“Do You Trust Me?” “With What?”

I had a physics teacher who taught us to always ask “relative to what?” about everything.

  • The sun rises.  “relative to what?”
  • John was late.  “relative to what?”
  • I trust the babysitter.  “relative to what?”


So I ask myself “relative to what?” regarding statements like “I trust you” as well.

Sure, trust is about that classic willingness to share responsibility, and – to me – it’s just as much about accuracy of information.


If I knew you really, really, REALLY well,
I’d trust you with some things more than I can trust others…
and I would just NOT be able to trust you that much with *certain* other things  🙂


It’s okay.  You shouldn’t trust me to juggle.  Or paint your likeness in oil on canvas.  I’d do my best, have fun at it, and try, but we’ll need context to agree on/verify the degree of trust we can warrant having in each other (relative to others) before making serious agreements.  Which brings me to my next point:  I wonder whether knowing each other through multiple long-lasting connections gives us more trust in our own judgment calls.  I think it does.  A last thought on that:


Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.


“stable social relationships”

…relative to what?

These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.  This number was first proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size.”

Wikipedia, Dunbar’s number



knows who each person isand then some…

Do we even know who we are… unless we ask ourselves “relative to what?”

Or as the case may be: “relative to whom?”

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