What makes you trust someone?
Meeting people is easy, but truly letting them in is more difficult. We all have parts of ourselves that we hold back, things we don’t share easily with others. Sometimes they are things we are ashamed of, but most of the time they are things that we are protecting. Things that are fragile, things that are precious, and often things that have been hurt before.
Trust is a huge hurdle in any new relationship, whether it is romantic or not, and there are so many different pieces to it. There’s your basic trust, things like “do I get in a vehicle with them?”, “Should I watch my drink around them?” or “Do I want them to know where I live?”. Then there’s the more complicated questions like “Are they really who they say they are?”, “Do they make good decisions?”, and perhaps most importantly “Are they going to hurt me?”.
Trust is a social construct, defined as a belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone. It’s something most of us learn as children, then spend our lives relearning and redefining as we add up our positive and negative experiences. It is a constantly changing creature, and can be swayed by more internal and external factors than we can possibly imagine.
So should you trust someone? Some people trust freely and completely, believing people deserve it until they show they don’t. For others trust must be earned in levels, through a series of conscious or unconscious tests. And for some it is something they aren’t capable of ever completely giving.
There are no right answers to these questions, there is just what is right for you in the moment, based on your experiences, your openness, and your ability to handle being hurt. Trust is risky no matter who you are dealing with, every single person on the planet has the ability to hurt someone else. Some might choose to and others will do it unconsciously. It’s unavoidable.
For me trust has always been a gut feeling. It comes quickly with many people, slowly with others, and in some cases it never happens. Sometimes there are obvious reasons I trust or don’t trust someone and sometimes there aren’t. Sometimes I trust fully, other times I hold back and the trust comes in levels. And sometimes my gut is wrong, and I get hurt.
It is tempting when we get hurt to make sweeping decisions like, “I will never trust again” or “I make bad choices, I should just stop making choices at all”. I did that, for a long time. I eventually learned that it’s important to remember in that moment that this was just one bad decision. Maybe it was a big one, maybe it really hurt, maybe it even hurt someone else, but it was still just one bad call. One mistake. Don’t let it stop you from trying again. Add it to your pool of experience, learn from it, maybe be slightly more cautious next time, but don’t give up. There are more people out there who are worthy of your trust than there are who will abuse it, and the only way to find them is to keep trying.