Do You Trust Other People?

With the current election, there’s a lot in the news about trust.

I have also written extensively about trust over the years.

When it comes to relationships, my take is that it’s full trust or no trust.

I know there are many people who disagree with me.

I know there are many people who have been burned repeatedly by liars.

I also know that if you don’t have trust in a relationship, you don’t have anything.

You can’t have a partner that you fundamentally don’t trust – and if you do, he should not be your partner any longer. You will never breathe easy without trust. You’ll never know for sure if he’s waking up beside you. Or staying at work to cheat on you. Or sending sexy pics to strangers on the Internet. You will always be paranoid about the state of your relationship if you don’t trust your partner. Full stop.

If you don’t have trust in a relationship, you don’t have anything.

Enter the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Lots of talk about mistrust. David Brooks recently wrote this excellent piece about how a lack of trust is corrosive – not just to relationships, but to you, personally.

Over the past few decades, the decline in social trust has correlated to an epidemic of loneliness. In 1985, 10 percent of Americans said they had no close friend with whom they could discuss important matters. By 2004, 25 percent had no such friend.

When you refuse to lay yourself before others, others won’t lay themselves before you. An AARP study of Americans aged 45 and up found that 35 percent suffer from chronic loneliness, compared with 20 percent in a similar survey a decade ago. Suicide rates, which closely correlate with loneliness, have been spiking since 1999. The culture of distrust isn’t the only isolating factor, but it plays a role.

Brooks continues to talk about intimacy, connection, social media and intolerance – specifically about politics, but I think we can easily apply this to dating and relationships.

All you have to do is read the comments section below (and this is a curated site that attracts, in general, intelligent, relationship-oriented people) to see how fractured the trust is between genders. Women blame men for all the ills in the world. Men do the exact same. Do they each have a point? Yes. Are they each blind to the others’ point? Hell yes. And that’s the problem. It’s all grievance and no humility. It’s all finger pointing and no problem solving. It’s all blame and no introspection or responsibility.

This mistrustful worldview is, to borrow a phrase from a noted expert on lying, “sad.”

Says Brooks, “The great religions and the wisest political philosophies have always counseled going the other way. They’ve always advised that real strength is found in comradeship, and there’s no possibility of that if you are building walls. They have generally championed the paradoxical leap — that even in the midst of an avalanche of calumny, somebody’s got to greet distrust with vulnerability, skepticism with innocence, cynicism with faith and hostility with affection.”

That is exactly what you’ve been reading here every week since 2007.

This is the premise of my book Why He Disappeared, my Believe in Love program, and the overarching theme of Love U.

Maybe it’s because I’m constitutionally incapable of telling a lie (known by others as “being tactless”), I am a very trusting person who surrounds himself by similar people.

This mistrustful worldview is, to borrow a phrase from a noted expert on lying, “sad”.

This is why my wife believed me when she found strange panties in our dryer one month after we were married. This is why I can go to a party and be surrounded by women (looking for free dating advice) without getting yelled at by my wife. This is why I can tell a sex story about an online date from 15 years ago without it being a threat to my current relationship. This is why I married my wife.

I’m a trustworthy person. My wife trusts me.

Trusting people have healthier relationships. Relationships without it are doomed.

Ask yourself if you lead with trust or mistrust.

Ask yourself if you think the best of the opposite sex or the worst of the opposite sex.

Ask yourself if you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop when dating instead of realizing that there are plenty of trustworthy people of both genders.

And if you lead with mistrust – because you’ve been burned before, dammit! – ask yourself how well mistrust is working for you and your relationships.

My guess is that you’re still VERY single and will be until you let down your guard and start with FULL trust until someone gives you a reason to think otherwise.

Your thoughts below are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (35 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Stacy2

    There’s a fine line between trust and stupidity. Would you “trust” a stranger on the street with your credit card? Didn’t think so.

    First thing we should trust as women are our instincts. Leading with trust is a good thing and should be practiced as much as possible, but the “levels” of trust are different depending on the stage of the relationship and personal preferences. I would trust a man with my name and phone number when i meet him; personal info and address after a few dates; a key to my apartment and my pet after a few months; his loyalty from day one until proven otherwise; healthcare proxy in a year , etc. But everything financial – likely never. YMMV.

    By the way, emotional scars we all have from failed relationships are no less “real” than physical disabilities i think. Asking someone who’s been burned before to blindly “trust” another person is like telling a person with a broken leg to simply go run that marathon. It’s not possible. Some people are able to “recover”, but for some scaling back on “athletic activities” may actually be a healthy option.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I’m always surprised about the “don’t trust” people. Have you ever been “not trusted” or told to “earn” a wary person’s trust? It’s not much fun. Trustworthy people have little tolerance for being treated like criminals because of unrelated people from your past. I trust you can make the distinction between handing a stranger your credit card and treating a new guy on a date like a blank slate rather than a rap sheet.

      1. 1.1.1
        Stacy2

        I have been and yes the notion is ridiculous and I would never ask anybody to jump through hoops to “earn my trust”. The point is that trust is not something binary, i may trust a person with some things right away, and with other things later and with some things – never. It’s a natural progression of things. Trust should grow as you get to know the person, not handed out entirely on a day you meet (when you actually are strangers).

      2. 1.1.2
        GoWiththeFlow

        Thanks Evan,

        I have been on the receiving end of mistrust and what it feels like is doing the punishment for someone else’s sins!

        I am a work in progress and striving to ensure that I don’t punish others for the crap a few people have done to me.  Because that’s just it, it was a FEW people versus the MANY that I have encountered in my life.

  2. 2
    Amber

    Not even conscious, not even based on being burned. You just go out and date and start feeling disillusioned by the low quality, lies and stupid behaviour -on first dates even- that you want no more. Not rejecting you but wanting to patronise you, hiding the fact that they already have girlfriends and FWBs, testing you with childish tricks, panicking and trying to put you down if god forbid you are smarter than them or more accomplished… After dates with 30-40 such guys in a row, reading a book or even working feels better than dating what’s out there. Then the husbands of your friends, sisters, cousins hit on you and who would you trust and why? Can’t keep on looking for the few scarce diamonds in a trash field forever. They do exist I agree but the stench is exhausting. You just check out and learn to enjoy life on your own.

  3. 3
    sophia

    I’ve reached the point in life where I easily trust people with my heart (because I can mend it), am slower to trust with my money (for logical reasons) and very slow to trust with matters regarding my son (that trust must be earned, it is not given freely).

    Quite logical, I think.

  4. 4
    FG

    Fifty shades of trust? Seriously, as with acquaintances, friends or even family, we trust when we know someone. Family is not a shocker: you can have cousins, met several times over the years, and still don’t know them.

    A “red flag” gut feeling is rarely felt when meeting someone new, but if you do get that impression, be wary. If you get those intuitive warnings all the time, either you meet the wrong people in the wrong place, or you are overdoing it! As to “wrong people, wrong place”, there is such a thing as a repetitive pattern in dating. The individuals fitting the pattern will likely have a lot in common. Stay away from bad girls/boys and career criminals.

    We get to know people through words and actions. Words abound, actions are scarcer. Or take more time. If you find tiny discrepancies in the narrative, I advise caution. If you find massive discrepancies in the narrative, have what fun you may, but do not consider this person as a potential partner.

    1. 4.1
      FG

      A key piece of additional data…
      Willful blindness or lack of awareness: in the major discrepancies department, the person MAY be oblivious to the reality. Some people live a lie. Or several lies simultaneously. Such can be found in cases where the avowed perception of a parent relativve to their child or young adult has no relation to reality. Blinded by parental love.

      This is a case where trusting is a moot point: you cannot trust your date’s (or potential partner’s) judgment.

      Over the past decades, people have gotten more sophisticated. Straight-shooters are stil leasy to figure out, whereas convoluted lies tend to be better hidden than they were in the 80s.

  5. 5
    Noquay

    There is a world of difference between trusting and naïveté. Everyone should listen to their gut, pay attention, not attach too soon and recognize red flags. I consider myself trusting yet am very aware of my surroundings, my safety, my finances, etc. This coming from someone who was cheated on and took a long time to recover. Am I to blame for trusting? Heck no! He was to blame for his dishonesty. He’d been doing this for years, had the right kind of job to justify his frequent absences. Not trusting isn’t going to keep a person from cheating, they just become better cheaters.  If you catch your partner cheating or being dishonest in some way, unless kids are involved, you make a clean break. We should be whole enough in ourselves to be able to do this. My current partner lives 150 miles away, retired, well off , attractive, living in this states #1 city for singles. I could fret, worry whenever he doesn’t text back right away, wants to travel with his men friends. I choose to trust him until there’s evidence I shouldn’t.

  6. 6
    Jen

    Evan is spot-on. Trust is so important. It’s not always easy, especially if you have been burned in the past. But if you have any experience with telling lies and/or being lied to…you probably know that they’re are both tiring. It’s exhausting to be mistrustful and suspicious all the time. It’s equally exhausting to be deceitful. I am in a great relationship now, but sometimes I find myself going down the path of being mistrustful, and I have to put myself in check. People talk about “gut feelings”, and “red flags”, but suspicious minds are likely to find anything and everything to be a token of deceit. There are no guarantees in love, although we wish there were. We have to take the risk, if we want the reward.

  7. 7
    Lisa

    I admit I still struggle here and probably always will.  I’m a lawyer and it is my nature to distrust and question.  I recently read an article which said that being a lawyer is the one profession where pessimists far outsuceed optimists.   So I am trying but when your job is 60 hours a week it’s hard to turn that person off at night.

  8. 8
    Mckeewee

    This is my take; if you have been careful when selecting a mate then trust is a way of honouring a good person, and a way of honouring the relationship.  In my case the ability to give the gift of trust reflects how much I now trust myself  to act in a dignified and appropriate manner when necessary.

     

  9. 9
    Mawds1

    I’ve found all relationships are either set in a framework of mutual trust or a framework of power games. We either seek to satisfy many of our social and intimate needs by creating a shared space of trust with others or by manipulating the space between ourselves and others.

    The epidemic growth of narcissism in our culture shows which framework has been dominating. The only way trust can win is if someone shines a light on the basic choice we all have and the distinction between behaviour that creates shared spaces of trust and shared spaces built on power structures.

    Trusting people always get the short end of the stick and wind up cynical about others when power games are left undetected and in the shadows, as many of us have experienced in relationships. Better tools are needed to profile and detect power players. Only then will trust begin to fight back.

  10. 10
    John

    This is a tough subject. Trust develops over time, but if you don’t trust somewhat in the beginning, you will be alone. I think Evan’s wife trusts him, because he admits his faults and his past. It’s great that she doesn’t use it against him. True vulnerability elicits trust. If  someone spits on your vulnerability, walk away. That person is not trustworthy. If you practice vulnerability with small things and the other person responds well, you have a winner.

  11. 11
    judy

    I think that small steps help with trust and it’s not just between men and women either.  I trust people which is perhaps less cynical than “everyone is the same – everyone lies” (or something along those lines).

  12. 12
    Helene

    I cannot agree that trust is “total or not at all” some people can be trusted about certain things but not with others. I have some friends I would happily lend money to, but who I know just can’t keep a secret. I don’t judge them for it, but I  wouldn’t tell them certain things, that’s all! I trust my husband that he would never intentionally do something to hurt me, but do I trust him to remember that I told him 2 weeks ago my car was going in for repair and he needs to collect me from work today – absolutely not! I’d definately text him!

  13. 13
    Stacy

    I think ‘Trust’ is going a little too far when meeting people you don’t know and beginning to date.  You CAN’T trust (or have full confidence in one’s characther) what\who you don’t know. However, I believe you should go on a date without any negative expectations. In other words, expect the best regardless and do not view the men that have asked you out and that you are dating with suspicion.  Just assume that the other person is not trying to hurt you.  Give them that much. Over time, real authentic trust will build.   If the other person has ill intentions or acts dishonorably, then judge them for that when it happens and let them go.  But don’t expect the worst because of your bad experiences that stemmed from the past, etc.  While I am currently in a relationship, this is how I have always viewed men while they were trying to court me.

  14. 14
    Nissa

    While I agree with EMK in general that trusting is better than not trusting, and it’s very important to treat each new man as a separate person (not punishing him for the sins of others), but that sort of assumes that people realize what they are saying is not true.

    For example, a person who tells you they want to start a business but puts no money or time into it. A person who sees themselves as healthy but is 50 pounds overweight, who puts no effort into changing that. A person who lies to their spouse about money they spent because “it’s a white lie” or “well, they spend money on what they want, why shouldn’t I”? (completely missing the point about transparency). A person who says they are a non-smoker because “only one a day doesn’t count”. A person who says they want a relationship, but who doesn’t call or plan dates, then asks why he hasn’t seen you. A person who says they want to spend time with you, but turns down all your offers. A person who says they are a friend but who won’t help out when you can’t get the medicine into your pet, yet expects you to pet sit when they are on vacation. A person who cheats but if their SO doesn’t find out “it doesn’t count”.

    I don’t think it’s intentional. I just think people are very blind to their own ways. As a result, I find myself only trusting what people do and not what they say.

  15. 15
    Ken

    Evan –

     

    You constantly hold up your marriage as a barometer of what everyone ‘should’ do.

     

    You’re married. With kids. You’re not dating any more. Stop pretending like you an just ‘upload’ your current relationship onto others.

     

    Your wife was divorced, right? Did He cheat on her? Did she trust him?

     

    My point is — I truly believe your ‘trust or you’re wrong’ attitude is childish and judgmental. Big props for having a nice marriage and family. But seriously, imho, you’re rubbing it in people’s faces. You’re saying Trust Trust it’s what my wife and I do!

     

    Well good for you. Seriously. But really, dear boy — what’s your exact point??

     

     

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      My point is that if you have a relationship without trust, you don’t have much of a relationship. But I thought that was obvious. Sorry, I’ll restate it slower and louder and in all-caps the next time I write the same obvious thing about trust.

    2. 15.2
      Callie

      So what do you recommend within a relationship? Constant surveillance, lie detector tests every week, hiring private detectives twice annually?

      I understand being wary getting into relationships. I even understand the need to earn trust bit by bit. What I don’t understand is once you are in an actual relationship with someone else, why that relationship would ever exist in the first place if trust wasn’t a core foundation.

      And what on earth is bad about the advice that you need to trust each other? Isn’t that what we ought to aspire to? Or is your point that life is shit, you’ll never find anyone trustworthy, and Evan is the only person on the planet who has such a relationship so he can’t possibly understand real life? (forgetting of course he is living real life and that he’s far from the only person with such a relationship)

  16. 16
    Ken

    btw – I know you won’t post my comment. You don’t have the balls. You don’t want to ‘moderate’ you want to control. Everything has to make Evan look golden so he can keep paying those bills. I get it. Been there honey. The bills are gonna get bigger, btw. They never ever get smaller. So keep posing and posturing til you can’t make it pay any more. Hopefully you have a back-up plan.

     

    You have NO IDEA what your life will be like in the future. You have NO idea what your kids’ lives will be like. You have NO idea how life changes as we go through the stages. You’re an emotional child. I know you think otherwise. Time will tell.

     

      1. 16.1.1
        Nissa

        Evan, I’m sorry that someone decided to emotionally vomit on you for his own personal reasons. I know it’s unpleasant and unwarranted, but please know that it’s obvious that this poster, Ken, has resentment and anger that originated in his own life and has nothing to do with you. I know it’s hard, but this guy’s tangent is clearly not related to you or your words.

        1. Nissa

          I know what you mean, jellybean.

    1. 16.2
      Callie

      Why are you so angry that you need to personally attack a man you don’t even know who is sharing information online for free that you are under no obligation to read?

      (also seriously?? Have you ever read the threads here? He posts pretty much everything, sometimes I personally think he could stand to moderate his comments section a tiny bit more [reading so much hateful language is not helpful I personally think, but it’s not my blog and really he can do whatever he wants]. I’m sure there are more legit complaints one could make about him if one really felt so inclined, him feeling a need to control his comments section is certainly not one of them)

      1. 16.2.1
        Jackie

        Yeah. Just please don’t post them. Ken is venting and I hope he feels better

  17. 17
    John Bernstein

    Wise words – “Those who do not trust, will not be trusted.”

    Although I wish I could be one to help “show the way” on this particular issue. I admit, I am more often rewarded for being suspect regarding the intent of others, than in giving the benefit of the doubt.

    If we are being practical and honest, I would suggest: Be cautious and aware, yet never give away that you are being either, in any manner that might draw attention, or harm rapport.

  18. 18
    Jackie

    i have trouble trusting that people won’t leave if they find something better. An innocent spark somewhere can always happen

  19. 19
    Elizabeth

    What about someone who has been in an abusive relationship, and someone new they are seeing does things their ex did – completely innocently and not with malice at all? For example, my boyfriend does and says things very much like my ex did, and sometimes I have to hold back a gag reflex because of the waves of fear and disgust that come over me from the memories. It’s not my boyfriend’s fault, and I have to keep reminding myself that my boyfriend is not my ex. However, it’s hard when your own brain, heart, and body are against you as you try to move forward in your life. Though I do believe it is important to trust, I feel that some people need to realize how much courage that takes for someone who has been in an abusive situation, and perhaps lend a little more patience and understanding.

    1. 19.1
      ScottH

      I once had a gf who got mad at me for saying “would ya” because the only other person she’s know to have said it was her father and when he said it, it was with contempt, or something like that.  Hmmm, how was that my fault?  I chuckle every time I hear someone say it and I think of her.   It’s amazing how these experiences leave imprints in our minds and how they affect our behavior.  This is why it’s so important to be aware of your reactions and question your feelings.  Like Evan once said, and I love this quote: “if your feelings become your bf’s problem when he hasn’t done anything wrong, it’s on you to react in a healthier way.”  It’s in the blog about Rori Raye’s circular dating.

      I found a great site that talks about what happens in your brain in these circumstances.  I highly recommend it:  http://web.archive.org/web/20160502072908/http://serenityonlinetherapy.com:80/reparent_the_wounded_child.htm

    2. 19.2
      Tyrone

      Elizabeth

      I’ll have to agree with ScottH. Our feelings, for the most part, are our problems. Not someone else’s Obviously to make a relationship work we keep our partner’s feelings in mind because we want them to be happy. But in this instance you are asking for your bf to be more mindful of your feelings, more patient, and more understanding than you are of his – a man that you acknowledge has done nothing wrong, but causes you to feel fear and disgust while not doing anything wrong. Someone that you have to “keep reminding yourself” isn’t your shitty abusive ex.  How is that fair to him? He isn’t your ex. He didn’t abuse you. He didn’t do anything.  So why do you think you should ask him to change, rather than YOU working to change YOUR feelings on the matter?

       

  20. 20
    Starbuxstranger

    I think a lot of time people let emotions monopolize ur decision-making process. Whenever not trusting anyone, rarely do we pause a bit and think ‘what makes me not trust him/her?” Is it just because he’s a stranger? Or is there any signs that give us the reason to? And I’ve seen so many times when we rely on “intuition”,  “hunch” and I feel bad everytime when realizing all these groundless doubts I have reflect my own inner insecurity. Deep in the mind it’s the question “what do you fear?” And sometimes, walking over the fire is the best way to unfear.
    I tried it earlier this year when my husband told me during his trip back to his parents’ in Jersey,  he wanted to meet with an old friend (his one-time college crush). The woman was there from California for a wedding, they used to talk over the phone almost everyday in college and haven’t met each other for 5 years. It appeared as a red flag immediately when I heard it, I even had the thought that he decided to go to Jersey (5 hours away) and visit his parents at that time just to make this meeting,  which was insane. But at the back of my mind I knew I might be overthinking (I always have the tendency to as a woman), and quickly searched through any possible reasons that’d legitly lead me to doubt him. I couldn’t find any, so I decided to let it go.  A few days later, his parents called him that they planned to make a trip to VA during the days when he originally planned to visit. He canceled that trip right away. Just to prove my crazy thought wrong was so refreshing and now I knew how far off the track I could go if  I only let emotions drive me.

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