Thursday, September 15, 2011

Relationship Thursdays [Relationship, Honesty, Trust]

¡Hola! Everybody…
You Will Know
, by Stevie Wonder, is probably one his less-known compositions, but it has to be one of his best…

* * *

-=[ Honesty, Trust, and Relationships ]=-

You will know
Troubled heart you'll know
Problems have solutions
Trust and I will show.
-- Steveland Wonder

I post these “Relationship Thursdays” rants with not a little trepidation because it would seem that I’m attempting to project this aura of a “relationship guru” and I am far from that. I don’t even own a fuckin' cat. And, trust me, I will fuckin’ drive you crazy in a heartbeat. I am insecure and possess little impulse control. I’m 56 chronologically, but 16 in everything else. I say shit I have no business saying. Like, out of nowhere I’ll say, “Damn, I’m fuckin horny today,” and you’ll be, like, “By the way, Eddie, meet my grandmother.” LOL!

I am stubborn, moody, and, hard as it is to admit, sometimes I can be downright mean. In addition, I have little regard for rules, often cross boundaries, and suffer from what I call “Relationship Tourrettes”: that embarrassing tendency to do and say things that often bring regret.

Yup. I’m a prize, ladies, so line up!

I guess what motivates me most on going on about relationships is that I see so much wrong done in the name of love and relationships. Plus, I get more page hits when people see “relationships” tags. LOL

I would have to add in my defense, I do have a few worthwhile qualities. Not many, just a few. Life with me, for example, would be one of discovery and you will definitely experience a lot of intellectual and creative stimulation (or so I’ve been told). I like to think I’m a considerate, passionate, and experienced lover. I will make you laugh a lot, and sometimes you will feel as if you’re the only woman in the world when you’re around me amd there will never be a dull moment (that's a good and bad thing!). While all that might sound good, the only thing I can say with complete confidence is that I am honest. I’m not talking about the “Gee, honey, your ass is too big” honest. That really isn’t honesty, it’s sadism. A woman pointed out to me once that there’s a difference between being honest and honesty and I have to agree. The honesty I try to exemplify is about me being as transparent as possible. It’s not honesty about you or someone else -- externalized honesty. I don’t know if you have noticed but being “honest” about other people is a lot easier than being honest about yourself, isn’t it? No, I’m talking about honesty that engenders trust and for me trust is everything. In terms of relationships, nothing is more important than trust.

Nothing -- not love, nor “attraction,” nor any of that other bullshit. Trust is all.

That’s it. That’s my one card, that I am trustworthy -- I can be trusted and I develop that trust through my actions, my life’s direction, and the consistency between what I say and what I do. To me it’s interesting that quite a few women I meet would probably rather I be “normal” (i.e., not be clingy, immature, or psychotic *grin*) than trustworthy or honest. Sure, many blah blah blah about trust and honesty, but that’s just talk. Very few people even know what trust is. From my perspective, most people tend to see trust from a selfish perspective. They have no clue what a genuine trusting relationship entails.

I’m not making a judgment call here; I’m stating an observation.

For a few years not too long ago, I had the good fortune to share office space with a remarkable woman. She was married, but she and I developed a unique and close friendship. And what was really cool was that her husband actually supported our friendship. She was an avid mountain climber and I used to think that shit was crazy. One day, after months of cajoling, she finally convinced to accompany her on a climbing trip. I had no intention of climbing, but being a city boy, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to go into the country for a weekend.

Of course, she convinced me to scale this fuckin’ wall and it was an exhilarating experience. I think rock or mountain climbing is an appropriate metaphor for relationships. I had to trust in her knowledge and ability and she had to trust that I wouldn’t shit in my pants, panic, and cause us both to fall. In the same way, intimacy is an adventure in which two individuals work to bring together their needs, goals, and desires and to maintain the balance needed to keep the relationship intact.

I’ll abuse the metaphor even further and state that as the relationship deepens in involvement -- as the climbers go higher up -- the risk associated with depending on another increases. At first, the level of interdependence is more casual but becomes more intense the stakes higher. In addition, it becomes clear that the efforts of one partner alone cannot achieve the balance needed to maintain the relationship. A solo climber is often a foolish or dead climber, and if either partner loses their grip both will plunge to the depths beneath.

My analogy highlights the important elements in understanding the relationship between trust and risk. Trust is not for pussies. It's not some bullshit fairy tale, ladies. Every day we make decisions in our relationships: decisions to commit further or to withdraw, or what course of action to take (or not take) in the face of a conflict, or to make use of an opportunity or to let it pass by.

Oftentimes, these decisions are difficult and full of risk, in the process forcing us to confront our primal fears and hopes when it comes to depending on another for our needs to be met. In the same way that mutual trust enables climbers to conquer the mountain, it provides the crucial foundation from which relationship partners can confidently approach the task of making decisions. This provides the explicit contract of commitment to good intentions that makes everything else run more smoothly.

During one difficult moment, a woman once asked me, “What can I do to make this better for you?” That blew me away. (No, I didn’t say, “Gimme that ass!” Get your mind out the gutter! LOL) In that moment, all my anxieties about the situation (and the relationship) and the decisions I was contemplating disappeared. Her question communicated to me in a very honest and direct manner that she was there with me and that she was willing to move the relationship forward. Unfortunately, that relationship was stillborn -- it never worked out because I felt the values she expressed weren’t in line with her actions, but it was still a powerful thing to say -- a powerful lesson.

This brings me to matter of how to build trust in a relationship. I’ve already mentioned one: responsiveness. When that former lover expressed her willingness, she was also expressing a responsiveness, acknowledging and being respectful of my disposition. In other words, feelings of security are strengthened when a partner’s actions are geared toward a person’s particular needs. For example, when that woman asked me what she could do to make a situation better, it signaled to me a special consideration of my needs and preferences. Sometimes by choosing to put aside for a moment, his or her own preferences in order to satisfy those of the other, a partner demonstrates genuine care about the person and is fundamentally motivated in the relationship.

There are other factors in building trust in relationships, of course. There’s dependability, which is the most fundamental way of establishing trustworthiness. Dependability is like showing up (fully present) consistently. A trustworthy partner is one on whom you can depend, who can be relied upon time and time again, to act honestly and with consideration.

There’s also the all-important capacity to resolve conflict in a manner that doesn’t neglect a person’s needs or jeopardize the relationship. Most of all this entails allowing everything to be on the table -- the good parts and the bad and, not necessarily condoning, but accepting our "bad" aspects as well as our good. Too many people are addicted to being "positive" whatever the fuck that means, and that's a bullshit fairy tale. Life is more than the nice shit. And if you can't deal with the bad shit, then get yourself a fuckin cat! LOL If you can feel that it is safe to be you -- the good and the bad -- then there's trust, or at least the ground upon which trust can be built.

If there is a sense of confidence in the couple’s ability to resolve conflict, the trust grows. I think that the belief that it is safe to depend on the integrity and compassion on the other’s motives is essential to conflict resolution. If I’m not questioning your motives, if I have taken hold of the rope trusting that you’re there for me, trusting implicitly, then there’s that transparency that allows the light of shared love to shine through us with as that becomes our unshakable bond. If we have that, we can conquer the world, let alone our conflicts.

Finally, there is faith. Faith in this sense means a sense of closure with a lot of emotion in it: there is a sense of closure regarding the partner’s trustworthiness and the future of the relationship. Faith in this sense is connected to an individual’s view of the partner of that takes in the good with the bad. That is the extent to which a partner can come to terms with a partner’s faults.

I guess women need a lot of “faith” when it comes to yours truly. LOL!

My Name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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