Sunday, October 07, 2007

Trust – a Pervasive and Important Aspect of Life and Adult Loving Relationships

Trust is a relationship of reliance. A trusted party is presumed to seek to fulfill policies, ethical codes, law and their previous promises and agreements. Trust does not need to involve belief in the good character, vices, or morals of the other party. Even persons engaged in a criminal activity usually trust each other to some extent. Also trust does not need to include an action that you and the other party are mutually engaged in. Basically, trust is a prediction of reliance on an action, based on what a party knows about the other party. Trust also can refer to a statement about what is otherwise unknown – for example, because it is far away, cannot be verified, or is in the future.

Interestingly, according to, “Trust is both and emotional and logical act. Emotionally, it is where you expose your vulnerabilities to people, but believing they will not take advantage of your openness. Logically, it is where you have assessed the probabilities of gain and loss, calculating expected utility based on hard performance data, and concluded that the person in question will behave in a predictable manner. In practice, trust is a bit of both. I trust you because I have experienced your trustworthiness and because I have faith in human nature.”

In my pop-psych book, Mom and Dad’s Pearls of Wisdom… You Gotta Love ’Em, I tell about the time my Dad fired one of his best workers. And when I spoke to my Dad about it, he said to me, consistent with his firing of this particular employee:
The one thing about thieves and liars
is that you can’t trust them.

In my pop-psych book, Living Life, anyway, Chapter Seven, entitled “Living Life, Trustingly,” I talk about the importance and pervasiveness of trust in life. The last paragraph of that chapter, in my view, hits a lot of nails on the head:

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Compared to living life overly cautiously, living life trustingly most certainly can be more rewarding, more fulfilling, and more fun. Understandably, repetition, routine, and continuing to do what we always have done, can be comfortable and much less threatening than doing something different. Yet, if you learn to trust – to trust things, people and especially yourself, then you will have a better shot at the brass ring of life. Like the cliché, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” how many chances will you have to go for the good life? A good friend of mine has been a risk taker throughout his life, and he always reminds me that even though he is a risk taker he’s not stupid! “I’m a calculated risk taker,” he always reminds me. Being of modest income, he plays poker at the “quarter limit” table. “That way I can take risks, have fun taking risks, and no matter what happens I’ll still be alive and able to eat tomorrow,” he always tells me. Likewise, he carefully selects which beaches to go to and which waves to try when he goes surfing: “I don’t mind a sprained ankle once in a while, I just don’t want to be maimed or in traction for six months.” Where’s the line between being stupid and being a calculated risk taker? Tough decision. And you are the only one who can make that decision for you. So I guess we’re back to where we started with living life trustingly: decision-making, trust, and you. You trusting you. (p. 60-61)

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It was not by accident that in my three contemporary romance novels, the heroines – Sheila in My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days, Marcia in Fear of Feeling Loved, and Diane in If Ever Again… It’ll be for Love, struggle at one point or another with trust: whether or not they can trust their “him” (for Sheila – Troy; for Marcia – Jack; and for Diane – Michael) and whether or not they can trust themselves (e.g., can I trust my ability to distinguish a winner from a loser).

As most of you know, I currently am writing a self-help book tentatively titled Your Adult Loving Relationships with a good friend and colleague Dr. Bill Lambos. This weekend we concluded writing the final first draft of Chapter 18, entitled “Our Pasts.” At the end of the chapter, we link partners’ knowledge and appreciations of each other’s pasts with the importance of trust in their relationship. Here’s specifically how we address the issues:

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In healthy, functional, “good” adult loving relationships, both individuals empathically know about and understand each other – including their pasts. Nonetheless, trust is a key component of this process. If I am going to openly share my past with you, including my past relationships, I have to trust that you will respect what I am telling you and that you will help me heal any wounds from them and not use the information against me and/or hurt me with it.

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Question: Have you ever struggled with trust (in your life and/or in a relationship)?



Cole Reising said...

Skipping your question - ;-) In my current ms trust is the biggest issue they have to work out.

Hope your doing well Bill!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Cole,
Thanks for the visit…
I’m doing well, thank you! Not blogging as much as I had been (too time-consuming and I also see some recycling of the same issues… something I’m trying to avoid in my own blog… it’s tough). And now that you’re on a group blog, more focused as well, I check in to see what you’re saying but don’t always have anything meaningful to add.
I know you’re in the romance genre (a certainly new one for me). Nonetheless, I see “trust” as a big big issue in romantic relationships, especially when they’re beginning (and the two individuals, unlike either of us, come through the door with baggage).
Good luck with the ms, Cole, and remember to smell the roses and enjoy the journey,

xina said...

Hi Dr. Bill,
Someone that I admire has often spoke of the Levels of intimacy. He suggests that we are in the center (of our universe) and people according to thier trustworthiness reside on each contiguous band going outward. As we share and come to trust one another the individuals move closer to us -- when they are judgmental or hurt us, we may kick them back a level or two -- some relationships stay static, some become continually more intimate until our loved ones are truly taken into our vulnerable souls. When we trust someone enough to let them all the way in, that is sheer JOY! I am grateful that there are still people out there that can instill such trust that we can feel safe bestowing on them that honorable place in our hearts.

Thanks for talking about the things that really matter!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Xina,
Nice to see you again… thanks for the visit.
Interestingly, I have lectured and written about such things myself (i.e., “levels of intimacy and their respective levels of trust”). You are so on the money – when we feel threatened by someone “too close,” we move them back, and when they honor the trust we have bestowed upon them… yes – “sheer joy”! I may discuss this in a future Post.
Thanks for the visit and expanding the phenomenon – I agree with you: this is an issue that does really matter, especially when we are talking about adult loving relationships.
Ciao for now,