Lying Is A Habit: Why Trust Is So Hard To Earn Yet So Easy To Lose

“Trust is a lot like fitness,” my friend told me. “It takes years of good habits to lose weight, and after one cheat-night of eating, it can all go out the window.”

Although she might have been exaggerating, I could see where she was coming from.

Trust, like weight management, is very fragile, especially in relationships. You need to trust people before you can commit to them. And trust doesn't grow overnight; it can take years.

Building up trust requires a great deal of effort. But trust isn't necessarily going to stick around. Just one violation of trust can lead to a slippery slope of lies.

Like good habits, trust takes a long time to establish. And -- also like a healthy habit -- it can disappear overnight.

Here’s why.

Lying is a habit.

Lying tends to become a habit. People who tell small lies will usually be fine with telling big ones.

In relationships, you might catch your significant other telling a bunch of white lies. But if it becomes a pattern, it usually won’t be long until your trust starts to fade. Your partner will also probably start telling bigger lies.

Deciding whats counts as a permissible lie is a dangerous game. It's important to establish honesty early on in the relationship.

Just one lie can shatter any trust.

One lie is all it takes to destroy years of trust.

And once trust is compromised, it will take a long time to grow back -- if ever.

You've spent so much time building an honest home with someone else. When the trust in a home is violated, you'll create a ripple effect. You won't be able to contain the uncertainty you both feel.

Suddenly you start questioning if there were any other lies -- ones that you didn't recognize. You can become paranoid. And paranoia makes it difficult to move forward.

Relationships are dependent on trust. Once the trust is gone, it’s not uncommon for other aspects of a relationship to crumble.

Trust isn't handed out; it's earned.

Trust isn’t just something you’re entitled to when you decide to commit to another person; you have to earn it.

Your day-to-day actions should constantly affirm the trust that someone else has put in you. I'd define trust as a general sense of confidence in another person. If you're not making a consistent effort to strengthen someone's confidence in you, then you can be sure that the trust will fade.

If you’re trying to gain someone’s trust, you have to earn it. You don't have a lot of room to slip up. You don't get a vacation from the efforts you're making to establish trust. Even when people forgive, they truly never forget.

Trust is not something to be tossed around lightly. There's no half-assing trust. If you say that you "kind of" trust someone, you're lying. There's no such thing -- at least in my mind.

Lying can become falsely rewarding.

When people get away with small lies, they usually feel a strange of satisfaction in knowing that they dodged a bullet, so to speak.

They might become addicted to the feeling of getting away with something. They'll feel accomplished. After a while, they won't even think twice about lying; it comes that easily to them. And when that happens, it will be impossible to trust this person ever again.

Even if a lot of your partner's lies are said for your own benefit, lying is always a bad habit -- even if what your partner is telling is innocuous white lies. Harmless lies can lead to more frequent and damaging dishonesty down the road.

Lying shouldn’t come easy, and it should never be rewarding.

Lies are deeper than they appear.

People usually aren’t deceitful by accident. If people are trying to hide something from you, their dishonesty says a lot more than what they're trying to conceal ever could.

In some cases -- as in cheating, for example -- a relationship can suffer more from the decision to hide the truth than it will from the original offense.

A lack of honesty between you two might cause more problems than a very regretted kiss. (I'm not saying that cheating is okay -- far from it. But it's important to be honest about your problems. Not holding yourself accountable for your actions is almost as bad as doing something wrong in the first place.)

You want to feel open with your partner. You don’t want to feel like you have to question the things your loved one says. You don't want to wonder about what kind of person you married.

If you realize months into a relationship that your significant other has a habit of lying, you might find that you aren't even sure if you even care for the person in front of you -- or if you even know who that person is.