A guest writer to our realm this time.
swan is a 54 year old woman living, for the last 8 years, in a committed, heterosexual, fMf, BDSM, polyamorous triad-V, intentional family with Raheretic and T (sly).
I Don't Believe in Trust
I know that there is a shared belief in our community that trust is absolutely essential and of paramount importance in forming power-based relationships. I've "listened" to untold people go on and on about giving their trust, and having their trust broken, and revoking their trust as a result. I just don't get it. I don't think there is any such thing as "trust" in the way it is typically thought of in this context. I think that we tend to see that transaction in the same way a young child views their relationship to some all-powerful personal deity: "If you will just do this whatever-I-want thing for me, I promise I will be good, say my prayers, eat my peas, and get straight A's in school."
I think there is a much more reasonable and adult approach to creating and maintaining relationships. I think self-aware adults ought to approach intimate, long-term relationships like the agreement that they are. I think that when people consider entering into a relationship, they ought to negotiate the very best bargain that they can -- bring your best offer to the table, and insist that your partner(s) do likewise. I'm not talking about finances, although that might be part of the deal. Instead, I think we ought to be discussing talents, strengths, capacities, gifts, deficiencies, fears, needs, demands, limits, history, wounds, quirks, and whatever else we can think of. No steely-eyed business person ought to ever drive a harder bargain than we do for ourselves in the beginning days of a new relationship. I don't care whether we are creating a couple, a triad, a quad, or some sort of web of partners. There is no room for starry-eyed romantic fantasies here. We ought to negotiate and re-negotiate until we are absolutely sure there is not one additional benefit or demand that we can wring out of the process.
Then, we ought to go off to think long and hard about what we want to do. There's a decision to be made, at that point. We ought to decide whether to do it or not do it, and we ought to be committed to doing our level best to live up to the decision that we make. If we are going to enter into an intimate relationship, then we ought to enter in with our whole heart; with all our strength; with a clear mind, and with absolute determination to hold up our end of the bargain. And I think that reasonable adults ought to expect that there will be times when partners will NOT live up to our highest expectations. I think we ought to know, going in, that there will be disappointments and heartbreaks and times when we will feel that the bargain we made wasn't good enough. If we are not willing, at the outset, to invest energy and effort and sheer raw guts in the endeavor, then we ought not to enter into the relationship in the first place.
If we decide to go forward, then I think we ought to begin laying up relational capital that will see us through the inevitable lean and hard times. From my perspective that means that we regularly evaluate our situation, seeing the problems, but attending particularly to the good things, the positive things, the strengths and joys that we derive from our relationships. I think that is the essence of "trust" -- that today and tomorrow and next week and next month, I am going to value and appreciate and nurture and celebrate the life I CHOSE. I am going to be gentle with myself when I fall short, and I am going to be gentle with my partners -- not holding them to higher standards than I want to be held to myself. I am going to keep on believing in the possibilities and the dreams for myself and my partners, and I am going to work to support and enhance those possibilities and dreams for myself and for us all.
It isn't about trusting. It is about working deliberately and consciously to create the thing that we hope can become between us. It is work and risk and triumph and failure. Today. And today. And today. Over and over and over and over. It is about doing it as long as I can do it in the best way I can do it until I cannot possibly do it anymore. And it is about hoping with everything I've got that it never gets to the place where I can't do it anymore. I think that when we stop believing in the numinous wispiness of "trust" we can be free to roll up our sleeves and get to work laying the foundations and building the walls and roofs of strong and healthy relationships.
swan can be contacted here, her family's blog is here, the discussion on the forum is here.
Reposted with permission.