Unconditional: Trust is Fundamental

By Raina N. Whitfield, MSW


There are key essentials that go into developing a strong relationship. Trust is one of the most vital elements in maintaining a happy and healthy relationship.  It is a very basic concept, but without trust a relationship has no foundation.  Rousseau et. al. (1998) define trust as, “a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.”

Established initial trust
Almost all relationships begin with an initial or established trust. This serves as a threshold to begin a level of intimacy. Without an initial trust there would be no platform to begin dating at all. If you met someone that you were attracted to, but did not initially trust them, would you even consider beginning a relationship? Once you have established an initial trust you open yourself up to a mutual vulnerability and can begin the journey to a healthy relationship. However initial trust is not the end of the road.

Building trust
A couple should continue to build upon their initial trust to ensure that the relationship continues to grow. There are a few important factors that go into building trust. Moorman and Haller note that saying what you are going to do and doing what you say, are two major ingredients in building trust. Similarly, Dr. Robert Huizenga asserts that being predictable in your behaviors will facilitate in building trust. Keep the lines of communication open, continue to be vulnerable, and welcome vulnerability in your partner and you are well on your way.

Maintaining Trust
Trust is easy to attain in a budding relationship and simple to build upon during the honeymoon phase, but maintaining trust takes some effort. In order to maintain a healthy level of trust in a relationship you and your partner must stay attuned to one another throughout the trials and tribulations that daily life brings. For instance, stress at work or extra energy spent caring for children can pose as barriers to a healthy relationship. Jane Collingwood discusses the idea of maintaining a healthy sense of attachment in order to deepen trust in a relationship. Knowing that your partner is there for you wholly and that you are also present will keep the relationship strong throughout time.

The underlying basis of trust is vulnerability and safety. The ability to feel completely safe in your relationship warrants that trust has been achieved, and with trust you can allow yourself to love unconditionally and be loved in the same regard.