Join Cathy Vartuli from as she asks Reid Mihalko from to discuss how lack of trust can affect relationships.

Cathy: Hi everyone, this is Cathy Vartuli from here with Reid Mihalko from

Reid: Yay.

Cathy: Can you talk to us about trust and how it’s really important in a relationship for a lot of people if there’s a lack of trust or a perceived lack of trust there can be a great deal of conflict and I’ve heard more than once, “Oh, you just don’t trust me. I’ve proved myself.” It can cause a lot of hurt.

Reid: Yeah, I mean, trust is a problem in relationships. I would make two quick distinctions. One, there is a lack of trust where nothing’s happened. Which can be aggravating, like, “Why don’t you trust me? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Cathy: Yeah, “I’ve been really consistent all this time.”

Reid: Yeah. And then there is a lack of trust because somebody screwed up and trust hasn’t been reinstalled.

Cathy: Yes.

Reid: And this is interesting because if you think you’re going to be in a long term relationship with somebody, and if you know me, long term could be just two hours. If you’re going to be in a long term relationship with somebody and you don’t think one of you is going to screw up, or both of you are going to screw up at some point in your relationship, you’re a fool because you’re working on a perfection model which isn’t sustainable.

So you have the conversation about what happens if one of us breaks the other one’s trust. How do we repair it and how do we test if the trust is doing well. So the questions I have people that I’m coaching write out for themselves is how could my partner rebuild my trust in them. How can I check to see if the trust is in place and healthy. And I have a third question, but now I can’t remember it. I will stall by telling you that you should all read Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas’ book The Five Languages of Apology which is required reading for anybody that I’m working with, because what’s interesting in that book, much like Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, is there’s different ways or dialects of apologizing that people do when they’re sorry. And also those same dialects for how they receive somebody’s apology. Until you can receive somebody’s apology, or they can apologize to you in a way that lands on you, there’s no way to build trust back because you need to patch up that hole in the air balloon.

Cathy: It’s not complete so you have a hole.

Reid: Yeah. So you’re still holding onto it. And that’s where you’re like if your partner says, “Geez, you’re still holding onto this?” That’s the signal that you haven’t hit their apology language.

Cathy: Right.

Reid: Probably. They could just be a stubborn person. But until you stitch up that wound it keeps bleeding, to use the analogy, and that’s why they’re still upset at you, because it freaking hurts.

Cathy: And sometimes it’s not something the partner did. It could be something from a past that’s a fear.

Reid: Well, now this is the thing, if it’s something from the past, I can’t apologize to you in an apology language that actually fixes that because nothing was broken.

Cathy: But if you can hold space for me while I’m having my fear or my pain, which we have another video on that, that’s really beautiful and it can be very healing.

Reid: Sure. So basically what you’re doing is if they can’t trust you, and this is all in my humble opinion — if they can’t trust you when nothing’s been done that’s wrong, usually what that points to is they’re afraid that you’re going to do something wrong. So they’re withholding their trust because they’re expecting you to break it anyway.

Cathy: They’re trying to protect themselves.

Reid: Yeah. So what I would do is find out from them or from yourself if you’re that person what is it that you’re afraid is going to happen or could happen or what’s your worse case scenario — what is your betrayal worst case scenario and do that homework to figure out what it is, because then — like sometimes your worst case scenario isn’t rational and in most cases isn’t even probable. For the person that you’re in a relationship right then.

So pulling it out of my head, if you were in a bad relationship with somebody who had some sort of addiction problem, and now you’re afraid — it’s like, “I can’t trust you, I can’t trust you.” And it’s about you’re afraid that your partner is going to lie, cheat and steal and do all this stuff that your past relationship did because they were an addict, well, if the partner you’re choosing right now actually doesn’t drink or smoke or do anything.

Cathy: Or may do all those things, but not in an addicted way.

Reid: Yeah. You getting present to, “Oh, that was what I was afraid of, I was afraid the shoe was going to drop.” And then you can rationally kind of look at them and be like, “Oh, you don’t have any of those qualities that would create that kind of betrayal,” then you guys can have a conversation about it. It’s kind of out in the open and out of your head, you can then ask for them for, “Hey, when I get weird about this, could you reassure me” and have ways of checking in that shore up almost like it’s like physical therapy. “We’ve stitched up that wound, and now we’re kind of working on the scar tissue from that past relationship.” That can build the trust then in that relationship.

Cathy: It can actually build more intimacy because you’re sharing who you are and what your fears are, it can be very beautiful.

Reid: Yeah. And – I’ll just drop this in too – for you guys as partners it’s awesome to be supporting each other in this. I also recommend that you guys don’t have each other be the only sole helpers in your relationship. Maybe you need to very lovingly and compassionately tell your partner, “This trust thing, why don’t you go get a therapist or take a workshop and work on that” so that you can support them and cheer them on when they come on. That you’re not the person that’s holding the space for them, and trying to celebrate with them. Not everybody’s wired for that.

And for those of you who are watching, who are educators or healers or whatever you call yourself, you know I’m talking to you, get your partners – because you do that for a living, don’t do that at home. Get them to get support, you get support, so that you can actually have your relationship at home be a relationship, and not something that you guys should be paying each other for.

Cathy: Right. Any time you have a circle of support, it’s really helpful.

Reid: Yeah.

Cathy: You start feeling more secure.

Reid: Awesome.

Cathy: Thank you.

Reid: Bye!


More articles on improving your communication and relationship skills:

Partner Checking Your Phone Even Though Your Trying To Rebuild Trust?

How Can We Rebuild Trust In Our Relationship?