A Quarter to “Trust Me” Time

Peeps, I’m having one of those word-storm times when my synapses are on fire, I’m not sleeping, and I need to get this sparkly prose down on paper before it — you know — sparkles out. I’m grateful.  I’m thrilled.  I’m not capable of writing a real post at the moment, but in any case, I could use your perspective on something…

You know the question about what you should do if you find out a best friend’s husband is cheating? (For the record, having listened and counseled patients in that unfortunate position, unless I thought he/she was having their health risked, I wouldn’t say anything. He/she’s in the grip of denial and, like a butterfly emerged from a cocoon, unfolding their wings for them will be counterproductive.) 

This is a similar ethical issue: What would you do if you found out a person in your life was withholding information from you? 

Now it’s not vital that you know it. They haven’t harmed you in any real way, except you are a little startled and a smidge hurt they didn’t trust you with their secret. (There’s no way they simply forgot. If you believed in labelling it, this would qualify as a lie of omission.)

That said, what do you do? What demonstrates the best and highest hope for the relationship?

1. Ignore it and step out in the same openness you’ve practiced before. Understand their non-disclosure isn’t personal; they have reasons for their silence which make sense to them. 

2. Say nothing but acknowledge the relationship wasn’t as close as you might have liked. Become more guarded in what you share of yourself. 

3. Model openness and transparency by saying, “FYI, I know your secret but it doesn’t matter. I still care for you.” Then keep your lips zipped about their secret for ever and ever, amen. 

I think I’ve decided on #1. I think it’s the hardest route but the most hopeful. I think we all have internal trust-clocks, and I have no right or ability to wind another’s spring tighter than they wish. 

But what say you, O Readership?
Tell it to me straight: 
If, when digging, a worm you unearth,
Do you call it “bait”?

11 thoughts on “A Quarter to “Trust Me” Time

  1. First, I’m so glad that you are in the writing groove! May it continue to a glorious finish 🙂

    Second, this is a tricky question. I feel like I’ve gone all three ways at different points in time. I think it really depends on who the person is, and how close you perceive your relationship to be. I know. I’m no help.

  2. For me, #3 is the most loving and hopeful–it gets all the cards out on the table, and at the same time lets go of any recriminations. That said, I’m afraid I’d probably do #2. Sigh.

    It’s so good to hear your writing is sweeping in on the wings of the storm. Spark on! 🙂

  3. Ouch, so difficult! And this probably won’t be at all helpful, but it depends on who it is, what the relationship is, and what the information is. (Right now, you’re saying, “Yup, that’s right: not helpful.”) Also, I find with myself, if it’s going to turn me into a complete b#%&! every time I see the person, whether I want it to or not, then I’d better come right out and say it. Maybe the individual in question has a good reason for not telling me, and then he/she can explain and the air is cleared.

    Or not.

    Good thing I’m not a therapist, huh?

    Good luck, Jan!

  4. Well, anything my good friends tell me I respect them for it. THat’s my good friends, the one or ones I trust with my life, and they know who they are. They could tell me anything and I’d be on their side – they could ask me anything and I’d listen and answer, they could tell me (but probably wouldn’t) if I hurt them or made them feel awkward about what you described — here’s the thing:

    with me, I’m so much in my own world so much of the time, I make a crappy friend – my good friends say “no, you do not!” but I do! I forget things; I think I’ve said or done things and then it turns out I haven’t , I’m distracted, I’m discombobulated – it takes me FOREVER to remember spouses names and kid’s names of my friends, and they can tell me things about themselves and later I won’t remember most of it. It takes me a long time to process information and sort it all out between people because I have a weird brain and it process things weirldy.

    So, — do you see where I’m going with this? I may think I’m being open with my best of best friend(s) when I may not be – I may be closed off and in my own la tee dah land.

    And my friend(s) may have told me things and I’ve forgotten or its off in never never land of my black holed brain.

    Or I don’t want to bother them because i think they have so much on their mind – but I plan to, when I can sort it all out.

    However, and this is terrible to admit — if my spouse, if GMR, is in the equation, then it’s different. If he holds things back or outright lies, I’m on Alert. Because the stakes are different, the scenarios are different, the past and future and present are different. It’s just different between husbands and wives compared to women and good friends.

    Oh, and my bestest friends know that I want to know if my spouse ever cheated – I want to make choices based on Truths. They laugh, say GMR would never cheat. Okay, maybe not- but if he did, I’d want to know. So I can kick his arse to the curb and then have a big FU party *LAUGHING SNORT*

    I wonder if anything I said helped in some way or made you more discombobulated – Join the DISCOMBOBULATED Association of Kathryn! 😀

  5. Hmmm. Interesting question. Having been on both sides of this in different situations, at different times, I would say it depends on what the situation is, who the relationship is with and if my actions (or inaction) could make a difference. I sort of default to number one (generally with a smidgen on two thrown in), but have gone with two or three, depending on the situation.

    I have finally come to the conclusion that people share what they want to share, when they are ready to share it.

    Two interesting points, though. One, it never ceases to amaze me what some people label as private or secret.

    Secondly, sometimes, it is a really fine line between a secret and privacy. Most people who know me will tell you that I pretty mush will say what I think. I think sometimes people keep things private because they either don’t feel okay about what they are doing on some level or because they just don’t want to discuss it/hear about it from others.

    I have to say though, that looking back on a former secret or two, that there are a couple of times in my life that I wish somebody HAD said something to me… Lovely hindsight. 🙂

  6. I would go with number 1 too, if you can manage it. Sometimes you can’t control what hurts your feelings, and you have a right to them for sure. But I definitely think saying anything to the person would make them retreat further into their shell, not coax them out of it. The best way to win someone’s trust is by demonstrating trustworthiness. If you tell them you know their secret, then how could they know you aren’t telling others that you know the secret? Anyway, good luck.


  7. If it is information about THEM, I figure they must have their reasons. hubby and I argue about lies of omission all the time, though. I don’t feel like they are as bad–he DOES. My thing is… if somebody ASKED me, they would get the truth. Sometimes it just isn’t good timing, so I’d rather not talk about it yet. (Drives him crazy). Whereas if HE lies, I can’t sort out what the truth is, and that makes ME nuts… (probably this is TMI, eh?)

  8. Okay, you people so rock! I’m pinching myself about how lucky I am to have the readership I do.

    Apologies for the delay in reply. I read every comment that comes here, but I had to get a few things off my plate.

    Amanda, I think your search for context is a sign of a writer, don’t you think? The motivation of the person is key to knowing how to address it. (I think that’s what you’re saying.) Unfortunately, LOL, that requires access to their internal dialogue. Don’t you wish people came with thought bubbles sometimes?

    Elizabeth, MY personal tendency is #3 too. 100%. In medicine, people withholding information almost always signalled a psychological wound and source of shame. I felt it was my duty to open the door to conversation, in that context. Not quite sure what civilian life requires, though, LOL. I suck at that at times. 🙂

    Tracy, yes, that’s a good test. If I can’t really do #1, then clearing the air is definitely the right move. Thanks for that thought.

    Kat, but you babble so charmingly. *bats eyes* *crosses fingers Kat knows she’s teasing, and that I welcome all her thoughts* No, honestly, you make a good point. I’ve been assuming the omission was purposeful and reading motivation based on that. That may be a fundamental error. Hmmm…

  9. Glinda, yes, hindsight is so interesting. One of the reasons I began to think #1 was the way to go was a discussion with a former secret-keeper. They indicated that being pushed to divulge would have only deepened the shame. Sigh.

    Medeia, it feels complicated, doesn’t it. Why must it be complicated?

    Lia, thanks for the perspective and the wishes!

    Hart, no, not TMI. Relationships intrigue me. If nothing else, the knowledge that no one else here has a uniform policy or approach tells me I can go with my gut. Also, it’s sparked a few ideas for my fiction… 🙂

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