The more we trust, the less reassurance we need, and the more implicit our expressions of affection become.
For one thing, the more secure we are in a relationship, the safer we feel to move out from the relationship into the world, because we’re less afraid that something will go wrong with the relationship if we pay attention elsewhere for a while. On the contrary, the relationship becomes our safe haven from which we can explore and dare, as well as our refuge when we inevitably run into trouble. Our trusting partners and comrades also support our move outward, enjoying their role in our growth and expansion, instead of interpreting the shift as a signal that we don’t recognize their importance. This is what happens of necessity when parents have children: less time for face-to-face attention and more collaboration of two as one, facing their children together.
For another thing, deliberately testing love is a way to honor and celebrate it. Why do best friends quip and bandy slurs which would be offensive apart from their confidence and security in each other? Why do buddies punch each other to show their affection? What is teasing about, if not to celebrate connections of the heart that we know can bear the joke? When we’re proud, we show off what we’re proud of. The best way to compliment quality is to show that it can pass a test.
The more reassurance we need, the more we show that we feel unable to trust. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just where we’re at. Problems happen, though, when we put the onus for increasing our trustfulness solely on others. They own their trustworthiness, but they don’t own our willingness or ability to trust. We own that, and we are not helpless.
If we want to go deeper into trust, we need to do two things:
1) Encourage others to be more trustworthy. We can even demand it–nothing wrong with that. The problem is that we’re too easily tempted to add the OE! Clause–OR ELSE!–and then blame (not to mention punish) people if they fall short of our expectations, which always backfires. Just say NO to the blame and YES to expecting others to be trustworthy. None of us has a “right” to be untrustworthy. Besides, assuming trustworthiness actually promotes it. It’s a compliment, even when undeserved. It’s how compassionate, well-liked salespeople (what few there are) close sales, and how wise adults get children to give things a try and to act responsibly.
2) Be more trusting. That doesn’t mean be stupid or become a doormat. Trust isn’t an on/off switch between 100% trust or no trust at all. No one can tell you how much more trusting to be. That’s up to you. How much more doesn’t even matter, as long as it’s a bit more.
Try both. You’ll see how potent they are, how they stimulate trust on both sides simultaneously, and how they put you in the power position regardless of what other people do.
Once you see how they work, your question will flip from, “How much more trust should I demand,” or, “How much more trust do I have to show?” to, “How far CAN I take this puppy?”