Breaking Trust

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

It would be fair to say that I have issues with trusting people. The Internet puts these trust issues on meth, shovels coke up their nose, and throws them off an airplane. Everyone I meet is a potential abuser of trust, and my memory loves replaying when I’ve had it abused in the past. I think this is why I make it a habit of keeping people at just further than arm’s distance.

Lacking trust makes it difficult for me to respect people. I’ve seen people intentionally betray their own principles just to marginalize an entire group of people. How do I know they won’t turn on me if I stop belonging to their favorite group?

People talk about respect and trust like they’re entitled to it. For the longest time, this made me feel like I was weird or paranoid. I couldn’t fully wrap my mind around something simple: trust is earned. The reason why it’s hard for me to share my trust with people is that I don’t hand it out as easily as other people might. This isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s just something peculiar to me.

I still feel like I need to make adjustments to it, though. Depression is an isolating illness. Sometimes, I feel like I might not trust people because of that. But to be fair, I also get anxious when I have reason to mistrust someone. At these times, I feel nailed to two different walls.

Or maybe I just get disappointed in people too easily. I really don’t know, and I keep running circles in my head just like I’m doing here in this post.

3 thoughts on “Breaking Trust

  1. In general, any one who says “Trust me.” is not to be trusted. I suggest you focus on what you are trusting them with. Hopefully not your money. You can trust people to be who they are. If you do not know them fairly well, then you can trust them to tell you who they are through their words and actions.

    I run a business on the Internet and have colleagues I have never met in person, but I have conversed with them enough to “know” them somewhat. They send me their work, I send them payment. It is quite safe. If someone writes something that appears out of character, I ask if something is bothering them. The best way to do that is by stating what you “heard” from them, telling them how you feel about that, and then asking them if that was their intent. Then listen carefully to their response.

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  2. […] trust is earned.

    That’s a good start.
    On the other hand, without people willing to sometimes trust “Just because”, our society couldn’t function.

    It’s a balancing act, as you’ve already determined. Finding the balance that works for you is the tough part.

    Personally, I found that “Paying it Forward” works reasonably well for me. Not in the “I just met you, now I trust you with my wallet, my life, my secrets and my wellbeing” sense, but rather I trust that this new person is potentially a good one. Baby steps. I’ll tell them things, invite them to coffee, get to now them. If that works well enough, I extend a little more. I keep in mind they’re human, and may mess up unwittingly sometimes. Hey, I mess up all the time. So, not everything is personal, not every small breach of trust was intended and caused by ill will.
    If they’re reliable with the important stuff, and flaky or careless with the trivial… I can live with that.

    Manage expectations. Just because I’m loyal to a fault doesn’t mean everyone else has to be. Maybe they’re doing the best they can, and I end up rejecting an honest effort.
    Maybe they’re annoyed I’m always running late, since they’re punctual and would like to rely on me to be, too. Maybe they don’t place so huge a value on always keeping my promises as I do (even if I’m late, I’ll be there. It’ll take hell AND high water to stop me, and if that happens I’ll let you know, via carrier pigeon if I must). No, I don’t make promises often 😋

    If it doesn’t work … consider it a lesson learned. Figure out what went wrong, go over potential red flags you might have ignored. Allow yourself to grieve for what might have been, but don’t let it discourage you to the point of walling yourself in. It’s not worth it.

    I know the later is easier said than done – I’ve trusted a man implicitly for 15 years and got kicked in the teeth for it. Had others take advantage of my loyalty. Sometimes with devastating effects.

    But those few who appreciate your trust, return the sentiment, let it build over time… they’re more than worth it. They’re priceless treasures, and neither time nor distance is going to avail squat against such bonds.

    You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
    I’ve taken a chance on some complete strangers here, and got a bunch of goofy buddies for my troubles, one or two of whom are becoming good friends. Maybe it’ll stick after we move again, maybe it won’t. But the experiences will remain, and the goodwill.

    I know the impulse to keep people at arm’s length. It can be overcome. It’s not easy, and I’m not telling you you won’t fall on your face a couple of times. I just know it’s worth trying. And trying again.

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