When should we trust people? Before answering a question with so many nuances, let’s try to define what trust is.
If we understand trust from a social point of view -that is, in relation to others-, we are alluding to the belief that they will not fail us, they will not lie to us or they will act according to our principles and ideals. We trust others, for example when we share our fears with them, with the courage it takes to overcome the fear of being judged. We also show confidence when we take the speech of others as truthful.
However, trusting people is not an easy task (and more if we have just met them), since many factors intervene here. For example, if we have recently been betrayed, it is likely that it will cost us more to open up and allow ourselves to be seen as vulnerable. It will also be difficult to do so if we have a personality with a certain tendency to insecurity, as well as low self-esteem.
In addition, there are other variables that can favor or be an obstacle to that trust and that have to do with the other. That person, has he proven to be worthy of our trust? Has it ever failed us? All this can also play a role.
When should we trust? Factors that can influence
So when should we trust and when should we not? Although an answer cannot be generalized, the reality is that human intuition is a very effective tool when it comes to selecting the people who deserve our trust and those who do not.
This tool is especially reliable when we are in a stage of emotional balance, and we are not biased by dysfunctional thoughts that can interfere with these types of decisions. In this sense, we recommend that you let yourself be guided by your instinct ; This instinct we talk about is like a kind of compass that tells us when something is in dissonance with what we feel and want and when it is not.
Logically, this system is not 100% reliable: there will always be people who will “captivate” us and make us believe things that are not really. The risk of suffering is something inherent in our heart continuing to beat ; luckily the benefits of healthy relationships often outweigh this risk.
When determining when to trust and when not to, if we add to our inner compass the fact that the other person has never failed us (or at least, that we know of), in this scenario we can be closer to knowing when it is a good option to put our trust in someone.
Why do we distrust?
When we talk about factors or variables that mediate trust, it is important to differentiate between difficulties in trusting people we have just met (something totally normal) and the absolute inability to trust someone (something rather dysfunctional).
In the second case, perhaps it will be important to deal with basic thoughts and attitudes – the same ones that surely also have a negative impact on other areas of our life. However, in both cases, we can speak of two main causes that could explain this fear that paralyzes us when it comes to trusting others:
Self esteem issues
Although we cannot generalize, it is true that many of the people who have low self-esteem tend to have a greater tendency to mistrust people. In fact, their distrust of others stems from the fact that they do not trust themselves. Feeling that they are not hot, why would others take into account their wishes or expectations?
Sometimes this reluctance to surrender trust can be a defense mechanism that “protects” them from betrayal, frustration, or disappointment. However, as much as it may work in one or two specific situations, in the long run this strategy becomes dysfunctional: a wall that can only be penetrated by superficial, instrumental relationships; the same ones that, on an emotional level, actually contribute little.
Having been betrayed (either recently, repeatedly, by someone very important to us …) is another possible drag on trust. Again, a defense mechanism would act here with which we avoid suffering again.
And as there are always the opposite extremes, we can also find people to whom precisely the opposite happens; they rely too much or too quickly, people they just met. The consequences of this can be diverse; that they take advantage of us, that they hurt us … or simply that nothing happens, that everything goes well.
The fact that there are people who trust others very quickly may simply have to do with their own nature; They can be somewhat carefree people, who put things down a lot, who need to trust “excessively” to feel safe … or, on the contrary, people who are very sure of themselves. What is clear is that there is no single pattern that explains it.
What happens if they betray us?
Depending on our emotional moment, the consequences of a deception or betrayal will be more or less sharp. That is why the starting point, the quality of the rest of our relationships, is so important when we decide to build a new one or deepen an already established one.
Here is the subtle difference between trust and dependence: the risk of surrendering our trust is much lower when we do not directly compromise our lifeline, our subsistence, with it.
The quality of our inner refuge is also important . If we are good with ourselves, it will be more complicated for a mistake at the level of confidence to sink us. It will certainly hurt us, but the path to return will not have such steep slopes. We will have a strong and powerful self-love, which will remind us that we are much more than what we give, that we are worth much more than someone, one day, allowed himself to betray.
With experience, you will write your own trust manual
As we have seen, it is not easy to know when to trust people and when not to. It is a process in which experience shapes us. As we have seen, our vital path will be the one that guides our intuition to a large extent to deliver or not our confidence.
In any case, we are talking about a risk that we need to take if we want relationships in which intimacy is possible. In reality, few reinforcers are as powerful as getting it right in the field at hand: enriching our circle of trust with one person is a milestone comparable to very few. That’s why we often assume the risk is worth it.
“Trust is to flow, it is to be oneself, it is to open up to others, it is to live.”
-José María Gasalla-
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