I’ve found that often in unhealthy relationships, when people are dealing with something that they know is inappropriate or even dangerous for their relationship, they increase their level of trust. Yes, increase.
This is a bit like being robbed by someone who breaks and enters via the back door and then deciding to leave the front door wide open for them in the hope that next time they think “Ah. How nice. I’ll reward their ‘obvious’ trust in me by not robbing them.” If you’ve ever ramped up your efforts once major problems have been revealed, it’s exactly what you’re doing.
It’s like thinking “OK I know I’ve just found out that you’re only up for sex / physically menacing / are shagging someone else / have cheated on me / are married / claim you don’t want a relationship and yada yada yada, but you know what? Today is your lucky day! Someone else might think ‘Shag this for a game of soldiers! I’m cashing in my chips!’ But not me! I’m going to invest in you in spite of the fact that I should be slamming my finger on the eject button because I really want to be loved, especially if it’s against the odds. I reckon, if I show you how good, kind, generous and loving a person I am by trusting and having faith in you in spite of your problems, you’ll love me. Oh and change.”
Don’t believe me? If you’ve ever taken someone back after a breakup or stayed after a betrayal, there’s a distinct possibility that you still think that the other person is ‘earning’ your trust even though you’ve ‘given them another chance’. However in making the decision to take them back or to ‘work at things’, even though you may be saying you don’t trust them ‘yet’ or that they’ve ‘got a long way to go before they earn their way back into your good books’, in resolving to be together, you have trusted. Even if you think you haven’t trusted, particularly when you take them back after shady behaviour on their part that they 1) haven’t felt and expressed genuine remorse and apologised for , 2) are in denial about, 3) don’t fully understand what the issues were that broke your relationship, you continuing to be with them is an offer of trust. Blind trust.
There’s also an implicit understanding that’s often not understood by them – If you get involved and then, for example, discover that they’re addicted to drugs and not addressing it, or are married/attached, these two issues are a no-go for a relationship and should be sending alarm bells and have you backing away. When you stay, it’s because what appears to be the implicit understanding is that you’re taking a leap of faith on them so they must stop being addicted or leave their partner.
This is why we can be very angry with ourselves and struggle to trust because in over arching with our benevolence, we recognise that we’ve made a big mistake. When we keep plugging away, it’s because it would be ‘better’ for them to prove our trust investment right than for us to admit we’ve made a mistake.
The ability to trust yourself and trust others actually comes from having your eyes and ears open and processing feedback. When you’re honest with yourself, you’ll feel and acknowledge the impact and what it means in relation to you and your relationship. You’ll experience your feelings, acknowledge any discomfort or what new information you have learned as a result of the impact, and take a view on it, and ultimately do something whether that means proactively addressing any code amber concerns, or inflating your opt out parachute and jumping from a code red concern .
To work the feedback into your trust system and use it, you need to use the positive and negative ‘impacts’ to adjust your levels of trust. To make dating into a positive experience regardless of whether you go on one date, several, or progress into a relationship, you need to start out with a reasonable level of trust. As you don’t know them, trust starts with you which means you need to have confidence and faith in yourself and in others and ultimately be capable of acting in your best interests.
Using your basic level of trust that you walk around with (let’s call it 70%) and using your relationship smarts (boundaries, self-awareness, etc.), you increase or decrease (credit or debit) your level of trust based on actual feedback from your relationship – i.e. their actions, how you feel, etc. If you have less trust than when you started out, it means it’s time to take a parachute and jump. If you keep experiencing positive, healthy relationship behaviour, increase.
So for example, when they say “I’m married/attached”, you’ve been around you for longer than you’ve been around them so you have to trust you and failing that, at the very least trust the norms of healthy relationships instead of deciding you’ll play the long game and gamble where so many have already trodden the path of pain.
What all of this does, aside from helping you to completely avoid Betting On Potential in LaLa Land, is give you confidence in you and your ability to act in your own best interests and make judgements, plus you also act consciously and make decisions .
When you have too much illusions and BS in your life , you’ll flip flap between not trusting yourself, others, and the universe, which causes you to stagnate in indecision and choices that are working against you. What’s critical to realise, is that being indecisive or opting not to make a decision, is a decision in itself and a choice.
People who don’t trust themselves are worried that they’re going to sell themselves down the river because they’ve often mentally already talked themselves into having their underwear off in two seconds flat, or casting themselves in a grand romance with someone that they’ve known for a hot minute, or being back together in a happy ever after with someone they have a pain in the arse past with. The decision is already made in their mind because they’re helpless due to a lack of trust in themselves.
If you don’t learn how to trust yourself, you’re either never going to trust anyone else, or runaround offloading the responsibility for your wellbeing to others who are not appropriate ‘decision makers’ for you.
You learn how to trust yourself by exercising your judgement through experience. This is how you learn to have confidence in yourself because you can trust yourself to look, listen, and act in your own best interests. It also means that even in the face of ‘bad news’, you’re OK because at least you hear and see and know it’s bad news and are acting upon it so it doesn’t become something considerably bigger and unnecessary.
You only get to know what’s right and good for you, when you’re willing to know and act upon what’s wrong, or not so good for you. Any ‘bad’ experiences you have are not only your personal encyclopaedia of what doesn’t work for you and ‘things you know better for next time’, but they’re opportunities to go down a different, positive path.