So in the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about a little thing called trust. Not for any reason in particular, but just from general observation and a few conversations I’ve had, it seems that there are plenty of people out there with trust issues. Some are justified, some have too much where they shouldn’t, and some have too little where they should have more. It seems to me that one’s level of trust is based upon two things: self-esteem and past experience. And by level of trust, I mean what level you generally have going into the initial dating phase. Are you someone who is generally untrusting until someone earns it, or are you someone who trusts someone until they give you a reason not to, etc. etc. Allow me to elaborate on the two things I find to be behind most folks lack of trust.
Self-esteem: This usually has to do with a big, fat, trust issue called jealousy. In general I’ve found that the jealous party somehow doesn’t feel worthy of the person they’re dating, so they get suspicious of any and all friends or acquaintances of the opposite sex, and fighting ensues. A bit of teasing is fun and keeps your date on his/her toes, makes them feel like a hot commodity, and can be a bit of an aphrodisiac. Digging through their wallet the second they leave the room, poring over their text and call log on their phone, and hacking into their email/social networking sites is just plain nuts. Now I’m not saying all suspicion is wrong, but there’s a line between a healthy respect for the boundaries of a relationship and when they get crossed, and batshit crazy because you don’t feel like your significant other pays enough attention to you. Jealousy does nothing but make the other person run the other way and make you feel worse about yourself. My motto has always been, “if you want her, then that bitch can have you. But you know you’ll never find better.” I don’t get jealous because I feel like I’m good enough, smart enough, and dammit, people like me. I’ve got a lot to offer, and whoever it is I date is generally cool enough to appreciate it and know what he’s got. And I’m secure enough in myself to know that I’m smart enough to recognize the difference between a friend and a threat. Here’s a little tip—instead of alienating every person of the opposite sex that your beloved knows, why don’t you make friends with them and get to know them? Then you’ve got not only the “cool boy/girlfriend” moniker on lockdown, but you’ve also got a handle on who’s bluff you’re going to have to call. You might even make a friend or two in the process.
One of the other classic signs of bad self-esteem that is related to jealousy is smothering. In my humble opinion, The Smotherer is nothing more than a Green-Eyed Monster in disguise. Sure, it’s nice to be wanted, but not 24 hours a day. The Smotherer basically wraps up their whole identity in you as a couple and has very few outside interests. Everyone needs some time apart to do their own thing—scratch, burp, fart, and pick at stuff without someone sitting right next to you to get the color commentary. The Smotherer generally feels that if they’re not with you, then you’re either off doing something you shouldn’t, or you don’t care about spending time with them so they must not be worth it. This is just bad self-esteem wrapped up in a guilt trip, and you don’t need it. My advice—move. Or get them a hobby.
Past Experience: This goes hand in hand with self-esteem many times. So you’ve been burned before—you’ve been cheated on, or you’ve been lied to, or your date didn’t turn out to be everything you had hoped and more. Sure, there’s a time where it’s ok to feel like all men/women are complete shitbirds and you don’t need them, but then you have to move on. This is where most people get into a classic vicious cycle, because they never move on and then end up in another relationship fueled by mistrust, bad self-esteem, smothering, and jealousy, and that usually ends in a restraining order. The moving on is the most important step, people! The next person you date is not Stanley Stand-Me Up or Harriet The Harlot. They are an individual worthy of your time and trust and they deserve a shot. Don’t punish them for what others did to you in the past. I’ve had plenty of bum deals in my life. But I don’t hold it against the next guy, because it’s not fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to him. So if I’m still harboring some ill will or some feelings of inferiority against the male species, I try not to let myself get into a dating situation right away. Everyone’s timeline is different, so it may take you longer than it takes your friends. But DO NOT date until you’re over it! Otherwise you and your date will suffer and you’ll end up getting dumped again, which will breed more bitterness, which leads to the next person getting the jealous treatment—see where I’m going with this?
There’s one other thing I’d like to add here, and that’s that some people can actually be too trusting. I call this one Naivete. Basically you’re too dumb to realize what’s going on or in serious denial because you don’t want to believe your sweet, loving Pookieface could ever step out on you or treat you wrong. Generally, the Naivete leads to getting burned, which then can cause The Jealous Kook or The Smotherer. I am the kind of gal who, when she’s pretty far into a relationship and something fishy comes about, tries to give her man the benefit of the doubt. But when things start getting too obvious for words, or when everyone else in your social circle has an eyebrow raised but you, it’s time to re-evaluate. If they aren’t doing what they say they will when they’ve normally been reliable, when they have an excuse for not seeing you even though it’s been weeks, maybe even months, get with the program, sweetie. It’s just like this: If they want to see you, they’ll make it happen. Otherwise, they’re probably banging some skank down at the local watering hole. It’s the old adage that everyone’s heard but no one seems to take to heart: “Don’t make someone your priority when you are only their option.” So let’s all do ourselves a favor and get our minds right. It’ll save your heart some ache.