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What Causes Trust to Be Broken in a Relationship?

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Violation of trust occurs when an agreement that is vital to your relationship is broken, according to relationship counselors Linda and Charlie Bloom in the article, “Betrayal: It’s Not Just About Infidelity” for "Psychology Today." Even a small break, such as missing an anniversary or failing to follow through on a promise, can require you to apologize and talk to your partner about ways to make amends that re-establish trust.

White Lies or Ugly Black Ones

If your partner can't trust what you say, you are in for trouble, according to Dr. Willard Harley, Jr. in his book “His Needs, Her Needs.” Even little white lies told to protect your feelings or keep you from worrying damage your relationship. Develop a no-tolerance policy for dishonesty, advise the Blooms. If you don’t want to go see the movie she likes, suggest another one you can both enjoy. Your partner needs to be able to trust what you say, no matter what.

"Will You Grow Up?"

Irresponsible and inconsiderate behavior breaks trust because it is the opposite of what is expected or required. Discuss the behavior and clarify the agreement you believe has been broken. Perhaps it’s being on time or behaving respectfully in public. If your behavior is the problem, apologize and find out what you need to do to make amends.

The Burn of Broken Promises

Unexpected events can occur that make keeping a promise impossible, but you should keep broken promises to a minimum. Consider carefully what you are agreeing to before you make a promise and then communicate as soon as possible if something comes up. Offer to make amends by rescheduling or by making alternative plans that your partner finds acceptable.

I've Got a Secret

Keeping secrets, even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, can break trust, according to Harley. It destroys the sense of security necessary to place trust in your partner. There is no place for privacy, affirms Harley, because it withholds a part of yourself from your mate. Come clean and let your partner know what you think or where you go when you need time alone. Transparency can save your relationship.

"It Didn't Mean Anything!"

An affair might be the most devastating form of broken trust for many couples, writes Harley. If you promised to “forsake all others,” your partner has a right to expect exclusivity. Even if you weren’t highly attracted to the affair partner or you never met the affair partner in person, the behavior violates your promise. You might need to seek professional help to discover why there was an affair and resolve the issues that made your relationship vulnerable.

Prey to the Monkey

Addiction creates a big trust break, according to Margaret Paul, Ph.D., in a “Huffington Post” article entitled “Mending Broken Trust.” Before you can regain trust, you must gain control over the addiction and then prove your sobriety one day at a time. You might need professional help to overcome your craving, but you won’t regain sobriety if you can’t prove that you control the addiction and not the other way around.

References

About the Author

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.

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