22T 13 | Relationship Trust


They say trust is like a mirror. Once broken, you never look at it in the same way again. Be it in either your relationship with God, partner, family, nature, or nation – trust is important. In this episode, Linda Sutton talks about what trust is as it relates to relationships in tango. She discusses why it is important and why it is a great form of communication through its three stages—gaining trust, maintaining trust, and breaking trust. Linda then shares scenarios for each stage and assesses them one by one.

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Trust In Relationships Through The Lens Of Tango

We are going to be talking about what is trust. We’ll be talking about trust through the lens of Tango. Normally, when we think of trust, we think about trust in relationships, and so communication and trust are common areas in relationships, especially intimate relationships where there is a breakdown. We’re going to talk about the relationship between trust as it relates to relationships in Tango.

Specifically, in Tango, there are some very physical ways that the idea of trust and the nature of trust shows up and plays out. This is pretty exciting and interesting. In fact, this is probably one of the lessons that gentleman get quick and fast in a hurry when it relates to the nature of the dance. One of my favorite things to do is to work with married couples, and I love working with couples. Before the pandemic occurred, I did a series of couple’s Tango’s date nights. That’s something that I do frequently. Usually, there might be couples’ ministries, couples’ groups, married couples’ groups or clubs that do activities, and they want to do an activity together so we’ll do a Tango date night where they get a crash course in Tango. Learn a new skill together and get some new insights for their relationship and their marriage.

To trust is to have a firm belief in the reliability, the truth, the ability, or strength of someone or something. Click To Tweet

I remember the latest set that I did, and it’s always fascinating to me, to see the ladies and the gentlemen not only get the new insights about themselves through the dance but for them to immediately understand how those dynamics are showing up in their relationship. That is one of my favorite parts of training and teaching is to see people come into that awareness on their own. In the area of trust and communication, there are specific exercises that help gentlemen and ladies understand more than just an abstract way what it means to trust someone and what it means to entrust someone with something.

As we always do at the top of my sessions and episodes, we’ll talk about what is trust and what is entrust so that we make sure that we’re all on the same page. To trust is to have a firm, not just any kind of belief, but a firm belief in the reliability, the truth, the ability, or strength of someone or something. Now, that is a mouth full. What trust is, is a firm belief, so you have a firm belief in the reliability, the truth, the ability, and the strength of someone or something. That’s what trust is. You’re believing very firmly you have confidence in your belief that something is reliable, that it is true, that it is strong, that the ability that you understand it to have is there.

Now, to entrust someone is to assign the responsibility for something or someone to a person. Entrusting is the assignment of responsibility or is to give the protection of something. To entrust is to put in the care or protection of someone. You’re taking something and you’re putting it in the care or protection of someone. That is what it means to entrust someone. This is important because there are already some keys and some clues as it relates to trust and entrusting. We can already begin to get some insights into where trust breaks down, and why it breaks down.

We’re going to talk in this episode about three different stages or categories. We’re going to talk about it from a Tango perspective and from the lens of Tango, how trust is gained. The second part, which is how trust is maintained, and then the third part is how is trust regained when and if it is broken. I want to start with something that you want to remember. In Tango, principles are the rules that govern the roles. As it relates to trust in Tango, when there is trust, they will entrust.

When there is trust, when there is a belief in the reliability of a person or a thing, then they will entrust. You will be comfortable and confident in putting something or someone in the care or protection of another. Care and protection, these are key things that are an important part of the dance of Tango. Without trust, a person won’t feel comfortable with putting themselves in your care or putting themselves under your protection. When there is trust, they will entrust.

22T 13 | Relationship Trust

Relationship Trust: True trust is a function of consistently demonstrating that you’re worthy of not only the initial trust that you were given but greater measures of it subsequently.


First Stage: How Trust Is Gained

Let’s start in the process of how trust is gained in Tango, and there is a very specific process that a follower goes through to determine whether or not they trust their partner, and then the to the degree. What is the degree to which they will trust their partner? The degree to which they trust their partner will also determine the degree to which they will entrust themselves to the care and protection of their partner. That is important because there is a process that the follower goes through. A very physical process, and also an energetic and spiritual process that they go to determine whether they meet the threshold of trust. Second, which is the degree of trust that they will have in that person.

The amount of trust that is granted at the beginning of the relationship or the dance is based on the initial impression and intuition. I said that the degrees, the first threshold is whether or not trust will be granted at all. That’s the initial impression. From the observation of that person in the dance space, they’re determining whether or not they feel like that person is trustworthy at all by observing their behavior and their interaction with others. The degree of trust that they put into a new dance partner is a function of their intuition. There is an energetic reading of a potential partner that a woman or a follower goes through. They can pick up on their vibe and it’s important.

It is natural for the follower to follow her instincts on that. She will tend to get an instinctual feeling or sense of whether or not she trusts him from her observations and her senses, and then her intuition and her instincts will determine the degree to which she trusts him. That will show up in the type of embrace that she chooses. Based on her instincts, her intuition, her reading up his energy upfront, then the “three degrees of trust” or level of trust that exists at least in the Tango, in the form of the embraces will show up. A low level of trust will show up in an open embrace. A greater level of trust will result in a salon-style embrace.

A more confident level of trust will result in the upper level or chest to chest. Quite frankly, the fourth level of embrace we haven’t talked about because it’s usually reserved for advanced and professional dancers, is what we call liquid or fluid embrace. It’s where literally while you’re dancing, you go through all three different types of embraces from one extreme to the next. It’s extremely dynamic and is reserved for professionals or very advanced dancers who can manage that change of embrace. An extreme level of trust would result in what we would call a more liquid embrace and that’s reserved for those who are in partnership with one another as dance partners, almost exclusively and training together as professionals.

That is how trust is gained by observing how you interact with others, how you conduct yourself, and then also that coupled with an instinct, an intuitive feeling of you initially. That is how trust is gained. Trust is also granted when there is congruence. In congruence means that you see a synergy between a person’s word and their deeds, or their mind, body, and soul. When I say word, that word can be spoken or unspoken. You are who you say you are. How you’re showing up is consistent. The way that you’re showing up, you’re conducting yourself, you’re speaking and what you say you’re about, all those things, a person is observing that those things are in sync with one another. That congruence that they see within you determines whether or not the trust is granted.

Trust is granted when there is congruence between a person's word and their deeds, or their mind, body, and soul. Click To Tweet

For example, if they see you talking about being careful and talking about how you respect and have care for the ladies and safety in your conversation and they see that same level of care on the dance floor, then there’s a congruence between what you’re saying about your philosophy or your ideology as it relates to the dance and how you’re executing it on the floor. Also, how your interaction, the level of care that you’re taking, the thoughtfulness, the taking her thoughts into consideration, putting her safety first. All of these things will show up in terms of how trust is granted upfront.

Second Stage: How Trust Is Maintained

In terms of how trust is gained and then transitioning to how trust is maintained, right out of the gate, trust will require some testing. When a woman is determining the degree to which she trusts you, and therefore the degree to which she will entrust the care of herself, the protection of her safety in you, she will do some sort of tests. In Tango, this is something that is common and the gentleman expects.

At least when I was coming up to the ranks, the gentleman expected that the women would have them upfront to see if they were ready for what they were asking. When a man asks a woman to dance, inherent in his invitation is him saying to her that he understands that he is asking her to trust him and to entrust him with her care and her wellbeing. He understands that when he asked her to dance that a part of that is a responsibility for keeping her safe and supporting her and that he is able to and equipped to keep her safe and to support the fullness of her. He is able to support all of who she is and then from a physical standpoint that is in the form of her weight and all of the process that she will go through in order to get more and more comfortable with him.

A woman tests a man’s embrace in two ways and they’re attempt to be unexpected so that she can see his reaction. She does it in an unexpected way in order to test his reaction. She will test the left side of his embrace. The left side of the dance is where the man supports the woman’s hand. She will either test it there, or she will test it in terms of the amount of weight that she gives to his body. When she takes the hand that he offers her, she will put an enormous amount of weight on that quickly to see how responsive he is to her sudden increase or her suddenly giving him her weight, or she will give her weight to him in terms of her physical body in a very rapid fashion quickly. This is to see if he is able to support her. How he responds to her lets her know how much she can trust him in the beginning from the outset and sets the stage for how the trust will be maintained.

When she does this, this is what she’s gauging so that you’ll know because, in Tango, she is going to test him. Gentlemen, if you want your lady to trust you, you must expect that she is going to test you out of the gate to determine whether or not she should trust you, how much she should trust you, and what she should trust you with. In the dance of Tango, these are the questions that she’s answering. “Does he stumble under the weight of her? Is he prepared to receive her weight or not? Does he adjust or readjust quickly? Does he drop her or allow her to fall?” This would be the ultimate violation. “Is he prepared for what he asked for?” He asked for the dance so that involves him being able to support her and handle the full weight of her.

By inviting her, he is asking her to surrender to his lead and is suggesting through his invitation that he can handle what he is asking for. What she is looking for is a demonstration of that, because not only does it demonstrate his ability to fulfill that role, but also is a reflection and a mark of his readiness and maturity. A gentleman that asked for something but doesn’t understand the significance of what he’s asking for will not be equipped to handle all that comes with that. What she’s saying is like, “You’re saying that you got me. You’re saying that you got this and you can handle this.” You see that in relationships where a woman will express a little bit of hesitation or concern to trust him with something, or some part of herself or some situation. She’s like, “I don’t know. You sure you got this?” The gentleman is insistent like, “I got this. Trust me. Don’t you trust me? I can handle this.”

If he demonstrates that he doesn’t got this, what that does is set the stage for less trust rather than more trust in the future. It’s important because that is the dynamic that you’re seeing show up in the dance that will extend to other areas of their interaction. When a gentleman is asking a woman to dance, what he is saying is, “I got this.” In her reactions to him, she’s going through this process of determining, “He’s saying he got this but does he got this? I don’t know if he means it at all. He’s saying he can handle all of who I am. He’s saying he can handle a full weight of me. He’s saying that he is prepared to take on all that comes with me, but can he demonstrate that?”

I’m sure you can start to see this clear on and off the dance floor parallel. I love that because you clearly see that when you watch couples interact with each other, especially married couples, because then gentlemen and ladies get to see in real-time, physically, a conversation that they’re often having at their homes. Where the lady is expressing a little bit of hesitation and the amount of trust that she’s giving him in part because she’s experienced perhaps spaces where he said he had it and he didn’t have it.

She’s in the space of now questioning both either verbally or non-verbally, “Are you clear about what it is that you’re saying that you have the capacity to take on? You’re saying that you have the capacity to take this on, are you clear about what it is you’re saying that you’re able to do in addition to are you able to do it? It’s not just, are you able to do it? Do you understand the fullness of what you’re asking us to trust you with? What you’re what you’re asking us to entrust you with? Are you really sure that you understand what all of that means?” That’s what’s going on here. Once again, in terms of moving into phase two, which is how trust is maintained. The initial test plus these ongoing tests, will either deepen the amount of trust that the lady has in a gentleman or weaken the amount of trust that she has in the gentlemen.

22T 13 | Relationship Trust

Relationship Trust: Greater trust means that someone’s not only giving you greater trust and greater confidence in your ability to care, but they’re also often giving you greater access to something or someone.


Third Stage: How Trust Is Broken

She will be constantly in the state of testing because what she’s doing is, she’s going through degrees of trust. Degrees of entrusting. She’s either going to trust him more as he demonstrates that he has the capacity to be trusted with more. When he demonstrates his reliability, consistency, his ability, as we talked about it, trust, then she will put more under his care and protection. However, when a gentleman is inconsistent, when he is unreliable, when his strength is wavering, when his truth is wavering, that she will trust him less, and her trust in him will weaken over time. Now, the ultimate violation is when trust is broken. That is a whole different dynamic. When a gentleman demonstrates in Tango, in this dance, that either he is unreliable, he’s not being truthful, or his ability and strength are questionable, then trust becomes broken. When that trust is broken, either through observation, experience, or inconsistency, then you will see the need for trust to be regained.

Trust is not a given, and that should go without saying but sometimes trust like respect, people think it is given. There is a level of respect and there is a level of trust that is often granted as a courtesy just off of the initial interaction. However, true trust in a person is a reward and a reputation that is earned through the consistent demonstration of trustworthiness. Someone may offer you an initial measure of trust, or an initial measure of respect by nature of the initial interaction and enough evidence to at least grant you that. However, true trust is a function of consistently demonstrating that you’re worthy of not only the initial trust that you were given but greater measures of it subsequently. Your performance will determine the level of trust that you gain and the level of trust that you maintain.

Greater trust means that someone’s not only giving you greater trust and greater confidence in your ability to care but they’re also often giving you greater access to something or someone. Greater availability to more of you, whether in terms of your leadership, your guidance, or your presence. Greater trust often offers greater access and greater availability to things. Consistency and reliability are key. The congruency is the key to, once trust is gained to trust being maintained. In the dance, the way that trust is broken is when the woman is injured, or she gets hurt physically, but sometimes emotionally in some way. Like she felt safe that you weren’t going to do something inappropriate and perhaps you did, you’ve crossed a line or a boundary that she said and she got hurt as you ran her into a chair or a table, or you allow someone to step on her.

Any of these ways that she could have gotten hurt and so you’ve demonstrated that you have been unreliable in your protection of her. That is where trust is broken. Of course, there are other ways that trust is broken in relationships and you see that. Whether that is infidelity, not keeping one’s word, not being consistent in keeping one’s word, inconsistency of action, inconsistency of behavior, or inconsistency of attitude. Any of these things can create a dissipation of trust and even broken trust.

In Tango, when trust is broken, oftentimes there is a physical element related to that broken trust. This is extremely important to understand because when trust is broken in Tango, there is an energetic and muscle memory of the offense. If the physical safety of a woman has been breached, or there’s been an accident or something, then there often is physical evidence of the injury. Not only physical evidence of the injury but there is a muscle memory of the incident that gets connected to that injury or the energetic experience of it, like the fear, the tension, and the force of impact. All of these things are coming into play.

When that happens, it not only causes breaking of trust, but it causes oftentimes a break in the connection because what the woman has to do in response to that now that she’s been injured, is to go into self-protective mode. Whereas when she was in the embrace, she was allowing you to protect her, once you demonstrate that you are not capable of doing that, or you have been unable to do that, then she goes into self-protection mode. The way that she does that is by breaking, even if temporarily, the connection that you have because a part of the connection is her transferring that responsibility or that power to protect her to you. Once you demonstrate that you are not capable of doing that, or demonstrate that you have not been able to do that, then she would withdraw that power, connection, and assignment, and take it back on to herself.

I know people understand that in relationships, but for whatever reason they seem to miss it. Once you break trust, it is very difficult and hard to regain and rebuild. It takes longer to rebuild broken trust than to create the trust in the first place. The reason why is because now there is evidence associated with broken trust, whereas prior to that trust being broken, there was no evidence of it. You were able to rely on the initial measure of trust that was given, coupled with the experience of your consistency.

You started out with a strong foundation, that initial measure, you demonstrated success after success, consistency after consistency. It strengthened that initial measure of trust. However, when you fracture it, now there is clear evidence of that breakage or of that fracture. Whereas they didn’t have that before that reference point and that memory, they do have it now. There is going to take a great deal to overcome that broken trust because now they have to convince themselves that it will not happen again in the face of evidence that it has happened.

Here you have now evidence of broken trust and you have to convince yourself that even though you’re steering the memory of broken trust and perhaps the injury of broken trust, you were contending with it, you were healing from it. Your body is literally going through the process of repairing from said injury or the trepidation from the fear of the impact or what have you. Now, you’ve got to talk yourself and convince yourself that it will not happen again even though you have evidence that it did happen. That’s why it takes longer.

This is important for the person who has broken the trust, to understand that is very difficult, sometimes depending on the level of violation. Unfortunately, it’s impossible sometimes to rebuild that trust, especially if there are repeated violations of trust. That comes into play. When you understand that there is a memory, a muscle memory, an energetic memory of it, that becomes a part of the injury. If there’s a scar that comes with the injury, the person has evidence that they’re looking that it happened, they are holding the memory of it. Not only in terms of memory but they have physical evidence, like a scar, that injury happened.

They’ve got to face that, and those two things are in conflict with one another. Usually, a person that is the offender, or the person who has broken trust, thinks that the offense should disappear at the speed at which they express their remorse or your apology. Oftentimes, what I experienced and observe in terms of the trust as it relates to the dance, is that the offender apologizes that the broken trust has occurred or the injury has occurred. They want to go away as soon as they say, “I’m so sorry, I feel horrible. I cannot believe.”

As they’ve expressed their apology and remorse, they’re ready to move on, to be over with, to get back and get on to the next thing, get back to normal, get back to how things were and it will all be the same. The reason that the offender needs to be mindful of that is because they are not dealing with the impact of the broken trust. They’re not dealing with the injury of it, the pain of the injury, the pain that has to go through the healing process, and then the pain of the recovery. For example, if a lady gets injured in the dance and this has happened, where the gentleman kicked the lady’s leg that he was dancing with and literally knocked her toenail off.

There are the initial impact and the pain of having her toenail knocked off. That is cringe-worthy tragic. There’s the initial impact of the pain of that and the bleeding of it. There is the process of the healing of the injury as it stops bleeding and it stopped being in a place where she has had her foot bandage and can’t put any pressure and weight on it and whatever. There’s the process of healing and then there’s a process of recovering, which is her toenail, actually growing back. I know this is a graphic example but it’s the best way that I can give the three examples.

Even then, her toenail may never grow back completely healed in the way that it did before depending on the nature of her health and how the body heals and whatever whether or not it’s re-injured because of shoes or what have you. There’s this longer process that someone who has been hurt or injured or that trust has been broken, that they have to go through that the offender doesn’t have to go through. Oftentimes, the offender is wondering, “Why isn’t this process going faster? Why isn’t it over?” They’re not having a sensitivity to the fact that there are phases that have to be gone through on the initial phase in terms of the natural physical process or the emotional process of dealing with the offense.

The secondary part, which is the constant argument that the person has to go through, in terms of talking themselves into trust in the evidence and in the face of broken trust. That’s important. In terms of how trust is regained, number one is to understand that this process is occurring for the person that the trust has been violated. Whether physically in the dance, or whether emotionally in the dance. Whatever that violation of trust is or was, that there is this multi-phase process that the person who is experienced that broken trust has to go through. You cannot speak that up for them. You do not get to dictate how long it takes just like you cannot dictate how long it takes for a wound to heal, not only on the surface but heal underneath.

You do not get to dictate how long it requires for a person to recover completely from an offense. Click To Tweet

Equally, you do not get to dictate how long it requires for a person to recover completely from the said offense. If there is a scar that remains and a scar that never goes away, you have to understand that now that there’s a new reality that they have to live and deal with, that you too have to live and deal with. Whereas before there was no scar, if the scar doesn’t necessarily heal and go completely away, or it takes much longer for that process even if the initial injuries heal but the scar tissue hasn’t been replaced. You have to understand that’s a part of the process that you have to live through as you regain and rebuild the trust with a person.

This is a real dynamic. You see a lot of it on and off the dance floor. It’s not that the person who has experienced a broken trust doesn’t have a desire. If they do have a desire and they’ve decided that they want to reconcile and they want to get over it, it does not change the fact that the process of healing, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, is still a multi-stage process. There’s a whole bunch but I want to go into that because that’s a critical first phase that needs to be addressed. Trust in order to have connection advancing.

Connection is something we’ll talk about in a subsequent episode because it’s another characteristic that needs to be in place in order to have a successful dance, and of to have a successful relationship. Here on this episode, we’ve been talking about what is trust through the lens of Tango, and how trust is gained, maintained and regained. Hopefully, you’ve got a lot from that and you can use that to give you some new perspective in your relationships of the dance floor. This is Linda Sutton talking about trust and as we say here on the 22Tango show, “It only takes two to tango, but absolutely it takes you to Tango.” Ciao.