Wednesday, August 23rd 2017

On relationships: need versus fidelity

If trust is about truth, no wonder we find it more difficult to look into each other’s eyes than to have sex together

BY DAVID RICKEY – In Woody Allen’s latest film of dysfunction, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Gemma Jones’ character says, “My husband walked out on me for one simple reason. I was too honest with him. I refused to allow him to delude himself.”

Truth, lies, seeing, blindfolding . . . having too much of one, and too little of the other, can tip the scales in a relationship, destroying trust.

Trust is really a question of energy flow.

When I truly love you, my energy flows positively out toward you. When I trust you, I believe that your energy will flow positively toward me.

Mutual trust is an expectation of balanced energy flow. The energy I put out toward you will balance the energy that flows from you to me. In this equation, a decline in trust indicates a perception that I am not getting back a balance of what I am putting out.

In the case of infidelity, your energy flows to someone (or something) other than me.

Lying sets up the expectation that I can’t be sure that your energy will flow positively toward me when I need it. Insecurity means that I am afraid you will withdraw energy from me if you learn certain things about me.

Rebuilding trust, then, comes down to rebalancing the flow of energy. There are several ways to do this.

A return to innocence

If you and I are struggling because I have been unfaithful, obviously the first thing I must do is stop the acts of infidelity.

The next step is to over-balance the equation in the opposite direction. I must work hard to make sure that you have an intense experience of my positive energy over a long period of time.

This has to be believable, not showy, so that you experience my energy in small ways over time, in addition to big ways that are special. Rebuilding trust is not so much about winning you over as demonstrating a deeper shift in intention and desire.

When the “infidelity” is really about something instead of someone – for example, when Sunday afternoon football or work becomes a kind of addiction – I need to explore my values or, more difficult, my reasons for avoiding intimacy.

The high I get from work, or the thrill of the game, may be an indication of deeper underlying issues with low self-esteem, which can impair my ability to be close to you.

Lying is actually most difficult to deal with, simply because it involves something more intangible.

Truth versus falsehood is one form of lying, but withholding information is another.

You could always be telling me the truth, but you might not be telling me the whole truth. The corrective here is prolonged sharing of truths.

Knowing me, knowing you

In Marc Gafni’s book Soul Print he talks about a time in courting when couples start sharing secrets, things they have done in the past. The underlying question is, “Will you still love me if you know this about me?”

This too addresses an issue of insecurity. I don’t know you well enough yet to know how deep your love for me runs. Sharing secrets is a testing ground for finding out.

We all have things in our past that we are ashamed of. Often that shame is way out of proportion, having built up over a long period of secrecy.

Sharing these secrets can heal the shame and increase the level of love and trust. Building trust here involves long and focused sharing of revealing stories.

The intention is: “I really want to know you and really want to accept your history so we can build a trusting history together.”

Listening to the “what” and “why” of each other’s past – and not interrupting except to ask for clarification – demonstrates the intention of acceptance and gives the experience of trust.

Telling demonstrates the intention of being fully truthful by risking an increase in trust in the other with the hope of building their trust in me.

For this important interaction I recommend sitting on a couch (or if comfortable, on the floor or bed), facing each other so you can look each other in the eyes. This allows not only the words but also the visual cues of pain, sincerity of intent, and depth of understanding and acceptance, to register.

Above all else, we want to be fully known and accepted.

I believe there is no better foundation for true love than the experience of being fully known. It is significant that the biblical term for having sex is “to know,” but it is more significant that we have more trouble looking each other in the eye than having sex together.

This knowing is ultimately the basis of trust.

As was said in The King and I, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.” Trust comes down to knowing and being known.

David Rickey is an Episcopal priest, Soul’s Code co-founder and counselor in San Francisco who does a weekly ministry at a residence for the elderly in northern California. Follow David on Twitter.

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One Comment on “On relationships: need versus fidelity”

  1. When we reach a more fully spiritual state we may realize that "trust" is a word that is thrown around with too much abandonment with regards to relationships.

    I can't truly trust another person because they are driven by their own journey through life, just as I am driven by mine. I can only "trust" myself to not lie to myself, or to others, and as Mr. Rickey says, "not to withhold information." This is probably the easiest form of lying, and the most pervasive.

    Thanks for writing this piece Mr. Rickey.

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