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Love and trust: “I can always count on you.”

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Love is trust. Part 4 in the “Love is...” series

When we started this series, I truly thought we’d have, like, maybe three entries. Well, guess what? At this point it looks like we’ll be going to sixteen entries!! Sixteen different ways of looking at what love is. Each one an interesting and useful insight, I hope.

But we need your help! What do YOU think love is? What aspect of the nature of love do you think needs to be brought out and explored? And of course, we’re not trying to pin love down but to open love up. And you can help.

Last time we talked about how love is play.

Today is all about how love is trust.

If we don’t fall in love with someone because we discover they’re someone we can really trust, then we should. Because the cancer of betrayal and mistrust—once it takes hold—can eat away at love like nothing else.

In the words of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s—the book, not the movie—at the end Holly Golightly says, tragically,

“I’m very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’ve thrown it away.”

And the thing is, in a sense we can’t fall in love with someone because we trust them because trust has to be earned over time. And that’s the paradox. It’s the most important thing—if only because, like a bridge, if it collapses you lose everything. But only time will tell that you really have it.

And—here I am with another caution—when we do have trust, too often we take it for granted. When is the last time you reveled, rejoiced, delighted, became aroused because of how trustworthy you found your partner to be? No, sadly, in a relationship trustworthiness is a chair-like kind of thing. What we need most from our chairs—not to collapse under us—is what we take most for granted and are least grateful for.

In a way, in relationships it’s even a little worse. A chair usually either just collapses or not. But people, well, we’re just imperfect. Is my husband a granite mountain of trustworthiness? No!! For one thing, he forgets things. He always has. He’s also not as perfectly tuned into my moods and needs as I’d like him to be, the bastard! When our kids were little he often had the nerve to disagree with my ideas about how to deal with them. And he’s too often seemed to me to be flirting with other women, although he says he’s just being friendly.

Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal.

Or! He’s just a normal guy, a good and loving man who’s dedicated to me and whom I can truly count on. And I would know that except for the fact that his imperfections plus my innate suspicious nature add up to less of a sense of trust than I might have.

Who knows where reality lies?

We sure don’t talk about chairs like this!

The point is the paradox of the tremendous importance of trust in the face of its tremendous fragility. It’s as if all our happiness were dependent on the integrity of an ancient Chinese vase sitting there on the shelf in a house full of cats and toddlers.

And yet, in spite of all this, our vulnerability and blindness, love is trust because even if we only realize it when we’ve lost it, it’s still true. We don’t give daily thanks for gravity, either, but take it away and life on earth would be over in a flash. Like gravity, trust is the kind of invisible glue that makes it possible to feel okay in our lives, to share our deepest feelings with this one person, to know that there’s someone who has our back, to feel that our feeling loved is not a fleeting thing.

So that’s what it means to say love is trust. So what do we do about it?

First of all, if you’re starting a relationship, prioritize the qualities in a person that add up to trustworthiness. Character. Honesty. A track record of reliability. No track record of irresponsibility. I know that none of this stuff is sexy or romantic, but it’ll sure as hell count towards making your relationship last.

Second, don’t screw up the trust part of your relationship. I know this sounds obvious. But this goes beyond infidelity. It means never promising anything you can’t deliver on, and then always delivering on your promise. In fact, it’s not infidelity but lack of follow through that’s the biggest source of people feeling they don’t trust their partners. That and their being unreliable in dozens of little ways.

And third, acknowledge and celebrate the trust and loyalty you have with each other. It may not be sexy, but it is the solid ground under your feet, and you are disloyal to it if you don’t celebrate it. It’s so easy to notice all the little ways you’ve forgotten things or made mistakes. But don’t let these micro-failures blind you to the true and solid reasons you have for trusting one another.

For more on this, do check out our book, “I Love You, but I Don’t Trust You.” Whatever depth of mistrust or betrayal you may have fallen into, our book will help you get out of it.

And, please, tell your friends about this series...


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