Which Comes First, Friendship, Support or Trust?
The previous parts of the Depiction Series are:
Are these three emotional plot-drivers related?
That's the key question to ponder, and the answer you choose (which can be different for each novel you write) will form the core of the theme of that novel. You are "depicting" an intangible, a philosophical position about the nature of human emotion, and human (and/or non-human) bonding.
In Romance genre, friendship isn't necessary for a sexual relationship which can blaze so bright that trust and support are obscured.
But in novels (even those published as Romance genre, or one of the hybrid genres), which take a more balanced point of view, friendship, trust, and support are a continuum which can lead to a sexual relationship, but don't have to.
This continuum was popularized first by STAR TREK fanfic (yes, I'm guilty of that kind of writing, too -- http://simegen.com/fandom/startrek/ ) but you see it all over a wide spectrum of genres today.
Catherine Asaro's Skolian Empire is a case in point, where galactic events are driven by family Relationships. And it, too, has generated fanfic
Trust is the least difficult of the spectrum of Relationships to achieve. One doesn't have to like someone to trust them. One needs only a firm and dependable understanding of a person's motivations to trust them to perform as expected, even if that means committing crimes.
Thus one does not even have to respect someone to trust they will misbehave.
Worse, if one dislikes a person, one may support their misbehavior in order to hasten punishment. Perhaps a devious character might support misbehavior in order to achieve a goal -- being absolutely certain the misbehavior will occur with the correct stimulus.
So trust is easy to achieve, and does not imply that the trusted is righteous.
Likewise, support isn't always to the advantage of the supported. Support can be a potent weapon against the supported.
Friendship is a bond of a different sort. Very often, one befriends a character for reasons that are unclear to the befriender.
Sometimes, help and/or support may be offered just because there seems to be a need, and the world would be better off if that need were fulfilled.
The one who is helped may respond by offering friendship, which may be accepted.
The general rule is when something is done three times in a row, it becomes a fixed behavior. So friendship reinforced between characters three times will be taken by readers to mean the friendship is very real, and very meaningful, if not unbreakable.
Friendship does not always lead to sexuality. Romance Genre, with all its variations such as Vampire Romance, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction Romance such as I write is particularly suited to exploring the varieties of friendship that do (or do not) lead to a sexual relationship.
There is a theory of psychology that says all such friendships are driving the pair toward some sort of sexual expression -- that sexuality is what drives humans and all human relationships.
And there are other theories that say this is not exactly true.
Long before Star Trek, science fiction explored the way a telepath might form Relationships with other telepaths and with non-telepaths. Adding that dimension to a Relationship, and to sexuality, opens whole new vistas for fiction in general.
The most recent exploration of that which I've discovered is by Alex Hughes in her Mindspace Investigations series.
There are now four novels in this Telepath/non-Telepath Love Story. I call it a Love Story rather than a genuine Romance because there's so much going on that isn't romance or relationship -- but none of that would ever have happened had it not been for the Romance underlying all the events.
Friendship does lead to Love, but love doesn't always lead to sex. Still, in Mindspace Investigations, we have a telepath consultant for the police and a career police officer who both wreck their careers upon encounter with Organized Crime (big bucks variety). With this kind of telepathy, sex will produce a lifetime Bond, and neither of them is really ready for that (yet).
I give the Mindspace Investigations series by Alex Hughes my highest recommendation, and urge you to read at least the first novel, CLEAN.
Hughes depicts a plausible future, with some very solid extrapolation, then adds a historical war between A.I. intelligence and humanity during which those with ESP Talents step forward and win the day for humanity. A treaty with humanity was created to allow those with Ability to govern themselves and guard against A.I. re-emergence. Like all bureaucracy, it eats the best people alive.