Some things that have been swirling in my mind lately on trust and how this ties into closeness
When I care about someone, I want to deeply know them. I want to learn about the stories that keep them up at night or the songs they dance to when they think nobody’s watching. I want to hear about the words and experiences that replay in their minds and provide comfort in loss, or revel in their wins. I want to understand the way they think or what makes them, them.
Growing up, when it came to real intimacy and having conversations about things that weren’t so simple, I struggled. We weren’t a family that sat around the dinner table and talked and “I love you’s” were reserved for birthdays and anniversaries. There wasn’t much talk about our feelings and even with hometown friends, we understand each other in a much simpler (simple doesn’t mean bad but with just far less openness) way than in the friendships I’ve formed as an adult.
Closeness with family and hometown friends wasn’t established through sharing, these bonds were merely a result of time and shared experiences.
But in college, I found a core set of friends where by virtue of living together and experiencing the formative experiences of our late teens and early 20s together, we became closer. I vividly remember, the first night in our apartment, we pulled out the We’re Not Really Strangers card deck and quickly moved through the cards, glossing over the questions about what gifts we’d buy each other or how messy our cars were. Instead, we mulled over responses about what life lessons we’ve learned or our familial ties. We dove deep into understanding each other and this was only achieved because of our ability to share candidly.
After developing these close relationships with trust and openness as their foundation, I struggle to maintain relationships where this closeness doesn’t come as naturally.
In “Norweigan Wood” by Harumi Murakami, the focus is on the main character, Toru’s relationship with Naoko, a childhood best friend turned partner. Someone who he’s grown up with and arguably understood him better than anyone else, especially having lost a best friend together. As the story goes on and he loses touch with Naoko, he slowly grows this friendship with Midori. It begins casual and slow-moving, chatting as they run into each other in college yet her loss of a family member pulls them closer together. He is there for her as she needs him, proving comfort and kindness, in addition to an environment conducive to sharing.
Yet, when Toru was experiencing loss or struggling with college - a time when we expect him to turn to those around him, he didn’t turn to Midori.
You obviously want to be alone, so I’ll leave you alone. Go ahead and think away to your heart’s content!
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally mad at you. I’m just sad. You were so nice to me when I was having my problems, but now that you’re having yours, it seems there’s not a thing I can do for you.
You’re all locked up in that little world of yours, and when I try knocking on the door, you just sort of look up for a second and go right back inside.
Toru didn’t seek out comfort in the same way Midori did and isolated himself for weeks - he wasn’t able to tolerate this growing closeness and is shown to be someone who is secretive about their personal life.
When one party cannot tolerate this growing closeness, things will often feel out of place because their expectations no longer match up. From the outside looking in: it appeared that he knew everything about her, yet she knew very little about him.
This type of situation, where there’s one person who dives deep into intimacy and there’s another who pushes away often results in the slow unravelling of a relationship as closeness comes to the surface.
What I’ve noticed in these types of situations, is that when there exists a relationship between those who are more naturally reserved or careful with their words, there are two possible reactions from the individual that values openness.
a. There is the one who seeks to break these walls down, to be the exception and the one they trust as opposed to the rule. They seek this validation and will do what it takes to be privy to the other person’s life, and this often results in a relationship where your needs are not met because you are actively convincing the other person to confide in you.
b. The other is the one who accepts that someone’s inability to match their expectations of openness is not a reflection of how comforting or trustworthy they are.
For so long, I was the first type of person. The things that came easy didn’t seem so valuable, harping on the saying, “good things never come easy.” I’d stay in relationships where I had to work for their trust, hoping that with time and shared experiences, we’d establish this closeness I desired.
It takes time to build trust and connect deeply with someone. It takes consistency, and effort but the one thing I am sure of is that: fulfilling relationships are not built on convincing someone to let you in or breaking down their walls.
Conversely, I think trusting is hard but we can only care as deeply as we allow ourselves to be cared for; we have to accept the possibility that we might get hurt, or that things might not work out. Still, I don’t think you’ll ever regret a willingness to share pieces of yourself with others. This allows you to grow and show up authentically in your relationships; to develop this closeness you’ve been searching for.
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