“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
Trust goes hand in hand with commitment. A relationship built on trust is a place we can go to feel safe, with our feelings, thoughts, and safe to be our authentic selves without worrying about being judged. A partner whom you trust sends the message that he has your back and you can rely on him. Without trust, a relationship will not last.
Trust is essential to the success of any close relationship. Trust is built and earned, over time. You don’t accumulate enough trust points. It doesn’t work like that. It is a constant process of building, rebuilding and earning trust, especially if you have broken the trust of someone close. In that case you will have to do the work necessary to get yourself out of the proverbial doghouse.
Trust is slow to build and quick to dissolve. I often tell my clients, “Trust but verify.” What happens between the trust and verify phases is an assessment period when you’re collecting data. As you receive more relevant information, you are able to make better judgment on someone’s level of trustworthiness.
Now, if you’re constantly questioning your partner’s motives, without good reason, the issue most likely isn’t about your partner but about your trust issues. Perhaps you have unresolved emotional pain that you’re bringing to the table, consciously or unconsciously. Or, you don’t trust yourself. Another reason it is important to work with a professional coach or a therapist is so that your partner does not become the receptacle of your baggage and insecurities.
Think of trust as a bank account. You have to continue making deposits in order to be able to make withdrawals. Once you use up your currency (of trust) by betraying your partner (emotionally, physically, mentally, etc.), then the price you pay to get out of debt is repentance and changed behavior. Ideally, you should have enough trust currency stored in your bank account that when you violate his trust, you can rebuild it fairly quickly. We talked about the “right way to say I’m sorry” in a blog recently (https://www.artofdatingnyc.com/there-is-no-but-in-i%27m-sorry/).
The rate of rebuilding and rearming trust depends primarily on the status of your relationship; how far you have gone to break your bond; and how far you are willing to go to make it right. Just because your partner has forgiven your transgression, by the way, does not mean you can continue on with your life, as it was pre-betrayal. Does that make sense?
Trust requires several elements: consistency, transparency, vulnerability and honesty. Dishonesty, by the way, includes outright lying, withholding information or omitting information. Let’s briefly review each of these:
- Consistency: Say what you do and do what you say. You keep promises and if a promise has to be broken, you MUST offer an explanation PRIOR to breaking the promise, make a revised promise and estimate when you can deliver on that promise.
- Transparency: You willingly and voluntarily provide clarity and information on a timely basis to offer greater context and color.
- Vulnerability: You allow yourself to open up emotionally by sharing your feelings, thoughts, insecurities, worries, etc., even if the price may be feelings of rejection or judgment.
- Honesty: You tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” When you take an oath, there is a reason it says “the whole truth,” and not half of the truth, or only the parts you want to share.
Do you immediately trust the person you’ve just started dating? Heck no. You go in neutral and collect data. Over time, you’ll learn whether he is a man of his word or not; or that at first he appears to be trusting, but he also tells white lies. It may not be a big deal when you’re just dating the first, let’s say, 0-3 months. However, the same behavior may become a problem when you’re exclusive and certainly when you’re engaged or married. What I’m saying is this: you have to evaluate your relationship based on the status of your relationship, the level of mutual commitment and your partner’s actions, without making excuses, rationalizing negative behavior or justifying an act you know isn’t right.
What I have learned and come to believe is this: My personal reputation is my public brand. My brand is of utmost importance to me. At the end of the day, all I have is my name and what it stands for; I’m proud that those who know me well say I’m a person of integrity, character and trustworthiness. That matters to me, a lot. Yes, I make mistakes and own up to them, but being honest means more that just telling the truth. It also means I have the courage to talk about something that is bothering me.
So decide today, if you haven’t already, what you stand for; what your values mean to you; and how you want to live your life each and every day. And then do your very best to live in a way that you can be proud of, not measured by anyone else’s benchmark but yours alone. It will serve you in life and in all of your relationships. In the long run, you’ll never regret being honest and telling the truth, even if it hurts the other person initially. In the short term, even though you may cause pain to someone you love unintentionally, your relationship will arrive at a place of strength, comfort and trust in the long run; a place where you can talk about anything, including the hardest, most raw, painful stuff, even the ultimate betrayals, and have faith in knowing that he will be standing by your side no matter what. That, my friend, is trust.
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