As a species, humans depend on forming bonds and connections with each other for survival. Relationships are complicated in and of themselves, and there is a variety in types of relationships—friends, family members, employers, significant others, etc.—that further complicates the subject. As we let new people into our lives and let them learn more about us, we become increasingly vulnerable. Thus, we run the risk of being let down and hurt by others. It hurts to have this done by casual acquaintances, but the pain of having a loved one blatantly disregard your feelings cannot be quantified. We entrusted our most important thoughts and feelings to them, and they betrayed us.

Trust is one of the fundamental building blocks of strong relationships. It serves as the foundation upon which a bond develops, providing a sense of stability. As you build a new relationship, you gradually gain someone’s trust and they gain yours, and the closeness deepens as time passes. This process happens naturally and, usually, easily… until one party does something to break that trust. Then you are left standing hurt and confused, surrounded by all the debris of the relationship.

Why do we humans, who desire such close relationships with others, do things to break a loved one’s trust? We invest long hours and a lot of energy to earn this trust, and in a split second, it can so easily be thrown away. Trust can be destroyed in many ways: Dishonesty, disrespectful behavior, insensitivity to someone's feelings—any of these can leave you feeling wary, questioning how you ever felt connected to such an individual. As someone who does not trust easily to begin with, I am quick to distance myself once I feel betrayed.

The scariest and saddest part of it all is that the people who hurt you the most are the ones that you never expected would do so. The closer the bond, the more vulnerable you become. If a co-worker or casual friend does something to hurt us, we may be angry or disappointed, but we can usually move past it fairly easily. Betrayal by those closest to you, however, cuts deeply, like an old rusty knife, and it takes much longer to heal. To be sure, it will eventually heal, but it will undoubtedly leave a scar that cannot be fully hidden and will continue to ache from time to time.

So if you want to form lasting and loving relationships, here is my advice: always be honest. Sometimes the truth hurts, but an upsetting truth is much easier to forgive than a hurtful lie. Let your actions and words show that you value the other person and the relationship. Once you establish a connection with someone, try not to take it for granted. Life can be very lonely unless we share the journey with others. If you are enjoying close bonds with the important people in your life, celebrate that and be careful to protect them. If you have been hurt, do not let those feelings of betrayal control your future. The process of healing is hard, but each of us can find a way to move forward and find peace. Ultimately, the benefits of our human relationships far outweigh the risks of betrayal. As time allows us to heal, we inevitably look to build new bonds with new people. All of these experiences, both good and bad, enrich our lives and help us grow into better, stronger individuals.