Do Women Trust More Easily Than Men?

My gut reaction is to give a stereotyping, “Yes, we do.”  We believe that people will do what they say they’ll do and be true to their word because “Why would they want to hurt me?”  

As I began to probe deeper and ask others, it became more complicated.  There was no simple answer, but there were some polarizing opinions.

Why, they wondered, was I asking this question.  Here’s why: I had lately heard about some pretty bad behavior excused by trusting women and it made me cringe.

Betrayal Unveiled

This past month, there was a seven-person What’s App convo advising a woman to walk away from a deal where the man had stolen her idea and property right out from under her.  The woman came up with all sorts of reasons for why this was still a good partnership.  The chorus of women advising her to run away eventually quieted to a silent storm of defeat, and the moment of rescue was gone.

At another women’s gathering, where the topic was ironically about building trust through communication, a friend confided that she had recently experienced the opposite result.  She had shared her proposal for a potential client with her new-business group asking for feedback.  A week later, she learned that one of the advisors from this group had stolen her client.  

My business coach, a man, told me, “Never trust anyone in business.”

How many corporate value statements begin with the word Trust and we walk right by them, framed on the wall, into the HR office where we’re told we no longer have a job?

My Person-On-The Street Research

When I asked, “Do you think women trust more easily than men?” I was looking for a slam-dunk conclusion. Instead, I found an odd mixture of generational personal experiences that made it difficult to generalize.  Trusting, it seems, is a private, individualized experience like loving. 

GenZ Woman: Do I think women trust more easily?  No.  We’re more judgmental. We critique more. With my friends, we ask more questions.  We have to fight harder to get where we are.  Men are more trusting; they assume the best because the world is designed for them, and women assume the worst.  Naivete has gone down a lot for GenZ.  

Boomer Man: Yes.  Women are looking for stability.  Men are looking for tomorrow.

Boomer Woman:  Yes.  It’s my conditioning.  My mother didn’t teach me to be independent.  

Millennial Woman:  Women are more trusting but less forgiving.

Millennial Man: I’m conflicted.  Women are probably less trusting because of all the shit going on but they have a more friendly nature than men on average and that could make them seem more trusting.

Boomer Woman.  Yes.  It’s societal conditioning of females in Western societies.  But who trusts “management” anyway?

Boomer Man:  Anyone that’s not experienced or seasoned is more trusting until they’ve been burned once or twice and then they start getting a thick hide.  If you haven’t put on a thick hide by mid-career, you’re just a sucker.  If you don’t start wising up, you’re gonna go down the same rabbit hole every time.  

GenZ Woman:  Women trust more easily because they naturally have more empathy than men.  Also, men in 2024 are very self-centered, put themselves first and don’t trust others because they know their own intentions and wouldn’t trust themselves.  My response is definitely shaped by my personal experiences.

Millennial Man:  Depends on the situation.  I don’t think it’s gender-specific.  I think it’s personality-specific.   

Where Does This Leave Us?

We’re back in our own corners, trying to figure out if someone is trustworthy.  For some, it’s too difficult to conceive that they’d be betrayed and they don’t want to think about it.

Millennial Man:  If you don’t want to pay attention, you’ll end up in the same square.  Then you ask that age-old question, “Why am I like this?”

We owe it to ourselves to keep our eyes open, stay aware, and not suppress our instincts.

Trust isn’t a permanent state of being.  It comes and goes.  Once someone is betrayed, they’re skittish to trust again.  Or, they search even harder for a safe place of trust. They understand that trust isn’t a given.  It has to be earned, a phrase that is now popping up on corporate value statements:  earned trust.

Millennial Man:  I don’t think it’s the right question.  What you really want to talk about is respect.

I’ll leave us there.

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