I Don't Trust You. Maybe I Shouldn't.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“You need to trust your partners,” the Generic Relationship Advice says. “If you don’t trust them enough, how can you have a good relationship?”
And the truth is, there’s a lot of partners you *shouldn’t* trust. And they’re not all abusers, either.
The problem is, people often see what they want to see in relationships. And they wind up dating a tattered ghost that has only superficial similarities with you, because the truth is that they never actually saw the flawed you-that-exists – they saw Stability, or they saw Romance, or they saw Raw Passion, and all that other stuff just got quietly screened out.
And you tell them – “Hey, I have some serious kinks but I don’t live this life 24/7, I am not the Goddess of Sexual Pleasure For You,” and they nod and go “Yeah, baby, I know,” when realistically they don’t know, they think they understand what you are but they’re actually mapping so much of their own needs onto you that they forget you have needs of your own.
And they feel so fucking betrayed when it turns out that you weren’t what they imagined you to be.
So a part of that trust comes down to trying to manage expectations. And it sucks to look at someone who’s dewy-eyed with True Love for you and go, “No, you’re not seeing Me right now, and as such I don’t trust you enough to date you.”
But that happens when you’re trying to be sane.
And the Generic Relationship Advice says, “You need to trust your partners to know what they want.” Which sounds like it’s awesome, but the truth is most people actually have zero fucking clue what they want. And if they want something from you that you don’t actually possess, then trusting them means that you’re going to ultimately disappoint them.
Because if they saw Stability when what you actually had to offer was The Ability To Keep Functioning When You’re Upset, shit’s gonna go wrong.
If they saw Romance when what you had to offer was Good Listening Skills, shit’s gonna go wrong.
If they saw Raw Passion when what you had to offer was New Relationship Energy, shit’s gonna go wrong.
And yet it is so goddamned flattering to be thought of as Stability, or Raw Passion, or Romance – to have someone take a side of you that you yourself would like to be and shower you with reassurances that no, you’re an idealized version of yourself. They tell you that you’re Wise and Strong, and the fact is that you’re seven years older than they are and all that Wisdom and Strength is just a tadge more experience, and you’ll still do dumb-ass things when someone hits you from an unexpected angle – but having someone who looks up to you is so hard to resist.  So if you’re not smart you’ll try to play the role of Wise and Strong when that is not, in fact, your native skill….
…and that’ll wreck both your lives as you try to live up to an expectation you can’t actually provide.
And that’s part of the challenge of dating: sometimes, you don’t trust your partners. Sometimes you don’t date people because they believe in the wrong things about you. Sometimes you have to look someone in the eye and go “Yeah, that is a beautiful thing to think about me, but you’re full of shit.”
Try doing that sometimes. It’s hard. It’s very fucking hard.

2 Comments

  1. Eve
    Aug 5, 2015

    I like this, but I am also confused by it. It’s not clear to me if you’re saying don’t date people if you don’ trust them or date people but sometimes don’t trust them.
    This bit, for example, kinda spun my head around:
    “And that’s part of the challenge of dating: sometimes, you don’t trust your partners. Sometimes you don’t date people because they believe in the wrong things about you. Sometimes you have to look someone in the eye and go ‘Yeah, that is a beautiful thing to think about me, but you’re full of shit.'”
    In the first sentence, you seem to be saying “date people, but sometimes don’t trust the people you are dating.” In the second (and probably third), you seem to be saying “Don’t date them if they believe the wrong things about you” (and probably implicit: and that can’t be fixed).
    My take on it would be the latter. If there is a trust gap that can’t be genuinely healed, then it’s not a good idea to stay in that relationship. (For the most part, anyway. “I can’t trust you to show up to dates less than 15 minutes late” is a trust gap I can live with. “I can’t trust you to try to see and understand me over the noise of your own idealized version of me” is not.) The big problems arise, I think, when people don’t trust their partners but rather than either address the gap in a meaningful way or leave the relationship, try to construct elaborate bridges and walls to keep from falling into (or even looking at) the gap.

    • kim
      Aug 6, 2015

      I don’t think it’s meant to address the issue of whether that can be fixed per se. It seems more to be a piece about the wide reach of the word “trust” versus what it can mean in reality.
      So I don’t think it’s saying to do or not do any specific thing, just to be aware of these underlying perception issues.

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