Building Bricks: Understanding how Trust Works

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Trust is hard to define as a concept, yet it's something that we can feel. If you trust someone, you feel comfortable around them. You listen to what they say and expect them to listen to you when you have something to say.

In short, you are benefitting from an "investment" you made with someone in the past.

That investment could have been chipping in on dinner when you ran out of money, sharing a secret, or giving advice. Whatever it was, this "investment" is an action that connects two people. (Trust can also be established by what a person we don't know also. Or example, I can trust that a man with a doctor's uniform in a hospital knows about medicine versus a man dressed as a clown.)

This "investment" is what makes relationships work. It begins when one person does something for someone else. Humans are pattern-seeking animals, and when we see the pattern of "This person always helps me out" in someone we assume that the person will continue their behavior in the future.

Breaking Bricks: What Happens When Trust is Broken

In the same way, that trust is built and reinforced, brick by brick, trust can be lost. That being said, losing trust can occur much faster than gaining it. Losing trust involves dishonoring the investment made in a relationship.

This happens because trust is such a valuable investment. Violating that investment hurts more because of the emotional connection involved. This can happen in all sort of ways from being unintentionally disrespectful to intentionally being mean or rude.

Once broken, trust takes a long time to rebuild. Imagine removing a brick from a brick wall. It takes a lot more effort to remove that brick than to put it in place, right?

Trustworthiness: What Makes People Trust You

As shared above, trust is an investment. It's also an emotional and mental connection that is built over time. In order to for us to be open to that initial investment, there must be certain signals. The person we're looking to trust must have something of value that we're looking for.

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These signals are actions that signal a person might be worth trusting. Such signals can include attentiveness, a willingness to trust us, mutual respect, authenticity, and transparency. People that display these traits (bonus points if you show more than one trait!) are more likely to be considered trustworthy.

Couples and Trust: 3 Pointers to Making the Connection

Having a good relationship as a couple is all about trust.  In fact, trust in a relationship should involve deeper and deeper levels of trust. As your relationship matures and evolves, there will be challenges to this process of developing trust. The couple that can successfully navigate through those challenges are the ones who survive.

Three recommendations that can help your relationship develop this kind of "tough" trust include:

  • Invest in the positive before you make a withdrawal: If you consider trust like an "investment", there will be times when you need to make a withdrawal. You might need to say something difficult or comfortable that could affect your relationship. If you're already built investment through positive actions, your relationship should be able to handle it.
  • Revisit your past. If your relationship is going through a "rough patch", it can be hard to think beyond it. One way to break out of that mindset is by revisiting the past. Take some time to watch old videos or look at old pictures with you as a couple. Reimagine what was going through your mind. Going back could be a rekindle your trust going forward.
  • Start small. Whenever trust is broken in a relationship, you don't want to ignore it. You want to do three things: resolve, forgive, and rebuild. Realize that this can take time, so start off with small relationship rebuilding efforts. Starting the day with "Good morning" instead of rehashing yesterday's ongoing argument is one way you might do this.

Trust: Hard to Build (or Rebuild), Worth the Investment

Trust is a complex and touchy subject because it involves the most personal aspects of ourselves. When we trust someone, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable. The person we trust could return or ignore our offer of trust. They could manipulate it.

Yet, trust is worth that risk. Without that risk, we don't get the reward. Without being vulnerable, we cannot become truly comfortable. Without opening up, we remain closed. That is why the investment known as "trust" is so powerful. Trust that is built is much more powerful than trust that is never built.

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