Trusting Liars

I have intentionally told people who have hurt me and broken my trust that I do not want them in my life, when I actually really do want them in my life, but I just don’t trust them. I do it as a test to see whether or not they have it in their hearts to truly be loyal to me, to prove that they will not hurt me again, whether they desire a conversation about why I have said that I don’t want them in my life and work hard to try and change my mind, to show me that they truly care, and to re-build that trust that I have lost.

They have all failed and have turned their backs on me.

Trust is an expression that articulates the value of your friendship or bond with another person. We can never have a complete ability to truly understand the authenticity of someone else’ intentions, and all we are left with are the words that are said and the actions that are made to decide whether one is trustworthy.

But people lie. People deceive, and some people are so terribly deceptive that they even believe in their own lies.

Some people are even willing to live with, be in relationships with, have friendships with, people who are not worthy, a sacrifice that almost always means an eventual loss of their own identity and that wholeness or connection that one should have with themselves. It is either a choice of being alone and yet honest, or together with people and dishonest, the lesser of two evils.

Setting aside the conceptual nature of trust – or the question of whether there is any well-grounded philosophical ‘truth’ to believe in interpersonal trust – I can nevertheless say that there is loyalty, love, and compassion that motivates a desire for the wellbeing of others and I know this because I have loyalty, love and compassion, making it is reasonable to assume that someone else could also encapsulate the same motivations and moral integrity as I do.

So, how can I really know whether or not someone is as loyal as I am, or cares and is as compassionate as I am?

Apologising can really just be a nice way of telling the other person to just forget it ever happened – and in some ways permits that same mistake to repeat itself – and one can never really know whether their intentions within that apology actually contain any true remorse and feelings of regret.

Words are not enough. ‘Trust me’ does not necessarily make it an honest expression and can still be motivated by self-interest, and if I did trust them without any proof, then I am acting solely out of good-will and therefore at risk of being betrayed.

Apologies and saying “I am sorry” can work in much the same way, and like a child afraid of getting into trouble by his mother, many people excuse their bad behaviour, deny that they have done anything wrong, and find alternate ways of justifying why something happened. Apologising can really just be a nice way of telling the other person to just forget it ever happened – and in some ways permits that same mistake to repeat itself – and one can never really know whether their intentions within that apology actually contain true remorse and shame.

Will-based theory of trust originates from scholar Annette Baier who gives trust a significant place in ethics and moral thinking, so much so that it is the “very basis of morality.” While most people base their trust in others through social norms and, to certain degree, the repetition of an ideal that is reinforced by culture (when people do the same thing and act the same way that it becomes predictable behaviour), Baier states that trust can be betrayed and therefore is an intentional phenomenon. That is, intentions is a property that plays a pivotal role in all relationships based on mutual trust and goodwill.

From a legal point of view, there must always demonstrate a clear intention to create trust as opposed to creating something else and therefore a certainty of intention. In criminal law, those who administer the criminal justice system can test whether or not there was forethought in the decision to act and thus wilful and malicious rather than accidental or just reckless behaviour.

How can we prove that our friends are actually loyal, trustworthy, and who can be counted on to not turn their backs on you? Can we test their intentions, or is the test itself morally questionable?

The conditions that give rise to trustworthiness is based on actions and effort, someone who is responsible for their actions and clearly expresses this in their interactions. There cannot be just a random expectation, but it needs to be actually seen and experienced, and therefore trust is a response. Trust is earned.

I have tested people to see if they can earn my trust, to see whether or not they would respond with the intention of showing that they care, that there is clear motivation they want to try to be friends with me because I am worth it, but instead they showed their indifference and that they couldn’t care less whether or not I have been hurt by them.

While it hurts and saddens me that such people have proven that they cannot be trusted, at least I know that I am not at risk that they will hurt me again. It is harder, but better to be alone and be honest. You should always have proof that your friends are truly honest and loyal to you, and not because you simply want them to be.