How Are Trust And Love Related?

By Jon Jaehnig|Updated August 11, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

Love and trust are things that we usually see as going together in a relationship, but are they related? After all, we can trust people that we don't love and we can love people that we don't trust.

So, how are love and trust related?
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Trust Without Love

We often see trust without love in our platonic relationships - relationships with people that we are not romantically interested in or related to. Think of people like friends, coworkers, and even community members.

In most cases, trust is enough. We don't need to love our coworkers, our employers, law enforcement officers or cashiers. However, some level of trust is required to carry out basic roles within a society. Imagine going to school without trusting your teachers, going to work without trusting your colleagues, getting around town without trusting public transportation staff, or making transactions without trusting bank tellers and store clerks.

However, trust is the foundation for forming romantic relationships, and its importance cannot be understated. Starting out in a romantic relationship with someone that you don't trust is virtually required unless you look for romantic partners exclusively from among people that you already know or associate with. It can also be exciting and fun provided that you don't let things progress too quickly. Letting a casual or platonic relationship develop into a romantic relationship does usually require trust. After all, few people would let a platonic relationship with someone that they don't trust develop into a romantic relationship.

Love Without Trust

Just as trust can exist without love, love can exist without trust but usually in a specific set of circumstances.

We may have family members that we love but don't trust. Family bonds do not break easily and most of us still have feelings of love for parents, siblings, and parents that do things that we don't approve of or things that betray our trust.

This is also the case with people that we have known and loved for a long time and then done something to betray our trust. One of the reasons that betrayals of trust in marriages are so delicate is that most partners will still love their partner even if they are no longer certain that they can trust that partner.

Because love and trust so often go together, navigating relationships with people that we still love but no longer trust can be very difficult. It may involve moving with caution as we give the loved on an opportunity to redeem our trust. It may involve changing our relationship with that individual so that we can continue to love them without needing to place trust in them. Finally, it may involve trying to determine whether the relationship can survive the reality that there is no trust at all - or whether it should.

Trust, Love And Biology

Love and trust are both emotions, so we don't tend to think of them in terms of biology. However, our emotions are very closely related to "messenger molecules" that play physical roles in our bodies as well as conveying messages in our brains. One of these messenger molecules is called oxytocin.

Oxytocin has a role in various physical processes but it also creates feelings of contentedness and relaxation. It's been found to be very important in forming trust and may also be important in the mental process of recognizing other people. This explains the calmness that we feel when we're around someone that we trust as well as the rush of comfort and even joy that many of us feel when we are out in public or far from home and see someone that we know in a crowd.

Oxytocin not only has a role in feelings of trust. It also has a role in feelings of love. Often called the "cuddle chemical," oxytocin is released when we are in physical contact with others and plays an important role in cementing bonds with our partners in romantic relationships. In this way, Oxytocin in the brain can lead to the development of trust and love simultaneously. That is part of why being close to someone can sometimes lead us to place trust in them that they may not deserve and why people that we trust highly can occupy a place in our lives similar to parents, children, and siblings even if they aren't related by blood.

What if I Can't Trust People?

Some people have a hard time trusting others. 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. They may also question the trust that they place in people that they already have established relationships with. This kind of experience isn't comfortable but it can be a healthy and valuable experience that helps you to reframe your boundaries to keep you safe in future social interactions.

Not all distrust is healthy, however. Some people are distrustful because of paranoia. Paranoia is characterized by distrust of others, including 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 normal lives if they are afraid to do things like leave their homes. Unfortunately, paranoia isn't just its own problem - it's usually a symptom of another mental health condition. The end of this article provides a link to more resources for mental help. If you believe that you or a loved one experiences paranoia, consider exploring those resources. It could drastically improve the life of you or someone close to you and it may even save a life.

What if I Don't Love People?

Every healthy person feels love from others and loves others. Sometimes it may not feel like it because our society tends to place a lot of emphasis on romantic love.

It is very important that people should be able to love others and experience love from others but this includes family members and even close platonic friends. Love is more than an emotion. It's a bond that holds society together. Everyone that you love and everyone that loves you is part of a support network that you can draw from when things get rough - or that you can be a part of to help someone else when they need you. None of that requires romantic love.

Some people are open to romantic relationships but never "find the right person." Other people never really take an interest in romantic relationships and lead happy and healthy lives "alone." There's nothing wrong with this and it's perfectly healthy and natural.

However, if you or someone that you love seems unable to love other people, including family members, it could be a sign of something serious. For example, this level of apathy describes people with severe depression. Of course, others love them and deep down they do love others. However, severe depression can prevent them from feeling their love of other people or feeling the love that other people show them. If you know someone who seems incapable of loving others or feeling love themselves, talk to them about seeing a professional. If you know someone going through severe depression that you believe may be a suicide risk, it is very important that you show them support and offer to help them find help. If you have thoughts of suicide, go to the hospital right away.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7, or you can text the word “HOME” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Developing Trust and Love

If you feel like you need to develop love and trust you probably just need more exposure to relationships. Spend time with loved ones, go out with friends, try to meet new people and try new things. However, don't push your sense of trust. Many people try to strengthen trust by engaging in risky behavior, but this can lead to some very dangerous situations. It's best to put faith in your sense of trust by gradually easing into relationships and watching how trust flows. Some "trust exercises" can be fun and can bring you closer to other people without actually putting you in danger. A classic example is the "trust fall" in which one person stands in front of someone else and gradually leans back allowing the other person to catch them.

Developing feelings of love also takes time and shouldn't be forced. Everyone experiences relationships in different ways and at different speeds. This shouldn't upset you although it can be frustrating in romantic relationships in which one person becomes more attached or becomes attached more quickly than the other. Allow yourself to experience feelings for other people naturally rather than trying to rush into them.

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 might want to reach out to a mental health professional. It could very well be that nothing is wrong with you but mental health experts aren't only there to "fix us when we're broken" - they're also there to help us understand what is normal and healthy.

One great answer for checking in with a mental health professional is online counseling. This system allows you to quickly, conveniently, and inexpensively be connected with a licensed and professional therapist or counselor over the Internet.

For more information on how online counseling or therapy could benefit you or someone you love, visit


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