The Science Of Trust: The Only Way To Be Happy Is By Acknowledging Betrayal Is Inevitable

by Alexia LaFata

What does it mean to trust somebody? You confide in those you trust. You befriend those you trust. You fall in love with those you trust. When you trust someone, you are so confident in your relationship with that person that you share your deepest secrets, desires and self.

Trust is cultivated in a variety ways. Surprisingly, your brain is able to tell right away if you'll trust somebody just by looking at his or her face.

Pronounced cheekbones and higher inner eyebrows, according to research at NYU, are perceived as trustworthy facial features. Contrarily, shallower cheekbones and lower inner eyebrows are perceived as untrustworthy.

Our brains assess these trustworthy features without our conscious thought.

The amygdala -- a small, almond-shaped mass in the center of our brains -- automatically registers a person's facial features and determines how trustworthy that person is before we can logically do it ourselves. "To trust or not to trust" is an instant reaction.

Jon Freeman, assistant professor in NYU's department of psychology and the study’s senior author, said,

Faces that appear more untrustworthy and likely to inflict harm are spontaneously tracked by the amygdala, so the amygdala could then quickly alter other brain processes and coordinate fast, appropriate responses to people — approach or avoid.

Now, once we determine that somebody is worthy of our innermost thoughts, how do we actually start building a relationship?

There is always an unspoken agreement of trust between people in differing positions of authority. Trust between us and our doctors, teachers or parents, for example, is always understood. If that power is abused, the implied trust is completely broken.

Trust is often seen as something that is earned. Throughout your life, you'll grow to trust, mistrust and re-trust -- over and over again. If you're looking to trust someone, says Dr. Laura Luchies, assistant professor of psychology at Redeemer University College, give that person opportunities to show you what they can do for you.

Start with small things. Let your boyfriend plan a date night. If he picks a place he knows you'd like, you'll feel more comfortable relying on him for bigger things.

Ask your friend to help you pick an outfit for that date. If her choice reveals what she knows about you and your body, maybe you'll consider her as a bridesmaid for your wedding. After all, she totally knows what colors complement you.

An important way to build trust with somebody is to recognize that betrayal is inevitable. David Bedrick, J.D., Dipl. PW, a counselor, educator and attorney, writes that expecting a life without betrayal will be hurtful.

Doing so causes us to hold back from forming meaningful relationships, taking risks and truly living.

Betrayal doesn't just have to be something huge like cheating, physical abuse, stealing money or a friend disclosing your secret to somebody else. Betrayal can be subtle.

It can be as simple as your friend or relationship partner claiming to be a certain kind of person, but then having other desires and needs that they can no longer keep hidden from you, which forces them to change.

For example, they could have promised that they'd always listen to you, but then they found that they've been neglecting their own needs or opinions to make room for yours.

Or, in the case of a romantic relationship, they could have agreed to be financially supportive for you, but then they discovered that following their true passion as a musician is more important than maintaining financial stability.

We might even find ourselves betraying our loved ones, too.

All of us have negative qualities like selfishness, jealousy, anger or resentment that we, for the most part, try to repress. However, sometimes these hurtful qualities can unleash themselves in situations where we feel threatened, sad or need to affirm our importance or power.

These negative qualities, though largely unseen, are an unconscious part of all human beings. Promising they don't exist or trying to stop them from being released when needed can lead to explosions of bottled up emotions and resentment.

It's also a breach of trust; inevitably, these awful feelings will find their way to the surface, and both members of the relationship have to be prepared. The worst kind of promise we can ever make is the promise that we'll never hurt somebody.

To truly trust somebody, you must get to know that person wholeheartedly -- even the parts you don't like. We tend to ignore negative qualities at the beginning of the formation of a relationship, but it's important that we deeply and genuinely explore them.

This even includes qualities you may find embarrassing. Allow your boyfriend to see you with no makeup on, even if you think you look like a monster. Tell your girlfriend about your weird middle school obsession with Pokémon.

Once you realize they're not repulsed by you for either of these things, you'll feel more comfortable opening up about the important stuff. Disclosing personal information is a pivotal point in building trust, and someone worthy of a relationship with you will not judge you for something so intimate and private.

Trust is not about who you've known the longest or who has made the least amount of mistakes. Trust is built upon a genuine understanding of who you and the other person are. It's also built on an understanding that no matter what happens, you value your relationship with someone so much that you will work it out no matter what.

The final and most important element of trust is to trust that you will always find a way.

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