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How Can I Trust Again?

Uploaded 3/17/2012, approx. 6 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Our natural tendency is to trust, because as infants we trust our parents. It feels good to really trust. It is also an essential component of love and an important test thereof.

Love without trust is actually dependence masquerading as love.

We must trust. It is almost a biological urge.

Most of the time we do trust. We trust the universe to behave according to laws of physics. We trust soldiers to not go mad and shoot at us. We trust our nearest and dearest to not betray us.

When our trust is broken, we feel as though a part of us had died and had been hollowed out.

But to not trust is actually abnormal. It is the outcome of bitter or even traumatic life experiences. Mistrust or distrust are induced not by our own thoughts or some device or machination of ours. They are induced by life's said circumstances.


To continue to not trust is to reward the people who had wronged us and rendered us distrustful in the first place. Mistrust and distrust is the perpetuation of abuse.

Those people, our abusers, may have long abandoned us and yet they still have a great malign influence on our lives.

This is the irony of being distrustful to others. While you mistrust and distrust others, you are actually perpetuating their abuse. You are actually keeping your abuser with you.

Some of us prefer to not experience that sinking feeling of trust violated. Some people choose to not trust and this way skirt disappointment.

But this kind of tactic is both a fallacy and a folly.

Trusting releases enormous amounts of mental energy which is more productively invested and deployed elsewhere.

But it is true that trust like knives can be dangerous to your health when used in improper.

So you have to know how to trust. You have to know who to trust and you have to know how to confirm the existence of a mutual, functional sort of trust.

We all know that people often disappoint and are not worthy of trust. Some people act arbitrarily, capriciously, treacherously, viciously or even off-handedly.

You have to select the targets of your trust very carefully.

He who is the most common interest with you, who is invested in you for the long haul, who is incapable of bridging trust, a good person, he who doesn't have much to gain from betraying you. He is not likely to mislead you, not likely to breach your trust.

These people you can trust.

But you should not trust indiscriminately. No one is completely trustworthy in all fields of life.

Most often our disappointments stem from our inability to separate one realm of life from another.

A person could be, for instance, sexually loyal but utterly dangerous when it comes to money, a gambler. A person could be a good, reliable father but also a womanizer. You can trust someone to carry out some types of activities but not others because these activities are more complicated or more boring or do not conform to his or her values.

So we should trust people in certain respects, certain capacities, certain fields and not in others.

I don't mean to say that you should trust with reservations. This is not trust. Trust with reservations is a kind of trust that is common among business people or criminals. Its source is rational. Game theory in mathematics deals with questions of calculated trust and oxymoron.

If we do trust, we should trust wholeheartedly, unreservedly but we should be discerning. Then we will be rarely disappointed.

As opposed to popular opinion, trust must be put to the test lest it go stale and stale.

We are all somewhat parallel. We gradually grow suspicious, inadvertently hunt for clues of infidelity or other forms of rich, of trust.

The more often we successfully test the trust we had established, the stronger our pattern-prone brain embraces it.

Constantly in a precarious balance, our brain needs and devours reinforcements.

Such testing should not be explicit but circumstantial.

Your husband could easily have had a mistress, your partner could easily have robbed you blind and yet they haven't.

They have passed the test. They have resisted the temptation.

Trust is based on the ability to foretell the future. It is not so much the act of betrayal that we react to as it is the feeling that the very foundations of our world are crumbling, that it is no longer safe because it is no longer predictable.

And here lies another important lesson. Whatever the act of betrayal, with the exception of grave criminal, corporeal acts, it has limited hint.

Naturally, we tend to exaggerate the importance of such mishaps. This exaggeration serves a double curse. Indirectly, it aggregates us.

If we are worthy of such unprecedented, unheard of, major betrayal, we must be worthwhile and unique.

The magnitude of a betrayal reflects on us and re-establishes the fragile balance of powers between us and the universe at large.


The second purpose of exaggerating the act of perfidy is simply to gain sympathy and empathy, mainly from ourselves but also from others.

Catastrophes are a dozen a dime and in today's world it is difficult to provoke anyone to regard your personal disaster as anything exceptional.

Amplifying the event has, therefore, some very utilitarian purposes.

But finally, blowing things out of proportion poisons the victim's mental circuitry.

Putting a bridge of trust in perspective goes a long way towards the commencement or healing process.

No betrayal stamps the world irreversibly or eliminates all other possibilities, opportunities, chances and people.

There is no such betrayal.

Time goes by. People meet and part. Lovers crawl and make love.

Dear ones, live and die.

It is the very essence of time that it reduces all of us to the finest dust.

Our only weapon, however crude, however naive, against this inexorable process is to trust each other.

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