Friday, September 24, 2010

A Matter of Trust

I'm the first to admit that I evaluate people on first impression and form my opinions quickly. Because I know this isn't really fair, I have a strict policy of giving the benefit of the doubt. It only seems right, after all. But I have to say... I'm rarely wrong, and never (at least so far) drastically so. When it comes to trust, for instance, I'm always dead on. Someday my streak may break... but I wouldn't bet on it.

So I had this odd moment this morning. It was a busy day for me, and an early one. I've got this self-imposed deadline, I had to get my nephews on their bus after getting them prepped for school, and I had errands I wanted out of the way early. Not being a morning person, this wasn't my happy place. But you know how it is... once you're up you discover it's easier to just go with the flow.

I was flowing along and decided to check messages/emails/whatnot. There was a message from a friend-- and, oddly, I DO consider her a friend-- whom I've never completely trusted. She's not a "bestie," or even a close friend. I've heard her describe herself otherwise, but that's one of her quirks, too. Sitting there as the clouds blew out to sea and a nice fall day emerged, I glanced at a passing comment this friend made, and thought "man, she really is sneaky."

Maybe it's my background in language forensics... but to be honest, I always remember being this way. I'm hyper-aware of motives, very conscious of what makes people tick. I have a small, but very intimate "inner circle" of people close to me, and I trust them without question or hesitation. Pretty much everyone else in the universe falls into another category. I tend to look at casual friends and compartmentalize them into slots: why are you in this relationship with me, and how should I be careful? And I guess most would see this as a flaw. I don't.

Maybe because I trust my own motives in doing this. I'm not out to control or "catch" anyone. I just like to know what makes the other guy tick... and keep it in mind. It saves me the trouble of being absolutely floored by completely predictable behavior. People don't surprise me very often. They never shock me. And when a friend does something that may cause everyone else to flip out and break off friendships/ divide into camps/ feel somehow betrayed, I generally shrug it off. I think it also allows me to like people others might not care for. Knowing Susie-Q has flaws and anticipating how they will manifest lets me cut Susie the kind of slack I'd like people to cut me.

I have a temper. I tend to judge people but not ACT on that judgement. I tend to completely cut you out/off once you've crossed my line. I'm stubborn. I'm unlikely to seek advice, since I only do so when I really do want it. And I look for motives... all the time... in everyone.

So this was an odd moment, this little revelation. I saw a friend say something that, I can promise you, is going to be a gigantic free-for-all fight within 24 hours. I immediately hearkened back to the day I met her and a few things she said that made me think, "wow, she's got some needs that keep her from being self aware." It was fine with me then. We all have flaws. I've shared some of mine.

But something I've decided to believe over the years-- just because I've found it to be true-- is that your good and lasting friendships have little to do with what you have in common with someone. The lasting friendships are more about people with flaws you can tolerate. And casual friendships that float along with every ebb and flow are similar. I can like a selfish person. I can like a control freak. I can like a gruff or blunt person. Those are flaws that I may share, or may just be familiar with. I can even tolerate a minimum of dishonesty if it is born of self-defense or moderate delusion. I actually even like a good dose of mean.

I can't tolerate bigotry. I can't tolerate cruelty. I can't tolerate constant deception. I can't tolerate neurosis unless the dose is very small.

So the weekend should be interesting, because a friend (casual, but still a friend) just slipped up and let about a dozen of her friends/frienemies/acquaintances know she's a bit of a back-stabber. Since it's not my back I won't take sides. And since saw it coming-- for like, three years-- I'm not surprised. How others react?

Well, that's the fun part. Popcorn, anyone? :)

2 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Leigh Royals said...

A very fascinating perception. I totally aspire to be able to see people's motives better. I always try to do my best, and while I know not everyone shares the same opinion, I'd like to think there is some middle of the road understanding between me and other people. But, more often than not, any misconception or miscommunication I've been a part of, whether I caused it or received it, boils down to me not completely understanding that person's motive. It's so hard. I wonder if I'm too caught up in trying not to hurt someones feelings. Because that's something I worry about. I like to take the path of least resistance, but I'm learning, that's rarely productive.

Keep us posted on any fallout...can I have more butter on my popcorn?
Thanks.

Knstrick said...

Wow, I didn't think anyone else shared the same view as me, but what you described is pretty dang close. I've just always thought I was hyper suspicious or critical of others.

It's funny, because I was thinking the other day that my trust is limited even with my 'close' friends (who have been growing more distant as life drifts us apart). I trust that they would be feeling and compassionate for me if I called them to complain, but I don't necessarily trust them to do more than that.

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