Can a Relationship Survive Without Trust?

When you trust one another, you aren't afraid to get close.
... Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Trust is essential for any relationship to thrive, according to therapists Linda and Charlie Bloom in the “Psychology Today” article, “Betrayal: It’s Not Just About Infidelity.” There are many ways to violate trust, including lies, deceit, broken promises, stealing, cheating and keeping secrets. Without trust, your relationship erodes and fall apart.

1 Trust vs. Distrust

When you and your relationship partner trust each other, you have confidence in the relationship and one another, according to marriage counselors Melva and Jesse Johnson at Mining for Gold. Without trust, you feel insecure and unsafe, and you may respond to normal activities with suspicion. You might accuse your boyfriend of cheating when he isn’t, or you may wonder if he is lying when he tells you to trust him. Every lie, broken promise and secret tears at the fabric of your relationship, until you no longer trust him at all.

2 Impulsive Trust

You have control over some aspects of trust, but a component of trust is unconscious and is based on things in your past that have nothing to do with your current relationship, according to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.., a psychology professor, who researches how personalities develop and change. When you don’t trust your partner, you can pull away, fail to trust when you should and limit how close your partner can become, writes Whitbourne in the “Psychology Today” article, “The One Key Element That Can Build Your Relationships.” Your mom might have forgotten to pick you up at school and that left you fearful of being abandoned, so when your partner is late, you assume the worst. Your partner then has difficulty breaking through your barriers to rebuild the trust broken by your mom's tardiness.

3 Rebuilding Trust

When trust is broken, it must be rebuilt for the relationship to thrive, according to Michael J. Salas, a therapist working with couples and individuals, in his PsychCentral article, “How to Get Your Partner to Trust You Again.” If you broke trust, admit the offense before your partner finds out about it, suggest Linda and Charlie Bloom. Don’t make excuses for what you did or blame your partner in any way. Apologize and promise a zero-tolerance for dishonesty and secrets. Allow your partner as much time as necessary to decide that you are sincere in your promise and to observe actions consistent with your promise, advises Salas. If you say you will call her at 8:00 to compare notes on the math homework, be on time. If your friendship with her friend involved cheating, avoid spending time with that girl.

4 Value Trust

Treat the trust you have with your partner as a most valuable resource. Express appreciation when your partner demonstrates that you can depend on him. Consider how your actions affect the trust level in your relationship before you tell a lie, break a promise or betray your partner. Trust is easier to maintain than to try to repair broken trust later.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.