When You Trust and He Doesn’t

This past year, I have made a great number of changes in my life, all for the better. And in the process, I have learned a lot about myself and also about how I want to form all types of relationships. However, I am not always able to escape the ghosts of my past in terms of former behaviors.

When we change for the better, we don’t necessarily want to be reminded of how we used to be. We like to look forward and embrace the better version of ourselves. One area where that’s hard to control is when we are on the receiving end of the very behavior we have worked so hard to overcome.

Some may see this experience as getting a taste of our own medicine, but I like to see it as a helpful reminder that changing was for the best.

Very recently, I was personally reminded of how I used to be. This reminder was served up in a way that has permanently altered how I understand and see mutual trust between friends.

I confronted the reality of a friend, with whom I had really opened up in terms of the inner workings of my secrets and most private thoughts, who was not interested in the same level of friendship.

Despite indications that this friend seemed as invested in our relationship as I was, this person was unwilling to trust me. It was a painful lesson, and I felt frustrated that this person couldn’t have been honest with me in terms of their desired balance of trust between the two of us.

I’ve written about my former obsession and need for privacy in the past. I have really fantastic friends, people whom I adore and feel a great affection for, but only a handful of people are positioned to know and hear about my internal struggles. It used to be that no one in my life got every part of me, my obsession with privacy nearly destroyed me. I like the way things are now, much better.

In the past couple of months, I realized that I have been too fast in fully trusting this friend and that’s been difficult for me to face. I am always trying to listen to my intuition, I am constantly aware of it, I trust myself.

How could I be so wrong?

This friend, with whom I trusted my vulnerabilities and insecurities, engaged in actions that make me question why I was so willing to open up. This friend isn’t a bad person, just disappointing–which is almost worse because I know the person is capable of better. It makes me wonder why I’m not worthy of my friend’s best.

I began to think about other friends who I allowed to get this close to me, and they all had one thing in common: they trusted me as much as I trusted them. They allowed me into their hearts, they were vulnerable with me, they didn’t attempt to cover up their faults, their insecurities, their struggles.

But this friend didn’t trust me in the same way as my friends do. This person didn’t reciprocate in the act of trusting. This realization left me feeling that our friendship was unbalanced and that I was emotionally exposed. I wasn’t concerned that all of my “stuff” was out there. But I had revealed my vulnerability, exposing all of my emotional self, and when it’s not reciprocated, it can feel incredibly lonely.

The trust I am referencing in this column, means full exposure, the worst, the best, all of it, without reservation.

Trust isn’t something you can prove to someone else through a bullet-pointed list of justifications, “Look! Here’s why you should trust me!”

Trust is about a feeling you give someone, a sense of real comfort. But sometimes, no matter what, they just may not be willing to trust anyone (which is the way I used to be).

You can do all the right things, you can be honest, warm, open and have a history of keeping a friend’s secrets, but if someone still won’t fully open up. It’s about them…not you. Some people just aren’t capable of trusting at certain points in their life…or ever.

I can’t be angry with this friend–they didn’t promise to open up or anything else in order to extract my trust. And for a number of reasons, they can’t provide the same honor of trusting me.

And that’s ok, nobody owes me their secrets.

When it comes to trusting someone fully, conventional wisdom tells us that we shouldn’t let a person in our inner circle until they have proven themselves to be trustworthy. As it should be.

But are we missing a critical element here? Should we also expect those whom we trust, to trust us on the same level, before we share our lives with them?

Should trust shared in a friendship or relationship exists in parallel and equidistant lines?

A reader shared his wise idea of mutual trust, “One has to peel the onion. And take the first step. Trust evolves.”

This is true. It takes one person to open up in order for the other person to open up. It’s a test–a trust test, really. It’s not like we can enter into a friendship and sign a contract from the outset to set the terms, it takes one person opening the door.

But, my problem was I kept on opening the door with this friend and got nothing in return. I was repeating myself, doing the same thing, and expecting a different result every time.

In this column, I am talking about a friendship with one particular person, but this idea of requiring a two-way trust exchange can apply and should apply to a wide range of relationships, including romantic relationships.

How many of you have been in relationships where you are open, honest, and yet, the person you are with is so locked away, unwilling to trust and share, that he/she makes you feel exposed and imbalanced?

Perhaps we all need to be more honest? Express that we aren’t ready to go there?

We can get fooled into opening up if we don’t have standards. Too often we’re just not honest in our friendships about what works and doesn’t work. We can believe that someone cares or cares to hear, nodding their head, seemingly supportive. However, the appearance of engagement does not mean engagement exists.

Don’t you almost wish someone would say, “I’m honored that you are wanting to share this with me, but I don’t think our friendship is at a stage where you should.”

They don’t because perhaps it would hurt your feelings. But one has to wonder if that would lead to healthier friendships.

It’s a horrible feeling to be in any relationship, especially a romantic one, and feel comfortable enough with someone to trust them and open your heart and receive only a veneer of support and no vulnerability in return. The lack of balance can leave one exhausted.

This is why the idea of a two-way exchange is so important to me from now on. In any relationship, friendship or romantic, both people should be invested, both should have skin in the game.

I see too many women facing this trust/vulnerability imbalance due to the emotional anemia of many men in our culture–a state which our conditioning encourages them occupy. It’s a sad reality for women who are a one half of a relationship in which they are open-hearted and vulnerable and share their secrets, but get nothing except robotic gestures from the men they are with and no real disclosure.

For those of us who have had or currently have obsessions with privacy, who are or were fearful of trusting, when we feel like we’ve been hurt, it’s so easy to shut down and go back to looking at people through a cynical lense.

I’m not going to be cynical about trust, because I’ve decided to see my experience with this friend as practice, practice doing something that for so long, wasn’t in my comfort zone: trusting someone fully and openly. I was open-hearted, I was attempting to reach out, and I expanded my circle of trust. IT was a positive experience.

There’s just no way i’m going to allow this situation, this friend, to destroy my new way of being. Because I’m grateful that I’ve been reminded of what I used to be like.

So for now, I can no longer offer this friend my full trust. But I remain open for the day that this friend is willing reciprocate.

Advertising executive and television host, Donny Deutsch, talks about the “the price of entry” in relationships–he is specifically talking about romantic relationships. But I think the idea applies to all relationships.

It’s really helpful imagery. We all have needs, requirements, wants, and the image that these words: “the price of entry,” conjures up, reminds me of going to a concert or gaining entrance into a museum exhibit. You can’t get past the gate until you give what you have to give.

And the best part is, we all have the freedom to set our price of entry.

So what’s my price of entry from now on? It’s pretty simple.

Trust Me.


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16 Responses to “When You Trust and He Doesn’t”

  1. Avatar of Chris
    Chris March 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    I fully understand how difficult it can be if one has the feeling there is not the same amount of trust in any relationship. If one just doesn’t invest as much as the other one. But let’s be honest here: Does trust always have to mean that we tell someone everything about us? I can trust someone 100% and still decide to keep certain things for myself. Things that would not be good for the relationship, not good for me or the other one. Or simply things I want to keep to myself. Trust is not about sharing every little secret. Trust is about knowing one CAN share things if he or she WANTS to. Trust is when I know I can depend on someone if I ever need help. Trust is knowing the other would never knowingly do anything that hurst me. And so on. But trust does not mean I have to share everything, talk about everything or pretend I am a different person then I am. “Just” to make the other one feel better. Trust also means that the other one will accept me as I am. No matter if in a friendship or a relationship.
    Yes, Men should also be able to talk about their emotions, their fears and their secrets. But being able to, doesn’t mean they have to.

  2. Avatar of emmylee003
    emmylee003 March 29, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    I love love LOVE this part: Don’t you almost wish someone would say, “I’m honored that you are wanting to share this with me, but I don’t think our friendship is at a stage where you should.” I actually think I could say that to someone comfortably at this point in my life.

    I think the problem with a majority of people, and someone said it earlier, is that we wear our hearts on our sleeves…I think it has to do with wanting to be accepted, and feeling like someone is your “match,” whether it’s friendship or romantic. Too many times I’ve rushed into a friendship only to actually learn that the other person is NOT what I am like (I am very straightforward and a very honest person).
    I think it’s sort of like when people fall in love, the oh so popular “love is blind” comes up…I think it’s true with all types of relationships…you have something in common, so immediately you’re searching for more things in common…lo and behold, there are!!! So this one MUST be a fit for me! But just because people share a same interest, doesn’t mean their motives, behaviors, and decisions are the same. I have learned this over plenty of experiences with others. I am always amazed because my sister in-law and her husband have this massive group of ‘close/best’ friends and I’ve always said to my husband (her brother), how can they possibly have THAT many best friends??? Am I doing something wrong? Or do they handle friendships in a different manner?
    I have walls built around me after all of my experiences, and I slowly knock them down (or give a peek) with everyone I interact with now. The worst feeling is being so vulnerable only to learn that you’re really being deceived. Perhaps in your case, it wasn’t deception. Most of my instances have always turned into it being that the person isn’t trustworthy at all.
    Tricky subject, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless.

  3. Avatar of sadie
    sadie March 28, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I’m a bit relieved by this line: “I’m honored that you are wanting to share this with me, but I don’t think our friendship is at a stage where you should.” It’s what I’ve been looking for a way to say. Because I am fairly open about personal things, and not easily shocked, sometimes–often, really– people I am not really close to will share things with me that they wouldn’t share with others. But how is that grounds for me to trust them? It’s not always (in my experience, not often) the case that someone who needs a listening ear will be equally understanding, or understanding at all, when I make a leap of faith and share something private.

  4. Avatar of cbell
    cbell March 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    My favourite lines in your article are: “It makes me wonder why I’m not worthy of my friend’s best” and “So what’s my price of entry from now on? It’s pretty simple. Trust Me.”

    I relate to being in your position with not being trusted in too many of my relationships, which is a bitter thing to take because I pride myself on how trustworthy I am.

    Thank you.

  5. Avatar of empathologicalism
    empathologicalism March 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    What an incredibly myopic concept. YOU wish to give trust, hence give yourself, deep feelings fears whatever to someone, therefore you think that its a moral or ethical or relational failure for them to not want to reciprocate? That is simply unreal….unbelievable. And to assign men to being trust or relationally anemic is inexcusable, because even though we are or can be, so what?
    I may share the characteristic with you in that I prefer deep friendships with men, not the hangin out sort of ones that are much more common. But to see that as some flaw in those guys is childish and selfish. Choose those who are similar….period…that’s easy. You will end up with less friends and more acquaintances.
    As to how this plays out with women, lets explain something here. The misconception is that men are emotionally open early in the relationship then become less so. Thats a myth. They generally dont change. In the beginning it FEELS as if they are open, but all that is is the high given by the getting to know each other phase. You (and women) conflate emotional openness with initial exploration. After some time, you know most things about each other. Years later its not going to FEEL the same, period, with most men, because men are mostly not made that way, and guess what…THATS OK.
    Im sick of reading this kind of tripe that is nothing but pandering. Men could list off a bunch of similar shortcomings of women, things that men need and stop getting, whatever. You enjoy the good, and commitment gets you past the bad. This male feminist gig comes from a time back in high school when boys told girls, “Im not like those other guys”….in an effort to get the same thing “those other guys” were after.

  6. Avatar of cyjenkins
    cyjenkins March 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Expectations are premeditated resentments. If a relationship must have a price of entry, or skin in the game, then it is a conditional relationship.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Society is filled with lots of relationships based upon conditions and mutual compensation.

    However, I personally strive to allow my relationships with those closest to me (family members, friends, romantic interests) to be unconditional. Trust, like love, cannot be compelled or forced. It ebbs and flows. I have no control over my feelings of trust and love, and only marginal control over my actions of trust and love. So how can I expect feelings or actions of love and trust from someone else?

    I hear your concern about unbalanced relationships. I’ve lived that myself, on both sides of the see-saw. But requiring that I get what I give is the height of manipulation.

    So there’s a dilemma, isn’t there? If I am to practice unconditional love, how can I have balanced, healthy relationships? I think the answer comes in shifting my attitude and expectation from one of “give-and-take” to one of “give-and-receive.”

    In my intimate relationships I strive to give without cost. I strive to be of service, regardless of the other person’s ability to meet my needs. But I need to remember that I’m not being of service to them if I am giving, giving, giving and enabling them to take advantage of me. The balance is about MY choices, not theirs. I can choose to set boundaries about how much I will trust or not trust. I can also choose not to resent or punish or push away the other person if they are unable to reciprocated. Instead I can practice acceptance, and cultivate relationships with people who nurture me, and cultivate my relationship with a higher power who guides me in the murky waters of relationship.

  7. Avatar of JustSeeking
    JustSeeking March 27, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    That’s one of the best articles I’ve seen you write so far, Yashar. I’m not claiming I have been following you for that long, but still… You mention the part about how we are conditioned to believe, “If I am to open up, you must show me that you can be trusted with what is inside me.” This means that both sides are waiting for the other to start the process. If both fail to step up to the plate, then it never goes anywhere. It might help you to consider that in general, people are afraid of intimacy, afraid of pain, afraid of rejection, afraid of not measuring up to what the other wants, and on and on. Lets face it, our society does not teach people to be accepting, so revealing one’s self is a hazardous enterprise, to say the least. And I agree with you completely. This is about *all* relationships. Romance can be much stronger when trust is involved, but so can familial relationships and friendships. Perhaps romance can’t even exist without trust, but I would take a friend I can trust over a romantic partner I can’t any day. And I don’t care whether that friend is male or female. Like you, I want depth, and the people I know are not interested in that sort of thing. It *is* lonely. Very. But after some 15 years of seeking to understand myself better, I realize that I need that give and take that genuine trust brings, and I have had to accept that being lonely is preferable to being drained. Mind you, I can still appreciate the time I get with people that I like, even without closeness. It just means that there is less fulfillment for me in the experience of being with them. Is that my fault? Perhaps. I still seek. Always seeking.

  8. Avatar of ksemantel
    ksemantel March 27, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I don’t think it needs to be that complex. Part of relationships is accepting that we will not be in the same exact place at the same exact time. You were ready to trust, therefore you should. If the relationship is worthwhile, you should give the person time to “catch up.” If not, then don’t waste your time worrying.

    Everyone is a mixed bag. I think you are wise to continue with your new genuine way of communicating. You will begin attracting more and more people who appreciate a deeper connection. As for those who are not “there” yet, you can help them by setting the example of the rewards of these deeper, more trusting connections.

  9. Avatar of SSchofield
    SSchofield March 27, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I have the opposite problem. After three failed relationships in my life, all having ended from the male lying and cheating, I can not bring myself to trust another man, even with the smallest things. I know it is causing damage to a future relationship that I am just now beginning, because he gets very frustrated with me, but I feel like I have absolutely no control over it anymore. It is my worst fear to trust someone again and end up looking stupid once again and getting my heart broken. So then I have to wonder am I doomed to a lifetime of loneliness?

    • Avatar of somegirlsomewhere
      somegirlsomewhere March 27, 2012 at 11:33 am #

      SSc, I completely understand your position. I know what it is to be betrayed after 2 committed relationships (romantic). I also know the feeling of being let down by “trusted” friends that basically left me in the dust.

      Like you, I find if very difficult, if not impossible to ever trust another man. I honestly wonder if any man has actually fallen in love with me and given as much of themselves to me, as I have them.

      Just because you are alone, doesn’t mean you should be lonely. Take your time with this new relationship. Don’t let it consume you (I have a nasty tendency of allowing a relationship consume my every ounce being). There is no need to rush. Take your time and if you see those red flags pop up, don’t ignore them. Heed what is being said and follow your heart and gut.

      May wisdom be with you.

  10. Avatar of somegirlsomewhere
    somegirlsomewhere March 27, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    It’s perfect timing that I see this article. I am in a very similar situation with a man I felt very comfortable with, but for his reasons, he can’t seem to reciprocate. Therefore, like the author, I have now been put in a position where I can no longer be as forth coming as I would like to be.

    It has gotten so “bad” with this individual that he will not make contact with me unless he needs/wants something. If I don’t make contact with him first, I basically off his radar.

    As the author wrote, we cannot be angry with these people. But on the same note, I cannot keep wearing my heart on my sleeve hoping he’ll notice and still receive nothing in return.

    Therefore, I have to do what is best and safe for my emotional well-being and have completely pulled back. If he wants me and wants to talk, he knows where to find me.

    As someone who doesn’t trust a single soul, it’s very difficult for me to open up (again, very much like the author). I’m desperately trying to come out of my shell as life has handed me one blow after another. I am trying to be the person I want to be and share aspects of my life with others. I fully understand the peeling onion idea. Trust is not given, it is earned. You continually peel away the onion until all surfaces have been revealed and you are at the core of that person.

    I cannot subject myself to anymore pain and hurt from other person who cannot or does not want to share themselves with me. As painful as it may be now, to pull away and keep myself safe; it would be much more painful if I continue to wear my heart on my sleeve for this individual and be left with a hangover the next day.


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