Determining whether to trust someone romantically is a complex process that can take time and often relies on both emotional and logical judgment. It's important to strike a balance between opening yourself up to love and connection, while also protecting yourself from manipulation or abuse. Here are some tips to consider:
Your intuition is a powerful tool that can often alert you to red flags. Don't ignore feelings of discomfort or alarm.
Manipulation, Control, and Isolation
Any romantic interest who demands you stay away from important supports in your life is not someone looking out for your best interest. Controlling and demanding behaviors can be subtle but very dangerous. Many abusers will isolate their victims away from family and friends to gain additional control. “If you talk to her, I will leave you.” “I can’t live my life if you are going to speak with him” “I will kill myself if you leave.” These are the words of abuse. No one gets to decide your needs FOR you no matter what. And you are NOT responsible for other peoples’ actions.
Always prioritize your physical safety. Any form of physical intimidation or violence is a clear red flag that should not be ignored. Hitting, biting, scratching, slapping, or any other form of physical violence is serious and should be taken seriously. Someone who truly cares about you would not physically harm you unless it was out of self-defense. Regardless, physical violence early in the relationship is bad news. The cycle of abuse is one where a perpetrator harms a victim then showers them with love and apology only to harm again. This cycle is dangerous.
Actions are more telling than words. If someone's actions don’t align with their words, consider it a red flag.
Open and Honest Dialogue
Transparency is key in any relationship. Make sure that both parties can discuss their feelings, concerns, and plans for the future openly.
Trustworthy people are generally consistent in their behavior, what they say, and what they promise. Inconsistencies could be a red flag.
A trustworthy partner will acknowledge your feelings and show empathy.
How They Treat Others
Someone's behavior toward other people, especially those from whom they have nothing to gain, can be very revealing.
Pay attention to how their friends and family describe them. The company one keeps can be indicative of one's character.
A trustworthy partner will respect your personal boundaries and won't try to push or violate them.
Look for signs that the relationship is equal in terms of emotional labor, decision-making, and mutual respect.
Trust takes time to build. Don't feel pressured to make quick judgments about someone's trustworthiness.
Consider the person’s past behavior as one indicator, though it’s not definitive. People can change, but a history of manipulation or abuse should not be overlooked.
If you have difficulty assessing trust, especially due to past experiences, consider talking to a mental health professional for guidance.
Without resorting to stalking, it's reasonable to do a basic background check on someone you're considering a serious relationship with, especially if you've met them recently or online.
In serious relationships, financial trust is also important. Beware of any signs of financial manipulation or secrecy.
Remember that no one is perfect, and people can change. However, it's crucial to protect yourself from potential harm, emotionally and physically. Being cautious doesn't mean you're cynical, just that you're practicing self-care while opening yourself up to a new relationship.
This post was reviewed and edited by a licensed medical professional.