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Just how do you know if you can/should trust someone?

(40 Posts)
FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 07:31:57

My upbringing was very emotionally abusive and I went NC with my mother last year. I separated from my husband after his affair and learned he'd been lying to my throughout our entire marriage. From his perspective, he thought if he never told me anything that could upset me, I'd always be happy and all he wanted was for me to be happy... but it meant he lied about absolutely everything - big and small; important or not.

I've learned to not trust people but I don't want to live like that. I know it has to be earned/built and all that, but in the early days, you just have to take someone at face value, surely?

So I've been trying to do that and I smile and accept it. But I can always see the lie in it. Because ultimately however likely, "sorry I can't meet you for breakfast tomorrow, I've just found out I'm driving my severely disabled grandmother back to her nursing home 100 miles away first thing. Really sorry, I'll make it up to you" is. In my head, it becomes: "I'm blowing you out and this is how I'm doing it."

I obviously can't ask someone directly! So how do you know?

I don't have an instinct for it, so don't tell me to trust my gut feeling! I don't have one.

baskingseals Sun 27-Oct-13 07:34:25

Oh tricky one.

Ultimately I don't completely trust anyone except myself, and that I have struggled with. Do you trust yourself?

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 07:39:12

I don't know if I trust myself, tbh! Interesting question...

I don't trust my judgement on whether someone is a 'good person' or not.

I know that I'm better because I've made decisions recently that I wouldn't have been able to make 15 years ago.

So no, I probably don't. But not because I think I'm untrustworthy, I just don't trust my ability to read people or my judgement on whether something is likely to be the truth or not!

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 07:40:18

Trustworthiness and honesty are more important to me than pretty much anything else in a relationship and yet I'm not capable of trusting anyone.

Hm. I'm doomed! grin sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 27-Oct-13 07:42:04

You don't know. I think it's natural and wise to retain a little suspicion about people until you get to know them better and have chance to check their words against their actions. There's a line that goes between 'utterly naive' and 'unreasonably suspicious' and it doesn't pay to be at either one end or the other. Judgement or 'gut feeling' comes with experience - and that means risking getting it wrong from time to time.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 07:42:19

I suppose it's a combination of not trusting other people to be honest and not trusting that I am someone worth being honest to.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 27-Oct-13 07:46:56

You can only do something about the last one of those. Some people are dishonest and you're going to meet them - stands to reason. If it's someone that doesn't impact too much on your life, it's no big deal. But of course you're worth being honest to and anyone that lies to you about serious stuff is not worth bothering with.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 07:47:43

You're right Cogito.

I suppose the bottom line is, I'm not sure I'm strong enough to just brush off the times when I'll get it wrong and chalk it up to experience.

I feel like I want some signs to look out for in advance. But yes, matching words to actions is the best way, isn't it.

baskingseals Sun 27-Oct-13 07:49:21

I think you can't save anybody, and nobody can save you. I have to get myself through each day, nobody can do it for me, people can be supportive and make your life better, but can't take it all away.

From my perspective, which is from having a sweet but useless dh, useless family, lovely sister and friends, I don't count on anyone, so I not expecting anything, iykwim. No expectations mean that anything positive is a bonus.

Try and trust yourself, and with other people keep an open mind.

Housesellerihope Sun 27-Oct-13 07:53:41

Did you trust your husband completely or did you always have nagging doubts? I married later in life and previously was a "serial monogamist" and in some of my previous relationships I kinda knew the men weren't to be completely trusted despite their assurances to the contrary.

I think if you get to know someone, don't have reason to doubt them and they seem honest you just have to trust. The alternative, being suspicious of everyone, is just a miserable way to live. I also think very, very few people are 100% trustworthy in absolutely all circumstances but there are many people who are 99.9999%, I would say including myself. Surely that has to be good enough as we are all human and not perfect.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 27-Oct-13 08:00:41

If you could spot a liar just by looking, the police force would love you to join up. smile Here's some 'signs' I've cobbled together. Cog's guide to spotting a liar... (book deal pending)
- They don't look you in the eye when talking
- They tend to blink more frequently or glance upwards for inspiration
- They 'over explain' ... overly long stories about why something happened or didn't happen. (They're trying to convince themselves as well as you)
- Unusually defensive or evasive when asked a fairly normal question.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 08:03:56

I know basking.

I think in the past I've been attracted to men who need saving and attractive to men looking for someone to save. I think that stems from feeling that anyone who was 'sorted' wouldn't be interested in me and that the only person who'd want me is someone who really couldn't live without me. But I now see the error of that thinking!!

I'd like to go the same was as you. I have no family really (apart from my brother and children), my friendships are all quite young and so I'm still in the learning to trust phase and no partner. I think it means that I just don't have anyone I can trust. Which is hard.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 08:06:22

Houseseller I did have doubts with my husband, yes, but I also knew I had issues as a result of my upbringing so I allowed myself to 'trust' him because I believed his assurances.

I think it's just that I get the little 'red flag' warning feelings about pretty much everyone now!

You need to get these books written Cog, you'll make a fortune!! grin

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 27-Oct-13 08:12:37

It's about being a bit circumspect and taking a slow but steady approach and finding a bit more about people as each day turns. For example meeting a total stranger in a pub is a bit more iffy than being introduced to someone in a pub that your friend went to school with. Your friend knows where that person was raised, a bit about their track record and a bit about other friends and connections.

I would be very suspicious of someone who didn't introduce me to their friends and family for example and I would find out a bit more about them from their connections.

LadyBigtoes Sun 27-Oct-13 08:16:46

Agree with others, you can't really trust anyone 100%, but that doesn't mean you can't have relationships and friendships.

One big thing I've learned is to take it slowly. My best friendships have been slow burn and sometimes even with people I didn't take to at first. I've realised this is because when I met them, they weren't on the lookout for friends and didnt latch onto me in a needy way, so if there was common ground, it emerged gradually. My closest friends, the ones I can really chat to about problems, etc, I sometimes don't see for months and we are both ok with that. Trust builds over the years. And if you are tentative at first, it doesn't hurt so much if they let you down.

Conversely, beware of people who seem to want to be your best mate overnight. It can feel amazing at first and then you can start to feel used or controlled.

Housesellerihope Sun 27-Oct-13 08:17:10

Hopefully those red flags will just fade away as you get to know trustworthy people in time, though. It almost sounds like your problem was being too trusting with someone who didn't deserve it rather than not trusting enough. New people in your life haven't earned your trust yet so you don't really have much reason to trust them but in time if they show they're reliable and honest then hopefully trust will grow.

Also as you are working on yourself and getting healthier, you will naturally attract people at that same level - that is, emotionally healthy people themselves who will be more likely to be trustworthy. We tend to date people at the same level of maturity as ourselves so any work you do on yourself will pay off double when you're in a relationship.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 08:34:38

Yes, married I would be very suspicious in those circumstances too.

Slow and steady, yes you're right. I think I'm just a bit impatient on the wanting to know if I can trust them so is it worth pursuing front.

But I'm also realising that I'm not sure when that I trust him moment would come.

I seem to be ok with trusting/not trusting women. It's men really. But a lot of that is because my mother did a bit of a number on me with the whole "no one's ever going to love/want/fancy you because..." thing. Which means that my starting point is that someone won't be interested, or won't be interested once they know about whichever "because..." reason my mother gave is relevant to them.

Pretty much every aspect of my appearance, character, skills, abilities and personality was given as a reason. I don't think there's anything ok/good or even tolerable about me!

And that's sort of where it comes from. The not trusting other people. Because it's about not trusting them to like me once they get to know me. And so I'm just constantly looking for the sign that they've found out the 'unloveable' thing about me that matters to them. After all, it's only a matter of time. So it's a combination of being lied to and being found out I suppose.

I don't know. I'm just waffling shit now!

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 08:37:23

Lady yes, you're right about taking it slowly. I did have a very intense friendship many years ago with a woman who did turn out to be quite controlling that started very quickly. It was a lot like an abusive relationship and I heard a lot of "I'm only telling you this for your own good/because I care about you".

That's also true Houseseller. I'm working on my physical, mental and emotional health. Perhaps I'm just expecting to run before I can walk.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 08:38:57

Anyway. Thanks for the advice and the perspective.

I'm off now, got a fitness class this morning - all part of the making me the best me I can be and then perhaps I'll attract people who are also the best them they can be!

baskingseals Sun 27-Oct-13 08:41:40

Folk, I used to look down on people who liked me, I mean if you liked me you had to be a loser. grin

Your mother's voice is NOT right, don't let her define you, try and start defining yourself.

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 27-Oct-13 08:44:11

I can relate to that folkgirl. I realised later in life that my mother was a Narcissis and I too was told I was all of those things. Even now I'd like to please her but know I never shall. As a small child I wasn't allowed to wear pink because I wasn't a pretty child.

You will eventually pick up the pieces. I didn't truly understand it was her and not me until at 12 dd refused to stay at her grandparents because her grandma was so awful and asked me "honestly mum, how did you put up with her". From the mouths of babes.

Just give it time and get to know them. I spent my 20s sabotaging relationships but all was well in the end.

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 08:52:08

Just checked timetable for class - have a few minutes yet!!

basking absolutely. I have tended to regard men who seemed genuinely interested with a lack of respect. I mean just how shit would they have to be to like me!

married Indeed. I tried going on holiday with my mother and my son when my son was 4. When we got back he started referring to her as "the bossy grandma" (because in his limited experience/vocab her constant criticism of me was bossiness) and he pulled faces at the prospect of seeing her.

Just feeling a bit fragile I think. I thought I was further along my 'road to recovery' than I am and it's come as a bit of a blow. sad

Dahlen Sun 27-Oct-13 08:59:51

I've been very fortunate to have had wonderful parents who never let me down, so I think my outlook on trust is probably quite healthy. I tend to treat everyone as though they are trustworthy, while never allowing anyone enough involvement in my life to cause me problems if they abuse that trust until I have known them long enough to be assured that they won't.

Time is what is needed. For example, if someone broke off a date with me, I wouldn't necessarily view that with suspicion. I'd take it on face value. But I'd make a mental note of it. Every time someone does something that lets me down or raises uncomfortable feelings in me, I store that behaviour. Over time, if they are not trustworthy, you see a pattern emerging and can decide whether or not to commit to trusting them on a deeper level.

That won't necessarily help you on a date with a new bloke where you have no track record to measure him up against, but if he breaks several dates within a couple of months of knowing you, that should tell you that he is either untrustworthy or his life is not in a position where he can be relied upon - either of which is good enough reason to tell him thanks, but no thanks. In the early stages of a relationship no one deserves your time, support and understanding unless they have something to bring the table in return.

Do you like yourself? Do you think you're a good person? If you do (and reading your posts on here over time I think you should), anytime you're feeling a bit 'off' about someone, just ask yourself "would I say/do what x has just said/done". If the answer is no, chances are they probably aren't right for you.

Good luck.

Meerka Sun 27-Oct-13 09:00:14

I think that for you, this is a two pronged thing. The suggestions I'm gonna make are my best guess. Some of them may not be right for you. Cogito's usually right for a start, that you can never guarentee finding a good un but everyone has to risk finding a bad un now and then, or they never try at all.

Firstly, your upbringing has given you a set of expectations about relationships and people. A sort of structure as to what you expect in a relationship under the laughter and chat and arguments. Becuase your upbringing was emotionally abusive, your expectations are skewed towards a less healthy model of relationships.

But this is not the end of the story. You can rewrite your expectations. It is possible, Im sure, because you're already aware that things arent right and trying to fix them. But you may need proper in depth therapy and to keep working at it. Honesty with yourself.

Secondly, there's things you can do now. One thing is to deliberately go for a different type of man. You may be drawn to lively, charming men who are great fun but actually are a bit dangerous - untrustworthy. The adrenaline from that sort of man can be quite addictive. Some people might shoot me for this, but consider going for 'safer', quieter, apparently less interesting but actually much more stable and decent men. Not to say that you gotta be bored ofc :D But something in between.

Also observe them over time. See if you find inconsistencies in what they say over time; unexplained absences etc. Lies. You can be prepared to trust without committing everything all at once; you can keep a tiny bit in reserve until you've observed for a few months, without actually being unfair. Its not so much paranoia as being careful and self protecting, since you know you are not as well equipped by your upbringing as some people. Which is in no way your fault, its just the hand of cards you were dealt.

Also experience over time does teach you what to look for in a liar or cheater, and you have built up some by now! If you see the same signs as you saw last time, you'll know what it means.

Lastly a very very telling thing about people is observing what they get angry about, and how they handle their anger. Do they get sly or snide or try to punish others? Or do they speak their anger, try to sort it out and then move on and leave it behind?

this time lastly; also, I think you are searching for love and sometimes find it hard to cut loose and so stay longer than you should. Therapy may help you there too, if not to change then at least to recognise it better.

Hope these help a tiny bit. Anyone from your sort of background has a bit more to overcome than people from more healthy backgrounds, but it is possible to find a good man. It really is smile

FolkGirl Sun 27-Oct-13 12:51:42

Dahlen you're right about the making a mental note of it, yes, and building up a picture of their trustworthiness. You're right, too, about the not owing anyone anything in the early stages. My instinct is to end it or just cut them off if a pattern begins to emerge, but I worry that I'm being a bit hasty or that I'm not being considerate enough. But I see that you're right and someone should be making an effort in those early days. If they're not making an effort, then it's something they're not that into. Which is fair enough.

I do think I'm a good person. And you're right. It's not even about evaluating them as an individual, it's just about saying, they're not right for me.

Meerka I agree with a lot of what you've said. Sadly, if you knew the sort of men I go for, you'd see that they're not at all dangerous or charming. They're usually quite awkward, self deprecating, intelligent and a bit geeky! I don't got for the type of man you'd normally associate with being an arse!

I think the lying in these men doesn't come from being a 'player', it comes from a not wanting to hurt your feelings and a believing they're letting you down gently. When I deal much more easily in black and white facts. If someone thinks I'll take the hint by being let down gently, I don't. And then it comes as a great big smack in the face and I feel stupid because all the signs were there. I suppose that's what I'm talking about really, when I ask how you know if you can/should trust someone. It's about recognising those signs. I think I've got more of an idea now!

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