What is it? When you google the definition of trust, a word that is often used so globally and so simply becomes a bit more complex with the definitional inclusions of ‘character, ability, strength, or truth”. Trust is a characteristic and belief more so than it is a specific emotion, although most use it interchangeably to describe the way they feel (or don’t feel) towards another person.
Likely the reason why you are reading this: How do we (re)build it?
- Trust can be shattered in a split second by decision and indecision / action or inaction, but to rebuild trust mandates time. The reason time is required is because rebuilding depends on the consistency of follow through with verbal promises made and subsequent observable actions to support the truth of those promises.
- i.e. “Do what you say and say what you do”. If all is congruent, trust can rebuild!
- Depending on the severity or repetition of betrayal, the extent of trust disintegration can vary greatly from completely compartmentalized to the area of injury and unaffecting other domains of the relationship (trusting that a partner will be present and supportive if you are physically ill but mistrusting that they won’t communicate inappropriately with a coworker), up to global mistrust that bleeds into all facets of one’s connection.
What is Means to be Trustworthy
What if trust were a visible and tangible construct? Applying energy theory in relation to human biofields around the body, trust can look like rigid, frenetic lines close to the bodyline as to avoid coming into direct contact with the other person. This is often felt by a partner as coldness or distance even if physical proximity is pretty close.
An intuitive nature of trust is more than just, “do you believe the words they spoke?” 80% of our communication with each other is non-verbal (tonality, pace, subtle shifts in the musculature of the face, posture or body language, hand expression). If we leave a conversation doubting our partner, it may be from the nuanced or abnormal shifts in non-verbal communication even if we cannot pinpoint the reason why. This instance of mistrust, even if it is not based in known facts, still deeply affects an attachment between two (or more) people. We are all designed to be sensitive to the subtleties of a safe vs. unsafe environment. Whether it be the intuitive feeling of critical information being withheld (which triggers a fear response, as it puts us into a place of unknowing) or a complete falsification of information disclosed, we are naturally attuned to and deeply affected by these manifestations of emotional unsafety. At its core, this is mistrust.
"Apathy is the antagonist of Love"
- Dr. Stephanie P. Bathurst
Dr. Stephanie P. Bathurst, Ph.D., LCMFT, CKCT, CPLC
Board Certified Clinical Sexologist & Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist