Is Trust Earned or Given?

Trust holds relationships together, but sometimes the bonds unravel. According to several major studies, about one in five married adults cheat on their spouse. Even if you avoid a major betrayal, you’re still likely to run into a coworker who talks behind your back or a friend who gives you the cold shoulder.  

Is trust earned or given? Last year I posed this question with my Facebook friends and hands down the answer was trust is earned, but I believe trust is given and it’s only after it’s broken, that we tend to make the other person earn it back.  Before I get too technical on you, I’d like to share a little story with you. 

If you’ve been connected to me for a bit then you already know I was in a toxic dating relationship before I met and married my husband.  This relationship lacked all the ingredients a relationship needs to have in order for it to flourish year after year.

Being in that toxic dating relationship taught me how to not be so trusting with my heart which was a good thing, but in some instances lacking trust in others can cause you to miss out on the love of a lifetime.

Trust is an integral part of any successful relationship.  As a matter of fact, I remember reading a post that said, “love all, trust few, everything’s real, but not everyone is true,” and that’s a fact.  How did I go from guarding my heart with a steel lock and key after walking out of a toxic dating relationship to slowing lowering my guard and letting someone new in? 

It wasn’t easy.  If you’ve ever been betrayed you know all too well how difficult it can be to put your trust in someone, but I’m here to tell you, trust can be restored, but it takes work.

Here are a few strategies for you to consider when you feel like you’ve been betrayed.

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What to Do When Someone Damages Your Trust

When trust is violated, you may wonder if romance and friendship are worth the heartache. The answer is a resounding yes. With enough forgiveness and love you can heal the rift or search for a new relationship where you’ll receive the respect and consideration you deserve. 

1.  Accept responsibility. Even when you’re the one who has been injured, you may have played some part in the situation. Knowing your contribution gives you the power to create different outcomes. Maybe you’ll want to work on your assertiveness or build up your self-esteem.

2.  Suspend judgment. If you’re going to give someone a second chance, it’s important to play fair. Focus on the full picture instead of their one transgression. Keep an open mind and avoid dragging the past into current conflicts.

3.  Make contingency plans. You’ll probably feel more confident if you decide what you want to do rather than letting your actions depend on someone who let you down. Make some new pals you can hang out with while you’re trying to patch up an existing friendship.

4.  Honor your strengths. Think of the challenges you’ve already survived. While it’s uncomfortable to have your trust violated, you can still enjoy a happy and productive life.

5.  Manage your expectations. It’s healthy to set reasonable boundaries in a relationship, but remember that humans are fallible. Distinguish between minor slights and serious patterns. Practicing forgiveness encourages your peace of mind and makes it more likely that others will extend compassion to you too.

6.  Move on. Many relationships can be restored and emerge even stronger after trust has been tested. On the other hand, if your differences are irreconcilable, it’s time to wish the other person well and distance yourself.

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What to Do When You Damage the Trust

Now I’ve talked about how you can restore trust in someone when you feel like you’ve been done wrong, but what happens when you do someone wrong.  Uh, huh, those are the times we often forget about.  So just in case you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum and need to find your way back into someone’s heart, here are a few strategies you can consider to regain your rightful position in a loved one’s heart.

1.  Apologize sincerely. Express your regret for what you did and acknowledge the impact that your actions had on others’ lives. Resist the urge to make excuses, and listen to what the other person has to say even if it’s uncomfortable to hear.

2.  Skip the details. While you need to be candid with yourself, you may be able to spare the other person’s feelings if you leave out some of the fine points. Your girlfriend may want to know that you were flirting with a coworker, but she’d probably be happier without hearing the full transcript.

3.  Make amends. Back up your words with concrete actions. That may include offering financial compensation or making a public statement about your part in the situation.

4.  Change your behavior. Avoiding a repeat performance is usually the most effective way to demonstrate your remorse. You’ll need to understand what you did and create new habits that keep you from going down that path again.

5.  Resolve underlying issues. While you’re examining yourself, you may notice disturbing patterns concerning yourself or your relationship. Reach out for additional resources that can help you make more constructive decisions. Talk with a professional or a close friend.

6.  Be patient. Healing takes time. Give others the opportunity to see that you’re determined to make real changes.

Remember, James 5:16 tells us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

In order to receive forgiveness from others, you’ve got to be willing to extend it.  So yes, I believe trust is given and not earned and it can be fully restored!

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