4 Reasons For the Lack of Trust in Your Relationships #TrustGiving2014

Trust BlocksCan you ever have enough trust in your relationships?

When I speak to groups or conduct training sessions I often conduct the following poll (go ahead and select your answer): 

If you answered honestly and you truly have no trust issues in any of your relationships, then congratulations! Please email me and I’ll arrange for you to take my job! The reality is trust can always be improved in our relationships and that’s the focus of #TrustGiving2014, a week-long (Nov. 17-24) celebration of the importance of trust in all relationships.

In our personal relationships, many times we hold ourselves back from enjoying higher levels of trust because we’re reluctant to give it in the first place. There is a reciprocal nature to trust – the more you give it, the more you usually get it. If you aren’t giving trust, chances are you aren’t getting it. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy in this regard.

Here are four common reasons why you may have a lack of trust in your relationships:

1. You have a low propensity to trust – Our propensity to trust is based on many factors, chief among them being our personality, early childhood role models and experiences, beliefs and values, culture, self-awareness and emotional maturity. The combination of these factors and experiences shapes how quickly, and how much trust we extend to others. Your experiences may have resulted in you viewing trust as something to be earned, not given, so therefore you withhold trust from others until you’re absolutely sure they deserve it. Even then, you may only extend trust grudgingly or in small amounts. Having a low propensity to trust can hold you back from experiencing true joy and fulfillment in relationships.

2. You don’t like to give up control – Giving up control means we open ourselves to risk, and when we’re exposed to risk, the more vulnerable we are to get hurt. So in response, we withhold trust and try to control the people and situations around us to protect our safety. If we define control as that which we have direct and complete power over, we quickly realize we don’t actually posses that much control. We may be able to influence people or situations, but we can’t control them. The only control we truly have is over ourselves – our actions, attitudes, values, emotions, and opinions. People often assume mistrust (or distrust) is the opposite of trust; that’s not true. Control is the opposite of trust, and in order to get trust you have to be willing to give it.

3. You have unrealistic expectations – Unrealistic, unspoken, and unclear expectations are a primary cause for low or broken trust in relationships, and the higher the expectations the more likely it is they won’t be met. Trust usually isn’t something people openly talk about or address in relationships until it’s been broken, and by then it’s often too late to salvage the relationship or the breach of trust seems too big to overcome. Clarifying expectations is preventative medicine when it comes to trust. It’s much better to have the awkward or uncomfortable discussion up front about roles, responsibilities, and expectations, than it is to deal with the fallout when either party falls short.

4. Past hurts hold you back – Hurt people, hurt people…those who have been hurt by broken relationships in the past often hurt other people in a dysfunctional form of self-protection. Whether it’s unnecessarily withholding trust (see #1), having unrealistic expectations of others (see #3), being trapped in a victim mentality, lashing out at others, or operating out of low self-esteem, our past experiences with broken trust can easily derail us from developing healthy, high-trust relationships. It’s critical to not let our past hurts dictate our present relationships. As Sue Augustine, author of When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present says, “You may not be able to control what happens to you, but you can control what happens within you.”

Trust is as vital to healthy relationships as oxygen is to a scuba diver; survival is impossible without it. Whether it’s a naturally low propensity to trust, being unwilling to give up control, having unrealistic expectations, or letting our past hurts hold us back from trusting others, we have to move beyond these reasons if we want to have trust-filled relationships in the future.

20 Comments on “4 Reasons For the Lack of Trust in Your Relationships #TrustGiving2014

  1. Hi Randy, again a very good read.

    As for me, I trust my intuition if I trust someone. However, as the incurable optimist that I am I normally trust people. If I don’t, I find it difficult to work with them and only will agree on a cooperation if I see no way to avoid it. I found out that if you give trust people trust you in return. But for some it takes time (like you described in your previous article)

    You are right about the expectations. First of all it is different in business or in our personal lives and they should be VERY different.

    Have a wonderful week

    • Hi Brigitte!

      My experience has been similar to yours. I tend to give trust willingly (within reason) until someone proves they aren’t worth of that trust. More often than not, trust is reciprocated.

      Have a great week!


  2. What a great post, Randy! You really hit the nail on the head with your four reasons for a lack of trust. You’ve give readers a great place to dig in finding where and why trust has been lost.

    • Hi Jamie!

      It’s great to hear from you. Thanks for the positive feedback. My experience has shown that many people don’t pause to think about why they are slow to trust or have low trust in their relationships. Hopefully this article will help them gain a little more insight about themselves.

      Take care,


  3. Pingback: 4 Reasons For the Lack of Trust in Your Relationships | HENRY KOTULA

  4. Great word on trust…I am actually putting you writing into action. Bless you for this.

  5. Hi Randy
    I have a very big problem when it comes to trust my husband have bee cheating on many occasions that I ended up no trusting him at all ,even when he’s innocent because of what he did before o don’t believe s word he says plz advicee on how to gain trust on my situation


    • Hello Patience,

      I’m sorry to hear of the challenges you’re experiencing. When your trust has been broken multiple times, it can become very difficult to trust again. At the end of the day I think you have to examine a person’s behavior to determine if they are worthy of your trust. If they consistently behave in a trustworthy manner, then you can feel more secure in trusting them. If they don’t act trustworthy, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you give them your trust.

      Best wishes,


  6. This is a good read. Trust is so fragile, it is difficult to earn and easy to lose.

  7. “Your experiences may have resulted in you viewing trust as something to be earned, not given, so therefore you withhold trust from others until you’re absolutely sure they deserve it.”

    How is that a bad thing? I want men to prove to me to that they’re trustworthy. If they can’t (or won’t), then they don’t deserve my trust. Prove to me that your trustworthy. That’s all I ask.

    • Hi Laura,

      It’s not a bad thing to want people to prove themselves trustworthy, and in fact, it’s foolishness to blindly trust someone without any evidence they are worthy of that trust.

      The point I was making is that for trust to start developing, someone has to first extend trust. If neither party extends trust to the other, then you have a stalemate. No one is willing to take a risk for fear of being harmed or disappointed. So, at some point you have to extend trust to someone else so they can prove themselves worthy of your trust, and in turn, extend trust to you so that it grows between the two of you.

      Is that helpful?


  8. This writer has never heard if Bernie Madoff. Most of the people he conned are friends and those in his social circles.

  9. How can trust be earned in a relationship where one partner has total trust and faith in the other, who has not extended trust and is still untrusting after 25 years?

    • Hello JC,

      That’s a difficult situation. Trust is a two-way street, so if Person A has trust in Person B, but B doesn’t trust A, then do you really have trust in the relationship? Without mutual trust, the relationship can become one-sided and a bit dysfunctional, with suspicion, questioning, and fear lurking just around the corner. If the relationship has a 25-year history, then both parties seem to be heavily invested in making it work. It could be helpful to talk with a counselor about how to balance out the giving/receiving of trust between both people.

      All my best to you,


  10. I am beyond hope. My husband and I have been married 45 years. After we moved to a rural home 25 years ago, I have not been allowed to leave the home by myself except to work. He says I am not worthy of trust. He has had bad relationships. i AM RETIRING SOON AND AM TERRIFIED THAT I will go mad because I will not be allowed to leave the house or have any friends. I am not allowed to check Facebook except for my family. Am I crazy or do I have a point?

    • Hi Noe,

      I don’t think you’re crazy. It sounds like you and your husband would benefit from seeking the help of a professional counselor or therapist to help you work through these dynamics.

      My best to you,


  11. What do you do if you have had multiple relationships, all ending in abuse, just to then get into a relationship with a guy whom comes across as normal with genuine integrity, get engaged and then just months later get messages from his long term side chick explaining their affair which has lasted all the way through out the relationship. We are not together because of his failed attempt to gaslight the situation, but now it’s been over a year since this happened and I have huge trust issues about the whole idea of a relationship itself. Am I expecting too much of a partner to just not cheat or abuse me? How can you trust ANYONE when this is considered a normal part of a relationship? Please elaborate, because I have lost faith in the human race.

    • Hello Hayley,

      Thanks for your patience with my reply. You are NOT expecting too much of your partner not to cheat on you. I strongly suggest you pursue professional guidance from a counselor or therapist to help you navigate this situation. Honesty, transparency, and trust are absolutely vital for a healthy relationship.

      In trust,


Leave a Reply