A reader asked:
Do you have any tips on how to figure out who is trustworthy and who is not? As in whether or not someone intends to cause harm to you, etc. I find that I never realize I’m being mistreated until it’s too late, and it makes it really hard for me to find good friend, especially IRL. Advice/tips?
Here are some things I consider to be red flags:
Having a strong self-image as not being the kind of person who does bad things:
- We all do bad things, even awful things, from time to time
- People who think that they’re “not that kind of person” actively avoid noticing when they’ve done bad things
- People who deal with one another regularly hurt one another from time to time, and it’s important to be able to acknowledge this and fix things
- If you’re dealing with someone who can’t bear the thought of having done something wrong, you’re not going to be able to tell them when they’ve hurt you
- Because they will blow up at you and hurt you worse when you try, or else they’ll cry and convince you that you’re a terrible person for making mean baseless accusations.
- Either way, it will make it impossible to deal with problems, and you’ll end up tolerating things that hurt you badly
- I wrote about that some here
Expecting immediate trust
- Trust is developed over time
- If someone wants you to talk about deeply personal things right away, and gets upset when you don’t, they’re not respecting your boundaries and that’s dangerous
Asserting that a deeply intimate relationship exists without considering your opinion on the matter relevant
- Close friendship only exists if you *both* think it does
- You are only dating if *both* of you think that you are dating
- Someone can’t just decide that they’re close to you and that you have a deep close committed relationship; you both have to want it
- If someone considers your opinion of the matter irrelevant, run.
- I wrote a post about that here
Wanting you to depend on them
- If someone tells you that you couldn’t function without them, do not trust them
- If they want you to fix your life, do not trust them
- If they think your sanity depends on their loving understanding care, *seriously* do not trust them
- If they get angry, or hurt, or cry when you don’t do what they want you to do in your personal life, don’t trust them
Being under the impression that they’re doing you a favor:
- If they think that they’re doing you a favor by being friends with someone like you, they’re not likely to treat you well
- Friendship is not a charitable act. It is a mutual relationship between people who regard one another as equals.
- Similarly, when someone thinks they’re doing you a favor by employing you, it will probably end badly
If people you trust dislike them:
- If you have people you know to be trustworthy, and they don’t like a new person in your life, it’s important to find out why
- Sometimes they will be wrong, but often they will be right
- It’s important to figure out what’s going on, and why they think that – then if you disagree that’s fine, but it’s not a good idea to dismiss it without thinking about it
I’ve also written a lot of posts relevant to this issue. It might help you to read through some of the related tags.