What’s your score? I mean, do you know your credit score? Equifax has certainly been in the news lately for their huge data breach. “There’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies” according to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). That is one whopping betrayal of trust of sensitive financial data. This got me thinking.


Much of the news coverage will let you know your safest bet is to put a credit freeze on your reports so that no new accounts may be opened in your name. So there’s one way you can protect yourself. But how do you protect yourself from a breach of trust within a relationship? Or how do you keep from betraying your beloved? And how is a credit report a lot like a relationship? At its epicenter is trust. (And yes, hurricane lingo really is on my mind these days what with Harvey, Irma, Jose and Katia!) Hmmm, maybe hurricanes are another good analogy to consider within our most important relationships.

But back to Equifax, breach of trust. Your credit history, and consequentially your credit report, are like a long term relationship in that it takes a long time to build a solid credit history, and only one big screw up to torpedo it. A good credit history takes quite a while to establish. You can’t just open a bunch of accounts and say “Oh, now I have great credit!” You have to open them, use them periodically, pay every month in good faith and on time–and with payments that don’t bounce.

So what would you say your trust score is within your most important relationship?

Well guess what. You better pay attention to it. Building trust in your relationships takes time and consistency. If you want to be trusted, you have to earn it, the same as with a good credit score. When you say you will do something, do it, and do it in the time frame you promised. With no excuses. If you said you would be there to pick up the kids from soccer practice, or to watch their game, then be there at the appointed hour. If you promised to go by the grocery store for dinner items, then do it. If you agreed to pay the car registration on time, then put the check in the mail well ahead of the due date. And if you agreed to be faithful, then don’t slip into an emotional affair.

How to breach trust

There are many ways to breach trust in a relationship. Here’s some of the ways we break trust, and these are besides having a full on affair:

  1. Conditional commitment—“I’m here for you, until someone better comes along.”
  2. Nonsexual (AKA “emotional”) affair—where a platonic friendship develops over time and becomes a place where many confidential topics are discussed that may be very personal to the primary relationship.
  3. Lying. Do not trust someone who lies to you.
  4. Forming a coalition against a partner, i.e.., a mother in law and husband ganging up on the wife with constant criticism.
  5. Absenteeism or coldness. EX: A partner’s parent is in hospital and other partner makes excuses not to be there during a critical time.
  6. Withdrawal of sexual interest.
  7. Disrespect: criticizing in a destructive way by showing contempt–especially in public where it can be humiliating.
  8. Unfairness—whether real or perceived–in household chores, finances, social time, money spent on his/her TV but not your gym membership, laundry, childcare, not pulling your share of the work it takes to make a household run well.
  9. Breaking promises—from being late to events and agreed upon meetings, to disagreeing on whether both partners should work outside of the home, especially if this was mutually agreed upon prior to making the relationship permanent. Financial conditions can change, however, and both parties need to be willing to renegotiate, or to make decisions about what constitutes a deal breaker.

How to build trust

  1. Being all in.
  2. Having your partner’s back, in private, in public, and all the ways in between.
  3. Being truthful, sometimes even when it hurts.
  4. Delivering complaints instead of criticism.
  5. Be mindful and pay attention to intimacy within your relationship. It needs regular maintenance.
  6. Have ongoing conversations about the division of labor in your home. What is fair? And don’t forget that it is healthy and desirable to have children shoulder age-appropriate household tasks.
  7. If you make a promise, honor it, or thoughtfully discuss why you cannot.
  8. Learn how to repair conflicts, because they are going to happen.

One fascinating aspect of trust is that while it has to be based on fact, it is NOT based on certainty. It can’t be, because we can never find that certainty. Certainty is not possible and constantly seeking it is a hallmark of anxiety. Just because your favorite restaurant has had great food in the past does  not preclude the possibility they will have one lousy night in the kitchen.

And we live as humans in a state of imperfection. Mostly we do the best we can in a world filled with anxiety and pressure. Lately natural disasters have us in their grip, so being mindful not to pile on or create extra drama, the way a hurricane does, is important.

If you have trouble with trust and being vulnerable, a huge part of trust, shoot me an email or go to my contact page. I am here in your neighborhood and ready to help.