What Makes You Trust Other People?

07 October, 2020
To trust other people is to open yourself up to them hurting, harming, or disappointing you but also to them helping you and being there for you. What are the most common obstacles and motivations for making that leap of faith?

If we look at the number of people who find it difficult to trust others, then we can easily see that trusting involves risk. It means giving up the safety of your comfort zone and taking the risk that the other person will betray you and even cause you a lot of harm. So what makes us trust other people? What drives us to take that leap of faith?

In this area, we find very significant individual differences. Some people are quicker to trust, as opposed to others who need time and periods of testing to place that same trust in the person.

On the one hand, we have people who always expect the best from others. But, on the other hand, others expect, and almost take for granted, that people will betray them. Thus, is this only a question of personality?

What makes us trust other people?

A smiling woman.

Our nature

Humans are social beings and, as such, we need social interaction. Establishing meaningful relationships with others is beneficial to our health and a sense of belonging is one of our basic needs. However, in addition to this, socialization is rewarding and positively influences our self-esteem and well-being.

Therefore, when it comes to bonding with others and allowing them to get close to us, trust is an essential ingredient. It wouldn’t be possible to maintain ties of any kind with other people without a minimum degree of trust. So, we can see that our social nature is one of the main aspects that motivates us to trust others.

Learning

In addition to this, the ability to trust each other is, to a large extent, something we learn. It’s conditioned by our experiences in the first months of our lives and by the way in which the people around us taught us how to relate to others based on the relationships we established with them. We’re talking here about the quality of a person’s first attachments.

If these first attachments meet a person’s needs in an adequate, consistent, and coherent way, then a foundation of trust towards the world, in general, will be created in them. Conversely, if the attention and care that the child received were unpredictable and inconsistent, then the person is likely to experience difficulties in trusting others.

As a result, all our later life experiences will have contributed to either reaffirming or shaping these early impressions. Our experiences in all the significant relationships that we have either increase or undermine our ability to trust.

Time

Without a doubt, one of the factors that most influence the trust that you place in others is time. When you’ve just met a person, you can’t fully trust them, as you’re not yet familiar with their values and attitudes.

As time goes on, you’ll be able to check what kind of person they are and how they behave or react in different situations. Based on this, you’ll either increase or decrease the degree of trust you have in them.

This also happens in relationships without any type of emotional element. Let’s imagine that you’ve only just started working in a company. The most logical situation here is that, at first, your colleagues and superiors won’t place too much trust in you.

However, as you start to demonstrate your abilities and that you’re worthy of their trust, then you’ll gradually be assigned more and more responsibilities and tasks.

If you analyze your relationships, you’ll see that the people you trust more are those you’ve shared your life with for longer period of times. Over time, they’ve shown consistency in their behavior and attitudes, and this has contributed to the relationship developing.

Reputation

Finally, let’s remember that actions speak louder than words. This way, a person’s reputation will be fundamental as to whether you trust them or not. When you’re with someone you don’t really know, then their reputation (what you’ve heard about them) will influence whether you’re more open or more cautious with them.

As time goes by, the things you found out about that person will become less significant when compared with the actual experiences you’ve had with them. Trust is gained through actions. It’s the other person’s behavior and attitude that will decide whether they’re worthy of your trust or not.

Friends joining hands.

Changing your willingness to trust others

In short, trust is experienced on both sides. There’s no doubt that most of us need to get to know the other person, more or less, in order to trust them. However, there are also many people whose past betrayals prevent them from establishing good solid relationships.

If this is your case and you feel bad about it, you can always seek the help of a specialist to assess the situation. Their evaluation and plan of action will help you find a way of trusting and being trusted that will allow closeness in relationships. As a result, you’ll feel so much better in your dealings with people.

  • Luhmann, N. (2005). Confianza (Vol. 23). Anthropos Editorial.
  • Gallardo, R. Y., Figueroa, L. A., & Solar, F. C. (2006). Confianza y desconfianza: dos factores necesarios para el desarrollo de la confianza social. Universitas Psychologica5(1), 9-20.