A theme has been popping up in my consultations recently – who should we trust, and how do we decide? It makes perfect sense that this topic is coming up now, with Venus conjunct Pluto in Capricorn. Venus and Pluto together know all about taboos, underbellies, and betrayal, and Capricorn is deeply practical and likes to create boundaries. And as a Venus-Pluto person myself, I know more than a little about this topic.
Trust is a big deal. Trust is essentially telling another person, “You have the power to hurt me. I am letting you close enough that you could easily stick a knife in me. And yet, I believe you won’t do it.” It’s one of the most powerful statements we can make. But whether you’re meeting a new person or deciding whether to reconcile after a betrayal, there are certain criteria that can make it a lot easier. Here’s a condensed version of what I tell my clients:
- Everyone will hurt you. Understand and accept the fact that nearly everyone you bring close will, at one point or another, hurt, disappoint, or even betray you. People are imperfect, relationships are messy, and many of us are too absorbed in our own problems to see the pain we cause others. In addition, if we want to have lifelong relationships, we need to give people room to grow, to be repulsive, to molt and transform. That’s rarely a pretty process, and there is often collateral damage. But none of that is reason to keep people out. It’s what happens next that matters.
- Does the person take your feelings seriously? If you say something bothers you, do they knock it off and try to avoid doing that in the future? Or do they laugh and tell you to get over it? When you set a clear boundary, do they respect it or try to push, figuring out exactly where the line is? There’s a big difference between someone who sees a line and puts their toe right up against it and someone who sees a line and does everything they can to steer clear.
- Can they accept that “No,” is a complete sentence? Back when I was dating, I would always find something small to refuse to test the waters. “Oh, no, I don’t like German food. How about sushi?” You’d be amazed at how much information you can glean from something so simple (the tantrums I faced from that, my GOODNESS).
- Do you feel like you can be your true, complete, vulnerable self with them? Can you goof around without being judged? Can you share tales from your past without worrying they’ll be used for ammunition later? Can you relax and just be, or is the tension making the very air vibrate?
- Can you come to them with problems/issues/gentle criticism and have them hear you out? Are they willing to make changes to make your life easier?
- Do you feel heard in general? Do you feel like they are truly understanding you, or do you suspect your words are being put through a filter, colored and shaped by their own expectations?
- Do they show up? When things get difficult, are they at your side or nowhere to be found? When my partner and I were on the rocks, I wasn’t sure he could be there for me in the way I needed. Then I ended up hospitalized, and when I got home, there were wounds that needed daily care, and I couldn’t do it myself. He immediately took over, learning everything he could from the nurses so that he could provide me the best care possible. He was my faithful attendant for weeks upon weeks, and I knew then that he could be counted on when things get rough.
- Do they take responsibility when they mess up? Everyone makes mistakes. But owning it and using it as a learning opportunity is what makes someone an adult.
- Do their words match their actions? Do they follow through on their promises? If they are struggling to meet your needs, are they honest about it, setting reasonable expectations?
Of course, this is just scratching the surface. Trust is a complicated beast. With clients, I get a lot more granular, and of course everything is personalized to their exact situation! But this general rubric will serve anyone well. So as we navigate the Venus/Pluto conjunction for the next three months, keep this guide close at hand. It might just save you from real pain!
How do you decide who to trust? What are your criteria?