A few months back I wrote about when we wonder what happened to that guy (or woman) that we were involved with at the beginning and why can’t they go back to that. This person that pursued you, made you feel like the focal point of their lives, showered you with attention, said you were special, refused to back off if you were initially disinterested, talked about the future and littered conversations with ‘we’ and ‘us’, gave you great sex, called, emailed, text messaged and instant messengered, wondered why you weren’t with them when you were with your friends, got jealous, posessive, talked about having babies and getting married about a hot minute after you’d met…has disappeared, whether that’s literally or figuratively.
If it’s literally, one minute they were in your life, next thing you know they’ve upped and gone. Where you used to be able to get through to them or rely on them calling you around a certain time each day, whhhhoooooossssshhhhh, they’re gone. You’ll be suspended in disbelief initially but with every day that passes, it becomes more and more evident that you’re not hearing from them again. You’ll probably replay every damn conversation you had and wonder what you did to scare them off and start giving yourself a really hard time. But really, is there ever a legitimate excuse for someone to disappear without saying a goddamn word? The booby trap of course with someone who pulls a disappearing act is that if they reappear in your life and they manage to slip back in without too much hassle, the tone gets set for the relationship.
If it’s figuratively, the charming person has left the building and what you’ve been left with is someone who behaves and treats you in a less than attractive way. You’ll wonder if you can take them back to the store and get an exchange! One week they were calling you morning, noon, and night, and now, you’re lucky if you hear from them once a week. You used to talk on the phone about what seemed like anything and everything, now they’re hurrying you off the phone, grunting answers, and being snappy and impatient with you. Those plans they made? Turns out they’re a Future Faker, faking a future with you so you’ll step up in the present. Now, you’re lucky if they’ll talk about the next hour never mind the next month!
Do you know what most people on the receiving end of this downright dubious behaviour struggle with? They started to trust this person.
All that stuff that the person did at the start of the relationship for however long it lasted, was them reeling you in, lowering your defences and getting you to trust them.
For you, as things progressed, there were certain ‘trust points’ in the relationships; things that you used as a basis to trust in them and the relationship. They’re the things you start trusting in and you’ll likely be able to recall when you look back on the relationship, these things that all added up to the sense that you could trust them – if you had a guard, you let it down. The trust points will also be the things that blinded you to other things that you should have been concerning yourself with.
There can be any number of trust points in the relationship although it is very possible that you can recall that one specific thing that tipped you over into trusting them, even if there were things that you were not crazy about or were even red flags.
Why would we trust someone who we instinctively recognise possesses qualities, characteristics and values that we may not be comfortable with?
Because when someone gives you attention, makes you feel special, keeps telling you how crazy about you they are, how you should trust them, and they can’t believe how fortunate they are to have found you and yada, yada, yada, you start to get sucked in by the fact that they like you so much that it clouds out any concerns you may have.
It’s flattering when someone seems to be crazy about you.
What are our ‘trust points’?
Trust Points are not too dissimilar to the hooks I wrote about recently, which are the things that convince you that you have a connection with someone and make it difficult for you to let go of them, but here are the most common trust points I come across:
Sex – A lot of women start to trust the sex and what they perceive to be the ‘sexual connection’. You’re very likely to have this as a trust point if you place a high value on sex and tend to believe that what happens between you sexually is indicative of what you feel emotionally. Sex as a trust point will be cemented though if you have other trust points.
Plans – So many women in particular get drawn in by the man that talks about the future. Littering conversations with ‘we’ and ‘us’, talking about holidays, engagements, weddings, meeting parents and friends, moving in, remodelling the home, checking out that bar he’s been going on about, taking a trip, going to the annual party etc. As women, we are inclined to believe that when someone talks about plans which can sound like making plans, that they must be really into us, after all we’re also trained to believe that men who are not interested are reluctant to make plans.
Persistence and Consistency of Attention – These two things are a real lure on the trust point front and are very easy to be caught out on.
From the persistence perspective, the best way to capture it is: Have you ever had someone pursue you relentlessly and even though you started out not that interested, you find yourself being worn down and being drawn to them? That is persistence as a trust point at work.
You get flattered by the attention and you start to trust in the level of attention. At first it might seem like a flash in the pan and that they’ll lose interest when you decline but if you’re also the type of person who thinks dating is about the chase, the more they persist, is the likelier you are to fall for them.
From the consistency perspective, this is partly about persistence, but it’s more about over a period of time, which often in the grander scheme is still a short period of time, because they’ve been calling every day at the same times, you’ve been going on the same dates, and they still keep saying the same stuff, you start to trust them or trust the level of attention you’re getting. You may also be predisposed to fall for this as a trust point if you’re sceptical about how long a guy will stick around for and this one stays around longer.
Money and gifts – If you place a high value on these and like, for example, people who are financially secure or well off, or believe that people who are really into someone buy gifts, you’re likely to trust someone who does this stuff.
Status – This trust trap can actually be about ‘social proof’ which is where you start to trust someone because it appears that they have status or are highly regarded and trusted by others, making you think that you should be able to trust them too.
Connection – This is an overused word in relationships but it’s the whole listening to someone claim that they’re telling you things that they’ve not shared with anyone before, that they’re opening up like never before, sharing in one another’s painful pasts (or just theirs), bonding over shared interests and backgrounds – we trust someone who we think we ‘get’ and ‘connect’ with.
Manipulation and control – This is the dangerous ground of what can potentially cross into an abusive relationship, but it’s when you can end up interpreting someone’s desire to manipulate and control you as their desire and love for you.
A few days ago, an acquaintance told me how she had been involved with someone who she wasn’t that interested in but his persistence and the way he was so jealous and possessive ended up convincing her to pay more attention to him and trust him, especially when he was insistent that he had been divorced for two years and had three kids. She believed and trusted him because he seemed so anguished at her distrust. It was me who ended up telling her that he’s married, with four kids including a newborn…
Do you know what’s really annoying? People who end up mistreating you tend to push for you to trust them. When you question them on stuff, they’re indignant. When you don’t believe them, they’re petulant and whiney. When you look sceptical, they say crap like ‘Ask such and such if you don’t believe me’ and they can really persist in getting you to trust them. They’ll be careless with declarations of love and care, because they want you to say that you reciprocate.
They push for you to emotionally ‘give up the goods’ which at that point when you’re deciding that you trust them, you ‘commit’ to them.
And then they back off.
In some ways, it’s difficult to escape someone who is hellbent on putting on the performance of a lifetime for an initial period of time. Some it’s just days, others it’s weeks and months, and in some cases it can be a year or more – the quicker you find out, the better. But these people always reveal their true selves and often even have double lives where they may already be playing around with someone else.
One thing I found that was prevalent in all the tales I heard is not enough trusting of gut. The other issue that was often present was half-hearted interest.
That same woman who has just found out her guy is married, isn’t actually that heartbroken – she says she feels like a fool and that’s the difficulty in being around what essentially amounts to confidence tricksters.
Do you know what you need to trust? Yourself and their actions over a consistent period of time. If you don’t feel that interested or are cautious of them, or don’t believe them when they say they’re divorced or whatever, don’t ignore it! And while it’s important for someone to behave consistently, it’s also important to register inappropriate behaviour because you know what? Even if for the past six months someone has behaved like The Most Perfect Person Ever, when they stop and they start engaging in behaviour that is disrespectful to you and the relationship, that is a red flag. People don’t just switch up their integrity levels from one month to the next. Don’t just sit there like a disgruntled customer wondering where the product you originally ‘purchased’ has disappeared to saying ‘Well they were amazing for the first six months’ and waiting for them to ‘magic’ back. They’re not amazing now.
But it’s also important to look at your trust points and ask yourself if the things that are markers for you trusting someone are enough for you to be emotionally investing on?
You can’t decide you trust someone because they screw you right, are well respected at work, have fat bank account, and are really interested in you even though you’re not that interested in them. If it took a while for you to be interested (some people are slow burners), it’s important to assess why you weren’t.
But most of all, it’s important to remember that dating is a discovery phase, that trust is something that is earned over time that you should increase with positive stuff and decrease when it’s negative, and the reality is that not every relationship is designed to last. Some relationships and people only reveal themselves a few months in. You can reduce the amount of pain and time by keeping your eyes open, not loving and trusting blindly, and basically minimising your own poor love habits.
Your trust point should be one that is not given away easily and without regard. Remember we have to take ourselves, assess the risk and manage that risk. Take care!