Most of us talk about trust in others. It’s known as a cornerstone of committed relationships. The word carries a big psychological and emotional impact, as loaded as the word “love” or “commitment”.
Instead of trust being the explosive charge in a broadside complaint or attack (“You can’t be trusted!”), it can become a simpler, useful and practical tool for personal-leading-to-relationship development.
Trust In General Terms
I frequently see people’s assumptions of how trust operates in relationship. Trust is usually expressed in terms that are general (“He’s got trust issues”), or binary (“All the trust is gone” or “I trust her completely”). I believe trust, in everyday life, is better understood when it’s seen as both variable and specific. Therapy can make use of this different approach.
Trust Can Be Specific
Trust is bandied about as one giant thing, but in reality it is very specific: there’s trust in oneself (self-trust), and trust in others. By asking, “trust in whom?”; “to do what?” or, “to be whom?”, we locate and define trust more clearly, and we start to think in more personal terms about who’s responsible for developing trust (hint: it’s never just one partner.)
Another way trust is specific is when partners trust one another to be “good parents”. But in the same relationship there can be mistrust about using money, or staying sexually exclusive.
Trust Is Variable
How and why does trust vary? Because it’s a fluid space that exists between a promise and a risk. Trust is high when a promise outweighs a risk, and low when the risk is more credible. What’s the promise, and what’s the risk? That’s what a couple determines, in any number of specific ways.
You Can’t Know
Another form or framework of trust applies quite directly to relationships and the green-eyed monster called jealousy (which looks like ‘lack of trust’). The undeniable truth is that you cannot know where your partner is at all times. Are you OK with that reality? Of course you may want to know, and you may be, or feel, entitled to know at any given moment.
But do you accept that you can’t always know? If so, you’ve created a real-world foundation for self-soothing supporting mutual autonomy. Where nobody plays cop/ detective or parental supervisor. This can lead to the freedom-in-connection where imagination and creativity in the relationship are safe. Then, it can be available for eros. So that eros can grow in its unsteady way – like a young shoot pushing up in the Spring. (Image or movie is now left to your imagination)