Trust Issues

Trust is one of the pillars of any relationship. Without trust, any relationship breaks down. Most people don’t really understand trust. Most people take their feelings for granted. I read you, you are trying to disapprove me, saying: “No, people don’t take trust for granted. See, there are companies that says ‘we build our products on trust’ and ‘we aim to ensure that our customers continue to trust us by doing what we said’, etc.” Believe me or not, these are people whom only understand trust at a surface level; and believe me or not, these people may apply trust in their workplace, but not at their home place. And believe me or not, workplace is never more important than homeplace. And believe me or not, that you need to trust more in your homeplace than in your workplace. And lastly, believe me or not, trust in homeplace with your close relationship is more complicated than trust in workplace with customers.

And that’s why one said, we take trust for granted. We already know a bit during experimentation on workplace, how to ensure we keep trust for customers, how to trust our customers, and how to trust our coworkers, how to trust our colleagues; yet, we don’t apply the research outcome to a more sophisticated, more headache, more complicated, more demanding, more required place: our home. In the extreme, to keep trust maintained in our workplace, we may sacrifice trust in our homeplace. Isn’t that stupid? Isn’t that taking trust for granted? There’s a Chinese speaking that goes like this:


It means, if there are lots of conflicts within your country, how can you feel safe to expand your country’s territory and influences? It usually used for countries; but it also applies for you, my dear reader. If you can’t keep trust within your homeplace, how can you keep trust in your workplace? Where are your base?

Smart Trust

In any situation, no one can trust someone completely. Though, a psychopath being charming could “earn someone’s trust completely”, though he/she cannot give back the trust at all. In normal situations though, when you’re not blinded by the charming entity of a single person, there will be something that you can trust that person, and something that you cannot trust that person. Though one would say, keep to “smart trust”.

Smart trust is, to trust as the default until that person betrays your trust. If he/she doesn’t betray your trust, assume he/she can be trustible. There are things, of course, that most probably we can trust no one except ourselves, like our passwords. After all, passwords is for us to know ourselves only, not to share with anyone, even our close ones. While other sections, most probably we could entrust the other person, provided he/she didn’t do anything to go against our trust.

How Much To Trust?

This is a difficult question. Trust should be always expanding, not just maintained at a certain level. For friendships (and relationships) requires an ever closer feelings that each other can still be trusted and we can trust each other more on stuffs that we don’t usually tell anyone else that we cannot trust. And we can trust that, even if we split up in the future, the other person can still maintain the trust and not share with other people, blackmailing us, with the information that he/she knows about. That’s an ever expanding trust.

Certain things that can be known by most people most probably could be entrusted to the other person as well. If it can’t, then it must be your own nasty feelings that makes you feel scared that the other person will run away from you if you let him/her know about it, for whatever reason. Then it’s time to face yourself, to question yourself; not to question the other person. For if you keep a trustworthy relationship at arms length, and refuse to let it expand any further, you should ask why you have done that.

The saddest thing is not to share why you have done that with the other person. The other person might want to expand his/her relationship with you into something more trusting, yet you keep your arms-length relationship by blocking him/her from expanding further. Even if he/she has assured you that it’s okay to do something, because it’s not in front of other people but in front of him/her (assuming that “something” is something fair and reasonable), you still refuse, then it’s most probably your issue. As in, why can’t you put down something? And one suggests you explain to the other person the “why” rather than just decide for yourself, because he/she deserves to know the “why”. If the other person is rationalize enough, he/she will understand your concerns. If you are rationalize enough, you might prefer to try and trust first rather than not trusting.

Some examples of these “something” includes:

  • Wearing more casually rather than assert that you must wear formally and asserting the other person have to wear formally in front of each other. Formality breeds distance (between you guys). Casualness breeds closeness.
  • Entrusting each other with something more secret with you guys, that perhaps nobody or only your parents know about yourself, and not usually shared with any normal friends. Perhaps it’s some scene that you once found embarrassed, or perhaps it’s your own “feelings” that you usually don’t share with almost anyone because most people don’t care or you assumed it’s weak to share feelings (when it’s a sign of strength).
  • Doing something that you don’t usually feel comfortable with others with that person, for example, video calling. You might not feel comfortable video calling with most people, like your lecturers or work boss, hence keeping your camera off during the meetings/lectures with the lecturer/boss having their camera on only throughout the whole meting. And with normal friends, because you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, you prefer either to hang out physically or voice call (and due to some circumstances, you refuse to hang out physically hence leave the choice to voice call only). If you care enough for the other person (and vice versa), each other will make sacrifice for each other rather than keeping everything (maybe even lower bottom lines) for yourself.

And another sad thing, most people’s lose their trust and break away before their trust reaches something “ripened”. Of course, “fully-ripened” trust cannot be expected, it only exist in fairy tales. Trust is always improvable, it’s never fully-ripened. But at least to a certain stage that you don’t feel too much friction between each other, or you stop feeling there’s a wall that one of us mechanically build to prevent the other person from being closer to us, that can be done. Perhaps, without mentioning it explicitly, plus listening to the uncomfortability of us sharing more deeply, it demotivates us to get ever closer to each other at any moments, and we may get stuck in that situation forever. That’s, a big problem. For anyone that’s normal (sorry, active psychopaths and manipulators please go away, passive psychopaths and manipulators are welcomed, though), we urge for someone to trust us more fully. It’s a heart hurt to stay with ourselves alone. We’re human, not AI; and feeling trusted by one another is a wonderful experience.

Passive psychopaths and manipulators are those that used to be psychopaths and manipulators, but they manage to change themselves to no more do things that psychopaths or manipulators do, and are deemed trustworthy. These people cut out their deeds from the root, but it’s difficult to notice and change some behaviors that used to carve deeply within them. People might still feel they cannot trust them as a result; but they can be trustible. And they are the saddest group of people. Heard of those that gets to jail? The lawyer conclude them 20 years of imprisonment, but society conclude them death row. Similar for these group of used-to-be-and-never-again psychopaths and manipulators.

Difficult to Trust and Trust

Sure, it’s not easy. Certainly, we can start trusting each other as we do more hearts-to-hearts. And sure, with certain traits and activities we do everyday, as others see what we do, they can trust us. And sure, when you explain why you do something specifically, others hear the reason and watch whether you did that or not, and you decide to keep your promise and do what you say, you make an even greater leap in trust.

Trust is a highly volatile entity that favors itself in the negative direction. It’s easier to lose trust than to gain trust. Similarly, it’s easier to gain trust when you do something that’s easier to lose more trust than normal stuffs that people expect. For example, you gain a little trust when you join an activity that you didn’t reject to. When compared to most other people whom either cancel at the last minute or whom find stupid reasons just to not attend it (instead of speaking it truthfully why they don’t want to attend the activity), you’re more gaining trust, and others lose trust.

If you decide that you would come, and you make a promise (by promise, one means saying it fortefully, using words like “will”, “must” rather than “perhaps”, “maybe”, etc that makes it a probabilistic nature), if you break the promise, you would lose more trust. If you keep the promise, you would gain more trust than if you don’t make a promise and finally attend. It’s easier to lose trust when making a promise, but when you keep it, it gains more trust. Reason is, people take for granted and make personal assumptions when you don’t voice things out explicitly, so they expect you to come but they also, based on what most people do (break promises at last minute), assume you might also break promises at last minute. So, that makes it a surprise when you do come, but it doesn’t mean they are assured. They still feel pretty nervous whether or not you would go to the party, because you didn’t make a forte promise at the beginning, and it’s equally valid if you cannot make it in the last minute without making a promise and they can understand; whereas if you make a promise, you calm their mind and they are sure that you would come, and they cannot take it if you cannot come at the last minute, perhaps even breaking up with you forever; while if you make it there, they are sure the next time you make a promise, you would keep your promises again.

So, it’s easy to gain more trust if you do something that’s easier to lose more trust. Trust is a bridge, a pathway, lays on top of fire. It’s walking on fire. You fall off, you fall off.

Of course, not every aspect of a person can be trusted. While one can be trusted in some aspects, or even most aspects, there are some aspects that one almost cannot be trusted. It’s certainly true for most people on Earth too, and perhaps including you, my dear reader. If what you cannot be trusted is tolerable by your friends/partners, it’s fine. Consider they’re rational enough, they would not trust you in the specific area, but it won’t affect their trust in other aspects; they would not try to generalize you as non-trustible; rather, they would say, when introducing you to others, that you cannot be trusted when doing this and that, but otherwise, you’re a good person and trustible, and repeat except for this and that. As long as they don’t try and trust you within this and that, they can have happy moments with you.

While, if what you cannot trusted breaks someone’s bottom line, then Good Game (GG). Alas, there’s no way around this. If you don’t change, they won’t trust you forever. Asking them to be rational would be trying to play a music to the cow and expect the cow to understand (对牛弹琴), they cannot understand, and refuse to understand. You just broke their bottom line, they would not listen to you on anything, even if you prove trustworthy in that speaking aspects to other people. After all, trust is kept within the receiving person. It doesn’t matter how trustible you are to other people, and it doesn’t matter how other people sees you; if you lose your trust in that particular person, you’re not trustworthy in front of him/her. That’s it. GG. And surely, he/she will generalize your untrustworthy to everything. That, 99.999999% true. Bottom line is that important that whatever trust you build immediately falls in one day. Rome is not built in a day, but it falls in a day (ahem this is false history, I’m just speaking fantasy ahem).


In most situation, we can trust each other. For someone whom have sufficient trust, the situation in the previous paragraph won’t happen. Perhaps you would feel hurt, but you would be eager to hear out from the other person as well. Do give him/her a chance to speak. It’s likely that, though you would remember the deeds and tell him/her not to do that again, you’d forgive him/her. After all, trust is so vital in any relationship that it feels so good to trust, and it makes your social healthy!

And finally, in situation where you can choose to trust or choose not to trust, unless the other person already showed they’re not trustible, choose instead to trust, even if it might hurt you. Believe me, it’s better.


  • The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship by Mark Goulston.
  • Some memories of “Smart Trust” by Stephen M. R. Covey.
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