Sunday, October 6, 2013

Abbreviating Emotional Distance

Intimacy presumes trust. Sadly, trust, though it ought to be inviolable, is too often broken instead. Broken trusts are fatal to relationships, a cancer that prevents and kills emotional intimacy slowly but surely.

The formerly firm friendship between Anita and I has stalled, if not regressed significantly. “The small stuff matters,” Anita tells me, “First people trust you with little things; if you prove yourself, they give you slightly bigger responsibilities.” She says it a lot of late. It may seem lost on my carefree spirit, but I can discern a heartfelt warning when I hear one. It’s a hint - my side of the friend bargain is a sorry sight.

In the past I have lost friends who were good, interesting people to hang around, due to a little neglect by me or by them. Ultimately, why do people drift apart? It’s the insignificant things. Alone, they are truly microscopic; but they pile up. Just like an individual speck of mud does not hold itself entirely responsible for a pig’s filthy state, neither does that ignored text bear all the responsibility for collapsed correspondence. One too many tiny slips and trust is clean chipped away.

As Pearl unapologetically puts it, flaky people are simply irritating. Many agree. According to Pearl’s impassioned arguments, if you said you’d do something tiny and didn’t do it, you’re not likely to be depended on next time, nor required in the long run. If you come late to the first day at work, you’ll not be expected early on subsequent days, and at long last you’ll be unburdened of days at work altogether.

Thus, trust is a fragile abstraction to sustain: besides being imperiled across a wide spectrum of situations, it thrives when it is both “given” and “received” together. In other words, the perception and acknowledgment of trust strengthens the trust. For the optimal running of any relationship, trust is an integral program in the software. Before two build a life together, the foundation must be laid in trust, trust must be laid on the foundation. Trying to salvage a valued friendship teaches me: on the way to trust, there are no shortcuts. If you simply are not there yet, the journey continues.

And once one is trusted, it’s just the beginning. Guard that trust jealously, lest it slip away.

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