Over the last few months I have gotten to know some new people. I've written about that. But there is a phenomena occurring about which I feel compelled to comment. For some reason, a lot of my new friends lately have seen fit to entrust me with very personal situations and information. I feel honored. I don't know particularly why people entrust these things to me. I know I am a trustworthy person, but do they? And how?
See, in my world, trust is not something that is freely given. I am a very open person about my life. I will pretty much tell anyone anything, although sometimes I keep some things on the QT in order to avoid hurting others or unecessarily inflame passions and arguments.
But where I draw the trust line is at participation and advice. To illustrate, I have only five (5) people on my "Confidential" friends list. Only one of the people on the list have I known less than a year. Now, these folks don't really get any extra information that I don't post to my broader friendslist or to the journal in general. Those posts are ones asking very specific advice, or inviting participation in some form in my emotional life. They are people I trust not to lead me to a place where I will end up hurting myself. And it's very hard to get on that list. There are only two or three other people who would go on that list were they to use Live Journal.
Other people are very close-mouthed and won't even pass out information except to trusted people. I understand that. I used to be that way, but found that I tend to hold in secrets that burn me when I do that. So I have moved to being willing to tell anyone anything about me. That's a personal choice though.
So now people who are very tight with their personal information have decided that they trust me enough to reveal extremely personal facts and decisions about themselves. Things that, were I to be unscrupulous, I could use to hurt them. I don't think it's in me to bring harm to them though. Even if my ex-girlfriend April, the person I despise most in the world right now, were to tell me such things, I don't think I could use them to hurt her.
Given that I do think I am a pretty trustworthy person, I am now wondering how other people evaluate trustworthiness. With me, it only comes from experience with the person. I'll ask them things. If they are honest and selfless in their response to me, I will expand my level of trust. At some point, I will begin to trust them with almost anything. (I still don't ask the same things to all the people in my innermost circle of friends. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. I take those into account in what I ask of them.)
How do people people evaluate trustworthiness in me? Is it my references? Is it how I act? Is it my openness or willingness to trust them to start? My stability? My good deeds (as vast as they are)? Just a sense or vibe about me?
And to those that have revealed something to me, I feel very honored and thank you. I will do my utmost to not abuse that trust.