How do you build trust in a relationship?

trust couple helps each other

Trust is one of the most important aspects of a relationship. Getting drunk and kissing someone else might be something you can forgive your partner for, but what happens to your trust afterwards? How can your partner restore the trust you’ve lost? And how do you build trust in a relationship when you just started dating?

The basis of a long-term relationship

If you want to build a long-term, healthy relationship, then trust is key. In many relationships trust grows naturally over time, but it’s a fragile thing that breaks easily. Having an affair hurts a relationship of course, but not being honest about other things, like not paying the rent or secretly contacting your ex can break trust as well.

“If you want a healthy long-term relationship, then building and maintaining trust is very important,” says Theresa Herring, who is a marriage and family counsellor. “Without it, it’s difficult to stay connected to your partner and create emotional intimacy.”

If you don’t trust each other, insecurities and jealousy can grow. And that will definitely damage your relationship. If your partner spends time in the pub with friends, you don’t want to ruin their night by sending jealous texts.

How do you (re)build trust?

If you caught your partner in a lie, if you cheated on each other, or if you are at the beginning of new relationship, you need to build trust. Here are a few good guidelines:

Do what you say and say what you do

Honesty is the best policy. If your partner keeps catching you in a lie, you make it hard for them to trust you. So if you’re still in contact with your ex, just tell your partner. If you want to go out for a drink with a friend who you happened to have dated in the past, be honest about that. There is no reason you can’t be friends with an ex or someone of the opposite sex if you and your partner trust each other. And that means that sexting and sending dick pics to someone other than your partner is not an option. If you have nothing to hide, you can even leave your phone with your partner without being afraid that your partner accidentally reads a text they weren’t supposed to.

Trust = being vulnerable

It’s difficult to be vulnerable. Perhaps you’ve been hurt in the past and you don’t want to go through that heartbreak again. But it’s important to open up to your new lover, so make sure to break down your walls. Tell your lover something you’ve never shared with anyone else, such as your deepest insecurity or a secret you’ve carried with you for a long time. By being vulnerable, you show your partner that you truly care about them.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T leads to trust

Respect, trust, honesty: it’s all connected. If you don’t respect your partner, your partner won’t respect you either. Respect your lovers boundaries and values. Don’t bad-mouth each other in the presence of family. Don’t tell cheap jokes at the expense of your partner to impress your friends. And above all: respect that “no” means “no”. Opening up to your partner and learning to trust each other is only possible if you respect each other.

Give each other the benefit of the doubt

It makes perfect sense not to trust everyone you meet, especially if someone broke your trust in the past. But it’s important to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Is your partner late? Perhaps they really did oversleep and it has nothing to do with the fact that they are meeting your parents for the first time. Perhaps they really are busy with work and that’s the reason they spend all night on their phone. Don’t question everything your partner says.

Keep your promises

If your partner has an appointment that they are not looking forward to and you promised to go with them, actually go with them. Don’t just cancel on them because your friend proposes to do something more fun. Small things matter too: cook dinner if you said you would. And clean up your mess if you fought about it before and promised your partner to do better. If you keep making promises you can’t or won’t keep, your partner won’t trust you as much anymore.

Work on yourself

If you lack confidence, do everything you can to build up your self-esteem. Low self-esteem usually has to do with something you don’t like about yourself. So if you’re insecure about your body for example, it’s not a good idea to follow beautiful, thin, and half-naked influencers on Instagram. Tell your lover about your insecurities and that you’re trying to work on them. They can help you with it as well. And you can always seek professional help if you need it.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

Did you come home much later than you said you would? Did you forget your partner’s birthday? Admit your mistake and don’t come up with a weak excuse. Your partner will see right through it and it suggests that you’re not willing to take responsibility for your actions. The most respectable thing to do is to admit your mistake. It’s okay, we all make mistakes sometimes.

Talk about your feelings

If your partner hurt you, it’s difficult to talk about it with them. Perhaps talking about your feelings is hard for you anyway. But it’s very important, as it’s the only way to set boundaries and explain your perspective. And if you don’t agree with your partner about something, that is absolutely fine. By expressing your emotions, you won’t shy away from difficult conversations and you can prevent your emotions from reaching a boiling point.

Set your boundaries

Even if your partner broke your trust by kissing a colleague and you’ve forgiven them for it, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have standards. If your partner continues to cross those boundaries, they don’t exactly show they trust you or are willing to work on your relationship. Ask yourself if it’s a good idea to stay with your partner or if it might be better to break up.

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