How do you know when to trust someone? How do you decide? Here are my thoughts – please comment if you know something I don’t.
(Perhaps I should file this under the bleeding obvious but sometimes the obvious bears repeating. This is also a way of asking for your deeper insights.)
- Watch how they treat those with less power, e.g. wait staff or shop assistants.
- Take note if they enjoy putting others down. Not just frustration, not just poor social skills, but actively building themselves up by pulling others down – this could be immaturity or something more dangerous, but it’s not healthy. And if they seem to enjoy being nasty, even in the most witty and charming way, take it as a warning sign. (Actually, especially if they’re witty and charming about it.)
- You don’t really know someone until you say no to them. (An unsourced bit of wisdom.)
- Give them time. Toxic personalities can seem wonderful for a while (charm is one characteristic of a psychopath) but they usually wear thin in time. Full-blown narcissists take around 2.5 hours to lose their charm, on average* – others may keep their appeal for longer. If you’re in a close relationship with the person (e.g. romantic or family relationship) it’s hard to be objective, and so you may still fall for the facade, even after you’ve seen the disturbing truth behind it, and even when you’ve been warned.
- Gut feeling. I wouldn’t rely on this alone and it depends how much opportunity you’ve had to train your unconscious mind through observing and experiencing people being trustworthy and untrustworthy. Personally, my intuition occasionally gives me a warning (and I’ve suffered for ignoring it). I take this as a warning not to put myself in a vulnerable position, rather than as a final judgment.
- Someone may be honest but not trustworthy – e.g. careless, unreliable or lacking in empathy. They may make a good friend, but know their limits and be willing to say no (nicely but directly).
- Completely untrustworthy people are rare. While being cautious, give plenty of space to let good people into your life.
*The 2.5 hours comes from an article I remember reading about a psychological study. My imperfect memory + most studies never being replicated => take this with a grain of salt.