We all know the stereotype of the lying, cheating man, but does his opposite exist?
Last week I did an article on Why Men Lie, this week I’m addressing the opposite side of the coin.
I’ll do that by asking a strange question; How many trustworthy men were involved on the night of the Stanford Rape Case. The reason I ask it in such a polarizing way is because in a world that repeatedly reports the horrible, horrible things which occur we miss those things that also make it good.
The answer to that question is at least six decent men from the report linked above – the two students who tackled and detained the rapist, the two police officers who came to the scene and the two paramedics. While it doesn’t say what gender the police or paramedics were there is a statistically high probability that most were male at that time of night. All of those men were there at a time when that girl needed trustworthy men the most.
Trustworthiness for most people blends into the background and becomes invisible. Asking if a friend or partner is trustworthy is like asking if the floor you walk on is stable. You just know. I want you to think about the men in your life. Do you trust the men in your family, your father and brothers? Did you know them? How have the men in your family affected the men you have chosen as friends and partners? Are your male friends trustworthy? What about your male co-workers, past boyfriends, acquaintances, men involved in your hobbies and interests? Would you trust most of these men to watch your handbag, walk you to your car late at night, would you trust them enough to invite them to your home?
If you were fortunate enough to grow up with trustworthy men in your life you will continue to choose to be around trustworthy men. You will know trustworthy men because you have had many examples in the past, you assume the floor you walk on is stable and never pay it a second thought.
Some people though haven’t been blessed with either trustworthy men growing up or have had unfortunate experiences with men around them later in life. They don’t know their fathers or brothers, or worse these were not trustworthy men. They don’t know what a sturdy floor feels like or they have been walking on one that has collapsed. They look for flaws in men and constantly, waiting and watching for sign he isn’t trustworthy.
The trouble with looking for flaws is that you will always find them, especially in people. In psychology it’s called confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of what you already believe. Men face this as well, I can confirm finding trust in the opposite sex after a divorce is just as hard for a man, it’s very easy to fall into the bitter trap of thinking all of the opposite sex are the same. It’s also easy to find a group of like-minded divorced people sitting around in an echo chamber regurgitating how horrible the opposite sex is.
So what is trust, I’ve got this far without defining it because most people trust they know what the word trust means. Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone. The cliché states that trust is earned but in fact it’s demonstrated. You can trust your doctor to know about medicine because every time you visit they give you sound medical advice. That doesn’t mean you should trust a doctor to fix your car, he hasn’t demonstrated such skills. You can trust your co-worker to do his job while you wouldn’t trust him in a relationship knowing he has cheated on his ex-wife. Men, and women, are all like in this. They have areas in life in which they are consistent, reliable and honest and areas in which they are not.
Only gods and saints are trustworthy 100% of the time, yet for most of us mere mortals though we make bad decisions, decisions based on fear and insecurity, we make mistakes or are simply ignorant of the effect our actions have on those around us. It doesn’t mean we aren’t trustworthy, just human.
So are there trustworthy men? Of course, lots of them. So if you are one of the unfortunate set of women who have not had a lot of trustworthy men in your life how do you find trustworthy men? There is only one area of your life in which you get choose who you let in. That’s your friends. If you don’t have many male friends or the men you consider friends are not trustworthy then you need to change this, immediately. You are looking to change your entire belief system and the only way to do this is to surround yourself with men you can trust. In some respects this is simple yet it may also be the hardest thing you will ever do, making new friends is hard at the best of times and making friends when your inclination is to mistrust them is even harder.
If you don’t have a hobby or interest outside work then get one, then make a point of socializing within the group. My personal recommendation is dancing but anything that lights your fire is good enough. Now if you have chosen a hobby which has a decent number of men in it start to get to know them. Give them an opportunity, not to demonstrate how full of flaws they are, but a chance to demonstrate the areas in life in which they are reliable, consistent and honest. There will be guys who are married, speak to them about it. There will be guys with kids who dote on them and separated fathers who barely see their kids. There will be guys who love life but suck at love and are only reliable in how many women they date. There will be guys studying, running their own businesses, stuck in dead jobs, guys who are passionate about something and guys wandering through life aimlessly. All of these men will be trustworthy to a greater or lesser extent so use the opportunity to see their trustworthy sides. Make a point of trying to work out in which particular ways they are trustworthy.
The aim of this is to surround yourself with men who are worth trusting. Without finding male friends who are trustworthy it will be very hard to find a partner you can trust. If you don’t have examples of men in your life who are trustworthy how will you know what to look for? You will continue to find the flaws in men because you still keep looking for them, except you will forget to find the things in men that also make them trustworthy. It can be easy to fall into an echo chamber of girlfriends who think all men are dogs, but you want to avoid these echo chambers as much as you can. The only way to truly regain your trust in men is change your belief that all men aren’t worthy of trust, and you can only do that in the company of trustworthy men.
*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
Also by Luke Davis
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