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Trust Levels in the Real World (Part One)

As I’ve worked on putting the concept of Trust Levels into practice, one thing I’ve noticed is that the more intimate I anticipate a relationship could be – the slower I will progress someone through the levels. Relationships are challenging – even one between just two amiable people can be difficult. So it’s best to do your research straight from the start and it is even more critical for those you consider bringing into your innermost circle.

I discovered the importance of pacing by accident when I met him at a bar one evening. Both being regulars at this particular establishment, we were surprised that our paths hadn’t crossed sooner. That brought us right up to level one – acquaintances.

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It was a conversation about art that brought him over to the stool beside me. He is a visual artist and drawing comics is his preferred modality of expression. Taking interest, we sat close and shoulder-to-shoulder he showed me some of his work. Being a comic fan myself I could see he was good – much better than he let on or probably even believed himself to be.

In exchange, I shared some of my own art – the art of words via this very blog. He was immediately impressed with the amount of content on the website and I humbly thanked him. As our conversation turned to zombies, I introduced him to my novel-in-progress “Zombies North of Normal.” I noticed he was reading slowly, but this did not negatively impact my impression of him. To me, it meant that he wasn’t just skimming through quickly. He was really reading my words – my precious, carefully-selected words. I appreciated his diligence then and have come to appreciate that quality in him even more as our relationship has progressed.

And though it has progressed slowly, I appreciate that it has. He once apologized to me for “moving so slow.” I thought he was referring to his ambulation. However, he corrected me with a smile and simple shake of his head. Embarrassed, I instantly came to understand his meaning. We had been spending a great deal of time together over the past few days and he had yet to make any attempt to kiss me. In fact, he was allowing me to take the lead on the progression of our relationship.

At the end of that night we first met, he handed me his card which contained information on his website, his email address, and his phone number. It seemed he didn’t even think to ask for my phone number and I later learned it seemed that way – because he simply and endearingly didn’t. I was the one to make contact with him a few days later via text message.

After meeting at the aforementioned bar a couple of times, he invited me back to his place. I declined the invitation – and he did not take umbrage at my refusal. Instead, he smiled and wished me a good night without pressuring me to take his invitation in the near future. Rather, I was the one who suggested we meet again.

We went out to dinner at a different nearby pub – simply pizza and beer, but it was perfect. The occasion gave us an opportunity to speak with each other one-on-one in an environment removed from our mutual friends. We came to know each other better. And I was able to observe his table manners – which are impeccable. Ever the gentleman, he offered to refill my cup when it was nearly empty. He offered me another slice when I had cleared my plate. And when the bill came, he didn’t hesitate to pick up the tab.

I was impressed not only with his generosity, but also that he gave it freely. Never once did he imply that I owed him anything in return. On one particularly difficult day, he asked if there was anything he could do to help me. I told him I needed a few things I couldn’t afford and he picked them up and brought them to me that very day.

Spending so much time together, I moved him up to a level two (companion) when we learned that we are both avid fans of a popular television series. I admit being impressed with myself. Having met a tall, handsome, talented man I didn’t immediately jump to level four or five. We spent a fair amount of time at level one – getting acquainted.

As I write this, Julie Andrews sings “Getting to Know You” from the classic musical “The King and I.”

Getting to know you – getting to know all about you. Getting to like you – getting to hope you like me. Getting to know you – putting it my way, but nicely. You are precisely my cup of tea. Getting to know you you – getting to feel free and easy. When I am with you – getting to know what to say. Haven’t you noticed, suddenly I’m bright and breezy because of all the beautiful and new things I’m learning about you day by day.

And Richard Rodger’s lyrics ring true – I was getting to know him. I was getting to like him and hoping he liked me too. I also felt comfortable asserting myself when we found a point of disagreement. I was beginning to feel comfortable with him in general. So after learning he had access to the latest season of a show on which we were both quite keen, I asked him for another invitation to his place so we could watch it together.

He acquiesced my request and we set a date – he even picked me up. I still took note of the make, model, and license plate on his car before getting in, keeping my own safety in mind. Upon taking my seat, we began conversing immediately and sharing things about our respective day. Another thing I appreciate about him is that we have yet to struggle to find a mutually-interesting topic of discourse.

When we arrived at his apartment, he opened doors for me and gave me a brief tour. Seeming sheepish, I assured him that he had a great place. And honestly, I was genuinely impressed. Not only was the place clean – but it looked as though a fully-functioning adult male had made a real home for himself. There was art on the walls – and the art was framed. He not only had furniture – but a matching set of furniture with end tables and all. There were books and magazines on the tables – and none of them were pornographic. He not only had a television, but a surround sound system. I quickly came to learn that this is a man who consistently undersells himself.

He suggested we order some food before starting the show and we readily agreed on our favorite local sandwich shop. In the past, I may have considered this to be a sign from the universe that we were destined to be together. I might have started planning our wedding and wondering what our future children might look like. But since learning and implementing the Trust Levels, my mind had not a single flutter of those thoughts. Again, I’m impressed with myself.

We ate our sandwiches and watched the first episode of the show, sitting a comfortable distance apart on the couch – not quite touching, but close enough that if someone sneezed we might brush up against one another. By the second episode, we had finished eating and I allowed myself to relax a little and put my legs up, making contact with his arm. This felt very comfortable. Before starting the third episode, I suggested we switch places and sat so that he could put his arm around me – which he did, and I was glad of it.

At this point, we were still at level two – companions. Up to this point, all the activities we did were things that each of us found enjoyable on our own. This included drinking at our regular bar, eating together, and watching our favorite show. Things have progressed since then, but that’s for another post.

I’m merely happy to report that I have successfully managed to meet an extremely attractive, yet somehow humble, man without instantly falling head-over-heels in love with him – or rather, the idea of him with all my idealizations and projections. I’ve kept my head and my heels right where they belong and this has enabled us to genuinely get to know one another and build a solid foundation of trust.

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