Are You Setting Yourself Up For Trust Issues?
Whenever my cousin brought a new boyfriend home, her father (my uncle) inconspicuously left a $20 bill lying around. He would find a reason to excuse himself, taking my cousin with him, leaving her boyfriend alone with the money.
Sounds a little crazy, but it was my uncle’s idea of a trustworthiness test. If the cash was missing, he learned a relatively inexpensive lesson about the type of guy his daughter’s new boyfriend was.
If the money was still there, then he could begin to form a positive impression about the guy; although it’s possible the boyfriend didn’t take the money because he didn’t notice it.
The possibility of parting with $20 once in a while isn’t so bad. Any more, however, and my uncle might feel a little more swindled.
That’s the thing with trust issues: People get in the habit of leaving a lot more than $20, figuratively speaking, on the table for other people to take.
For example: You meet a girl. She seems perfect for you in every way. You become infatuated. You begin projecting a future with her.
And then, a month into your relationship, you find out she’s cheating on you. You feel spurned. She abused your trust. You carry this negative experience into your subsequent relationships.
But the real problem was you. When you invested all that emotional energy picturing that cheating girlfriend as your ideal match, you neglected to get to know the real person you were dating. Maybe she gave you no reason to believe she would betray you, but she didn’t do anything to earn your trust either. So you left that trust unguarded, in the figurative form of a large roll of cash, for her to take.
Anthony De Mello, a jesuit priest, once said: “We see people and things not as they are, but as we are.”
When you’re so wrapped up in creating the life you think you should have, you tend to try to fit circular people into square-shaped, idealized roles that you would like them to fill in your life.
Trust issues seem to have permeated millennial culture, according to a Washington Post article. A Pew Research Center survey asked participants: ” … would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” Only 19 percent of millennials agreed that most people are trustworthy, compared to 40 percent of baby boomers.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that levels of trust in others have declined over the last few generations; the narrative we’re being fed nowadays about how our lives are supposed to go isn’t congruent with how they actually play out.
You watch a romantic comedy, or sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother, and you see awkward, maladroit men fall backwards into relationships with 9s and 10s. When your own life doesn’t follow that mold, you become embittered. When your own relationships don’t go as planned, maybe ending abruptly for unforeseen reasons, you develop trust issues.
All because you left too much cash (i.e. expectations that were too high and ideals disproportionate with reality) on the table.
Temper your expectations next time. It takes more than a week or a month, or maybe even longer than a year, to know someone well enough to determine how she’ll fit into your life, or if she’s worthy of being in your life at all.
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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.