9 subtle behaviors that can erode trust in a relationship

by Brendan Brown | January 20, 2024, 11:00 pm

There’s no question that trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship. 

But sometimes, trust can start to crumble, and not because of big betrayals, but because of tiny, sneaky behaviors that creep in unnoticed. 

In this article, we’ll uncover 9 subtle behaviors that might be eroding trust in your relationship without you even realizing it. 

So, keep your eyes peeled, because recognizing these small culprits could be the key to keeping trust alive and well in your relationship.

1) Hiding things on the phone

Have you noticed your partner suddenly guarding their phone like it’s a treasure chest?  They used to leave it around, but now it’s glued to their hand. 

That’s a warning sign. It might seem small, but it can mess with trust.

I remember when my partner did this. It got me thinking if something fishy was going on. 

Turns out, they were just planning a surprise party for me. But the secrecy still got me worried for a bit. 

So, if your partner gets all secret with their phone, just ask them what’s happening – it’s better than losing trust.

Likewise, making white lies can be just as bad for the relationship.

2) The white lies habit

When your partner frequently resorts to telling those little white lies – you know, the ones that seem harmless at first – it may appear like no big deal. 

However, these seemingly innocuous untruths can accumulate over time and subtly corrode the trust within your relationship.

These small falsehoods might include exaggerating about their day at work, pretending to enjoy activities they don’t really like;

It can also be offering assurances about future plans they don’t intend to keep. 

While these lies may not seem significant on their own, they erode the foundation of trust because they create doubt about the honesty and authenticity of your partner. 

Trust is built on transparency and honesty, so it’s essential to address these white lies to maintain a solid, trusting connection in your relationship.

3) Overgiving

At first glance, it might seem like a wonderful thing when your partner goes above and beyond to make you happy, always saying “yes” to your requests and desires. 

However, this excessive eagerness to please can paradoxically erode trust in your relationship.

When your partner consistently agrees to everything you want, it might feel like they’re trying too hard to avoid conflict or keep you satisfied. 

But deep down, it can leave you wondering if they’re being genuine or simply trying to please you for the sake of avoiding conflict.

It’s essential to have open discussions and ensure both partners feel comfortable expressing their true thoughts and desires. 

Trust is built on honesty and authenticity, not on blindly catering to each other’s wishes, because constantly doing this might lead to emotional detachment.

4) The emotional detachment

When your partner starts emotionally disconnecting, it’s like a storm cloud looming over your relationship. 

They might still be physically there, but something intangible has shifted, and it’s hard to ignore.

It’s tough to admit, but I’ve experienced this myself. 

My partner and I were going through a rough patch, and they started distancing themselves emotionally. 

Even though they didn’t say it outright, I could feel it. It made me question where we stood and whether I could rely on them. 

When this emotional gap widens, trust can crumble, so it’s crucial to have those heart-to-heart conversations and try to bridge that emotional distance before it’s too late.

5) The digital divide

When your partner keeps their online world a secret, it can lead to trust issues; and in today’s digital age, this digital divide is a surprising sign of eroding trust. 

Interestingly, studies show that couples who share their online lives, like passwords or social media accounts, tend to have higher levels of trust. 

It might sound counterintuitive, but this transparency helps build trust in the relationship. 

So, if your partner is keeping their online world locked away, it’s worth discussing how to bridge this digital gap and strengthen the trust between you.

If not, you might end up harboring a sense of distrust that will slowly grow until it turns into resentment.

6) The growing distrust

Sometimes, life makes us experience certain things that make us distrust our partners. 

Maybe they’ve been through difficult experiences, and their trust radar is on high alert. 

In these situations, they might start questioning your actions and intentions, even if you’ve done nothing wrong.

When this happens, remember that distrust can be a result of past wounds. So, if your partner is grappling with this, approach it with kindness and empathy. 

Reassure them of your love and commitment, and consider seeking support together to heal past wounds and rebuild trust. 

Remember, trust can be fragile, but with patience and understanding, it can be mended.

Doing otherwise – such as by giving the silent treatment – can only be counter-productive for your relationship.

7) The silent treatment

When your partner shuts down and stops communicating, it leaves you in the dark. 

You start questioning what’s going on in their mind, whether they’re upset with you, or if they even care. 

We’ve all been there – those moments when a disagreement turns into an icy silence that stretches on for hours, or even days. 

It’s a relatable scenario because we’ve all felt that emotional disconnect. 

While it might seem like a way to avoid further conflict, the silent treatment can be a trust-killer in relationships.

To keep trust strong, you need to break the silence and have open, honest conversations, even when it’s uncomfortable. 

Communication is the key to a strong foundation of trust – and that might mean needing to spend quality time so you can talk and understand each other better.

8) Neglected quality time

Picture this: You and your partner used to enjoy quality time together – cozy movie nights, spontaneous adventures, or even just quiet evenings talking. 

But lately, it feels like you’re living parallel lives, each engrossed in your own world.

I can relate to this one. My partner and I got so caught up in our busy lives that we barely spent quality time together. 

We’d be in the same room, but our minds were miles apart. It started eroding our connection and trust – and I regretted it a lot.

Neglecting quality time can make your partner feel unimportant, and it’s a silent trust-breaker. 

So if you don’t want your relationship to end up like mine, make an effort to rediscover those moments that brought you closer in the first place. Trust grows when you cherish the time you spend together.

9) The broken promises

Let’s cut to the chase: Broken promises are the biggest trust-killer. 

No more sugarcoating it – this behavior can’t be ignored. It’s painful, and it’s time to lay it all on the line. 

Have a frank conversation about the broken promises, set clear expectations, and hold each other accountable. 

Tough love means facing the issue head-on, not letting it slide. If you want trust to survive, it’s time for some tough conversations and even tougher actions.

Final thoughts

In every relationship, trust is the cornerstone that holds everything together. 

Yet, it can be surprisingly fragile, vulnerable to subtle cracks that, if left unaddressed, can lead to its gradual erosion. 

These nine subtle behaviors we’ve explored may seem innocuous on their own, but together, they can erode the very foundation of trust.

But here’s the silver lining: trust can be rebuilt. 

It takes open communication, empathy, and a willingness to confront issues head-on. 

Remember, every relationship faces challenges, and trust is not immune to them. 

By recognizing these subtle trust-eroding behaviors and taking proactive steps to address them, you can strengthen the bond with your partner. 

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