Monday, November 29

To trust or not to trust

I had a really interesting discussion with a friend of a friend this past weekend. I knew that he lived in New York City and was intrigued by this, having not known too many that live in NYC. We were left alone while our friends were getting some drinks and to avoid the silence with new acquaintances that I despise*, I asked him how he liked New York. He loves it. He continued by saying that as a result of living there for so long, he trusts no one. He likes this about himself and actually thinks it’s a sign that he’s matured. I was astonished; I wondered how it was that he could go through life trusting no one. I’m just the opposite - I trust everyone, even those that I know I shouldn’t. I’ve always thought of this as a positive attribute that I have, that it was important to trust and was a sign of good character. He disagreed completely. Perhaps even hinting that it was a completely ignorant way to think. After moving to New York from Rhode Island, at first he was completely green, open to all the new experiences and cultural opportunities NYC had to offer an innocent soul such as himself. Then he got screwed over, then screwed over again and again until he realized unless he started screwing people back, that he would not survive in the city. Then began the distrust for every being he came into contact with. Even friends were not to be trusted. However, he was careful to point out that there were a few select few that had earned his trust and that he loves deeply because of it. I started thinking that maybe I have been slightly ignorant, blinded by the hope that I hold that the majority of human beings actually are genuine and kind. I’ve always felt I should trust people until they prove otherwise. The part of my life that I am most aware that this train of thought is not working for me has been in my relationships with men. But I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I mean, don’t they deserve that as fellow humans?

I'm starting to think that perhaps the people in New York City are not as cool as I once thought they were. Sure, they are fashionably dressed, have great careers and excellent social lives that completely put mine to shame (then again, a squirrels life probably puts mine to shame). But what is the point if they live their daily lives not trusting anyone? It seems cold and uncaring. And why would I want to be your friend if you’re not going to trust me, if I have to take measures just to prove to you that I can be trusted and worthy of your friendship? Please. I was actually hanging out with a guy recently who grew up in New York and has recently moved here and that was one of the things he said to me that I could not forget. He said he trusted no one. Not even me. I was insulted. I had done nothing to him to make him distrust me and was not planning on it. (With him, though, it turns out that was just the beginning. I’ll embellish further in a later post.) It was such a turn-off to already not be trusted.

So my question is…am I being na├»ve? Is this something I haven’t been clued in on until now? Should I stop trusting people? Should I actually get off the couch and work on my social life?

(*I try my hardest to be comfortable with silence. Sometimes I succeed. But those who say that it’s a result of lack of self-confidence that causes one to dislike silences is full of shit. I consider myself to be quite the confident individual; I would just rather not sit there feeling the energy of another human being just inches away with the silence between us just pounding pounding pounding, causing me to want to scream at the very next second that we sit there with no words exchanged. It has more to do with my lack of ability to shut up than self-confidence. )


dammit sami said...

I tend to agree with you, although I think there is a happy medium between trusting some one 100% even when you don't know them very well and trusting someone 0% until they "prove" their integrity through various - obstacle courses? Set-ups? What? It is sort of arrogant to assume that one's unconditional trust is a commodity so valuable that those who wish to have it should work tirelessly to earn it. For that matter, it takes a certain amount of trust to believe that said person's faith is worth earning. On the other hand, I have known people who will "assume the best" in situations where it is not only unwarranted, but unsafe. For example, making themselves physically accessible (and therefore vulnerable) to men they met on the internet. Not smart. Surely there is a middle ground between trusting completely and not trusting at all. How about, pretty much trusting to a point, with increases or decreases based on observable behavior? Hmmm - nothing sterlizes emotion quite like clinical language.

Undecided said...

I completely agree. I think that's the way to go. I guess it's smarter to not trust 100%, as a form of protection to a point - like you said, a happy medium. I definitely don't think you should protect yourself 100%, either, like my friend, because then you risk missing out on something simply out of fear of letting them in. I think we learn our most when we've been crushed and in a way, violated. But perhaps that's what he was saying, he was done learning and not trusting anyone anymore is what comes next. I kept trying to get out of him what it was he didn't trust about people, and more specifically, what types of things had caused that. But he didn't elaborate. It all comes down to be completely situational. I just think it's dangerous to be that skeptical of every person you encounter. To me, the risk of missing out on someone phenomenal that could potentially change your life one way or another is a greater risk than getting hurt if you choose to trust the wrong person.

dammit sami said...

Word, Undecided.

PS - You decidedly rule.