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How Do I Trust an Untrustworthy Friend?

Once a week on her blog, Mary DeMuth answers tough questions from her readers. This week her question was, “Can I still be friends with someone I don’t fully trust?” Have you ever wondered the same? Friendship requires some level of trust. But how do I trust an untrustworthy friend?

To help ascertain how much trust you should put in a person, Mary offers a list of traits to compare with your friend. (See the full list here.)

  • Do they jump to conclusions, or listen with empathy?
  • Are they passive-aggressive, or graceful and encouraging?
  • Do they encourage your relationships with other people?
  • Do they accept blame, avoid gossip, and apologize even before they are caught?

DeMuth continues,

Remember a boundary is not the same as a fortress. It’s a fence around who you are with a gate that allows good folks in and keeps some untrustworthy ones out. It’s okay to keep that boundary intact until you truly feel peaceful about the person. You have to choose to trust, eventually, but only if that person proves her trust. Does she keep your confidence? Is she exhibiting the same patterns of behavior that you had to forgive?”

In her Crosswalk article Learn How and When to Trust in a World of Betrayal, Whitney Hopler writes that the road to trust should be taken slowly and cautiously.

Take baby steps before giant leaps. Rather than trying to take huge leaps of faith right away, try to trust in routine, relatively undemanding situations first. Then, gradually, you'll be able to move toward exercising more and more trust.”

In another piece about finding peace through setting boundaries, Hopler writes,

Keep in mind that taking control isn’t the same as being controlling. Setting boundaries isn’t about trying to control other people; instead, it’s about being clear about what you will and will not accept in your life in order to claim your God-given spiritual authority and guard your heart from harm. You never need to feel guilty about setting boundaries with the people in your life.”

Unfortunately, trust is often breached in marriage, explains Crosswalk columnist Dr. David Hawkins. Even in that intimate relationship, boundaries have to be set to maintain the health of each party.

“[S]uccess in marriage comes from implementing boundaries. Marriages are literally saved or destroyed by whether or not healthy boundaries are in place. When they are established, couples will treat each other respectfully. When they are not, couples live in chaos. God is the author of boundaries, clearly establishing boundaries to our universe as well as his laws regarding consequences to our behaviors. “

To read Dr. David’s 5 tips on understanding boundaries in marriage, read the full article here. 

Have you ever had to break off a friendship, or set strict boundaries, because of broken trust? What has God taught you through those hard times? For more from Mary DeMuth, watch this interview on!

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor at

Publication date: October 6, 2014