The Latest Blog Posts From Ryan David
Can we truly love someone without trusting them?
Here's how, and why...
First of all, as I established in my previous blog post titled, "Love part 1: The Difference", it is important to note the distinction between feeling love for someone, and actually loving someone with your actions. We may or may not have feelings of love that accompany our actions and intention to overtly love someone we don't trust. In this post however, I am only going to explore and examine how and why the action of loving someone that we don't trust is not only possible, but dangerous...
The notion of loving someone we don't trust may seem odd or contradictory, but none the less, I believe it is definitely possible, and unfortunately way too common. To help put this possibility in perspective, let me ask you some simple questions to serve as an analogy.
Can you feed someone, and make sure thy eat without trusting them?
Can you take someone to the doctor and see that they are cared for and medically well and healthy without trusting them?
Can you love and care for a wounded pet or animal that you don't trust and fear may bite you?
If you answered yes to all three questions then you probably get it.
My point is, we can do things like this (above) with and for each other as well if we choose, out of pure love for a person or creature, regardless of whether we trust them or not.
So the simple part of my point, and this post, is that it's possible to love someone you don't trust.
The complex part is that it is this very ability, or tendency, to love without trust, that complicates and prolongs unhealthy relationships. That is where the possibility lends itself to a potentially problematic cycle.
Why is it that we are unable to fully love someone inside a relationship with someone we don't fully trust?
The problem with being able to love without trust is this: we get in relationships with people because we love them (not a problem), BUT, we also STAY in the relationship because we love them, even AFTER we stop trusting them (problem). That is not healthy.
So, the first distinction to make here is, just because you CAN love someone that you don't trust, does not mean you can, let alone should, try to be in a healthy, working, relationship with someone you don't trust.
That is the difference, and that is a mistake that is made way too often. "I stayed because I love him." Or "I want to give it another chance because I care about her." How much you care or love someone is really irrelevant when it comes to having a healthy relationship IF there is no trust. You are just going through the motions on auto pilot, playing house, not growing or building anything of substance, inevitably either waiting to get hurt, or waiting to make a mistake (like getting married or having children).
Inside a relationship, lack of trust complicates and prevents the growth and expansion and maturity of love from ever reaching, or even moving towards its full potential and what it's capable of.
This happens because there is a vulnerability component that is naturally part of any relationship. Healthy relationships are all about being comfortably vulnerable. This comfort increases as trust does.
Not only are we already naturally vulnerable in relationships, but where there is a lack of trust we have predetermined and established a consistent, potential danger of getting hurt, and where there is danger there is distraction, and when we are distracted we are limited in our abilities, including the ability to love fully.
However, when we care or love someone, we may become blind and unaware of this reality, almost to the point of denial about how much the lack of trust is having a real impact on the magnitude of our love and the relationship. So we tend to push on, and almost try to compensate for the lack of trust and pain by trying to show or "express more love" in a sense. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
A common misconception people have when it comes to how and why love and relationships work is that they are under the impression that it's love, and emotions, and passion, and desire, and attraction, and caring, and feelings - that don't just make up, and drive a relationship (which they do to some extent), but that those things are also what will carry a relationship for a lifetime, which they will not!
Feelings are doomed without trust. Trust is the key, core component of a relationship that is the over all fabric which holds it together. Trust is a security, and comfort you feel in your soul with someone.
It represents a certain deep level of safety inside of a relationship with other people. And just like with Maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid, and human needs psychology suggest, after food and water, safety is the most basic primary need we have. We instinctively seek to attain safety as individuals before we do anything else besides eat, even in relationships. When we feel threatened or in danger of being harmed by someone, we will do whatever it takes to find security for our emotions, even if that means investing them in someone else.
That's why I believe that inside of a relationship with someone we don't trust in our gut, yes it's possible to love, but it is hard to genuinely love someone in a way that you're fully potentially capable of when you have the uncertainty and fear from that lack of trust. Under these circumstances that a lack of trust creates, your primary need is to deal with getting or finding trust, safety, and security, not giving love.
However, once outside of that relationship, where we feel safe, and the constant danger of potentially getting hurt (whether real or imagined) is not eminent, we then can objectively see and look exclusively at how we feel and whether we want to care for someone or love them, and possibly if we still want to be loved by them. At this point is where the problem often occurs.
We break up with someone or end things when either the pain or fear stemming from lack of trust or connection gets so intense, that it seems and feels stronger and more real than the positive things we feel for the other person, to the point that it blurs things and inhibits us from comfortably loving normally, and naturally. But, once we break up or end things, that act or action in and of itself of ending or stopping or getting out of and being separate from "danger", entails and implies that we are now safer or relieved of that threat It is with this hallucination that we are then susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by the experience or opportunity of now being able to see and focus strictly and completely on the positive feelings we have for the person we still love, without the threat or fear of danger or getting hurt. This is when we go back.
So you see, the danger in being able to love someone while not trusting them can lead us to stay in an unhealthy relationship, or return to one after leaving. This tendency is not only hard for most people to recognize, but equally as difficult for most to accept. Why and how specifically trust is absent can be at the root of the problem when it comes to recognition and acceptance, therefore complicating any form of healthy intervention or resolution.
Regardless of why trust has been damaged or lost, it is imperative that the issue of trust (or lack of) is not only addressed, but either resolved, or understood in a way that includes each person being willing to take responsibility and be accountable for using defined, concrete skills, strategies and steps that are agreed upon by all parties, in an attempt to provide a realistic opportunity for meaningful lasting change and healthy growth.This may or may not require assistance from a relationship specialist, therapist, counselor, or coach. As for the issue of trust, see below for some bonus info.
Two common misconceptions people have about trust:
1. The reason we don't trust is because trust has been broken or lost.
Yes, lack of trust can come from being achieved and then broken, or lost. But mistrust can also come from someone who never attained it in the first place. Do not assume that trust issues within a relationship are always the result of an occurrence or incident that took place between the people currently in a relationship.
When it comes to trust, you need to understand that it is possible for people to bring baggage and insecurities into the relationship which prevent and handicap trust from ever truly having a chance. A persons lack of, or failure to trust, can come from their perceptions, assumptions, and beliefs, and not necessarily anything tangible.
Discovering or recognizing if any of this is the case, and then taking steps to address it as soon as possible, either individually or together, is critical. That being said, there are things you can do to guard against these "barriers of beliefs" as much as possible, and do your part to help create a trustworthy connection.
One, always be mindful of whether or not anything you are doing or saying could be perceived as untrustworthy. Don't wait to hear from your partner or for them to react, be mindful of your actions and have their feelings in mind. Don't assume that just because something is ok with you or you wouldn't mind, that will or should feel the same. Getting to know more about your partners, expectations, beliefs, and standards when it comes to relationships should help shed some light on these things. But don't walk on eggshells, at the end of the day you should be able to be comfortable being yourself.
Second, if your partner does do or say something that you perceive as disrespectful or untrustworthy, based on your own expectations, beliefs, standards or "rules", always express and communicate it to them as soon as possible. Again, if you have never communicated it to them before, don't assume they know. Just because you think they should know, doesn't mean they do, and it doesn't mean you shouldn't, and aren't obligated to tell them, because you are. Part of being in a relationship involves learning about each other, and often that requires us to teach. Tell them how it makes you feel, and why, if possible. If you have a hard time talking about your feelings, write it down, but be sure they know, and asap! Never hold back or bury something they did or said that hurts, concerns, or worries you in any way. Don't hold back from expressing or communicating your needs and concerns about something that affects you, simply because you think it's obvious or that they should know. Along with trust, communication is the most important ingredient to the survival of a healthy relationship.
Doing these two things from the very beginning of the relationship will at least help promote and facilitate the opportunity for healthy trust to be established and grow over time.
2. Cheating is the primary reason or way to lose or break someones trust.
Again, cheating is obviously going to cause significant problems and issues inside of a relationship overall, specifically when it comes to trust. Being faithful is probably what most people correlate to trust. However, lack of trust DOES NOT automatically equal or imply fear of cheating. There are other ways or reasons we may fail to gain, or lose trust inside of a relationship that have a detrimental impact...it's not always about "cheating".
Being faithful does not just apply to monogamy or exclusivity, as far as having one sexual partner or mate. It also applies to meaning what you say, and being faithful to your word. It involves keeping your promises, and loving someone unconditionally, with supportive, consistent actions and a dedicated regard for their emotional well being, regardless of the external circumstances in your own life.
Maybe it's your partners intentions you don't trust. If you are dedicated to being something or someone to another person and are invested, you want to know, and to see proof, that they are dedicated and have meaningful intentions for you, and the relationship as well. This validation and the belief in ones intentions will not come from just simply the expression of words and actions, but for words and actions to be meaningful, they need to be C-Squared: Congruent and Consistent.
Which leads me to another simple but very necessary form of trust in a relationship that involves relying on being informed of how our partner is feeling and what they are thinking as it pertains to the relationship. This requires being open and expressing ourselves to our partner. If we don't feel or believe that we are able to depend on our partner opening up to us so that we have the opportunity to know whats going on with our partner internally and emotionally, then we will not only begin to lose trust in their tendency or ability to communicate, but also in their intentions with us inside the relationship, and possibly even worse, maybe in how much they care about us.
In conclusion, don't let how much you care, or your feelings of love determine whether or not you should stay in a relationship and continue to express them. Rather, ask yourself if there is a strong enough foundation of communication and trust to feel safe with that person and let that be the gauge for whether or not it is a relationship worthy of continuing to invest your love. Getting out of an unhealthy relationship does not mean you don't love someone or never cared for them. It simply means that you love yourself enough to find a safe place to live emotionally, even if that means outside of a relationship with someone you love.