Trust can be a tricky concept. We all like to believe we are trusting, it’s mostly portrayed socially as a virtue. And yet, “Don’t you trust me?” Is a question that is often heard in moments of disagreement and tension. Virtue or not, trust is not always easy.
This is for good reason. When we take someone into our trust, we make ourselves vulnerable. In a trusting relationship, we are likely to be revealing aspects of our self, showing more of our inner world than we would to a stranger or acquaintance. The more we share, the more it would hurt if we felt rebuffed or rejected, or if our trust was betrayed.
Trust can be thought of in two ways. We can grant trust. Granting trust means we extend our trust willingly, on the assumption that we will be honoured and respected. On the other hand, trust can be earned. Here, we with-hold our trust until we are sure a person is worthy of it.
While these are two polarities of trust, there is much between. We trust different people with different kinds of information and intimacy. When we have a rupture and trust has been broken, we may withdraw it fully or partially, and take time for it to be re-established.
Sometimes we are not aware of personal patterns around trust. We may jump straight into relationships deeply, granting too much trust too quickly and then feeling very hurt if the relationship goes wrong. Or, we may not trust much at all, holding ourselves back and not allowing intimacy to develop, even over time.
If you find personal relationships challenging, you may want to take some time to notice your defaults around trust. Ask yourself:
Who do you trust? With what?
How quickly do you trust?
How widely do you trust?
Do you have varying degrees of trust, or is it all or nothing?
Who trusts you? Are you careful of their trust?
What does what you notice about trust say about you in relationship?
How do you want to change your patterns around trust?
If you want to work with your relational patterns, building a trusting relationship, over time, with a psychotherapist may be helpful. Group psychotherapy may also be a useful option. These mediums help you to experiment and build your relational skills in a safe, low risk environment.