As a relationship coach, trust is a really big theme, it’s the underpinning of our relationships. Many therapists use the metaphor of currency in terms of trust- you accumulate it when you are trustworthy and keep your promises to people. And then when you breach that trust by lying or cheating you can diminish that balance or go totally bankrupt and destroy the relationship. When I was working more with single women in the dating world, so many were hung up on the questions “how do I trust a stranger on the internet?” or “my ex cheated, how can I ever trust someone new”
For couples getting married those same trust issues are still there, just slightly different. For those who grew up with divorced parents, there can be a fundamental lack of trust in marriage because, in their mind, it just doesn’t work. It didn’t work for the one marriage that mattered most to them, the one that shaped their view on marriage. The end of walking into their own marriage with the extra emotional baggage of trust issues. So even though they might completely trust their partner as a boyfriend/girlfriend or even fiancé, the trust wire gets tripped as the wedding approaches and that formality comes in. And the promises are much bigger, families, religion and the law are involved.
So often we want a road map or a checklist or a diagnostic test to determine whether the person we love can be trusted. That question “how do I truly trust someone?” is a tough one. But it’s also the wrong one. A lot of what’s underneath the notion of trust is control- we are yearning to control how we will be treated ahead of time and trust is the name we put on it.
When really, the only person you ultimately need to trust is yourself. Because when you trust yourself, you decide that you will honor your standards, boundaries, instincts and desires. We know at the basic level we can’t completely control anyone else. But we don’t need to worry about that when we are rooted in our own power to take care of ourselves, trust isn’t something to be anxious about.
When you trust yourself, there is just less at stake in the trust transaction. When you have your own back and trust that you will handle any situation, there is less risk altogether. Cultivating that self trust is the real practice. For so many of us, we constantly lie to ourselves and let ourselves down. Whether you ignored red flags in past relationships because didn’t want to start over or you keep putting off that workout routine you promised yourself you would start. In a million tiny ways, you end up cultivating distrust in your own relationship with yourself.
So instead of constantly ruminating whether you can trust others, start focusing on how to trust yourself in small ways and big. And then the whole trust thing with your partner is less transactional and more beautiful. When you truly trust yourself, trusting others not only becomes easier, it becomes less risky, and less scary. It becomes an act of hope and faith and love.