Today I want to explain why I think trust is over-rated in personal relationships, this includes friendships and to an extent romantic relationships, I think if someones trustful or not doesn’t matter, the thing that matters is if you know if they’re trustworthy or not, to what extent you can trust them and what can you trust them with, first we should break down the different types of trust, from most common to least common.
Hollow Trust is probably the most common but also the simplest form of trust, it’s a platitude with no substance, it’s hollow and carries no weight it’s a claim you can trust them but they’ve never considered what it entails and they won’t consider the fact you trusted them before the trust is betrayed. it’s a hollow statement.
Now conditional trust is the second most common; but is most certainly the easiest to identify especially among friends, First let me define what I mean by conditional trust, it’s fairly self explanatory but since this topic is important to me I’ll be overly clear to avoid any potential confusion. Conditional trust is trust that has a valid or invalid state then a condition that switches the state between the two, a great example of this is in most friendships, it’s a very common condition so it’s an easy one to explore and expose, The most common condition I have come across is friendship i.e so long as we’re friends you can trust me, this becomes obvious when you consider they will happily tell you secrets about their old friends, it’s also common in sexual relationships this comes through as telling you intimate secrets about their ex, now if they’re ex was abusive or something obviously you being told that isn’t a betrayal of trust however being told embarrassing secrets about their ex shows their trust is conditional, as with friends the common condition being maintaining your relationship with them, now in both you actually have very little control over keeping the relationships in a good state, friends can turn on you for no reason, sexual relationships can deteriorate past your control This is why conditional trust carries so much risk, the condition is usually outside of your control so the lifespan of that trust can’t be known, maybe you can trust them for a day, maybe a week maybe your entire life, but since the condition is outside of your control the trust cannot be predicted, you don’t know when the trust will become void. it’s also worth listing off some common conditions I’ve also noticed again the most common I’ve encountered is maintaining the relationship, others would be
- Trust becomes void for personal benefit
- Trust becomes void for social benefit
- Trust becomes void for your benefit
Now moral trust is a bit harder to come to a conclusion on but I think it can be the most valuable form of trust for you to apply to others and for others to apply to you, moral trust is similar to conditional trust but the only condition will only ever be morality, if they believe you’re doing something immoral they will break the trust but outside of that they can be trusted, now ask yourself are you trustworthy? if so then you should be able to trust anyone whos morals align with your own since You’d never do anything you consider immoral and if you did you’d be so ashamed you wouldn’t tell anyone anyway, now when it comes to figuring out someones morals we should apply a similar logic to what we did with conditional trust, ignore what they say and focus on their actions, I’ve never heard anyone openly admit they’re a bad person with no morals, I have however witnessed people who claim to be good people act evilly. I know anecdotes aren’t ideal but I’m trying to be vague enough with them that you can think of a similar thing that happened to you. So the main distinction between conditional trust and moral trust is stability, you cannot maintain the condition of trust however once someones moral system is developed it often doesn’t change overnight.
At first look absolute trust seems like the ideal type, perfect even however when you dive deeper into it you’ll realize it isn’t one you should want, Absolute trust is trust that is never broken regardless of it, it’s the type of “trust” gang thrive within even if suffering personal consequence such as jail time now absolute trust can only be explored in limited exposure or hypotheticals, again almost all we have is anecdotes and hypotheticals so in anecdotes I’ve met one person who affords absolute trust or at least with limited exposure, unless the trust has been tested then you don’t know if it is absolute, if she was tortured or something extreme I have no doubt she’d betray my trust, as she should. This becomes the major issue with “Absolute trust” it becomes impossible to have a method of verification since it can only be tested with extremes, you can’t distinguish it between conditional trust in which you don’t know the condition, but if you believe it to be absolute you’ll most likely have misplaced faith.
Which circles us back nicely to our central theme, does trust matter? of course, but it’s no where near as important as identifying the type of trust someone offers you, the underlying issue is no one is really trustworthy, they’re trustworthy to an extent and some people to a larger extent but no one completely, So if all trust will be broken given the correct conditions should you trust no one?
My approach to trust is fairly simple, assume peoples trust is hollow until I can figure out if they fall into conditional or moral trust, if I can’t then they remain in hollow trust, I view them as someone to which no trust or privillidged should be afforded, if they fall into conditional then I try to understand the conditions then afford them trust only with things I wouldn’t mind becoming public, if they fall into moral trust I will only ever trust them with things I am certain align with their morals, as far as absolute trust or people who ascribe it to themselves 'you can trust me no matter what, with anything' I consider them the same as those in the hollow trust category because in my experience people who think trust should never be betrayed are usually quite immoral; for example I consider myself to be moral, if all my secrets became public it would be embarrassing but as far as things I’ve done I’m confident I could defend them, because I try to be a good person and act in a way that I’m not forced to hide. However people who act like trust must never be betrayed often have actions or beliefs they wouldn't/couldn't defend or wouldn't stand by.
This seems anti-climatic, all I’ve managed is to break down the types of trust I’ve observed, back it up with anecdotes then explain some system for identification, then my way of dealing with trust…The purpose of this post is to try and convince people to be more cautious of whom they trust, most people aren’t trustworthy but again anecdotally people assume they’re an incredible judge of character, to me claiming you know someones trustworthy when you’ve known them for less than 2 years and have never had a falling out with them seem to me as way too trustworthy, I hope in reading this you reconsider who you trust, reconsider what you trust them with and reconsider how easily you give your trust out.