Trust clouds our memories of past hurt

Trust helps romantic partners recall earlier transgressions less severely

Lovers at a beachIt is said that “Trust is letting go of needing to know all the details before you open your heart.” Trust helps not only start a relationship but also maintain it. New research suggests that trusting a romantic partner creates a positive bias towards the times when s/he was hurtful. We remember the partner’s hurtful actions of the past with more consideration [ we are less judgemental] and as him/her being less hurtful than he or she really was.

Northwestern University and Redeemer University College [Ontario, Canada] researchers systematically studied the impact of trust on biasing recall of transgressions in romantic partnerships.

Those who inherently trust, are more likely to remember transgressions in a manner that helps the relationship, by recalling them less severely. On the other hand, individuals who are low on trust, remember partner transgressions as more severe than when transgressions actually happened.

“One of the ways that trust is so good for relationships is that it makes us partly delusional,” said Eli J. Finkel, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Northwestern.

Laura B. Luchies, lead author of the study, said the current psychological reality of your relationship isn’t what really happened in the past, but the distorted memory of what actually happened in those times.

“You can remember your partner as better or as worse than he/she really was, and those biased memories are important determinants of how you think about your partner and your relationship,” she said.

“This research presents a newer, deeper understanding,” Finkel said. “It reveals that trust yields relationship-promoting distortions of the past.”

Said Luchies, assistant professor of psychology at Redeemer University College: “If you talk to people who really trust their partner now, they forget some of the negative things their partner did in the past. If they don’t trust their partner much, they remember their partner doing negative things that the partner never actually did. They tend to misremember.”



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