“My question to you is were you and Will friends before you guys even dated? Because recently, i’m having trust issues with guys…every guy that i have dated, i will have this bad feeling about him and when i end things with him, he will tell me that he cheated on me and stuff. How long did it took you before you can fully trust Will?”
-Yusri from Singapore
I left a pretty good portion of Yusri’s email out, since he described some pretty personal situations. Let me just say that his trust issues aren’t without reason. Let’s see if we can help…
Let me begin by saying that your problem is a pretty common one. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure everyone has had to deal with trust issues at some point in their life. I know I have, and it’s been for a good reason, too. I’ve been involved with people who have done some pretty ugly stuff to me. I’ve been lied to. I’ve been cheated on. Hell, there was one time when a girl accused me of sexually assaulting her because she didn’t want to admit that she had cheated on her boyfriend (who she kindly forgot to mention when we fooled around). Yes, it sucks when people betray our trust, especially since we can’t help but feel responsible for own suffering. After all, you chose to put your trust in that person to begin with.
So the first thing you need to understand is that it’s not your fault. Try as we might, we can’t predict the future, so there’s no way that we can tell for sure if someone is trustworthy. The best we can do is use our best judgment, but even that’s wrong from time to time. So it’s best not to beat yourself up about it. Instead, you need to remember that there’s no way for you to control someone’s actions. If someone does something to betray your trust, that was a choice that they made. Sure, they may try to shift the blame when you confront them. They might even try to give you a laundry list of reasons why what they did is your fault. Don’t fall for this. Last time I checked, there is no such thing as pure mind control. So every single thing that a person does involves a choice on their part. Period. So there’s no point in letting someone else’s bad decision continue to haunt you.
But still, you’ve put your trust in someone and you’ve been hurt. So how is anyone supposed to trust anyone again after the damage has been done? Scientists and other intelligent brain-people have a name for this: the Trust Gap. Simply put, the Trust Gap is that mindset that a lot of people fall into that, if they don’t trust someone, then they can’t get hurt. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to get rid of, since it’s a belief that can only reinforce itself. If you choose to trust someone who isn’t trustworthy, you get hurt. If you choose not to trust someone who IS trustworthy, then nothing happens. So the longer you keep people at a distance, the more that you’ll feel that your mistrust is keeping you safe…and it kind of is…
…except now there’s a problem. This mistrust keeps you from having any kind of meaningful relationship. The unfortunate and terrifying reality is that, if you want a relationship with someone, you’re going to have to trust them at some point. A deep, loving relationship requires intimacy, and intimacy requires trust. Yes, it’s risky. Yes, it’s scary. But if you want any chance at being someone, then it has to be done.
Will and I were lucky enough to hit that point pretty early, since I ended up giving him a place to stay right after he came out to his dad. Even then, Will made it a point not to put his complete trust in me until I admitted that I had feelings for him. I guess I can say that that’s a good time to put your trust in someone—when you know that they honestly and truly care for you. Even then, people still do make mistakes. Just because Will and I are happy together doesn’t mean that we haven’t made mistakes and betrayed each other’s trust. Dare I say that Will has probably cut me the deepest of anyone else in the world. But that’s okay, because I know that he loves me and that he would never want to harm me on purpose. The same goes for me. So we continue to trust each other, not because we’re perfect, but because we forgive each other. That said, we’ve been together for a while, so we’ve had plenty of time to build up that trust. I didn’t trust Will then as much as I do now. Trust is something that definitely grows over time. I have let certain things slide with Will that I would never tolerate from any of my other friends or family. But in order to get where we are today, Will and I both had to take that first leap of faith, even though we had both been hurt in the past.
So do your best not to let the pain you experienced in the past ruin your chances of being happy now, and remember that you’re never going to have that one be-all-end-all relationship if you don’t put yourself out there. It’s intimidating, but trust me, when you do find that special someone, it’ll make everything worth your while.
Best of luck to you!