Relationship Thursdays (March 27, 2008)

¡Hola! Everybody,
My blast song (on 360), You Will Know, by Stevie Wonder, is probably one his less-known compositions, but it has to be one of his best…

* * *

Honesty, Trust, and Relationships

“You will know
Troubled heart you’ll know
Problems have solutions
Trust and I will show”

— Steveland Wonder

I was considering dropping the “Relationship Thursdays” because in looking back, it would seem that I’m projecting this aura of a “relationship guru” and I am far from that. Trust me, I will fuckin’ drive you crazy in a heartbeat. I am insecure, possess little impulse control, stubborn, moody, and sometimes I can be downright mean. In addition, I break rules, often cross boundaries, and suffer from what I call “Relationship Tourrettes”: that embarrassing tendency to do and say things that I later regret.

Yup. I’m a prize, ladies, so line up! LOL!

I guess I post on relationships because I see so much wrong going on in the world in the name of love and relationships. Plus, my page hits get increase on Thursdays (and Fridays! LOL!).

I would have to add in my defense, I do have a few worthwhile qualities. Not many, just a few. Life with me would be one of discovery and you will definitely experience a lot of intellectual stimulation. I like to think I’m a considerate, passionate, and experienced lover. I will make you laugh a lot, and sometimes you will feel as if you’re the only woman in the world when you’re around me. While all that might sound good, the only thing I can say with complete confidence is that I am honest. I’m not talking about the “Gee, honey, your ass is too big” honest. That really isn’t honesty, it’s sadism. A woman pointed out to me once that there’s a difference between being honest and honesty and I have to agree. The honesty I try to live is about me being as transparent as possible. I’m talking about honesty that engenders trust and for me trust is everything. In terms of relationships, nothing is more important than trust.

Nothing – not love, nor “attraction,” nor any of that other bullshit. Trust is all.

That’s my one card, that I am trustworthy – I can be trusted and I develop that trust through my actions, my life’s direction, and the consistency between what I say and what I do. To me it’s interesting that many women would rather I be “normal” (i.e., not be clingy or psychotic *grin*) than trustworthy or honest. Sure, many women blah blah blah about trust and honesty, but that’s just talk. Very few people even know what trust is. For the most part, the women I have known see trust in a selfish light. They have no clue what a genuine trusting relationship entails.

I’m not making a judgment call here; I’m stating an observation.

A few years ago, I shared office space with this wonderful woman. She was married, but she and I developed a unique and close friendship. And what was really cool was that her husband actually supported our friendship. She was an avid mountain climber and I used to think that shit was crazy. One day, she convinced to accompany her on a trip. I had no intention of rock climbing, being a city boy, I thought it would be a nice change to go into the country for a weekend.

Of course, she convinced me scale this fuckin’ wall and it was an exhilarating experience! I think rock or mountain climbing is an apt metaphor for relationship. I had to trust in her knowledge and ability and she had to trust that I wouldn’t shit in my pants, panic, and cause us both to fall. In the same way, becoming intimately involved with another is an adventure in which two individuals work to bring together their needs, goals, and desires and to maintain the balance needed to keep the relationship intact.

I’ll stretch the analogy even further and state that as the relationship deepens in involvement – as the climbers go higher up – the risk associated with depending on another increases. At first, the level of interdependence becomes more intense and the stakes to be lost increase. In addition, it become clear that the efforts of neither partner alone can achieve the balance needed to maintain the relationship. A solo climber is a foolish or dead climber, and either partner loses their grip both will plunge to the floor beneath.

My analogy highlights the important elements in understanding the relationship between trust and risk. Everyday we make decisions in our relationships: decisions to commit further or withdraw, what course of action to take in the face of a conflict, to make use of an opportunity or to let it pass by.

Oftentimes, these decisions are difficult and full of risk, in the process forcing us to face our fears and hopes when it comes to depending on another for our needs to be met. In the same way that mutual trust enables climbers to conquer the mountain, it provides the crucial foundation from which relationship partners can confidently approach the task of making decisions. This provides the explicit contract of commitment to good intentions that makes everything else run smoothly.

A woman once asked me, “What can I do to make this better for you?” It blew me away. All my anxieties about the relationship and the decisions I was contemplating disappeared. Her question told me explicitly that she was there with me and that she was willing to move the relationship forward. Unfortunately, that relationship was stillborn – it never worked out because I felt the values she expressed weren’t in line with her actions, but it was still a powerful thing to say.

This brings me to matter of how to build trust in a relationship. I’ve mentioned one when I related the story of the woman’s question me: responsiveness. Responsiveness is acknowledging a partner’s disposition. In other words, feelings of security are strengthened when a partner’s actions are geared toward a person’s particular needs. For example, when that woman asked me what she could do to make it better, it signaled to me a special consideration of my needs and preferences. Sometimes by choosing to put aside his or her own preferences in order to satisfy those of the other, a partner demonstrates genuine care about the person and is fundamentally motivated in the relationship.

There are other factors in building trust in relationships, of course. There’s dependability, which is the most fundamental way in establishing trustworthiness. A trustworthy partner is one on whom you can depend, who can be relied upon time and time again, to act honestly and with consideration.

There’s also the all-important capacity to resolve conflict in a manner that doesn’t neglect a person’s needs or jeopardize the relationship. If there is a sense of confidence in the couple’s ability to resolve conflict, the trust grows. I think that the belief that it is safe to depend on the integrity and compassion on the other’s motives is essential to conflict resolution. If I have that, we can conquer the world, let alone our conflicts.

Finally, there is faith. Faith in this sense means a sense of closure with a lot of emotion in it: there is a sense of closure regarding the partner’s trustworthiness and the future of the relationship. Faith in this sense is connected to an individual’s view of the partner of that takes in the good with the bad. That is the extent to which a partner can come to terms with a partner’s faults.

I guess women need a lot of “faith” when it comes to yours truly. LOL!

Love,

Eddie

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