Trust is the basis of all human relationships. Trust can be thought of as a thermometer that can measure the positive and negative nature of a relationship. The more positive one feels about a person, the higher the trust level associated with him/her.
There are many different trust levels at which we may trust others. We trust most people enough to walk around freely without expecting all the neighbors to start shooting at us. Those persons who cannot trust others at even this remote level have great difficulty functioning in the world.
However, at a more personal level, trusting your partner with your fears, dreams, and feelings is sometimes difficult. Just as when we were infants, our trust in others builds as we learn through experience that others will be accepting of us. The more we are exposed to positive trust experiences, the more trust in others will develop.
The building of a trusting attitude goes hand-in-hand with the development of positive self-esteem.
Imagine a young woman on a tropical beach dressed in heavy winter clothing. As the sun comes up in the morning, she begins to get warm and takes off her muffler and gloves and feels better. The sun continues to shine and the young lady sheds more of her heavy clothing. Each time she gets rid of a layer of protective clothing, she feels more comfortable, more in tune with her environment. If the weather changes and it gets cold again, the woman can put on a layer of clothing for protections.
So it is when we learn to trust others with our secrets, our fears, and our uniqueness. There is a period of time in every relationship when we peel off layers of protection in response to the growing warm feelings we share. As we shed our protective coats, we become more vulnerable to hurt or betrayal, but we also have the potential of building trusting relationships in which the partners can share deep feelings and grow as individuals.
In most relationships there are periods of pulling away and growing closer. These times may require us to readjust our protective layers or to pause in the process of shedding to make our needs for trusting less vulnerable. During these periods we learn about ourselves, particularly those areas about which we are most sensitive. Feelings of insecurity often indicate areas of our personal lives in which trust has been betrayed or about which we feel negatively. Taking the risk to trust sharing feelings about painful issues is often scary, but with big risks come big gainsâ€”for you and your partner.
When trust is absent, there are deep and hidden animosities. Respect is lost and our relationship is compromised as our energies go into manipulation and protection rather than working together towards a shared vision.
Trust is having the confidence in your judgment to trust yourself to trust your partner. Before you day â€œI Do,â€ you need to ask yourself, do I trust my intended?
As adults, we learn to trust through observation, experience and self-awareness. Our partners earn our trust by exhibiting trust worthy behaviors and communications. Their behaviors are consistent with their â€œtalkâ€ and you have learned you can place your confidence in him/her.
People have integrity when their behavior matches their words. They do what they say they are going to do. It’s a red flag in a relationship if, over time, a person’s behavior does not consistently match their words. In short, hear the words but watch the actions.
We are human beings and guess what? Human beings often mess up and make mistakes. We have many shortcomings, imperfections and defects. Thatâ€™s part of everyday life. But people who can be trusted take responsibility for their weaknesses. They don’t blame others or make excuses. When they mess up, they admit it, and, to the best of their ability do some serious damage control.
Understand that two people can look at the same experience and have very different responses. An ugly blue building may be colorful to someone else. Your benevolent gesture may feel invasive to someone else. In order for trust to grow, these different perspectives must be acknowledged even when they’re not understood.
We tend to trust the people with whom we feel secure. When we know we can be ourselves and say what we really think and feel without repercussions our trust builds. A requirement to walk on eggs is a metaphor for the fragility of that security. If you feel insecure in being able to express yourself or feel that there are some things you cannot say to your partner for fear of repercussions, a red flag should immediately go up.
It takes time to develop trust in someone, especially for people who have been hurt before. Who do you trust? What are the characteristics that support that trust? If the relationship is important to you what are the small steps you can do to restore betrayed trust?
Trust is central for a loving, honest and respectful relationship. Both you and your fiancÃ© should trust each other to remain loyal, be honest, communicate feelings, thoughts and opinions openly and genuinely, value each other as human beings and not objects to be used and manipulated.
When you trust your partner, you will be protected. You know you won’t be hurt, betrayed, or ridiculed. You can let down your guard and really be yourself with your partner, allowing a feeling of complete security to flow through the relationship. You don’t need to censor or edit your conversations, or alter your behavior (as long as your words and behavior are kind and courteous). You can open your heart to the other person. And, as I mentioned earlier, this deep trust and mutual vulnerability forms the very foundation of lasting and loving relationships.
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach which can be reviewed on her site. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, is expected to be available soon.