Image is of a “trust fall,” an exercize where a person falls backwards with someone (or several people) behind them, trusting that said person(s) will catch them. Once was doing a trust fall thing with someone, and they dropped me.

I don’t think I’ve talked about trust much before on this blog and to be honest, I’m not sure why. I do a lot of thinking about trust, largely because my relationship with trust is more than a little bit dysfunctional. I’ve often wondered why that is, and it seems the Aspergers might just play a significant role.

Trust is such a weird, tricky thing to me. What does it mean to trust someone, or not trust someone? I often feel most comfortable in the in-between space, where I neither trust nor distrust. Everything just is, without expectation. However, while that sure sounds lovely and makes for a nice little sound-bite, it does not necessarily translate very well in reality. Expectations come with knowing someone well or for long enough, and it’s a normal part of interaction. So while I tried to just fling the concept of trust away from me for several years there, it did not work very well.

Nee actually has a definition of trust that I find pretty nifty. Basically, trust is, to him, about predictability. Trust is knowing reasonably well how a person will act in a given situation. In this case, trust is not always positive. Sometimes, I can trust that a person will let me down, or trust that someone cannot keep a secret. This influences my behavior and what I choose to share and how I choose to interact with them.

I still feel weird about the word, though. I think it’s one of those nebulous concepts that I have so much trouble with. I can’t nail it down, so I feel like I’m trying to wrap a net around fog when I try to get a solid handle on what it is.

Another important point about trust (wow, I’m jumping all around here) is that even for a single individual, trust is non-transferable. Maybe I can trust that someone will keep something private, but not trust that they will be kind to me in a conversation. People are strange and unreliable creatures, and a person might be super reliable in one sense and not at all reliable in another. Or, even worse, they might be totally reliable one day and not at all reliable another.

Navigating all this complexity is very difficult for me. I wish people were more consistent, but they just aren’t. I suspect my own inability to keep up and to accurately assess people’s moods at a glance really has an impact on my willingness and ability to trust people.

Nonetheless, I have found that I still have the ability to feel betrayed by an action. It stands to reason that if I feel a sense of betrayal due to someone someone did, I must have first had a sense of trust that they would not do that thing, right? So it’s tempting to attempt to go back to no expectations – only there is a point where lack of trust and distrust become very similar, and people, in my experience, do not care to be distrusted. It is insulting.

I also think that in my case, my autism makes me more vulnerable. I have an unfortunate tendency to believe people, which can very easily lead to my getting hurt. I also seem to view socialization in a simplified way, causing me to miss nuance that might be obvious or important to someone else. (of course, this goes with my usual rant that this is, of course my fault, and if other people miss nuance that is obvious or important to me, that is somehow also my fault. I think differently, but that doesn’t make me less)

I don’t actually have any answers here, only perspective. The perspective of someone who is frequently confused by this “trust” thing, all too frequently hurt, and who has little idea of what to do with it all.


Filed under issue, personal, social skills

2 responses to “Trust

  1. Possum

    Interesting post. I liked Nee’s definition of trust. That works a lot better for me than the fuzzy emotion-based one I was previously using but never quite got. I also liked the way you articulated the space between trust and not trust. That I think is the closest to what I actually do. Thanks.

  2. Undiagnosed

    I have huge trust issues. It is something I have been, and surely will be, working with for years. So I definately don’t feel like I have any answers, but a few observations maybe…

    Nee’s definition is actually quite useful. I haven’t really thought about it in terms of trust as such, but I always imagined that I had to see people through different “glasses” that were suited to them. That way, I had less chance to get hurt, because I would have a better chance to guess what to expect.

    I mean, other people might not be acting how one would want or expect just because it is their personality. Just like people on the spectrum have some issues, other people can have other issues as well, and not really be able to help their reactions. Observing how people behave not only to you, but also to others, helps to give you more realistic expectations about how they will behave in the future.

    For example, I know that personally, I can’t keep a secret. It isn’t that I don’t want to; it is just that I can’t remember that something should be a secret, and in general, I am a really overly honest person that tends to get in trouble for saying exactly what I think, without really thinking about whether or not it is even smart to say anything at all…

    I have also realized that people in general will always act in what they believe are their own best interests (and that is not wrong or bad, it is just how it is). Having said that, I find that most people are extremely short sighted and illogical, who don’t realize that they are behaving in ways that actually will hurt themselves. So this last part doesn’t always help me so much. I think it is more useful for rationalizing hurtful actions after the fact of me getting hurt, to help me let it go and move on, than being able to predict someone’s behavior.