Trust Issues

Mental Health, Relationships

I’ve been having trust issues. Actually, I’ve had them all my life. But they are always in flux and lately, it’s been bad. I have many reasons for my distrust, but to me, it seems excessive, especially when it comes to people I love. I mean, yes, I was blindsided by a husband who’d been cheating on me for years (and I only found that extent out in the last couple of months) and he betrayed my trust in big ways by manipulating and abusing me. But…I’ve gone to therapists for this issue many times with no success – and that was before him. And my ability to trust people when they’ve proven they are trustworthy is still extremely low.

Today, a friend posted an animated link to game theory and trust. I will share it here because it’s just so amazing:

It shows a couple of big things I hadn’t considered at all, one of which is: It’s totally *rational* to be distrusting in the situations I’ve been in! Not crazy, not horrible, just…totally entirely logical. And – that there are solutions. And…biggest of all…I’m already doing them!

With animation, they show that different strategies “win” more or less over other strategies in the short run and the long run. And that when the game changes, the level of trust also changes. We mostly all play in a zero sum game in this world – I “win” a boyfriend, which means you lose the ability to “have” that same boyfriend. I “win” the lottery, which means you now lose the opportunity to win that money. Etc.

Additionally, they show that with not enough repeat interactions, the strategy of always cheating is actually more in your favor. But over time with enough interactions with a specific person, copying what they are doing wins you more (ex: they cheat once, you should cheat the rest of the time too). HOWEVER, the huge hindrance to this strategy is miscommunication. How about if someone looks like they cheated, but in reality there were other things at play that you didn’t see and didn’t ask about? Then you continue to cheat them when in fact they never cheated you – it was just miscommunication or something else similar.

So the resulting lesson is that when there is a little bit of miscommunication, it pays to be *more forgiving.*

OHBOY. That brought up ALL THE THINGS in me.

I’ve realized recently that a lot of things people have “done” to me that I feel or felt are justified for distrusting may have actually not been deception at all, but felt like deception to me. I was just comparing them to their word – their very true word at the time. And since their word, things had changed which had not even had the opportunity to be communicated at all to me.

In other words, I’ve been assuming all people since D work under D’s premise – of knowing truths that are relevant to me and explicitly omitting or lying about them. Bigger yet, I’ve worked under my own premise of assuming people cannot possibly be telling the truth to themselves or me. And that it would be impossible to gain enough trust with anyone to believe them in the things they say regarding me. Under the premises of that game, no one will win – including me (and especially in the long run per the game).

The solutions per this animation say: ” Build relationships. Find win-wins. Communicate clearly.” Additionally: “In the short run, the game defines the players. But in the long run, it’s us players who define the game.” This latter sentence really hit close to home. I’ve treated the long run as the short run for too long. Since D, I’ve tried to build trust in the short run, assuming the long run will have the same properties. And I’ve created a game that no one can possibly win. Trust won’t be formed because I won’t allow it, because I don’t believe it exists. And in the process, I’m creating a lose-lose situation, especially with my closest people.

Additionally, I’m inspired by the first solutions of building relationships, communicating clearly, and finding win-wins, which I think I have done and continue to do in numerous ways in my life in general. Changing the game is something *I* can do – and so can you.

Food for thought.

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