- How do I define trust?
- What role does trust play in healthy relationships?
- How does the concept of trust help or hurt me?
I’ve become a much healthier, more content person since I came to realize that complete trust is an impossible ideal. It’s easy to complain that I can’t trust somebody completely, but have I considered how well I can even trust myself? It depends on the day, the person, and the situation, but I guarantee that I can’t trust myself anywhere near 100%. So why are my standards so high for someone else?
I can’t define trust in one sentence, but I can list some of the attributes that affect trust: Honesty, Openness, Integrity, Confidentiality, Availability, Concern, Fidelity, and Loyalty. There are probably many more that I haven’t even thought of, but this list is plenty long for me. If I’m going to make relationship decisions based on trust, it seems wise to be able to define trust in some way. Here’s one way to do it: When you make a decision about whether or not to pursue or develop a relationship with someone, weigh the trust attributes listed above (or create your own list). On a scale of 0-100%, to what extent do you believe you can rely on this person in each of these areas? If any area is less than 100% (which they all will be - nobody’s perfect), is the deficit large enough to be a deal breaker? Does it seem to be in your best interest to end this relationship because the trust factor is too low? What are the pros and cons? Can you set new boundaries in the relationship and turn an unhealthy relationship into a healthy one by changing your expectations?
One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed about trust is that we seem to have the highest standards for the people who are least likely to be able to meet them. If we judge somebody to be 90% honest, open, reliable, close mouthed about us, available, concerned, faithful, and loyal, that means they will meet these criteria in 90% of our interactions. Well if we only talk to somebody a few times a year, it’s going to be pretty easy for them to meet this threshold. If we live with somebody everyday, meeting that 90% mark becomes much, much harder. After all, who’s open, reliable, available, and concerned 90% of the time?!! We all make mistakes, and most of us feel some level of shame when we make them. Ideally, we will admit our mistakes, apologize, and try to do better in the future, but things just don’t always work out that way.
Can I trust you? That’s not for you to tell me. It’s a decision I have to make for myself. It’s a judgment call. And if my aspiration is to find someone that I can trust completely, I’m going to be looking for a long, long time. Meanwhile, I might try looking at my relationship with myself. How much can I rely on ME to treat myself with honesty, openness, integrity, confidentiality, availability, concern, fidelity, and loyalty? Well darn. It looks like I have some work to do!