Four Principles When Dealing with Broken Trust

The Paradox of Intimacy reveals four interrelated principles about dealing with broken trust:

  • focus on expectations
  • honor your emotions
  • focus on the big picture
  • communicate constructively

Focus on Expectations. When you understand that all breaches of trust involve a violation of your expectations, focusing on the specific expectation at hand not only helps clarify what’s going on but also helps shift the focus back to more productive ground. It can help guide the conversation back to your wants and needs and away from your anger, disappointment, or frustration. When you focus on your expectations, you can address the real problem: Your partner isn’t meeting your needs, which is causing you to question your value, your partner’s value, or the value of the relationship itself.

For example, Zachary immediately got angry with Jacob for applying for jobs on the West Coast and focused his anger on how Jacob betrayed his trust. However, if Zachary had instead focused on his expectations—that he’s looking for someone to build a future with—it would have helped him frame the betrayal in terms of the real issue at stake: Zachary wants Jacob to make their relationship his top priority.