Relationships are incredibly challenging when devoid of trust. Trust and safety are bedrocks of a healthy relationship. If we cannot trust our partner, we also cannot feel safe in the relationship. If we go on a date with someone we met online, should we trust them? If we are looking for a long-term relationship, how do we know our date is being genuine when they say they want a real commitment?
Can we learn when, who, and what to trust from dating workshops? If trust can be reduced to a set of rules, such as how to observe your new date’s body language and what questions to ask, finding a partner would not be a lifetime challenge.
There are eight parts of the “Growing from Trust issues” series. In this trust series, I shall explore the issue of trust from the developmental perspective and suggest how to manifest the capacity to trust.
There are two popular attitudes regarding trust. The first is that we trust everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The second is we believe everyone is guilty until proven innocent. In our developmental journey, we start off with innocence. Children trust the world is a safe place. They trust their primary caregivers have their best interests in mind. As we learn more about life, we realize that not everyone is trustworthy. The world is not that safe after all. We learn from our mistakes and become wiser and we trust people selectively.
However, not everyone learns and grows from the mistakes they make. Some people are stagnant in their development due to damaging and painful childhood experiences. Some might be psychological healthy during childhood, but are injured through a romantic connection, career change, or other adult relationships.
There are two extremes reactions to painful romantic relationships. After many painful relationships, some people will continue trusting strangers with an open heart. On the other hand, some are stuck in perpetual fear after being hurt. They cannot trust new potential partners, no matter what their partners do. People who react on either extremity may have a severely fragmented sense of self and reality. They cannot integrate their disappointing and painful trust issues into their concept of self.
Knowing when, who, how and what to trust requires maturity. Maturity is a developmental process in which we learn and grow from our mistakes. If we learn from painful life experiences, we can improve our psychological health. Yet, if we don’t learn from our painful past experiences, our emotional development will stagnate.
Trust-related mistakes leave emotional scars such as fear and anxiety. These emotions shape how we see ourselves and the world. The difference between anxiety and fear is that fear is based on something specific, such as bear standing in front of you. Whereas anxiety does not have an object of emotion. Anxiety is founded in uncertainty and unpredictable future. Fear, however, can breed anxiety. With prolonged anxiety, we become conditioned not to trust unknown-ness and the future. We feel unsafe in this world.
For readers who are seeking a loving relationship, pay attention to your potential love interest’s capacity to trust.
Are you always anxious?
Do you find yourself unsure whether to trust or not to trust your new date or other social relationships?