reason for a loss of mutual trust. But, don’t get me wrong.
Let’s assume you wish your partner was a top paid lawyer with three degrees and a model-like body. Now picture this:
After years of dating, you’ve finally found your unicorn and became exclusive with them.
You’re having a blast living the good life, but suddenly, your new partner begins to cut back on their diet, gains a few pounds, and to top it all off, you discover one of their degrees was bought, not earned.
Consequently, your dreams of a perfect lover get submerged in wildfire, and your trust in them drops tremendously.
Suddenly you begin thinking about how they presumably also bought the other two degrees or how they probably aren’t as smart as you thought they were.
Hell, let’s say that you even started to suspect how your lover is eating chocolate behind your back even though they told you they’re on a diet.
You don’t need me to tell you that this way of thinking isn’t sustainable and only leads to resentment and a dysfunctional relationship. Or an end to it altogether. So drop the absurd expectations around your relationship and partner.
In conclusion, If you want to avoid shattering mutual trust in your current or future relationship, learn how to love unconditionally, develop realistic (not low ones!) expectations and rid your mind of narcissistic and overall toxic beliefs, such as the one about the perfect partner.