Trust, but Verify
You can’t trust everyone in life. Like it or not, some of the people who you meet will be cruel and selfish; worse yet, they may be crooks, con artists, or even violent and dangerous individuals. If you trust people blindly, you will end up used and abused, and you will put yourself, your loved ones, and the life that you have built at risk.
But you can’t go through life trusting no one, either! To live life without trust is to be suspicious of everyone and everything. It means living in fear, in a constant state of anxiety. Being unwilling or unable to trust will exhaust you, and it will ruin your relationships. It will destroy your life just as surely as any crook or con artist could.
So what can you do? You can’t be naive, but nor can you be suspicious. Here’s one idea, courtesy of an old Russian proverb: Trust, but verify.
Protecting yourself with security measures
“Trust, but verify” has a long history of use (and misuse). There’s certainly a bit of an ironic ring to it, and you may find it self-contradictory at first glance. But if we interpret the phrase to mean that trust should be earned, that we should take common-sense steps to protect ourselves, and that we should use what we learn to place our trust sensibly in the people who matter most to us — well, then it starts to make a whole lot of sense.
Protecting yourself and the life that you’ve built means protecting your home. It should come as no surprise that experts recommend installing a security system in your home, and that most modern security systems include the option to put up indoor and outdoor cameras.
Such cameras will help you monitor everyone who comes in (or even near) your space, from the electrician to the nanny. This doesn’t mean that you can’t trust your nanny; on the contrary, after months and years of seeing nothing of interest on the “nanny cam,” you’ll be able to feel better about leaving the kids alone with your trusted nanny. This is just about using common sense and not leaving your home or your heart unguarded.
Trust and secrets
Physical security isn’t the only “verification” step that you should use. It’s also important to make sure that the people you trust are who they say they are — and that they aren’t hiding any upsetting secrets from you.
Thanks to modern apps that connect us with strangers for things as different as dating and dog walking, it has never been easier for someone to enter your life without you knowing anything about them. Roughly 15 percent of the adult population of the United States uses dating apps, experts say, and that means a lot of first dates (and second dates, and third dates) with people who aren’t schoolmates, co-workers, friends of friends, and so on. When we meet strangers through apps, we can’t really know who they are.
So what does “trust, but verify” mean in this context? It means taking common-sense steps like not meeting your date (or even your dog walker) in private the first time you meet one. It also means using an internet search to verify photos and to make sure that you don’t find any big red flags online.
Ideally, you should also turn to experts who can perform services like a people search, background check, or reverse phone lookup. Private detectives and background check services can help you find out if there’s something sketchy going on, and they won’t be foiled by simple tactics like name changes (you can’t say the same of Google searches, unfortunately). So be smart, and turn to the pros early on — especially if you think that something seems amiss.
Using background checks and nanny cams may sound extreme, but this isn’t about being paranoid. It’s about verifying things so that you can trust fully and happily. When you balance your safety with your desire to trust people who are important to you, you’ll be able to stay safe without living in fear.