I used to think that trust in relationships was some kind of pact you made with each other where you agree not to bang other people as long as the other person agrees to it too and then the ‘trust’ part is believing they aren’t doing what they said they wouldn’t behind your back. Basically like the Hobbesian social contract but with (hopefully) monogamous banging.
That’s obviously part of it, but I’d never really thought of it beyond that. Trust to me has always been some kind of external, abstract emotional trading card that you have to give to get, but then sometimes you lose it without warning. For me, saying “I can’t trust you,” basically just meant “I get to unabashedly remind you at my leisure that I’m aware that you cheated on me and I’ve derived some sense of the upperhand as a result.” Subtitle: “You should probably start kissing my ass.”
But I’m starting to realize that trust is maybe something ten times bigger than that. It’s not just a (begrudged) decision to agree not to fuck a person over where you otherwise would be inclined to.
Instead, I think trust is the knowledge that the other person won’t willfully do something they know will hurt you, that they are thoughtful and considerate of your feelings, that they consider your interests when making decisions that stand to affect you. That when appropriate they put your needs or interests before theirs. That they won’t carelessly hurt you—not because they aren’t allowed to but because it’s not even an option in the realm of self-generated behavior possibilities.
That sort of trust feels like what it seems like trust should be if you’ve ever observed people in meaningful, healthy relationships. Seems like so many relationships get wrapped up in the anxiety of what in retrospect is essentially just worriedly waiting for the person to do something thoughtless, insensitive, careless, and selfish again.
Real, all-encompassing trust feels like an exhale.