Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Importance of “Trust” in a Romantic Adult Loving Relationship

In his excellent article entitled, “Trust and Relationships,” Alan Sieler says, “All of us, at one stage or other, have experienced a situation in which we have found ourself not trusting another person. This could have been someone we have just met and almost immediately have not felt comfortable with them. Expressions like ‘Wouldn’t trust him/her as far as 1 could kick them’ or ‘Wouldn’t touch him/her with a forty foot barge pole’ express this lack of trust.” In the social sciences, according to Wikipedia, the subtleties of trust are a subject of passionate debate. In sociology (and psychology) the degree to which one party trusts another is a measure of belief in the benevolence and competence of the other party.

Interesting, in my latest contemporary romance novel, Fear of Feeling Loved, Marcia, still struggling with trust issues left over from her previous relationship, trusts Jack when they first meet. More specifically, she not only trusts that what he is telling her is the truth but he is not holding anything back (i.e., lying by omission – deliberately not telling her something). What she finds out, however, is that what he was holding back about himself most certainly is more than the “I haven’t done laundry in two days” variety!

In one of the two, companion, self-books I currently am writing, My Adult Loving Relationships, I discuss the issue of “trust” rather in-depth, and at one point raise an interesting rhetorical question: “Is our ability to trust another person an indication of the extent to which we can trust ourselves?”

In my other companion, self-help book, Our Adult Loving Relationship, I suggest to a couple struggling with trust, “Could the two of you agree that no matter where either of you are, or with whom you are, and without the other being there, neither of you will ever do anything that you wouldn’t do if the other were there?” Just think about how comforting it would be if you could trust that your significant other would never do anything without you there that they wouldn’t do if you were there.

Question: Have you ever struggled with a trust issue in a romantic adult loving relationship?



insideout said...

We both struggled with trust when we met. Both of us were divorced from partners who abused our trust so it was tough to let go again with another person. Eventually we were able to overcome these issues only to have them come back years later. I had gone out with the guys and ended up at a country bar. I met someone and lets just say did everything but go home with her. The guilt ate me up so I confessed the nights events to my wife. We worked through it but 6 months later she admitted to an identical incident that she had on a business trip. When the two were combined we came close to divorcing. Instead we sought help through a marriage counciler and worked it out. I wont go into detail but thankfully ours had a happy ending where I think most couples who have a trust issue that dont seak help wont make it..I/O

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello I/O,
With all due respect, your story could be told by thousands. However, you and your wife were smart (seeing a professional counselor) and fortunate (that it worked out for you) -- thus, now your story can only be told by a few... who were not so smart and fortunate).
With all best wishes to you and your wife,

Anonymous said...

Oh Dr. Bill - your questions are just a little too personal for me to answer online! However, I think a big part of lack of trust is insecurity. If we don't fear the outcome of something (like ending a relationship) and feel confident with ourselves, I think it would be easier to trust. There is such a sliding scale, we could blog about it for weeks!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Nienke,
I agree – some issues are not all that appropriate for the blogging scene (such as sharing very personal experiences). With a strong self-confidence also comes trust in oneself – I trust that if you leave me or quit on me I will survive. Moreover, with a strong self-concept I can trust that if I risk and get hurt… again, I will survive. I might also add that being able to trust one’s own eyes is equally important – I know a trustworthy person when I see one.
Jeez… again you’re right… this could go on for weeks.
Thanks for stopping by,

DH said...

Well, my take on this...people are full of surprises (not always good surprises either). There is always something more to learn in life. Always something more to learn about my partner and myself. We both know the difference between right and wrong. For me, it's all about the choices I make. I can only hope that we both make the right choices when we walk out the front door in the morning. If we don't, the consequences could become very complicated. I try not to deal with the "what if's". Sometimes "what is" overwhelms me...so yeah, I could go on and on, but worrying about the future leads to---ANXIETY! Yikes. DH

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi DH,
Excellent point -- if we worry too much about tomorrow we'll ruin any chances of have a good day today. Trying to predict what your significant other will do when he or she walks out the door in the morning... well as Casey Stengel said, "Prediction is difficult -- especially when it has to do with the future."
And if you want to be happy, based on what you're suggesting, we have to stay focused on the "what is" and not the "what if."
Glad you stopped by,

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Ooo...when The PK and I first got married, trust was a VERY sore spot for us...well, for me more than for The PK (for reasons I won't go into right now).

It took some time, but we managed to overcome A LOT.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello PQ,
When relationships first get started, "trust" is an issue (spoken or unspoken). With time and consistent trustworthy behavior, "trust" is more and more assumed and not a hot-button issue. Needless to say, I'm happy for you and the PK!

Mostly Happy Thoughts said...

In many of my past relationships trust has been a huge issue. My current relationship of 3 years trust has never been an issue. We trust each other 100% and we trust ourselves 100%. And I do try to behave as if he were there, watching... it is a good moral compass for me.

I know that if it ended I would survive. I have learned to give everything I have to the relationship so that if it fails I will know in my heart that it just wasn't meant to be...

I think trust is fundamental. If you are too worried about what if's then I think you'll create a self fulfilling prophecy. You can easily create the very thing you don't want.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello MHT,
In my view, you are so right on the money on all of your points. It sounds like you have it figured out and have a good significant other... no wonder your handle is, deservedly... "Mostly Happy Thoughts."