Trust? How to give it freely?
October 17, 2010 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Any advice on how to give trust freely and not get caught in the cycle of waiting till others earn trust?

I've stumbled upon this concept that trust is something I can give sort of regardless of the other person b/c the trust is really about trusting myself. This is a foreign concept to me and don't quite get it. I get it intellectually, but I'm not sure how this looks in real life relationships especially when trust has been broken. I'd like to make this a strong suit of mine. Any advice on how to understand this and practice this. Radical ideas and examples welcome.
posted by PeaPod to Human Relations (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Trust is something you can give regardless of the other person? Are you saying you would trust people despite people breaking your trust or something that you can offer, i.e. someone people can confide in?
posted by iNfo.Pump at 5:07 PM on October 17, 2010

I would characterize it as adopting an attitude of "innocent until proven guilty," rather than its opposite. As for trust coming from within - I would say that I consider myself a trustworthy person, and extend that assumption to others until they prove otherwise.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:07 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

You have to realize that denying trust is about you, your fear of getting hurt, or fooled or some other negative aspect. By not trusting, you're attempting to control all that and protect yourself.

But you're still going to get hurt/made a fool of/ etc. That's ok, that needs to happen, in order for you to grow and learn as person, even if it's painful. You have to learn to trust that no matter what happens, you're strong enough to survive it. Because you are, you know.

So trust others, to do right and stop wasting emotional energy wondering if this person or that person is going to hurt you. You can't control them, nor what they do. You can only control yourself, so trust and believe in you.
posted by nomadicink at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2010 [9 favorites]

I am familiar with this concept, but I think you might have it a bit backwards?

I (after many many learning experiences...) trust my judgement implicitly. Therefore, I know when to trust others, and by what degree.

Here is how I practice it: I endeavor to NEVER put anyone in a position that is beyond what they are capable of. In this way, others are trusted as much as they are capable of being trustworthy... Nobody screws up, everybody wins!

Being judicious with your trust requires finesse and graciousness.

A super oversimplified example might be gently coaxing your drunk friend into a cab rather than allowing them to drive drunk. You don't have to make a big drama or be judgmental, but you don't let them get into a position to kill themselves or others with their car, either.

Ok. That's probably a shite example, but I hope you get the flavor of what I mean.

(A better example here on the green might be that you don't get all monogamous with a romantic partner with an admitted or previously witnessed penchant for cheating. See what I mean??)

You'll still get disappointed by folks sometimes, but if you exercise some wisdom in your interpersonal transactions, you will leave yourself and others feeling good most of the time.

Hope this helped.
posted by jbenben at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2010 [9 favorites]

I've stumbled upon this concept that trust is something I can give sort of regardless of the other person b/c the trust is really about trusting myself. This is a foreign concept to me and don't quite get it.

This is trusting that you'll get through it if they betray you, so its okay to take chances on life and love. Not trusting them, really. But taking a chance and not waiting for them to "prove" it.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:35 PM on October 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm not 100% sure that trusting everyone whether they've earned it or not is a good idea. There are bad people out there, and there's something to be said for trying to keep yourself safe. And if you do give trust away freely, I'm not 100% sure it doesn't lose some of its value.

But, if you're really sure that's what you want to do, you could try just not exposing yourself too much to the negative aspects of human nature. Avoid reading too in-depth about nasty human events and stay away from fights and arguments. Remind yourself that those kinds of things constitute only a small fraction of human experiences.

Along the same lines, you can try to see people's reasons for doing even the bad things. Many actions seem like the right thing from the perspective of the person doing them, so if you can manage to see things from the perspectives of even the most unpleasant groups of people, you might be better able to see people as being basically good, and that will help you trust them. For example, I may not like right-wing politics, but I can usually trust them to respect my rights under the law. I may not like left-wing politics, but I can usually trust them to empathize with me when I'm in a really bad situation. Most people are trustworthy from some perspective if you think like that.
posted by Xezlec at 5:59 PM on October 17, 2010

I've also come across this concept during in my endless attempts to self-help myself into better relationships, so I feel your struggle! I can think of a recent example where I tried to trust someone else even though I have a strong predilection to assuming the worst about others (and, perhaps, myself).

I was dating someone new earlier this year, and as it has always been the case for me, I was really insecure about the relationship--i.e. how much he liked me, etc.

I remember one day, I sent him a text asking if he wanted to get together and I didn't get a reply. My mind started spinning with horrible interpretations of the situation: he was with some other chick, he was busy but thought so little of me that he didn't want to bother to reply, he was done with me and I'd never hear from him again, blah blah blah...

Well, it turned out that he'd just forgotten to bring his cell phone charger while staying over at his parents house for the night, and he sent me an apologetic message the next day.

I talked to the counselor I was seeing at the time about this--I wanted to know why my mind always goes to those insecure places that drive me crazy, making it so hard for me to get close to people. He suggested that the next time something like this happened, I needed to practice TRUSTING that what was going on had nothing to do with my worth as a person, or with the other person being grade A jerk. I needed to learn to put aside the distrustful thoughts that automatically pop up, consider more rational explanations, remind myself that I'm an OK person, he's an OK person, and to wait out the situation by doing things that are positive distractions (exercise, doing fun things alone or with friends, etc).

So, I needed to trust that the guy was probably still the pretty good guy I'd thought I'd assessed him as, and I needed to DISTRUST the negative interpretations of him and myself that my mind was throwing at me. This is really hard when you grew up with a lot of negative interactions with people. I practiced trusting my little heart out with him and we had a great, rewarding relationship.

Hope this helps, xo.
posted by oceanview at 10:39 PM on October 17, 2010

Be honest, sincere, up front and accept what others say and do at face value (ie assume they're honest, sincere and up front). Trust follows almost naturally from that.

Then it's a matter of both reciprocity and expectation. You usually get what you give, and as long as your expectations aren't outrageous, you mostly get what you expect.

To cut a long story short, if you've presented yourself to others as honest, sincere, up front, and trustworthy, they're likely to both return the favor on their own account, and meet your expectations that they'll return the favor.

(All that said, do maintain a little bit of an emotional buffer. This works most of the time, not all the time.)
posted by Ahab at 10:50 PM on October 17, 2010

For me, this is all about being more resilient and self-reliant.

If I am really genuinely dependent on others to feel worthwhile, then trusting people is harder, because then if they mess up it really hurts. If I'm happy in myself already, then I can be more free to trust others, because on the occasions when my trust turns out to be misplaced, it's more of a minor life lesson than a major drama production.

For example:

I trust my boyfriend not to cheat, and I don't go reading through his text messages looking for evidence or start flapping when he spends time with women.

I'm easily able to do this, because I know -

- if I was single, I'd survive on my own and be happy
- if he did one day cheat on me, or leave me for someone else, it won't reflect badly on me, only on him

Judging from the evidence of AskMe, a lot of people who have trouble trusting their partners don't really believe either of those two things.
posted by emilyw at 3:38 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

This sounds like someone handed you a line, to be honest. If the person telling you has broken your trust, then they are not taking responsibility for their actions. Protecting yourself is NOT a character flaw.

That said you can trust people in some areas and not in others. I trust my partner to be kind to me. I don't trust him to be on time. Petty examples but managing expectations preserves relationships even after you've been burned in certain arenas. I do this with family members especially. It's a lot of work and can cause resentment.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:01 AM on October 18, 2010

The idea is, as far as I know, that you trust yourself to handle whatever happens. That not being afraid of other people has less to do with them and more to do with yourself.

How well it work depends on how vulnerable you really need to be/are and the level of investment you have made with someone.
posted by ServSci at 7:26 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think its necessarily all about trusting yourself, we fool ourselves all the time over what we believe to be true. The only thing we really have to go on is how other people behave and, depending on how trust was broken will depend on how willing I am to give them a first, or second, chance eg: the person who can't keep a secret will never hear mine vs. my partner who tells me he's never cheated and, thus far hasn't, gets mine completely.

If my trust has already been violated, I think it flows more along the lines of having faith that it won't happen again and when giving them a second chance I tend to follow the fool me once principle, but its highly contextual and based on what happened. Their actions and, time are the only things that will help regain it, until then there is this guarded state of (dis)belief.

Overall, I assume good faith on the part of others until proven otherwise because that's all I have to go on.
posted by squeak at 8:12 AM on October 18, 2010

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