The Truth about Deception

“Trust takes years to build. Seconds to break. And forever to repair.”

Below are some facts on deception and truth which help us to see why betrayal and lies are so destructive to relationships.

1. Trust is at the heart of our relationships, and especially our intimate relationships. We need to know this person can be taken at their word, and that their word is consistent with reality. Otherwise, it’s impossible to go into the world, and to feel we can relax – because we’re safe, and we’re protected.  

2. So trust is fundamental … but its fragile, too. Hence, when secrets and lies have jeopardized that trust it is very, very hard to rebuild it again. It will likely always be precarious. And it’s likely you’ll also always be somewhat on your guard.

Your one lie drags all your truth under suspicion.

3. Trust is something we apply globally, and especially in our intimate relationships. In our mind that person is trustworthy – or they’re not. We don’t differentiate between scenarios.   

4. Although we can choose to forgive, we can’t forget we were deceived. It’s hardwired in our brain for survival purposes. And because this is the case, it means there always will be times when we question if that person is trustworthy … stillToday. That is an unfortunate reality.  

5. Intentional deception always changes how we feel about an individual we had once trusted and loved. Why? Because it strikes at the heart of that person’s character.

Think about it … Why would we trust someone who puts their own needs first, and pretends that they are different from the way they really are? And when ‘the rubber meets the road’ they are not dependable (at least that’s what we’ve learned from our experience with them).

6. Even if they are remorseful and have tried to make amends, giving them your trust will be a slow, tentative process. You need to take care of yourself, and be your own best friend. Your best interests and well-being are your top priority.

Something to bear in mind

Research findings from Wharton have shown that “trust harmed by untrustworthy behavior can be effectively restored when individuals observe a consistent series of trustworthy actions,” and that making promises to change behavior can help speed up the process.

However, the study also found that trust harmed by the same untrustworthy actions and deception, never fully recovers – even when deceived participants receive a promise, an apology, and observe a consistent series of trustworthy actions.”[1]


[1] ttps://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/promises-lies-and-apologies-is-it-possible-to-restore-trust-2/

23 thoughts on “The Truth about Deception

    • I think we DO need to be on guard with someone who has broken our trust before – and especially if it was a very serious breach of trust. Occasionally a leopard will change its spots … but not often.Thanks for the comment PoetEternal

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  1. Having read this, I see now why serious breaches of trust often mean an end to relationships. Sadly, as you said, the people who can hurt us the most are those whom we trust the most. Betrayal trauma doesn’t often come at the hands of strangers. I think of King David, in the Psalms, where he laments about those closest too him turning against him.
    But I also think of Jesus, who “knew what was in the hearts of men,” and did not commit Himself to them. Perhaps the phrase, “trust, but verify” is in order. These are great thoughts you share today, as always. Thank you, and God Bless.

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    • Yes, betrayal trauma doesn’t come at the hands of strangers. We expect certain people to betray us; that doesn’t come as a shock. But not all people are the same. There are those who are trustworthy, and are worthy of our trust. Taking another risk is hard but it can be worth it. As you say, “trust, but verify.” Thanks David.

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  2. Well, I carry along with other abused kids, a feeling we never knew what trust was ever about with our first caregivers

    So we started with a deficit

    I will go as far to say trust or the betrayal of trust destroys that particular relationship and has an impact on every future relationship

    Some of us have never trusted but had relationships, marriages

    Betrayal is held deep inside me and is part of my trauma, my PTSD

    It has influenced everything, every relationship since college.

    For me it is a constant companion

    I have to fight off the terror to be with a woman now

    I have a very shallow trust of anyone

    Trusting has never worked out for some of us unfortunately

    We find other ways to experience joy

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  3. This doesn’t have to do with trust in an intimate relationship, but it is something I’ve observed: that trust is in every kind of relationship. As someone who used to work in retail, I thought often how trust is implicit in a store: a customer comes in, chooses what they want, and the store trusts the person won’t steal an item. Granted, shoplifting does happen–in some locations, a lot–and most stores have some type of inventory-control system–but still, the store trusts that most customers will pay for what they choose. If the business didn’t have that trust, it would close down. Some kind of trust is needed in any kind of endeavor; trust is a foundation. As you point out, once trust is lost, it’s very hard to put it back.

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    • Yes, trust is built into the whole of life. Thanks for sharing those examples, scribelady. We trust car mechanics, trades people who come into our homes, staff in restaurants, aircraft mechanics, bus and train drivers. The list is endless!

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  4. A lived reality, DLH. That shattered trust not only affects the current relationship, but taints any previous ones (did they cheat too, and I was too trusting to see it) and obvious future ones. Trust, once broken, is never fully restored. You just do your best to verify, verify, verify. Exhausting x

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  5. When we are hurt and betrayed it cannot always be gotten over.. its good that this point is made.. its up to the person… the saddest thing is that the experience suffered at the hands of one person may then be transferred onto others who are trustworthy.. that is very very sad.

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