I am by nature a trusting person; it’s how I was born: ‘different’. Perhaps the doctor dropped me, or instead of slapping my botty he missed and clouted my head. Who knows? As a kid I was always easily tricked by other kids because I wasn’t a nasty little shit like them. I remember being six years old, in first grade and sitting on the end of a long row of tables for kids because I am left-handed. The pretty little blonde girl who sat next to me, Nicky, used to hold my hand and ask me to help her with maths. I thought she held my hand because she liked me; she liked me most during maths. The next year I was seated somewhere else. All through junior school Nicky was my girl, but of course only in my little head.
My father was a weak person and his weakness found sanctuary at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Even as a little boy I swore to myself that I would be a stronger man than him. It wasn’t difficult. My mother never trusted my father to be alone with me. Now you know why I make a point of discovering my date’s ability to handle alcohol. I grew up in a home that was a battleground devoid of trust.
My mother wasn’t a bad mother, just an over-protective domineering one. She couldn’t handle the responsibility she felt when other kids came to play at my house. When I was nine, a little boy hurt himself at our home and my mother banned me from bringing kids home after school. I think humans are intrinsically social creatures, so in my very first act of rebellion I enticed kids to incur my mother’s wrath by offering them any of my toys if they came to play with me. I didn’t give many toys away. Unsurprisingly I wasn’t allowed to go to other kid’s homes either because my mother was terrified that something bad would happen to me. My formative socialization was disastrous. It won’t surprise you then if I told you that today I have very few friends.
My mother put her own feelings and the feelings of others ahead of mine. My father died of a heart attack when I was thirteen and I was lurched into a new world, the adult world that I was ill-equipped for. At times I went to school for three days a week and worked in a scrap metal yard the other days. Far earlier than most I began to think for myself and saw that my mother was a simple person, struggling with her own place in the world, a world that never made sense to her and everything scared her. I lost all faith that she could do what was right for me. I lost faith in her consistently flawed judgement and that eroded my trust in her.
At the end of high school I had my first serious girlfriend and she was my first love and I lost my virginity to her. It was great. I didn’t have the money for university so I had to go off to do National Service. I was posted literally a thousand miles from home and I kept in touch with my first love via weekly letters and a brief phonecall late on a Sunday night. Three months into my training she told that that she met a guy at her work and had slept with him. I was devastated. That betrayal sliced a valley though the middle of my heart. The rigours of everyday military life took my mind off what had happened to me and I realize now that I suppressed it. Let’s call that Betrayal 1. Click here to read more.
A couple of years later and I meet a sweet little brunette girl who doesn’t have the blonde aquiline look that I like, but I liked being with her. She was good, decent, honest and innocent, so I felt emotionally safe with her. She was non-threatening to me. We grew up together and we grew apart. At the end of our fifteen year relationship she said to me that she didn’t love me for the last five years of it. Again I was devastated. What bothered me the most in the longer-term fallout was that I had missed the fact that she was deceiving me. I trusted her totally, but it was my damaged faith in my own judgement that bothered me. Let’s call that Betrayal 2. Click here to read more.
The paperwork on my divorce settlement hadn’t dried when I met the person who became my Exgf. We shared a chemistry like I had never experienced before. I’m a bit of a love-fool in that I fall in love very quickly and I love totally; I hold nothing back. I revel in love, I live for love. Imagine my shock when I discovered that my Exgf had been putting on an act and had been spying on me for the duration of our relationship. She had duped me and manipulated me from day one. I felt like such a fool. Let’s call that Betrayal 3. Click here to read more.
The cumulative effect – the damage, the baggage – of these three betrayals is long-lasting. I only really became aware of it when I encountered Baltic Babe who also has trust issues. Hers stem from her parents giving her up when she was little. Being assaulted and patronised by someone else’s insecurities was not fun, but it made me realize that I am beset with a similar sensitivity, a hobbled outlook.
Like so much of human behaviour my trust issue is driven by fear. I fear being hurt again, fear being manipulated, fear feeling like a fool again and it is at the back of my head every time I meet someone new for a date. I now don’t trust my judgement when it comes to women. I instinctively still hope for the best, but am so much more in-tune to keeping an eye or ear out for this person’s ability to betray me. I know it’s not right, but the three scarred roads, the betrayals, that criss-cross my heart make the journey a little rougher than what I would like.
So what stirs my fragile sense of trust? The number one thing is anything that hints at manipulation. A smattering of lies on a dating profile about their age and old photos are quickly revealed for what they are once I meet her. Their efforts to craft an impression, to deceive me into meeting them jars from the outset and it rubs up against my wondering if they can be trusted. Trying to trick me takes me back to being a little boy being made a fool of by mean-spirited kids. Nobody appreciates being led by the nose.
That’s the obvious and superficial, but it’s the second thing that equally totally kills it for me: dishonesty. If my date reveals, usually by way of anecdote, her having to indulge in dishonesty for whatever reason, I go a little cold inside. There are people who indulge in ‘little white lies’ all day long as their way of getting through life – I am not one of them and I consider such people as weak. Weak people can not be trusted; they will eventually screw you over, then offer some excuse and make you feel bad for not forgiving them. They will say and do whatever makes for an easy life for themselves and eventually I pay the price for their weakness. That has been my life experience, whether it be in my home, the workplace, anywhere and everywhere.
I’m not saying that I have never told a lie, because I have but it really is only a couple of times a year. I’m serious. I reject the world I grew up in; I shall be the change I seek. I would rather hurt someone with the truth than deceive them with a lie – and I expect the same in return. I have no time for people who lie every day, not because of their dishonesty but because of their weakness. I’m aware that this is all a learned condition, exacerbated with adulthood experiences, but I fear that I might never un-learn it.
On a date I lead with my heart because that’s how I am. It doesn’t take too long discussing pretty much anything when ethical or moral dilemmas are mentioned. I pay careful attention to how she handled the situation. I like to know that the woman in my life won’t buckle under pressure and take the easy way out, like my parents used to. I need to know that I can depend on my woman at all times. I operate to a high standard and am best suited to someone similar in that regard. Someone who lacks self-respect and is promiscuous can not expect respect from me. If they do not respect themselves how dare they expect respect from someone else? A woman who thinks there are grounds for cheating has no place in my life. These are just other forms of weakness. Someone who has very different ideas of what is right and what constitutes wrong will collide with my trust issues.
I am pretty sure that I don’t let my trust issues show when I’m on a date. I smile, am polite, affable, interested and interesting. Someone who has never met me could not detect them; I bury it deep. I think of it as a little demon that runs around inside me; he’s hideous to look at but he’s not all bad. Lately I have managed to capture and lock him away in a tiny cage suspended from my heart by a chain. If my heart starts beating too fast, the chain down to his cage springs about and the movement wakes him. The cause of the increased heartbeat could be that I’m liking what I’m hearing or seeing, so he serves as a balancing force within me that prevents me getting carried away. Sometimes the chain moves because a woman has said something that grates against my sense of honesty and decency, so he gets woken then too. He stays on alert the whole time that I am in the presence of danger, such as with the Randy Russian, and he only retreats to his dark corner, chortling to himself, when it safe for me again. He is a little demon that I have to manage, he does not control me, but he has his uses and I shall keep him around until I feel the time has come to cut the chain that binds us because his purpose has been served.
My damaged need for trust has had the recent effect of me not becoming embroiled in relationships with women who are patently not suitable for me. A younger version of me would have pursued Krazy Girl until she became mine. She was physically perfect and her state of confusion I perceived as temporary, which appealed to my White Knight Syndrome because I felt I could fix her. However, it is my trust issues that prevented me from charging at the windmill that is her and spearing her with my lance, literally and metaphorically. My trust issues have kept me out of danger. I think of it as a shield, not the best or prettiest shield, but it does the job.
Is it not better to err on the side of caution? Some people might say that opportunity does not come along often and that embarking on a promising relationship should always be done because if it doesn’t work out you can try again. I find that avenue of reasoning to be flawed and dangerous. None of us are getting younger, past a certain age our marketability is constantly in decline and the effect of a succession of short-term relationships can not be good. You run the risk of treating each relationship like an expendable commodity and thus sabotaging it from the outset. You also use up time that can not be replaced. Furthermore I believe that we are imbued with a finite capacity for emotional damage; I call this Emotional Capital. Each failed relationship draws down on our Emotional Capital and eventually one day the thought of a relationship no longer holds any attraction. Trust in others is inevitably damaged.
My White Knight Syndrome has got me into relationships and the price has been coming away with trust issues. The irony is not lost on me that those same trust issues are now keeping me out of harm’s way, preventing a draw-down on my Emotional Capital and protecting my capacity for love. I would rather take my time and get it right, because if you don’t have the time to get it right, where are you going to find the time to do it over? We are all running out of time.
Trust in someone else takes a long time to build up, but it’s destroyed within seconds, which is very similar to respect. Both are vital ingredients for love (there are a few others too). What my travels through the Kingdom of Dating has shown me is that finding someone whom I can trust and respect is rare. That saddens me and a casual observer will point an accusative finger at me. I would suggest that they refrain until they know my entire journey, have walked in my spurs for a while.
I look forward to the day when I cut my trust demon free to drown and disappear into oblivion. My faithful little accomplice will no doubt wail and thrash about in a pitiful attempt to save his meagre existence. A part of me thinks that he might surprise me and instead grip the rusted frame of his prison one last time, press his ugly face between the bars and grin up at me, happy for me, his crimson eyes glowing bright as ever, but smiling for once as he goes under.
Billy Joel- Matter of trust