The only way to trust someone is by getting to know them.
Then getting to know them even more.
And when you think you know them pretty well, then having an open mind and acknowledging that there’s still a lot about them that you don’t yet know.
Trust comes from knowing a person so well that you only count on them in areas where it’s reasonable to.
Because that’s the honest, self-caring, and considerate thing to do.
You can only trust people in areas where fear won’t hold them back
Let’s say you have a friend who loves to paint, but she’s too scared to pursue painting as a career. So she stays with her day job in a cubicle. You can’t trust her to really understand you and be supportive when you decide that you’re going to pursue your passion, and leave your cubicle. She may be happy for you, she may want for your success. But her fears naturally hold her back, so you can’t fully trust her to be there for you when you make the leap.
You can only trust people in areas where unresolved pain won’t hold them back
And let’s say you have another friend. He’s been heartbroken many times by women who weren’t ready to commit to him in genuine and sincere relationship. Six months ago you met this wonderful girl at work, and you think she’s the one. Can you really trust your friend to understand what you are going through? He’s been so badly hurt that he now has a pessimistic view of relationships, and especially women. He may deeply care about you and your well-being, but he may not be 100% there for you when you need a best man at the altar.
You can only trust people in areas where they can be honest with themselves
And your other friend, well she was trained from an early age to be a people-pleaser, always nice and always catering to other people first. She never lets herself acknowledge when others try to take advantage of her, and she always holds her tongue if even the thought of an angry thought enters her mind.
So you find this site, and you start to think that maybe anger isn’t so evil after all; maybe it just needs to be expressed and dealt with in healthy ways. But when you try to tell your friend, all she can do is smile and nod. You can’t really count on her to be honest and direct with you, even though you want her to be. She’s not going to start speaking up about little upsets in your relationship just because you are starting to. Because if she doesn’t yet trust her own emotions, she won’t be able to understand, let alone express them openly.
You can only trust people to be strong to extent that they have let themselves be weak
You don’t really know a person until you know how they deal with pain, face their fears, and handle the worst. Their true character is tested under those circumstances, and what they stand for comes out.
The best you can do is continue working with yourself and looking within. Not everyone is prepared to look into the mirror without reserve, but if you are, you put yourself in a much healthier position to trust others realistically — especially when the dark times hit.
And then, sometimes people are trustworthy when you least expect it
You have another friend who’s religious, and strongly opposed to divorce. He’s known you since kindergarten. In the past four years, you’ve been experiencing turbulence in your marriage, and your wife does not want to try to work things out, even though you want to save the marriage. After months of running the scenario through your head, you decide that the best thing to do is separate.
Now, normally, you wouldn’t expect your friend to condone divorce, let alone divorce committed by his best friend on the planet. In other words, you wouldn’t trust him to understand. But you talk to him anyway. You tell him the truth, you even cry when it gets too painful. It’s probably the most intimate moment you’ve shared. You ask for his support, even though he doesn’t agree with divorce. He’s the only person you feel you can turn to right now, so you put your faith in him.
And something unexpected happens. He tells you that you never had to ask. That he will support you no matter what happens. And you realize there was so much about your best friend that you had yet to learn.
How can you trust someone?
Trust is an art. There are no set-in-stone rules.
All you can do is learn from the mistakes, and find better and healthier ways to trust people, reasonably. Honestly, compassionately.
Trust is not some right that comes with every friendship, just like intimacy isn’t an obligation. Trust is something you work at, together. You test it out, you keep an open mind, you listen, and you watch.
Learning how to trust others will humble you, to get to know yourself even better.
Learn to trust yourself
Because there may be times when you can’t count on anyone to understand or be there for you. In those times, it’s important to have a healthy view of trust. It’s important not to put too much trust, and thus, expectation, where it’s not earned. And it’s important to remember that even people who care about you, whom you trust, can let you down, due to fear, unresolved pain, distrust in themselves, or lack of understanding — when life throws a curve ball and they struggle just to remember who they are.
In those times, it’s really important to learn to trust yourself. Which means, getting to know yourself really well. Which means, getting to know your emotions really well. And accepting all of them as integral parts of you.
How do you trust?
How do you trust other people?
Have you learned any hard lessons about trusting someone when it wasn’t really reasonable?
Have you been surprised, learning that you could trust someone whom you never thought you could count on?
If you have an experience that taught you an important lesson in trust, I trust you will share in the comments below.