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Be Careful Who You Trust: 15 Ways to Recognize the Backstabbers

In life, we meet people who are ride or die and those who are questionable. Be careful who you trust, to weed out the good versus the bad.

be careful who you trust

Learning to be careful who you trust takes time. Have you ever noticed that most kids will talk to just about anyone about anything? They’ll give out personal details about their lives and tell their most intimate secrets—there really isn’t much that they hold back. Even if you tell them to be careful who they trust, it’s something that just flies out of their head!

As we grow older, we learn from experience that there are some people whom we can trust, and many, many others whom we can’t. Even in committed relationships like marriages, there are betrayals of trust that can throw you for a loop. [Read: How to forgive a cheater: 8 questions to face the betrayal]

The problem is that if we don’t learn to rely on others and find it in our hearts to love, survival is extremely difficult. There is nothing worse than thinking that you can trust someone only to find that they haven’t earned it. When you feel betrayed, it’s nearly impossible to believe you can trust again. The key is not to make the same mistake twice.

[Read: The 15 signs of a bad friend to always be on the lookout for]

What is trust and why is it important?

We all know the word ‘trust’ and we know we need it in relationships, but what is it exactly? When something can’t be seen or measured, it’s sometimes hard to really understand the concept.

Trust isn’t only important in romantic relationships, it’s important in any connection you have with another human being. Within a friendship, you need to trust that person. If you’re working closely with someone on a project, you need to be able to trust that they’re not going to stab you in the back and take credit for your ideas.

Of course, we focus on trust in relationships because betrayal can ruin love for us over the long-term. [Read: 10 signs the guy you’re with deserves your trust]

Trust is having faith in another person. You believe that they won’t betray you, hurt you unintentionally, cheat on you, and you trust that they love you. It’s likely you feel comfortable talking to them about your problems and worries, and you know they’re not going to repeat it to anyone. You just feel at ease with that person. When you have trust, it’s a truly beautiful and wonderful feeling. When you don’t have trust, the entire relationship is doomed.

Relationships of any kind can’t grow when trust isn’t involved. That’s why you need to be careful who you trust because forming a connection with someone you don’t trust is a fast-track to pain. [Read: How to trust again in the most simple, uncomplicated steps]

How to be careful of who you trust

Often, we think that the people we love will love us the same way and hold the same loyalty, but that is not always the case. No matter who you decide to confide in, there are some general rules that you can follow if you don’t want to end up embarrassed, disappointed, and let down.

1. If they have done it more than once in the past, they will do it again.

If there is one thing that is true about human nature, it’s that we are creatures of habit. Of course, everyone can make a mistake. As long as that person feels terrible about it and is committed to never making the same mistake again, you can think about giving them a second chance. However, it depends what they did, the circumstances surrounding it, and how you feel in your gut.

The saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater” is normally true. Not always, but often. If someone has the propensity to betray your trust initially, there is really nothing stopping them from doing it again.

Remember that not everyone deserves your trust. If they make the same mistake twice, that’s a huge red flag and a definite sign to walk away. [Read: Should you trust your gut? How to know when to listen to it or ignore it]

2. Just because you wouldn’t betray their trust, doesn’t mean they will honor the same code.

We often assume that we are like everyone else and live by the same rules. The older I get, the more I realize that the assumption that everyone thinks and feels the same way as me is entirely false.

If you have a set of rules for yourself, don’t ever assume that everyone else shares those same ethics and values. We all live by our own rules and moral codes.

3. Secrets are no fun

Even if you think you’re speaking in confidence, keep in mind that the more secretive the subject is, the more likely it is to be spread. Be careful who you trust with your secrets. Some people can be very good at hiding their sneaky, backstabbing ways. [Read: How to be a friend – The real art of building true and meaningful friendships]

4. Never trust the drama queen

Be careful who you trust because the drama queen is more about the drama than being a friend. If they know something juicy that will gain attention simply from knowing *and spreading* the information, they will likely sell you out for the traction the story will gain them. Every group has a drama queen, you just have to analyze the group and work out who it is.

The drama queen usually can’t stop themselves. They are completely unaware that what they are doing is hurting anyone. Using the guise of being concerned about you and trying to enlist people to help, there is normally nothing that is off limits. All it takes is a “bless your heart” and they can tell your deepest darkest secrets and make it sound like they are doing you a favor. [Read: Attention seeking behavior and why some people always go looking for drama]

5. If someone is talking to you about someone else, they are also talking about you to others

Be very careful who you trust is never more true when you’re around someone who badmouths other people. The truth is that if someone is betraying the trust of another person by speaking to you about it, they’re going to turn around and do the same to you.

They don’t have one set of rules for your friendship and then another for the person they’re dishing the dirt on. It’s just a matter of time before your secrets are being spilled out of their forked tongue. Don’t trust someone who can’t keep someone else’s secret – you are not that special.

6. Trust is NOT a two-way street

Just because they trust you, that does not mean that you can trust them. If they have told you very secretive things in the past, don’t assume that means that you can tell them things.

Some people know that by self-disclosing, they will gain your trust. Once there, they will tear you apart. Knowing that you are an honest person and will hold their secrets can be an even larger incentive for them to spill yours. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship and make it last]

7. Don’t work under the assumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty’

If people are telling you that someone is talking behind your back, listen to them. Most of us like to believe that we know better and don’t want to accept when someone tells us differently. Instead of just blindly believing, be careful who you trust, confront the person and think about things logically.

8. Don’t be naive

A lot of people are not inherently good. I hate to say it, but we all have an ugly streak so it’s very important to be careful who you trust and rely upon.

Don’t be naive enough to think that you are exempt from being talked about, just because you are an honest and good person. No one is exempt from ugliness, not even those who don’t deserve it. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]

9. Be selective with what you tell people

Before you have verbal diarrhea, consider whether you need to tell someone what you’re divulging to them. There are times when we need to vent, but you can still vent and leave certain things out. There have to be some things that you keep to yourself.

Being honest isn’t a requisite when what you have to say can come back to bite you. Be careful who you trust, and be selective about the depth of what you tell someone about you. If you would not want it to get out, keep it under wraps.

10. Sharing your darkest secrets doesn’t pull them closer

You aren’t going to form a closer bond with someone by telling them your deepest, darkest secrets. If someone wants to form a close relationship with you, they don’t need to know that you wet the bed when you drink too much, or that you cheated on your boyfriend one time by mistake. [Read: The 25 surprising secrets we keep from our partners]

Self-disclosure, or confessing your sins to someone, does not make them feel any closer to you. In fact, secrets may make them uncomfortable around you and make them wish you had just kept things to yourself.

11. Saying “I do” doesn’t always mean they do too

When you say “I do,” that may not always mean, “I do promise to keep everything in our relationship between us.” Unfortunately, that may not be what the other person means when they say it.

Not all married people see the bond that they have as sacred and will have no problem discussing not only your problems, but your intimate confessions. Marriage is not always a promise of trust, unfortunately. [Read: 15 cell phone rules all couples have to follow to build real trust]

12. Don’t ignore your inner voice

If your inner voice is telling you to be careful who you trust or to hold back information when talking, listen. There’s a reason why we have an inner voice. It was created to keep us from harming ourselves or making mistakes that come back to bite us. All too often, we ignore our intuition, and it turns out to be right. [Read: How self respect affects you and your relationship]

13. If it quacks and looks like a duck …

It is a duck. Be realistic about who and what a person is. If you have given someone your trust and they broke it, no matter the excuse, don’t trust them again. There is never a reason to betray someone’s trust unless they come to you first and give you a heads up.

14. Don’t give three strikes – one is normally plenty

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And fool me three times? Well, I don’t even have any suggestions for that. That is purely just not caring enough to protect yourself from harm. Be careful who you trust, start putting yourself first and understand that you don’t deserve to be betrayed.

If someone has betrayed your trust once, you can’t trust them the same way again. That is just the way that things are, whether you want to believe it or not. If they did it before, there is a chance they will do it again. Betrayed your trust twice? Wave goodbye because they can’t be trusted.[Read: Should you forgive and forget? 15 guidelines to follow]

15. They aren’t sharing? Neither should you

If someone isn’t telling you anything about themselves, that’s usually a sign that either they don’t care about what you have to say, or that they don’t care to hold your trust.

When someone doesn’t open up to you, what makes you think they want to hear about what you have to say? What makes you think you should tell them anything secretive about you? You aren’t going to get them to open up if they haven’t already, and spilling your guts for their sake isn’t going to help. [Read: Shhh Don’t tell! Secrets you’re allowed to keep in a relationship]

How to recover after your trust has been broken

If you’ve experienced betrayal before, you’ll already know that it hurts like hell. It doesn’t just sting, it seriously hurts. At the time, you vow that you’re never going to trust a single human being again. Of course, with a little time you’ll start to want to open up to others, because that’s just human nature. [Read: Pistanthrophobia and the fear of trusting someone]

So, how can you start to recover after your trust has been shattered? From that point on, be careful who you trust. Bear the points above in mind and don’t be reckless with your secrets.

When it comes to slowly starting to open up, it’s going to take some time. Your gut is going to be screaming at you and questioning whether you really should speak out or not. It’s worth remembering that most of the time, your gut is right. However, sometimes it’s very conservative and it’s trying to stop you making the same mistake twice. [Read: How to rebuild trust after even the worst type of betrayal]

The only advice is to move slowly. Go at a pace that suits you and the most important thing? Communicate with your new partner, assuming it is a romantic connection. If they’re a decent person, they’ll completely understand that you’ve had a bad experience and you want to move slowly. Over time, you’ll start to piece together your trust once more but don’t expect miracles overnight.

Always remember that you can’t blame a new person in your life for something a person from your past did. Carrying baggage around is just going to make you miserable. So, whilst you don’t have to take a blind leap of faith, you do have to at least keep one eye closed and have a little faith in your ability to spot a cheater. [Read: How to get over someone cheating on you and repair the damage]

Will you always be careful with who you trust from that point onwards? Probably, yes, and that’s not a bad thing. As long as you don’t allow your past experiences to stop you from opening up at all, there’s nothing wrong with always being just a little cautious.

[Read: How to stop being a doormat and feel in control again when people use you]

The best way to live life is to be careful who you trust, and by finding one person whom you know you can trust never to let you down. Be careful who you trust outside of that. If people aren’t asking, don’t tell. And for goodness sakes, remember, that if they’ve betrayed your trust before, they WILL probably do it again.

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Julie Keating
A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined in...
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