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False Negatives: Understanding Why You Can Feel Distrusting of Nice & Other Potentially Positive Things That Trigger Negative Responses

Over the years I’ve heard from thousands of people, mainly women, who feel really uncomfortable around somebody who is ‘nice’. They feel wary and wonder what the catch is and are often guilty of sabotaging things just so that they can ‘get away’ from it. They’ll find a million and one reasons not to like the person no matter how ridiculous. Why does this happen?

Who we feel comfortable around, who we like, and who we feel attracted to is intrinsically tied to our pattern of thinking and behaviour.

If you’re used to being around people who make you jump through hoops, who dip in and out of your life, and who you tend to refer to them in terms of ‘good points’ and ‘good times’, you’re not really going to feel too at ease with someone who is just ‘there’, who says what they mean, does what they say and is consistent instead of a mass of contradiction. That goes against everything that you believe whether it’s about relationships, life, people, or you.

It’s not that you’re thinking “Nice people are bad”; it’s just that you don’t really know what to do or how to feel around someone who doesn’t have an agenda or who doesn’t represent the opportunity to seek validation.

You can get a really good sense of how you feel about you when you’re around someone who actually isn’t mucking you about yet you feel really uncomfortable. You immediately see that you are not used to being around people like this and that you may not actually feel comfortable because you may not feel worthy of being around someone who doesn’t make you work for their attentions and affections.

The other thing that throws a monkey wrench in the works, of course, is if your idea of ‘nice’ is somewhat skewed and if it’s been impacted by what you perceive to be a negative experience of something that would be great and good under a different set of circumstances. That’s why I hear from people who feel distrusting of someone who compliments them (because they were with someone who used compliments to manipulate or press the Reset Button), or who does nice things for them (because they’ve been around someone who would do ‘nice things’ and then extract their payback or expect to get away with busting their boundaries), or who would do nice things for other people but be quite cruel to them.

Experiences like this can have you not knowing which way is up or down. You can end up with this underlying belief that people who are ‘nice’ have a hidden agenda and are really not that nice. Which is not true. The person who you had the experience with had a hidden agenda, but that doesn’t mean that ‘everyone’ does even if you’ve experienced it twenty times.

The key with something that you perceive as being a ‘negative’ is that in order to truly be negative, it needs to have an inappropriate person with it. It needs context. You will also find that it’s either only negative in this particular situation or it’s not negative at all. It’s the other stuff that is negative, but you’re choosing to focus on ‘nice’ (or whatever it is).

The question you need to be asking is, Aside from ‘nice’ are they actually similar to someone who actually mistreated me? You can easily answer this if they are behaving in ways that actually contradict ‘nice’ or certainly cast them in a new light.

Being distrusting of someone who is ‘nice’ (or other seemingly good things) is about it not fitting with your pattern of thinking and behaviour.

You feel uncomfortable around them and tend to feel more comfortable around someone who is ‘nice’ at times, usually in the honeymoon period but who is inappropriate because they do other things that are inappropriate and in fact overstep your boundaries.

If you, for example, take dating at a base level, you may associate sleeping together, time spent, frequent contact, being introduced to parents/friends/ promises, plans, feelings declared and your own increasing feelings/expectations with a relationship. The ‘hallmarks’ – things we can take as indicators of something.

But if the person is disingenuous or just doesn’t have the same relationship in mind that you have, the relationship that you’re expecting either doesn’t materialise, or it does, but it’s not the one that you want.

You then feel so badly burned, and you start to feel that you can’t trust. You end up taking what in other circumstances may be good experiences, and they become negative experiences when really it’s not about these factors. It’s about the person that you were trying to forge the relationship with along with certain things (the landmarks – balance, consistency, commitment, intimacy, and progression along with shared values, love, care, trust, and respect) being missing.

The next time you get involved with someone who you’re sleeping with, spending time together etc, you might feel like you can’t trust them because you’ll be thinking “Well, last time I was with Roger and I was having an amazing time and thought we were going to be together forever and look what happened there – he was full of shit!” So what do you think happens next? You feel and act distrusting (even if you don’t realise it) and you keep yourself emotionally safe (even if you don’t realise it). In fact, you may have started this dating process feeling distrusting and with a skewed perspective about relationships which will have affected who you were drawn to in the first place. And round and round you go.

It’s important to recognise the ‘rogue’ factor – the downside, the bad points, the bad times, and basically who someone might be that essentially colours what you can expect. When you don’t recognise the ‘rogue factor’, you can end up muddling in the fact that they have good points with the fact that you’re getting these experiences and come to associate dodgy behaviour as part of what you ‘should’ expect.

These experiences are how you end up with the belief. For example, you might believe that it’s normal and possible to be with someone who has red flag behaviour with ‘nice points’ —> In turn it changes your view of people and the world —> When you meet someone / get into a situation that reflects this pattern, you will feel more at ease —-> you feel attracted.

When someone doesn’t fit with your beliefs, you’ll be waiting for the other shoe to drop —-> You feel distrusting —-> You’re not really in it because of your doubts and fears —-> It all goes belly up anyway

If you’ve had a bad experience with someone who took something good and used it against you, it’s important to reevaluate the experience and make what you feel that you know specific to them. Remind yourself of a healthier perspective when faced with the situation.

“No, compliments in themselves are not bad. That was a bad experience with Roger, but not everybody is like him. The compliments weren’t the problem; the problem was actually that he was manipulative, dishonest, and very rarely followed through with actions.”

That’s a very real example by the way. I know someone who was so very flattered to be complimented by Roger, and she felt like she’d had all of her Christmases come together in one go. She felt adored, and when he backed off, she thought she’d done something to upset him. When she eventually uncovered his lies, she felt like a mug. Like he’d preyed on her need for flattery and validation and exploited it with compliments that blinded her to doing her due diligence. She felt like a fool afterwards so not only was she berating herself for being ‘taken in’ by him but she literally tensed up when she was complimented by a guy and broke off a few short relationships because she was so scared of it happening again.

She no longer has a negative association with compliments; she has a negative association with people that swoop in, Fast Forward, and are unwilling to take their time because they’re too busy trying to squeeze in their fantasy into a short period of time. She trusts herself to remain in the present and to do her due diligence. When she’s complimented, she says thank you if necessary, and instead of flagging up distrust, she naturally cross-references it against other things that she knows about the person to gauge where it may be coming from. If she doesn’t know them, she takes it for what it is but doesn’t feel under any obligation to ‘do’ something to thank them. She’s also being kinder to herself and appreciating who she is and her efforts which means that she doesn’t act like someone who is starving for 6 months and then is offered a cracker.

Look beyond the trees and see the woods. Where does the distrust come from?

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