“But I trusted you … “
But I trusted you. Has anyone in your life ever betrayed your trust? I would be highly surprised (and duly skeptical) if the answer was no. I think we’ve all had our trust violated at one time or another. And depending upon the closeness of the person betraying you, the hurt can be almost insurmountable.
This post is difficult for me to write, because it requires a level of honesty and critical self-assessment that is uncomfortable. I write this as a man; I don’t really know if women feel the same way or not—this view might be gender specific to a greater or lesser extent. This post is about trust.
Based on my conversations with the opposite sex I suspect that we might view this subject a little differently. When I ask my women friends what human trait they most want to receive the almost universal answer is love. When I broach this same question with my male friends the answer is often-as-not respect. I know that in my case I would much prefer to have a person’s respect than their love. Maybe it’s all about the ego and self-esteem, and what increases or diminishes that self-esteem.
Some would argue that I’m just indulging my fondness for semantics. Precisely. Words are powerful, and their meanings imply certain things: feelings, traits and perspectives. If we delve into the literal meanings of words they can point to some heretofore unthought of truths. For instance, the man longing for respect and the woman for love. The first seems almost overly pragmatic, and the second overly touchy-feely. However, before proceeding any farther let me introduce this caveat: What I am describing are gross generalities (and my assumptions which could be totally false).
To me respect implies a deep admiration for a person based upon their: abilities, qualities and achievements. These are things (which I find pragmatic). Love, on the other hand, implies a deep affection for another person or creature (emotional feelings). I think men are genetically hardwired towards things, and women towards feelings. Not that men and women aren’t capable of both traits, but as a primary filter used to sort incoming information I believe this to be true. This is where you tell me I’m full of shit. As a distillation it might sound something like this: Men are problem solvers and women are nurturer’s—overly simplistic I readily admit (but containing more than a little truth I think).
I’ve intentionally swung wide of the mark to provide some linguistic context. Let’s go back and discuss trust. Trust is a belief in the reliability, truth, ability and strength of another individual. These are character traits (things) and not feelings. To me trust is the rock solid foundation upon which to build a relationship, and therefore requisite for any successful and honest coming together. Love and trust do not mean the same thing: You can love someone without trusting them; you can also trust someone without loving them. How powerful then when a relationship encompasses both.
In the hierarchy of human characteristics I place trust at the top. Because where love can be ultimately resurrected if misplaced or lost, trust cannot. Once trust is lost it is lost forever, never to be reclaimed. One can forgive a betrayal of trust, but one never forgets. Trust appears to be a finite quality, where love seems to be infinite in its capacity. Once again, to reiterate, I believe that trust is a thing (pragmatic and recognizable) whereas love is a feeling (elusive and mysterious). I think that’s why men crave respect, it’s tangible and real (we can touch it). And maybe that’s why love scares the hell out of us (it’s mercurial and ever-changing).
The most shameful aspects of my life have involved betrayals of trust. It makes hypocrisy look like a bastard child by comparison. When you betray someone’s trust it is a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways. You not only hurt the person you betray, but you inflict untold harm upon yourself. It is often quoted that: “A man is only as good as his word.” Do not take that quote lightly—think long and hard before promising something to someone. Unfortunately, in this electronic age, I don’t think we spend enough time considering what it means to be truly human.
As an exercise in personal meditation, grab a dictionary sometime and lookup the definitions and deeper meanings of words like: trust, respect, integrity, truth, love and compassion. And then reflect deeply upon those words and meanings. And finally, ask the difficult questions of yourself—and make the answers brutally honest. Simple, but not easy (in fact it is very, very hard). I would invite you to never promise lightly. To never violate a trust. If there is sin, then the betrayal of trust must certainly rank high on any list. I have been guilty of both, much to my discredit.
A couple of final thoughts: Trust must be earned, not mandated. Don’t be sloppy with your trust—misplaced (or misguided) trust is as much your fault as theirs. A paraphrased ancient Chinese proverb cautions that a scorpion scorpions (both noun and verb), meaning simply that: A scorpion remains true to its nature. Only a fool would trust a scorpion. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to place unfounded trust in someone, and that small inner voice is cautioning you against it. And those of you in positions of public trust: Religious leaders, teachers, political leaders, military leaders, law enforcement, fire protection and the like—well, you know where I’m going with that. We are told that we must trust you. Therefore you are held to a higher standard.
But I trusted you. Has anyone in your life ever betrayed your trust? More importantly, have you betrayed theirs?