Very few would argue that trust is a key component in successful relationships. After all, isn’t honesty the best policy?
And yet, if you have lived on this planet for any length of time you have probably had your trust broken. Whether you have been betrayed by a friend, a spouse or your own parents, you know that it is difficult to determine how to move forward. You could ask advice from three different friends and get three different opinions.
That’s because everyone’s trust level is different. Some don’t give trust much thought and they just hope that any issues they encounter will go away. Others put up walls that would impress even Donald Trump to keep people out and prevent ever being hurt again. And some continue to trust people they shouldn’t, causing them to be victimized repeatedly.
Regardless of your personal trust tolerance, there are some simple ways that you can discern whether can move forward and rebuild a relationship or if you should choose to not trust this person again.
As Christians, we are called to forgive regardless of the offense. But forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean that you choose enter into a trusting relationship with him again. You need to wait until you see fruit. Remember, we shall know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:16).
Here are three signs that someone is showing fruit worthy of your trust:
- Takes responsibility for her actions. Honest people make mistakes, but they can own their mis-steps and take responsibility for any fallout.
- Apologizes sincerely. There’s a difference between an apology that comes from the heart and one that is given because it’s required. Trustworthy people apologize sincerely for having hurt you.
- Is willing to give however long it takes to restore your trust. Trustworthy people recognize the magnitude of their transgression and recognize that trust takes time to be rebuilt. They value the relationship enough to prove themselves over time.
Here are three signs that you should wait until you trust this person again:
- Justifies his actions. We’ve all received an apology followed up with a “but.” At that point, the apology is negated—it was given only because it was expected. If there is a “but” after the apology, it is not likely that this person has taken responsibility for his actions and will likely do it again.
- Demands trust. Untrustworthy people have a funny way of demanding trust. Trust is earned, but they often can’t be bothered with doing what it takes to rebuild the damaged bonds.
- Continues the offending behavior. We all make mistakes on occasion. But if the behavior continues, that is clear evidence that her words and actions don’t line up. This is not a person who deserves your trust.
Many people will offer the advice to follow your gut when it comes to trusting, but what happens when your trust-er is broken? When you are unable to discern the good from the bad? The worthy and the unworthy?
Regardless of what your emotions are telling you in the moment and regardless of what you “hope” you can change in this person, watch for the signs listed above. They are great indicators as to whether you will find yourself in a rewarding relationship with someone who made a mistake, or you will be the next victim of a self-centered repeat offender.
By Kris Reece, Counselor, Author, Speaker