My dad always says there are two reasons why you shouldn’t trust someone: because you don’t know them and because you do. And yet here I am, after 28 years of hearing that same idiom over and over again, trying to figure out who I should trust and who I shouldn’t, and making a right hash of it as well. Trusting people I know to be untrustworthy. Not trusting people who have given no reason to not be trusted. Trusting strangers. Why is trust so damn hard to work out? I might not be entirely on the ball when it comes to doling out trust, but I have learned a thing or two (on top of dad’s wisdom) about when not to trust another person…
1. They have a secret door in their house and they get weird every time you ask what’s behind it.
I mean, it’s definitely dead bodies.
The door, for the most part, is figurative. If someone is constantly and consistently cagey about a particular facet of their life, chances are there’s something there that’s not going to look good on their trust CV. Here we exempt painful personal experiences and memorable bowel movements.
2. They disappear from your life for days or weeks at a time with no explanation, and just reappear as though they were never gone.
People are not cats. They don’t get to come and go as they please without explanation. If someone you’re close to suddenly disappears off the face of the planet for an extended period of time and then reemerges with no justification (i.e. is actually Jason Bourne) then I think it’s safe to assume at the very least, this person is not reliable. At worst, they probably have a secret farm where they torture kittens.
3. They’re not ticklish.
I only say this because I once dated a guy who wasn’t ticklish and also happened to have a live in girlfriend he never told me about. To have enough self control to not be at all sensitive to tickles isn’t human.
4. They give backhanded compliments.
Anyone who backhanded compliments you, ESPECIALLY in front of a group, is subverting your shit, and will never be an ally. Backhanded compliments are a great way for insecure people to draw everyone’s attention to the thing about you that is awkward/weird/goofy/you’re self-conscious about. If someone is willing to passive-aggressively throw you under the bus like that, you shouldn’t trust them.
5. They bitch about their closest friends.
If someone is willing to say nasty things about their lifelong best friend you best believe they’re they’re coming for you too. What sometimes feels like another person is confiding in you–spilling the secrets, or snarking about the weaknesses of their friends–can often be a good sign that they’re not trustworthy. Sometimes we need a vent about the things our friends do that bother us, but there is a clear and distinct line between having a harmless winge and being downright mean about your friends. Learn it, and be able to identify it in others.