How Are Trust And Love Related?

Updated December 15, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways love and trust go hand in hand, and at some of the ways they are different. 

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Trust In Day-To-Day And Intimate Relationships

Trust is an important part of our intimate relationships, but it’s also a factor in our platonic relationships. Platonic relationships are those that we have with people other than our relatives or romantic partners. We usually have platonic relationships with people like friends, coworkers, and members of our house of worship or other community. However, although we 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 their partnership.

Usually trust is enough in our day-to-day relationships and interactions, because it’s not really either possible or even advisable to have intimate relationships or even platonic relationships with everyone we meet. We don't need to have some kind of love connection with our coworkers or our employers, or with law enforcement officers or cashiers in order for society to function. However, some level of trust is required to carry out basic roles and functions within a society. Schools usually work best when the parents and students can trust the teachers. Businesses flourish when colleagues can trust each other and when management is trustworthy. We need to trust that bus drivers and train operators will get us where we’re going safely. And we need to trust bank tellers and store clerks to be honest when handling our money.

While trust is a kind of undercurrent to our daily lives and interactions with others, its importance as a foundation for our intimate relationships cannot be understated. When you start an intimate relationship with someone, you may not know them well at first. Trusting each other is something that you will build together over time and that you may need to continue to consciously work on throughout your relationship. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing: working actively to trust one another may also mean that you and your partner are trying to have an intentional relationship where you both do the work of making it strong and healthy, and things sometimes do happen that can erode trust, even if we don’t mean for that to happen.

Love Without Trust

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

We may have family 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 other family members even when they do things that we don't approve of or things that betray our trust.

This is also the case with intimate partners that we have known and loved for a long time who have done something to betray our trust. 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 and difficulties arise because often the one who has been betrayed may 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 one an opportunity to redeem themselves and 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 place trust in them. 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 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 always just its own problem: it's often a symptom of other mental health conditions. The end of this article provides a link to more resources for people experiencing mental health challenges. If you believe that you or a loved one are experiencing paranoia, consider exploring those resources.

What If I Don't Love People?

Every healthy person feels love from others and gives loves to others. Sometimes if we are not in a romantic relationship we may not feel like we love others because our society tends to place a lot of emphasis on romantic love, but love can exist in many different kinds of relationships.

Being able to love others and to receive love from others is an important part of the human experience. Love is more than an emotion: it’s a bond that holds society together, and there are many different kinds of love. Everyone that you love and everyone that loves you is part of a support network that you can draw on when things get rough, or that you can be a part of to help someone else when they need you, and most of those relationships aren’t based in romantic love.

Some people are open to romantic relationships but haven’t yet found the right person. Other people are aromantic, meaning that they 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 ever falling in romantic love. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's perfectly healthy and 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 has a mental health issue that they’re struggling with. For example, feeling empty and worthless and unable to give or receive love sometimes can be a symptom of severe depression. People who are depressed do have others who love them, and deep down they do love others. However, severe depression can prevent a person from feeling love toward other people or feeling the love that other people show them.

People who are experiencing depression and feelings of worthlessness or being unloved can receive help from a licensed therapist to help them work through those feelings. 

Developing Trust and Love

If you feel like you need to develop more trust in others, there are various techniques you can use to help you with that. Being honest, communicating your needs and desires clearly, and respecting other people will show that you are trustworthy yourself, and will help you build trust in the relationships you have with other people, whether with an intimate partner, with family members or friends, or with coworkers and supervisors. Remember that 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. Keep in mind that trust is a two-way street, and that it’s usually best to trust people who have demonstrated their own trustworthiness to you.

Developing feelings of love for another person also takes time, and trying to force those feelings often can be counterproductive. Everyone experiences relationships in different ways and at different speeds. Romantic relationships have different phases that each have their own benefits and downsides. The initial passionate rush will wear off eventually, but if you and your partner are able to work together, you can develop a strong bond that will last for a very long time.

Friendships have a different kind of love from romantic relationships, but love between friends is no less important for all that. Loving a friend, like loving a romantic partner, is something that 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 want to reach out to a mental health professional. A licensed therapist or counselor can help you work through the reasons for those feelings and can 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, if you prefer meeting that way, but online counseling is increasingly being used as the way for patients and therapists to meet together. Platforms such as BetterHelp are available to match people with therapists who have the training and expertise to help them with the challenges they are facing.

Meeting with your therapist online has many benefits. You can meet in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and sometimes online therapy is less expensive than traditional in-person sessions. Studies have also shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person sessions.

Takeaway

Whether you are having struggles with love and trust in your intimate relationship, or whether you need to discuss those important parts of life in a more general sense, talking to a therapist can help you negotiate those challenges and build a happier, healthier future for yourself.

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