Solid relationships depend on trust. The biggest commitments in life require that we give a part of ourselves away, which is impossible to do safely in the absence of trust (for more on this topic see the prior articles: Trust: The Foundation of Any Relationship, Trust and Relationships – Pt. 2, and Trust and Commitment Go Hand in Hand. Still, none of us is superhuman, and we’ve all done something at one time or another to call our trustworthiness into question. The difference between normal, conscientious individuals (i.e. “functional neurotics”) and character-impaired or disordered types, however, is that disturbed characters: a) have a relative lack of compunction about betraying someone’s trust in the first place and b) feel a lack of obligation to repair the damage caused by their trust betrayals.
In my work with troubled couples over the years, I’ve witnessed too many instances in which a trust violator might actually have some degree of practical regret for their misdeed but little remorse or contrition for the pain caused by the trust breach itself. I’ve written before on what real contrition looks like (for more on this and related topics, see the articles: What Real Contrition Looks Like, Shame, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, and Contrition, and Contrition Revisited). Folks with any integrity of character are crushed in spirit under the weight of the pain the’ve caused others – especially the ones they purportedly love. And such folks also appreciate the special kind of pain (and loss) that trust breaches cause. So, they’re willing do whatever it takes to repair damage. They know and appreciate that trust has to be rebuilt slowly and deliberately. It takes perseverance and commitment and full acceptance of the fact that despite one’s best efforts, earning back someone’s trust takes time. Persons of character accept the obligation to do their repair work freely and willingly, without acrimony. They take responsibility not just in words but in action, demonstrating with every effort their willingness to take the lead in healing the wounds.
As asserted in the first article of the series, trust is the very foundation of a healthy relationship. Without it, it’s impossible for a relationship to blossom into what the kind of almost mystical experience a truly intimate relationship can be. And, like all of the most valuable commodities in life, it has to be earned.
Character Matters will again be a live broadcast Sunday, so I can take your calls. And I’ll be talking a lot about our character-impaired age and why it’s so hard to place trust in our leaders, our business enterprises, our government, our friends, our spouses, etc..
Also, my sincerest thanks to the unprecedented number of you who have taken the time and made the effort to contact me directly over the past few weeks to verbalize you support for my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome and for the articles on this blog. It’s been a truly phenomenal week, and the validation truly means a lot.
12 thoughts on “Trust and Relationships – Wrap Up”
You are so emotionally astute. It blows my mind. Something about this particular article got right into my heart and made me cry.
“Still, none of us is human, and we’ve all done something at one time or another to call our trustworthiness into question.”
Well, psychopaths are not human, so you are quite correct on that note – but many of the rest of us are human! 🙂
What i have found more and more is that what we believe truly, shows how much human we have.
I posted this in another area but was not sure if you only read the most current blogs 🙂 …
I have your two books in two forms, on my Kindle for all devices and in hard copy. Awareness was the first step to healing and breaking free from the need to defend my stance (conditioned response 101). When you described it as a battle, or defining the rules of engagement I disengaged my emotions and watched his tactics in a third person way. Telling myself he is in a battle to get his way, and he is fighting dirty really helped me engage properly. Divorce became my only option. I still have scripts in my mind that I have to rewrite, my husband should hold a PhD in covert tactics. I was on multiple medications for anxiety and have seen more counselors than I can even name. I was told over and over that I was causing him to be oppressed! Wow, I still can’t believe how many people helped him convince me I was the problem, so he could stop me from confronting behavior I knew was not in alignment to the values and codes he claimed he lived by. He wanted me to doubt myself so he could continue to live the way he wanted. He even bought your book and told me that he now sees how I need help, and said he is willing to work with me. Sad thing is, a year ago I would have believed him. I have raised the bar in my life and he resented every healthy step I took. I am a wonderful person who now holds my shame, remorse, and self reflecting as a badge of honor. If I do something to hurt another I can’t sleep till I ask for spiritual forgiveness, evaluate where I should take responsibility, and reflect on how to never do that again. Knowing this about me reminds me that I am a good person and that takes his power away. I thank you for all you have done, not only to change my future but also the 3 boys and 3 girls who are learning for the first time how to engage with character. You have help countless people just in my family and those we touch. Thank you so very much for all you have done and are doing! I serve others, and now I can help them love themselves and protect themselves from the horrible tactics of manipulation! Even if it is only having awareness 🙂 God Bless and I pray I will be able to shake your hand someday!
Its so very hard to put into words the hurt, pain and grief that a CD individual does to a relationship. You spend the major part of your life committed too your other half so to speak and in the end you find it all a LIE. The dynamics and the head games that another can play especially when you have committed and put all your trust in another can be devastating to pull oneself out of. The immense damage and betrayal. But then, we were honest and true with our emotions and dedication which was the glue to keeping the relationship going.
Puddle as you say: Its so difficult to wrap your head around. Everyday I think about how twisted the individual is and it just blows my mind but my gut Wretches” and I know to listen to it now in all things. I know my gut instincts were right so many times and disregarded. My head is much clearer and when I run into one of these individuals I back off sometimes very slowly and then run and if I even see one glimpse or whiff of the “devil” in these individuals and they are ultimately evil, I will stay as far away as possible.
Currently I am having problems with one of my sibling’s emotional abusing the disable sister I talked about whom I am her POA and advocate for her health issues. This sibling is accusing me of what she is doing. Its difficult as many times my sis who has the mental acuity of a 12 year old is not always happy with my decisions.
I believe when anything is in question like this and these covert individuals which I am so aware of now, but then, I have to fight my nature that wants to be nice, but oh what a mistake” I know to “Cover your Ass” so to speak am going to her Psychiatrist with these issues and let her sort it out. The good thing is my sis reported these same complaints to my mother.
I hope openly exposing and confronting the situation will be the answer, which I think Dr. Simon said is the best thing to do. I would like to think that individuals could be sane and loving but then this is a world of CD “Nut jobs.”
I do think there are a lot of good guys out there and many have been in our shoes that are or have gotten out of the same situation. The Women’s Center said the percent of men is much higher, more like 75% compared to women but there are some good guys out there and then many don’t come forward so the % could drop. No offense to our “Good guys” here, we are all working on the same problems, the CD.
All in all my goal is to find the good people and surround myself with them. I am still learning and at times naïve, gullible and to giving. This is a tough trait to change as its part of my nature to care to much and feel sorry for others. it seems there are so many CD’s out there. Its a beware society and YES, they do lurk in churches. So sad but true, to have to put on a shield of amour so to speak in order to deal with life.
BTOV: I think this is what so many of us who are more on the neurotic scale have a hard time with: fighting our nature which is to be nice and giving, only to be taken advantage of, when you said:
“I know my gut instincts were right so many times and disregarded.” and “I have to fight my nature that wants to be nice, but oh what a mistake.”
It’s a depressing sign of our society, to have to be on our guard like this. Or is it just a by-product of the ancestral “survival of the fittest”? Except that now we’re not fighting off bears or wolves attacking our flocks of sheep, we’re dealing with the covert wolves Dr. Simon talks about.
I am going to disagree in being labeled a “Neurotic” individual. It used to be people in general cared more about each other. I learned from a great many of them..
It used to be that we had pride in ourselves and the services we offered, honesty and integrity. We manufactured goods that lasted and could be fixed instead of a throw away society. I believe our society as a whole has lost their sense of values and moral integrity. “If it feels good do it.”
There was a time when people would hide in shame, so many of the things that were embarrassing, taboo or degenerate are now the accepted norm. This is a sick world and our grand USA is on the decline just as other social cultures fell into decadence and ruin. Our elected politician’s and big business with the help of lawyers have sold this country out and its both parties.
In 1955 Nikita Khrushchev became Premier of Russia now the Soviet Union.
“We will take America without firing a shot, we cant expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until they awaken one day to find they have communism. We so not have to invade the United States we will destroy you form within.”
Khrushchev is a man that helped Stalin kill hundred’s of thousands of political opponents in Russia. We have a throw away society, we live now in the selfee age and the materialistic bling and cash is king. But what about family and love and kindness and caring, we are used and abused and labeled neurotic! There are good people out there, but the Selfee’s Bulldoze their ways on us.
Blessings to all and God help us because we sure need it!
Hi BTOV – I use the term “neurotic” as Dr. Simon uses it in two of his books; we are all on a spectrum, between neurotic and character disordered. Being partway along the “neurotic” spectrum is a good thing. We have a conscience, feel guilt when we hurt someone, try to make amends, recognize our errors. Being too far along the neurotic spectrum, however, will have us feeling too guilty, too quick to acquiesce when it is not in our best interests, etc.
GG, I know you meant well. I just think in society today we have a psychiatric label for everyone: for example, if you smoke you have an addictive personality or obsessive compulsive, just whatever, I would just like to think I am normal and there are a whole lot of CD out there. I know there are a lot of good people too, but then everyone has their quirks and habits that harm no one. And yes, the last sentence I have a problem with, many times I care to much. Then I have to stand outside myself and look at it as in a third party sense and things become clearer. What box for Mother Theresa? Thank you (Hugs!)
Ah yes BTOV! To be normal! And to balance the caring side of our natures with being alert to potential wolves in sheep’s clothing; “be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove”.
I hope all goes as smoothly as possible with the care you are giving to your sister. Hugs to you my dear!
“I know there are a lot of good people too, but then everyone has their quirks and habits that harm no one.”
Right on, BTOV! Kinda related to this, how come you can get many more years of prison for smoking week than for crimes big corporations do? Unless it’s changed(I don’t read plenty of news, can you tell? LOL!).
Depends whose club you belong to. Follow the money its not hard to figure out.