is Trust earned?

or is it given, knowing full well that you risk letting that person hurt you if your trust has been misplaced?

Over the years I’ve given this some serious thought. I can’t even begin to imagine how trust is earned. To me it’s essential to every human relationship. Whether it’s someone you work with, an acquaintance, friend, close family or your boyfriend/girlfriend. Trust matters.

However if someone makes you doubt that trust then it has to be rebuilt. The screwball thing is I know exactly what it’s like to doubt someone and whether they can be trusted. I’ve learned what to look for when someone is being less than honest with you and refined what I perceive as acceptable behaviour. Not just with a girlfriend, but also among friends, colleagues and family.

Lucky for me I’ve never once been given cause to doubt my family. They are my rock, the people I depend on, it might have taken me the better part of 25 years to realise that but they really will always be there for me. However as they say you chose your friends you don’t chose your family, so I have to wonder about whether I really am a good judge of character.

A lot of people I have chosen to trust in my life, at some point or another have managed to betray my trust. It’s a thought that made me paranoid. I thought I was prone to looking for problems where there weren’t any. Just because of that age old saying ‘Once bitten, twice shy.’

It was still very early days with Megan and I and because I doubted my reasonability when it came to matters of trust I was overthinking many aspects of our relationship. I would temper my reactions and give very careful thought and consideration in any given situation before making my feelings known when I had been hurt, no matter how insignificantly. I thought I needed to do this to prevent myself from being a tyrant and dumping all my baggage and hurt from my past relationships on my new and frankly amazing girlfriend.

It’s only with two years hindsight now that I’m not sure that was the right thing to do. I became very good at articulating my feelings in a calm and reasonable manner, however there were several times where I just let things be. Every time you just ‘let things be’ that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, that it doesn’t affect the way you feel about the dynamic of the relationship. Some things need to be said, especially in those early days when you’re establishing boundaries and values.

From day one, Megan held all the cards. I was sat firmly in the passenger seat happy to be along for the ride and letting Megan drive our relationship forwards, or wherever she wanted to take it. In my six months as a singleton I had become an independent person and taken control of so many aspects of my life I had just been coasting through to date. Now I was giving up a part of that independence to Megan and letting her dictate the terms of our relationship. I didn’t care, she loved me.

I forced myself to trust her, simply because I knew that I would find it hard to trust anyone. I ignored any warning signs that there may be trouble ahead. There were times when things didn’t add up, I just paid them no attention and gave her the benefit of doubt.

A time I remember where things didn’t quite add up was one weekend when I was back home to see Megan and my family. I had promised Megan a night out dancing in Bristol and we were getting ready for the night out at my place. During the week in our typical separation she had alluded to some issues at work and had rattled my cage by not wanting to tell me what had happened. I was irritated by the half-disclosure of the issue.

I eventually managed to get Megan to tell me what was going on. There had been an incident at her place of work where a male colleague and acted inappropriately with her, man-handling her in the warehouse while several of his peers chanted ‘rape’ and jeered him on. The incident had been witnessed by someone passing by who had reported his colourful conduct and he was facing disciplinary action. That’s the story I heard, that’s the story I chose to believe.

The things that didn’t add up. Firstly, why on earth hint at this and then not want to tell me what happened, embarrassment maybe? Secondly, why didn’t she report it herself, or at least express that she was pleased his behaviour had been reported and was being addressed appropriately? Megan actually seemed worried for him, that he might lose his job. Which quite frankly, he should have. Lastly, and thirdly it was a colleague of Megan’s that she admitted blurred the lines for her.

What I mean by blurred the lines. We had as friends, long before we established that there was even a hint of attraction between us discussed our respective ideas on sexuality and what it means to us. Me, I identify as a lesbian, I exclusively date women and have only ever loved women, I would never want to be in a relationship with a man. However that said, I do appreciate beauty in a man, I have been known to objectify them and in my limited experience I have found sexual encounters with men to be neither compelling nor repulsive, I guess I’m just a little indifferent to them as an idea of a romantic partner.

Megan on the other hand believed in the whole sliding scale concept and acknowledged that she didn’t think of herself as 100% gay, this was not a problem for me at all. I would happily date someone openly bisexual, my issue with trust doesn’t come down to your sexuality, it only really matters about what values you have when it comes to infidelity. We had talked (as friends) about this idea and whether she had ever really found herself to be attracted to any guys she knew, as since I had known her she had always been in a relationship with Rose and they started dating when they were just 15/16.

Megan named a guy she worked with. The guy that was now subject to a disciplinary hearing for his inappropriate conduct towards her. Did I doubt that the incident happened the way she explained? No. Was a disappointed in how she handled it? Yes. I was outraged that she wasn’t outraged, I was astonished that she didn’t want him to be disciplined at all. She claimed she just didn’t want the fuss, to be the centre of an investigation. It would be too stressful, especially with all the issues with her health right now. She also wanted to keep it from her parents, as she knew her father would over-react and attack the man in question.

I forced myself to trust that she knew what was best for her in that instance. I didn’t question her story or the many facets that didn’t add up. If you were in my shoes, would you have done the same? I got over myself, slapped on a smile and dragged myself out dancing in Bristol and attempted to salvage the night that started out with such promise.

As things go, we managed to have a great time that evening. We laughed at the ‘claw’ machine in the night club where you could grab a sex-toy. I danced and danced the night away, I bumped into a couple of familiar faces and had people attempt to dance with me because of my slick moves. While it was quiet Megan even tried her hand at pole dancing, we laughed a lot, we took photos and when we’d had enough we went home and let all the worries slip away while we enjoyed being together.

After the earlier moment had passed I never gave it much thought again, I didn’t stay up late and pick over it analytically. I was forcing myself to trust again. I didn’t want to be a tyrant. Was I over compensating? I’m still not sure.


One thought on “is Trust earned?

  1. This is such an interesting post. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    I think that sometimes we have to trust blindly in the hopes that our gut feeling or instinct is correct. We often need to trust someone before they give us a reason to not trust them. With my wife I trust her completely because I gave her my trust and she gives it such respect which means she is worthy of my continued trust.

    With everyone else I have a checklist. Have they broken my or someone else’s trust, how much of a betrayal was it if they did and how much of a good character are they. It sounds fussy but if someone is willing to break someone else’s trust then why would I be so special that they wouldn’t break mine?

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