Trust and Commitment in Relationships    

Don't wait to discuss finances: your future relationship will depend on it. Photo Credit: Alvimann

Relationships need many things to succeed. Communication, for instance, is crucial: If you and your partner can’t talk to each other about important things, then even the unimportant things will cause disagreements and cause unhappiness. Sex is important, too, and so are shared interests. But what we’re here to talk about is another dimension of a relationship, and it’s the one that, for many of us, defines the term “relationship” itself. We’re talking about commitment and the trust that it requires.

While ethical non-monogamy presents an alternative to the traditional view, plenty of us prefer monogamous relationships. When we enter a committed relationship, we choose to be exclusive with and faithful to our partner — and we expect the same from them. But learning to trust other people isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been betrayed in the past. And if your partner destroys your trust, moving forward can be difficult — if not impossible.

Building trust

When you start dating a new person, you know enough to be excited — but you may not know as much as you should, and you may have some prior knowledge that makes you a little frightened. Especially if you’ve been hurt by a past betrayal, putting faith in a partner can be tough.

But it’s also something that you’re capable of. One of the keys is communication. Tell your partner about any struggles you may have with trust. Share your feelings and invite your partner to share theirs. What they say might put you at ease and help you build stronger trust in them.

Be sure to live the trust that you want to define your relationship. That means following through on commitments, telling the truth, and generally behaving in a way that’s worthy of the trust your relationship needs.

You can also address personal issues with trust. Sometimes, our suspicions aren’t grounded in reality. When that’s the case, we need to take a step back and work on ourselves. Going to a therapist can be an excellent way to address any trust and commitment issues you may have.

The ultimate betrayal in relationships

Trust is not a guarantee — that’s what makes it so hard. And while many people are wonderful partners, some people let their partners down.

Trust is an act of faith, but it’s not an act of blind faith. You should be aware of the signs of a struggling relationship and of the signs of a cheating partner (there is quite a bit of overlap, unfortunately). Look out for lack of intimacy, changes in attitude and behavior, and the shutting down of communication. Even in the best of cases, those are at least signs of a struggling relationship. In the worst of cases, they’re the signs of a cheater. If you catch your partner in lies or notice suspicious things, be even more wary.

So what should you do if you suspect something terrible, but aren’t sure? You should talk to your partner (communication is key, remember), but be ready for denial — and perhaps even a highly emotional reaction. If you’re not satisfied, consider getting to the bottom of things. It isn’t easy to bust a cheater, and it’s an unpleasant business, too. But some reliable professionals specialize in doing it discreetly. Pros tracking your partner with cellphone data or tailing your partner in person could tell you the truth.

If it’s an ugly truth, remember that you’re never obligated to stay with a cheating partner. If it’s a happier one, remember that you still have work to do. Your suspicions came from somewhere, and your relationship may be in trouble. However you move forward, remember that trust is vital to  healthy relationships. You deserve to have your trust rewarded.

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