There are many reasons I should not trust someone:
- Lying – This is the biggie. Why do we put up with people who lie? Is it because they’re so charming we tend to overlook their lies? Is it because they’re chameleons who tell us what we want to hear? No matter, it’s always a bad thing. If I catch someone in a lie, whether it’s to me, or to someone else, it’s a huge sign that this person isn’t going to be a good friend. Other things to watch out for; different definitions of lying. For example, if they think that withholding information when asked a direct question isn’t lying… well, it is, and it’s just as bad. I can’t be close to someone who has shifting ideas about what honesty is.
- Never meeting their friends – Another huge one. When establishing a new friendship, or a dating a new person, it’s normal for the two people to wait a bit before introducing the other person to their friends (and family, if they’re close to their family). But eventually, I’m going to want to meet the people they call friends. I’m going to want to see how they interact with their friends, what kind of people they are friends with. It’s important to see people in their normal context, the surroundings they choose for themselves. If the other person withholds that, that’s a clue that something’s not right. Believe it or not, I’ve known someone for over a year and a half and never met their friends! Um… that’s not friendship.
- Lack empathy – This one is more subtle, but it can be picked up on. Here’s the first example that comes to mind: If someone never tries to figure out if their behavior is causing me to react. If they just do whatever it is they want to do, in spite of your reaction, and they continue to do it even after you’ve become angry (yes, it’s typically something that causes a negative reaction, rather than a positive reaction), and then they continue to do it some more… until you finally call them out on it, and they put it back on you, claiming that you never sat down and spelled out in black and white what, exactly, they weren’t supposed to be doing, and you point out that you did try to explain it to them, and they sit in stunned silence and try to change the subject or then try to say that now, now that they see what it is, they’ll do as you ask… Until you point out that the two of you have been through this, already, with a very similar situation, and you don’t trust what they have to say this time. Just a, um, random example. I’m just sayin’.
- Won’t respect boundaries – Boundaries are important in any relationship. I think most people will agree with this. And setting boundaries are important. Being able to set boundaries is a function of communication. This is connected with the empathy point above, but it’s also a separate issue. How much communication is required in order to tell someone “this is not OK behavior with me”? If I find myself pointing out things that bug me over and over again, that’s a clue that this person and I do not communicate well, or that this person does not respect me enough to not test my boundaries. Or both.
- My behavior changes around them – If I find myself doing things I normally never do around my other friends, I should watch out. Sometimes other people, right or wrong, bring out the worst in me. They exaggerate my negative qualities, or do things that anger me and make it more difficult for me to restrain my anger. I want to be clear here; I am responsible for my own emotions. However, perhaps because of another person’s lack of empathy or lack of respect for my boundaries, they can encourage behavior in me that is less than my best. I’m not blaming them for my behavior; I’m just saying that if I notice myself acting differently around someone else, I should be cautious and limit my exposure to that person until I figure out why I’m changing around them.