Sliding Door Moments

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As I noted in my previous blog, trust is fundamental to any relationship, and yet, we often fall short in how we understand and talk about trust to each other. To say, “I don’t trust that person,” is a statement that provides no direction about what needs to change, and keeps us at an arms-length distance from people.

Fortunately, Brene Brown helps to build our understanding of trust, giving us a language to talk about it, and helping us to better identify and communicate where we are hurt or need more trust.

The first thing we noted was how trust is built in very small moments: The building blocks of trust happen in the seemingly ordinary moments. Remembering someone’s name, voluntarily introducing yourself to your friend’s parents, attending a colleague’s family funeral, remembering others significant moments. Moments like these, Brown notes, are what research has shown to be the building blocks of trust, a lot like a marble jar.

John Gottman, a world renowned author, therapist, and researcher of relationships, esp. marriage, calls these seemingly insignificant moments, sliding door moments. He says, we do the important work of building trust in our relationships, in the moments when we choose to “turn towards” our partner and help address his/her need. It is found in our willingness to connect.

Which leads us to the second thing, we have opportunities to build trust or to betray the trust of another. “To choose not to connect when the opportunity is there, is a moment of betrayal.”

Gottman says, “betrayal is more than just breaking trust, like lying or having an affair, it is the continued decision to ‘turn away’ from your partner and choose to not meet a need. It is rooted in the belief, “I can do better than him/her. Do I really have to deal with his/her needs again?” This leads to a pattern of disconnection, of not committing to a relationship.

“Trust and betrayal are found in our willingness to connect.”

Question: What are some “sliding door” moments that have built trust in your relationships?  When have you allowed a “sliding door” moment to slip away and missed an opportunity to truly connect with someone else?

Until next time …

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