January/February 2001
To Trust or Not To Trust:  Itís More Than A Question
by SassyTongue

I save a lot of things - but by far the oddest little collection is one of fortunes from fortune cookies.  Generally, I tape them around my computer screen at work.  One in particular made it home and now graces a corner of my bedroom mirror.  It says:

If youíve never been scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means youíve never taken chances.

It might as well say - youíve never trusted anyone.  I accept it as universal that everyone I know has been emotionally hurt at one time or another because their trust has been violated.  Itís odd that no matter what we consent to in terms of our kink - the one thing that can really come back to haunt and hurt us is a violation of trust.

Some people think of trust as this big secret room and that once you find the key, you then have the password that can expand or shatter a personís world.  While that makes great prose, the reality of trust is far different.  Trust is a communication process - plain and simple - and one that most people donít understand.

Each of us has a window of information that we expose to others.  Think of a window with 4 window panes that can be customized for every person you meet. These four ďwindow panesĒ can be categorized as follows:

1)  There is the stuff that we know about ourselves - that other people know (common shared information)

2)  There is the stuff that we know about ourselves - that other people donít know  (maybe that little shoplifting incident where you *didnít* get caught)

3)  There is the stuff that we canít know about ourselves Ė but other people know  (sleeping habits come to mind)

4)  There is the stuff that we canít know about ourselves Ė and other people donít know it either.  This last one is truly the realm of the ďunknownĒ and typically is very small.  (A good example would be the aneurysm in your head that neither you nor your lover knows about.)

Ok - so what nonsense is Sassy talking about now...think of it this way.

We base trust upon shared information.  This information can come from any number of sources - verbal communication, observation, body language, and any other form of communication, including written.  Whenever we disclose information about ourselves we choose to expose more of ourselves.  We open up the window panes.  Opening up yourself to another person allows them to see you for who you really are - and that includes both positive and negative traits.  Which means that you also open up to potential hurt. This is called risking.  Trust doesnít develop without risk.

Thatís an important statement - Trust doesnít develop without risk.  As you think of a BDSM relationship or even a scene, we always strive to eliminate risk.  So where can trust develop?  Certainly, itís true that we Kinksters always take a risk when we play with someone new, but for the most part we eliminate so much of the risk part, that we seem to have forgotten where and how to place trust.

To me the answer lies in telling your play partners about yourself.  If SubbieSue talks about her real life rape experience with DomTom, that means DomTom is going to know that a certain voice or smell may cause a violent reaction that he wants to avoid...or maybe he doesnít.  The point is - SubbieSue had to risk exposing a part of herself in order to give DomTom a new insight into what will or wonít make a good scene for SubbieSue.

Certainly all risk doesnít need to be quite as traumatic, nor does taking a risk mean abandoning all safety protocol.  But it would behoove all of us to look at trust for the communication process that it is, and not as some magical formula.

The more people trust each other - the wider the window pane of shared information gets.  Ultimately, you share so much knowledge about each other that trust becomes an integral part of the relationship...and when that much knowledge is shared itís hard to not call it a relationship.

So enjoy people - and do yourself a favor next time - take a little risk and tell your playmate a little more about yourself.  The gift of a risk will bring back double in trust.

Play on people!