BlogHow to Deal With an “Untrustworthy” Mate

November 30, 2010by Frank Love9
Most people would say trust is among the most important aspects of a relationship, particularly a romantic one. And I agree. But I view it a little differently than most (see “You Cannot Trust Your Man”).



One of my readers, Tiana, recently wrote to me with an issue that many people, myself included, have struggled with at some point:



Why do people who are untrustworthy feel that you should just trust them again immediately? How do you prove that you are trustworthy while the person who needs to heal learns to trust you again? Do you go an extra mile to prove yourself, or just expect that trust will be granted again simply because the person sticks around?



In order for Tiana’s partner to feel that he needs to earn back her willingness to depend on him, a critical nuance must occur. He must truly believe that his action was “untrustworthy.” Unless both partners share this perception (and believe this behavior is undesirable in a relationship) then simply characterizing an action as “untrustworthy” will only leave one mate feeling upset, betrayed and infinitely frustrated. Meanwhile, the other mate, who was acting in a manner that was consistent with his values, is possibly feeling unfairly persecuted, or perhaps even successful, if this was his intention all along.



I believe it is very important to have dependability in your relationship, but rather than depending on your mate to do or not do whatever is important to you, I suggest it’s far more important to have confidence in yourself and be able to rely on the fact that you have learned enough about your mate to know him well. If you truly know someone, you probably aren’t often surprised by his/her actions, at least not if you’re really honest with yourself. And if you’re not surprised by what someone does, why be hurt by it? It’s obviously part of who that person is, not a reaction to who you are. If you become angry with your mate for acting in a manner that is consistent with his/her values, your dissonance stems from your lack of clarity about what those values are.



I’ve been in Tiana’s shoes, feeling hurt because someone I thought wanted only me turned out to already have a boyfriend, one she planned on returning to. I felt betrayed, angry, hurt…all the emotions typical in such a situation. And then I realized that feeling this way wasn’t benefitting me, and that I was being angry with her for being true to herself. Because I liked who she was as an individual person, one who owed me nothing and must do what was best for herself, I let go of my judgment about how she handled the situation, and we remained close.



In no way am I saying that Tiana (or anyone in her situation) should stay in this relationship, nor am I saying she should leave it. But one thing is clear, she remains interested in keeping her relationship or she would not have asked this question. And while many would counsel otherwise, there is nothing wrong with staying if that’s what she wants, whether her mate is sorry and plans to avoid repeating his action, or whether he plans to do it again. It’s up to her, and her alone, whether or not to embrace these aspects of her mate’s behavior.



If you find yourself in a situation like Tiana’s, where you feel you have been violated or betrayed, but you want to stay, it would be helpful if you let go of the judgment around the questionable action and simply appreciate whatever you do find valuable in the relationship. I suggest that anyone trying to decide whether to remain in a relationship ask two very simple questions:



  1. Do I enjoy most of the time that I spend with him/her?
  2. Do I feel as though we spend enough time together (in general)?
If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, then you want to be in that relationship. And it is worth digging deep inside yourself to discover if or how you can love all of who your partner is and let go of the rest…despite the needs, wants and values that differ from your own.



Keep Rising,



Frank Love








…and please do not multi-task when driving.


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  • sherry

    December 1, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    What if you have children and your mate always brings up every once in a while about the past where I had made mistakes and broke the trust he had for me how do you go the extra steps for him to heal from the hurt I caused and now he thinks I am not attracted to him and that maybe I’m not happy just cause I might be stressed or worrying about something else he might take it as I am unhappy with him ……..I want the love back he used to have for me and the attention he use to give me…..how do I help him heal and trust me again.???:(


  • Yao Khepra

    December 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I agree with what you said about values.
    Making sure that you and who you are have values that don’t clash makes for a better relationship.
    People say that finance is the #1 reason why relationships break up after reading this I think it has to do with values. What you say about how you understanding the person’s values and how you relate and/or interpret them is key.


  • Osunyoyin

    December 5, 2010 at 12:54 AM

    Untrustworthy mate, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband???? LEAVE….straight up….Leave….cut them off.


  • Jesse Birkey

    December 6, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Trust is a very difficult thing. I know I had re-learn it after my wife confessed she’d had an affair.


  • sherry

    December 27, 2010 at 4:31 PM



  • Prince Jamal

    September 7, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Maintaining functional family units is one of the issues that I see plaguing the black community (and other communities for that matter) I decided to break away from traditional views on how those units should be maintained and how they should look. Dealing with difficult people is one of those issues… If we were trained on how to handle ourselves when dealing with untrustworthy people, I’m sure there would be fewer single parent homes, and therefore more stable environments for the children.


  • […] If you have been a Frank Love reader for a while, you know that I have written several blogs about monogamy, or lack thereof.  You know that I question that wisdom of using the term “cheating” at all when it comes to relationships (see “Assumptions, Judgments and Lack of Imagination – Part I” and “Assumptions, Judgments and Lack of Imagination – Part II”). You also know I believe that what our mates choose to do has little to do with us; it has only to do with their desires and values, which may change over time (see “How to Deal with an Untrustworthy Mate”). […]


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