I don’t trust easily. My issues surrounding trust peaked in 2018 and led to a self-made promise in the early hours of 2019. The promise was simple: I would disconnect from many individuals in my life and be very reluctant to let others in. In essence, I was going to abandon much of what made me who I was. I created the self-vow because I had lost all sense of what it meant to trust.
I wasn’t always that way. Although I had experienced my fair share of setbacks, I never thought twice about them. I simply viewed the letdowns as the ebbs and flows of life—good days followed by bad ones. My laidback outlook on the disappointments of life, specifically when it related to people, began changing in my mid-20s—the days of aggressive dating, a failed relationship, and broken friendships—and would eventually reach its tipping point as I explored my late 20s.
During those days, the letdowns I experienced were no longer justifiable by the simple explanation of me navigating the currents of life. Rather, they appeared personal. Each lie, betrayal, and deception felt as if the ones I held close and far from my heart all conspired to break me. I could no longer isolate the disappointments, because they occurred one after the other with alarming frequency. Before I could process what had happened, my ability to trust was decaying.
How was that possible? I am Mr. Optimistic, Mr. Keep-A-Smile-On-Your-Face, and believe in the power of positivity. How could I have let ounces of pessimism add strokes of gray to my once rose-colored view of this world?
It took me 36 days to break that promise in 2019, and had I not, I wouldn’t have begun to heal. I wouldn’t have been able to make smarter dating and friendship decisions. I wouldn’t have learned the necessary lessons I needed to grow. Because I broke that promise, I was able to do (and am still doing) the work on myself. Now, I can personally define what trust means to me, especially when it comes to matters of dating and relationships and how I can achieve it in its totality.
How do I define trust?
I am able to trust when I feel safe. Safe enough to be me. Safe enough to be imperfect and to know that even on my worst days I am still accepted. Safe enough to know that I can give the very best of me without the fear of being taken advantage of. Safe enough to laugh, cry, and unravel without judgment, mockery, or ridicule and to display all of my charms, flaws, and insecurities.
I can trust when I feel secure in my relationship. Secure enough to be vulnerable. Secure enough that when apart, I never have to worry about the fidelity of my other half. Secure enough that “me” never threatens “we” and “we” can always co-exist in the space of “me.” So secure that mutual respect and common decency are routine and beautifully boring.
Truthful Words And Meaningful Actions
I am able to trust when I realize that the phrase “I love you” isn’t a meaningless expression tossed around in the presence of manipulation. Instead, the words are just as truthful and automatic as if we were uttering our names.
I can trust when words are so meaningful that actions follow them. “I will arrive at 8” means arriving at 8, “I will buy peanut butter” means buying peanut butter, and “I will call you,” results in a phone call.
I am able to trust when actions are so significant that words lose all meaning. That if the words “I love you” were never spoken, I’d be content, because I’d feel it so deeply that the actions themselves produce echoes of the sentiment.
I am able to trust when I receive support. Support to chase my dreams, and on the days that I say “I can’t,” or “I won’t,” I am reassured that “you can” and “you will.” Support that when life puts its claws around my neck and begins to suffocate me, my significant other is beside me, helping and encouraging me to find a supply of oxygen I never knew existed.
I can trust when I feel important. That the words tumbling out of my mouth matter. That my concerns are not only heard, but also understood. That my phone calls will be answered and replies to my texts will arrive timely. That arriving on time isn’t optional, it’s the standard, and when my name is on the calendar, it is almost immovable.
I am able to trust when I receive honesty. I want the truth in its rawest form. I want it even if it will bruise my ego and tickle my sensitivity. Even if honesty were to leave me raging mad for days and bed ridden, I want it. No, I need it. Because improvement can’t develop in the absence of the truth. And if honesty is missing, trust will forever be threatened.
I can trust when I receive time. Time to develop, grow, connect, and learn with and about one another. Time to do everything and nothing all at once. Time reveals all. And if I am supposed to unlock the doors of trust, time is the most important key.
I am able to trust when communication is present. Going to be late? Let me know. Traveling? I’d like to know. Mad at me? Let’s talk about it. Satisfied? Tell me why. You have standards? Share them with me and hold me accountable for meeting them. I’m not meeting your needs? Let’s discuss it and find a solution. I can’t read minds, don’t like to assume, and am prone to overthinking. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
No one is perfect. No one can deliver 100% of the time, but I am able trust when the things I mentioned above are done with consistency. They may not happen all of the time, but they should frequently.
I am able to trust when I reciprocate all the things I listed above, because to receive trust is to give trust.