How Are Trust And Love Related?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Love and trust are often seen as elements that go together in relationships, whether romantic or platonic. However, the relationship between trust and love can be complex. For example, a person may trust someone that they don't love, such as a coworker, and they might love a person even after that person has betrayed their trust. Despite this complex relationship, love and trust often do go together in healthy relationships, whether with friends, family, or life partners.

Below, we’ll look at some of the ways that love and trust go hand in hand and some of the ways that they don’t always coincide in relationships.

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Trust in day-to-day and intimate relationships

Trust is typically an important part of our romantic relationships, but it’s also a factor in our platonic relationships. Although some people may tend to think of platonic relationships as being less deep than romantic relationships, some people do have very deep intimate relationships without there being a romantic or sexual side to those relationships.

Some level of trust might be thought of as an undercurrent to our daily lives and interactions with others. However, when we get to know people more, a greater level of trust tends to develop. When you start an intimate relationship with someone, you may not know them well at first. Trusting each other is something that you can build together over time and that you may need to continue to consciously work on throughout your relationship. 

Love without trust

Just as trust can exist without love, love can sometimes exist without trust, but this typically happens under a specific set of circumstances. For example, we may have family that we love but don't trust on some level. Many people still have feelings of love for parents, siblings, and other family members even when they do things that betray their trust.

This can also be the case with intimate partners that we have known and loved for a long time who have done something to betray our trust. Research shows that a lack of trust can lead to challenges in romantic relationships. When an intimate partner does something untrustworthy, it can cause conflicting emotions and create difficulty for us in deciding how to handle the situation. These internal conflicts may arise because the partner who has been betrayed may still love their partner even if they are no longer certain that they can trust them.

Because love and trust so often go together, navigating relationships with people that we still love but no longer trust can be difficult. It may involve moving with caution as we give the loved one an opportunity to regain our trust.

It may involve changing our relationship with that individual so that we can continue to love them even though we might no longer trust them as we did before. In some cases, we may need to decide whether the relationship can survive the reality that there is no trust at all, and in extreme cases, we may need to consider cutting off all contact with that person.

What if I can’t trust people?

Some people experience difficulty trusting others in general. This can be for a number of reasons. If someone else has betrayed their trust in a relationship, it can be hard for them to forget what happened and build trust with others. If not taken too far, some level of caution may be useful and help a person create boundaries for their safety. However, excessive distrust can lead a person to question the trust that they place in people when they already have established relationships. 

Outside of former betrayals, there are other reasons that some people experience distrust. Paranoia is characterized by distrust of others, including a fear that others are out to get you or that you are being observed by some sinister force. Severe paranoia can prevent people from forming or maintaining healthy relationships. It can also prevent them from living fulfilling lives if they are afraid to do things like leave their home. In these cases, paranoia is often a symptom of a mental health condition, but there are treatments available. 

If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing paranoia, consider speaking with a mental health professional. If paranoia makes it difficult to leave home to see a therapist, there is still help available through online therapy, which allows you to consult a licensed therapist from the comfort of home.

What if I don't love people?

Being able to give and receive love from others is typically an important part of the human experience. The people you love and the people who love you are part of a support network where you can all turn in times of need. Most of these relationships involve trust yet aren’t based on romantic love.

Some people are open to romantic relationships but haven’t yet found the right person. Other people are aromantic, which means that they typically don’t experience romantic attraction and thus tend not to be involved in romantic relationships. Aromantic people can lead happy and healthy lives that include loving relationships but without romantic love. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's perfectly natural for aromantic people.

However, if a person seems unable to love other people, including family or friends, it could be a sign that that person is experiencing a mental health challenge. For example, feeling empty and unable to give or receive love can sometimes be a symptom of depression

People who experience depression typically have others who love them, and deep down they do often love others. However, depression can prevent a person from feeling love toward other people or feeling the love that other people show them. People experiencing depression, feelings of worthlessness, or lack of love may find it helpful to speak with a licensed therapist.

Developing trust and love

If you feel like you could benefit from developing more trust in others, there are several strategies that may help you make progress in this area. For example, Being transparent with others, communicating your needs and desires clearly, and respecting other people may reinforce the idea that you are trustworthy yourself and help you build trust in your relationships, whether with an intimate partner, with family members or friends, or with coworkers. Trust is something that usually takes time to build by getting to know the other person and allowing them to get to know you, to the degree that is appropriate for the situation. 

Developing feelings of love for another person also tends to take time, and trying to force those feelings may be counterproductive. Everyone can experience relationships in different ways and at different speeds. Romantic relationships tend to have different phases that each have their own benefits and downsides. The initial passionate rush often wears off eventually, but you and your partner may develop a strong bond that will last for a long time.

Friendships typically have a different kind of love from that of romantic relationships, but this doesn’t mean that the love between friends is less important. Loving a friend is something that typically develops over time and can become a rich source of love for us throughout our lives.

When to get help

If you feel that you are unable to love or trust others, or if you are worried that you trust or develop feelings of love for others too easily, you may benefit from reaching out to a mental health professional. A licensed therapist may be able to help you work through the reasons for those feelings and help you develop healthy ways of approaching love and trust toward other people. 

You can find a licensed therapist in your area for in-person sessions, or you can sign up for online counseling, which is increasingly being used as a way to connect with a licensed therapist. With online therapy, you can meet with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your home or anywhere you have an internet connection. You get to decide how to communicate with your therapist, whether by audio, video, live chat, or any combination of these methods. You can also contact your therapist in between sessions through in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can.

Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of online therapy for a variety of mental health and relationship concerns. One study published in 2017 found that online cognitive behavioral therapy was effective for generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias, depression, and substance use disorder, among other mental health challenges. 

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Takeaway

Whether you are experiencing challenges with love and trust in your intimate relationship or you want to discuss love and trust in general, a therapist may be able to provide insight into what you’re experiencing. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing these topics in person, you can still connect with a licensed therapist via online therapy. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience helping people navigate matters related to love, trust, and relationships in general. Take the first step toward a better understanding of love and trust and contact BetterHelp today.
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