Reality Check: The Role of Trust in Relationships

How trusting are you? If you heard yourself described as a trusting person, would you take that as positive or negative? Does trusting mean that you are gullible?
My perception is that trust is a very good thing, in some situations and with some people. There are also situations where trusting would be misplaced; where we need to be on guard if we are to emerge unharmed.
Trust is one of the seven caring habits that Dr. Glasser lists for building good relationships. Practically speaking, what does trust mean in relationships?
You and I know that misplaced trust has consequences. When we trust someone (or something) that’s untrustworthy, results can be bad. For example, you don’t want to find yourself saying, “I trusted this parachute harness, but turns out, it wasn’t trustworthy!” as you’re hurtling toward earth.
Misplaced trust in human relationships won’t necessarily lead to a broken body but it could lead to a broken spirit. If you’ve ever been betrayed after having trusted someone with your intimate thoughts, beliefs, fears, or your money, you might be inclined to believe that you can’t trust anybody.
But lack of trust also has consequences. If you have no trust in pilots, you don’t get to fly. No trust in surgeons? You may spend your life in pain. And if you have no trust that anyone will care about you, look out for you, or love you, you may keep yourself apart from everyone. When we remain aloof in an attempt to ensure that we’ll never be taken advantage of—that comes with a cost.
Glasser’s caring habits are directed toward building closer, better relationships. If you have hesitations about trusting someone with whom you have an important relationship, it tells you something about that relationship, doesn’t it? Yet there’s plenty of distrust around, between spouses, children, parents, siblings, co-workers, and so on.
Here’s a question: Do you want to be involved in a relationship with someone you don’t trust? Maybe you do. Perhaps you believe that dissolving the relationship would be worse than maintaining an imperfect, non-trusting relationship. That’s up to you.
If so, then it may be worthwhile to think about the source of your distrust. Is it because of real events that happened that demonstrated untrustworthiness? If so, those lessons learned from experience can help us make better choices in the future.
But also consider whether the lack of trust could be coming from perceptions—not based on real events. Sometimes, we cultivate distrust through imagination. We are suspicious of what could happen, what someone might do.
It’s hard to trust if we don’t believe that a relationship has a foundation of good will. Whether it’s between two people, or with an organization, company, or government, it’s easier to trust if you believe that there is genuine good feeling toward you.
To include trust as a caring habit is not to suggest that we throw caution or prudent judgment to the winds. There are people who are worthy of our trust. And there are people who are not.
If you find it hard to trust, the one thing that I can suggest that won’t lead you astray is to be trustworthy yourself. Being trustworthy is good for you, for the people around you, and maybe it’ll attract other trustworthy people to join you.
Is trust an important component in your relationships?

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