Trust is something that is fundamental to every aspect of life. It is not only a crucial aspect of all our interrelationships, but includes even basics like does our pilot know how to handle the plane we are flying on, does the cab driver whose cab we are in know what he/she is doing, is our child care worker being appropriate, does the chef or food preparer know what he/she is doing to prepare a healthy, safe, and tasty cuisine, does our financier handle our money correctly, do our leaders in business or nationally really have our backs and best interest at heart, does the parachute or rope we are climbing with function properly as we jump out of a plane or scale down a mountain, etc. Get the point: we engage in carte blanche of appropriate/selective hope/denial that we can trust what is out of our true or immediate control (by the way, the thought that we are in control of anything is the greatest myth of all). If you think about it, if you didn’t give a type of unconditional trust to your world you probably wouldn’t leave home. But that being said, we do this because their are enough overseers that we do trust that someone is watching out and making sure people know their stuff.

However, this is not the case with relationships and therefore our ability to trust others is harder to earn and maintain, as it should be. Thus, how do we negotiate this difficult terrain? The answer won’t surprise you- cautiously and over time. Trust is like a huge pine tree. It takes years to grow a hundred feet and can be cut down in an instant with a chain saw. Therefore, trust is built consistently over time. It is tested and inspected to earn the right to be counted on and in a manner taken somewhat for granted. To get to this point, a person wanting to include someone in their realm/life has to show up and walk their talk whether as a business associate, friend or life long partner. It is essential and as I say in my talk on “successful relationships” under ‘Lectures’ on my web site:, a corner stone of making a relationship viable. Though a corner stone, it is always fragile and needs to be tended to. Almost worshiped because if lost it won’t take, like the pine a hundred years to regrow, but it will take a significant amount of time to heal. Obviously, the rebuilding is difficult because two damaging things occur when trust is violated. One, whom you have known this trusted person to be, gets LOST. Once this horror has been experienced the carte blanche of who you absolutely believed  this person to be, isn’t. In that moment, one questions every aspect of who your thought this person to be. When trust is lost it is not just the one act of what is typically betrayal, but ever aspect of who you took this person to be comes under scrutiny. In that moment, the world you could count on gets badly shaken.

Two, Thus it takes a significant  amount of time to feel safe even if this is a person you have known/been with for years. There is no quick fix here, and if the relationship is to be salvaged patience, accountability, and empathy for the emotional damage are required. Typical apologies are never enough and not really the path to healing. The true healing is more about healing the emotional nightmare one is living with, and there is no specific time frame here. It will take what it takes to heal. Therefore, one must have the commitment to hang in there as the hurt mitigates over time. This work is hard, but doable as I have helped facilitate this process with many couples. As I say, the trust can be regrown, unfortunately like the tree it is just never quite the same. Couples, for instance can move on to a once more viable, loving relationship but not quite like before. A simple analogy is when you experience food poisoning at your favorite restaurant, how likely are you to go back and give them another try? Eh? You might but not for years and always with a certain amount of suspect.

Trust and its well being needs to be thought of like a very precious and fragile entity that we carry with both hands. It is something that can never be truly taken for granted and needs watering in an ongoing fashion. If maintained well, it will and does provide a stable foundation to feel safe and comfortable with those close to you and the immediate world you live in.




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