When it comes to navigating life’s ups and downs, knowing how to identify key sources of support in your life is important. You want people in your life who you can trust and will celebrate those exciting moments and successes with you. But even more so, you need people you can trust to lean on when the going gets tough.
For many of us, our family unit (whether it’s our parents, children, or partner) is a key source of support. But what happens when things go wrong within the family? It’s important to have people outside of that inner circle you can turn to and trust. This is particularly crucial in situations where financial or domestic abuse is occurring.
Having these lifelines can help you gain the safety and support you need, faster. So, how do you know who to trust and reach out to in these difficult situations?
Whether it’s friends, family, or a professional, here's how to identify people you can trust. Plus, how to find potential partners you can trust when you feel ready to pursue another relationship again in the future.
How to identify people you can trust - 5 key questions
1) Can they maintain my privacy?
It’s important to confide in someone who will keep your information private. If you're in an abusive or toxic situation, you need to know the person you're trusting will keep things to themselves or only tell the right people. If you speak to someone about what’s going on and that information gets back to your abuser, this can, unfortunately, escalate the situation.
The ‘gossip’ in your friend group or that colleague who knows (and shares!) everyone’s business isn’t going to be your best confidante in this situation. Instead, speak to someone who has proven their ability to keep things confidential. They may try to encourage you to seek professional help, but they also won’t do anything you’ve asked them not to do.
2) Can I rely on them?
It’s likely that you’re going to have to ask this person for a favour — whether it’s a safe place to stay, a small loan to get back on your feet, or simply a listening ear. So, ideally, you would have asked this person for help (even if it was something small) and they would have come through for you. In these situations, it’s important to turn to people who show integrity and keep their word. People who over promise and under deliver are not going to be the best choice.
3) Are they selfless and compassionate?
Trust isn’t just about believing that the person will keep their word and do what they say they will. You also need to know they will listen to you, and not make your situation about themselves or judge you. Of course, that’s not to say that someone needs to be Mother Theresa to help you.
However, people who incessantly speak over you or insert themselves into other people’s situation or make judgements about your behaviour and others in similar situations, may not be the best person to reach out to for support. Instead, look for the people in your life who show qualities like kindness, selflessness, and compassion.
4) Do I feel comfortable with them?
It’s important that you feel comfortable enough with this person to tell them about what’s really going on. The more information you can give them, the more they can help you. There’s absolutely no reason to feel ashamed about the situation, and they certainly shouldn’t feel that way. This person won’t necessarily be the person you’re closest to in your life. Instead, it will simply be someone who makes you feel safe and heard and puts you at ease.
Another consideration is, would you feel comfortable helping them if the tables were turned? This can give you important insight into the type of relationship you have with them and if they’re the right person to ask for help.
5) Do they have the resources – financial and non-financial – to help?
As much as they may want to help you, not everyone has equal resources to assist you in your time of need. For example, that friend who is heavily in debt may not be the right person to ask for a loan. Or, that person who is renovating their home may not have a spare bed to sleep in. Equally, the friend who recently lost a close family member may not be able to hold the emotional space you need.
If you don’t have anyone in your immediate circle who you feel is suitable to help you, that’s okay! There are other resources — many of which are free or very affordable. Professionals, such as counsellors or therapists, can assist and keep your information completely confidential.
Here's a list of mental health directories:
Australian telehealth mental health services include:
Going forward: How to find a partner you trust
So, what about when it comes to one of the most important relationships of your life — your life partner? After all, when you’ve been hurt and betrayed, it can be hard to open your heart and trust again. It can also make you start to question your own judgement of people. How do you go about finding a partner who you can trust wholeheartedly again? Well, the above questions are a good place to start when you’re in the early stages of getting to know each other. Your intuition can also be a powerful tool, so also pay attention to what your gut is telling you.
Whatever you’re going through, it’s important to know you don’t have to face it alone. There are people who can help. To find the right support, it’s important to find people who are trustworthy and reliable. The 5 questions can help you decide who you can trust.