Or is it better to forget.
Is it possible to rebuild trust in a relationship after it’s been broken?
Is It possible to forgive someone after trust has been broken?
Here’s another take by Charlotte Brown.
Trust. Its role in our lives can not be understated. It's presence is everywhere. Recently I’ve been contemplating the concept of trust. Pondering if it can be healed once broken. Or if it is like broken glass – if you try to piece it back together, the broken shards only cut and wound further. I’ve always said that without trust there is nothing. Worse than nothing even. But never really delved into why I believe that to be so.
I reasoned that trust boils down to having faith that a person will be a decent human being. That is why it is so hard to mend once broken. Because when the mind reaches the decision that someone is not a decent human being there will be continual anticipation of future hurt. Despite the insistent attachment to familiarity, inevitably the rational brain will push you towards a conclusion that you are better having that person exit your life.
I had actually read this book before and remembered it being good. So when I encountered it again I thought it would be wise to re-read. It provides insights and perspectives that are both informative and intriguing.
Key concepts the book explores include:
- Choosing to be trustworthy is an assessment of short term gain vs long term gain. Cheating in the present can result in a current gain but can hinder the benefits in future as it could ruin the potential for relationships to develop or damage a person's reputation as someone that can be depended on. Hence considerations such as whether interactions are one off or ongoing can impact how a person chooses to behave. And people may also act differently depending on whether they expect to be found out.
- Trust is a matter of both integrity and competence. In the sense that even if someone earnestly is trying to act in your best interests, if they lack competence then the outcome will still be detrimental to you. For example you may trust your best friend to have your back, but you wouldn't trust them to perform brain surgery on you if you got a tumour as they just don't have the capability.
- The biasing power of trust - trust causes the mind to produce asymmetric errors in reflection making it more likely we'll overestimate a partner's support and trustworthiness and hence be more forgiving of selfishness. Trust also means you assume the other person will hold up their end of the relationship and not take advantage of you. This is more efficient than constantly keeping score of who has done what for each other. The effect of trust is smoother running relationships. Trust grinds mountains into molehills, both in the present and in memory.
- Your intuitive hunches about who to trust are generally more reliable than conscious analysis. In the romantic context this may display itself as talking ourselves into continuing to trust someone we shouldn't. Reasons why people do this include convenience of remaining in the relationship or fear of being alone. But in all such cases, the long term consequence will be poor.
- We delude ourselves and rationalise our own untrustworthy behaviour. In one experiment a group of people were asked if a person had to flip a coin to determine if they or the person in the room next door got to either play a fun video game or spend 45 minutes doing a boring onerous task what their thoughts were on a person who didn't flip the coin but just said they did and took the fun task for themselves. 100% of people thought that this was morally wrong. Similar disdain about the unfairness of this behaviour arose when people were made to watch a video of a person cheating with the coin toss. Yet when people were actually put in this situation and were filmed by a hidden camera, 90% didn't flip the coin (or flipped it multiple times to get the desired response) and took the fun task for themselves. When asked about their behaviour they saw it as acceptable and even fair. It is hard for us to know if we can trust ourselves. Our ability to forecast future feelings is limited and hence it's hard to assess how our future selves will weigh benefits and detriment.
Even before babies are able to sit up by themselves they have developed an understanding of how to choose who to trust. The book is full of interesting experiments such as the 6 month old babies that were shown a puppet show where a geometric shape with two goggly eyes is trying to get up a big hill. After the climber makes two failed attempts another geometric shape enters the scene and acts as a helper by pushing the first shape up the hill to help them reach their goal. In the next scene the first geometric shape is trying to get up the hill but this time a third geometric shape enters and pushes the climber back down the hill, hindering its progress.
Since such young babies can't speak a novel approach to understanding their responses had to be thought of. The experimenters are able to observe the babies' reactions by looking at how long a baby stares at something. When a baby sees something that is unexpected or doesn't make sense it will stare for longer. When the babies are shown a scene of the climber with the helper on one side and the hinderer on the other, when the climber runs towards the hinderer rather than the helper, babies stare for longer as if confused why this would be so. Or when made to choose between the helper or hinderer all the babies chose the helper. Even at such a young age, babies have an innate ability to assess trustworthiness.
In another novel experiment the effect of socioeconomic status was observed to see which cars would allow a pedestrian to cross at a stop sign (as required by the Californian Vehicle code) or instead speed up to cut the passenger off. The vehicles that drove past were divided into 5 socioeconomic groups (think Hyundais on one end and Ferraris on the other). In the lowest socioeconomic group every single driver stopped to let the pedestrian cross. Midway up the class ladder about 30% of the drivers broke the law and cut the pedestrian off. And in the highest socioeconomic group almost 50% of drivers broke the law to prioritise their own needs first. Interestingly other experiments conducted continued to confirm the lower levels of trustworthiness in upper class individuals. They also showed that those in higher socioeconomic groups were less willing to trust others.
DeSteno's theory is that power corrupts because there is less of a need to rely on others. "With increasing power comes the belief that one's future outcomes don't depend much on the support of others, and as a consequence the costs of treating them unfairly decreases." Conversely those that are poor or have less power need to rely on others to get by and hence trust is more important. The book explores how in some cases feelings of power can be quite malleable. For example participants in an experiment that had to write down their income on a form that showed income information of those earning much more than them were contrasted to a group that was shown income information of low earning groups. The participants were then asked by the experimenter to hold a bowl of candy for a moment while the experimenter stepped out. The candy was meant for an experiment next door with little kids in it and the experimenter would come grab the bowl in a second. The participant was told they could have a candy if they like. Those that were shown the low incomes and feeling powerful ate substantially more candy than the group shown the high incomes.
Where there is an abundance of resources, trust and cooperation becomes less necessary.
This bit of the book amused me as I could see the truth to it in the online dating context: "If there are many people who want to date you, the losses that come from breaking a trust with one partner don't pose as much of a long-term problem. As a consequence, a plentitude of a relevant resource might lead the intuitive system to favour short-term, selfish behaviours." I suspect the more popular a person is the more selfish their behaviour becomes.
One interesting finding is that research has found that height creates a greater sense of dominance, confidence and self esteem which leads people to feel powerful and act in less trustworthy ways. In one experiment people were given either small or tall avatars to use in a virtual world.
After this in the real world they were made to play a negotiation game where they could either fairly distribute money between people or keep more for themselves. It was found that playing the taller avatar had a lingering effect such that the people who had been the tall avatars acted more selfishly.
DeSteno doesn’t see people as inherently trustworthy or untrustworthy but as having capabilities for both, seeking to optimise outcomes based on weighing short term gains over long term gains. How a person behaves can change with circumstance and the balance between these short and long term gains. Co-operation and trust have the capacity to allow people to achieve much more than they are capable of achieving alone, but if you trust in the wrong situation potential losses can be great.
It's a fascinating book because the ideas and concepts in it can be so readily witnesses in your own life. Being conscious of how things operate allows you to analyse your own reactions and biases and respond accordingly. It allows you to better understand other people's behaviour and also your own. Is the trust we place warranted? Are we over-riding our own intuition with conscious rationalisations? Are we being deluded to our own untrustworthy behaviour?
I highly recommend this book!
Have I forgiven people. Yes.
Do some people deserve it in my opinion? No.
This sounds very uncatholic of me to say, but my favorite form of forgiving is staying away from the persons that wronged me, wish them well and don’t think about the deed everyday. IN OTHER WORDS NO DWELLING LOL. Bring it up on occasion to teach others how not to treat people. And for the sake of it all, don’t treat people like you were treated.
Have I trusted a person after they broke my trust? Only in one situation. And I only see this person once a year or less. Lol. (Maybe once every 10 years for high school reunions isn’t a bad idea.)
Have I stayed friends with someone who broke my trust? In most cases no, but if I do they get pushed back to the outer outer circle. It might even get pushed back to a hi and bye situation.
In different groups I’m in, a lot of conversations come up.
Yes I’ve found myself finding the answers I’ve been looking for outside the Catholic religion at times. I’ve seen a lot of people lie, treat people of other races mean, be who they are not, front appearances for the status quo and so many more stories here in my good o Catholic faith.
And we had our fair share of scandals. Google it. Unless you been living under a rock, it’s been all over the place lol. Because people in my faith just pushed it under the rug and hoped it just went away and didn’t address it like they should have in the first place, they are catching it. Do I need to explain more?
Nope, never did I see priests as mystical creatures with special powers.
Just guys that I won’t be in a room with by myself at this point.
Just like I won’t go into any hotel rooms with guys by myself unless I want hanky panky. If I decide to go back to confessions, I’ll take a whole group with me. The only thing I gotta confess? I steal food off people’s plates-and even that is off limits during pandemics.
P.S. I’m not sure what DigitalOcean or My computer career.edu is, but I’ll do my research.
Follow these easy steps that I just came up with at 4am in order to organise your thinking about it:
Does the other person see it as a betrayal as well?
Yes (Go to question 2).
No (Trust can't be rebuilt. The other person does not see that as a betrayal and fails to understand why that matters to you). Game over.
2. Does the other person took responsibility and ownership for their acts that led to the betrayal?
Yes (Go to question 3).
No (Trust can't be rebuilt. The other person can't admit that they are responsible for their own actions and therefore, they wouldn't be able to understand how to rebuild trust). Game over.
3. When confronted with the accusation of betrayal, did the other person tried to put the blame on someone else or excuse their actions because of something else (An event or other person)?
Yes (Trust can't be rebuilt. The other person is trying to manipulate you and diverge their responsibility for the betrayal). Game over.
No (Go to question 4).
4. Are you capable of forgiving without remorse, completely erasing the fact it was a betrayal and seeing that fact from now on as a learning opportunity for the other person? (that is, without bringing it up later on in life because the person stepped on your foot or left the toilet seat up).
Yes (You're a mythical creature! An evolved being). Go to question 5.
No (You're a normal human. The betrayal will slowly consume the love, trust and admiration you have for the person, until there's nothing left. Trust can't be rebuilt. It can take 1 month or 10 years to come back, but it will, undermining your thoughts). Game over.
5. Do you possess the patience necessary to teach someone who made a mistake, offering guidance without being frustrated?
Yes (Damn… you might be the best person on earth. Jackpot for the betrayer). Go to question 6.
No (A person that made a mistake in your eyes needs to be retaught with your values. If you don't have that skill in you, trust can't be rebuilt. Your guidance would be vital to rebuilding trust again). Game over.
6. Is the person capable of saying sorry to you in a sincere way, admitting their mistakes and making a commitment to learn and change the behaviour that caused the betrayal?
Yes (Careful. Some people are very good at manipulating emotions to get what they want. Analyse the history you have with that person and see if there’s a pattern of fake apologies and broken promises in their past, even with other people. If yes, game over, trust can't be rebuilt. If no, go to question 7).
No (Building trust back requires an apology. If that can't be done, you'll be forever emotionally crippled. Trust can't be rebuilt. Move away from that person as there is a chance they will hurt you even more). Game over.
7. Are you the only one who knows about the betrayal?
Yes (Good. This way you can heal at your own time, without external pressure. Take your time to think about what you need to build the trust back). Go to question 8.
No (Your reputation is damaged and it is very hard to dust that off. It might feel like a humiliation to have your private matters publicly exposed. Your self-worth is likely to decrease and the toll of that might be too big for you. Trust can't be rebuilt). Game over.
8. Do you have a strong network of friends and family?
Yes (At least you have support 24/7. When you're not feeling at your best, you know you have people you can trust and count on to help you feel in control again. That's absolutely necessary). Go to question 9.
No (It's tough to go through this alone and you shouldn't. The stress of rebuilding a relationship and teaching new moral values to an adult would be immense, therefore, you need a support network to maintain your own sanity. This way, without support, your mental health would be at stake. Trust can't be rebuilt). Game over.
9. Do you know your yourself and your core values very well?
Yes (That's a solid foundation for teaching. You're less likely to fall into emotional traps and be manipulated. You might have all it takes to make this work. Start paving the road of trust). Go to question 10.
No (You're not in a position to be a moral guide. You have to know yourself first before trying to teach life lessons to someone. Your core values are still being shaped and they are vulnerable to emotional hackers. You'll be easily manipulated and hurt again. Not worth it. Trust can't be rebuilt). Game over.
10. Are you the one that betrayed?
Yes (You're a dick! Seriously. Learn how to be a better person. Life is not a soap opera and your actions have real consequences in the real world. It's time to grow up and stop hurting people because of your own insecurities. Own up your mistakes and amend the damages to the person you betrayed). Game over.
No (I'm sorry you had to endure that. You're not alone. Everyone has been hurt before and that's part of life. You need to step forward when you feel ready. I truly hope this silly questionnaire has helped you to think about the issue and to put a smile on your face). You can now go back to your life.