What is trust? Trust is that feeling you can rely on other people, to be honest, fair, and respectful. Issues arise when the trust you have placed in others gets destroyed. You may have taken the risk of trusting another person, but it has gone badly. You feel hurt, betrayed, and scared to trust again.

What is Trust?

Trust is about believing that other people will behave as you expect and that they will act appropriately. Trust comes into play in relationships between individuals. A social trust also applies to everyone as part of larger groups.

Social systems in any civil society revolve around trust. Trust is necessary for all kinds of human relationships. We are all social actors. All interactions with other people involve a level of trust, especially with your friends, family, and colleagues. As a human being, it’s no wonder people have trust issues from time to time.

How you trust other people depends a lot on your experiences throughout life from the time you’re in the womb. The environment you’re raised in plays a big part in how you trust other people. Being raised in a mistrustful environment can result in a lack of trust later in life.

The choices and decisions you make as you grow into an adult also impact your ability to trust. Traumatic events also affect our ability to trust. We make calls about whether to trust other people every day. With any betrayal of trust, associated trust issues can come to the forefront.

What Are Trust Issues?

Trust issues are defense mechanisms but not necessarily healthy ones. People may avoid possible disappointment, especially when they start to expect that they cannot ever trust other people. This can result in self-sabotage. They project what has happened in their past onto what may happen in the future. It becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Do you think you may have trust issues? Here are three signs that your levels of trust have suffered:

  • You Won’t Believe What Other People Tell You: Honesty is an important part of any relationship. When you know someone has lied to you, your trust in them is blown. Always wanting to fact check what someone says is a warning sign that you have trust issues. Even if there is no logical reason to doubt what a person has said, you check it out. You ask others if what they said is true or do a little digging and research to confirm what they are saying.
  • You Expect the Worst: You are always on-guard and anticipating that others will betray you. Even when there are no signs that it will happen, lack of trust and trust issues may include being extra suspicious of other people’s motives and behavior. You feel taken advantage of, but only because it has happened before. You feel like you can trust no-one.
  • You Keep People at a Distance: You may long for deep and meaningful relationships in your life. Yet, you find most of your friendships or relationships are superficial. You may have trust issues with letting yourself go with emotional or physical intimacy or commitment with others. You may find yourself feeling like an outcast or labeled as a loner.

Certain personality types may have trust issues. They are also found in mental health conditions and more serious illnesses. These can include depression, posttraumatic stress, adjustment disorders, and personality disorders. A health professional can diagnose these in consultation with individuals.

How to Build Trust in a Relationship

Building trust in relationships can be hard work at the best of times. Even more so if you have experience betrayals of your trust in the past. Feelings of mistrust can run deep. It does take time and commitment. Reflect on your past. Think about how it may impact how you feel. Accept other people for who they are rather than what you are afraid they will be.

  • Acknowledge and Learn from the Past: If you have experienced trust breaches in the past, acknowledge this. It is very similar to the grieving process. It would help if you went through the stages of acknowledging what has happened. Then accepting and finding ways to move forward in a different way than before. It has happened, it does not mean that it is going to happen again. You may be repeating patterns if you are always getting hurt by the same types of people or situations. Reflect on these patterns of trust issues in relationships and learn from them.
  • Start Small: Baby steps are reasonable when it comes to developing trust in any relationship. Let people earn your trust. Rather than diving straight in at the deep end, start with something small. Think of your very first job. Did your boss let you run the company on the first day? Highly unlikely. You have to prove your trustworthiness. Let trust build gradually and naturally. Don’t blindly put your full trust in someone from the get-go in your personal relationships.
  • Face Any Issues: If any issues arise, face them. Think about whether there is a breach of trust in this relationship. Maybe you are subconsciously protecting yourself from the risk of it happening. Learn ways to communicate openly with other people. Seek advice and support from health professionals if you feel you cannot trust people. They can help you get to the root of the cause. They will work with you to develop strategies to overcome trust issues.

How to Trust Again After Infidelity

People often think the betrayal of infidelity affects only the partners involved. The mistrust and hurt from infidelity can affect us in all kinds of relationships. If we were aware of infidelity between parents or other adults, it might affect our trust later.  We can have difficulty trusting ourselves and others if we have been the cheater or cheated. Or if we know our current partner has been unfaithful in prior relationships.

Overcoming trust issues is hard, but three ways to address trust issues after infidelity include:

  • Trust Yourself: Give yourself credit for being able to recognize situations that weren’t right. Move on from them and love again. Work through the grieving process. Acknowledge what has happened and how to go forward in a way that is best for you. Don’t let it become your identity or forever be the victim.
  • Learn to Separate the Past and the Present: Find ways to tell yourself “that was then” and “this is now.” View your new relationship or existing one if you are rebuilding trust, as a clean slate to build on. Think and speak with forward-looking statements. Leave your own and/or their baggage behind, and take those baby steps building trust for a new future.
  • Communicate with Your Partner: Talk with your partner and share what you both expect from a relationship in terms of monogamy. Acknowledge insecurities, but do this without blaming your partner. Take time to listen to each other and talk about your shared love, values, and expectations.

The Importance of Trust in Relationships

Trust is at the core of just about any type of relationship we have in life. Learning to manage how you place trust in yourself and others is a fundamental part of being a human being. If you think you have developed some trust issues over your journey through life, take the time to reflect on how you can let them go and learn to become trusting again.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings

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